Media (395)


Luister bij het lezen naar My Country, Tis of Thee gezongen door Kelly Clarkson op Inauguration Day 2013

My Country, tis of Thee

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Lately I have frequently been watching, and listening to, the rendition of America’s first national anthem by Kelly Clarkson at Barack Obama’s second inauguration.  Somehow it gives me the certainty that in November 2016 the American people won’t hand the White House over to a real estate developer turned media clown, who at will can change into a xenophobe, a racist, a misogynist or a mini-Hitler, depending on the responses of his audiences, or to an acidic legal scholar operating on the far right side of the Constitution, whose only ambition is to starve the government, or to the son of Cuban immigrants, who betrayed his own kind in one of the most monumental flip-flops of all-time, or to a bully from New Jersey, who hasn’t seen his state in months but is probably already scouting the DC area for bridges he can close to retaliate against Democrats, or to the scion of a political dynasty, who has become so desperate that he now has his brother, the former president who was asleep when the 9/11 warnings came in, then sent US troops oversees for an insane adventure and had the economy collapse on his watch, campaigning for him.
      The lyrics of the song are not always encouraging.  ‘Sweet land of liberty’ is promising, but then comes the line ‘Land where my fathers died,’ suggesting that if your father didn’t die in the US you don’t belong here, which would make both Obama and me unwanted aliens.  The following line, ‘Land of the Pilgrim’s pride,’ is even more concerning.  Although the Pilgrims, as religious separatists, were not exactly like the Puritans, who still recognized the authority of the Church of England, they often had even more extreme views than the latter, who were infamous for their intolerance against other Christians, let alone Jews or Muslims.  If Donald Trump was not of German descent, and his family’s name had not originally been Drumpf, his anti-Muslim tirades would fit very well in this tradition.  It makes the line ‘Let freedom ring’ sound hollow, because the Pilgrims only wanted freedom for themselves but for nobody else.  But what makes the song so impressive is the way it is sung, the arrangement, the fantastic band and its director, and most of all Obama’s priceless, if hardly noticeable, facial expressions as Clarkson performs.
      The commentator announces Kelly Clarkson as ‘the winner of American Idol,’ and immediately after she’s finished all he can say is ‘Kelly Clarkson, a terrific voice.’  She goes from soft to all out in the three verses she sings, and every time her cue is the director who raises his head and opens his mouth wide when a verse starts.  During the first verse Obama looks pensive, during the second amazed, and during the third excited, as if he’s thinking:  “Shit, how fantastic is this?”
      At the time of his second inauguration Obama already had the major achievements of his presidency behind him.  He had pulled the economy out of the ravine where George W. Bush had left it and he had passed the Affordable Care Act, and his being fully accepted as the US President was perfectly mirrored by the shown acceptance of Clarkson by black women in the crowd.
      Call me a dreamer, but I cannot imagine that a country where such wonderful events have been possible so recently is about to regress into the grip of reactionary Republican rule that sends women back to the needle,  the uninsured needy to the ER, and the poor to charity.

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Anglo-Amerikaanse overheersing

Ik heb gisteren eens een tijd echt naar de Top 2000 geluisterd. Je weet natuurlijk dat die lijst gedomineerd wordt door Anglo-Amerikaanse bands en solisten. Maar het was erger dan ik dacht. ik hoorde alleen maar Engels tot Boudewijn de Groot na ruim een uur aan de beurt was.

Zou het echt zo monopolistisch zijn?
Zou onze keus uit pakweg 60 jaar populaire muziek in zekere zin vrijwel alleen maar bestaan uit meer van hetzelfde?
Zou er nog iets Frans, Duits of Spaans tussen zitten?
Zouden er nummers uit Afrika of Azië inzitten?
Uit Oost-Europa wellicht? Zuid-Amerika?

Nutteloze vragen. Je kent het antwoord.

Ik heb even de eerste 50 gerubriceerd.

24 keer Engeland
16 keer USA
1x Brits/Amerikaans

6 keer Nederland
1 keer Ierland
1 keer Schotland
1 keer Australië

Favorieten: Coldplay (4x); Adele (3x); Dire Straits (3x); Pink Floyd (3x); Metallica (2x); Rolling Stones (2x)

Voor Nederland: Claudia de Breij, Boudewijn de Groot, Racoon, Guus Meeuwis, Dotan en Wim Sonneveld.

