SL 684

I’m weighing the pros and cons of walking to the express bus along the side of the highway to get into New York City for a charter school debate.

Con – Been out at meetings all week (tomorrow, too); it would be nice to communicate with my husband. Also, the rain splash factor will be high along the highway.

Pro – Might learn something new. I want to meet one of the participants.

I find utopian communities and hermits fascinating.

A close up look at DeVos’s Christian college.

Nobody wants your granny’s china tea cups anymore.

I adore Cormac McCarthy.

How Donald Trump eats his steak matters.

22 thoughts on “SL 684

  1. I too find utopian communities interesting. I know a few people who have raised families on them in the 21st Century. (Google Afton, Virginia, or Floyd, Virginia to possibly learn more.) There is also an active one in Fluvanna County, VA, but I have never met someone from that one.

    Closer to New Jersey, there was a utopian community in what is now Colts Neck Township, Monmouth County, called The Phalanx. It was thought to have been located near Phalanx Road. It had a run of around a dozen years in the 1850s, with disputes as to handle the abolitionist movement doing it in. It has a limited Wikipedia page; the Monmouth County Historical Society has a pretty good archive in Freehold on it. Also, Frederika Bremer describes a few stays there in her book “Homes of the New World,” a text that I generally recommend for its descriptions of America in the mid 1800s.

    So there is probably nothing left of The Phalanx except possibly a historical marker. Bruce Springsteen’s farm is about a mile away–no marker though, so you’d have to know where to look, although the security helps give it away.


  2. “..your granny’s china tea cups anymore..” No, nor any brown furniture. Dead, dead, dead. People would rather get something from Ikea which doesn’t lead to upset when the kid spills grape juice.


  3. Oh I don’t know. We’ve started going to auctions now and again. People are still buying china and furniture. This might vary by area. I’d check eBay and search online for the brand of china before deciding no one wants granny’s china.

    I wish china manufacturers (what is the correct term for that?) would stop putting gold and silver on most of their pieces. We expect to put plates in the microwave. I have my mother’s gilded set for holiday dinners, but we use plates without gilding for everyday. If an apartment’s small, the gilded china should be the first thing to go.

    If I had to do it all over again, I’d buy my china at auction, and put it in the dishwasher. Life’s too short to hand wash dishes.


    1. Cranberry said:

      “I wish china manufacturers (what is the correct term for that?) would stop putting gold and silver on most of their pieces.”


      I have a lot of modern blue-and-white stuff, and it’s all supposed to be able to go in the dishwasher and microwave. I’m not actually going to put it in the microwave (because of bake-on concerns), but I appreciate the thought.


  4. One place where the old china is appreciated: the break room at work. Someone has brought in some beautiful old sets of china, which we now use for everyday lunch use. It improves the vibe of the room tremendously. Now, if someone would stop stealing the silverware…


  5. Parsed carefully, the article on “old” furniture and china says less than first appears. Nobody wants mass-produced early to mid-twentieth century furniture or furnishings. I don’t know how much of a market there ever was for used stuff of that nature. There certainly isn’t much of a market for used Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware furniture now. There apparently remains a market for genuine antiques, and possibly for high-quality Victorian millwork.

    I don’t think that’s much of a change, or unique to millennials. When my grandparents died in the 70s and 80s, my parents certainly didn’t have much interest in their department store furniture from the 20s and 30s, or their random assortments of surviving china. (I took a set of plates to college, where my roommates and I generally broke them.)


  6. I’ve read two things recently about hermits and utopian community. One is a favorite line from a favorite play, Arcadia, where the lady of the house is asking her landscape gardener about whether he is going to supply a hermit for the hermitage he is building. He suggests perhaps advertising in the newspaper, and she says, “Surely a hermit who takes a newspaper is not a hermit in whom one can have complete confidence.” Sounds like this guy did the same with paperback books.

    The other, making the rounds in religious studies circles, is an article about Rod Dreher’s new book, The Benedict Option, which proposes that conservative Christians withdraw from public life and form little insulated moral communities. This is a proposal that builds on Alasdair MacIntyre’s work After Virtue, from the early 80s or so. I haven’t read the book, so it’s unclear whether this is basically about making sure your children don’t encounter any gay people who have families and are living happily, or whether it is based in a broader cultural critique (of materialism, etc.).


