For the past week I’ve been staying at a boarding house in College Park, Maryland. The other boarders are mostly foreign grad students here doing research for their dissertations. There’s a German, a Brit, a Finn, and a Nebraskan (not a foreigner but close enough).
Last week I convinced them to let me watch America’s Next Top Model (a, shall we say, lowbrow reality show) on the only TV in the house. In one scene, the background music was Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” at which point the German noted how Wagner’s music had been appropriated by the Nazis. This led to further discussion of Wagner and the Nazis, prompting me to wonder: Do you think anybody else who watched America’s Top Model last week ended up discussing Wagner during the show?
On a similar note, my friend John Petersen was in town over the weekend, and on Friday afternoon we went to the National Gallery to see the J.M.W Turner exhibition. Turner was a British landscape artist in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. According to the exhibition catalog, he was known “for his technical brilliance and startling use of light and color.”
That night we went to a hockey game and saw a couple good fights.
I’m wrapping up my work here in Washington. On Thursday I head back to Bamako. Apparently the Malian Aviation Authority (or whatever it’s called) has decided to resurface the runway at the airport this week. Hopefully they’ll be finished before I’m supposed to land.