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Odessa and The Blitz

Sovereign State

I’m reading “Full Dark House” by Christopher Fowler, an uncommonly talented and humorous detective writer whose protagonists are Arthur Bryant and John May, who couldn’t be more different and more complementary. Bryant is sloppy to a fault; May dapper without trying.

They run the Peculiar Crimes Unit, without supervision, although everyone tries, and tries to shut them down. The PCU takes the cases no one else wants.

“Full Dark House” goes back and forth in time between 1940 and The Blitz in London and the early 2000’s. In 1940 the Germans were dropping 200 tons of explosives on London daily. I don’t know what the Russians are dropping on Ukraine, but their citizens are definitely compatriots of the Londoners of The Blitz.

My inbox recently showed the glories of the Ukrainian city of Odessa, a hop and a skip from Russia. One of its glories? The Opera House in all its baroque splendor.

A friend has sent someone in Odessa some money for an AirbnB reservation. She’s not going of course, but wanted to donate.

“Full Dark House” takes place in the Palace Theatre in London and involves grisly murders, all during The Blitz. The Palace is trying to produce Offenbach’s “Eurydice”, which apparently was considered quite racy at the time. Threats of censorship by the Lord Chamberlain are flying like so much shrapnel through the air. The high kicking chorines not wearing knickers! The lines will be ‘round the block. I’m only halfway through, so I can’t possibly issue a spoiler alert, but I am seeing the similarities between that time and the present state of the world.

Recently the Prime Minister of Austria Karl Nehammer met with Putin and had a not very pleasant conversation. The PM put it to Pootie — war crimes, genocide — who was unimpressed. Nazis everywhere, they must be exterminated.

Well, Austria has some Nazi experience. The line — the Germans accepted Hitler; the Austrians embraced him — is well-known.

Hitler gave his famous Heldenplatz speech from Vienna and shortly after annexed Czechoslovakia. Much like Pootie did in 2014 with Crimea.

The great Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhardt, a Gentile, btw, excoriated his countrymen for their small-mindedness and Fascism. As his fame grew, they were embarrassed, but also proud that their little land was taking a place on the world stage of literature.

I was in Vienna in 1999 with a college group. We went to a pub. Suddenly the swinging doors burst open and a man shouted “Heil Hitler!”, laughed and moved on.

A few of our group were Jews. The barmaid, eine alte Dame, sensing the tension, said, “Don’t pay any attention. He does that every night.” Achtung, ja wohl.

The U.S. has agreed to accept 100,000 of these “Nazis” into the U.S.  Where will they all work? Fox News can’t hire that many. Pool boys at Mar-a-Lago? I guess the employment opps are endless.  It seems that the website telling them how to insure that they have shelter, et cetera, is a colossal mess.

Many of them are winding up in Mexico where two sisters were trying to get their little dog over the border, only to be told that the dog needed a rabies shot. Having escaped Ukraine to Poland to Lord knows where else, the sisters, having secured the shot for their chihuaua, enlisted a Mexican Hairless to bring Pepe to Tijuana where he now barks Hola to one and all.

Even the Ukrainian dogs are resourceful!

And the Ukes, without nukes, remember, they gave them up, have just knocked the flagship Moskva, not out of the water, but under the water. The famous ship that demanded the Ukes surrender, only to be told by a woman I believe, to go have carnal relations with itself.  And the 500 Russian sailors were evacuated? I resort to Joe’s word Malarkey, to Davidovitch Jones locker more likely.

I so want the production of Offenbach’s “Eurydice” at The Palace Theatre to survive The Blitz in “Full Dark House.”

And that the Odessa Opera House survives unscathed as well.


Lonnie Carter is a playwright, Obie winner and his signature play is “The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy.”

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