Red shift

I haven’t written anything about the possible impending shuttering of my sometime employer, the Boston Globe—I doubt that anyone has been breathlessly waiting for the point of view of a non-union freelancer—but, in honor of May Day, this is just too perfect.

The Boston Globe’s largest union last night called on The New York Times Co. to extend today’s deadline for reaching agreement on millions of dollars in concessions after revealing that an accounting mistake by management has suddenly removed $4.5 million in possible givebacks from the table.

A spectre is haunting The New York Times Company—the spectre of arithmetic.

Speaking of May Day:

Alexander Feodorovitch Kerensky will not stay put. I have a feeling as I write this that whatever I say will be ancient history in the light of new, violent developments in the career of this remarkable character. Perhaps he will star in the movies, perhaps… but no… he can never be a drawing-room favourite; he is not as cultured as Lenine or Trotsky; he speaks only Russian and a few words of French, while they speak any number of languages, are well up on the classics and even chatter of music. Trotsky looks like Paderevski and Lenine like Beethoven. What chance has he against them? Still—Kerensky is playful, ministers in the Winter Palace claimed that he kept them awake all hours of the night, singing grand opera airs….

Louise Bryant, Six Red Months in Russia (1918)
(ellipses in original)

—because singing opera is so lowbrow. But Louise is always good for a slightly off-course comparison—this one probably derived from the fact that Lenin did like Beethoven. In Gorky’s famous anecdote:

One evening in Moscow, in E.P. Pyeskovskaya’s flat, Lenin was listening to a sonata by Beethoven being played by Isaiah Dobrowein, and said: “I know nothing which is greater than the Appassionata; I would like to listen to it every day. It is marvelous superhuman music. I always think with pride—perhaps it is naive of me—what marvelous things human beings can do!”

Then screwing up his eyes and smiling, he added rather sadly: “But I can’t listen to music too often. It affects your nerves, makes you want to say stupid, nice things, and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell. And now you mustn’t stroke anyone’s head—you might get your hand bitten off. You have to hit them on the head, without any mercy, although our ideal is not to use force against anyone. H’m, h’m, our duty is infernally hard!”

Now there’s a marketing angle: “Classical music: insidiously distracting you from amoral dictatorial ruthlessness!”

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