At my law school, particularly before we merged with the University of Massachusetts, many of the students were not familiar with business dress. Our school is located in an area that has many first and second generation immigrants and has a history that is more blue than white collar. Because of this, many on our faculty attempt to model “proper” business attire for an attorney by dressing in a style that is conservative, traditional and main-stream.
Recently, I have had the chance to visit several major U.S. cities and have noted a big change in general dress standards. For example, on recent trip to NYC, I dined at several top-drawer restaurants, Le Bernardin, for example (deserving all of the accolades it has gotten, by the way). Ten years ago, no sane person would think about entering that style of a restaurant without wearing business attire; indeed, many top restaurants had and enforced a dress code. On my recent trips, however, I found that business attire is now the exception with many diners wearing much more casual attire, i.e., shorts and a polo shirt in Le Bernardin. I found the same thing to be true in other cities in both the South and West.
My question is whether the time spent talking to students about business attire is now wasted. After all, it wasn’t long ago that no lawyer would enter a courtroom with less than a wig and robe. Is business dress dying?
My guest blogging began with a post in memory of The Band’s Levon Helm. I would be remiss if I did not circle back by sharing a hidden gem and seeking other Shmengeheads.
The Shmenge’s Last Polka is a mockumentary about brothers, Yosh (John Candy) and Stan (Eugene Levy) Shmenge, retiring from a long and illustrious career as the greatest Polka duo ever. The format follows Martin Scorsese’s classic, The Band The Last Waltz. The Shmenges were born on Second City TV and also known as the Happy Wanderers.
Unfortunately, this classic has not made its way across the digital divide and is not (yet?) available on DVD, or whatever we’re using now. Fortunately, a fellow Shmengehead posted the film in several parts in cyberspace. Here’s a part of the film with a Linsk Minyk (Rick Moranis) sit-in and banter.
Thank you to the Lounge regulars for sharing their forum and to all the readers for sharing their time. I hope to see/meet you at SEALS later this summer or somewhere down the So Many Roads we all know.
p.s. The last link above is to a late era Robert Hunter / Jerry Garcia song. Jerry flubs a few lyrics, but this inspired performance from the Boston Garden in 1994 is worth seven and a half minutes of any music lover’s time, at least once. For some reason, Jerry vocally wails on “to heal my soul” at the end, instead of the usual “to ease my soul.”
p.p.s. RIP Doc Watson. Sitting on Top of the World
As the Supreme Court’s second decision in three years in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc. nears, a brief history of indecency regulation may be of interest and begins with a tie to music.
In 1970, the FCC levied its first indecency fine. The FCC fined a Philadelphia non-profit educational radio station, WUHY-FM, $ 100 for broadcasting a pre-recorded interview with Jerry Garcia. Garcia interspersed his musings on a vareity of topics with indecent language, such as "political change is so fucking slow." No one complained about the broadcast. The FCC was monitoring the radio station. In dissent, Commissioner Nicholas Johnson conveyed bewilderment and disdain about the FCC’s decision to fine this particular station:
[W]hen we do go after broadcasters, I find it pathetic that we always seem to pick upon the small, community service stations . . . It is ironic to me that of the public complaints about broadcasters' ‘taste’ received in my office, there are probably a hundred or more about network television for every one about stations of this kind. Surely if anyone were genuinely concerned about the impact of broadcasting upon the moral values of this nation — and that impact has been considerable — he ought to consider the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks before picking on little educational FM radio stations that can scarcely afford the postage to answer our letters, let alone hire lawyers. We have plenty of complaints around this Commission involving the networks. Why are they being ignored? I shan't engage in speculation. Download In Re WUHY FCC 1970
In 1975, the FCC received one complaint because a New York radio station broadcasted George Carlin’s Filthy Words monologue in the afternoon. In 1978, the Court held in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation that regulating indecent speech on broadcast radio and television did not per se violate the First Amendment. The Court based its decision on the dual rationales that broadcast radio and television are uniquely pervasive in society and that they are uniquely accessible to children. Justice Powell’s concurrence made clear that the Court did not decide whether the isolated use of a potentially offensive word could be regulated and that the holding was limited to the specific context of Carlin’s “verbal shock treatment.”
For a quarter-century, the FCC maintained that fleeting expletives did not rise to the level of indecent speech. But, after Bono used a fleeting expletive when receiving a Golden Globe award, and Cher and Nicole Richie made similar transgressions on the Billboard Music Awards, the FCC reversed course and issued its 2004 Golden Globe Order finding that any use of the words fuck or shit is inherently indecent, except for a couple of exceptions.
