Wow. This front page NYT photo of Obama at an AME church in deep South, with incandescent cross high on the wall behind him. His arm is raised in benediction, his jaw squared. The kind of exposure you can’t pay for. Brilliant campaigning. Obama goes there, looks like that, knowing he’s going to get photographed. Gets the lighting in the chuch just right. Obama’s people worked it out right.
But for the Times to put it up there is a wicked form of hero worship. It’s a great picture, but the photo is almost two months old. This was a story in the works a while. The paper paints a candidate any way the paper chooses. And it’s tied to a story about how Obama is having a hard time distancing himself from a divisive but hip-sounding Chicago pastor. Makes it hard to distance yourself if the Times does everything it can to remind people of certain roots. All those baptist African-American voters in NYC who used to be for Hillary might now vote for Obama because he looks so much like MLK up there. But it might send the Jewish vote back Hillary’s way; the photo screams "Gentile." The NYT doesn’t play favorites until later, right?
The Yankee”s Alex Rodriguez seems giddy and he deserves to. Two walk-off homers in the first 14 games?! Awesome. But he’s going to get, because of his success, the usual sniping that he only turns it on when it doesn’t matter. Two walk-offs? So what? It’s April. It doesn’t matter. But they should clam up, those critics. It all adds up, it matters. Two wins now could make all the difference in September.
It’s hard. How do you get around the feeling that you’re bothering people? How do you make them see the need to support your organization without feeling like you’re "selling" something?
Just had coffee with RK Stewart, the president of the American Institute of Architects, now celebrating its 150 year birthday. Gregarious guy who splits his time between San Francisco’s Gensler firm and lobbying efforts in Washington, DC. HIgh on RK’s and the AIA’s agenda these days is sustainable building practices and helping cities meet strict carbon reduction goals. Architects and builders have a huge opportunity to solve the carbon problem. Stewart estimates that 5mm square feet of new office construction per year is in the works, plus 5mm more of renovations. This means that in a several years 75% of the office building stock will be turned over and made new again. Better building practices could go a lot of the way toward getting carbon emissions well below the 20% and 30% reduction goals set by the EC and California and NYC, without the big hit to the economy. It’s a little premature to be talking about biodiesel, carbon sequestration and emissions-free coal generation plants and nuclear when four of the ten cheapest methods of carbon abatement by the year 2030 (iffy to forecast that far out but not too crazy) involve changes in construction practices: more efficient air-conditioning, water heating, lighting and insulation. Smarter contruction lowers carbon footprint, possibly to zero per building if done right, and can generate between $125 and $200 in savings per ton of CO2 equivalent no longer spewed. A cost curve for CO2 abatement assigns far far higher costs to all the buzzy techniques like coal gasification, avoided deforestation, combined-cycle sequestration plants (even though we’ll never get to the 400 ppm carbon cap without them). Bottom line: Insulate now. Buy shares in HVAC companies on the green edge.
These forecasts and the abatement cost curve come from a McKinsey report well worth reading. See it here (It may be behind a registration wall, but it’s worth registering with McK).
So Friday, day after tomorrow, is my first interview with Chuck Barris. His new novel The Big Question satirizes reality TV. Who better to take a sharp pick to this dreggy media addiction that than chuckie himself, the great uncle of reality garbage. Barris got steadily more demeaning with his ideas, first Newlyweds ratting on each other then singles choosing dates through a wall and then a brief break for the humanistic joy of the Gong Show (rarely mean, more silly-like) and then into new territory with Treasure Hunt and the $1.98 Beauty Show with the ultimate reality show host Rip Taylor. Barris’ book is out in May. I just finished it. It is scabrously, darkly comic and dotted with lots of groaners and sentimental touches. Read my review on Forbes.com and Q&A with Barris in print and online in coming weeks. Barris may not be Elmore Leonard but the dude has moves. Watch this.