Friday, January 10, 2014

Brooks of the Week in Review

Tuesday saw Brooksie writing a really peculiar column about hotels, of all things: the great hotels of the Gilded Age, the colorless, functional hotels of Modernism, and the quirky boutique hotels of our own period, as represented by Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a hotel chain inspired by Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and author of a book that has slithered into Brooks's Kindle, Peak: How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow.

He seems to be making some gentle Bobos in Paradise fun of Conley and his customers:
Painfully hip boutique hotels...  are, on one level, kind of ridiculous. They are almost invariably too dark throughout, making it hard to read. The bed is often too low. The bathroom door is sometimes a flimsy sliding shutter, sacrificing privacy for style.
The (rather inexpensive) Hotel des Arts, San Francisco, via Alkemie.
But far from it; actually he thinks these things are great for those who can afford them, and plainly he can and has been making use of them:
The market has taken one commodity product after another and turned it into an emotional experience — even hotel stays. I don’t know how you measure how much better off we are because of that, but we are significantly better off. The world’s a sweeter place when, for an extra 200 bucks a night, you can lodge like Afrojack.
I'm pretty sure this is not some of that new-fangled Times "native advertising" but it would be irresponsible not to speculate about what Conley, the Soho Grand, and Afrojack (???) have to do with the motivation behind this piece. I hope his difficulties with Mrs. Brooks have not left her in sole control of the vast spaces for entertaining while he is forced to dwell in the rented spaces of the painfully hip, possibly in a way which stretches the rules of journalistic ethics, which would be too hiply painful, if you know what I mean, to contemplate.
Ings Luxury Cat Hotel, West Yorkshire, via TravelTips.
On Thursday, in his weekly pretend conversation with Gail Collins, he tried vainly to lure her into dwelling on a stupid "there are two kinds of people" gambit suggesting that politicians can be insightfully divided into those with dog personalities (like Clinton) and those with cat personalities (like Obama). Not for the first time, he must have wished the editors had partnered him with Maureen Dowd instead, who would have leapt into this childish and vulgar concept with relish.

This morning, he is offering a column on how a new, humble, Burkean conservatism is being proposed to the Republican public by Yuval Levin at National Affairs that sounded strangely familiar to me, from the first paragraph:
If you just listened to Republican politicians, you’d have almost no sense that conservative thinking has changed much since Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney over a year ago. But if you hang around the conservative policy wonks, and read certain conservative magazines, the picture is quite different.... I’d invite you, for example, to cast your eye over the new issue of National Affairs, the right-leaning policy journal edited by Yuval Levin. 
Sure enough, it's an updated redraft of a piece from November 2012:
If you listened to the Republican candidates this year, you heard a conventional set of arguments. But if you go online, you can find a vibrant and increasingly influential center-right conversation.... [The "Burkean Revivalist"] group includes young conservatives whose intellectual roots go back to the organic vision of society described best by Edmund Burke but who are still deeply enmeshed in current policy debates.... Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs is one of the two or three most influential young writers in politics today. He argues that we are now witnessing the fiscal crisis of the entitlement state, exemplified most of all by exploding health care costs. His magazine promotes a big agenda of institutional modernization.
Autoplagiarism isn't against the law, of course; but is it a sign of a deep, perhaps terminal exhaustion?
Matahari Beach Resort, Bali, via FeelGoodHolidays.

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