What does Eau de Nil mean?

Noted early twentieth century cultural signifier Eau de Nil wends it way from Flaubert in Egypt to Hitchcock to a fresh moment in the sun thanks to a cool president’s new portrait:

The term first entered our chromatic lexicon in the late nineteenth century, just as Egyptomania was hitting its peak. While in the British Isles talk of “the East” referred primarily to India, France had a particularly strong affinity for Egypt—due in part to Napoleon’s brief 1798 attempts at colonization and the influence of the savants. “If you were French,” Wall writes, “the east was Egypt, a place at the very limit of the European imagination … Egypt was the orient, a country of the mind, a grand theatre of sensuality, despotism, slavery, polygamy, cruelty, mystery and terror.” This Egypt of the mind had little reality outside the poetry of Keats and Shelley; the paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Emile Bernard, and André Duterte (whose painting of the ruined temple at Thebes may have been the basis for “Oxymandias”); and the oddly popular theories of the occultist Helena Blavatsky and her follower, the “wickedest man in the world,” Aleister Crowley. For the French, Egypt as a concept was far more exciting than Egypt as an actual place. (Though not to Flaubert; to him, Egypt was where he bedded nubile young women after watching them dance the popular striptease, “the bee.”)

Image: the great portrait by Kehinde Wiley


When the Poor Man went dark a while back, it was indeed a low moment for the internets. But every now and then, new high points are established.

Here is one such from yesterday.


Greens and the Next-Bubble

I was passing around this video, via Grist, about ‘what french school kids eat’ to some friends of Mrs. Green this weekend and so I should share it here. Note the child-like presentation from CBS News, which says a lot about what they think of their audience. But also note that this was on CBS News. One of the most poignant philosophical lines in the report is when the chef says, “just because they can’t vote doesn’t mean we should shove crap in their face.” Touche’, mon frere.

Then there’s this article in the Washington Monthly on the Next Real Estate Boom. Guess where it’s going to be, and why:

The baby boom generation, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, remains the largest demographic bloc in the United States. At approximately 77 million Americans, they are fully one-quarter of the population. With the leading edge of the boomers now approaching sixty-five years old, the group is finding that their suburban houses are too big. Their child-rearing days are ending, and all those empty rooms have to be heated, cooled, and cleaned, and the unused backyard maintained. Suburban houses can be socially isolating, especially as aging eyes and slower reflexes make driving everywhere less comfortable. Freedom for many in this generation means living in walkable, accessible communities with convenient transit linkages and good public services like libraries, cultural activities, and health care. Some boomers are drawn to cities. Others prefer to stay in the suburbs but want to trade in their large-lot single-family detached homes on cul-de-sacs for smaller-lot single-family homes, townhouses, and condos in or near burgeoning suburban town centers.

Generation Y has a different story. The second-largest generation in the country, born between 1977 and 1994 and numbering 76 million, millennials are leaving the nest. They may sometimes fall back into the nest, but eventually they find a place of their own for the first time. Following the lead of their older cousins, the much smaller generation X (those born between 1965 and 1976), a high proportion of millennials have a taste for vibrant, compact, and walkable communities full of economic, social, and recreational opportunities. Their aspirations have been informed by Friends and Sex in the City, shows set in walkable urban places, as opposed to their parents’ mid-century imagery of Leave It to Beaver and Brady Bunch, set in the drivable suburbs. Not surprisingly, fully 77 percent of millennials plan to live in America’s urban cores. The largest group of millennials began graduating from college in 2009, and if this group rents for the typical three years, from 2013 to 2018 there will be more aspiring first-time homebuyers in the American marketplace than ever before—and only half say they will be looking for drivable suburban homes. Reinforcing that trend, housing industry experts, like Todd Zimmerman of Zimmerman/Volk Associates, believe that this generation is more likely to plant roots in walkable urban areas and force local government to fix urban school districts rather than flee to the burbs for their schools.

True Stories

The term ‘exclusive,’when employed as anything other than a pejorative, has to double back on itself a time or two just to keep up. The theatrics can be dizzying.

The gated community in Hemet doesn’t seem like the best place for Eddie and Maria Lopez to raise their family anymore.

Vandals knocked out the streetlight in front of the Lopezes’ five-bedroom home and then took advantage of the darkness to try to steal a van. Cars are parked four deep in the driveway next door, where a handful of men rent rooms. And up and down their block of handsome single-family homes are padlocked doors, orange “no trespassing signs” and broken front windows.

It wasn’t what the Lopezes pictured when they agreed to pay $440,000 for their 5,000-square-foot house in 2006.

Okay, set the money aside for a second – I know; it’s difficult. What were these homeowners being promised?

The development promised a Tiffany neighborhood for what was then something closer to a Target price.

It’s mainstreaming the haute bourgeoisie, as if that was a thing we would want to do , or could do without consequences from Mother Universe. Come on, “brochures that coo”? But again, the whole thing is so stupidly incoherent, if I only blamed the gullible buyers it would legitimize the developers/lenders as some kind of Barnums who should be lauded. For the buyers, we have to admit that, circa, 2005, this was what the American dream looked like. The whole thing is a construct to separate you from your money, yes; but what happens when it works? We’ll have to admit: the rubes’R us.

Thanks to overbuilding, demographic changes and shifts in preferences, by 2030 there could be 25 million more suburban homes on large lots than are needed, said Arthur C. Nelson of the University of Utah. Nelson believes that as baby boomers age and as younger generations buy real estate, the population will abandon remote McMansions for smaller homes closer to shops, jobs and the other necessities of life.

Ya think? Now hear this: no where should property values ever be as high as even $200K for a quarter-acre lot (with a house!) if it is more than a ten minute-walk (on foot) to the bar, the post, at minimum ten restaurants, at least a hippie grocery store if not a carniceria and the bank. Does this mean people can only live in big cities? No, it does not.

Elitist happiness misers.