The week (June 2nd): Nobody asked me, but…

With a nod to Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

FILE UNDER 'BAD IDEA' Mayor Tom Menino's push for an iconic tower for Boston. Let's hope that developers shy away from the Mayor's Edifice Complex and Boston's future skyline isn't cluttered with another post-Modernist monstrosity (vide: Shanghai or Singapore for examples of overblown "iconic towers.") Whatever happened to "small is beautiful?" What's wrong with celebrating the Christian Menn designed Zakim Bridge as Boston's new icon?

The Mayor's quest is understandable, in a way: with Boston's population and tax base eroding, a huge construction project would compensate for some of now-gone Big Dig payrolls. The difference between then and now is that then taxpayers underwrote the Greatest Public Works Project of all time, and now Menino must hope for private sector dollars to pay for this development. Don't bet on it.

A TIP OF THE FEDORA to Al Siegal who retired as standards editor of the New York Times in May. Siegal became the conscience of America's greatest newspaper and his day-to-day advocacy of "objective-means" journalism (not that he would use the term) will be missed. Tom Scocca's graceful farewell in the New York Observer captures the "imprinting" of the man on the paper.

WHY IS THE DIXIE CHICKS latest album, "Taking the Long Way," selling so briskly, despite the fact that many country music fans haven't forgiven lead singer Natalie Maines for her anti-Bush comments in 2003? It could be political liberals are buying the new CD as a show of support, but I'd hazard the guess that the album is moving up the country and pop charts because its first single, "Not Ready to Make Nice," has a great pop hook.

BAD-MOUTHING YOUR PREDECESSOR, as new CIA director Michael Hayden did when he made comments about ending the "amateur hour" at the Agency, is not only tasteless but also risky. If there are any intelligence failures on his watch, Hayden's courting of the CIA's Old Guard could backfire, especially if he backs away from meaningful reforms (as noted in this editorial).

IF WRITERS WRITE, and editors spell, count me in the camp of the writers. Watching some of the televised 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee convinced me that the ability to accurately spell English words is a mysterious talent shared by a bunch of middle school kids, my high school English teacher Miss Holland, the Amazing Kreskin, and other assorted clairvoyants. (I just wish Microsoft would spend some money on improving their Spellcheck so it catches "sound-alikes").

VIRGINIA'S VICTORY in the NCAA Division One lacrosse championship seemed forgone when unseeded Massachusetts upset the second seed, Maryland. But give UMass credit, the Minutemen gave the Cavaliers a game (tied 5-5 in the third quarter), before Virginia took control and prevailed, 15-7. The weekend games drew record attendance in Philadelphia, and the website of National League Lacrosse (which runs the professional indoor version of the sport) noted: "The championship game crowd of 47,602 was larger than the crowd at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game in April, which drew 43,168 fans at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis."

It may be, strangely enough, that interest in the "fastest sport on two feet" has been provoked by the Duke lacrosse scandal. If so, it would be one of the few positives to emerge from that sordid, yet-to-be-concluded incident.

CONSERVATIVE AUTHOR RICHARD BROOKHISER excoriates House Republicans for a multitude of sins in a New York Observer piece entitled "Republican Ship Betrays Newt's Contract," including this zinger: "Now, finally, we know: Twelve years in power have been too much for the G.O.P. Their batteries have worn out, and so have their brains. The Democrats will regain control of Congress this fall."

Brookhiser predicts a Bush impeachment if the Democrats win Congress. But why? Isn't one of primal rules in politics: "Never murder an opponent who is intent on committing suicide?"

VERY FUNNY BIT in the chat between the Washington Post's book reviewer Michael Dirda and a local reader:

Alexandria, Va: Is it true that the thousand monkeys randomly typing at a thousand typewriters have given up on the collected works of William Shakespeare and have started their own blog?

Michael Dirda: Hmmm. You may be on to something.

My typing is not completely random. I hope.

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

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