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Alex Carnevale

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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in white house (1)


In Which We Choose A Place Where We Can Kick Back

54 Christmas Trees


There's a book I come back to again and again on my shelf. It's called White House Redux, and it is ostensibly a collection of proposals for a new White House. Although this surely would have been more appropriate a subject after the White House burned down the first time in 1814, flipping through the proposals gives me a certain feeling. The book contains a variety of ideas for how to redesign the next White House in a style that doesn't scream "falling Roman empire."

Afterwards, the president's grounds were still standing, they just looked really subpar:

guys, the slave whips smell weird now

My wife bought me White House Redux as a gag, and reading through the collection's 720 pages, it is a gag. The winner was decided by a jury meeting on the 45th floor of a World Trade Center. The victor of the competition was a collection of magic carpets and aerial views of Washington D.C. with Richard Brautigan's Revenge of the Lawn laid over them. As a collage it's not half bad, but I can't get cozy with my wife on the kitchen counter of your ideas.

Other topics covered by entrants to White House Redux include The White House in Antarctica, The White House as a jet (never heard of Air Force Won?), the White House as a giant golf ball and the White House peppered with live graphs tracking the public's disapproval of the Iraq War. What is this Iraq War and why does it sound so familiar?

Kory Bieg's white house as sponge

White House Redux was released in 2008, when apparently everything was considerably less serious. One entrant has the president looking out on a variety of Noam Chomsky quotes, and yet there's no nearby basket of tissues for when he masturbates. 2008 was the joke before the punchline. (Now is the punchline.) The proposals are overwhelmingly silly, from individuals who have clearly never entered or coveted the White House, and why should they? Many of them have tenure.

Matthieu Hackenheimer

But really, I can't blame these architects for not treating the project at face value. Most of them don't even believe there should be a White House, and there I cannot fault them either. It's been said numerous times that the Obamas don't particularly enjoy being in the White House. It's large and not really suitable for family living. It's exactly like the movie First Kid basically.

Brandon Shigeta

Many of the proposals play on perceived corporate ties, as in the above. Wouldn't it be precious if we combined two things known to us for completely different reasons? Let's get this straight: ABC paid a lot of money to Barack Obama's campaign, but they didn't actually get anything for that money. (Well, George Stephanopoulus received a lovely pen and a dental dam.)

Since everyone in our society uses the products of corporations whether or not they actually profess to, it's amazing how you never see the president around one. We don't even know what brand of cigaret he smokes, we just know that lung cancer is in his future and he himself will not be paying for the treatment. George W. Bush was addicted to Febreze; I once saw him coat his cat and his Secretary of the Interior in the same spray. Another example: Ronald Reagan would only have intercourse with whores from the Ukraine.

Some of the ideas are particularly ill-advised, but not in a humorous way, more in a "we-don't-know-anything-about-the-world way." This conception of the new White House includes a mutating wall that could post a variety of symbols and colors appropriate to foreign visitors. That's all good until you accidentally see an image of their prophet above the toilet. (We keep that stuff in video games.)

Usually when the White House is redesigned, the end result is more tyranny. You never tear down the wall to make a smaller wall, it might turn into too easy of a metaphor for the shrinking economy.

I'm not sure when the White House became, instead, a symbol of humility — here, we also live in a house. Not houses plural, not a ranch in Texas, not on a $50m vacation, but in a home like yours. As symbols go, the current White House is hardly even the nicest home in the Washington D.C. area. That honor goes to the domicile of Antonin Scalia's mistress.

Steven Marker

Yes, the Obamas are very controlling about what information comes out about their lives. The general public thinks that every Washington secret will emerge eventually, but in reality things aren't much different from when Thomas Jefferson kept his infidelities from a press that would trade any amount of integrity for the golden concept that described the importance of their lives - access

These White Houses perform a service of making us realize how ridiculous that sounds. It's not just a house with a Christmas tree and people. It's a station of disembarkation, a place where mortals leave the world.


The excessive number of Christmas trees in the residence this year were donated by individuals and corporations eager to be known for providing the carcasses of living things to powerful people, kinda like when villagers would thrive on a monarch's sampling of their potatoes or daughters.

This donation idea is not so bad. If people are willing to donate massive expensive trees to a home they'll never enter, maybe they would be willing to part with other things taxpayers can cease paying for. Gifts for the girls, a ham for the table, a Vingian bobble to make sure two worlds exist where once there was one. Anything given freely is a blessing, property surrended under duress causes hurt feelings and imaginary solar panels.

Every utopia in some way resembles another, similar utopia. Mixing the political world with the art world always ends in tragedy, because art must be unaffected by time to deserve that label, and the only thing timeless about politics is Hillary Clinton's prim sexuality.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about Boardwalk Empire.

"Slowly Show Me" - Jessica Bailiff (mp3)

"Take Me To The Sun (So Warm, So Ready)" - Jessica Bailiff (mp3)

Pieterjan Ginickels, Julian Freidauer