Friendship, &c.


Do you want to hear some news of the great Che Guevara, hero of a billion T-shirts? This bit of news comes from an obit in the New York Times. The obit tells us about Erwin Harris, an ad executive who died at 91. He did advertising for the Castro dictatorship when it was new, and the dictatorship, lo and behold, stiffed him — wouldn’t pay its bills.

By his account, he went to see the Cuban finance minister, Che Guevara, who kept him waiting for hours.

“Che laughed in his face and threw him out of the office,” Mrs. Harris said. “Then he threatened to kill every member of his family if he ever came back.”

Yup. That sounds like our Che.

I was talking to a friend of mine, who said he wanted to say something about the weather. My friend is a member of the New York intelligentsia. And he assured me that he believed in global warming — man-made global warming. (Funny word, “believe” — to “believe” in global warming.) He made sure I knew he wasn’t a heretic.

Funny he would have to reassure me, of all people, but there you have it.

And then he said, “But, you know? We’ve always had weather — severe weather, strange weather, extreme weather.” He gave several examples, from decades past. “People today act like we’ve never had weather. We’ve always had weather! Come on.”

Exactly. Well said.

Care for a little music? Or rather, a little language? Last night, I was supposed to cover a concert of the San Francisco Symphony in Carnegie Hall. But the orchestra is on strike. And the Carnegie people had to announce that the concert “has been cancelled due to the orchestra’s current work stoppage.”

I was thinking, “Is a work stoppage the same as a strike? Better, worse? A euphemism?” I don’t know.

By the way, I can’t tell you why Carnegie Hall used the British spelling of “canceled.” And do you think it’s wrong to say “due to,” rather than “owing to,” in that instance, above? I’ve softened on this — though I myself would still be reluctant to write “due to.”

More language? Okay — this is a good one. A reader writes about my Impromptus yesterday, in which I took up some common mispronunciations: “mischievious” for “mischievous,” “verbage” for “verbiage,” etc.

My wife uses the term “foilage” for “foliage” — it’s a West Virginia thing. Also, you may like to know that she says “being haved” — not “behaving,” but “being haved.” “Are the dogs being haved?” “Don’t tell me the kids aren’t being haved.” She never knew what she was saying until I pointed it out to her about five years ago. Isn’t English wonderful?

Yes, truly wonderful — one of the loves of my life, and our lives.

Not all PC is wrong — some of it is just common sense, and common courtesy. The problem is, there’s so much left-wing nonsense and intimidation in our lives . . . anyway, we don’t need to get into it now.

The other day, I heard a child refer to a crayon as “flesh-colored.” I hadn’t heard that term in ages. I thought it was pretty much banished. This little girl, by the way, is Hispanic (and adorable and scrumptious). “Flesh-colored” is a term we can do without. Flesh comes in many colors, not just around the world, but in this country alone. In this country, blood from all corners flows.

I think PC is a bane of our existence (as I write day in, day out). But “flesh-colored” — that deserves to fade away.

This story was a big surprise: Adrian Dantley, the great AD, the basketball star, is working as a school crossing guard in Silver Spring, Md. He “says he took the job for the health care benefits and to have something to do.”

I wonder whether the kids have any idea the greatness they’re brushing up against. How could they?

Let’s end with some sports — and a name. A reader from Duke writes with praise of a guy from UNC, believe it or not:


I know you have an appreciation of interesting names. I offer Skye Bolt, an outstanding freshman baseball player for the No. 1-ranked UNC Tarheels. He is a very talented player who has a strong future in baseball and perhaps will be making an appearance with a major-league team in the next five years or so.

Skye Bolt — a fine name for an athlete. Maybe for a car too.

See you later, y’all, and thanks much.

To order Jay Nordlinger’s 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.


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