A bit more “history.” Please don’t run for cover. I think you’ll find this amusing – especially given this is 4th of July weekend in the U.S.:
That excerpt is from a recent biography. The first part is from a 1782 letter written by the subject while he was traveling; the second half is from an 1811 letter he also wrote. In 1782 the writer had made his way across Sweden (including Finland, which was part of Sweden then) while returning from Russia.
“Remember,” my (now late) mother lectured me some years ago, “Billy Joel said it best.”
“Huh,” I recall replying, “I’m afraid to ask about what. Something about Italian restaurants?”
He being another “real” New Yorker – and particularly a Long Islander – and not much younger than herself, my mother loved Joel’s music. [Full disclosure, I like him, too.] She paused after I’d questioned her. Suddenly, she looked puzzled.
Wandering around yesterday, I thought about my late uncle. He loved Spain. It fascinated him:
This part of it (where he’d never been) really would have intrigued him, but perhaps not entirely in “a good way.” Here in the Canaries, this island of Tenerife – it’s volcanic – is largely dusty and treeless. However, it has clusters here and there of the most modern of civilization: new homes, apartments, shops, restaurants, hotels, and even palm trees carefully planted along sidewalks and in pedestrianized areas to provide shade.
This “sticky post” will be up until shortly after that 29th. Unless I decide to take it down before, of course. The reason for it is I just wanted to prominently reshare the full cover and the publication date.
It’s interesting, and pleasing, when an “old” post suddenly re-attracts attention briefly – usually thanks to visitors coming in via searches such as Google.
You may not really know why they have exactly. However, that renewed attention may lead you to wonder if it could use a “repost.” Those work best, really, if the original was not “timely” and based on some particularly current issue, and especially if newer followers may have missed it the first time.
So why not? I posted this lighthearted piece back on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Now, as for today, October 2, 2015, have a good Friday…. wherever you are in the world.
As with most such lists, some observations – even if trite – should ring a bell:
4. You can spot Americans in France from a mile away. They’re wearing a t-shirt, and probably speaking English loudly, as if the reason they’re not being understood isn’t the language barrier but that they’ve yet to make themselves sufficiently audible. Also, they’re likely smiling. Who does that?
It’s Saturday, so whether you are American, or not, let’s, uh, risk a smile.
* * *
Reading that paragraph, Woody Allen films immediately jump to mind; but noting Americans’ distinctive national attire while traveling abroad is not all that new. That said, another giveaway, on men over “age 55,” is they are wearing white sneakers, blue jeans, and a baseball cap (sometimes with the name of a…
The tens of thousands of people tragically trying to reach Europe from North Africa and Syria has – I’m sure you know – been much in the news in recent days. I am also sure you have by now seen “The Picture” (of the Syrian 3 year old who drowned just off Turkey and washed up on the beach). So this CNN piece from a couple of weeks ago is sadly timely:
Italian photographer Valerio Vincenzo has spent the last eight years photographing the EU’s internal boundaries: that’s 26 countries and 16,500 kilometers of borders that can be freely crossed.
His serene images of abandoned customs houses and quiet beaches and woods raise questions about the authenticity of geographical boundaries and national identities.
His project “Borderline, the Frontiers of Peace” will be exhibited at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in September….
The photos shown are worth seeing. He’s an excellent photographer:
Their bravery cannot be commended enough. They should be invited to the White House. Yesterday these men – 2 U.S. servicemen (one not pictured), a long-time friend, and a British man – sensed trouble on a high-speed Thalys train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. In Belgium, and unarmed themselves, they reacted decisively:
Reports state one of two servicemen involved (the one not pictured, presumably because he had been sliced with a boxcutter during the melee and was under medical attention) in subduing the assailant is based at a U.S. air force base in Portugal’s Azores.
I spent a good part of yesterday with new characters “Brad” and “Clémence,” as well as with a couple of “old timers,” and filling in additional details and description in several chapters. In the process, I dropped in a couple of thousand more words at least. I became so immersed in it all, I lost track of the time.
The afternoon flew by. As I finished up, I realized again just how unwilling I am to let go of “my friends” quite yet. I’m not “done” with them by any means.
I ended up again pondering what could follow immediately after Distances. I know there will be a fourth novel eventually, and I already know its very general contours. But I’m now pretty drained mentally from writing these first three, and I suspect I will need something of a “sabbatical” to recharge.
I had been mulling over the idea of taking “six months” post-Distances and declaring, “Eh, that’ll do for now.” It seemed reasonable. After all, three novels of nearly 100,000 words each over three years is nothing to sneeze at.
With so many more people flying than ever before, and with space on board planes becoming tighter, people are, umm, closer than ever on aircraft. Perhaps too close. Rightly, Valerie wants everyone to respect each other a bit more: “Dear Couples Who Love To Fly”:
We’ve all endured clueless, inconsiderate idiots on planes. But reading her open letter also made me smile, because whenever I see something like it I also recall an experience I’d had some twenty years ago – the single, strangest one I’ve ever had on a plane. (And that includes having once also shared a row with a Frenchwoman and an Amish man.) I first posted this in May 2014, and thought it worth a repost here this morning: