Sunday, December 28, 2008

A very European hero.

The Economist on Tintin.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A late night at the Indianapolis airport.

It is late on Tuesday, May 7, 1968, and Bobby Kennedy has just beaten Eugene McCarthy in the Indiana primary:
By midnight Kennedy was ready to leave and eat some dinner, so he and his party drove out to the airport restaurant. Walking through the empty airport lobby, Kennedy saw his white whale again: two crestfallen McCarthy student volunteers, a boy with two McCarthy buttons in his jacket and a pretty girl with red hair and a straw McCarthy campaign hat on her head. They were sitting on their luggage.

And Robert Kennedy, who wanted the delegates but needed the students, went to dinner with Taylor Branch of the University of North Carolina, and Pat Sylvester of the University of Massachusetts.

"You had such cruddy canvassers, and you still won," the girl said.

"Well, you can't blame all that on me."

"I felt we were much better."

"How does everyone feel about tonight?" Kennedy asked.

"We're going to stay with McCarthy," the girl said firmly.

"I don't know what happened," the boy said. "I canvassed Negro neighborhoods, and they wouldn't listen to me for five seconds."

"That's not your fault," Kennedy said. "Why wasn't McCarthy effective for you in those areas?"

"But you're a Kennedy," the girl came back. "It sounds like a newspaper rehash, but it's still right. You have the name."

"Look, I agree I have a tremendous advantage with my last name. But let me ask you, why can't McCarthy go into a ghetto? Why can't he go into a poor neighborhood? Can you tell me that he's been involved in those areas? Why did he vote against the minimum wage for farm workers? Why did he vote against a large proportion of people from the Minimum Wage Act? Kennedy said all this quietly, puffing on a small cigar.

For a long while, the two students were silent. At the end, they were still for McCarthy, and Kennedy's white whale was still free to haunt him. It was after 2 a.m. and the winner told the losers, "You're dedicated to what you believe, and I think that's terrific." And then he told them he would drive them back to the city and find them a hotel room, so they wouldn't have to sit up all night in the airport, waiting for their early-morning flight.
Jack Newfield, Robert Kennedy: A Memoir 264-65 (Plume, 1988).

The UNC student is better known now as this Taylor Branch.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

An imperial palimpsest.

The once and future Poland.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bruce Lee plays ping pong with a nunchuk.

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