Czech Mate

The Economist describes who ultimately suffers from anti-Americanism in Europe:

Yet, if the Atlantic bonds do weaken, the ex-captive nations will suffer the most. It was America that got them into NATO, and it is America that looks out for them now, much more so than nearer but less friendly countries such as Germany. Any suggestion that the east Europeans can rely on the European Union to stick up for them against Russian bullying is, on current form, laughable.

Read the whole thing.

At the end of the day, America has more important concerns than Europe (China and the Middle East, for starters). But it is sad that once again the small countries of Eastern Europe could well be the ones who suffer most from European fecklessness.

Update: And then you always have to consider this in the mix:

Is there any way to talk the French out of their economic deathwish? The Brits had one in the 1960s too, but the world was a slower-moving place in those days. They had a decade or two to come to their senses. How long before the Chinese are driving around in big plush hybrid cars saying to one another "It's incredible that the French can make these handbags and silk scarves so cheaply". Twenty years?


Terrence McCarthy

9:31 PM

This has nothing to do with this post, but I've been surfing through your previous stuff. Surfing being the key word. Dick Dale! Jesus, Mary and Corky Caroll!


9:55 PM

Busted. I'm a huge surf movie fan. My favorite? Riding Giants. And Jeff Clark is my personal hero.


12:06 AM

Jake is a surf movie fan? Who knew? I'm astonished...


1:08 AM

Ya, sad to say. Riding Giants, Point Break, Endless Summer (I), and of course the Billabong Odyssey. And if you haven't seen Blue Crush, you haven't lived to enjoy hot babes on boards. But I come by it honestly. My dad was a big surf movie fan and we watched the Endless Summer every time it came on TV when we were kids.

Jeff Clark is definitely my favorite, but you gotta hand it to Laird Hamilton. Definitely the King of the big wave.

By the way, how 'bout a long weekend at Alpine Meadows in late March. You heading out to see your mom anytime soon? I'm thinking about some time in SF soon. Maybe we can cross paths?


9:16 AM

good observations, I might also add in fifty years the world will be remarking that the finest chadours and berkas are being produced in the haute couture ateliers of Paris. The return of the "sack"?

Terrence McCarthy

9:36 AM

This is going to eat up a lot of space, but what the hell. Pasted to this comment is an op-ed piece of mine The Providence Journal ran last summer. Thought you might relate...

Another Endless Summer Looms in Narragansett

By Terrence McCarthy

“ Surfing was just 25 percent sport and 75 percent way of life. "

From " The Pump House Gang " by Tom Wolfe. Published in 1965.

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association's ninth annual conclave, its largest ever, was held in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico recently. Board shorts, Billabong gear, flip flops and “ Surf’s Up “ T-Shirts galore.

Surfing. It's hotter than ever. But as Tom Wolfe wrote in the year I graduated from high school, it's probably still " just 25 percent sport and 75 percent way of life. "

Surfing's a sport that can be compared, in some ways, to rodeo. You see a guy wearing a ten gallon chapeau in Providence and you have every right to comment:

" All hat and no cattle. "

In other words, just because you dress the part, doesn't necessarily mean you act the part.

Same is true of those you spot wearing Billabong shorts and shirts in places like Newport, Bristol and Narragansett, Rhode Island.

All board short and no board. All flip flop and no wipeout. That’s probably what the real deal is, Dude.

Hanging ten isn't what it used to be. Now the term refers to how many Billebong shirts you have in the closet of your condo in Newport.

Tom Wolfe's comment strikes a responsive chord. It was written the year in which some of my good buddies were " surfers. " Tommy " Bombo " Scanlon. Henry " Rusty " Jones. They were classmates of mine. Easthampton ( Massachusetts ) High School. Class of 65.

Hey wait a minute! you might be thinking. Easthampton Massachusetts is more than 100 miles from the nearest surf kissed beach. Remember, we're not talking sport here. We're talking way of life. Fashioning a style, measuring the cloth to fit the fantasy.

Bombo and Rusty listened to Beach Boys music. While I worshipped Lennon, McCartney and Ray Davies, Bombo and Rusty addressed their prayers to Brian Wilson, the southern California group’s founding brother.

Bombo and Rusty did more than dress the part of the surfer. They did more than just listen to " Surfer Girl, " In My Room, " and " California Girls. " Every chance they got, they hopped in their cars and headed southeast, toward a small town on the west edge of Narragansett Bay.

I heard a lot about the town of Narragansett from my friends. But I never went with them. I wasn’t nearly as adventurous as they were. There was this steep hill on the southeastern edge of Easthampton. Bombo and Rusty liked to race down the long hill on their skateboards. I was a cautious kid more comfortable with traditional sports like basketball, baseball, soccer and golf.

Speeding down a steep hill on a cutting board with wheels? Surfing the Asphalt Pipeline? No way.

And I was never really into the Beach Boys either. I liked the British groups. The Kinks, The Stones and The Beatles. But I did have some things in common with Bombo and Rusty. We played on the same varsity soccer team. We played basketball and baseball together. We went to the same dances and parties.

Sure. Bombo and Rusty played the surfer role, dressed the part. They spent their weekends in Narragansett, Rhode Island. The Ocean State.

But I knew the truth of the matter: They didn’t surf.

It was all hat and no cattle.

I haven't seen Bombo or Rusty in years. I'm pretty sure they both still live in western Massachusetts. They’re married with children. They might catch a few episodes of Bay Watch every now and then. They may listen to Jan and Dean, The Surfaries and The Beach Boys on whatever oldies but goodies stations they listen to. But they probably haven't laid eyes on the ocean in years.

Me? I moved here, to the south coast of Rhode Island, four years ago. The house in which my wife and I live is a ten minute drive to Narragansett. One of the shirts that hangs in my closet is a Billebong shirt. Donna has a pair of board shorts and so do I.

As another summer is about to begin, I think back to the year in which my buddies made the three hour trip from western Massachusetts to the town of Narragansett. It was 1965. They were western Massachusetts boys growing up far from the ocean. But they felt its pull, as I did decades later.

Lately, as the days grow longer and warmer, I’ve been seeing more and more cars with surf boards lashed to their roofs. As I drive north towards Providence, I see them heading south, towards Narragansett. It's that time of year.

As I write this I can hear the crash of the waves in the distance. Our house is a mile from the sea. The forecast calls for sunny skies. Temperatures in the low 80s. Tomorrow I may don my board shorts and flip flops and head up Route 1 to Narragansett..

Surf’s up and it’s summer again. Some will spend a lot of time in the water. They'll be nearly naked. Others, like me, will be wearing Billebong shorts and board shorts with flip flops on our feet. But we’ll all have one thing in common:

We’re all waiting for The Big One. The one wave that’ll carry us home.

Terrence McCarthy is a writer who lives in South Kingstown, Rhode Island


4:17 PM

Does having been to a Dick Dale concert at the Belly Up in Encinitas, California, count for anything?? Didn't think so...