From the NYT:
By STEVEN ERLANGER APRIL 7, 2016
BRUSSELS — Yves Goldstein makes no excuses for Belgium’s failure to find Salah Abdeslam and the other Islamic State recruits who attacked Paris and then bombed Brussels Airport and a subway station.
The problem is not Islam, he insists, but the negligence of government officials like himself in allowing self-contained ethnic ghettos to grow unchallenged, breeding anger, crime and radicalism among youth — a soup of grievances that suits Islamist recruiters.
… Friends who teach the equivalent of high school seniors in the predominantly Muslim districts of Molenbeek and Schaerbeek told him that “90 percent of their students, 17, 18 years old, called them heroes,” he said.
Mr. Goldstein, 38, grew up in Schaerbeek, the child of Jewish refugees from Nazism. Now a councilman from Schaerbeek, he is also chief of staff for the minister-president of the Brussels Capital Region.
Schaerbeek is almost as infamous these days as Molenbeek, two districts where Mr. Abdeslam and his group of Islamic State adherents had the space and time to live, hide and manufacture their weapons.
Adjacent to Molenbeek, Schaerbeek is richer, tidier and more mixed. Jacques Brel lived here for a time, so did René Magritte. It has a young, affluent section, which some compare to Notting Hill in London, and a large Turkish population. …
Brussels itself is about 25 percent Muslim — 70 percent are of Moroccan heritage and 20 percent Turkish, and the ethnic groups tend to stick to themselves, making them difficult for outsiders, like the police, to penetrate.
Belgium’s integration has been somewhere between the French model, which put new immigrants in suburban ghettos, and the British and American one, which created communities like Chinatown or Little Italy, Mr. Goldstein said. “In Brussels, everyone lives in the city, and we chose a model of diversity through mixing of populations in the same neighborhoods.”
But “we failed,” he said. “We failed in Molenbeek” and Schaerbeek, too, to ensure the mixing of populations.
“We have neighborhoods where people only see the same people, go to school with the same people,” he said. “What connection do they have with the whole society, what connection do they have with real diversity? It’s the establishment of the ghetto,” he said, “and it’s the thing in our urban development that we have to tackle.”
Jews have left Schaerbeek, and the last two synagogues are being sold. Instead, there is a kind of suffocating, insular, ethnic uniformity.
“These young people will never go to museums until 18 or 20 — they never saw Chagall, they never saw Dalí, they never saw Warhol, they don’t know what it is to dream,” Mr. Goldstein said. …
Young people whose parents or grandparents were immigrants face serious questions of identity, Mr. Goldstein acknowledged, speaking during and after a conference here of the German Marshall Fund. “But identity is a two-sided relation” — between young Muslims and ourselves.
“We have to fight racism and discrimination with the same force” as radicalization, he said, because “our society gives to these young people a bad idea of who and what they are.”
From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:
The Bolshevik Billionaire
Works of art looted by the Nazis remain a subject of much fascination in the 21st century. This year’s movie Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren as a Los Angeles woman battling in court to get back her aunt’s Gustav Klimt painting did well at the box office. Last year’s George Clooney-directed Monuments Men about WWII art historians fighting Nazi plunderers also made decent money, despite its stilted style.
On the other hand, the Communist pillage of the art treasures of Russia is a topic that seldom comes up, even though European democracies had devoted much effort in the 1920s trying to keep Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin from fencing their stolen goods abroad. Sean McMeekin’s 2008 book History’s Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks made little impression on the media mind.
I was reminded 0f this by visiting the posh art museum built (with other people’s money, of course) as a monument to himself by Los Angeles’ own Bolshevik billionaire, the man who had been the chief American fence for Communist-looted art.
Read the whole thing there.
