Green Velvet

city-of-rabI’m reading Rebecca West’s “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.”  She’s considered the leading female intellectual of the first half of the twentieth century writing in the English language.  This was considered her magnum opus.  It’s supposedly a travel log, but it’s really West on the Balkans through the ages.  She loved us. The book’s 1200 pages, but I’ll be sorry when it’s done.

So, the other day I read of her travels to the city of Rab on the Dalmation Coast in 1935.  The first day they arrived they jumped in the ocean and paddled around so that they could take in the view of the town.   She was in raptures.  Built during the Renaissance by the South Slavs, it’s of a piece with other Aegan architecture of the time, and then it’s not.  It’s entirely original, in a sublime way.

Eventually, her party ventured out into the countryside, which hardly any tourists ever did, because it was such a bleak transition to desolation.  She went into the history of foreign colonization, the systematic way every industry open to the residents was thwarted.  The descendants of the beautiful city lived in poverty.  The roads were full of beggars.

Then she observed that people whose lives are desolate love bright colors.  She said this in reference to a group of young men gathered around one who had on a new suit.  It was cut in a typical western fashion, except it was made of bright green velvet!   Which, in the sunset was effervescing!

Making this a perfect example of my assertion that we Balkans put the lie to Aryan Supremacists.  We prove to the world that you can take perfectly high achieving white people, subject them to the same shit usually reserved for people of color, and you will get the same results — in this case:

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Zoot Suits!  Amazing the specificity.

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