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September 13, 2002

 

Pillsbury Winthrop Sends a Howler
Headhunting and poaching is par for the course among major law firms, and most of them don't get ruffled over it. When Los Angeles-based Latham & Watkins snared a partner last month from the corporate group of Pillsbury Winthrop, however, tempers flared in a hurry.

Maybe in too big of a hurry, in fact -- too fast for the managing partner to hold back from firing off a scorching press release. As you'll see, it didn't offer well wishes.
The Legal Times [Washington]: "PR Pros Amazed by Pillsbury Press Release."
"Pillsbury Winthrop, in response to a press release issued by Latham & Watkins on September 3, 2002 announcing that Frode Jensen, a corporate securities partner in Pillsbury Winthrop's Stamford Connecticut office is joining the New York office of Latham & Watkins, would like to correct some possible misperceptions caused by the Latham release," the Pillsbury release states.

"Pillsbury Winthrop previously had intended not to comment on Mr. Jensen's departure in order to downplay the event," it continues. "However, as a result of Latham's press release Pillsbury Winthrop Chair, Mary Cranston, explained that Mr. Jensen's departure comes on the heels of sexual harassment allegations involving Mr. Jensen and a significant decline in his productivity. According to Ms. Cranston, Mr. Jensen has been largely absent from the Stamford office since the start of this year."

The release then quotes Cranston as saying, "Our firm values respect and integrity above all else. We investigated the harassment claims, concluded that there was a reasonable likelihood that harassment had occurred and responded with a variety of measures. It is always sad to lose a friend and colleague to another firm, however, under the circumstances of the past year, Mr. Jensen's move is probably in the best interest of all concerned, and we wish him well with his new firm."

The parting shot: "Latham & Watkins did not contact anyone in Pillsbury Winthrop's management in connection with a reference check for Mr. Jensen."

. . . [An] in-house public relations expert at a large international law firm [was] blunt. "Common sense must have gotten up and walked out of the building on the day Pillsbury wrote that," this person says, calling it "ill-tempered" and "mean-spirited."


The moral of the story: when you're angry, don't click 'send.' Even if you do run a law firm.

Greg G. @ 1:45 PM | # |


 

Moving Right Along . . .
Sorry for the postless Thursday. I've had a frantic week at work, which can cut just a wee bit into my blogging time.

I'n a few more hours, I'll fly out to Washington for a friend's wedding this weekend. If any of the usual suspects there want to shoot the breeze and catch up tonight or on Sunday, call me at my [conveniently local] cell phone -- (703) 371-6794.

Greg G. @ 12:57 PM | # |


September 11, 2002

 

When the Walls Fell
Tom Friedman, in his column today, described Sept. 11 as a hole in the wall between civilization and the worst in human behavior. He stole my metaphor -- but he explained it so much better, I'll let him have it.

I always thought the World Trade Center would fall down sideways. Not that I thought it would ever fall, of course -- but in 1993, the year of the first bombing, I interned at the White House. Watching all the security made me start having terror dreams. I only had a few, but they were enough to plant the image -- I'd see the World Trade Center, then snap! one tower would go, keeling over to one side, its heft smacking the buildings around it to the ground, toppling and planting itself into the Hudson River, head first.

But that'd never happen -- I should just block it out. I got those out of my mind by becoming a fatalist. I just quit worrying about it, at least as a personal risk. We should stop terrorists wherever we find them, yes, but if some nutcase breaks through and my number comes up -- well, that's that. Everyone goes sometime. Better to live a great life than to shiver in fright about the risk.

I played another trick on myself -- in my mind's eye, I separated terrorism from its consequences. Towers could fall, sure, and bombs could go off -- and that would be it. Vamoose. Exit, stage right. No need to worry about what comes later.

That was imagination, though. What we've just faced is a year of cold truth, and imagination doesn't hold a candle to it. Collapsing straight down? No, no. Can't happen. How does anyone make two buildings like that disappear, like you've stuffed them in a hole? And the people. Those missing people. My God. When I read Portraits of Grief I still feel wrenched, and it's a year later. Now I almost wonder what's worse -- terrorism itself, or its aftermath.

