…in the Montreal magazine Accenti, about my time in Italy last year during the earthquakes.
I have a column in the Wall Street Journal today, folks. Voila.
It seems to me there is enough to analyse and criticize and investigate and report about President Trump and his administration without resorting to truly absurd stretches, such as this one. Despacito is a gorgeous song, and it is successful now for that reason. To suggest some deep relevance based on current affairs strikes me as a desperate attempt to tie virtually everything to Trump. Why not ask about the success of Eres Tu (an even more beautiful song, in my view) and its connection to President Richard Nixon, or even La Bamba and the importance of the Eisenhower administration in bringing about its popularity?
Seriously, media? Pull it together…and listen to this lovely song from my childhood, while enjoying the lead singer’s cute gapped teeth and her geeky, hairy bandmates. Clip is from the 1973 Eurovision song contest (it came second and it was cheated!):
JFK would have been 100 tomorrow. Here’s a clip of him dealing with the press. At about the 55 second mark, May Craig — a great journalist and one of the few women at White House press conferences 50 and 60 years ago — asks him a question about equal rights for women. His reply is terribly charming and witty and were any president today to try it they’d get blasted by the angry mob. The whole clip is full of gems, so watch and remember — this man would NEVER be selected as presidential candidate for the Democratic Party today. You can also get a sense of why, as my father once told me, more people were weeping on the street when JFK died than on VJ-Day.
Here is some good — no, excellent, deserving-a-Pulitzer — journalism.
Here is some garbage journalism, from, of course, the CBC. This is an actual paragraph from an actual CBC report on the Iranian “election.” (I am too mortified to link to the story.)
Rouhani is a reformer who, in addition to signing the nuclear deal, has opened his country to the world and loosened restrictions on the country’s citizens.
There is a lot I could write about this day and what it means to me — and in coming posts I will — but right now I will leave you with a link to a column that was written only a few days after the attacks, a column that still holds up. Not surprisingly, it was written by Christopher Hitchens. How we miss him.
The link to the whole column is here — money quote below.
But the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there’s no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about “the West,” to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any decent and concerned reader of this magazine could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings–yes, even in the Pentagon.
A number of people on social media — as well as in some newspaper columns — have called the U.S. election this year a “Hobson’s Choice.” It is not. A Hobson’s Choice is a take-it-or-leave-it scenario, not a situation where there are two unsavoury options. That would be “a dilemma.” I guess it could also be called a “Sophie’s Choice,” but I don’t like that expression for two reasons: 1) it brings up images of Nazis killing children, and 2) it makes me think of the book (and the movie) of the same name, both of which were tinged with anti-Semitism.
On a brighter note, here is a clip from the brilliant David Lean film, Hobson’s Choice, with Charles Laughton in the lead role. And yes, the title character is given a Hobson’s Choice at the end of the story.
There has been a lot of crazed commentary from leftists and elitists (but I repeat myself) and even the occasional sane person (Niall Ferguson comes to mind for that category), since last week’s vote. Yes, it is a big deal. Yes, it was unexpected. But the idea that all “Leave” voters are frightened bigots and the idea that the UK’s economic future is surely at risk as a result are both absurd ideas.
One of the British Tories I most admire is Daniel Hannan (boy, I would love to see him be leader of the UK Conservatives). Of note, he wrote a short book called “Why Vote Leave,” which is most definitely worth a read if you want to understand the issues at hand beyond the unfair media characterizations. I mention him not merely in order to link to his book, but also as a lead-in to this video of him being “interviewed” (i.e., bullied) by leftist and elitist (but I repeat myself) Christiane Amanpour. He does not let her get away with nonsense, and you can tell it makes her apoplectic.
What I find most infuriating about this “interview” is when she shows three obviously carefully-picked sound-bites from bigoted “Leave” voters and tries to suggest that somehow they are representative of every “Leave” voter. Again, he doesn’t fall for it, and she does not like that. (Sadly, I remember when she was a good journalist, over 20 years ago – in particular, her reporting from the former Yugoslavia was compelling. Those days are long gone.)
Behold Daniel Hannan, an extremely smart and decent man dealing very patiently with a nasty fool.
He is wrong about many, many things. But man, does his team make great ads! This is another goosebump-inducer, rather like this one. I would challenge much of what he says here about “rights,” and also, I wonder what he means when he says the U.S. is the only “major” country that doesn’t guarantee healthcare as a “right.” What is “major,” first of all? There’s more I would challenge (particularly about unions and “dignity”), but man, why bother with the facts? Just enjoy! As my late brother used to say, there will be tears!
On the death of Frank Sinatra Jr., I thought I’d post this very good piece by Tom Junod. It was written over 20 years ago and reposted in 2013. It was not easy being the Chairman’s son, as one can imagine. My Significant Other and I used to listen to Frank Jr. on Siriusly Sinatra and as S.O. once said, “Compared to most people, he is a decent singer. But compared to his father, he’s a disappointment.” Still, Sinatra Jr. seemed to have terrific humour about his unique situation and Junod shows great empathy.
Somewhat a propos, the tribute I wrote to Frank on the 100th anniversary of his birth. In it, you can find links to many great pieces of writing about Sinatra, including Gay Talese’s famous “Frank Sinatra has a cold.”