In 2009, the Court held 5-4 that the FCC rule change did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act’s arbitrary and capricious standard. Justice Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion in Pacifica, dissented in Fox I. Now, the Court considers whether the FCC’s indecency regulation violates the First or Fifth Amendments.
One would be hard pressed to argue that broadcast radio and television are still uniquely pervasive in society and uniquely accessible to children in light of the numerous media technologies that exist, especially considering the ubiquity of mobile devices with internet access. Not only do the rationales of Pacifica fail to reflect the realities of 2012, advertisements like the Go Daddy commercials that air during the Super Bowl and for products like KY Intense, an “arousal gel” make futzing around with fleeting expletives a rather futile exercise. Justice Stevens made a similar point in a footnote to his Fox I dissent: "It is ironic, to say the least, that while the FCC patrols the airwaves for words that have a tenuous relationship with sex or excrement, commercials broadcast during prime-time hours frequently ask viewers whether they too are battling erectile dysfunction or are having trouble going to the bathroom."
Here’s Frank Zappa performing, I’m the Slime on Saturday Night Live in 1976, complete with guest vocals by Don Pardo. Zappa’s take on the slime oozing out of the tv set is more aligned with Commissioner Johnson’s WUHY-FM dissent, than a concern about “bad words.”
Thank you to Jacqui, Dan and everyone for welcoming me as a guest here.
On April 19, 2012, Levon Helm died. Before he left this world, he left us with much to celebrate. Today, I thread The Band through this post to introduce myself and to pay tribute to a great drummer, singer, lyricist and person.
One of my fond high school memories is driving from Cincinnati, Ohio to a Notre Dame home football game with my father, Joseph P. Tomain, Dean Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. We drove in his, later to be mine, 1984 Corolla. I don't remember who they played or if they won. I do remember that our '84 Corolla lacked a cassette player. So, we brought a boom box. We listened to the live recording, Before the Flood, by Bob Dylan and The Band. I'll always remember that trip and that boom box playing Before the Flood from the backseat. It's amazing how music can place and hold memories in our lives. I went on to attend Notre Dame for undergrad and law school.
Speaking of Notre Dame, I enjoyed tuning into The Daily Show in March 2012 to see my Contracts professor, Cathleen Kaveny, discussing her forthcoming book, Law's Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society. My favorite line of the interview came when Stewart asked Kaveny, what's the difference between a Catholic institution providing health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage and paying an employee a salary who later spends some of that money on contraception. Kaveny's reply: "You could be a moral theologian." Nice work, Prof. Kaveny! The Band have their moments of moral theology, as well. (see e.g. When You Awake).
Speaking of teaching Contracts, when I send an email to my class, I usually quote some lyrics and provide a link to a version of the song below my signature. After Levon passed, I quoted "The Weight" and included a RIP for Levon. While a few students had commented on evaluations that they enjoyed these treats at the end of my emails, none ever brought it up in person, until this one. A twenty-something student stopped me after class to say he enjoyed the quote and had recently been watching Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz in memory of Levon. I'm happy to know that some students find a connection in this extra-legal dialogue.
Finally, I play in an Ultimate Frisbee league in Jacksonville, Florida. (A couple of law students play in the league as well. Like the vast majority of Ultimate players I know, these law students are great people.) When my team captain solicited ideas for our team name, I offered a few names in honor of Levon. Our team adopted the name, "Cripple Creek." While I'm thankful these youngsters indulged me and took a liking to Cripple Creek, my favorite team name idea was, "The Shape I'm In." (could be better, could be worse, but I digress)
Throughout May, I look forward to combining my love of law and music with various topics to share with the Lounging community. And remember, Life is a Carnival. Enjoy Being!
Why would a law professor write fiction? Scott Douglas Gerber (Ohio Northern) answers that question in the National Jurist here (free registration required; sorry). Here's the kernel of his advice:
For those of us who don’t teach at Yale, Stanford, Penn and the like, it’s much more difficult to get fiction published than it is nonfiction. Like it or not, those of us toiling in the hinterlands have a tougher time getting the attention of New York literary agents and publishing houses. But, as a novelist friend once reminded me during one of my many moments of frustration about how the publishing industry really works, if you write fiction because you enjoy is – nothing more, nothing less – you will never regret that you do.
"Write because you enjoy it" is a good maxim, but what about those for whom writing -- even non-fiction -- is painful and difficult? "Enjoy it because you have to do it" may be more apropos.
As for me, I'm squarely in the "I hate to write; I love having written" camp. Incidentally, does anyone have a cite for that quote? I've seen it attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson, Eudora Welty, Dorothy Parker, and others.
