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Librazhd, Paradise on Earth
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Librazhd, 2021

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I just had my best sleep in a long time. My dreams were elaborate, meaning my harried mind finally had a chance to iron out, at least partially, a few kinks. In one dream, I was asked to review some miserable literary text, with a few footnotes in French. As I fudged and botched this unwelcomed task, a crowing rooster saved my ass. I woke up.

I’m paying $10 a night in Librazhd, a mountain town of 6,937 people. When I got on the mini-bus in Tirana, the driver thought I had done so by mistake. Looking alarmed, he asked where I was going? Foreigners don’t come here.

My room has an air conditioner that doesn’t work. There is hot water. My bathroom is the size of a shower stall, which is perfect, because it also functions, in its entirety, as a shower stall. A shower hose snakes from the puny, “Euro Standard” sink, and there’s a drain on the floor. At least there’s no courtesy comb with lots of hair from previous guests. I have a tiny balcony to dry my handwashed clothing, so technically, I can stay here forever. What else do I need?

Cicadas buzzing overlays a gurgling stream. White or yellow butterflies weave, stagger and dip among the shrubs, weeds and wild white flowers. Birds chirp, frogs croak and stray dogs bark. Looking down, I see grapevines and two cans of Coke, the only trash. In the distance, finger-sized humans walk back and forth, fending off death. Among tenements lurks the shape of an Orthodox church, with its three-bell tower. There’s a basketball court that’s always empty, but the daily high has been around 100 degrees, 10 more than usual, for two weeks already. On the horizon, mountains have arranged themselves rather dramatically, for my sole benefit, I’m sure. Knowing I was coming, they hurried, with girlish giddiness, into place.

Across the hallway, there’s an old guy maybe five steps away from the morgue. Through his thin door, I can hear him hacking. Unlike me, he must use the shared bathroom. With no common language, we can only wave at each other.

This morning, one of the crowing roosters sounded like an infant crying, which tore me up. Even in the most idyllic setting, there’s tremendous suffering, of course, one room over or maybe even in one’s bed, but what do I know, I just got here. Fully clothed in awful hand-me-downs, we suddenly tumble in, and in clownish rags, if that, we shall book, trailing curses.

Librazhd is distinguished by a rather macabre, black stone monument to two murdered poets, Vilson Blloshmi and Genc Leka. In the middle of a rectangular fountain lie two decapitated heads, one with its eyes wide open. Poetic fragments crawl up the side of a head.

What a concept, to be killed for one’s poetry, but this savagery can only occur in a society that’s still civilized, where the most meticulously calibrated language still matters, where there are still verbal shades, hues and textures, not just single words to trigger constantly enraged idiots, as in present-day America! There, poets are too irrelevant to be murdered. It’d be like raping a corpse.

(Even in Philadelphia, there’s only one statue of a poet. A modest bust of Whitman is on out-of-the-way Oregon Avenue, in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts. Granted, there’s the elegant Walt Whitman Bridge, but that was built in 1957.)

Arriving in Librazhd, I headed straight to the center to get my bearings, and also to find a hotel. Like in the rest of Albania, there were cafés everywhere. At the fanciest, there was a panoramic photo of Dresden, that tragic city, jewel of Germany, barbarically destroyed. Shunning all the chichi ones, I eased into a spartan, half obscured joint, away from the main promenade.

At an outside table sat a wiry, leathery man in a polyester polo shirt and beige track pants, on their last legs. Between gulps of raki, he rolled a cigarette with gnarly fingers. Unlike my lame, overly brainy ass, he clearly knew how to swing a hoe without chopping his toes off.

I ordered a large Korca from a boy waiter. Maybe 14, he was brazenly growing his first moustache. Transitioning into a man is no easy challenge, with many, if not most, failing repeatedly until death. Cemeteries worldwide should be filled with this generic epitaph, “I’M SORRY. I FAILED TO BECOME A MAN.”

Hanging laundry on a second-floor balcony, a woman accidentally dropped a chunk of wood onto the pavement. Glancing down, she saw no writhing or dead body, so leisurely returned to her chore. Walking by, an old man in a knitted fez noticed me and smiled. Smiling back, I mumbled and nodded.

After my first swig of Korca, I leaned back, stretched out my legs and felt almost too comfortable, for everything around me was perfectly normal. People talked and laughed. Although open, frank conversations are dear to life, they’re too often denied. If you’re too distracted or censored from engaging in such, you’re in hell.

Bringing me my second Korca, the kid waiter volunteered in crisp English, “Do you need help with anything?”

“Actually, I’m looking for a hotel. Is there one near here?”

It’s not a question he had ever encountered, apparently, for he had to consult the next table for a good minute before answering me.

His directions, though, were very fluent and precise, “You go to that corner and turn right. You will then see a bridge, a concrete bridge. There’s also a wooden bridge, but don’t cross that! About twenty meters after this concrete bridge, there’s a gas station. Ask the people there. They’ll show you where the hotel is.” Now, you try that in whatever Spanish, French or German you can still dredge up from your high school or college days.

English instructions in small town Albania must be fairly good, for I’ve encountered similarly impressive young people elsewhere.

In Peshkopi, population 13,251, I talked to a 19-year-old for nearly an hour, and he had no problems following me.

“Man, your English is very good!”

“I was one of the best in my school,” he smiled. “We had an essay contest in English. I won it two years in a row!”

“Wow! What did you win?”

“Just a piece of chocolate!” He laughed. “For writing this long essay in English, they gave me a fuckin’ piece of chocolate!”

“Ha, ha!”

“We had an American teacher. He was a volunteer. He’s gone now.”

“So what can you do with your English skills?”

ORDER IT NOW

“Nothing, really. I was a waiter at this café. Next month, I’m going to Italy to pick fruits. I will be there for three months, at least. It will be hard work, but at least I’ll make money. Here, I can do the same and make no money.”

(Most interestingly, he said Albania would be better off if still a part of Turkey, but even as you cringe, remember that it’s only natural for a tiny nation to rely on a protector. Unlike this young man, most Albanians think the US will shield them from the wrath or logic of the Serbs, Greeks or whoever. Now, that’s madness! An Albanian in his 70’s told me, “If the US goes down one meter, we’ll go down 100!”)

With us at the table was another 19-year-old. Studying to be an electrician, he was hoping to land a job in Germany.

