Obama, Drugs, Indians, Frank Langella, Lauren Bacall, R. Crumb, Walmart, and Joplin

Ideas and Issues
Chief James Allan of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe

New Orleans   In this week’s continuing experiment with new forms and focus “under the headlines” for the daily blog, here’s more:

  • Jackie Calmas in the New York Times on a meeting expected between Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos and Obama:  “they are expected to force a discussion Mr. Obama is not eager for in an election year, on decriminalization of drugs.  Their push is based on the widespread belief that the military approach of the American-led war on drugs in the region has failed.”
  • Chief James Allan of the Coeur d’Alene tribe on their part of the $1 billion settlement with 41 Indian tribes on governmental mismanagement of natural resources on tribal lands:  “They have kept their promises to Native Americans to ensure we are heard in Washington.  He [Obama] has not made treaties with us, but he gave us his word.  And his word has been golden.”
  • Frank Langella, the actor in his memoir, Dropped Names:

“In the less forgiving light of cold reality, I have lived my life as many actors have:  available and waiting, and often in a sort of emotional wilderness, feeling alone and apart.”  Interesting to think about how often they, and others, are waiting in the wings, and so rarely on the big stages.

He quotes Maureen Stapleton’s saying about working with Lauren Bacall, “I stay out of her way till they feed her.”  Vivid!

Charles Isherwood of the Times with a dead-on observation on memoirs:  “This is a true memoir, or rather a collection of memoirs.  The word has been corrupted these days to mean essentially the recounting of anything traumatic or even vaguely interesting that happened to the author, but it used to be more commonly used to describe recollections of famous figures:  other people.”

  • R. Crumb quoted by Elaine Sciolino for a piece in the NYT on the cartoonist’s retrospective in Paris:  “Death?  Afraid of death?  When you get older, you dry up.  You die.  That’s it.  I’ve lived my life.  I’ve lived it out.  I’ve left my mark.  I’ve had great sex.  I got a great record collection…”
  • “Wal-Mart’s environmental push has helped transform public opinion of the company, easing the way for it to open stores in urban areas like Chicago and Los Angeles.  About a quarter of Americans now have a favorable impression of Wal-Mart, about double the percentage that did in 2007…”  Let me see, in 5 years they went from 12.5% to 25% approval in 2012 meaning that 75% still disapprove, and that’s now considered a sufficiently successful image rehab?!?
  • According to Stephanie Clifford NYT: “The head of the fund [Environmental Defense Fund] took Mr. Scott [Walmart’s ex-CEO Lee Scott] on a trip to Mount Washington in New Hampshire, where the two bunked in a cabin and discussed how climate change would affect products Wal-Mart sold, including coffee….”   Eeeeewwww!
  • Two professors comparing the “recovery” efforts in Joplin, Missouri, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama and arguing for why Joplin has done so much better by encouraging immediate, pedal to the metal rebuilding, versus Tuscaloosa’s program of moratorium, delay, planning and consultant sclerosis and quoting another Joplin resident in the Wall Street Journal:  “When you have the magnitude of that disaster, really the old ways of doing things are suspended for a while until you create whatever normal is…The government was realistic to know that there is a period of time when common sense, codes and laws that are in place to protect people are suspended for the sake of the greater good.”  That my friends is something fascinating to wrap your minds around.

    Joplin Recovery