18 Juin et Autres Choses

I’ve re-pinned a piece about June 18th and its significance in France to the top of my Substack, if you are interested. And speaking of France, the style icon Francoise Hardy died a few days ago and the glorious Anouk Aimee passed away today, at the age of 92. Hardy’s music was a part of my life in France – really, part of the soundtrack, to use a journalistic cliche. As for Aimee, such a list of fine performances, but my favourite has to be Une Homme et une Femme.

My Future?

Robert De Niro shouting at people on the street!! I sometimes worry that this is my future. I would probably be yelling about animal rights or something, though. That said, there are worse things one could be in their 80s than a shouty older person filled with passion. (He is still a handsome fellow, btw.)

Robert Fico and Shinzo Abe

Robert Fico, Slovakia’s Prime Minister, was shot a couple of weeks ago. He, thankfully, survived and has been discharged from the hospital. The man who tried to kill him is in jail. But one thing I noticed was that so much of the coverage of the shooting made it seem as though, well, maybe someone trying kill Fico was, you know, understandable because he is “controversial.” By that, you can guess the rest – he is a populist. He is not in favour of arming Ukraine. He is more right-of-centre than the EU might like, and so on. So therefore, isn’t it normal that one might try to shoot him? WTF? He was democratically elected, he is hardly a dictator and hardly unreasonable. (And I say this as someone who would arm Ukraine till the cows came home if I had any power.) Have we reached the point where someone who doesn’t fit the priors of the mainstream is considered to be an expected target for violence? The more I thought about it, the more I remembered the reaction to the assassination of Shinzo Abe, which I wrote about here.

So I guess we have reached that point. It is “normal” to try to kill someone you find objectionable. Brendan O’Neill writes about the attempt on Fico’s life and the subsequent reaction here.

Seinfeld and Kreeft: Commencement Speeches

Jerry Seinfeld gave an absolute smasher of a graduation speech at Duke University a couple of weeks ago. A handful of Jew-haters screeched and whined (and the media made it sound like there were a billion of them) and were promptly booed by the rest of the students and escorted out of the place. Good thing, because everything about this speech is terrific. Best parts, in my view, are about how most things that you try in life don’t work but you must keep trying (so, so true) and about how we are ashamed/embarrassed by things we should take pride in and proud of stuff that should mortify us (also true). Seinfeld and his wife are open supporters of Israel, proud Zionists and naturally, have gotten grief and heckles (see above) for those things – things which should cause no one any grief or heckles – and it has not deterred them. I can’t help but think that the vicious reviews of Seinfeld’s Netflix film, Unfrosted, are due to that, perhaps in part, perhaps entirely. For Seinfeld – both the man and the show – were never political and now he has become “political,” simply because he supports an ally, the one Jewish state, a Western democracy. He and his wife, quite wonderfully, visited Israel in the aftermath of October 7th and met with hostage families, survivors and soldiers.

For the record, while Unfrosted was not The Third Man, it was intermittently hilarious, great fun, witty and full of top-of-the-line and over-the-top performances from an impressive comic cast (including Hugh Grant in a scene-snatching role). It turned the breakfast cereal wars of the 1960s into the space war and the whole thing was done in dazzling technicolour, a la Rock Hudson/Doris Day films of the era. It probably helps to be of a certain age to get it. But I mean, the reviews were disproportionately nasty, cruel and personal. It wasn’t as though people wrote, “Oh well, this was fun in parts, but doesn’t fully hold together,” or “Imaginative and clever but misses the mark.” The nature of the negative reviews seemed like bullying. The bullying did not work, though, as it was one of the most streamed/watched shows on Netflix in the weeks after its release.

All that said, here is Seinfeld’s speech at Duke.

Words of wisdom.

And another great commencement speech, this one from philosopher Peter Kreeft at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2022. Kreeft shoots down all the happy face thoughts of our time, and he does so with grace, self-deprecation and kindness.

More words of wisdom.

I could have used keynotes like this as a 21-year-old. Honestly, they come in handy now. (I did not go to my graduation, either from high school or university, as my parents had no desire to attend either and loudly stated as such. On one occasion they were hardly speaking – to each other or me – and on another they were attending the graduation of the son of the guy who owned my dad’s favourite bar. So there was that.)

Frat Boys: The Heroes we Didn’t Know we Needed

Who knew? Fraternities have taken a PR beating over the years, often with very good reason. But boy, do they deserve applause and reconsideration right now. At UNC Chapel Hill, a group of them protected the American flag from the Jew-hating campus Kristallnacht crowd, standing strong as they were pelted with all manner of unpleasant stuff, including the mindless jeering of the mob. This seems to have set off a chain reaction of other fraternities doing the same, or variations thereof: at one university, frat guys sang the American anthem at the top of their lungs, drowning out the keffiyeh-clad half-wits; at another, they used chants of “USA” for the same purpose.

Such young men! Gives one hope.

If these boys weren’t impressive enough, here’s more – a GoFundMe was set up to thank them and give them money to throw a proper Frat Boy “rager.” So far, there is over $500,000 in the fund, almost all of which they are donating to charity. They will keep a modest amount for their festivities. Not unrelated – a piece in Tablet here, about college life – what it ought to be, what it has become.

[Image above taken from Tablet piece.]