Although larger than Librazhd, Peshkopi is further inland and higher up, so more remote. There, many people, especially kids, really gave me a double take. As I sat at City Coffee, three little girls, none older than seven, walked by me five times. Although they tried to be discreet, one couldn’t help but turn back each time, to prolong her scrutiny. It was easy to pick her out, for she had on an “I WAS BORN A UNICORN” sweatshirt. Once, this mythical being even broke into a bright smile, so delighted was she to encounter such an exotic.

Inexorably drawn into an empty Peshkopi café, I found the middle-aged owner sleeping on a cot in the back. Startled awake, he blurted, “Thank you!” and that’s the extent of his English. When I tried Italian on him, he could only pick out a word here and there.

After bringing me a $1 bottle of Tirana Beer, he took out some pungent, semi-hard white cheese from his ancient fridge, cut it into five pieces and served them, free of charge. Appreciating this gesture, I’d tip him a buck upon leaving, but it was clear he didn’t expect it. There was no angling.

As we slouched at the same table, two kids pressed their noses against the café door, to stare at the alien. From his mishmash of Albanian and Italian, I understood he had come from a village south of Peshkopi, but that was all. Mirroring each other, we sat in silence, mostly. Each exhausted in his own way, we stared at the sunset-lit concrete or bare-brick buildings outside his forlorn café.

Passing his business two days later on my way out of town, I noticed someone sitting in the dark. Standing up, he moved into the light to wave goodbye.

Peshkopi once boasted an Obama Café and Hotel, but unlike Barack, it’s history. In Kruje, there’s a George Bush Bar, a George Bush Bakery and even a George Bush Statue. Near miniscule Kokreve, George Washington’s face is painted onto the side of a café. Everywhere, there are Old Glories and Statues of Liberty. Tragically, Albanians have more faith in the US than Americans themselves.

In five months in Albania, I have been overcharged maybe four times, and all but once very slightly. That is outstanding. When my glasses needed a new screw inserted, an old man in Tirana asked for just 10 cents. I paid him a buck.

Even with too many young people working in Greece, Italy or Germany, etc., the Albanian family is still reasonably intact and healthy. I constantly see parents with children in public, and the kids are happy and confident.

In Berat, three little boys approached me. One asked, “Where are you from?”

“Vietnam.”

“We’re from Albania!”

No shit, kid. It was beautiful.

In Gramsh, population 8,440, two girls walked up to me. The older one, about seven, asked, “Hi, where are you from?”

“Vietnam.” As she considered this odd fact, I added, “It’s close to China.”

Satisfied, she intoned, “It’s nice to meet you,” then they marched away, smiling.

I’ve seen kids playing hide and seek, chasing each other around, or climbing up something, unattended, because it’s perfectly safe here. I saw a boy waving a piece of cardboard just for fun, and why not? Since most Albanians only buy used clothing, they’re not likely to purchase smart phones for their kids. That’s a hidden blessing. Those who must be plugged in nonstop are lost.

Since my Librazhd hotel has no Wi-Fi, I wouldn’t know of any fresh global disaster, on top of our orchestrated economic collapse and weather gone berserk. I also don’t know if Shohei Ohtani has hit more home runs? Seeing American baseball stadiums on TV, you’d think everything is still normal in that gone apeshit society.

The loonier America becomes, the more vehemently its inmates will cling to its media, for at least a travesty of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As your city burns, you can still be soothed by some matronly drag queen or another Satanic song. Commercial jingles reassure.

As just an ordinary town, Librazhd is no more, or less, of a paradise than anywhere else, if only normalcy is allowed to flower. These days in most places, that’s like asking for a moon landing.

It’s commonly said that boredom is the great curse of small towns. Few have summed this up more memorably than the Spanish painter Antonio Ribas, as recounted by Norman Lewis:

“Here,” said Ribas, “the sickness from which all people suffer is boredom. There is nothing in their heads. They bring up a single child, then they settle to await death. In uneventful lives they will go to any extreme to create an incident. The husband murders a stranger. The wife seduces the priest.” He shook his head. “Fourteen black petticoats hide the most sensual of all bodies.”

I’d posit that boredom-induced vices are even more common in cities, however. Ample entertainment and dining options don’t slake one’s appetite, but increase it, to the point of frenzy. It’s like watching 500 cable channels or endless porn. With your head or heart hollow, all places are boring.

ORDER IT NOW

Plus, your craving to be properly seen and heard is very stingily met, if at all, for there are just so many of you, with a dozen better looking ones right in this subway car. If the city is a vast buffet, and it is visually exhilarating, you’re one of its least items, just a pea, kernel of corn or macaroni, stuck to the hot plate.

A typical cosmopolitan averages twelve masturbations a day, all scientists agree.

Of course, there are great museums, though they bore you to death, and Nepalese, Kurdish, Uzbek and Congolese restaurants, which you haven’t tried, not to mention the Iblis, Gehena, Beelzebub and Yama’s Court nightclubs, which you can’t afford, but with your next payday loan, you’ll head straight for the world famous Bottomless Pit, with its hundreds of barely-legal girls pole dancing simultaneously.

Although it’s nearly 5PM, I haven’t even had lunch, so I’ll walk three minutes to this ordinarily charming place to chow, for just $2.50, on pilaf with pork chop, or spaghetti with beef cubes and a hunk of feta cheese. After I polished off my plate yesterday, the lady asked, “A ishte e mire?” I gave her the thumbs up.

Albanians aren’t big on sauces, herbs or sophisticated seasonings, but simply salt and pepper are more than enough, if done with love.

Normal is enough.

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Albania 
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  1. “What a concept, to be killed for one’s poetry, but this savagery can only occur in a society that’s still civilized, where the most meticulously calibrated language still matters, where there are still verbal shades, hues and textures, not just single words to trigger constantly enraged idiots, as in present-day America! There, poets are too irrelevant to be murdered. It’d be like raping a corpse.”

    Great stuff as always, Linh.

    (In the US, only the poets would care if a poet were murdered by the State. But it would have to be one the truly worthless poets sitting at the top of the current pile. Otherwise not even they would care.)

    • Replies: @Irish Savant
  2. Wyatt says:

    Man, from the descriptions, I thought you were in some extraordinarily underdeveloped southeast asian nation that America missed while bombing Laos and Cambodia. I had no idea there could be anywhere in Europe that could be so undeveloped.

