Friday, January 21, 2005

Ciao Meow

Below you have got a cat I photographed in Venice during a time of very very hot weather in June 2002. Its kind owners shaved its body and left a ruff at one end and a tuft at the other. And so ends Friday Cat Blogging, since I will not inflict further pictures of Oliver and Popcorn upon you.

They do not panhandle for our approval. They won't for yours.

One other story from that visit to Venice: We attended a performance of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" in a historically significant building -- and the name? too many vowels vowels vowels in the name for me to remember. The players were female, all dressed in heavy period costumes. Bright colors. Rich fabric. Cleavage. Just splendid.

Vivaldi's piece reflects many aspects of the seasons described, but his treatment of summer does not foreshadow Cole Porter's "It's Too Darn Hot." That June in Venice was too darn hot. Think super-heated. Think another 30 years of Bush indifference to global warming.

The back of the building was set directly against a narrow canal. That wall also served as the background of the performance -- which the musicians accomplished grimly but expertly, or so judged my wife who played the violin for many years. She said in spite of the fact the audience in its musical ignorance kept applauding at the wrong places, the musicians did not speed up just to get the damn thing over.

In that back wall was a long horizontal window -- wide open, naturally -- just high enough so that periodically during the music the disembodied head of a gondolier would appear, float for 15 or 20 feet and then disappear. I admired very much the way the gondoliers would glance in without a change of expression and turn away. Sometimes the top of a pole would appear as they chose that moment to give the gondola a shove. No expression at all. Utter indifference. They might as well have been Parisians. But I suppose after a while the job of gondolier is about as exciting as sitting in the engineer's seat in one of those miniature trains that run around the perimeter of a children's zoo.

Addendum/1.22.2005: My wife says the gondoliers weren't bored just being polite, respectful of the venue. What did you expect them to do, she says? Cross their eyes, stick out their tongues and wave? Pinch their noses with their free hand? Crouch down so their heads wouldn't show and risk falling off the boat? Like you cared, she says. Like you weren't staring at all that sweaty cleavage, you Philistine swine.


B. Wieder said...

Or as they used to say, "As boring as going sailing off Sri Lanka." You've never seen one of those half-scale locomotives when they hit a piece of broken track, have you? That's how we lost Walt Disney.

Anonymous said...

So true. Watched something interesting last night. The same day of the inaugural, a gaggle of lefties gathered at the Cooper Union in New York to discuss with each other where to go now. One woman called the legitimately elected president of the United States a "creature who crawled out from under a rock". Another guy, this time from the audience, kept going on about the Diebold machines in Ohio. One writer was convinced that Socialism in One Country could be sold to the American people if the Left became just like the Right became after the Goldwater catastrophe in 1964.

And all at once it hit me: the "progressives" had become the reactionaries. Watching these people react to Bush's battle cry for human liberty was like watching a group of old country club Republicans try to decide whether Bucky or Tucker would cast the Black Ball to keep the negro applicant out of the country club. There was no there there. There were no new ideas.

What the more discerning among us are catching (at least, those of us who are neither Robert Fisk nor John Pilger) is that Bush is not going to go in some Christian Crusade to convert the Muzzies to the True Faith. He does understand that a key to reducing the tendency towards violence is to increase the choices available for people in the Islamic world. Why the Left, who inveighed so mightily against Pinochet, the Indonesian malfeasance in East Timor (the subject of countless Anthony Lewis columns), the Greek Colonels, the Apartheid regime of Pretoria, has a huge problem with this at first mystified me. Then, upon watching these reactionaries throw their blackballs, I understood that when you've run out of ideas you've run out of hope.

You've also run out of the right to govern. The Left hasn't figured that out yet. The American electorate figured that out last November.

Anonymous said...

If one had been sailing off Sri Lanka, depending on the distance out to sea, the tsunami would have been no trouble. Deep water -- no problema. It's in shoaling geography that trouble is possible.