To the finish, &c.

Mitt Romney during the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla., October 22, 2012


Out and about over the weekend, I saw a man in a Romney-Ryan T-shirt. This was on the Upper West Side. The only time I have seen those names on the Upper West Side.

Astounding. One brave hombre (unless he was an innocent tourist).

Around the same time, I saw a boy in a Che T-shirt. He seemed about eleven. He was with his mom. I was thinking, “Child abuse.” The same mother, presumably, would not allow the boy to go around in a Himmler T-shirt. If there were one.

Maybe a Beria T-shirt? Striking bald head, he had.

Was at the southern tip of Manhattan. Noticed, for the first time, the Battery Maritime Building — the ferry terminal for Governors Island. Beautiful thing. Beaux-Arts, built in the first decade of the 20th century.

My longstanding, and whining, question: Why are things old beautiful, and things new so ugly? Not always, of course — but often. Why? Why did mankind, at least in America, lose all sense of artistic taste?

Or did that just happen to our elites?

For my latest column in CityArts, go here. I discuss an Elixir of Love at the Metropolitan Opera, and a performance of Carmina Burana by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under Riccardo Muti, at Carnegie Hall.

Speaking of music, this was a little discouraging: “WQXR Brings Back ‘Beethoven Awareness Month.’” That’s what the PR notice in my inbox said. Beethoven Awareness Month? Is that really necessary? Isn’t that like saying Food Awareness Month or Oxygen Awareness Month?

Couple of years ago, I wrote about a young American professor who was born in Cambodia and escaped the holocaust. His dad was killed. The rest of the family, I believe, got out.

His name is Sophal Ear. He was a speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum. He has now published a book, Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy.

I have a memory. I met a West African government official. I said to him, “I know that foreign aid has its pluses and minuses. But tell me: Is foreign aid more a help or more a hurt?” He fixed me with a look — kind of a mischievous one — and said, “Do you know the difference between AID and AIDS? The letter S.”

It’s been a while since I told a story about my nephew, I think, so I think I’m due another one. This may make the ten-year-old sound bratty. But he is far from it, certainly in my experience. Try to hear the sheer sparkle and fun. You would see and hear it in the flesh, I promise.

Anyway, he’s walking to school with his mother (or she’s walking to school with him):

Son: “Mom, why do you always wear those ugly clogs and throat-chokers?”
Mom: “I wear clogs and, ahem, turtlenecks because they’re warm and comfortable. Other than that, you think I look pretty fabulous, right?”
Son: “Well, there is the issue of your weird nose. But I guess you could say it gives you ‘individuality.’”

To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.