    Peshkopi once boasted an Obama Café and Hotel, but unlike Barack, it’s history. In Kruje, there’s a George Bush Bar, a George Bush Bakery and even a George Bush Statue. Near miniscule Kokreve, George Washington’s face is painted onto the side of a café. Everywhere, there are Old Glories and Statues of Liberty. Tragically, Albanians have more faith in the US than Americans themselves.

    • Replies: @Alfred
    , @follyofwar
    , @Fr. John
  3. Fanmail says:

    Lind Dinh is the sanest man in the world.

    • Agree: Rahan
  4. Linh, how is your Albanian coming along? Obviously not a language most people get exposure to, but seems like it should be less difficult for English speakers than Serbian or Ukrainian, and it has a lot of borrowed vocabulary from Latin, much like English.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  5. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Peter Akuleyev

    Hi Peter,

    I can sort of read menus and some signs, but that’s all. I’ve gotten help in a few situations by speaking Italian.

    At the Librazhd restaurant, one guy spoke Italian, but the next day, another guy didn’t understand my request for “fagioli,” Italian for beans, then I remembered that it was “fasule” in Albanian, so I said that.

    Fasule is obviously dervived from fagioli. Albanian for fish is peshke, which comes from the Italian pesce. Meat, though, is mish, and not anything like carne. Spaghetti in Albanian is makarona.

    My mind is too cluttered and fatigued to learn even basic Albanian, man.

    Linh

  6. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Linh Dinh

    P.S. Fasule comes directly from the Latin phaseoli, and not the Italian fagioli…

    • Replies: @utu
    , @R2b
    , @J. Alfred Powell
  7. I’m glad you are safe and happy (content) maybe?
    You are wise Linh Dinh, I know that.
    Why not a nagging (zurzurri) wife? The roosters, crickets, car horns will become irrelevant.
    Look around and find one.
    Since you are always broke, you can be sure she will like you for the person you are.
    Just don’t tell her about your American passport.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  8. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Rev. Spooner

    Hi Rev. Spooner,

    When I left Vietnam in late February of 2000, I never thought I would be away until now, but the country’s borders are still closed. Foreigners who were already there were allowed to stay, but just over a month ago, they kicked most of them out. This makes no sense.

    Nearly all of East Asia is still closed, incredibly. I’m half scheming of getting back in that direction, but until I’m in a room at my new destination, I won’t believe it. It’s maddening to travel right now.

    Linh

  9. God, Mr. Dinh, that made me cry. So beautiful your writing. I wish I was there with you.

  10. Ping Pong says:

    Hi Linh. Some comments evoked by your experiences in serene Albania. First, what about Mother Teresa? She was Albanian before went to India. Your writing reminds me of what I do sometimes when bored. When work slows down, I open a blank page of my word processor and start with the introduction, “I have a story to tell.” After I write those 6 words, mundane stories occur to me. I enjoy passing the time writing to myself and my audience of about 3, including my “adopted” daughter in VN Anh Thu D Le . Suddenly my wife is much adored there. They call her Co Mai. At last count her one hour interview with with a reporter named Truong generated 14,500 viewers and 750 comments. She wrote a book of her memories pending release. It will be a classic. She pays for bridges and schools in the back country. Her beloved brother Linh was killed in the war. Her 4th son is Linh. We live in California. More interesting stories, please.

    • Replies: @Rev. Spooner
  11. dimples says:

    It’s hard to think that murdering poets might be like raping a corpse, unless you were desperate for relief of course.

  12. Smith says:

    Have to disagree with you.

    Visited many places, Europe, China, Singapore, Malaysia…

    Only paradise on Earth is Viet Nam.

  13. utu says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Italian fagioli and Greek φασούλια and Turkish fasulyeler refer to beans that were not known in Europe until the 16th century. There were fava beans and some lupin beans native to Europe and Asia but they were not referred to as fagioli, φασούλια or fasulyeler. What is the etymology of fagioli and what it did refer to before American beans made it to Europe? If Romans had phaseolus and Greeks φασούλια words what did they use them for?

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Anon
  14. W says:

    A typical cosmopolitan averages twelve masturbations a day, all scientists agree

    How is the possible? You need to sleep and work man.

    🔧

    • LOL: Trinity
    • Replies: @Tony massey
  15. TG says:

    A brilliant post, kudos. Very affecting.

    But if I may: Malthus was right. If people breed like rodents, sooner or alter they and their children will live and die like rodents. The simple pleasures described in this piece could not exist if there were 100 truly desperate hungry people competing for each job.

    Limited as the lives described here are, compared to places like Pakistan, where a majority of children grow up chronically malnourished often to the point of being permanently stunted, this place is prosperous by historical standards.

    But the rich love cheap labor almost more than life itself, and the best way to get cheap labor is to have the proles breed like cattle, and anyone saying different must be a racist. Or a communist. Or whatever.

    Let these small towns be consumed by a population that doubles and quadruples and octuples etc.etc.etc. and you would find that things would not be as idyllic count on that.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  16. anon[676] • Disclaimer says:

    Linh,

    be careful – Albanians still have honor killings. Strict Rules on when its allowed, but still..

    • Replies: @Rev. Spooner
  17. utu says:
    @utu

    The generic name Phaseolus was introduced by Linnaeus in 1753,[6] from the Latin phaseolus, a diminutive of phasēlus, in turn borrowed from Greek φάσηλος ‘cowpea’, of unknown origin.[7][8] The Latin word phaseolus is often incorrectly glossed as ‘kidney bean’, a New World crop

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaseolus

    Cowpea (Black-eyed pea) Vigna unguiculata

    Cowpeas were domesticated in Africa[4] and are one of the oldest crops to be farmed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowpea

    un’antica parola greca (phàselos) e latina (faselus o faseolus), che indicava un’altra leguminosa (secondo alcuni, del genere Vigna).

    https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaseolus

  18. Otto Zeit says:

    Your distinction goes to the motivation for such acts. Lin’s analogical comparison is based on the fact that “raping a corpse” is essentially trivial and irrelevant in that the “person” who would otherwise be “victimized” by the “rape” is already long gone, while, in America at least, a case of poet-murder is trivial and irrelevant – to most people – for different reasons, namely because they don’t care enough about poetry to even notice.

  19. @Linh Dinh

    Come to Chicago. You will find enough to keep you occupied, I guarantee!

