John Colson: Hit and Run
Aspen Times Weekly
Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of whatever’s handy, since the option of heading out and buying your favorite beverage for the Christmas holiday went out the window like a Wall Street broker whose Xanax prescription ran out.
The Big Day at chez nous was a quiet affair, as it was in most households I know of, as the fear of what is now officially a “recession” settles in and many people wonder whether 2009 will bring more bad news or a break in the darkness.
As other columnists have noted, prospects in the Roaring Fork Valley are not very sunny these days, despite our congenital belief that the valley is recession-proof thanks to the fact that its fate is tied to the tails of the über-rich and they never seem to want for disposable income.
We know better now, to our dismay, as everybody I know who isn’t working for the government has seen their hours cut back, their company 401(K) matching deal suddenly blink out and other such financial tribulations.
And so much for that, as Hunter S. Thompson liked to write in his letters.
It’s good to see the world’s sense of humor, while somewhat darker than it was in the golden days of yore, still recognizes a howling good joke when it sees one.
For instance, a friend sent an e-mail about an article in “The Age,” a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, detailing how replicas of the shoes recently tossed at President George Bush in Iraq are now “the most desirable around the world.”
Some cobbler says he created the shoe style a decade ago, and called it the Ducati Model 271, although the name has now been changed to The Bush Shoe.
As all motorcycle enthusiasts know, the Ducati motorcycles made in Italy handle as though mounted on rails and are as stylish as anything on two wheels, so there was some confusion when the article referred to the “light weight and clunky design” of the shoe that was tossed in Bushes general direction.
Still, the article goes on to say, the shoe’s creator, a man named Baydan, “was amazed at their aerodynamics. The shoes rocketed squarely at Mr. Bush’s head.”
Not sure what all that means, but the international guffaw that accompanied the act of shoe-throwing by an Iraqi journalist has been a much-needed respite from all the bad news circulating around the globe.
And it has been particularly heartening to learn that this type of gesture is a common Iraqi insult, much as in the U.S. we tend to gesture with certain digits to show our displeasure with some individual, while in Europe they use an entire arm, crooked with a fist at the inside of the elbow. In Iraq, one must assume, a shoe is a precious commodity, and one not thrown away lightly.
It’s entertaining to think about what might have happened had Bush invaded, say, Switzerland, haven for skiers, or France, where wine is served with every meal, and the tossing of gear was a similarly common way of making a point.
We might be dealing with a much more critical aftermath if, say, a critic had hurled a ski or a bottle of wine at the presidential head as a way of showing displeasure with America’s international policies.
We can only hope for further examples of international good humor as the New Year approaches and the global depression deepens.
Perhaps Vladimir Putin will be tackled by rampaging Russian protesters and tickled into admitting he’s gay and really a pacifist.
Or China’s Hu Jintao might suddenly find himself surrounded by Tibetan monks, smiling and offering too pray for his immortal soul, and decide that the last 50 years of suppression were a mistake that must be rectified by naming the Dalai Lama as Hu’s chief advisor for religious freedom.
As some sage once said, the future is unwritten until it becomes history, and none of us really know what the hell might happen next.
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