The 2008 U.S. Open golf tournament at the Torrey Pines municipal course in La Jolla, CA, with a limping Tiger Woods winning his latest (and perhaps last) major championship over journeyman Rocco Mediate, was a popular success, with terrific attendance and TV ratings. This made the blue-blooded United States Golf Association feel good about its decision earlier in 2008, as part of its PR campaign to make golf seem less country club snobby, to hold the 2015 Open at a brand new muni course, Chambers Bay on Puget Sound just south of Tacoma:
Of course, golf course architecture is an almost completely opaque art form to nongolfers and to a large fraction of golfers. But comparing pictures of the signature par 3s at Torrey Pines (designed by Bill Bell the Younger in 1957, redesigned by Rees Jones in 2001) and Chambers Bay (designed by Rees’s brother Robert Trent Jones II in 2007) offers an exaggeratedly clear example of trends in golf course design. (And, yes, all three of these golf architects are the sons of famous golf architects. Bill Bell the Elder worked on a variety of 1920s golden age courses in California, while Robert Trent Jones Sr. was the pre-eminent golf architect of the 1948-1968 Modernist era).
Modernist golf courses were rationalized, with the eccentricities bulldozed away. In retrospect, they tended to produce good young golfers (America dominated the Ryder Cup in the wake of the RTJ Sr. era.) But among the tiny number of people who care about fashions in golf design, they are now unfashionable.
Billy Bell Jr.’s South Course at Torrey Pines was to post-WWII modernism in golf design what the World Trade Center was to post-WWII modernism in building design: the site and scale were extraordinary, but the design was streamlined and simple to the point of boredom.
For decades, Torrey Pines South served as the minimal test of a golf design aficionado: if you didn’t feel frustrated by Torrey Pines South’s failure to fulfill its potential, you didn’t have much taste. (The more modest North Course at Torrey Pines makes better use of the ocean cliffs and arroyos.)
Nonetheless, the course was enormously popular, hosting a PGA tournament every winter (with local boys Tiger Woods winning seven times and Phil Mickelson three times, suggesting that it is good at determining who the best golfers are), and being played by huge numbers of visitors to San Diego year round.
To lure the U.S. Open, the local government hired Open Doctor Rees Jones to improve the South Course, but gave him a rather limited budget. He more or less built the magnificent new third hole (top of this post) over the canyon and moved other greens closer to the cliffs and added bunkers. But Rees Jones’ budget was fairly limited ($3.4 million) so he mostly kept the generally Mad Men Era modernist style of Bell’s 1957 original.
In contrast, Rees’s brother RT Jones II’s Chambers Bay course is very much representative of the Neo-Scotland on Steroids style that dominates American golf architecture at present. Chambers Bay is an old gravel and sand pit that was an industrial eyesore, so RTJ II’s designers and bulldozer-driving shapers pushed sand around into whatever 3d shapes pleased them. (That’s the only tree on the golf course.)
Extreme complexity is the current style.
Here’s Chambers Bay’s par 3 17th hole alongside Puget Sound:
Modernism has come back into fashion in building architecture.
For example, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is booming with tourists at present, so a few years ago LACMA put up a new restaurant in the courtyard to cash in of fashionable visitors: a simple steel and glass box.
It’s possible that Modernism will start showing up again in golf courses if golf courses ever start getting built again.
Escena, one of the most recent golf courses to open in Palm Springs, where ring-a-ding-a-ding Ratpack Modernism is all the rage (Frank Sinatra’s old house has become a tourist attraction among architecture aficionados), has a fairly streamlined modernist course that complements its steel and glass clubhouse.
As the top picture on the post of Torrey Pines’s third hole shows, if your hole spans a giant arroyo and has an ocean for a backdrop, modernist simplicity can look great.
In “Art Over Biology,” literary critic Adam Kirsch questions in The New Republic how the arts can be explained in terms of survival of the fittest:
In his early story “Tonio Kröger,” Thomas Mann created a parable of one of the central modern beliefs, which is that the artist is unfit for life.…Love and marriage and parenthood are barred to Tonio, because he has an artist’s soul….
You may not have been aware that, on average, artists are relatively lacking in sexual opportunities. But just ask artists and they’ll tell you — maybe over a drink up at their place while they are showing you their etchings — all about the sacrifices they make for their art. “The artist’s decision to produce spiritual offspring rather than physical ones is thus allied to the monk’s celibacy …” asserts Kirsch, who evidently hasn’t met many artists (or monks).
