I’ve been asked if there is no solution for the host of shelter-related problems that I outlined recently. Well, here’s a blanket solution–judge its feasibility for yourself.
) Bernie Sanders becomes U.S. president.
) Then he, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva jointly create a homeland for Latin refugees in a vacant area of Mexico–funded by draining money from the bloated U.S. military budget.
)Then, employing other money from stiff taxes on the superrich and defunding the police , Sanders creates a reparations fund for homeless minorities.
) Americans who want to work from home first join unions which in turn negotiate deals with US employers.
) And trillionaires who want to move to their private islands or live on their seagoing yachts may do so–after paying a stiff exit tax to Uncle Sam.
In Mexico during the 1980s, I encountered other travelers from a variety of places—England, New Orleans, you name it. Among them were two women who seemed a bit withdrawn, prickly, even unfriendly. They spoke English, but with an accent that I couldn’t easily place. After a while it came out: They were South African.
They could have had any number of reasons for staying a bit apart. But I believed that they were embarrassed by their country’s policy of racial oppression, apartheid. Maybe they were secret supporters of the liberation struggle. Maybe Nelson Mandela was a family friend. Who knows? But I think they felt that non-South Africans would regard them as something like neo-Nazis. They probably felt themselves to be pariahs—people who others would shun once their nationality became known.
This could be the fate facing Americans if we ever travel again.
The European Union is preparing to ban American travelers when it reopens its borders on July 1, lumping the U.S. in with Russia and Brazil in terms of countries that have failed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. First, the U.S. banned EU tourists in mid-March, angering political leaders. Now, Europe has largely contained COVID-19, while new cases in the U.S. are increasing in number. Sweet revenge will prevail, as John Prine once sang.
Moreover, Trump’s disgraceful behavior, and that of his yobbish fans, is sufficient reason for non-Americans to regard us warily. Oh, they may well think: You are the type of people who automatically regard Mexicans as rapists and Central Americans as diseased. Maybe you too hate Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau while admiring Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.
We were in Scotland a few years ago, and we rushed to make it clear to our B&B hosts and others that we were non-fans of the Orange man. I think they accepted what we said, and quickly changed the subject to an explanation of Scottish ways and a discussion of places we might like to visit. Oh, are you golfers? We had to make it clear that we weren’t—another reason to find us objectionable.
So, compatriots, steel yourselves for Ugly American status. Maybe you could wear a Black Lives Matter T-shirt or attach a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker onto your rental car. Or maybe COVID-19 will prevent you from ever again traveling abroad.
Tonight’s dinner: Black beans and rice, lettuce and avocado salad.
Entertainment: Concluding episodes of season two of Broadchurch.
A little while ago, I set up the bread machine to make a loaf of light whole wheat bread. The machine, a “Breadman,” is about the size of a large toaster oven. You just put in the ingredients, push a few buttons, and the machine takes care of everything. You can even set a timer to make bread overnight so it will be ready for breakfast when you wake up.
The loaf I like requires a mix of flours—regular white flour, whole wheat flour, and whole wheat pastry flour. It takes a little over four hours to produce a loaf, what with kneading, pausing to allow for rising, more kneading, more rising, then baking. It’s hardly perfect: The loaves produced don’t have the crusty, chewy texture that one might prefer. But in a quarantined world, they’re hard to beat.
There is, I must admit, some trick with the yeast. Sometimes a loaf will come out sort of flat, and other times, perfectly risen. Just what makes the difference, I cannot tell.
It’s Saturday, and today we may remember to listen to the NPR panel show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” But generally, we forget unless we are in the car. As everybody under lock-down knows, each day seems the same and routines are easily overlooked.
At 10:35 a.m. I have already consumed the thin Saturday Times and am ready for other stimulus. Reporters are weary of Trump’s unhinged rants—anyone for a swig of bleach?—and so they are on to examining whether or not Joe Biden really groped that woman. Some pundits say the Democrats are under no obligation to nominate Biden, their nominee-presumptive. They can just ditch him like that damaged face mask you returned to Amazon, and opt for either Klobuchar or Warren.
Of course, no responsible pundit would suggest Bernie. He’s like the restaurant in the Yogi Berra story: No one goes there, it’s too crowded. Or to paraphrase a recent Hillary Clinton comment, no one likes him—he’s too popular.
The loaf of bread did come out less than perfectly risen. They never have problems on YouTube!
This summer could see the return of drive-in movies, I read yesterday. There’s a certain logic: You’d have the feeling of being on an outing, yet you’d be ensconced in your private chamber, socially distanced from all but your intimate relations and chums. But, like in the old days, the setup would probably appeal most to a younger crowd. Adults might go once—then right back home to the Netflix.
I remember going to a drive-in screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. With its spellbinding, interplanetary visuals, lush soundtrack, and trippy, mystifying ending, it was really wrong for the drive-in. In order for the wild visuals and the spooky plot to work, you needed to be in a very dark, cavernous theater.
I also recall a Memphis drive-in with one of the most memorable and bizarre double-billings ever: The artsy Women In Love, based on the D.H. Lawrence novel, and Women In Chains, a sleazy B-movie about a female prison.
Tonight’s dinner: leftover lentil salad, saffron rice, and a green salad with cucumber and artichoke hearts.
Entertainment: More episodes of the Norwegian thriller Occupied and the third episode of Collateral. The latter is quite effective: You know just whodunit—but the motive for the killing of an immigrant pizza-delivery guy could be any number of things. The most recent episode involved local police, shady criminals, MI-5, and the military.