    1. A quick reading of almost any of the prophets will suggest that the dichotomy between sexual immorality and material greed is not one that they would have endorsed. It’s difficult, but worth trying, not to impose your own culture-bound dichotomies on other people.

      Now, me, personally, I have no problem living with people who don’t practice biblical morality in sexual or financial matters. Hence my basic contentment in NYC. But that’s just me.


      1. Sure, but if you think gay relationships are just as likely to be loving and faithful as straight relationships, as I do (and as a number of Christians I know do), that dichotomy no longer holds.


      2. Also, you may be under the impression that only people born after 1950 were culture-bound, and not, say, the apostle Paul.


    2. “conservative Christians withdraw from public life”

      Would that also include not voting? Because I could get behind that notion.


  7. “McCarthy suggests that unless artists make their own work their first priority, and material comfort and economic security a ‘distant second…'”

    I don’t think I buy this at all.


      1. Wouldn’t it be nice?

        Then there’s the not so small matter of setting up society so that people are fundamentally secure, and also of getting the economics of the arts right so that grinding poverty is not the common lot of people in that field.


      2. “..the economics of the arts, so that grinding poverty..” – we have a kind of fundamental mismatch between the number of people who want to be artists and the amount of art which other people want to consume. This is exacerbated by technology, starting with Gutenberg and the displacement of scribes doing illuminated capitals for hand copied books and accelerating with colored prints of art by dead people displacing icon painters, photographs putting portraitists onto the street. Then the damned gramophone displaced piano players. Now my daughter is happier listening to recordings of Taylor Swift than going out and seeking some local torch singer.
        When Netherlands was flush with oil money, they pissed a lot of it away with a government commitment to buying art by Dutch artists, result was warehouses full of art which no one would buy except the government.
        Result is artists and poets flipping burgers, and teaching high school art classes. My County has a ‘one percent for art’ requirement for buildings, which raises the cost of offices and results in a lot of stainless steel swirlies in the traffic islands.


  8. Does religion have to play a role? The 20-, 30- something who withdraws to an electronic world isn’t a hermit?

    On furniture: I admit, I’m the sucker who takes in family china, thus sparing relatives from the bad karma of selling grandma’s porcelain. It must be hereditary, as my aunt has a china cabinet full of odd lots. It’s kind of fun, and china isn’t hard to store. Its colors remain true, as long as it’s not left out in the sun or run through the dishwasher. (So don’t put pretty plates out on display in the full sun.)

    Mid-century modern is making a comeback, at least the collectible stuff. As it’s not nearly as durable as the solid older stuff, given the thrill of “modern” materials, some of it is in pretty rough shape. Then again, there is beautiful stuff, like George Nakashima’s work, coming up at auction now.

    If I wanted to make money in the long term, I’d buy some of the stuff which “no one wants” today, “brown” furniture, glass, etc., stick in in a warehouse, and sell it in 50 years. Of course, there are the carrying costs of storage, so it would be a risky investment, although there would be the satisfaction of saving good stuff from destruction.


    1. The 20-, 30- something who withdraws to an electronic world isn’t a hermit?

      I don’t think “Hermit” is a playable class. You can be a cleric, but not a hermit.


    2. I don’t believe in china or nice household things for myself, but I do love the old stuff in terms of it being a connection to family history. From “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker: “I took it for a moment in my hands. You didn’t even have to look close to see where hands pushing the dasher up and down to make butter had left a kind of sink in the wood. In fact, there were a lot of small sinks; you could see where thumbs and fingers had sunk into the wood. It was beautiful light yellow wood, from a tree that grew in the yard where Big Dee and Stash had lived.” (See, I’m also of the belief that art should be put to everyday use in our conversations. 😉


      1. I actually kind of covet a set of dishes my mom has. It’s an unusual hand-painted (I think) china with a large floral pattern. It belonged to my great-grandma, who in turn got it years ago from a lady who was preparing to run away from her husband.


  9. I don’t have Dave’s gift of thread recall, so I can’t find the thread where people were talking about home security recording devices. I’ll put this here, though, because it’s funny.

    “When visiting a new house, it’s good to check whether they have an always-on device transmitting your conversations somewhere.”


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