Brown Study

Brown study

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

23 November 2019

9:00 AM

New York is a difficult place to get a handle on just how the place works. But despite this, every now and again you find that the basic rules that make it tick never change. I had my own experience of this only a few days ago. I was on my way to an appointment around the middle of the morning (probably to Trump Towers) and I realised that I was hopelessly lost. As I paused to get some vague idea where I was and whether I was walking north or south (I can be that far off course) I found that I was standing outside a shop window inscribed ‘Madam Olga, Fortune Teller, Psalmist, Clairvoyant.’ And, if I were not mistaken, that must be Madam Olga herself, bedecked in multicoloured silks, bangles and the sort of turban you would wear if you were an uppity Muslim human rights activist going on Q&A. She was standing outside her shop and looking optimistically along West 45th Street for customers. I leapt at the lady, allegorically speaking, and put the question: ‘Excuse me, Madam, can you tell me where I am?’ ‘Where have you come from?’ she replied.’ ‘I thought you were the clairvoyant,’ I said, ‘not me and, if so, you should be able to tell me where I have come from and where I am now’. ’How would I know, pal?’ she rejoined, ‘I’m a clairvoyant, not a street directory.’ ‘Well, as a clairvoyant, can you at least tell me where I am heading?’ ‘So now you want me to fix your co-ordinates already?’ I thought that was a bit rude, but I pressed on with: ‘Well, can you tell me in which direction I am heading?’ ‘No idea, pal,’ was her unhelpful reply. It was time for my denouement, so I gave it to her with both barrels: ‘I can scarcely believe that a registered clairvoyant (I assume you are registered with City Hall) could not even tell me where I came from and where I am heading’. ‘Oh, I can tell you all of that and anything else you want to know. But I can also tell you I am not running a charity’. ‘So, I pay you and then you concoct a lot of hogwash and pretend it is the future.’ ‘No, I can guarantee that what I tell you is the future and it will be absolutely true. But you have to remember the New York Rule. No money, no honey.’ Indeed, I had learned a lesson. New York hustlers are exactly what they always have been, whether they are re-writing the past, fantasising about the present or inventing the future, provided the money is there. Upfront.

But the following day, I was thrilled to find that New York can still summon up some of the tinsel-sprinkled magic and glamour of the past. I say that because I went to see one of the current hits on Broadway, Come From Away and it is a knock-out! Just after its opening night in Melbourne (one of the five concurrent productions underway internationally) the renowned impresario, John-Michael Howson had told me how wonderful it was and I resolved to see it. But then I thought, why not in Taki’s Noo York? The musical comedy (and very funny it is) is about how, in the immediate wake of 9/11, the little town of Gander in Newfoundland, became the temporary home of 38 aircraft forced to land as a safety measure in response to the ghastly acts of terrorism that occurred on that day of infamy. The show is a real heart-jerker about how the townspeople of Gander give passengers, aircrew and accompanying pets accommodation, food, shelter and above all, love, until their ordeal is over. It is the kindness of strangers writ large. The story is clear, the music is brilliant, you will shed a tear or two and you will certainly not forget its simple message of the victory of love over the hatred that gave rise to 9/11.

Speaking of entertainment – and all politics is now entertainment – the US media is awash with the so-called Ukraine scandal and how it has folded into impeachment proceedings against President Trump. And Trump must be loving it because he knows, as everyone knows except the deluded Democrats, that the more the Left attacks him, the more it gets his base fired up and strengthens his vote. And the more potent becomes his message, namely: ‘the Left hate me because I represent you, who are ordinary, decent, hardworking Americans’. Talk about bias in the media. It is just laid on with a trowel, 24 hours a day particularly on CNN. Of course, Fox News has its own agenda and is pro-Trump. But at least Fox covers the rest of the news as well, while CNN is boring the backside out of us by covering nothing but Ukraine. I’m Ukrained out, and I doubt if many Americans would even know where the place is. The impeachment will fail because the case against Trump is so weak that it can scarcely raise a heartbeat. Scandals like Watergate and Bill ‘I did not have sex with that woman’ Clinton, could at least get us aroused. But Ukraine? Hardly. And, as usual, the Americans are living up to Churchill’s wonderful summary of their character; you can count on them doing the right thing – after exploring all other alternatives. This time, they really cannot see the obvious and simple point, yet. Trump knew there was corruption in Ukraine. Everyone knew it. Joe Biden’s son and his dodgy company were involved. How then could Trump urge that Ukraine just ignore it? To suggest that corruption should not be investigated when a US politician’s son is involved is ludicrous and would be tantamount to writing a suicide note. So, by doing the right thing, Trump is under attack. He should be praised for pursuing the issue and eventually he will be.

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