ALL NEW, ALL THE TIME
This blogger deal I use is a google product. Google has become sort of the poster child for web innovation. Thus, not only are there new features now, including a comment section, but there may be some in the future. Since I really have nothing to say, and have been given a blank canvas on which to say it, I will need to utilize the new features to their maximum.
ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME?
I don’t even have a link for this, but I read that, “badminton bad boy Taufik Hidayat was threatened with police action . . .” Badminton bad boy? What does he do, double dip in the chip bowl? Take other people’s burgers off the grill? What is a badminton bad boy?
The Denver Post ran an unfocused, ill-executed article
that still merits a note because it really does address a few important issues. The premise of the article is the issue that cultural institutions and churches have when they are no longer able to financially able to support their art works and other treasures. For museums this does not seem like a very big issue. They can liquidate their collections, and the community that was not supporting the museum in the first place is none the worse for wear.
The bigger problem is for those institutions that serve a population that cannot financially support the treasures of the past. The New York Times carried a somewhat similar story about Jersey City. I have no link to it. Go to the library and look at microfiche for it. What do you expect for free? In any case, the Denver article is about the Annunciation Catholic Church, which was built with beautiful and elaborate stained glass, organs, etc. for the immigrant populations that used it when it was built in 1883. Now these $2 million windows require repair and restoration, and the parish can’t come close to affording it. In the Jersey City article, there are two Catholic churches literally abutting each other. Historically, one was Polish, the other Italian. Now they need to be consolidate parishes and close at least one church.
The question in each of these scenarios is, what do you do with these buildings? No steward of anyone’s investment can allow $2 million windows to be destroyed through neglect. On the other hand, you can’t really sell them. What do you do? Similarly, people have a real aversion to churches being knocked down. However, the fact of the matter is that populations change, and people move and start new parishes. What do you do? I don’t know the answer, but my and L’s parish opened in 1884, and needs expensive renovation. We are fortunate that the area is gentrifying, and people in the parish have some money. Ultimately, our work will get done. Not sure about the work in Denver though.
WHERE THE NAMES HAVE NO STREETS
With apologies to U2, who frankly ought to apologize to us for everything from Joshua Tree on, the New York Times ran a story
a few weeks ago about the process of naming and “demapping” streets in New York. To some extent, this echoes a lot in the New York link above for abandoned subways etc. However, the most interesting of these streets is Red Hook Lane in Brooklyn. In the 1760’s this street was the major street running from downtown Brooklyn to Red Hook. The Continental Army used the street during the Revolutionary War, and it remained important in the post-colonial era. Now it is on the verge of being “demapped,” which may be the mapping equivalent of becoming an “unperson.” Local preservationist seek to have whatever is built over the lane have a central corridor going over the lane and commemorating the lane.
The bigger issue here is that there will absolutely be maps for the next twenty years that show Red Hook Lane, even after New York has demapped it. In fact, look at a map of lower Manhattan. It is a maze of one block streets, streets gone for two decades, streets that go nowhere, and streets that never were. It reminds me of when L and I were in Pittsburgh to see our friend D. Pittsburgh has a number of “streets” that are stairways. They are in the very hilly areas. Apparently Seattle, San Francisco, and some other hilly cities have these also. I kept joking that you should be able to drive to the top, run down the stairs and jump into another car. Kind of like the Danes and their bicycles.
Europa Europa is a good movie. It is about a German Jewish Communist boy whose family flees to the Soviet Union when Hitler takes over in Germany. The kid is educated in Soviet schools from 1933 to 1941, when Hitler invades Russia. This means that he speaks perfect, native German, and perfect, native Russian. Without spending 10,000 words describing the movie, he ends up being swept up into the war, “liberated” by the Germans, fleeing to the Russians, being “liberated” by the Germans again, and being saved from a Russian POW camp by Jews he knew in Russia. Quite an adventure.
