A Looter’s Life for Me

Below is JLH’s latest topical pastiche in verse form.

A Looter’s Life for Me

by JLH
With apologies to Pinocchio and other blockheads

Hi diddle-dee-dee,
A looter’s life for me.
A full face mask and a baseball bat;
I’ll show those $%&!*#s where I’m at.

Hi diddle-dee-dee,
Anonymous funding for me.
Bashing elders is lots of fun;
If they don’t fall down, away I run.
Breaking windows done with care
So none of the glass gets in my hair.
It’s so much better than going to war.
It’s not some principle we’re fighting for,
But just the fun of being rash,
And maybe looting some extra cash.

Hi diddle-dee-dome,
The basement is my home.
When I get the call to go destroy,
It is a moment of utter joy.
I leave the game of killing orcs,
And join my fellow mayhem dorks.
We maim and destroy and sometimes kill—
Slaughtering folks is such a thrill.
We’re avenging angels for some rich guy
Who hates everything that he can’t buy.

Hey diddle dee dum,
That’s where progress comes from.

The Treaty of Trianon, One Hundred Years Later


Suleiman

The Treaty of Trianon, which dismembered the state of Hungary after the Great War, came into force exactly one hundred years ago today. Hungary and the Western Allies signed the instrument at the Grand Trianon Palace in Versailles; hence its name.

Hungary ended up losing two-thirds of its territory under the terms of the treaty, which stranded more than 40% of its population outside the borders of Hungary without anyone having to move.

Our Hungarian correspondent CrossWare has translated the following essay about the Treaty of Trianon, which relates Trianon to the earlier Muslim invasion, from the conservative portal PestiSracok.hu:

Suleiman was also present at the Trianon execution attempt

by László Kovács Vésey
May 25, 2020

Like when a man is beaten down with bat, so was the Trianon peace dictatorship: he falls to his knees, the world spins around him, and he doesn’t even understand what happened to him. To date, we have not recovered from it, either as a country or as a people. Those who demand that we at last leave this Trianon problem behind us and deal instead with the future do not take note of reality, because the past cannot be left behind unfinished. Trianon itself is a good example of this, as it has not fallen into our head without antecedents. Even a hundred years ago, the unprocessed past, our own omissions, and the fruits of the trickery of our enemies ripened together.

In today’s eyes it is almost inconceivable that Hungary came to the end of the Middle Ages as a sparingly stable and unified country, one of the leading powers in Europe. Even if the nobles and lords intervened at times in the king’s affairs and were able to stir up internal strife, no one could question the existence of a unified royal power. The kingdom had serious reserves of power, and was rich in precious metals, ores, and salt, not to mention food. Hungary had one and a half times as many inhabitants as England or Poland, two and a half times as many as the Czech Republic, and we had a decisive influence on the life of Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. There was no mention of a united Germany and Italy at that time; France was working on the creation of a centralized kingdom, just as a similar process took place in Spain after the success of the Reconquista. Besides ourselves, the latter two states were real military powers in that era.

It may even be considered a vagary of fate that in the immediate vicinity of this Hungary, which was a great power in all respects, the Ottoman Empire, which surpassed the strength of all European countries, had arisen. To this day there is no consensus among historians as to whether we would have been able to defend ourselves, but if we had, it would have required unparalleled self-discipline and conscious unity for two centuries from the king, nobles, and serfs. We lost the inevitable clash, but the Turks did not have enough strength to swallow our entire country. Thus, we did not sink into the Balkans (Transylvania, Partium and the South, after Trianon), but in terms of population, nothing worse could have happened to us. For two centuries our country became a battleground, with marches of the ever-increasing Ottoman, Habsburg, and Transylvanian armies regularly passing through our territory, requisitioning the peasantry that remained after taxation and double taxation. And if only they had just taken the taxes!

We Have Suffered a Disastrous Destruction

The Ottoman looting of the rural populations was accompanied by a significant extinction of the population and the destruction of the settlement structure. The whole countryside was depopulated, and many villages disappeared forever. If we look at the map of present-day Hungary, we can see that there are still only rare settlements in the Great Plain. During the uncertain period of occupation, instead of defenseless villages, people concentrated in a few swollen market towns and settled on large-scale animal husbandry, which was more sustainable in terms of possible escape, rather than farming. For this reason, there are settlements with a larger population and sparsely populated areas in the Great Plain, and the instances of single standalone farms are also rooted in this fact. But the Hungarian population remained at least partially here.


