I was always dismissed as a ‘Sov symp’ in the days of communism, attracted by the Soviet Union’s great foreign policy: anti-imperialist, ant-zionist, pro-nuclear disarmament, pro-liberation movements, etc, etc. I could never understand why lefties didn't fall in love with the only real non-capitalist modern society. It worked, however badly. It had to be at the heart of the struggle against capitalism, imperialism.
Now I’m a ‘putinist’ according to my MP Chrystia Freeland, herself granddaughter of the leading WWII Ukrainian Hitler propagandist
Oshawa is the last stop on the GO train east from Toronto, 60km -- in theory. I’m sure there are many ace sportsmen who zip back and forth (terrifying walkers), but I’ve never met anyone who tried to do it. Undaunted, I packed my lunch, gathered my pump etc, and aimed for the 8:13 train.
With the new bike craze, there are bike lanes popping up where you least expect them. University Ave, Toronto’s stately boulevard of banks, the US consulate, the Ontario legislature (in that order of importance) now has a spiffy bright designated lane, and a trip down past spooky silent skyscrapers on an early Saturday morning was now a delight. Leisurely pedaling among the monolithsI felt like I owned this concrete paradise, not TD et al.
Gene Weingarten, One Day: The extraordinary story of an ordinary 24 hours in America, Blue Rider, 2019.
Denied entry to the US (who knows why, and welcome to the club),* I must take solace as a writer, traveller, travel writer, in others’ experiences in the creaking monster to the south (of Canada, but, hey, of most of the exploited world). In the writings of those ‘lucky’ enough in live there or at least visit at will.
Weingarten starts from literally scratch, pulling a year, month and date out of a hat with scribbled numbers on bits of paper. The only limit was in the year; between 1969 and 1989, ‘far enough in the past to feel like ‘history’ and have a future to explore, but not so far so witnesses would be hard to find.’
He landed on December 28, 1986, at first, in disappointment, as it was a Sunday (bad ‘news’ day) and worse yet, the news doldrums of post-Christmas. But he forged ahead, assuming fate had something to tell him. He started out interviewing a few HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) types he saw in 60 Minutes, but even they drew a blank (!)
But after 6 years of research and writing, it turns out Weingarten hit a winner, though his journalist talent alone could turn a pig skin into a gold mine.
He cleverly sketches out a full range of Americana: lots of murders, of course, but also a historic moment in medicine (longest surviving heart transplant), crazy politics of race (Koch blowing his chances at a fourth term as mayor of New York), miraculous escapes from death, a vicious lawyer turned nice transwoman, lots of ex-soldiers, corrupt police … A page-turner from start to finish.
I’m struck by the fact that all our pandemics, in fact all pandemics are courtesy of ‘civilization’, by which I mean agriculture, overcrowded cities, full of shit both animal and human, home of rats and fleas, carriers of plague. Our obsession with cheap meat means overcrowding, force feeding and ...
A policeman sees a drunk man searching for something under a streetlight and asks what the drunk has lost. He says he lost his keys and they both look under the streetlight together. After a few minutes the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here, and the drunk replies, no, and that he lost them in the park. The policeman asks why he is searching here, and the drunk replies, "this is where the light is".
This old joke, attributed to the 13th century Sufi Nasreddin,
World News with Eric Walberg