The Corner


Songs, Comets, and More

An erhu player in San Francisco (Robert Galbraith / Reuters)

My latest Jaywalking is here. It has to do with politics, foreign affairs, sports, language — the usual. Musical assistance comes from Denis Matsuev (going to town on “Take the ‘A’ Train”) and Juan Diego Flórez (doin’ “Bésame Mucho”).

I would like to publish a little mail — plus a photo. First, a note from a friend of mine who is a teacher in England. He was responding to an item I had about international trade:

Whilst doing some research for my Seniors (final year of school), I happened upon an article from 1912 with the following line: “If peace is to come at all throughout the world, it will not come until we have everywhere the open door, with no more restriction upon trade than there is upon the swapping of penknives.”

Nice. A different reader responded to an item about Franco-German friendship, and its rarity, historically:

I was in Alsace either right before or right after Macron’s election, and, over dinner one night, I asked my French friends whom they were supporting (or had supported). They, all three, said Macron. I was a little surprised and asked why. “The most important thing is to remain close to Germany,” they said.

One of them then told a story. His grandmother had two uncles who were both in World War II. One fought for Germany, the other for France. They were both killed in the same battle.

Now, I know that Alsace is more Germanic than the rest of France — but these friends wanted to remain allied with Germany, I think, simply because they could see Germany crushing them again.

In a recent Jaywalking, I played a bit of “Amazing Grace” on the erhu, the Chinese instrument. What I mean is: I played a recording. And a fellow journalist — a conservative — wrote,

I almost pardoned Bill Moyers after watching his documentary on “Amazing Grace.”


I had an item — more than one, actually — on pronunciation: silent L’s, in particular. A reader sent me an article from almond country in California: “I Say Almond, You Say Am-end. But Who’s Right?

Last week, I had a column on “Death Row meals,” or “last suppers” — readers’ choices. Afterward, a reader wrote to say, “Don’t you know the song?” Song? Nope. He meant this, from Asleep at the Wheel, a country band:

Well, I was layin’ in my cell on Death Row
When I heard the warden say,
He said, “Ray you got one more day.
You got one last meal before we carry you away.”
He said, “If we ain’t got it, we’re gonna have to send out and get it,
And you don’t have to go, you don’t have to go
Until we get back with it.”

So the condemned man orders “two dinosaur eggs, over easy,” “a whole hippopotamus, well baked,” “a purple watermelon,” “a barbecued brick of chocolate ice cream,” and so on.

Wonderful song.

You want wonderful? While in Florida, I snapped a picture of a Mercury Comet convertible. A reader sent me a snap of his — 1963, baby:

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