I was briefly in Norway in 1999 during the Kosovo fighting, when the Magnetic Fields played at So What in Oslo. So What's performance space was in the black-painted basement, with a chain-link fence in front of the soundboard that effectively caged in the audience with the band. Between songs, some people in the audience yelled out comments about Kosovo and Clinton--neither questions nor declarations, neither heckling nor encouragement, but some testy middle ground, as if the yellers were testing this American band to see where they stood, but also as if they weren't sure where they themselves stood, antagonized both by the Serbian slaughter and by Clinton's bombing thereof. The atmosphere tensed. I tensed. I wanted to shout back a paragraph where room only existed for one-liners, so instead I muttered it to my friends Kristin and Mona standing with me. The band managed to say something brief, considerate enough and non-provocative, and launched into a song. Diffused, sort of.
And now the attacks on Lebanon. One thing I've noticed--and this might not be entirely accurate, but it has casually caught my attention--is that in the newspapers here, the headlines tend to say LEBANON. And the focus of the articles is on Lebanon, the country, and what is happening to the people there. Same with the television news--reporters talk about the bombing, the damage, the fear, the dead and wounded, and the evacuation of Norwegians and Swedes. But when I read the New York Times online, the headlines seem mostly to say "Israel." "Israel" and "Hezbollah." Israel declares, Israel makes this move, Israel warns Hezbollah, etc.
Did you see this photo?
It was published in Dagbladet yesterday with the dark caption GREETINGS: Israeli girls write messages on a missile at a heavy-artillery station near the border.
I want to ask them, What are you writing?
And who gave you that pen?