Good Friday

April 2, 2010

I was dismayed by the news invading my car as I drove to Turku to rehearse Händel’s Messiah for today’s performance at the city’s Cathedral.

The news reverberating above the susserating din of the tyre noise made me cringe and, frankly, irked. It was about … wait… wait … the Vatican and its trial and tribulations … in Holy Week. This was followed by a reportage about a NY Times reporter and her hard-biting column on the trials and the same tribulations facing the Catholic Church. This morning, is spite of the fact that I must do this and that in preparation for the upcoming presentation of the Messiah, I went to the NY Times site and searched for Laurie Goldstein. Nothing of her writings matched the acrid smoke she created from the previous day.

Maybe, I thought, I had to subscribe to the NY Times on-line — fat chance — a snowball in hell has a better chance (apotheosis). Instead I found an article by a Maureen Dowd. Her photo showed her to be a charming looking 50s something or other person of uncertain cultural heritage. Judging by her snap, she might be the kind of person with whom I might share a pleasant word or two over a coffee even if I had just met her in a café, ex tempore, like, er, ah, when she dropped her newspaper (Corriere dela sera?) and I gallantly picked it up, offering a wink in the flowing gesture.

Ah but then I read her words ... ah, suck in, breathe through the mouth, fill your stomach,  exhale through the nose … ah fresh air, thick with the small of dog dung as is common in the early spring in the majestic New York. What about her words, you might be wondering? How can I put this. It is better to give it a miss. I mean read the local paper instead where the journalists are  a little more circumspect given that they have to stroll on the same streets as  you.

I can be a little more graphic:  I like to my back scratched when it itches but not by a bear. My attitude to her may, in some small way, be influenced by my visits to the city that never sleeps. What I mean is that if you are from a small town, from any small town, inexperienced in the guiles of big city slickers then you should stay home. She is, measuring her by the words she writes, a sharp, crass, actually mean-witted and even more mean-spirited person. She has a sympathetic face though but care should be taken when judging a book by its cover: Genghis the Khan of long ago, surely had a sympathetic bloke-face to his admirers.

Her words indicate she is  (truly) a very hard core New Yorker. What does that mean? If she is anything like my now deceased professor of Hindi and Sanskrit, this means that she will invite you for a cuppa, at say, six in the evening, and then when you knock on her door at the appointed time, she screams at you to slip some ID (with a photo) under the door, before she opens it. Even when you have complied, she cracks the door open, with the safety chain still dangling in its place. Just in case, she may surmise, that the person whom she invited for a cuppa is a paedophile who has moved into raping, exclusively, journalists of the NY Times persuasion, male or female – it makes no never mind.

Anyway, her sense of irony is very much of the same paradigm I use. Sharp but not too. Offensive but not too. Walloping but not too. And then smack. But just so. Slag off but ever so cunningly effete lest those being slagged decide to slag back.

I plead with friends and foes alike to stop reading the NY Times, kill your subscriptions and do the only honourable thing with any remaining copies:  tear them in small pieces about the size of toilet paper … take these to the cottage, or outhouse, and use them wisely.


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