September 7, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Ulalume | 0 Comments |

Australia is a silver medallist in world leadership.  We haven’t ever elected a woman as Prime Minister, but we were the second country to un-elect a woman (Romania is the gold medallist).


Photo of P.M. Gillard by Sgt Pete Thibodeau Sgt Pete Thibodeau















We have repeatedly suggested that in terms of haute culture, the 20th century was a wrong turn.  [See, for example, in general, ‘Onward!‘, Decline of the West, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture, Renoir is a Pissoir, and as to opera in particular, e.g., The Curse of Rigoletto, Don Giovanni,  etcetera, etc.] Evidence abounds. Of the last aspect, opera, we found a neat little statement the other day in a collection of short pieces by Howard Jacobson:

The sexing up of opera rates as one of the great absurdities of our time.  See an opera in Germany and it’s invariably set in a fetish club and sung in shiny leather sado-shorts.”*

John Hinckley junior is to be released from St Elizabeth’s Hospital (where Ezra Pound was banged-up), having been declared sane and harmless by medical experts (one hopes Dr Zeigler from The Young Poisoner’s Handbook was not on the panel – not that he was incompetent, just unlucky).  In any case, we recall the priceless P. J. O’Rourke review of a book co-written by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter (apparently based on Alan Partridge’s Bouncing Back), in which he devised a number of parlour games based on various brain-dead extracts therefrom:

One game, ‘Finish That Thought,’ is on point in our current context. A random quote is drawn from the book and the contestant adds a rider:

So often, the best therapy for a mentally ill person is just knowing that someone cares.” So Jimmy and I gave John Hinckley a call.**


The score for assassinated Presidents stands at: Democrats: 1 (Kennedy) Republicans: 3 (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley).  No need to balance the books!  Let’s leave it at that chaps!

[Howard Jacobson, Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It (Bloomsbury, 2011) from ‘Rigoletto’, p.38.  See also his article ‘The Twentieth Century? Tosh?’ @ p. 25.]

**[P.J. O’Rourke, Give War a Chance (Picador, 1992) p. 153.]


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