August in Ganatsekwyagon : “On the dangerous flood / Of history that … / … Held one moment, burns the hand”

Aug 19th, 2016 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief

Ivanka Trump (r) and Wendi Deng Murdoch (l) on vacation in in Dubrovnik, Croatia this summer. Who knows what this means? If anything?

As crucial drugstore evidence that we are indeed on the dangerous flood of history this long hot summer of 2016, we quickly submit the following key current headline without further comment — “National Enquirer : Hillary Gains 103 Pounds …

(Is it surprising that Donald Trump and National Enquirer chief executive David Pecker are “very close … friends for years,” and that “David Pecker flies to Florida from New York on Trump’s private jet”?)

Meanwhile, we’ve asked everyone crazy enough to show up at the office in this continuing hot summer weather to submit quick and dirty items on their key current news issues.

We’ve finally come up with six items, followed by a postscript on the lovely 26-year-old London (England) blogger, Elvira Vedelago :

(1) BREXIT & RIO : Richard Florida offers some interesting calculations in “How well is Canada really doing in the Rio Games?” (Toronto Star).  But to us the most remarkable side of the current Olympics in Brazil so far is the performance of “Great Britain” (pop 64 million). As we write, it is third in medal rankings after the first-place USA (pop 325 million), and China (pop 1.4 billion) in second place

Elvira Vedelago in London, summer 2015.

Note that among Great Britain’s European neighbours, Germany is in sixth place, France in seventh, Italy in ninth, and the Netherlands in twelfth place. And we at least find it hard not to wonder a little if Britain’s comparatively stronger performance has anything at all to do with the recent Brexit referendum on leaving the European Union?

On where Brexit itself was as of the start of this week, see the Guardian’s excellent “Brexit weekly briefing: Westminster’s lack of a plan leads to turf war … The exit looks farther away as the government offices set up to handle Brexit lack staff and bicker over their powers.”

(2) ONTARIO HEALTH CARE : Apparently we aren’t the only ones perplexed by the so-called 63% of doctors who voted to reject the latest deal between the Ontario Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association.  (And note only 55% of those eligible actually voted.)

Elvira Vedelago on vacation in Ibiza, summer 2016.

We agree with the Toronto Star editorial that urged :“Those who cheer on the Ontario’s doctors’ vote as a defeat for the Wynne government and the OMA’s much-criticized leadership must say how much they [are] willing to pay to satisfy the doctors.”

Similarly, we don’t always or even often agree with Konrad Yakabuski at the Globe and Mail. But we do like his Thursday, August 18 opinion piece :

Ontario’s doctors don’t get it: Health care is a team game … in 2015, Ontario spent more of its health budget on doctors – 16.4 per cent – than any other province … Astonishingly, the very commentators who have complained the most about the Liberals’ horrendous fiscal management are siding with the doctors … Younger doctors … favoured the Ontario government’s offer …  acknowledging that there are bigger health-care priorities than doctor compensation.”

(3) RANKED BALLOT & ELECTORAL REFORM IN CANADA : Two recent items on this front, by Joan Bryden at The Canadian Press, seem to be suggesting there may in fact be practical political room for some “ranked” version of electoral reform to actually take place at the federal level in Canada.

Elvira Vedelago in London, summer 2016.

We remain skeptical, but Ms. Bryden’s articles are always worth reading : “Liberals would not necessarily benefit from ranked ballot system: experts”; and “Australia’s Ranked Ballot Headaches Need Not Be Imported By Canada.”

(4) GREAT BARBECUE REVISITED & AMERICAN DREAM MOVED TO CANADA : “The Great Barbecue” was a name given to the US Gilded Age of the late 19th century by the  historian Vernon Parrington, author of Main Currents in American Thought (3 vols, 1927).

The notion that the USA today is in another kind of Gilded Age is common enough (the gilded Donald Trump notwithstanding). And Citizen X tells us he was pleased to recently stumble across a short July 2013 piece on “The Great Barbecue Revisited” by Colin Gordon, in the venerable New York political magazine, Dissent.

