Monday, February 14, 2022


It Was Called "The Museum of the China Trade"

Before the impossibly wealthy local asset managers -- those who trade in abstractions, in derivatives that need not be hauled in "twenty-foot equivalent units" (teu's) -- turned it into the palatial Peabody Essex.  Now the tourists who flock to Salem can be divided roughly between the Witch Museum crowd (working class) and the PEM crowd (ostensibly interested in the fine arts).  Back then it was sleepy, with a Great Hall featuring portraits of captains, a longboat and some vases that were exotic in Boston and environs in the early 19th century.

Circumstances are such that soon we may need a new Museum of the China Trade.  The very first mass-produced smartphone under glass.  A cheap plastic light saber for Christmas (batteries not included).  A solar panel.  And in Damien Hirst formaldehyde, the kidney of a Falun Gong member, harvested for transplant abroad before any of his other organs were shut down forever, by forces natural or not.

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