Sunday, August 08, 2004

Of Hookahs and Soda Pop

I've caught word of two nifty new local joints I need to visit. The first is Cafe Hookah, an honest-to-Grodd hookah bar somewhere on campus. The other is the Homer Emporium, a little antique bar/soda joint, with over 130 varieties of soda pop! I first heard about Cafe Hookah in an uniformative review of it in Buzz. You know those free alternative weekly newspapers you can find in large university towns? They're hip and lefty and cover the local arts and music scenes. Buzz ain't that. It's the local student-run paper that's trying desparately to be that paper. I used to be a pretty regular reader of the local grown-up's alternative weekly, but it recently went through yet another ownership/editorial/name change. After this last change the Hub, as it is now called, seemed to lose much of its appeal. I get a feeling that most of these changes were made in an attempt to make the Octopus/Optimist/Paper/Hub more commercially viable. Good effin luck on that. These sorts of rags run on a break-even basis at best. To take an editorial axe to a good little paper in the hopes of making more ad bucks seems like a losing strategy to me. Unless I'm the only reader they alienated with the changes. Although I was initially skeptical about Buzz when I stopped reading the Hub regularly, it's starting to kinda grow on me.

The Homer Emporium I discovered while listen to WILL-AM, the local public radio station. The have a great local program called Sidetrack covering local oddities. Sidetrack is just one of the many great things I like to listen to on WILL. Within the last twenty-four hours alone I've heard a report on cultural difference in pre-Revolutionary America and a far-left Indian author speaking on the topic of American foreign policy. Did you know that Kennedy helped put the Baathists in power in Iraq? According to this Indian woman he supplied them with an CIA-composed enemies list of commie sympathizers. The communist party of the time was the main politcal vehicle of the Iraqi Shi'ites. By purging the people on this list, the Baathists were able to guarantee one party rule in Iraq for four decades. Or did you know that Albany, New York was a Dutch speaking city throughout British rules of the Colonies? The bahavior of British soldiers in Albany during the French and Indian War was the direct cause of the grievance against quartering troops mentioned in the Bill Of Rights. The cultural differences in the Colonies seemed less important after the general cluster that was the French and Indian War. British mishandling of the affair managed to unite the colonists against the folks across the pond. No longer did you have the Dutch in Albany squabbling with Swedes in New Jersey and the Quakers in Pennsylvania. Instead, the Colonist had the beginnings of self-identification as Americans.

One other line that stuck in my mind from the Albany piece was the description of the Seven Years War (of which the French and Indian War was the New World component) as "a world war before the World Wars", because it was fought between the superpowers of the day and was fought on multiple continents. I wonder what other conflicts fit that criteria? The Napoleonic Era springs to mind.

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