Since so many folks have written to me asking what I think of the most recent re-design of the $10 bill, I'll indulge them by answering with a quotation from Catullus: odi et amo (carmen LXXXV)- I love it and I hate it.
I love it mostly because I think it looks spiffy. If you haven't seen it, here's what it looks like:
It looks like money, right? In fact, it looks more like money than the 2000 redesign did. But, more importantly, now when my European friends (and I include Canadians in this category) mention in their litany of examples of American barbarity the fact that all our bills (or "notes," as they call them) are the same color, I can now proudly respond, "Nuh-uh!"
What, then, could my objection possibly be? Well, I'll tell you. I've always loved $10 bills because they used to have some funky looking old cars on the back:
And here's a detail of the most prominent car:
Though many claim that this is a Ford Model T, it isn't; in fact, it isn't any real car, but rather a succesful attempt to make a generic-looking late-twenties car. After all, the Treasury Department isn't in the business of endorsing car companies.
I liked this car a lot, because it must have seemed bold and contemporary-looking in 1929 when it was designed. Then, over the years, it took on a quaint charm, until the 2000 redesign did away with it. I tried to protest by boycotting money, but then I got hungry. When I saw the new redesign a few months ago (wasn't expecting that!) I first thought I accidentally got foreign currency. Then I quickly realized it had been redesigned, and checked the reverse to see if my car was back. It wasn't, damnit.
Here are some unrelated thoughts I had over the past week, none of which developed into something post-worthy:
1. The new Regina Spektor album, "Begin to Hope," which came out this week, is fantastic. Go buy it and find out for yourself. It's a little less consistent than her last album, "Soviet Kitsch," but although the lows are lower, the highs are higher. The production is a bit weird, with heavy use of silly-sounding synthesized strings. This is surprising, since the producer, David Kahne, produced the best albums by Fishbone, the band I was obsessed with in high school. Indeed, I think his production was key to their sound; their later albums, which he didn't produce, are markedly inferior.
2. After years of trying and failing, I'm starting to like Leonard Cohen. Since I'be been thinking so much about singing pronunciation lately, I noticed two things:
a) In the chorus of "So Long, Marianne," he rhymes 'Marianne' and 'began' with 'again.' In my American pronunciation, this is a not too jarring half-rhyme. However, as a Canadian, he naturally pronounces 'again' to rhyme with 'gain.' You can hear him struggling not to pronounce it this way, but when the word crops up in the verse he pronounces it the Canadian way.
b) In "One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong" he pronounces the word "prescription" as "perscription," which is, incidentally, how I pronounce it. Both these examples are interesting to me because I'm working on a theory that, in contrast to the standardized mid-Atlantic popular singing pronunciation scheme I've been posting about, cerebral folk-rockers in the mid sixties opted for a pronunciation scheme that more closely resembled generic Northern colloquial speech. More on this later, maybe.
3. After the fascinating exchange in the comments section of my last post, I'm tempted first of all to post less often and see what other interesting things crop up, and I'm inspired once again to link to this cute flash animation that involves intrusive intrusive /r/ in an otherwise decent imitation of a Chicago-like dialect. For the record, if Homestar Runner winds up taking over your life, don't say I didn't warn you.