There is a lot I could say about politics tonight, but I’m going to give you all a break.  Despite all the rancor and bitterness going on between Camp Clinton and Camp Sanders, the  story that garnered the most outrage today was a poem.

It was a poem by Calvin Trillin, in the New Yorker, and it went like this:

Have they run out of provinces yet?

If they haven’t, we’ve reason to fret.

Long ago, there was just Cantonese.

(Long ago, we were easy to please.)

But then food from Szechuan came our way,

Making Cantonese strictly passé.

Szechuanese was the song that we sung,

Though the ma po could burn through your tongue.

Then when Shanghainese got in the loop

We slurped dumplings whose insides were soup.

Then Hunan, the birth province of Mao,

Came along with its own style of chow.

So we thought we were finished, and then

A new province arrived: Fukien.

Then respect was a fraction of meagre

For those eaters who’d not eaten Uighur.

And then Xi’an from Shaanxi gained fame,

Plus some others—too many to name.

Now, as each brand-new province appears,

It brings tension, increasing our fears:

Could a place we extolled as a find

Be revealed as one province behind?

So we sometimes do miss, I confess,

Simple days of chow mein but no stress,

When we never were faced with the threat

Of more provinces we hadn’t met.

Is there one tucked away near Tibet?

Have they run out of provinces yet?

The first couple of comments criticizing it just talked about how simplistic and shallow it was as a poem and I thought “What a bunch of poetry snobs.  If I’d written that poem, I’d be damned proud.  It rhymes straight through, it doesn’t break meter, it makes sense, and  is even a little bit humorous and makes a point.  Miles above most of the shit that gets called poetry today.

Later, commenters started to go on about how racist it was.  I’m not Chinese, admittedly, but I can’t find anything in there that is offensive.  Is the fact that everybody in the world loves Chinese food somehow anti-Chinese?

So, there’s my opinion on that.

Just a couple of minutes ago, I saw this on my facebook page:


It may not seem to be an exceptional or great work of art, but look a bit closer.  That is not a mural on a building, that is a mural on 50 buildings.  It’s got depth.  It took a hell of a lot of logistic co-ordination to create it.  And it’s an example of what can be done, even in a desperately poor city, to produce something amazing.  It’s called ‘Perception’ and it’s by an artist called eL Seed.

I hope this is the beginning of a trend.  If I ever get back to Cairo (which I would like to do) there will be something there besides the pyramids to see.


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