Quote of the Day postsSaturday July 25, 2009
Quote of the Day — Gates Case
“It is unwise for anyone of any race to raise their voice to a law enforcement officer. But the result at the end of the day is this was a man who violated no law, was in his own house, who is the top academic star at the top academic school in the nation, and he was still taken away and arrested.”
— Al Vivian, diversity consultant, Atlanta, in the New York Times article “Professor's Arrest Tests Beliefs on Racial Progress”
ADDENDUM: Stanley Fish has a great post comparing both Henry Louis Gates' troubles in North Carolina and now Cambridge with the non-issue of Pres. Obama's birth certificate: “It isn’t the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate that’s the problem for the birthers. The problem is again the legitimacy of a black man living in a big house, especially when it's the White House.”
Added thought: From Birchers to birthers. In 50 years, the extreme right in this country has managed to change nothing but one letter.
Jackass of the Day: Rob Moore
“[Critics] forget what the goal of the movie ['Transformers 2'] was. The goal of the movie is to entertain and have fun. What the audience tells us is, ‘We couldn’t be more entertained and having more fun.’ They kind of roll their eyes at the critics and say, ‘You have no idea what you’re talking about.’”
—Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount, which is distributing ”Transformers 2 for DreamWorks, in an uncredited AP article.
Breaking the Laws of Probability
“Until the spring of 1978, when Salomon Brothers formed Wall Street’s first mortgage security department, the term borrower referred to large corporations and to federal, state, and local governments. It did not include homeowners. A Salomon Brothers partner named Robert Dall thought this strange...
”The problem [with the inability to see big business in home mortgages] was more fundamental than a disdain for Middle America. Mortgages were not tradable pieces of paper; they were not bonds. They were loans made by savings banks that were never supposed to leave the saving banks. A single home mortgage was a messy investment for Wall Street, which was used to dealing in bigger numbers. No trader or investor wanted to poke around suburbs to find out whether the homeowner to whom he had just lent money was creditworthy. For the home mortgage to become a bond, it had to be depersonalized.
“At the very least, a mortgage had to be pooled with other mortgages of other homeowners. Traders and investors would trust statistics and buy into a pool of several thousand mortgage loans made by a savings and loan, of which, by the laws of probability, only a small fraction should default...”
— from Michael Lewis’ “Liar’s Poker,” pp. 83-85
Now That's Good Writin': Kehr on Lemmon
"In a career that spanned almost 50 years Jack Lemmon was seldom a soothing presence. Sweaty, stammering and hyperactive, Lemmon seemed to embody the countertype of the monumental, granite-jawed leading men of the 1950s — stars like John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck.
"Where Peck, for example, seemed to embody the World War II squadron leader slipping into middle age and forced to operate on the unfamiliar corporate battlefields of Madison Avenue (“The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”), Lemmon was the junior officer eagerly polishing the brass of his superiors (in his Oscar-winning supporting performance in “Mister Roberts”), a tactic he queasily carried with him into the business world (“The Apartment”). Lemmon’s recurring predicament is that of the desperate conformist who ultimately discovers that conformity comes at too high a price."
—Dave Kehr in his NY Times article, "Everyman, Tempted" about a new Jack Lemmon DVD collection
"Free, White and 21"
James Allen: Must you go home?
Helen: There are no musts in my life. I'm free, white and 21."
—from "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" (1932). The Worldwide Dubya isn't much help with the phrase. One assumes it was a semi-common, possibly regional (i.e., southern) comment back in the day, but I don't see any specific reference to it before this film—which, I should add, includes a lot of black actors in roles that, while mostly non-speaking, aren't too embarrassing for the time. The line subsequently wound up in a few other films from the era: "Dames" (1935) and "Kitty Foyle" (1940). It also became the title of indie movie from 1963 about an African American on trial for the rape of a white woman.
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