If you haven’t tried our Arts Intel Report (AIR), you really should. My family and I were in France for a good part of 2018, and in our travels it was incredibly time-consuming to find out what was happening in the cities we planned to visit. It was with this in mind that AIR was built—and it is, to the best of my knowledge, the first such cultural search engine. You can search by the art or artistic activity you’re interested in and the date and place. We cover more than 490 institutions in 150 cities, and we’re adding new institutions and cities every month. Do take a moment to explore on it. It couldn’t be easier. If you’ve shopped online or used Google, you’re up to speed. And it’s only available to AIR MAIL subscribers.
AIR is edited and guided by Laura Jacobs, a gifted writer and critic covering fashion and dance whom I worked with for years at Vanity Fair. She has a team of editors and writers under her, including Julia Vitale, Elena Clavarino, and Clementine Ford, as well as a crew of specialists who are authorities in their field. Every day our researchers check in on diverse cities around the world for exciting exhibitions and performances. What commands their attention? “World premieres, rare programming, casts that include performers at the top of their game, and emerging talent,” according to Laura. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to travel, AIR will give you a feel for what’s happening in the rest of the world. If you are planning a trip somewhere—even a two-day business trip—you’d be crazy not to check this out.
A Capitol Crime
It’s not listed in AIR, but in Washington, as in much of the world, the Trump administration is an ongoing sideshow—a rousing one to the president’s supporters, but a daily version of Fear Factor to most of us.
With Trump being such an effective diversion, the major act in the American capital is being carried out in the shadows. Here, Trump’s oafish disregard for convention and decency masks the true objective of this administration, which is not governance but un-governance. Indeed, with Trump hogging the headlines and airtime, the Republican Party has quietly gone about the work of stripping away the safeguards that protect our national security, our finances, our wildlife, our workplaces, the food we eat, as well as our water, our air, and our public lands. The New York Times has catalogued no fewer than 83 environmental regulations that have been rolled back or are in the process of being rolled back. At the Democratic debates, climate change—the most harrowing aspect of our future—got roughly 5 percent of the candidates’ time. Had this been a Republican debate, my guess is that climate change would barely get a mention.
Follow the Money
The current president thinks global warming is a hoax. Well, he thinks everything that doesn’t please him is a hoax. There is now nothing that the current president doesn’t have an opinion on, a hand in, or an involvement with. Even nonpolitical scandals, like the epic illegality surrounding the late sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, become part of the Trump canon. It’s no surprise that Trump and Epstein were chums back in the day. When it came to young women they were birds of a feather. The details of the vast circle of Epstein’s nefarious fellow travelers will continue to dribble out. And, as with Watergate, investigators will follow the money. My two cents: the Epstein enterprise was a blackmail racket. High-powered men find themselves in the company of attractive young women. Compromising situations are recorded. And donations are then made to an Epstein charity or funds are deposited in one of his investment schemes. I would think that the unspooling of the Epstein saga must be giving the president fits at night—as it should a good number of high-flying financiers and former heads of state.
A Low Barr
As for Epstein’s apparent suicide in a high-security prison exactly a week ago, well, that is an entirely different type of scandal. You would think that Attorney General William Barr, the man who oversees the prison system, would pay special attention to a high-profile resident such as Epstein—especially one who reportedly tried to kill himself a little over two weeks earlier. If you were in Barr’s position, wouldn’t you make sure that Epstein was on constant watch? You’d do this not only to avoid the sort of calamity that would besmirch what’s left of your reputation, but also to keep him alive so that he could face trial, and his accusers. That’s your job. The attorney general’s outrage over incompetence in the levels below him is as phony as his boss’s when, by his own hand, things go wrong in the White House. And how interesting is it that Donald Barr, the attorney general’s father, was the headmaster of New York’s Dalton School in the early 70s when Epstein got his start as a math teacher? That makes the Barrs the bookends to Epstein’s entire sordid adult life. This chapter in the saga is so numbing it could well be titled Epstein-Barr.