I've heard talk about the meaning of Sept. 11, but no thanks to that. Better to look for its meaning ourselves. People have feelings of their own -- strong feelings, if these are any measure -- and they can't be argued with.

I don't even know how I feel about it, not completely, and I doubt I ever will. We'll think about what happened -- we'll think about that for the rest of our lives. But I don't know how to feel.

I have no conclusions today, just thoughts. And memories.

I remember hitting the snooze button and spending an hour fading in and out of sleep, listening to the radio. I was between jobs and in no big hurry. Laying on the pillow, I tune back in just in time for a celebrity fluff segment, listening to the bouncy guitar riff in the background. A minute of that . . . nothing unusual, ho-hum, back to . . .

"something just came on the television on CNN, it's saying that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center -- "

That was 8:53.

I remember thinking back to the story of the B-17 slamming into the Empire State Building, and thinking: "hmmph --this is a blast from the past; wonder how they'll put the fire out?" Was I worried? As if. I saw the smoke and thought it would fade off while sprinklers put the fire out. It's a tough building, after all. Solid as a rock.

I remember hearing Katie Couric referring to a small plane, and for a few minutes, I thought that was right -- but the camera zoomed in, and I wondered. Couldn't be a jet, of course -- air traffic control is too good, no one could make that mistake -- but it was an awfully big hole, wasn't it? Had to have been some small jet.

I remember talking with my dad about terrorism -- "maybe someone put Semtex in a Piper Cub," I said -- and phoning my brother at work to tell him to turn on a radio. I gave him a running commentary from the TV, but started multitasking, thinking while I talked -- why isn't the fire going out? What's up? A small plane did --

Whap.

Holy shit, did you see that? Dad, did you see that? It just flew right -- did you see that? A small plane did that? I call my brother: "turn the radio on now, someone flew another plane into the other building. This shit's on purpose. That doesn't happen twice in the same morn --"

"Hold on, calm down, boy, watch your language --"

"I just saw a fucking plane hit the fucking Trade Center -- you're watching language?! Turn the radio on. Get to a TV. Now."

I still thought that it was a Piper Cub.

I remember watching Aaron Brown on CNN talking about another explosion while a grey-black cloud swept across lower Manhattan -- was that a side slipping off? I just watched him talk, flipping back and forth between him and Brokaw and wondering what was going on. Fell? What do you mean, the tower fell? I can see it right there, behind all the smoke. See? There it is. I can see it right there. I can see it . . .

And then I couldn't.

I remember watching the other tower fall, like clockwork -- only thirty minutes later, at least victims didn't suffer any longer -- and spotting a shard of splintered steel on the west side of the building, 50 to 60 stories tall, wavering in the wind in a final act of defiance, sitting there for almost a minute until it snapped off, bit by bit, and fell.

I remember deciding to go to Emory University Hospital and donate blood, just to get out, do something, see how people are handling it -- and then hearing that someone called in a bomb threat at the Centers for Disease Control, just up Clifton Road. Another evacuation. Great. That plan's shot. Say, what if that is a target . . .

I remember a bevy of things, but none of it makes sense. It still doesn't make sense. Killing 3,000 people for committing the sin of feeding their kids cereal and sending them off to school will never make sense -- not to me. Not in any world I live in. As for the people behind it, I'll quote John McCain: may God have mercy on their souls. I won't.

But beyond that, I have no answers, just thoughts. That's all. That's how I've spent the day -- thinking about what happened, remembering to honor the dead, and pondering the responsibilities of the living.

It's up to you, dear reader -- it's up to all of us -- to decide what those responsibilites are. If we want to find some meaning in Sept. 11, that's as good a place as any to start.


Greg G. @ 11:54 PM | # |


 

Though . . . America is often ignorantly caricatured as a land of impoverished rhetoric its public speech has often been the glory of its democracy.

And now it needs to sound off. Starting in New York, starting now, we need to do what the people of this astoundingly irrepressible city do best: stand up and make a hell of a noise.
From The Guardian: historian Simon Schama, "The Dead and the Guilty."