    • LOL: GMC
    • Replies: @Windy City
  20. Looks better than Haiti, though should there not be a few trees on that hilltop? For passing storks.

    p.s. Maybe to keep the flow of opium to Europe will USA come to the aid of Albania. But with all the statues torn down the hard fighting southern boys are not going to give all anymore…. LBGTQ America is sure to lose the next big conflict. Then the thankless turkey will eat its own tail.

  21. HalconHigh says: • Website

    A beautifully written article, Linh.

    $10 bucks a night for a room ? Can’t beat that.

    Here in Glendale, AZ. I’ve finally found a new apartment.
    $1,000 a month for a 420 sq foot studio.
    Cheap as I could find w/o going downtown to a roach motel.
    Most places want $1300 to $1500 per month.

    I remember back in 1975 getting the same apt. for $80 per month.
    In those days, you walked in the office, plunked down some cash, signed a couple pieces of paper and they handed you the key.
    No BS renters insurance either.

    I heard Ohtani pitched in the All-Star game last night….haven’t watched it in years, although as a kid, you would’ve had to drag me away from the tv when that game was being played.

    The Suns are up 2-1 on the Bucks in the NBA Finals with game 4 tonight in Milwaukee.
    Abdel Nader, the native of Alexandria, Egypt is back from his knee injury and playing limited minutes.
    Hope the Suns finally win one before the walls come tumbling down.

    Not sure what the end game looks like Linh (perhaps you have some thoughts on that) but it feels like the calm before the storm.

    Off to listen to “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis group. Closest I can come lol.

    Stay cool Linh

    • Replies: @follyofwar
  22. gsjackson says:

    Reminds me of some lines Springsteen wrote almost 50 years ago (when he had a soul): “The poets down here write nothing at all. They just stand back and let it all be.” Now the whole country is Jungleland.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  23. Another fascinating article. And I used to think that Albania was hell on earth.

    • Replies: @The Real World
  24. @nosquat loquat

    I’d love to kill every post-modern blank-verse ‘poet’. Slowly and sadistically.

    • Replies: @J. Alfred Powell
  25. Alfred says:
    @Wyatt

    I did a little research. The translation is false. The guy in a turban never said anything of the sort. Youtube does not offer translations for this interview. I don’t want to watch it for an hour to determine what it is that he said.

    FWIW, the Iranians foolishly sent fighters to the Balkans to help NATO. Now, they know better. In Syria, Iranian irregulars and the Hezbollah protected Christian villages. 🙂

    MEMRI is a website created by an Israeli general. 🙂

    • Replies: @Jazman
  26. Alfred says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Fasule is obviously derived from fagioli.

    Arabic – فاصوليا (fasoulieh)
    Greek – φασουληηη (fasoulii)
    Maltese – fażola
    Russian – фасоль (fasoul)
    Turkish – fasulye
    Ukrainian – квасоля (kvasouli)

    Some words are quite international. You would be surprised how many versions of “cow” exist. 🙂

  27. “Maybe 14, he was brazenly growing his first moustache.”

    Oh, how I remember when I was a fourteen year old and so proud of the growing fuzz on my lips.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  28. @W

    12 is nothing. I’m at 12 before noon with 12 hours Togo. Who cares about 12? 12 is nothing

  29. I worry about you Linh….your writing reminds me of the Gazan, Riverbend. Quiet perfection. But you knew she couldn’t last, she was a wordsmith writing poetry, disturbing mules. Some US agency is surely looking to disappear you too.

    Go well, as far as you can, and report back,. We will be waiting.

    Oklahoma farmer

    • Replies: @anon
  30. Maybe your next collection should be titled “Postcards from the End of Civilisation” Linh.

  31. Trinity says:

    Sonny Liston’s gravestone says simply, “A Man.” Well that was simple and most certainly true. Wonder how many gravestones have a bunch of horseshit written on them? Like funerals where everyone that dies was ” a good man” or ” he is looking down on us all from Heaven,” speaking of George Bush, pappy, not junior. “Songbird McCain” was another one and so was Negro John Lewis. Sheesh, IF someone honest would have only marked these cats gravestones you can imagine what they would have written. Wonder IF these 3 guys are “looking down on us” now? Lord knows that they probably looked down on plenty of people on earth, maybe they might be looking up at us now? Whatcha think? IF you were to believe pastors that preach funerals, everyone is in Heaven except Hitler and Charles Manson.

  32. @Gaspar DeLaFunk

    Linh has been to Chicago on several occasions. As a Chicagoan, I say stay far, far away…

  33. Great essay, Linh Dinh. That was a brilliant analogy with the beheaded poets. Killing an inconvenient wordsmith still has meaning in a place that reveres its own culture. The same act just devolves into raping a corpse in a crumbling society that is gleefully eviscerating its own culture.

    As usual, your article is packed with wise insights. There’s much similarity to Amerindian authors like Vine Deloria jr. or Thomas King. The world’s knowledge seekers shun places like Albania or Vietnam but flock to the imperial U.S. where wisdom is now rare. Do you suppose there’s an inescapable tradeoff between wisdom and knowledge?

    Your travel itinerary points to your choice. Complacent westerners need to be reminded of the social values and common sense we seem to have lost. But maybe such wisdom can only come from those who hail from places that have already been bombed, invaded, occupied, starved or stolen by predatory empires. Whatever the case, your columns are priceless.

  34. Treg says:

    Gosh I love this writing. Each time I read his words like water I feel guilty for not paying. I must fix that. I must buy some of his books.

    • Agree: KeltCindy, Polistra
  35. @Wyatt

    What do you mean by “undeveloped?” Sounds charming to me. In America, which one day soon will be South Africa if the Biden-Harris Regime isn’t stopped, the underdeveloped Appalachian mountain backwoods (which sounds like the mountainous Albanian enclaves Linh wonderfully describes, though not as civilized) will be like paradise to a dying nation, if they can only keep out blue state refugees and stop the importation of fentanyl.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  36. @TG

    “the best way to get cheap labor is to have the proles breed like cattle”

    No, because if the proles are all of the same nation, they’ll form unions and political parties, and demand affordable family formation, high wages and cheap houses.

    The secret is to import cheap labour and call the proles racists.

    • Agree: Alfred, Polistra, Charon
  37. anonymous[202] • Disclaimer says:
    @gsjackson

    Never heard of mumblerap, apparently.

    You rap what you sue.

  38. Fr. John says:
    @Wyatt

    Wow. IF an Arab can say that of an Albanian, no wonder why the Orthodox see them with such disgust!