A somewhat similar story was reported in the Moscow Times
. Joseph Beyrle is a kid from Muskegon, Michigan. In 1942, when he graduated from high school, he decided to enlist in the army instead of going to college. He ended up as a paratrooper, and was part of the Normandy invasion. He was captured, almost murdered by the Gestapo, saved by a soldier who told the Gestapo that they didn’t have jurisdiction because he was military, not civilian (wow, I never saw *that* in any World War II movies), and ultimately escaped from his POW camp.
After escaping, Mr. Beyrle headed toward the fighting he heard, and ran into the Russians. Fortunately he was able to say “Amerikansky tovarishch.” This is apparently close enough to “American comrade” to keep him from being shot out of hand. The Russians put him with a tank brigade, where he fought into Germany. He was then injured by a Stuka and sent to a hospital behind the front. While there the Soviet General Zhukov came by the hospital to visit. After hearing Beyrle’s story, Zhukov gave Beyrle a letter of transit to Moscow to allow him to get to the US embassy.
As it turns out, then US officials in Russia had Beyrle listed as killed in action in Normandy (which must have seemed like a thousand lifetimes before to Beyrle). It took about a week for anyone to think to send his fingerprints to Washington for confirmation. After the results were returned and the embassy confirmed to Beyrle (!) that he had not been killed, he was sent back to Michigan, where he spent the last few months of the war.
What an insane story. There seem to be a number of times he could have been killed, including by the Gestapo, by the Russians when he came out to surrender (or whatever to them), by the Stuka, or anytime along the way back to Moscow, or back to Michigan. Now his son is deputy chief of mission of the US embassy in Moscow. I bet he can say more than “Amerikansky tovarishch.”
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL
This blog has touched on the Chinese and their budding obsession with Central Asia a few times. Now (actually last week) comes news that the Chinese have signed an oil pipeline and delivery agreement with the Kazakh’s. Kazakhstan is landlocked, and exports most of its oil through Russia. It is looking to China to give it some flexibility in that regard. The plan is for the China pipeline to be able to move 140 million barrels per year after 2005.
China doesn’t have anywhere near enough fuel for its economy. Central Asia has way too much fuel for its economies. The Central Asians are generally newly independent, and not at all keen to remain subservient to the Russian bear. While some people may prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t, it may be that these oil-rich Central Asians are throwing their lots in with the Dragon as a counterweight to the Bear. It didn’t work for those countries between Russia and British India, it didn’t work for the countries between Russia and Germany, and I don’t see it working here. If the Russians don’t get on the ball, they won’t have much to compete with China on.
L’s blog touched briefly the other day on stealing a Christmas tree in Germany. I can give the rest of the story. It was a few days before Christmas and my German relatives had been continually segregating men from women in all activities. Thus, I can’t say I was surprised when the men told me it was time to go “steal” a Christmas tree. Now, my cousin Paul had a very quirky sense of humor. I was never sure if it had more to do with the fact that Ostentrop was so RELENTLESSLY rural, or the fact that he was German. In either case, he often said things that he found funny, but I just found disturbing. This was one of them.
Our adventure started at one of the two pubs in town. We walked in, and instead of ordering a shot and a beer, Paul said that we needed the key to go steal a tree. The guys in the bar (at 11:00 in the morning it was full) all laughed, and the bartender handed Paul a key. Then we left (where the hell is my beer?!?) We drove out to the country, which was about 150 yards from town, and stopped at a gate. Paul got out, opened the gate, got back in the car and said, “now we commit a crime, yes?” This is what I was saying about his sense of humor.
After settling on a particularly nice tree, Paul got out, handed me the axe and the saw, and explained that an American would not get in trouble. Again with the sense of humor. Anyway, after hacking the tree down, we carried it back to the house. When Lisa saw it, she asked Paul where we got it. When he told her, she got angry, and they went into their bedroom and argued for about twenty minutes. I may be a felon in Germany, although in the US that tree would not have gotten over about $150, so I figure the Statute of Limitations must have lapsed years ago. Right? Right?