30 September 2008

How Depressing!

I’m sure they don’t mean to panic anybody, and yet I’m equally sure it’s not an accident of programming: the French radio has been playing Depression-era music all day. Some of the selections aren’t unusual — Mistinguett, for example — but Shirley Temple’s stirring rendition of “Animal Crackers in My Soup” is a rarity, and it must mean something.

Thanks to the complete failure of the U.S. government to take action, or even to propose better action, and thanks to the blithe bumbling of the Europeans (whose own financial institutions are beginning to fail), we may well be on the brink of a new Depression. In a sense, I am better-prepared than I might be: my parents reared me with a Depression-era mentality, and that tendency to thriftiness has been compounded now by ecological concerns. I wash and reuse aluminum foil and Saran Wrap, for example, when I must use them at all, and I compulsively look for pennies in the street.

(As an aside, I note that, prior to the adoption of the Euro, one never found change on the sidewalk in France. Now one always does, despite the fact that a cent, though still called a centime, is worth six times more than the old hundredth of a franc was. Clearly, the shared currency has made the French more careless.)

Thoughts of the Great Depression and Shirley Temple do inspire in me at least one hope: we may have movie musicals again.

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