a rare rare rare aerie
Sometimes I think that if I ever start a band again I should just not shave and stand onstage in a dirty T-shirt and play nothing except covers of really old Replacements songs, from the era before they figured out things like a steady beat. "Tape's rolling." "Okay, I'm-in-love-with-the-girl-who-works-at-the-store-where-I'm-nothing-but-a-customer!"
The life of the small-town idle aesthete has much to recommend it. I can drive out to Coralville in the middle of the day to buy new ties for upcoming events (black for the wedding, silver for the prom), and when a heartstoppingly lovely Baroque concerto comes on halfway through the drive I can pull into the mall parking lot and sit there for twenty minutes, heart bubbling, waving at the steering wheel in 3/4 time, until the piece ends and the announcer comes on to give the composer and title (Franceso Geminiani, Concerto Grosso in D Minor). And when I get home and discover that Geminiani wrote several concerti in D minor I can call up the nice people at the radio station and get the exact opus number from them (Op.5, No.12, aka the "Follia.") Fertility dance, ha!
Here is a splenetic article from The Spectator that roundly attacks anti-American Europhiles on both sides of the pond. I'm not sure how much of this I agree with (welfare causes terrorism?). But I had no idea that (if the article's stats are reliable) one is six times more likely to be mugged in London than in New York.
For Goran Persson, the Prime Minister of Sweden, the point of the EU is that it can be a counterbalance, a 'moderating' influence on those wacky Americans. But, for a moderating influence, it's remarkably immoderate. If you look at that first round of French presidential voting, between Le Pen, the guy who broke away from Le Pen, the Trot, the other Trot and the rest of the cranks, the zany fringe candidates drew about 45 per cent of the vote. No wonder that big Chirac landslide is looking wobblier by the hour. Suppose Pat Buchanan, never mind David Duke, got Jorg Haider's 29 per cent, or Le Pen's 17 per cent, or the Danish People's party's 12 per cent. Imagine the editorials you'd get from the Continent. You know what Pat got in the 2000 presidential election? 0.42 per cent. Yet the European assumption is always that every American politician is beholden to a vast herd of snarling, knuckle-dragging Calibans: thus, Guantanamo, as the Yorkshire Post saw it, 'must be some sort of crude appeal to redneck, hillbilly America whose voters have to be kept on board'. So Olivier Duhamel, a socialist MEP, says the problem with French politics is that 'we've gone back to a degenerate democracy of the kind you find in the United States, Austria or Italy.' Au contraire, the very real 'destabilising violence in the wings' is distinctively European. By constraining 'respectable' politics to an ever narrower spectrumthe left-of-right-of-left-of-centre Jospin versus the right-of-left-of-right-of-left-of-centre Chiracthe Euro-elites freed up their electorates to frolic on wilder shores, like M. Le Pen's National Front. In the land of the bland, the one-eyed man is king.