Friday, July 04, 2008

The Fourth of July

Happy Independence Day, guys, we'll have you back when you're ready - well, not John Bolton obviously and I'm in two minds about Lenny Kravitz (what's that all about?). There's a striking 4th July leader in the New York Times. It is badly written- the first two sentences are absurdly tortured - but interestingly so. What the writer is trying to say is that the date, though a contingency, is made more significant in that it signals not just freedom - ha! - from the Brits but also the start of summer. Summer is very important to the Americans; they write about it very well. One of the great books by that great, great artist Wallace Stevens was called Transport to Summer, a lovely title that that captures the sense of the season as an occasion for pastoral transcendence. The NYT leader tries to do the same thing in the paragraph beginning, 'The early vegetables in the garden are over...' and climaxing in the truly gruesome sentence beginning, 'High summer is the time of black shade...'.  One would think this stuff would read like fantasy to the paper's Manhattan readers, but it probably doesn't. Walden Pond is never far from the most rabid urbanite's imagination. Summer, to the Americans, is the season that transcends - 'High summer has finally come,' says the leader writer, his hands seemingly clasped in prayer. We're keen on summer too, but as a hit and miss affair, something that occasionally works but, just as often, doesn't. I don't think Americans ever say 'we had no summer this year' but we do. Anyway, it's your day, transcendentally-inclined cousins, have a good one - well, not John Bolton of course, and maybe not, come to think of it, those horrible people in the ads who say Aleve has changed their lives, when, in fact their lives could equally well have been changed for about $4 a shot less by the identical generic. (You're worried about gas prices? Stop buying Aleve!) They really get on my nerves.


  1. Yes, Happy Day, dear yanks.

    I'm slightly an autumn man myself. Bonfires, fallen leaves, football, real ale and what have you. One of the pathetically few benefits of the British climate is the well-defined seasons (summer is the most vulnerable). They all transcend in their own way, when it's not raining.

  2. On the subject of seasons i seem to recall Wallace St writing "spring comes close to justifying not merely itself, but everything."

  3. Thank you, thank you. It's a big grilling day here and I'm having over a dozen people over for grilled flank steak marinaded with olive oil, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, shallots, & some secret ingredients (made it last night), plus the obligatory corn on the cob, blueberries, tomatoes, etc. A friend from Florida is bringing some key lime pies.

    Guests *will* be talking about politics -- Obama, who will he pick as a V.P.? -- and their kids, some of whom will be playing badminton or chasing my dog in the back yard, their jobs (Americans always talk about work), their vacations, either planned or already taken.

    It will grow dark and my pyromaniac son who yesterday bought many more fireworks will set a bunch off. I will be hoping he doesn't set the dryish dogwoods on fire or blow up a curious toddler.

    But by then, most of the little kids will have fallen asleep on their moms' laps, some of the adults will be stunned by food and beer (my husband will have filled a cooler with several different kinds -- he's a beer aficionado), a teen or two will be catching fireflies while the smell of gunpowder mixes with that of the night-blooming jasmine and my neighbor's many species of lilies.

    Another Fourth of July, fini. But we are free and some of us are even happy and enjoying our liberty.

  4. Regarding having us back, our people will talk with your people about that.

    Looking at the world today -Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, India, the Caribbean nations - you Brits did a fabulous job of mothering young nations into grown-ups which turned out surprisingly well!

    If the UN today were made up of only former Brit colonies, protectorates, etc., it would actually be funtional.

    Zimbabwe would have to go into the neer-do-well category. But, that's a short-term phenomenon.