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March 28 2014 | Folklore - Brussels | 0 comments
photo: Richard Harris

Once again, I didn't manage to go to any of the famous Belgian Carnivals (Mardi Gras) or Laetare (Mid Lent) but I did snap this picture of a very local carnival parade which I heard out my window and ran down to photograph.
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March 28 2014 | Politics - Brussels | 0 comments
Last Word
photo: Richard Harris

For the last word on the American President's day in Brussels I give you David Bromwich's latest.

First a few quotes from his article on the President's speech in Brussels at the Bozar:

"...The stately march of eloquent platitudes, with a dash of humility and an echo of Lincoln like stardust on his sleeve -- it is the pattern we have come to know in many settings. And it prompts a thought. The president might at this point consider the value of not being inspirational..."

"...Obama thinks of speech-making as one of his most important functions. But all of his major speeches have a peculiar quality, at once calming and stirring, emollient and assertive. He does not hesitate to provoke large actions in which he cannot participate.

The gap between Obama's words and actions has now become one of the identifying marks of his presidency. Very little can be done about this; it is simply part of his temperament..."

"...This advice is particularly favored by people who want the United States to embark on more wars, more secret raids and assassinations, and more subversion of governments that fail to cooperate with the U.S. Obama followed their advice once, in Libya, where his commandment, "Gaddafi must go," committed him to armed action. He ordered a war against Gaddafi's government under cover of NATO. Though the disastrous result has been spoken of softly in the United States, the truth is that the Libya war belongs to the same family as Afghanistan and Iraq, and it has made for a political climate far more hospitable to terrorism throughout the Greater Middle East. Obama is being worked up to another Libya (with some help from his love of stirring words) -- but this time in a region not yet engulfed in violent protests and wars..."

"...Recall that the whole reason-for-being of NATO was the Cold War. With the fall of Soviet Communism, NATO lost its evident justification. The continuation of such a war entity, beyond the close of the war it was meant for, left NATO answerable to pleas by countries of the former Soviet bloc which asked to join as members. The result was an acute and intended humiliation to Russia. No defensive motive could be assigned for the expansion. Its only long-term utility lay in demonstrating that the United States now owned the world; and that the first thing we would do with our unrivaled power was to back Russia against the wall..."

"...The president's righteous rebuke carried him all the way to a surprising comparison between the U.S. bombing, invasion, and occupation of Iraq and the Russian annexation of Crimea. Both acts were done in defiance of international law. But President Obama now prefers to speak of "international norms" (where he himself is permitted to define the norms). The NATO bombing of Libya, on the Obama index, was normal and commendable. The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the creation of Kosovo were the paradigm of international generosity as embodied by a coalition of the willing. By contrast, Russia's action in Crimea was a punishable aberration.

In this speech, Obama went so far as to assert that the American invasion of Iraq was at heart an act of international good will:.."

Click here for the entire article.
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March 28 2014 | Events - Brussels | 0 comments
Visit Brussels Awards
photo: Richard Harris

It was the Visit Brussels Awards last night. The venue was The Egg which is a completely reimagined industrial building. The food was wonderful and very plentiful and the service impeccable. Bert Kruismans, the host, was, as usual, very funny and quick witted. Congratulations to the winners:

Hotel Newcomer: Funkey Hotel
International Event: Europalia.India
New Concept: Brussels Light Festival
Most Noted Exhibition: Kandinsky & Russia
International Congress: 14th European AIDS Conference
Best Gastronomic Concept: Les Filles
New Event Place: Palais 12/Paleis 12
Evening Experience: Museum Night Fever

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March 28 2014 | Architecture - Brussels | 0 comments
More Cleaning
photo: Richard Harris

Very happy to see this building being cleaned and restored. It's a particularly ornate building since when it was built it flanked the main Halles in Brussels and it made a visual statement as did the building (recently restored) on the other corner of the Halles. Unfortunately the Halles themselves, a marvelous late nineteenth century iron and glass building was torn down in 1958 to make way for a parking structure that was thought to be necessary for the World's Fair. The parking building was refaced a few years ago so it's not as hideous and out of place as it once was but still unfortunate (see it on the right of the photo).
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March 28 2014 | Art - Brussels | 0 comments
Traffic Sign 8
photo: Richard Harris

I think this is a different street artist; it says "Antivision" just below the eye or whatever it is.
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