America hated the first "bailout," according to pollsters. Until pollsters described it without using the term "bailout," which made Americans much more supportive of it. So Barack Obama's multi-billion dollar economy-saving expenditure plans were soon referred to as "stimulus packages," which connotes happy visions of Bush sending everyone checks for a few hundred bucks. But now that isn't good enough for whiny Americans either! So please enjoy your economic recovery program, everyone! Congressional Democrats are now banned from saying "stimulus," because it's a dumb Washington term no one likes, and because, as we all know, if they don't call it that it isn't that. Perception equals reality! (That was true of our entire financial system for many years, btw.) Rahm Emanuel seems to have sent the memo out, and people are still adjusting. Nancy Pelosi almost said stimulus the other day! But then she caught herself: "We're not using the word 'stimulus,'" Nancy said at a press conference. Of course, Democrats do have a legitimate excuse for giving their economic policies a new label: their economic policies are actually different!
Now that you're just rich instead of super-rich, you're gonna find out if your mistress really loves you. Will she stick around even if you can't keep her in the manner to which she is accustomed? The WSJ cited a new survey [of 191 people worth over $20 mil] in which "more than 80% of multimillionaires who had extra-marital lovers planned to cut back on their gifts and allowances... only 12% of the multimillionaire cheaters said they plan to give up on their lovers altogether for financial reasons." The survey also showed that rich ladies are less likely to cut back or drop their lovers than rich men, even when they're losing money. This is another example of What It Really Means In America As Told To Some Narrow Niche Of Society.
The art world is suffering from diminished expectations for the obvious reasons. At last night's Christie's auction, their much-vaunted Francis Bacon work "Study for Self-Portrait"—estimated to go for $40 mil—didn't sell. In fact, nobody even bid, the NYT reported. It was like an Ebay auction from hell! (Last May, a Bacon sold for a $86 mil.) Thank goodness for Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and his precious Basquiat. His painting, Untitled (Boxer) sold for $13.5 million to a mysterious phone bidder. The New York Observer pointed out last week that Ulrich wanted to sell it for between $12 and $16 mil and didn't even ask for a guarantee; the painting was "bought in 1999 for just a couple million dollars." Oh, and Lehman CEO Dick Fuld didn't get as much as he wanted for the sale of his drawings collection. Tough luck—try Ebay.http://www.abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/story?id=6242240&page=1
Oy, chto budet! Sad young literary novelist Keith "Konstya" Gessen, self-exiled to his motherland of Russia, usually confines his rantings to n+1, little-read novels that we make fun of, and his Tumblr. But today, he wrote a Diary column about how the financial crisis is affecting Russia for the London Review of Books. And guess what—we can't even tease him for being pompous and self-important, as is the custom, because we know nothing about how the financial crisis affects Russia. So! We'll publish an excerpt, snark-free, because although we might have an understanding of advanced capitalism as it relates to blog networks or diminished tipping at strip clubs and dive bars, we have no idea about the ruble. Keith, consider this your lucky day.