X has also noted a related recent find from the website Inequality.org — A project of the Institute for Policy Studies. This piece was posted in July 2016 by Chuck Collins.

Elvira Vedelago on vacation in Ibiza, summer 2016.

Its headline is “The American Dream Moved to Canada… We’re witnessing accelerating advantages for the affluent and compounding disadvantages for everyone else.”  (As in the late 19th century Great Barbecue, as Vernon Parrington in the 1920s and Colin Gordon in 2013 would underline.)

(5) MORE YOU TUBE MEMORIES OF STAN GETZ : L. Frank Bunting, who had things to say about Stan Getz and the music of Brazil a few weeks ago, in “And now for something not completely different : blaming it on Rio for the 2016 Olympics,” offers some further thoughts on  related subjects.

Getz, Bunting tells us, has never been one of his favourite saxophone artists. As Bunting gets older, however, his respect for what Getz managed to do in his career increases. And here are four versions of old LPs and other outings (Bunting says) that illustrate the argument :

Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1954 — Getz modeled his tenor sound on the unique laid-back and cool style invented by Lester Young in an earlier era) ; Stan Getz and The Oscar Peterson Trio (1958 — Peterson was Canada’s greatest gift to modern jazz) ;

Stan Getz with Bill Evans Trio – But Beautiful (1974 — Bill Evans was a beautiful piano player, who died in 1980 at the age of 51: “Evans’ friend Gene Lees described Evans’ struggle with drugs as ‘the longest suicide in history.’”) ;

Stan Getz & Chet Baker in Stockholm (1983 —  Chet, who began life as a California golden boy and ended much, much worse, sings “Just Friends”starting about 26.00 minutes in on this recording ; also especially intriguing and somewhat unusual — Chet and Stan race through the Charlie Parker tune “Sippin at Bells”starting about 44:00 minutes in).

(6) FIRST AND LAST VERSE OF AUDEN’S GREAT SUMMER POEM : W.H. Auden’s poem to his friend Christopher Isherwood, “To a Writer on His Birthday,” was first published in 1935.  In Dominic Berry’s somewhat philistine view, it has absolutely great first and last verses, with a little too much less perfect filling in between. With many profound apologies to the ghost of the great poet, here is what you get if you just read the first and last verses :

TO A WRITER ON HIS BIRTHDAY

August for the people and their favourite islands.
Daily the steamers sidle up to meet
The effusive welcome of the pier, and soon
The luxuriant life of the steep stone valleys
The sallow oval faces of the city
Begot in passion or good-natured habit
Are caught by waiting coaches, or laid bare
Beside the undiscriminating sea …

This then my birthday wish for you, as now
From the narrow window of my fourth floor room
I smoke into the night, and watch reflections
Stretch in the harbour. In the houses
The little pianos are closed, and a clock strikes.
And all sway forward on the dangerous flood
Of history that never sleeps or dies,
And, held one moment, burns the hand.

POSTSCRIPT :  ELVIRA VEDELAGO : This lovely young lady is a photographic someone we bumped into when we searched “August for the people and their favourite islands” on Google Images.

Elvira Vedelago in London, summer 2016.

As Ms Vedelago explains : “I’m a 24 year old [now 26 in fact] SW London blogger just expressing my personal style to the world … I’m half Nigerian and half Italian but currently living in UK … I’m a huge bookworm (all recommendations are welcome) … I think about food ALL the time.”

A number of her fashion photos of herself — in the old imperial metropolis of London, and on vacation in Ibiza — have made this posting A LOT more interesting than it would otherwise be.

We’re grateful that she has made her images and her thoughts available to the wider world on her intriguing website, Carelle  … Blog by Elvira Vedelago … This is my bubble. Many thanks. (And btw, it seems clear enough from her photographs that she already has a boyfriend. So males of any age should not fly to London thinking they might somehow bump into her there, at the legendary Selfridges department store, say, now owned by the Weston family from Canada!)

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