The aching cold was replaced by snow on Thursday, thre inches of nice fluff. It was eleven above, so you could walk te dog without too much pain. Later the wind came to whip up the snow and throw it in your face like a handful of thumbtacks. One below, says the weather app; "feels like -12." I hate these subjective evaluations. It is -12 or it isn't. If they want to say "The effect on exposed flesh is similar to temperatures below minus ten," that would be fine. Did I say I hated subjective evaluations? Strong words. I dislike them. It is possible to dislike something without hating it. It is possible to dislike something without having strong emotions about it at all. Indifference can tip into dislike; dislike can grow into hatred.
Or, as Yoda said in one of his banal little bromides, Fear leads to anger, anger leads to suffering, or something like that.
The more-or-less weekly depiction of the sprawling construction project on the edge of downtown has, so far, included the twin towers and the stadium. Well, ladies and gentlemen, meet the hotel site.
Another block, another crane. I'm not sure what this was going to look like. The original plan had a Radisson, but they pulled out; now it's many apartments atop a parking lot. Remarkable.
The pupdate is just this: his remarkable lanky limbs.
Junked most of what I wrote last night. Much of it was obvious and repetitive, a rehash of everything said after every Islamist attack since 9/11. It is tiresome to make plain and obvious statements knowing you must wrap them in a dozen rote phrases to insulate your remarks against misinterpretation, especially since those inclined to misinterpret will do so deliberately, and will find the clause that gives away your sins.
Sometimes that’s fair: if someone rolls off a list of points and gathers breath before gusting out a BUT, what follows after the BUT is really the main point. Sometimes it’s not: you can write 1,436 words on immigration, national character, and whether citizens have the right to control that character, and should someone catch a whiff of dissent from the things Proper People Are Supposed to Believe, well, you might as well paste a little black piece of paper over your philtrum and plaster your hair sideways over your forehead.
What flipped my dip-switches yesterday was the inevitable accusations of Islamophobia, a dishonest word intended to delegitimize the opponent and let everyone know that a larger, much more important agenda must be defended. Well. I suspect that few of the Western pundits who are terribly concerned about “Islamophobia” have any fellow-felling for the creed. Certainly not in the more strenuous manifestations. But the term is useful. The inevitable conflation of Islamophobia with racism suggests peacock-preening intended to show how you’re a brave warrior against the hordes of Orcs who would ruin Europe’s marvelous future. The term converts a philosophical difference to a mental pathology, and turns the opposition into irrational people ruled by ignorance and prejudice. This is necessary to delegitimize dissent.
Well. Two points.
One of the murdered French cops was Muslim, and it seems a shame this has been swamped by the discussion of the murder of the magazine’s staff. It is not Islamophobic to note that he was killed by a co-religionist for being on the wrong side of the ledger at that particular moment; it is revelatory of the narrow definitions the murderers apply. I hope France reveres his memory as much as the cartoonist who didn’t share his beliefs.
After an attack like this, someone will round up tweets from people who said horrible things. I saw a graphic, apparently assembled by a reddit user, of French Muslims approving of the massacre. Twitter is full of knuckleheads, and a graphic of 12 tweets is evidence of nothing. But I was curious, and typed every name into Google. They were all real accounts. Each one had been deactivated. Yesterday. Ah, but each account lived on as a cached pages on Google. I ran them through the translator, and in addition to the comments that were either indifferent to the deaths or supportive of the bloodshed, there were anodyne comments on soccer, computer games, anime, music, celebrities. Indistinguishable from most twitter accounts of young, ordinary people - except for the thumbs-up to those who killed the cartoonists in defense of Islam.
It was almost as if they were compensating for their impious lives by saluting the hard-core brothers who had done something real. That, of course, is amateur psychology at its worst. But (sorry, BUT) it’s unnerving. To see people who enjoy the benefits and diversions of Western Civ nod with understanding when illustrators are shot in the head for inappropriate drawings - it suggests that there are people who respond to such events as though a tuning fork had been struck. It is impossible to know how many people heard the resonance of the note. It is impossible to know how many first felt understanding but immediately, or subsequently, revised their emotions. It’s a case of “the cartoons were wrong BUT” vs. “the murders were wrong BUT”. Who knows how that played out in the minds of millions, and at what pace? It’s not a question you can answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s a question you can’t ask.
Anyway. The Euro-universalist politicians don’t care about Islam as a belief system. Their goal is to gain additional privileges by managing the diminution of the old order, thinking they will come out on top when a new arrangement emerges. It will be anti-capitalist (but they’ll still make money), multi-cultural (but they’ll still choose to live in areas which lack the glorious diversity they cherish), anti-religious (because as long as traditional European religiosity is diminished, that’s enough) and will create a society in which nothing is actually produced (except for the idiots who labor in the fields) and jobs are scarce, but the state provides all with sufficient resources to write free-verse poetry - most of which, in this paradise, you suspect will concern itself with Injustice.
If there is pride in Europe among these people, it is a nonexistent state they believe they can will into existence, a version cleaned of its historical sins by the elimination of its national (i.e. sectarian) divisions. Okay, okay,: you had a bad experience with nationalism a hundred years ago. Get over it.
Pride in one’s nation - with a full accounting of its errors and traumas - is not a bad thing, and people find a certain psychological comfort in it. I dislike tribalism. Nations are tribes on a large scale. But over time the inanities of tribalism, with its insistence on bloodlines and clan identity, evolve into a community bound by language, history, food, music, film, national myths, brand names, fads, and all the things that create A People.
When the leadership says that the main definition of your culture is its willingness and ability to include people who are outside of your culture and occasionally ill-disposed to its virtues, and that your objections constitute doubleplus ungoodthink, then you push all that benign national pride into channels outside the realm of polite discussion.
In another era, this might mean than the discussion eventually gets very unpolite, and there’s social upheaval. But I suspect nothing will change. There will be an empty space on the newsstand where Charlie Hebdo used to sit, but something else will fill it. Sports or fashion. The editors will know what not to do. No one will tell them what not to do; no one will have to.
There were chalk outlines on the sidewalks for a while, but that’s what power washers are for.
I’ve read a few voices saying that this is different, this revealed something, this pushed people off the fence, this was the galvanizing event that made everything clear, and the decent will assemble to confront the illiberal threat.
You know, just like after Kristallnacht.
And now the final entry in this week's 1933 Missing Person ad. Starts normal and turns the knobs up to 11 right away.
I got money and I still have the hots for you. That'll go a long way towards easing the shock of seeing your name in the back of a magazine and the details about your abandonment of wife and child.
As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. This year we'll be showcasing more peculiarities from old-time radio - dialogue, themes, and so on. But of course we begin with the Couple Next Door.
CND Cue #505 While staying over at someone's house, a table is marred. An heirloom table. The solution? Something you won't hear on TV or radio today. Then caper music.
CND Cue #506 Caper music, never used before. But then again they never had to sneak downstairs for furniture polish.
CND Cue #507 If this little snippet doesn't scream 1960 to you, well, all will be explained next week.
Instead of the many, many Gunsmoke cues, let's take a listen to the way William Conrad found his way to the character he played. The opening sequence used to have this inflection:
Lonely #1 Hard not to imagine Matt Dillon biting his lip here. Not a good read.
Lonely #2 Cue #61 A bit more spine.
Lonely #3 Cue #62 This is what he settled on, with more "chancy."
And to round out the radio offerings, here's an ad for the 1959 Pontiac.
Come . . . on . . . and . . . go!
Since the term "Listen" is rather elastic - I could just run MP3s of industrial machinery, you know - I think this is a good place to do . . . this.
Our first offering - scratchy, remote, melancholy - is the lead track on this album.
Dahling, I thought you'd never arrive. And you brought your pointless stick to complete the contintental affectation!
From the sleek smooth swank of "Continental Encores," it's "For the First Time." Or, if you wish, "Come Prima." Which means "As Before."
Music by Vincenzo Di Paola and Sandro Taccani.
This will be up today, and then it won't. I'm not going to risk some petty take-down notice for posting a record from the Eisenhower years.
Now begins a new site, part of the big Decade Project that's occupied this site for the last few years. I've done the 20s, the 30s, the 40s and the 70s - about time we get around to this one.
But it's not the Sixties people think about when they think about "The Sixties."