Ever get so desperate that you'll visit a psychic or voodoo lady to divine a money ritual? (There was once an unfortunate incident with a santeria priest in Brooklyn that we won't get into here....) It's not just for working-stiff Take Five players and superstitious viejas anymore. Professionals are obviously freaking about market turmoil, and many are visiting hypnotists, says the WSJ. Previously, the Journal (reported by Mary Pilon, our former pie-charting Intern Mary) said: "Yesterday I spoke with a stockbroker who has been running six miles a day. Another is popping aspirin. Some are slinking to happy hour after closing bell." So here's one market that's experiencing a recession boon: hypnotists, psychics, and other snake-oil salesmen:
Sometimes, don't you wish you didn't have to get out of bed every morning, and could just wander the city all day, window shopping and drinking at whatever goddamned hour you choose? Time Out has a roundup about where recently laid-off media and finance proles go to drink, and they featured our former writer, the totally unjustly fired Moe. Look how happy and healthy she looks in the photo, due not to some South Beach vacation but from being away from the cancerous glow of her computer screen and the repetitive-stress injuries of typeblogging. It's almost enough to make us want to get fired.As Moe tells Time Out about her dream job:
If there's anything more random and inane than work, it's the very randomness and inanity in which we are laid off and/or fired from our jobs. Today is the third installment of Layoff Horror Stories (send yours, or your tales of unemployment-related ennui and depression, to email@example.com—have you put on pants today?) We're about to hear from someone who was informed of their downsizing by the office building's doorman, a layoff that ended up in "one giant ass-fuck, basically," and listen to a rumor that some Conde Nasties have recently resigned themselves to freelancing... web freelancing."no one probably reads either Women's Day Special or Boating"
Good morning! In the midst of recovering from the Dow's freakoutpanicmeltdown ("This recession is already deeper than the 2001 downturn," intones today's Times), we have another round of layoff... horror stories. There's a "classic banking fuckup" that almost ended in a "trading floor riot," a post-9/11 husband-and-wife double-whammy, and a person who has been downsized three times in eleven months. In other words, "Last year's [company] holiday card required the removal of 13; this year it's 15."(As always, if you have a layoff story, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org) Laid off 3 times in a year:
We called it the Great Magazine Die-Off, but it is the work of an angry Media God. We should take this time to reflect what we have done to irritate him so, for He is smiting us, laying off people in great multitudes, and killing magazines. He's about to pair us up two-by-two and load us all onto a big boat (the seas of the Internet?), so that he can flood the media and destroy it in order to save it. Radar was the sacrificial lamb, and we hope that He accepted that sacrifice—but let's be honest, CosmoGirl and 02138 deserved to die. (Was it advertorials? Is He mad about advertorials?) We can only hope that the great flood that is now upon us will wash away the media-sin, and desperately try to cling to the ark. After 150 days, we'll wait for a dove to return with an olive branch in its beak. We're hoping the bird won't have the face of Arianna Huffington—or the mark of the Daily Beast.
Surprise! In response to the recent financial panicmeltdowncrash, people are being more cautious about spending millions of dollars on works of art. It's not a disaster yet—although sales were slow and "softened" at London's recent Sotheby's and Christie's auctions (as well as at last week's Frieze Art Fair), there are still big works selling for big prices. Weirdly, American buyers were up by 20% this year. However, collectors used to the over-the-moon sales that have dominated the art market for the past few years will have to lower their standards "by as much as a third." Or, as an art dealer put it in today's Wall Street Journal: "Before, collectors had to take whatever art they could get from dealers and auction houses, but now those collectors are saying, 'Kneel down and ask nicely.'" Bet they're enjoying that.
More tenuously-concluded recession sex! Two "econometricians" looked through 46 years of Playboy's Playmate of the Year cover models, and compared their physical attributes with the year's economy. Their findings: "Consistent with Environmental Security Hypothesis predictions, when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year... were selected." During hard times, they concluded, men prefer women who are better fit for "production" than "reproduction." All bullshit, we'd say there is no connection. Here's why:This assumes that there's a wide range of Playboy cover models. We're talking about a 18-26 age range, and the weight range cannot possibly be more than ten pounds. Taller? Everybody looks the same height in print. Bust size, which is also duly noted? BREAKING: straight men prefer breasts, regardless of economic conditions. There, done. Anyway, here is their data, collected from 1965-2006. The age of the Playboy models ranged from 18-31—although there was only one 31-year-old and just two 27-year-olds. The rest were 26 or under. [Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin via Kempt]
A Wall Street panicmeltdown? We've been through this before. Tired of 1930s breadline comparisons, Jennifer 8. Lee takes us back to the Panic of 1873 on the NYT's City Room. Some historians think it's eerily comparable to the current situation: it "came after a building boom created by easily obtainable mortgages and an ensuing banking crisis." The Stock Exchange had to close for the first time ever to control the crisis, and a four-year depression ensued. What did the Times headlines look like at the time? Panic, although not quite as hysterical as the Post and the Daily News's "You're gonna need a bigger mattress!" and "Your $$ Burned."Even in 1873, they were using the phrase "fine-ass." This cartoon refers to "inflationary proposals" formed as a response to the panic.