The Corner

Impromptus

Mrs. Strauss’s Fan, and More

Grant’s Tomb, January 5, 2020 (Jay Nordlinger)

What’s a picture of Grant’s Tomb doing up there? Well, I was walking by yesterday and thought it looked particularly impressive. Also, I happen to mention Grant in my Impromptus today.

(Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? The answer, as you know, is Grant and his wife, Julia.)

My leading and longest item is about political experience. Once upon a time, I quoted Richard Brookhiser: “The presidency is not an entry-level political job, unless you’ve won a world war.” He was alluding to Eisenhower, of course. There was also Grant, who’d won the Civil War.

Anyway, an interesting subject.

Here on the Corner, I would like to publish some mail. The first note responds to my Impromptus of Friday, which included some photos of Delphi, Indiana.

Jay,

You know their high-school nickname is — the Oracles. And they do battle with the Frankfort Hot Dogs, just down the road.

Speaking of Indiana, a reader responds to my series (in three parts) on Mitch Daniels: here, here, and here. I also podcasted with Daniels, who was governor of Indiana and is now president of Purdue University. For the podcast, go here.

Our reader writes,

. . . I have a soft spot for Purdue, because my parents met there when they were grad students in the Thirties.

It seems like an eternity ago, but as recently as 2012 nationally prominent politicians were willing to talk honestly about the country’s fiscal situation. . . .

If you respect the voters enough to be honest with them, you will be portrayed pushing Grandma off a cliff in her wheelchair. So no one will speak honestly.

I am realistic. The forces pushing us toward insolvency are deep and structural. A President Daniels or President Romney might have failed to put the country on a sustainable path, but he would have tried. Now, no one capable of winning the nomination of either party would even try.

And it remains to be seen how well Grandma will do in a Greece-style debt crisis.

Well said.

A note on food?

Mr. N. —

I’ve noticed that, in your travels, you always comment on the commonplace foods of where you go, as opposed to haute cuisine. I don’t know if anything important enough for you to report on ever happens in south Louisiana, but you oughta come here just to eat. Both Cajun and Creole dishes are comfort-provident, family-founded cuisine culture. And everybody cooks, and has a prime dish (mine is a smoked-turkey-and-Andouille-sausage filé gumbo). You could do a whole city-journal series on gluttony (which we consider a virtue). . . .

Anyhow, come down here sometime, and get happily bloated.

Been there, done that, wanna do it again.

Finally, I ended an Impromptus last week with this:

Probably my favorite thing Leonard Bernstein ever said is, “I’d give five years of my life to have written The Stars and Stripes Forever.” In that spirit, let me say that “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff — is really, wonderfully good. Sumbitch will be around as long as “Silent Night.”

An eminent musicologist sends the following story, culled from a website devoted to the late, great Etude magazine:

The wife of Johann Strauss once asked Brahms for his autograph to put on her fan. He immediately complied with her request, writing the opening measure of the Blue Danube waltz, and putting under it, “not, alas, by Johannes Brahms.”

Wonderful to know. To be placed in one’s permanent repertory.

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