Hungary’s settlement density — the footprint of the Ottoman Turks is still visible today (source: terport.hu)

Muslim conquerors killed a large number of people and drove the enslaved Hungarians in endless columns to Istanbul and then sold them to various corners of the empire. During the Turkish conquest of 1521-1568, the Fifteen Years’ War of 1591-1606, the Austro-Turkish War of 1663-1664, and the expulsion of the Turks between 1683 and 1699, we suffered immeasurable horrors, probably the most brutal genocide in Europe in the last thousand years. At that time the Hungarians of Szerémség disappeared from the Hungarian majority of Temesköz, but by the end of the Turkish expulsion, the Hungarian population of Baranya, Tolna, Somogy counties and Partium had largely disappeared. These flat areas were the main terrain of the movements, so their populations became extinct, which in the vast majority of cases meant the Hungarian population.

Our Numbers Were Dwindling, While Everybody Else Was Thriving

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The Tomb is Empty

Happy Easter, everyone!

This is the first time I’ve missed an Easter Sunday service in more than thirty years. It’s disorienting and somewhat depressing — what am I doing here, typing on the keyboard, when I should be down there at church singing Easter hymns…?

Dymphna and I usually included some music in our Easter posts, so I’ll continue that tradition. This one is a change of pace: a bluegrass song entitled “My Father Owns”. The link was sent to me by the man who wrote it:

He is risen!

A Host of Kind Faces

This post was a “sticky” feature for a week, and was first published last Monday. Scroll down for items posted since that time.

Winter Fundraiser 2020, Day Seven

Sunday’s Update: Snaps From the Family Album

This morning’s update will be brief, and will include just two final photos of kind faces from my memory. The first one is the above snapshot of Dymphna from 1987. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute, after I get the formalities out of the way.

Tip jarWe’re down to the wire here in the Winter Fundraiser of 2020: this is the final day. If you haven’t put a jingle into the tip cup (or this link), now is the time to do it.

Just think: this is a way to avoid all those noisome and obnoxious ads that you see on most sites. This blog relies entirely on modest donations by individual readers. I have no commercial sponsors. I’m not supported by any foundations or think tanks. The only sponsors are the people who read this site.

So if you appreciate what you find here, please drop a groat in the cup. A reminder: I send 10% of what I fundraise here to Vlad Tepes, whose video work is absolutely crucial to what I do. If you think he deserves more, please visit his site and click his own donate button.

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The photo of Dymphna at the top of this update is one of my all-time favorites. It captures her essence: that is exactly Dymphna, my beloved wife, with whom I spent forty fortunate years.

The picture was taken at my annual art show in the fall of 1987. The venue was a restaurant on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. I’ve racked my brains trying to figure out who Dymphna was talking to when I took the snap, but I can’t do it. However, I can identify all three paintings on the wall in the background, despite the blurriness. Funny about that.

The final set of kind faces for this fundraiser is a detail from a larger group photo that was taken in the mid-1980s when the future Baron was just a few months old. As far as I know, the fB and I are the only two people in the photo who are still alive, but just in case I’ve cropped the rest of them out:

That’s Dymphna at the top, and her mother seated in front of her. Boy, I sure had more hair in those days. And none of it was white yet.

These last two snaps from the Bodissey family album wrap up the 2020 Winter Fundraiser. I realize that I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia this past week, but then, wallowing is an emotional necessity for me in these our wintry days.

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Saturday’s donors hailed from:

Stateside: Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Washington

Far Abroad: Lithuania and the UK

Canada: Ontario

Australia: Western Australia

This concludes the 2020 Winter Fundraiser for Gates of Vienna. I’ll post a wrap-up with all the locations sometime in the next few days.

A hearty Bodisseyan “thank you” to all those people on four continents who chipped in. It looks like I’ll be set for another quarter.

Saturday’s Update: Miscellaneous Faces From History, Not All of Them Kind

I’ll switch gears this morning and post a series of faces from history, chosen by whim from my image library. The one above shows Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (a.k.a. Joseph Stalin), Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Sir Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference in late 1943. Sir Winston’s face might be characterized as “kind”, but FDR’s and Uncle Joe’s not so much.

I have more faces to post, but first a word about what I’ve been doing during this week that is rapidly drawing to a close.