Of the 327 films I watched to select the films for Advocacy to Zealousness, one of my favorites is The Talk of the Town (1942), which chronicles the experiences of a persnickety law professor who is trying to complete a book while a felon secretly hides in the attic of the cottage he is renting for the summer. The felon is brilliantly portrayed by Cary Grant (pictured, far left, and born today in 1904). The storyline includes the possibility of the professor's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. With the recent appointment of Associate Justice Elena Kagan, we know that such an honor -- although somewhat rare in recent times -- is far from fictitious. So, in honor of this wonderful film, and what would have been Grant's 108th birthday, today's question concerns High Court appointments. Which current law professors or deans would make good candidates? (Bonus points will be awarded to anyone who can list Cary Grant's given name.)
Joining The Lounge for another visit this month is a great delight (and an honor). For my first post, I thought I would highlight an inaugural event that will take place during the AALS conference -- the first annual Law and Film Series. Four films will be shown -- two tonight, and two on Jan. 7. Tonight's pair includes a film that appears in Advocacy to Zealousness-- the wonderful Adam's Rib(1949). Although it was released more than six decades ago, the film has aged beautifully, and the witty dialogue is just as fresh and clever today as it was when it was first shown. I find it particularly interesting that the story was reportedly inspired by a real-life lawyer couple who represented a husband and wife in a divorce, and ended up marrying their respective clients. I also wish to publicly thank my publisher, Carolina Academic Press, for generously sponsoring this year's film series. The film will be shown tonight at 10 p.m. I would love to be there (my new book will be featured), and I hope others will give this event great support.
And speaking of our friend Kelly Anders and her Oscar Trivia prowess (and congrats on the book, Kelly!) it would be wrong of me to let the new year creep in without alerting everyone to the need to spend whatever is left of the break catching up on those Oscar-buzz-worthy films. The field is wide open this year according to Variety with no early indications of a front-runner in any of the major categories.
I can attest to the strong acting performances and quirky script in Young Adult, but I can't say I've seen too many of the other films being talked about.
Given that there's so little time and so many potential contenders, which films do Lounge readers think we should see in the remaining couple of months before the awards hit us?
Creighton law prof Kelly Anders (pictured) has been a Lounge visitor on multiple occasions, including stints as one of our "Oscar trivia experts" in recent years. Next month, Carolina Academic Press will publish Kelly's new book, Advocacy to Zealousness: Learning Lawyering Skills from Classic Films. Details are available here. A review of the table of contents reveals that Kelly builds her textual discussion of 26 different lawyering skills (one for each letter of the alphabet [including the always challenging "q" and "x"!]) around 26 different films, including such law-related favorites as To Kill a Mockingbird and 12 Angry Men, and others that are completely new to me, such as Pinky and Salesman.
Sounds like a book that should certainly interest those who teach a course in lawyering skills, Law and Film, or Law and Culture. And if you don't? A love of film should be hook enough!
For those of you who'll be in the triangle between now and mid January, I recommend the North Carolina Museum of Art's exhibit, "Rembrandt in America." The exhibit focuses on Rembrandts collected in the United States and the theme that runs through this is what should be considered a Rembrandt? It builds around the attributions made by the NC Museum of Art's first director, who was (it seems) extremely generous in attributions of paintings to Rembrandt. And at several points they invite viewers to make their own judgments about attribution. It's a very accessible exhibit and well worth the $18 admission -- or you might just want to go ahead and purchase a membership for $40, which gets you one admission ticket.
I'd hoped that they might have The Mill there, but perhaps National Gallery wouldn't loan it -- though there are several portraits from the National Gallery, as well as museums in Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis and some from private collections. Among my favorites were two portraits of people with books -- Old Woman with a Book and Portrait of a Man Reading, from the Clark Institute -- and A Scholar by Candlelight, from a private collection in Milwaukee. The historian of the book part of my personality causes me to take issue with the gallery's discussion of "Portrait of a Man Reading." It says something along the lines of this shows the contemplative life. While books are, obviously, often associated with contemplation, they're also quite often -- especially law books -- also associated with activity. As legal historians increasingly talk of law as a form of technology (Chris Tomlins, for instance, refers to law as one of the tools of colonization in Bound for Freedom -- and to go down a number of steps in sophistication, Stephen Davis and I talk of trusts as a form of technology in antebellum Alabama), we may also think of books as part of that technolgy. It is quite possible that the Portrait of a Man Reading depicts a man using a book to plan some activity. (I have that sense particularly because he has a finger holding a page in another part of the book; it seems very much that this reader is active.)