De eerste ‘’buitenlanders’’ staan een eind verderop: Charles Aznavour (143). Abba (155); Jacques Brel (156)

Wat dit zegt over onze ontwikkeling, onze visie, onze moraal, onze afstemming, onze mores, onze diversiteit, onze eigenheid, onze opvoeding en onze kijk op de wereld moet uzelf maar uitmaken! Maar ik zou er niet gerust op zijn.



Lees ook eens wat mijn oud VPRO-collega Wim Bloemendaal hier over schrijft





(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

When you drive into Hoboken (New Jersey), you see a sign ‘Birthplace of Baseball and Frank Sinatra.’  The first organized game of baseball, between two clubs from New York City, was played on the Elysian Fields, three blocks from my current apartment, and Sinatra was born on Monroe Street, one hundred years ago today.  I didn’t immediately see the sign, because I first arrived in Hoboken in the middle of the night, but the next day I walked into a bar called ‘The Chatterbox,’ and then I realized how important Sinatra still was to Hoboken.  Tending bar was Trudy, the niece of the owner, Thea, who spoke English with a beautiful Rotterdam accent.  At the bar were Hoboken old timers: George, Thea’s husband, Mario, Ray, Frankie, Willy, Izzie and Buddy, each with their own Sinatra memories.  In the jukebox were all the songs Sinatra had ever recorded.  I soon found my two absolute favorites, ‘I’ll be seeing you’ and ‘That’s what God looks like to me,’ which I liked even more after my son was born and played while I listened to their stories.  “Sinatra is the best,” they would say, an honor that was otherwise only reserved for DiMaggio.

Frank’s mother had been a midwife who also performed abortions, which was obviously illegal at the time.  She was sometimes referred to as ‘a little angel maker,’ but pretty much every old timer I knew claimed to have been delivered by her.  Frank’s father, a fireman, wanted him to attend Stevens Institute of Technology, where I’ve been teaching since 1987, but Frank wanted to be a singer, not an engineer, so he left Hoboken for New York City.  In 1985, over the protests of the students, Stevens honored Sinatra with a Doctorate in Engineering, for which President Reagan came over from DC in a helicopter.  I once joked that Frank basically had earned the honorary degree because he didn’t want to study at Stevens, but that didn’t go over well in the Faculty Club.  Sinatra anecdotes are famous, for instance the one about the time when he bought all the champagne glasses in a restaurant so that a waiter, who had been scolded by the manager, could break them, but my favorite is the one about the Stevens President who flew to LA to ask Sinatra for a donation, was briefly greeted on the first tee of a golf course, and never saw Sinatra again.

When you’re relatively young you don’t always see things in the right perspective, and therefore my generation, unlike the generation before us, largely missed the importance of Frank Sinatra.  We grew up with Elvis, Dylan, the Beatles and the Stones, and for us Sinatra was someone from the past, like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole.  But Dylan, from that previous generation, knew better.  “Sinatra never went away,” he said in a recent, fascinating interview in the AARP magazine.

Still today, listening to Sinatra is a revelation.  As Bob Dylan says: “He had the ability to get inside of the song in sort of a conversational way.  Frank sang to you, not at you.”  The New York Times writes today that Sinatra brilliantly infused popular song with personal emotion, and to experience that again I’ll watch all four hours of ‘All or nothing at all’ on HBO tonight.

Before I moved to my current apartment I lived in a building on 406 Jefferson Street, one block from the lot at 415 Monroe Street where Sinatra’s birthplace had been.  So for a couple of years we were practically neighbors, and I still see him in Hoboken, a skinny Italian kid that wanted to be a singer.

(Op Sinatra-day geschreven; 12 december)


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(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

I migrated to the US from Holland in 1992 and have dual American and Dutch citizenship. Since I worked as an educator in the Netherlands before I came to the US I’ll have a small pension and social security benefits coming from Holland after I turn 65 in March 2016, and as I have some financial planning to do for my retirement I went on line and tried to log on to my account at the agency that administers Dutch government pensions, ABP, but my access was denied. I was informed that from now on I could only log on with DigiD, a new creation of the Dutch government.  Subsequently I found out that I would also need DigiD to get information on line from the Dutch Social Security Administration, SVB.  So I tried to register for DigiD on line.  The first obstacle I ran into was that I would need a ‘burgerservicenummer’ or BSN, the Dutch equivalent of a social security number that was introduced after I left Holland.  When I called the DigiD helpdesk I was told that my BSN should be in my passport, but in my passport, issued by the Dutch Consulate in New York City, that space was left blank.  Ready to give up on DigiD I called ABP and asked them to mail the information I needed to me.

