If you can fake authenticity you have it made

by Henry Farrell on September 11, 2009

The Economist’s Brussels correspondent “muses on the difference between German and American campaigning”:http://www.economist.com/blogs/charlemagne/2009/09/campaigning_in_germany_and_ame.cfm.

bq. The Bavarian event was genuine, in a way that stage-managed American politics cannot match. There is a lot that is creepy about an American campaign event. Arriving early at Bush rallies, I would watch aggressive and chilly young Republican aides in smart suits kneeling on gymnasium floors with fistfuls of different felt tip marker pens, and large rectangles of white card. Frowning with concentration, they would then write things like “South Dakota Loves W” in deliberately babyish writing, or pick out the words “Hello Mr President” in red, white and blue lettering. The styles and slogans would be carefully varied, and the end results were impressive: a stack of signs that looked as though supporters of all ages had lovingly written them out on homely kitchen tables. Then, when the crowd arrived (all of them invited and vetted as bona fide Bush supporters) any of them who had forgotten instructions not to bring signs of their own would have them politely confiscated. Then they would be handed one of the ersatz home-made signs by one of the chilly, bossy young munchkins from campaign HQ. On television, it all looked very sweet.

‘Chilly, bossy young munchkins’ is pretty good, I thought.

Don’t pay the Ferryman

by Maria on September 11, 2009

Chris de Burgh, you are a legend. Yes, you are completely MOR and haven’t changed your music or hairstyle in 30+ years. And yes, many people who are too cool for school are probably embarrassed to admit how much they like you. Not me.

Kids, Chris de Burgh was never the hippest cat, but he has sold a gazillion records in a bucketload of countries. And he makes people happy – crazy happy, in fact, jumping up and down dancing and singing on a Monday night in Dublin where the economy has gone down the toilet, flushed away by a wet and dreary summer. The Irish Times critic was emphatically not happy, however, and wrote a sharp, witty and just a tad ungenerous review of the gig.

In return, the singer/songwriter of Lady in Red (I liked his earlier stuff much better) wrote a letter to the editor with the most good-temperedly vitriolic comeback to a critic I’ve seen in a long old time. It has all the essential elements.

First off, de Burgh gets in a dig against the Irish Times’ former music critic (Joe Breen, who’s actually pretty good – you just wouldn’t want to be Chris de Burgh, is all I’m saying). Then humorously points out how shitty it must have been for the critic to be the only person at a knickerstastically cult-like gig who by definition DOESN’T WANT TO BE THERE.

It’s all very parochial and petty, with the current and previous Irish Times music critics getting the classic small-country put down: ‘my friends know you and they say you’re crap’. But then de Burgh bangs this on the head, asking the critic if his career plan is to continue “to be an occasional critic in a country with the population of Greater Manchester”.

He closes with the classic rejoinder to critics everywhere, fake sympathy for a professional life spent “in the shadows, riffling through the garbage bins of despair and avoiding those who think that you are an irrelevance, an irritation to be ignored and laughed about.”

As fans of Chris de Burgh might agree, the good stuff never gets old.