    The Albanians were the original ‘Fundamentalist Dispensational Protestants’ of Eastern Europe.
    Seduced by the ramblings of people like Joachim de Fiore, they longed for a supposed “Rapture and Millennium’ theology, and reduced the Trinity to a mere philosophical construct, rather than the full-orbed Patriarch of Conciliar, historic Orthodoxy.

    Thus, they were ripe for the even more reductionistic heresy of Islam. And that’s why, surrounded by former Orthodox Nations, the ‘Appalachia of Europe’ is what it is, today….a secular, but fiercely, ‘First Church of theological reductionism’ – just because. Bless their hearts…..

  39. @A Half Naked Fakir

    Yes. I always remember my Dad humoring me when I thought I “needed” to learn to shave at age 13. He treated my request seriously and never made me feel foolish even though it was obviously premature. He knew what a big deal it was. I felt like I was a real man. I wish he were still here to smile about it with us.

    • Thanks: A Half Naked Fakir
  40. Hardrock says: • Website

    Love the Antonio Ribas part….. all about boredom and extremes and then this unexpected diamond: “…..shaking his head. ‘Fourteen black petticoats hide the most sensual of bodies’.”

    Reminds me of Virginia Woolf’s comments about Marcel Proust’s writing. ‘Oh, if I could write like that!’ I cry.

  41. BorisMay says:

    Lovely piece, wish I was there…well in spirit if not in actuality. Of course, one man’s heaven is another’s hell. The Italian influence suggests that even under Tito that part of the world had greater connections with the rest of the Med than one would have thought.

    Actually there is nothing wrong with boredom. As a poet…I’ve been sharing some poems today with a relative who had no idea I was a published poet…I can understand being executed for what you write. Words are such weapons they make nuclear bombs look like blunderbusses compared to a well chosen word or an acutely placed colon. Being executed for what one wrote in a poem is the ultimate accolade. Being published as a poet makes the special almost banal.

    Sylvia Plath was executed for her poetry by people who should have known better. Okay it was a gas oven in a posh suburb of London, but it was tantamount to execution. You are immortalised by the act.

    Instead we have to immortalise war criminals like Winston Churchill or any US president since JFK was culled. There’s no comparison between the warmongers and poets. I’d rather be a poet any day, even if I’m broke every day of my life. One good poem…

    Great writing Mr D. Thanks for that.

    • Replies: @Gugwee
  42. profnasty says:
    @Trinity

    Adolph Hitler?

    • Replies: @Trinity
  43. @HalconHigh

    Why is it so expensive to live in Arizona? How about the fact that most of the American Southwest is a baking desert, with insufficient rainfall to support so many millions of migrants having fled both Central America and Blue State hell. Its best days are behind it and can’t be recaptured.

    How many are still watching the ridiculous NBA, anyway? Because they started the pandemic shortened season late, they are still playing in July. Even when it was completed in June, which is normally the case, it droned on far too long with endless playoffs lasting two months. I’m glad that LeBron’s team isn’t still playing. A small thing to be thankful for.

    Now we have the one year delayed Olympics coming up in a few weeks, though most Japanese citizens don’t want it. I don’t understand why any of these millionaire NBA players or PGA golfers would want to go, especially with the strict Covid protocols. Golf should have never been put back in the Olympics anyway. It doesn’t belong there.

    Is there any sporting event more boring than the Olympics? Linh’s Albania sounds like paradise in comparison.

    • Replies: @HalconHigh
  44. HT says:

    I just want my white Western civilization back that the Leftists are taking from us. I do not want to live in ignorance and savagery. Now I understand why liberty is so rare. These Marxists are going to force a literal civil war in America to stop them.

  45. Trinity says:
    @profnasty

    Hitler could be in Heaven, but I am saying the (((official narrative))) is that Hitler is in Hell. IF I were a betting man I would say that Hitler had a better shot at entering the Pearly Gates than his contemporaries FDR, Churchill, Stalin, Eisenhower. I think MOST will be SHOCKED when that day comes personally, that is IF you believe in that sort of thing. I am just always amused that nearly every single funeral everyone is going to Heaven. lololololol. And the dearly departed were always a “good man,” and all that other malarkey you hear at funerals. I think the most ridiculous thing about funerals are flowers. ” A dead nose smells no rose.”

    Back to Adolf Hitler. Can you imagine IF Hitler is indeed in Heaven? So many pastors and preachers have told (((tales))) about how evil Hitler was and how he must be in Hell, blah, blah, blah….

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    , @profnasty
  46. Gugwee says:
    @BorisMay

    A bit off-topic, but I have always suspected that Sylvia Plath was murdered by her husband’s (((mistress))). Sylvia was Austrian. She was gassed in an oven 20-some years after WWII. Food for thought, huh?

  47. @follyofwar

    Why are the white rural poor so stupid as to be human guinea pigs for whichever knew soul-destroying narcotic the Chinese or Mexican or Italian mad scientists decide to pump into their regions?

    The Chinese make it & they are by & large not stupid enough to take it.

    Let’s be honest, the poor white proles who get hooked on drugs make life so miserable that they would lend credence to Duterte’s strategy of wasting shabu addicts in Philippines. They damage their families, steal what little possessions their poor old mother to pay for drugs, molest girls, mug people & generally make an entire community a misery.

    In a way Fenatyl is a good drug because unlike crack or meth or heroin which leads some moron to make his family’s life a misery for 20 years until he dies or turns somebody’s daughter into a street hooker who dumps her out-of-wedlock kids by some junkie or john on her weary grandparents…they die quick.

    One can understand why some people cannot live without their booze or marijuana or tobacco.

    But as someone who knew a few crackheads, all of whom then had a monkey on their back for their rest of their lives, it is mysterious why the white lumpen try these drugs to begin with.

    And what does it say about the USA that Appalachia is less developed than some Balkan backwater?

    And why did so many Albanians immigrate to Chicago then?

    And why did Appalachia stay poor?

    • Replies: @Gugwee
  48. Here on the outskirts of Portland, OR, a life of increasing existential terror is relieved periodically by only a small handful of things anymore. Conversations with the aged Franciscan nun who I pay $100/month for an hour of “open, frank conversation” since all other options for this have disappeared in a wave of shamings and severances since Trump won (and she’s a captive audience). Time in the yard with the bumblebees, occasionally a nice natural visual. Dinh’s Postcards book devoured on two sittings earlier this year and each fresh entry found here on unz.com, favored more than even Orlov who saved my life way back in 2009, or Edward Curtin, or Vanessa Beeley.