For those of you who won't have the chance to see the exhibit, here's a link to a very nice half hour program on the exhibit that was produced by UNC-TV. The gallery guide is here.
Recently, I’ve blogged about good (and bad) writing, here and here. In a bit of serendipity, I came across yesterday two happily short essays, both written by law professors who are masterful writers with formal training in literature.
One essay is by Bill Miller at Michigan, the other by Stanley Fish at FIU, and both dwell on the meaning of old age. As he does in his addictive books, Miller writes with brio and a wit that is generous and droll. Fish, surely one of the eminent public intellectuals of his time, reflects on his life with candor, humility and, something that I didn’t naturally expect from a law professor, a moving and genuine affect.
Miller and Fish hint that they are near the end; as someone who, by turns, adores and covets their talent for the craft of writing, I hope not.
Jacqui’s post got me thinking about prose, and especially, the meaning of good prose; I had written about that before.
In Jacqui’s post, Stephen King was quoted as saying that a simple word, with its purported directness and lucidity, is usually better than a longer one, with its clumsy pretentiousness.
There’s a happily intuitive appeal about King’s view. I mean, do I really want the 2L students in my First Amendment seminar, the night before their papers are due, to raid Roget’s Thesaurus, looking desperately for pseudo-scholarly substitutes for “significant” and “odious,” in some vain endeavor to gravy over an otherwise substantively mediocre paper?
But should King’s dictum apply for everyone? Take the satirist David Lodge or, for that matter, Christopher Hitchens, with their luscious grammar and deft—no, masterly—grasp of English. (Lodge and Hitchens, both British,. . . that wasn’t intentional, by the way,. . . please, no accusations of America-bashing.)
I find their vocabulary, multisyallbic and challenging, to be gorgeous and illuminating, the sort of stuff that I wish I had written, not just for their substance, but their fabulous style.
I usually have a stack of "fun" reading on my night stand. Currently, the stack includes The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (a re-read actually of a quirky book about living in Paris), and Daniel Silva's new book Portrait of a Spy (the latest in the Gabriel Allon series).
I often collect recommendations from colleagues, and a friend recently told me about a book recommendation website: Whichbook. You can select up to four different qualities in the book (happy v. sad, funny v. serious, easy v. demanding, etc.) The site then gives you recommendations, which include the title, an excerpt from the book and "similar" books. The Whichbook site has helped me move outside my reading comfort zone with some unexpected recommendations. Give it a try!
TMZ reports that New Edition member Johnny Gill is facing a lawsuit (presumably for libel) based on what he said in a tweet. Being sued for what you say on Twitter is nothing new. As we've covered at TortsProfs, Twitter libel suits are fairly common these days. Kim Kardashian, for example, was sued based on a tweet. But Johnny Gill appears to think that 140 characters or less provides a license to say anything. He reportedly told TMZ that people shouldn't be allowed to sue based on a tweet because "the courtrooms would be filled with a bunch of Twitter people complaining about things people say every day."
His remark caused me to think about electronic communication generally. What is it about electronic communciation (tweets, emails, texts) that causes us to say things we otherwise would not say orally or in a non-electronic writing? It could be the mere speed of the communication. Maybe we just speak too soon without any reflection time. But is it something more than just speed?
The "American Odyssey" exhibit has work from Mr. Warner's personal collection, which was not liable to sale, including Thomas Cole's Catskill Mountain House. I have not written much, if anything about it here, but it's a wonderful landscape of a hotel in the middle of the Catskills. Quite an odd juxta-position of a Greek Revival Structure in the mountains. The hotel itself is worth some commentary -- decades later (in the mid-twentieth century) it was in dis-repair and it was intentionally burned in 1983, so says wikipedia.
I hope to take the exhibit in sometime this fall when I'm in Philadelphia. It will be wonderful to see some old friends from Tuscaloosa in a setting that once meant so much to me, on Penn's campus.
With gratitude to my colleague (and occasional Faculty Lounge guest blogger), Cassandra Robertson, for drawing this to my attention. Here's a review of an academic book on photography that Cassandra and I both felt may tell us something about the perils of how some of us write (or feel that we should write) law review articles. See what you think!
In honor of today's opening of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (what's not to love - intelligent apes, dangerous biotech research etc?), I invite readers to comment on their favorite monkey movies over the years.
Was it in Madagascar the the monkeys were discussing when they should "fling poo" in cultured British accents?
And if anyone can explain all the time and space paradoxes in previous Planet of the Apes movies, I'd be most grateful. Don't they start in the future and end in the past?