Greg G. @ 2:34 PM | # |


 

From The New York Times: a portrait of grief over the brother of a friend.

Greg G. @ 1:26 PM | # |


 

On a whim I decided to cross Sixth Avenue and then I turned south. I saw a huge mass of dark smoke at the south end of Sixth. Wow, a building is on fire, I thought. That must be why all these people are standing around staring south. Two women were staring at it and talking, and I went up to them and asked what building was on fire.

"The World Trade Center just collapsed," one of them said to me. "It was a terrorist attack. Planes crashed into both towers and then they went down. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon."

Holy fuck.

Now that I thought about it, it had seemed like something was missing.
On Tin Man: The Best City in the World.

Greg G. @ 1:08 PM | # |


 

On Slate: former poet laureate Robert Pinsky on poetry and Sept. 11.

Greg G. @ 10:21 AM | # |


 

I've turned to music every time something in my life has turned upside down. Last September was no exception. I rifled through my collection for about a week. I didn't hunt for solace or peace songs; I just looked for some songs that could at least suggest my state of mind. It still feels raw to listen to this collection a year later, but to me, that means it still stands up.
  1. "The Star-Spangled Banner," Jimi Hendrix
    -crossfade-
  2. "Pyramid Song," Radiohead, Amnesiac
  3. String Quartet in c# minor, Op. 131, Mov. 1: Adagio, ma non troppo e molto espressivo, Ludwig van Beethoven
  4. "Another Man's Done Gone," Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Avenue
  5. "Mothers of the Disappeared," U2, The Joshua Tree
  6. "Half a World Away," R.E.M., Out of Time
  7. "Last Goodbye," Jeff Buckley, Grace
  8. "Let's Get Together," the Youngbloods
  9. "Fanfare for the Common Man," Aaron Copland
  10. "America," Original Broadway Cast, West Side Story
  11. "America the Beautiful," Ray Charles
  12. [optional] "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"

Greg G. @ 2:01 AM | # |


 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming," 1922.

Greg G. @ 1:09 AM | # |


September 10, 2002

 

Rolling Requiem
A choral group in Seattle has come up with a brilliant idea: commemorating Sept. 11 by having Mozart's Requiem [K. 626] sung at 8:46 a.m. in every time zone on Earth. I heard about the project, now known as the Rolling Requiem, through Tim Jarrett, who's scheduled to participate in tomorrow's Seattle concert.

I'll have to catch it on streaming audio -- as far as I know, Atlanta won't have a concert. Friends in Charlottesville should head to First Presbyterian on Park Street, though, where the Virginia Consort will assemble tomorrow morning at 8:30. Wish I could be there.

Greg G. @ 12:19 PM | # |


 

Memo to Bush: The Buck Stops Where?
Law professor Jeff Cooper makes a cutting observation about the Bushies obsession with getting rid of civil-service protections at the new security department:
A thought prompted by a Nick Denton post, which Glenn Reynolds cited yesterday, about the failure to overhaul the security agencies despite their obvious failings both before and after September 11: The president's insistence that employees in the proposed Department of Homeland Security should not have civil service and collective bargaining protections, so that they can be fired as needed, would have a lot more credibility if he would actually fire a few of the higher-ups with responsibility for the domestic security and counter-terrorism bunglings of the past year. As long as all those folks remain on the job, the Homeland Security proposal looks like union-busting, pure and simple.
[Link courtesy of Sam Heldman.]

Greg G. @ 10:08 AM | # |


 

Jamie Lee Curtis: "Will Endorse for Food"
Jamie Lee Curtis caused a stir last month when she bared herself to the world, flab and all, in the pages of a monthly. "Ninety-five percent of the women have done something to themselves," Jamie reflected in a phone call to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "[T]here's this constant adding on of things that are not real. Feeling good about yourself comes from inside; knowing who you are, what your honest abilities are and what your honest flaws are and learning to work within that."