    It is a very strange thing to feel closer to some poet travelling the world that I will never meet outside of this strange and isolating virtual space, but nevertheless I am very glad for it once again this fine morning. Thank you for your work, Mr. Dinh!

    • Replies: @Hardrock
    , @Graham Seibert
  49. AndrewR says:
    @Trinity

    If hell were real, all three of them would be very unhappy right now.

  50. @Trinity

    Sonny Liston’s gravestone says simply, “A Man.”

    Thanks, I didn’t know that.
    It’s true, also, what I know about him.
    My Grandfather, who was an RN boxer, put me into a Boxing Club at age seven; can recommend this for any grand/son of any reader here …

    I remember the shock in 1964 when the upstart Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) danced around the ring evading Sonny’s devastating left … and then won …
    He too turned out to be a Man.

    PS Thanks, Linh, for another fine episode.

    • Thanks: Trinity, AceDeuce
    • Replies: @follyofwar
    , @Joe Paluka
  51. AReply says:

    Following up on the previous comment:

    “Oooh, wonderful travelogue Mr. Dinh — BTW, your name is quite unusual…”

    We now return to our regular programming of Adolf Hitler in Heaven, previously in progress…

  52. Jazman says:
    @Alfred

    Unfortunately Iran during war in Bosnia was very involved against Serbian people and now I can say population have mixed feeling for Iran . Serbs in Bosnia openly support Israel and I do not see reason why Israel screwed Serbs together with other Talumudists . Iran secret service Vevak had assassination attempts couple of them successful . All in all when they faced well trained Serbian units they loose battle 100 % . 1995 they committed lot of crimes against not well trained local units especially village Vozuca with ISIS type of executions even worse I have seen tapes . Even with all problem Iran caused in Bosnia I am still on Iranian side regarding geopolitics

    • Agree: Alfred
  53. Anon[160] • Disclaimer says:
    @utu

    The ancients (old world) had lentils did they not? Lentil (word that is) is from latin origin. Those lentil beans were known over large parts of the old world. What were lentils known as in those Asiatic languages?

  54. @Arthur MacBride

    The “phantom punch” with which Ali knocked out Liston after one minute of their rematch was about as fake as last year’s presidential election. Taking a dive is not supposed to be so obvious.

    • Agree: Arthur MacBride
  55. The worst thing for peace was the break up of the Ottoman Empire. They kept things sane.

  56. gsjackson says:
    @Trinity

    I think Sonny’s manhood, along with his body, took a dive in 1964, so that a more media-friendly champ could be crowned.

    • Replies: @Trinity
  57. every time i read your Albanian stories i get more sure that i will book a ticket and go there sooner rather than later.

  58. About the statue of the dead poets, the Wikimedia caption is ” A memorial dedicated in honor of two Albanian poets, Vilson Blloshmi and Genc Leka. They were executed by the communist government under Enver Hoxha regime, because they dared to write poetry that spoke about freedom and happiness of the people without shackles of dictatorship. They were in their early twenties at the time of their excecution. The memorial consists of 2 heads cast in bronze that depict a somewhat resemblance of the poets. It is displayed in the eastern entrance of the town of Librazhd, which is located in the south eastern region of Albania.”

    I too long for a ‘normal’ life – with my inherited Canadian citizenship I plan to return to a small town in my ancestral province of Nova Scotia. As a descendant of English-speaking settlers who violently displaced French speaking settlers and were very hard on the indigenous people who were there first, I do not escape history, but at least I will be a few hundred miles from the UnitedStatesian psychosis.

  59. @Linh Dinh

    Here’s a word you may know, but just in case: “Djakmara!” If someone yells that out, get under the table and watch what transpires, heh heh.

  60. Koserte says:

    Wow, never would have thought that someone would see the beauty in a city like Librazhd. But I notice that you mostly mention the people when you have something nice to say, not the city itself.

    But I find some hope in Albania for the US as well. For the comeback of the US!
    Notice that Albania was ruled by the dirtiest and most stupid communists for decades, and yet the people didnt lose their humanity. Maybe the same could happen in the US when all this lunacy is over?

    • Replies: @Bossi
  61. R2b says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Anyway, what beans or not.
    Your’e doing a tour, sembling what could be done, before.
    Now we ridiculous tangenitals follow you on the last tour.
    Even you have become, I’m searching for a popular, but not necessesarily post-modern term, but maybe it is: inauthentic.
    Am I spelling right!
    Your followers are wankers
    Just go out in the street.
    And stop f*****g debase the USA.
    It’s and great country!

  62. Hardrock says: • Website
    @Thor Walhovd

    I once thought about becoming a monk and I only charge $95. All topics…..quantum physics to classic literature. My thoughts on….everything, in the link above. 🙂

  63. liamjq says:

    The only Albanian word I ever heard of and subsequently never forgot was in the somewhat “cult” novel of the early 80s by John Fowles “The Magus” the headland that could be seen from the aforementioned Magus’ demesne was called “Mutsa from the Albanian for snout”(according to the narrator) no idea if it’s true but it’s burned in my mind

    • Replies: @The Real World
  64. @Irish Savant

    I used to think that Albania was hell on earth.

    It likely still is compared to Western countries. Nominal GDP per capita is $5847.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albania
    Comparison – France is $45,000; the USA is $68,000.

    But, the country has a nice array of topography, from shorelines facing 3 different seas to mountainous alps. If we can ever travel freely and easily again, it might become the next Croatia.

    • Thanks: Irish Savant
  65. Trinity says:
    @gsjackson

    Lots of suspicions surrounding both bouts especially the second one. Of course there were a lot of questions regarding Liston’s age, some say he was much older than his listed age of 32, some even suspect Liston was nearly 40 years of age at the time of the Clay/Ali bouts. Liston was in great shape for the rematch only to have it postponed due to Ali’s hernia. That takes a lot out of a 40 something year old body.

    I think the first fight was on the level while it is obvious to a blind man that Sonny took a swan dive in the rematch.

