Thursday, July 06, 2006

What I didn't do on my summer vacation

Despite what pus-hearted Anngry Coulter says about people like me, I do not hate America. That is why some of the things I noticed when I celebrated my independence sadden me.

We spent four days at the Shaw festival in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario. We have gone there every year or two for nearly ten years. We took in six of the eight or so plays in production at the time. That cost us about $100 more in tickets than it did two years ago. Ask Dubya why he is letting our currency go to hell. We once visited Canada with a 4:5 dollar advantage, now its 11:12.
This graph kinda tells a story.

Canadian Dollar to US Dollar Currency Exchange Rate
Past Trend, Present Value & Future Projection

Its a nice place to visit. To a person, the natives were quite hospitable. The shops seemed crowded but the Canada Day/Independence Day holidays and the great weather made for the very busiest weekend. The shopkeepers said business is off about a third from pre-9/11 levels for the season. Asian and Iranian [my wife speaks Farsi and heard quite a bit of it] tourists seem to be taking up some of the slack for the missing Iowans and Kansans. The shopkeepers said the dropoff was sharpest when it stopped being a matter of flashing a driver's license to re-enter the US...less than a third of US citizens even possess a passport. I am guessing, but I would bet Iranians and many other nationalities who have the money and the interest to visit the US are quiet put off by the nasty scrutiny they expect if they wish to visit our formerly open shores. For the acts of 20 madmen we will punish whole nations. Who suffers when this punishment is dished out? Gas prices doubtless further deter Americans from driving north in their accustomed numbers.

But the plays are the thing [the wine ain't bad either]. The second largest repertory theatre company in Canada [and, therefore, the world], the Shaw Festival puts on at least two shows a day in three different theaters. If you are into GBS, Noel Coward and all their contemporaries, it is a delight. Stagecraft is world class. Excellent actors, great sets, good performances and appreciative audiances for mostly sedate fare since the Shaw Festival mandate is for Shaw and contemporaries. Only one of the performances was disturbing, riveting actually, and it got and deserved the only standing ovation we observed at the festival: Arthur Miller's "The Crucible". The audiance was buzzing afterward. A grey haired audiance that knew what McCartyism was...shaking their heads sadly.

Were we a nation that learned from its first mistakes, this play would never have been written. But, Kazan turning on his own co-workers fired Miller to finish the play. Were we a nation that learned from a repeated mistake, this play would have been an anachronism. But anger at forced confesssions, anger at a government mouthing doctrines of a particular religious minority and anger at the manipulation of fears that can be clung to without solid proof by those wanting power ...all these still rouse audiences.

Damn the hicks and hacks that cast these tired old shadows on my country.

1 comment:

cul said...

excellent way to spend your vacation!

and hear hear! to your final line.