She might be right, but one of her employers seems to have a slight difference of opinion. VoiceStream, the mid-sized cell-phone carrier, drafted Curtis as a corporate spokesperson a few years back, trotting her out in print, radio and TV ads that -- here in Atlanta, at least -- got downright ubiquitous. She was everywhere, honest flaws and all.

Deutsche Telekom bought VoiceStream lock, stock and barrel last year, and last Friday it finished the changeover by redubbing the company with its worldwide mobile service moniker, T-Mobile. Take a close look, thought, and you'll spot another change: Jamie Lee got the boot.

Deutsche Telekom ditched Jamie Lee, who swore off cosmetic surgery for a less synthetic look, for a new model: the preternaturally -- some might say supernaturally -- radiant Catherine Zeta Jones. My eyes don't mind -- but to T-Mobile, that's probably the point. To sell more product, follow three simple rules: keep 'em young, keep 'em svelte, and keep 'em cute. It's nothing that X10* doesn't know already.

Poor Jamie. She makes a bold stand for pride in self image, only to have a pink slip undermine her point. She makes a valid point, but most women don't have the advantage of a Hollywood trust fund and a SAG pension to fall back on.

*: You didn't think I would link those pop-up ad spraying hosers, did you? =,

Greg G. @ 1:13 AM | # |


September 09, 2002

 

The World Ahead
Enough of wall-to-wall politics week here at the Green[e]house. I bore myself.

If you went through Sunday without picking up the New York Times Magazine, you missed out. Big time. James Traub wrote a cleverly reasoned article that points out an emerging paradox: while black voters have started to let go of civil-rights era orthodoxy and move toward candidates in the political center, the GOP has somehow managed to become yet more white. I won't spoil the article for you -- go read it, it's worth the time -- but Traub draws some conclusions that should make fans of a potential Democratic Majority smile.

The main event, though, came in the form of a multi-page extravaganza that showed how an all-star squad of architects would revive lower Manhattan. Rafael Viñoly dreamt up a jaw-dropping reimagining of the kind of space a rail station should be, and a few participant threw in a design for new towers whose graceful, curved lines provide exactly the jolt of energy downtown needs. Peter Eisenman threw in a proposal for three office towers resembling nothing so much as -- get this -- half-crushed Coke cans; "the crunched profiles," the Times wrote, "echo the devastation wrought on 9/11 and offer a striking memorial to the fallen towers." Moving and brilliant -- except, perhaps, that I can't imagine a tenant aside from Frogdesign who would move into them. =,

On the other side of the world, you can find a towering response to the modern world's problems just as thought provoking as anything in New York. The Australian government thew its weight last week behind an effort to build a big wind-power plant. Unprecedentedly big. A thousand meters of sheer verticality, in fact. The towers would act as a chimney, drawing greenhouse-heated air through a turbine and producing electricity. A single tower could throw off 200 megawatts of power -- about the output of a small nuclear reactor, and enough to light 200,000 homes.

Since I've always loved skyscrapers and I'm a fan of energy efficiency, this story has me giddier than a kid in a candy store. Bring it on, Australia, and send a few our way before you're done.

Greg G. @ 11:54 PM | # |


 

Thanks . . .
. . . to Atrios, Avedon Carol, T.C. Mits and Matthew Yglesias for linking two posts I wrote here last Friday. I'm much obliged -- it's the first time I've gotten spontaneous traffic that hasn't come from the wrong side.

[Not that I mind Free Republic and National Review readers, mind you. The attention just made me wonder how I could so widely miss my target market. =, ]

Greg G. @ 11:14 PM | # |


 

Yeeee-haaah!
It's amazing what quadrupling your computer's memory can do for your blogging. Now, all those endless seconds spent watching a wheel spin away or an hourglass siting have gone with a flash -- I can quit wasting minutes twiddling my thumbs, and actually put that time to good use writing instead. Imagine that. [The fact that the upgrade only cost $16 . . . well, what a bargain.]

Next, we purchase Jaguar -- not the X-Type, silly, the operating system. I'll follow that up with a quick bid for Links Championship Edition. But I digress . . .

Greg G. @ 10:52 PM | # |