To my pleasant surprise the documents I received from ABP a couple of weeks later included my BSN, which allowed me to find out what I needed to know from SVB over the phone, but also made me decide to give DigiD another shot.  After entering the required information on the DigiD website I first got the message that I would have to visit a ‘balie,’ a special desk, with my passport, in order to get my DigiD activated.  The message included a list of those desks, none of which were in the US.  For me, living in New Jersey, the closest ‘balie’ was in Paramaribo, Suriname.  There are also desks in Bangkok, Wellington and some European capitals, but not in the UK or North America.  When I again called the DigiD helpdesk I was assured that they’re working hard to add more desks, but that for now Paramaribo or Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport were my best options.  Since it so happens that on Sunday, 12/27/15, I’ll have a layover at Schiphol, I made an appointment at the ‘balie’ there for that day and again entered my information on the DigiD website, where this time I got the message that it could not be processed.

In response to my subsequent inquiry the DigiD helpdesk informed me per Twitter Message that I could only apply once I had been de-registered as a resident of Amsterdam, my former hometown, for which I would have to show up in person, with my passport, at City Hall.  City Hall is closed on Sunday, and I would not have had the time to go there anyway, so I finally decided to give up on DigiD, which will make my communication with Dutch government agencies much more complicated than it needs to be.

In the Internet age, the whole process is an anachronism.  DigiD claims that it creates extra security, but in the end all you get is a username and password, only known to the user and DigiD, which can be stolen just as easily as any other  username and password, via spyware or other forms of identity theft.  The same level of security can be established on line without having to visit a ‘balie.’

Sadly, the way the process is organized shows complete disregard on the part of the Dutch government for its citizens living abroad, many of whom will never live close enough to a ‘balie’ to get DigiD, and therefore will have significant difficulty accessing information they’re entitled to.

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Telling Lies

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Politicians will say almost anything to get elected, but exactly when are they lying?  Lying is generally defined as knowingly giving false statements or saying things that are not true.  The active word here is knowingly.  Pretty much everything GOP candidates say about their tax plans for instance, each of which is some version of supply side economics, is not true.   Since Ronald Reagan’s ill-fated and brief trickle-down experiment it is public knowledge that cutting taxes for the rich while reducing government spending doesn’t produce jobs and only increases deficits, but as long as there are economists who sing the praises of such policies politicians can claim not to know their detrimental effects.  So sometimes politicians can say things that are not true without actually lying, but most of the time the following happens: A politician says something outrageous, often referring to dubious sources, and subsequently that statement is debunked by journalistic fact-checking.  Once it has publicly and beyond a shadow of doubt been shown that what that politician said was not true, and he keeps repeating it, he’s telling a lie.

Lying is by no means a prerogative of male politicians.  On the Republican side Carly Fiorina is a serial liar, although she’s not very good at it.  Her entire record as the chief executive of Hewlett Packard, the high tech company she all but ran into the ground, is public knowledge, but she keeps denying that her tenure there was a disaster.  More damaging are the lies Fiorina keeps telling about Planned Parenthood.  In spite of proof that a video she claims to have seen was doctored, and that events it depicted never took place as shown, she keeps repeating her line about a baby ‘its heart beating, its legs kicking’ of which the parts were harvested to be sold.   The deranged drifter who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last Friday was heard mumbling something about baby parts, and could easily have been inspired by Fiorina.  The Governors who are running often proclaim imaginary policy accomplishments in their state and a popularity they can only wish for, although some of them probably are genuinely delusional in that respect, while Senators tend to embellish their family history.

But the biggest liar of all is Trump.  He started his campaign by saying that Mexico sends rapists and drug dealers across the border, and from there it has been downhill.  Recently Trump tweeted crime statistics that would show that 81% of white murder victims were killed by blacks, while the real number is 15%.  Then he outdid himself by declaring that he had seen thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheering as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center came down.

When confronted about the egregiousness of that statement Trump doubled down but also undermined himself.  He had not actually seen the Muslim crowd but only heard about it, and it could have been in Paterson instead of Jersey City.  His final ‘argument’ was that hundreds of people had called or tweeted him that they had seen or heard the same thing.

It’s Trump's model.  He repeats a lie so often that some of his half-witted followers start believing that it’s true and feed it back to him, which he then uses as ‘proof.’  With so much insincerity on the other side, it’s no wonder that Hillary’s emails have become an afterthought.

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