Speaking of Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kröger, here’s L.A. singer-songwriter Tonio K’s 1978 single Life in the Foodchain.
From the files of “Who? Whom?”
The official blog of the Berlin Biennale art exhibit explains, in effect, that the festival’s planned bookburning of Thilo Sarrazin’s bestseller Germany Does Away With Itself is Good because the would-be bookburners are Good (they’re artists!) and Sarrazin and anybody objecting to bookburning is Bad, and that’s really all you need to know, so why don’t all you Bad People just shut up like you are supposed to?
What does competence look like? Working with subjects rating photos of hundreds of faces, Todorov and colleagues have developed computer models of how faces can suggest character traits like trustworthiness and likability. The competent face shape is masculine but approachable, with a square jaw, high cheekbones, and large eyes. When people say Romney just looks presidential, this is the image they’re summoning.
Todorov and other psychologists believe that otherwise expressionless faces can appear to show emotion based on how they’re formed—the shape of the eyebrows can suggest anger, for instance, while a long distance between the eyes and the mouth can suggest sadness. On Todorov’s computer model of an incompetent face, beady, close-together eyes paired with high eyebrows suggest fearfulness, even through the face is expressionless. Todorov believes our tendency to read expression into neutral faces amounts to an “overgeneralization” of a healthy trait—human beings’ ability to judge others’ intentions from a brief glance.
This Martin Luther King National Memorial, which will be dedicated on August 28 on the Mall in D.C., is shaping up as the kind of farce that H.L. Mencken would have enjoyed. The vaguely Chinese-looking giant statue itself looks like the woozy recollection of some Chinese sculptor who doesn’t actually remember MLK (hey, he was busy at the time being Culturally Revolutionized — Mao didn’t even allow mention of the moon landing), nor know many black people, but he does remember Mike Tyson trying to glare down Evander Holyfield at a heavyweight title bout weigh-in (assuming Iron Mike were a little Chinese).
So, we get Martin Luther Ming the Merciless. As a commenter suggests: Martian Luther King.
During the next ten days of solemnities up through the dedication, no giggling allowed! This is a very serious occasion in the national civic religion and anyone who cracks a smile will be dealt with.
It’s a monument to modern American corruption and incompetence in every way. First King’s family held it up because they wanted a payout. A payout to “use his likeness”. Not only were they not willing to “donate” his likeness for free to be used on a public monument, but some scumbag lawyer apparently managed to argue that chiseling an statue of a famous historical figure violates copyright.
Then they get a mainland Chinese to sculpt it. Is that because out of 1 million art students in college at any time that none of them are competent enough to chisel some stone? Or that the powers that be just can’t bear to miss out cheap Chinese labor? Or maybe someone just figured that no one understands the American civil rights struggle and the physique of a black man like a mainland Chinese communist?
Then after they hire the Chinese he picks the wrong color stone. Was there a sale on white? Someone cancelled their marble countertop at the last minute and he got a half price special? Nope, turns out it was just what the Chinese prison labor dug up that month.
The cherry on top is this little nugget from wikipedia:
In September 2010, the foundation gave written promises that it would use local stonemasons to assemble the memorial. However, when construction began in October, it appeared that only Chinese laborers would be used. The Washington area local of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers union investigated and determined that the workers are not being paid on a regular basis, with all of their pay being withheld until they return to China.
Lawyers and academics and copyright whores spend so much time and money arguing that the only way to afford the project is cheap foreign labor with substandard materials. And the result speaks for itself. Truly a monument for our times.
As a commenter points out below, the sculptor is from Changsha in Hunan, where Mao converted to Communism, and Changsha is always building giant statues of Mao to plop down as a “gift” in places like recalcitrant Tibet. (Gee … thanks Uncle Changsha for the nifty Chairman Mao statue.) The commission that commissioned this statue made a big deal about how they just chose this Chinese guy because he had the experienced workforce to build a giant stone statue, but the reason his workforce is experienced is because they make massive Mao statues. So, the USA ends up with a Maoist colossus between the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial, with MLK looking like he’s about to dispatch to the pig farms any bourgeois revisionists who doubt that backyard steel mills are a great idea.