For one week every quarter I beg for money from readers to help keep Gates of Vienna going. The tradition began while Dymphna was alive, and continues in her absence. We depended, and I still depend, on the kindness of strangers. Actually, not all of you are strangers, come to think of it…

So if you haven’t done so already, please click that funky tip cup on the sidebar (or use this link) and drop in a ha’penny or two to help keep this enterprise afloat.

What’s amazing to me is the large number of modest donations that have come in. They’re generally quite small, but there are so MANY of them — they really add up. I’m humbled by your generosity, and pleased to see so many first-time donors.

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Nothing Swedish Here…

The ripples continue to spread from the Scandinavia-negating video commercial by SAS. The graphic below is one example (hat tip LN), as is the brief satirical essay below it by Thomas Bertonneau.

Nothing Swedish here…

by Thomas F. Bertonneau

There is nothing characteristically Swedish about generic person Fred Åkerström’s vintage televised performance of the entirely forgettable Fredmann’s Epistle No. 48“Solen glimmar blank och trind” [“The Sun is Shining Smooth and Round”] — by the generic poet-musician Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795), who only accidentally wrote in Swedish. Notice Åkerström’s two accompanists — the Bantu flutist and the Samoyed violoncellist. It is well known that Bellman’s poetry is based on the oral traditions of the ancient Peruvians, which were culturally appropriated by the Vikings during their imperialistic voyages in the eleventh century. Of course, there was nothing characteristically Scandinavian about the Vikings either. Their “dragon ships” were plagiarized from the hull-form of the Polynesian Kon-Tiki rafts.

Below are the first three stanzas in English. The full verses may be found here.

The sun is shining bright and round
The water is like a mirror
After a while a wind starts blowing
into slacking sails
The pennant is unfolded and with an oar
Olle is standing on a hay-boat
Kerstin comes out from the cabin
locks the door

The steel is shining, the pipe is light
Olle scratches his ear
The rudder is turned, the boat turns around
The old man is busy
Beneath strong eyebrows
he grins against the sun in the sky
Kerstin, the sweetheart of the old man
will tend to the sails now

The sails are flapping, the boat is moving forward
Jerker grabs his lyre
The lyre hums, the waves hit against the boat
With force and frenzy
The boat creaks, fragile, thin
The wind is seen in the top of the boat
The rooster crows so harsh and hoarse
The clock just struck four

For previous essays by Thomas F. Bertonneau, see the Thomas Bertonneau Archives.

A Christmas Greeting From Hungary

The video below was produced by the Hungarian government and uploaded to Facebook by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, along with a brief message: “With this video I wish a blessed peaceful Christmas to every one of you and all of our readers, from Hungary!”

Many thanks to CrossWare for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

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Dust Off Those Rusty Keys Just One More Time

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of Gates of Vienna. It should be an auspicious occasion, but the fact that Dymphna can’t help me commemorate it has kind of taken the starch out of me. I just don’t have that much to say.

So we’ll have some music instead. Thinking about this anniversary made the song “Stella Blue” by the Grateful Dead came into my mind. It was a staple of their live shows for more than twenty years, from 1973 until whatever the last one was before Jerry Garcia died. The studio version was first released in the summer of 1973 on the album Wake of the Flood, but I first heard it at a live show in Philly in March of 1973.

This version is from 1977 at Winterland. It doesn’t include any video footage, but I chose it for Garcia’s fine guitar solos, even if he does blow the words in a couple of places:

The lyrics are below the jump (the official version from Robert Hunter’s collection A Box of Rain):

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It is This That the Darkness is For

My wife Dymphna died three months ago today. Writing about her from time to time helps me cope with the devastation of losing her. This post is off-topic from the primary mission of this site, so readers may skip it without missing anything.

Early in our relationship I introduced Dymphna to the music of Leonard Cohen, and she eventually became at least as much of a fan as I was. A couple of months into our marriage we were listening to the album Songs From a Room, and I suddenly realized the significance of one of the songs. “Listen,” I said, “that’s our song.” She paid close attention to the lyrics, and agreed that it was true. So from then on, for the rest of our time together, it was “Our Song”.

I’ll explain why it seemed appropriate, but first listen to “Lady Midnight” by Leonard Cohen:

Dymphna and I met in the spring of 1979, in a bar in suburban Maryland near where my mother lived. I had gone to elementary and junior high school there, so I knew the area well.

My father had died the previous winter, and my mother and I had just returned from a trip to New England to inter his ashes in the family plot. The return home became a grueling ordeal after her car blew a head gasket in upstate New York. When we finally got back to Maryland, I said, “I really need a beer,” and went off to a bar at a nearby golf course where the bartender was an old friend of mine.

