Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break in Utah

Am here skiing or, more correctly "avoiding skiing" --one of those activities, like golf, that didn't turn out to be a great marriage enhancer for us, showcasing, as it does, significant differences of ability and inclination. So now, like Bartleby the Scribner, I choose not to. I check the children into ski school from 9-3, and choose to snow-shoe, cross-country ski, but most of all, I just enjoy agenda-free time, to drink coffee, read a newspaper and write.

Have lately been amused by the Eliot Spitzer brouhaha. Nothing like that after dinner mint of political scandal, to entertain and distract from the depressing and tedious reality of the economy and the war. What does surprise me is that this sort of activity shocks anybody. Reminds me of my very Catholic, French-raised grandmother who declined to watch some Life-of-Christ inspired movie on the premise that she "knew the story." She did, however, watch "Emmanuelle," a soft-porn of the late seventies, presumably to stay abreast of what the young were up to in those days and was known to loudly and publicly remark afterwards, "___, ___, ___, doesn't anybody f... anymore?" Or maybe it's like the old joke "Why do women watch porn? To see if they get married at the end."

At any rate, politicians, prostitutes and crimes seeming to be linked from time out of mind, it's the petty details that interest me. The more unctuously sanctimonious, full of self-righteous cant the public persona; the more entertaining the skeletons likely to be clangoring about their closet. This is why, for those who have ever had to answer to the finger-wagging and opprobrium of others, it's expedient to ascribe to those voices of outrage the most deviant behavior imaginable, which works pretty well...if you've got a dirty mind.

What iconography, what "bons mots" will come to be associated with these stale lusts? What contradictions are offered by the public posturing and the private perversions; what legal terminology and period details will be used to define their crimes--"Back to family values," a taste for asphyxia, call girls and Russian spies with Profumo; the mass-market blue dress from the Gap added a de Toquevillian touch to the Clinton era, "Not a penny more, not a penny less" came back to haunt novel-writing Lord Archer, in this case it's the anti-terrorism laws governing financial transfers and the Mann act for Spitzer. I was reassured to learn that a top-drawer whore still earns more than the equivalent industry consultant, although they both are limited to selling their time. Ultimately though, based on who was writing the checks, it would appear, for those who successfully overcome certain constraints involving time and reality, there's still more money to be made f--ing with people's minds.

Personally, my favorite detail was the name Q.A.T. Consulting. It's exactly the kind of acronym-based, pretentious little name an Internet-related company would choose for itself, yet possessing exactly what most of those names lack, a dash of delightfully sardonic and self-aware humor--not always surprising for those in the business of catering to more literal or littoral humours. Sort of like the Cheetah's credit card signature being "Alluvia," or a company with a human resources incentive program called "Brave New World," or the little chuckle elicited by the Latinate name of a short-lived software consultancy called "Ars Digita."


Toast said...

Would you agree this was the "trigger": ?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what people get from the girls for that kind of price?

Nathalie said...

According to people I know in the City, Spitzer was barely one step above a Mafia shakedown guy.
According to acquaintances in the legit. media--A Levels. You may have to read up on "Belle de Jour"'s blog for that one.

Bill Pyne said...

"politicians, prostitutes and crimes" sounds like it could be made into novel of some kind about the pharisees and sadducees of our day and the women - or men - they love.

Marcf said...

I personally find it sad that Spitzer is out of the way. He obviously had flaws but let's face it "it takes a thief to know one". So he was a hard-nosed DA with a penchant for high class call girls and extortion, hmmm sounds like your average banker to me? Wall Street needs guys like him to keep them in check. Witness the disgusting episode of Bear and todays shenanigans. They all celebrated his demise and for good reason: they had a lot to fear from a guy like him. It is a rare gem, the one that will be pure as snow and will know the devious ways of the Street.

Nathalie said...

Bill--I think lust would be the more correct word. The Pharisees always are rather quick to denounce those who break bread with publicans and sinners.

As for the historical perspective on politics as soap opera, I always like Robert Graves "I Claudius"-both book and BBC miniseries. I never have gotten around to reading Suetonius yet.

My conservative, Southern father is convinced that Hillary is a modern day Livia. I am more of the school that I don't have to "like" somebody to believe they could be effective at doing the job.

Bill Pyne said...


Surely you don't suggest that individuals with such high-minded principles could be subverted by such base instincts as LUST? I shudder at the thought!

Thanks for the Graves recommendation. It will be quite the shock, though, for my wife and I as we are just about through the Jane Austen series on PBS. After a few weeks of romanticism - laced with sardonic observations on the foibles of both genders - reality will be a splash of cold water.

There's a tinge of anti-social personality that goes with aspiring to the heights of presidency. I'm not sure I could like any of the candidates on a personal level. As long as he/she can balance a budget and provide more social stability I'm satisfied.

Anonymous said...


Spitzer makes for good bedroom talk. Try it at home! Intellectualism and high-minded principles DO mix with LUST, two sides of the same coin.