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Soviet Décor, &c.



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There’s an array of items in Impromptus today, but I’d like to add an item here — just because my fingers itch a little. For the last few days, I’ve been reading about the Soviet memorabilia that Jay Carney and his wife have on their walls. I did a piece on this subject in 2009: “Undies, Comrade?” Oddly enough, underwear has something to do with this subject (you’ll see).

Let me say this, in a nutshell: Soviet stuff is offensive or inoffensive depending on context. In some hands, the stuff is victors’ spoils; in other hands, it’s more like the object of admiration.

Funnily enough, no one thinks that Nazi memorabilia are okay — at least most people don’t. Anyway, I explore all this in that 2009 essay.

While I have you on the line, some mail in response to today’s Impromptus? Someone once said, “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” Russell Baker wrote, “What this country needs is a polite term for ‘right-wing nut.’” (I resented, or resembled, that remark.) In my column, I say that what this country needs is a polite term for “dog sh**.” “Dog poop,” in my opinion, is just too cute. Worse than cute, it’s cutesy.

In San Francisco (as I relate in my column), I saw a sign at a park: “Dog Owners Responsible to Remove Feces.” No, no, no — that’s too science-class, or something.

Anyway, readers have been weighing in on this subject. One writes, “The term we use out here on the farm is ‘manure,’ how about that?” Hmmm, you can use “manure” for dog sh**? I had no idea. I’m sure the word is perfectly good, technically, but it doesn’t sound right to me.

Neither do myriad other suggestions (“mess,” etc.). The search continues . . .

Finally, let’s do a little music. In a post two weeks ago at The New Criterion, I spoke of noises in concert halls and opera houses — not musical ones, but coughing, talking, teeth-sucking, wayward hearing aids, and the like. I said, “A plastic bag is an amazingly ruinous object in a concert hall or opera house. The crinkles are absolutely deafening.”

Oh, yes. My most recent post is titled “Piano and plastic bag.” There were almost fisticuffs at Carnegie Hall the other night.



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