I had reached the point in my life where I wanted to get married and settle down. I knew that you don’t meet the woman you’re going to marry in a bar — I had always been told that, and still think it’s true, as a general rule — so I wasn’t there to pick up chicks; I was just drinking a beer and talking to the bartender.

While I was standing there at the bar a woman in distress came through the door, approached the bar, and said, “My battery’s dead; I need help.” She had been there for a drink a little while before, and when she left, her car wouldn’t start.

The bartender waved his hand towards me and said, “This is the man you need to talk to. I’ve known him for more than twenty years, and can vouch for him.” So I went out to the parking lot with her, moved my car over to hers, got the jumper cables, and started her car.

We left it idling to charge the battery and went back into the bar. She said, “The least I can do now is buy you a drink.” So I got another beer, and she ordered a drink for herself (dry vermouth, if I remember rightly — that was her customary drink in those days).

We introduced ourselves and began a conversation. I noticed that in addition to being attractive, she was obviously well-educated and -informed on various topics that also interested me. After a while my attraction to her must have become obvious, because she said: “I don’t do one-night stands, you know.”

Well. I was genuinely affronted, since that was the farthest thing from my mind — as I mentioned earlier, I wanted to get married, settle down, and have kids. So I said: “I don’t have to take this s***!”, turned on my heel, and went to the gents’ to cool down.

When I came back a few minutes later she apologized profusely, and we resumed our conversation without further rancor. It wasn’t long before the age difference — she was ten years older than I — ceased to matter. The attraction was mutual, and we arranged to meet the following night (a Saturday) for dinner at the Double-T Diner up in Edmondson.

The rest is history, as told in my eulogy back in June.

So remember, boys and girls: you won’t meet your future wife or husband in a bar. Dymphna is the exception that proves the rule.

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Now, having heard the tale of The Night Baron Met Dymphna, read the lyrics of “Lady Midnight” and see why we decided it was Our Song:

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Two Windows Into a Different World

And now for something completely different.

I don’t normally indulge in pop-music nostalgia, but… I recently happened to run across the first of the two songs embedded below. I remembered it clearly, and it reminded me of the second one, which had a somewhat similar theme.

Strictly speaking, both songs were before my time — I was still in my “latency” period back then, but the older boys were listening to those songs and singing along with them, so I remember them well. If I had been an actual testosterone-infused teenager when these tunes were being played on the radio, they would no doubt have had the same heart-wrenching impact on me that they did on the boys who were a few years older.

The first song is “Patches”, by Dickie Lee. It was recorded in 1962:

The second tune, “Rag Doll” (1964), is by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It has a similar theme, but omits the suicide motif:

There was no one like Frankie Valli. He sang like a gelding, but he could really belt it out.

The two relevant lines are:

“My folks say no, and my heart breaks inside.”

And:

“My folks won’t let me ’cause they say that she’s no good.”

“Folks” meaning “parents”, of course. Two parents, a mother and a father. And still married. How odd!

The issue in both cases is the difference in social class between these lovestruck blades and their young fiancées, who are from impoverished circumstances. The parents — who are able to foresee the tragic results of such matches — refuse to let their sons go through with the nuptials.

Just think: the young men that the singers conjure up — who are presumably of legal age — can’t marry their sweethearts because their parents forbid it.

What world was that? Was it in a galaxy long ago and far, far away??

These songs were recorded between 1962 and 1964, just 55-57 years ago. I can remember the period clearly. But it might as well be the Middle Ages.

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Integration Isn’t Working, Time to Go!

In the following video, Rasmus Paludan leads his colleagues in a little song while they burn a Koran. Mr. Paludan is a Danish lawyer, anti-Islam activist, and the founder of the Stram Kurs party, which is expected to earn enough votes to win seats in parliament next month.

Many thanks to Nemo for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

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Palm Sunday, 2019

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Passion Week in the Catholic and Anglican denominations. Thus, Pange Lingua is often used as a processional hymn, with parishioners carrying palms around the church.

As does much of the Gregorian chant I learned in school, this one has stayed with me, running through my head whilst walking. Notice the cadence.

Each religion has its own language. Years ago, a friend of mine converted from her childhood Baptist faith to Catholicism. She found terms like “Passion Week” quite risqué. Never mind ideas such as “transubstantiation”…