A small, minor, inconsequential announcement I’m almost embarrassed to pass along, but I suppose a dozen or so will appreciate the heads-up:

The newspaper column returns this Friday.

To be specific: my newspaper column returns. In the paper. Also on Sunday. In the Metro section. Bonus points: it’s under my name. For my entire tenure at the Strib the column has been named something else, lest people recoil in horror at the ambivalent penultimate vowel – short e, long e, who knows? (Long.) There’s no formula, no name like “the Quirk” (I made my piece with that, but there were days it made me want to open my belly with a corkscrew) or “the Backfence (the thing over which I leaned, neighborly, to engage neighbors in genial patter – that was the idea, anyway; the format meant there were long blocks of italic type that gave readers a handy visual clue. Skip the slanty part!) Now it’s a column with my name.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in during the dark days of bucket-yanking last year, and thanks to my editors, Nancy and Rene, who made it happen. The reason it didn’t happen sooner had to do with union rules about my buzz.mn position, incidentally. I’ll still be doing buzz.mn as well, and it all goes really well we’ll have a redesign in three months with a big honking new site. My new design is so spare it makes a Zen koan sound like William F. Buckley describing a rococo sculpture.

In related news: very little buzz.mn tomorrow at all, since the site is migrating from the old servers to the new, and I’m going to use the opportunity to do the weekly video.

I don’t understand this Spitzer quote: “"I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself.” I don’t know if his standards involved not getting caught, or if he’s having some weird moment in which his overarching sense of himself has just been reminded of the libidinous self he put back in the strongbox after every episode of satiation. It’s difficult to arrange a prostie romp in advance with complex details about the finances, the room key, transportation, etc., without realizing that this is, indeed, Standard Self. He could come out and say "this is my truth; I am a Trick American" and it would sound more honest.

I think the phrase he's looking for is "I did not live up to the standards I set for others."

I wouldn’t be interested in this at all, except that it’s Spitzer. Must be pure as Caesar's wife, as they say, and no, that doesn't include Messelina. Note: I’m in the legalize / regulate / zone / tax camp, and I’m not going to get into the Hypocrisy / Dem vs. Repub slanging match, which ends up being a parade of flaming straw trolls. Makes me wish there was a sixth season of the Wire, though, if only to see Lester Freamon’s face the moment he realizes who’s on the other end of the intercepted call.

(Hah! I’m not alone.)

(Note: Everyone who doesn’t watch “The Wire” is sick of hearing about “The Wire” and wishes it didn’t nag them by its very existence. It’s not for everyone, I suppose, and I mean no disrespect [couldn’t get my wife interested in it] by that. I know what it’s like to build up antibodies to a show simply because it’s hyped by the people who enjoy pointing out how everything else on TV suqs the rear teat, and only SHEEP would fail to grasp the GLORIES I HAVE SEEN. I think it’s the best TV show I’ve ever seen, flaws and all, and while we all love “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” made it look like the puffed-up one-note gangster opera it was. Compare the ending of each (NO SPOILERS HERE) and you’ll see what I mean: while there was nothing in “The Wire” finale that had the sternum-hammering tension of the last scene of the Sopranos, it was overflowing with rich and believable characters. The end of the Sopranos had the usual yeggs, plus Anthony Junior. Who set his truck on fire. By accident.)

 Otherwise, an ordinary day; aren’t they all? Isn’t that the goal, really? You just want the day to be good, and good is defined by so many small simple things. Good spaghetti with good sauce; good mood upon awakening, a good little spot of good TV at the end of the night, a good shiraz, a good interview on the radio when you’re in your car, a good report from your daughter about school and a good job on piano practice, a good feeling from having done your work, and sometimes nothing more complex than a good sandwich for lunch. No wonder I like B movies. Every good day is a B movie.

See you at buzz.mn, eventually. New Comic book cover. Have a, er, good day.

Oh, okay, one old scanned ad.  It’s from the Scientific American, Dec. 1937, and does its best to promote the Waldorf-Astoria to scientifically-minded scientists who might appreciate how science has combined with science to produce a truly scientific hotel.

Perhaps it’s just me, but there’s something gently fascistic about the text, something brave-new-wordly, as though this was the preferred hotel for the International Eugenics Convention. Of course, the target audience for the magazine was the scientifically inclined, and to them science was Rationality and Progress, a great sword that would clear away the rubbishy underbrush of superstition and quackery; if old America was a gibbering hobgoblin sucking down bottles of patent medicine, the future would be clean and forthright and serenly comprehendible, and this was the hotel that pointed the way. Twice! With two shiny towers. I’m a pro-science guy myself, so I understand the appeal. But it seems dated. I suspect that 30 years from now, ads for “green” hotels will look the same.

Anyway: it’s something to think about if you fear we are heading into a recession that will collapse civilization: I think they signed the papers to built this hotel the day the market crashed in 1929. Yet you can walk up to it today, kick it, and your foot will hurt. The old Waldorf Astoria was torn down to build the Empire State Building, which opened at an equally unfortunate moment in real estate history. According to “Aftermath,” that fascinating piece of civilizational-suicide-porn the National Geographic channel ran, the Empire State Building will be one of the last skyscrapers to fall. Fitting.

Not to spoil the show, but judging from the clips, unmanned London busses traveling at high speed are likely to smash into historical monuments, too.

You know, every so often I run across comments on message boards from the “12 Monkeys” demographic, the people who wish people would just disappear and leave the earth alone. If the Aftermath show has any message, it’s how useless the world would be without people. Without humans it’s just hunting and rutting, birthing and dying, a clock with no chimes. It’s always interesting how people romanticize Nature, and ascribe all manner of purpose and intelligence to it, lamenting the injuries people wreak on the innocent globe. I’d love to read an interview with Gaia in which she says that her goal all along was to come up with a species that could produce Beethoven and make rockets to send the music deep into space. Now that’s something to make the other planets sit up and take notice. You think the point is merely to provide a home for thirty billion varieties of insect? I can’t tell you how much they itch. Sorry about the earthquakes, but it’s the only way I can scratch.