  66. Gugwee says:
    @Jeff Stryker

    The rural poor get into these drugs because they’re poor. They have nothing to do, no electronic or motorized toys to play with. They’re bored. They’re depressed because they have nothing and they live in shacks that aren’t fit for dogs. And you wonder why they want to escape from reality? I have family in eastern Kentucky. You have to understand, they are the descendants of dirt-poor English and Scotch-Irish peasants who settled in the mountains back in the early 18th century. These folks were isolated from the rest of the country for a long, long time. They made a living hunting and farming, and then those things went away. Then they made a living coal-mining, then coal went away. Rural areas are poor because there are just not enough people, resources or jobs to create wealth.

    • Replies: @Emslander
    , @Dumbo
  67. Interesting Linh Dinh brings up Walt Whitman the American poet.

    His statue (he was a state native poet) on the Rutgers (NJ) campus is being “contextualized”:

    https://www.thecollegefix.com/walt-whitman-statue-a-target-of-protests-to-be-removed-from-center-of-rutgers-camden-campus/

    Wasn’t Louis XVI contextualized?

  68. Dumbo says:

    People can live normally everywhere, even in a poor African country. Even close to the Arctic like the eskimos. Even in Albania! I don’t find it surprising at all. Current Post-Modernity is the exception, a period which will likely end when oil or cheap energy ends one way or another. Good? Bad? I don’t know.

    • Replies: @RJ Macready
  69. @Linh Dinh

    The words you mention sound close to Polish:
    fasule – fasola
    mish – mięso

    Albania bordered the old Yugoslavia. It seems that in Albania Slavs invaded some old Neolithic culture.
    Moreover, one of the lost tribes of Israel could lost their way there, the idea which could be supported by the fact that they supposedly lost their way around Caucasus too (you know, on the way to Sambathon/Dniepr), where once lived some ‘Albanians’.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_Albania
    The ubiquitous endings -e in shqip (Albanian own name) are similar to endings in Yiddish, e.g. Kroke (Cracow), Varshe (Warsaw), Vilne (Vilnius).
    Also the shqip tendency to skip vowels, at least in writing, reminds us about writing conventions of Semitic languages.

    When I was in Kosovo, I was mostly unable to distinguish Albanians from Serbs.

  70. @Another Polish Perspective

    In Kosovo, I went to the famous Serbian stronghold of Gracanica, at that time guarded by Portuguese troops, and they all looked like Albanians.

    Nevertheless, the tension was in air, unlike in other places in Kosovo. It is hard to be a lonely traveller there. People kept much more to themselves in Gracanica than in Pristina, though.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gra%C4%8Danica,_Kosovo

  71. @Another Polish Perspective

    The highest order of the Kingdom of Spain is the Order of the Golden Fleece.
    The respective Golden Fleece was in Caucasus.
    There was also once Caucasian “Iberia”.
    So maybe there is more than we think in those wandering names…

  72. Hardrock says: • Website

    Antonio RIBAS????

    Did you mean RIVAS?

    I liked the quote and tried to look up Ribas….nada.

    Also, you’re a good writer….and…. seemingly enlightened to the fact that “with a dozen better looking ones right in this subway car. If the city is a vast buffet, and it is visually exhilarating, you’re one of its least items, just a pea, kernel of corn or macaroni, stuck to the hot plate.”

    Most guys looking for a “10” never stop to think that she is also. Most of us 5s and 6s aren’t on their radar. Oh, wait, I forgot – we’re all natives of Lake Woebegone and are ALL above average.

    Love your observations!

    • Replies: @awry
  73. @Fr. John

    I once read somewhere that they were actually the exiled Byzantine iconoclasts (which means they had nothing to do with Joachim de Fiore, who unlike the conservative iconoclasts, was a speculative/heretical – due to his “unwritten Gospel of Spirist” – millenialist). Since the majority of imperial iconoclasts came from the Abrahamic/Aramaic borderlands of Byzantium (formerly known as kingdoms of Kommagene and Osroene), and theologically you could describe them as “judaizing Christianity”, they could bring some Semitisms into Albanian language, which I postulate in my comment no. 71 above…

  74. niceland says:

    Great one Linh, thanks!

  75. @Linh Dinh

    I’m a little confused about your leaving Vietnam in 2000. I clearly recall once when I told you of my plans to visit the country, you asked me to let you know after I arrive so we could have a Tiger beer. As I recall, you also wrote about your plastic recycling business or job. What’s with that Linn? But then my memory may be failing me at my age. The reason I couldn’t make the flight was they told me at Manila Airport that all American passport holders need a visa to travel to Vietnam. Without it I wouldn’t be allowed to board the plane.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  76. anon[333] • Disclaimer says:
    @oklahomafarmer

    Thanks for reminding me of Riverbend/Baghdad Burning.

    Think she is Iraqi. Family fled to Syria. Bombs followed.

    Zionized Amurderka loves killing fields.

    5 dancing shlomos

  77. Thim says:

    Stuck in Albania, it could be worse. You are over the Covid I can tell, because your writing is back up to your excellent standard. And it is seriously not all bad. If you return to Vietnam surely your Mother in Law would resume her efforts to kill you.

  78. ilir says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Linh
    I am probably the only Albanian reader of your articles.
    It is funny but I was in Albania for 12 days in June. Came back on the 20th.
    I have been in the USA for over 20 years now but I still have family in Tirana, Elbasan and Lac.
    I am surprised that you are still there.
    Albania is a small country, I have seen almost every city and big towns, Librazhd and Peshkopi included. Good luck with your travel and Albanian language.
    Uroj te lexoj tregime te reja per Pogradecin dhe Korcen.

    ilir

  79. @liamjq

    Well, when I consulted Google Translate it came up with this word for snout in Albanian: feçkë

    Perhaps I’ll make your day by introducing you to this. It’s very fun. https://translate.google.com/

  80. Tony says:

    Looking alarmed, he asked where I was going? Foreigners don’t come here.

    Looks like you couldnt take a hint.

  81. Dei says:
    @Another Polish Perspective

    No need to guess since genetic results exist and show Albanians to be western Balkan origin with ancestry coming from ancient Anatolia like most Southern Europeans.

  82. @Justrambling

    I’m a little confused about your leaving Vietnam in 2000.

    I think LD made a typing mistake; probably meant to write 2020. Although he may have also left Vietnam another time in 2000.

    • Replies: @Justrambling
  83. TheBoom says:
    @Linh Dinh

    I have lived in Eastern Asia for 9 of the last 10 years. It is depressing the extent that Eastern Asians have bought into the Covid hoax. It truly is a new normal in this region because the rulers and populace seem to be devoted to no one ever dying from the flu again.

