Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Blue and the Gray; the Red and the Yellow

The light is pale and bluish gray, a pallid gray. The air is frigid, there's no reason to go out even to see the holiday lights downtown, unless there's good company waiting.

It is perfect for reading, and reading is perfect for Squishtoid. Reading's cheap and there's plenty of time, the light is actually good for reading. I was foresighted enough to see this day coming, so while it was still warm, I went out to the garage and dug out some books I've been meaning to finish. Richard Powers; John Barth; a Lennon bio; Neil Stephenson, Baroque Trilogy; nothing too heavy, heh,heh. I've got food, down cover and radiators, so time is on my side, if the temp isn't. The cat is pretty happy with this state of affairs, too, though I worry she may be caught in a book-alanche.

I'm reading- officially- The Return of Depression Economics, by Paul Krugman. I say 'officially' because it was lent to me as a result of a turkey-day bitch session about the general mess the right wing has gotten this country into, so I'm sort of honor-bound to read it and spread the word. It gives a very clear and concise explanation of the crash, despite being written by a Nobel Laureate from Princeton, and I can already recommend it.

But naturally, the tea-baggers and other haters aren't much interested in facts, especially the kind a Nobel winner from Princeton might present. So until the social dynamic in this country changes to favor the lower and middle class as much as it does the upper and upper middle classes , knowing how economics works is unlikely to make the economy more user-friendly. In the gray tundra of the Great Bush Recession, facts about how we got into this mess offer light but no real warmth. Hurry, Spring!

So in a quest for more cheery reading, I've found another book, Barcelona, by Robert Hughes.
This is more like it, sun-splashed, sea food-devouring Barcelona with the exotic design and architecture. A place to escape to.

I first got interested in Barcelona the way everyone does- through its football club. (it actually has two, but even the Mets get more love than Espanyol). Barca, whose starting 11 could pass at a masquerade for the #1 ranked Spanish National team with whom it shares its red-and-yellow strip, has been dismantling opponents with fascinating and surgical precision.

The way Barca beat Manchester United, a legitimate contender for the English treble- titles in the league, Football Association, and against Barcelona in the Champions League -was typical. Quick 10-yard passes strung between perfectly positioned midfielders, a mesmerizingly efficient game of keep away, until suddenly someone is free right in front of the open goal. Barca's goals are rarely spectacular except as part of the amazing build up that leads to them. Perfect proof of the simple fact that football is only boring to people- Americans- who are too easily bored.

And Barcelona, the city, seems to follow the same pattern. Hughes intends to make a case for Barcelona's more spectacular sights being the product of a fairly workman-like approach to art, life and politics. It's the first time I've read a full dose of Hughes, and though he has moments of snide crankiness about, for example, Post-Modernism ( in regard to Barcelona?), he also has a gift for conducting a reader through the labyrinth of Catalan art and politics, and how they intertwine. It's absorbing reading on a frigid winter's night. I wish I was there right now, eating sea food.

1 comment:

  1. Is that Lennon bio "Lives of John Lennon?" Almost wish I hadn't read that one, but it is a break from the usual hagiography. Worth it for the picture of Lennon and Nillson with tampons on their heads.