    Every eastern Asian I have met distrusts the local media. Unfortunately they just can’t comprehend the big lie. They can’t imagine that all their doctors, academics, health experts, media and government rulers could be spouting nonsense. To make matters worse, every university educated eastern Asian I have met believes that CNN and the NYT are trustworthy sources of real journalism because America has a free press.

    I am in Thailand now and the schools in my and adjoining Provence have been closed for months. Parents are begging the schools not to open because parents don’t want their kids to die from Covid

    • Thanks: Alfred, RadicalCenter
  84. Blade says:

    There is nothing cringe about someone thinking Albania would be better off as a part of Turkey. So would every other part of the former Ottoman Empire. Instead, Arabs made trillions from oil and wasted trillions for arms they cannot use. Balkans largely fell victim to Communism for decades. Multiple genocides and foreign invasions happened in the same geography. And Greeks became gays. All of this could be avoided if there was a union and all would be more prosperous, better educated, and more cultured.

    • Replies: @Dei
    , @Peter Akuleyev
  85. HalconHigh says: • Website
    @follyofwar

    Follyofwar…Think it’s still more expensive in California than AZ, but I guess they charge those prices because they can.

    Olympics long ago lost their luster for me….and now an Olympics without fans ? Ridiculous.

    Now they’re just an over-produced TV spectacle.
    They hardly show anything live….it’s all pre-packaged for Prime Time.

    Been a life long basketball fan…can’t help it.

  86. @Arthur MacBride

    “My Grandfather, who was an RN boxer”

    Never heard of a Registered Nurse who did boxing on the side. Very rare bird indeed!

    • Replies: @Arthur MacBride
  87. @Joe Paluka

    LOLs.

    To clarify = Royal Navy.

  88. Emslander says:
    @Gugwee

    Rural areas are poor because there are just not enough people, resources or jobs to create wealth.

    Rural areas are not poor. They are not boring. You’ve obviously only visited rural areas on the pages of the NYT or streaking past on the Interstate. It’s the deluded urban pseudo-sophisticates who are poor.

  89. @Commentator Mike

    He must have. Now after refreshing my memory, he even provided me with his yahoo email address right here at UR so I could contact him. That was about 2 years back. It must be his incessant globetrotting. Still, I wouldn’t miss his travel writings for the world.

  90. Dumbo says:
    @Gugwee

    The rural poor get into these drugs because they’re poor. They have nothing to do, no electronic or motorized toys to play with. They’re bored.

    I don’t think that’s the reason. People lived well enough without electronics or motorized toys, with no need for drugs. Also lots of rich, urban people do drugs. More than rural people.

    It’s really more about existential despair, and lack of community or any kind of more rewarding life with no transcendental meaning.

    Except for alcohol, because of its social uses, I never got the appeal of other types of drugs, especially things like cocaine, heroine or meth, but even marihuana. It’s destroying your body, soul and mind for a fleeting sensation. But then again, isn’t that what most people do, one way or another?

  91. Dei says:
    @Blade

    Part of the reason why Albania is shit today is because of the ottomans. Albania was a backwater of the empire and many Albanians back then migrated out and mingled with numerous populations in the rest of the empire while becoming top dog in certain fields. 10% of Turks today have some Albanian blood because of this. But really Albania would be better off if it had won their war against the ottomans. In fact they did and had a 10 year truce but the treacherous papacy (one of the most evilest organizations on earth but only second to international jewry) convinced the Albanian hero skanderbeg to join in a entire European Crusade against the Turks which would have included almost every European nation. That never happened and Albanians were screwed from then on.

    I agree that arabs should be ruled by Turks as arabs don’t have the capacity to rule anymore as they have mongrelized with their negroe slaves. That explains why from 900 AD – 1920 AD all Arab nations were ruled by foreign people such as the Turkic people, circassians, iranians, and in the case of Muslim Spain, actual blacks, berbers and actual Spanish muslims.

  92. @TheBoom

    The question arises … are there any personality differences in an oriental person? I have also noticed that even Easterners in the West have strangely paranoid germophobic attitudes. Again, our word “hikikomori” comes from an oriental language, and I noticed a tendency towards isolation of the Orientals even before 2020.

    • Replies: @TheBoom
  93. @Emslander

    Who is the poor man? Someone who spends all their time buying expensive mind-destroying gadgets, or someone from a narrow circle of relatives and friends who does not have the money to buy? We see the same pattern in entertainment devices as in degenerative substances: a rich person unworthy of wealth falls into vice. Unsurprisingly, the ascent of the masses to undeserved wealth gave them a very low-key despair.

    Rural areas don’t owe their despair to a lack of unhealthy recreation. They owe their despair to the subtle and pernicious erosion of their autarky, as well as to the betrayal of the authorities who introduced demonic drugs and other homosexual novelties. Initially, the Appalachians became too dependent on coal and lost their self-sufficiency.

    Boonies are happy as they resist gay evolution. See also Bhutan.

  94. @The Real World

    I don’t think “hell on earth” is a GDP is not enough per capita to buy an Xbox. Here are the right questions to ask yourself:

    How easy is it for most people to get the right amount of food?

    Do they get along well?

    Are they free from vice?

    What is the prevalence of disease and is childhood usually survived?

    If hell is full of unrepentant sins and vices, then the gay West is pretty hellish.

    • Replies: @The Real World
  95. @Blade

    And Greeks became gays.

    That is a stereotype from ancient Greece. In the modern world the odds of an average English, American or German being gay strike me as significantly higher.

    • Replies: @Blade
  96. @Emslander

    Rural areas are not poor. They are not boring

    No, but these days the population in many American rural areas consists to a large extent of lower IQ, poorly educated individuals who are unable to entertain themselves or provide for themselves. For over 150 years industrialization and urbanization has been stripping rural areas of the more intelligent ambitious people creating a dysgenic cycle of rural poverty and dysfunction.

    The urban pseudo-sophisticates who are most contemptuous of “rural” areas tend to be the people who left rural areas to go to college and never came back. So there is certainly some bias at work as well.

  97. awry says:
    @Hardrock

    There was a painter named Antoni (Antonio) Ribas Prats, a Mallorcan landscape painter, and there was Antonio Rivas. Both are relatively obscure painters, but Rivas’ works are much more valued monetarily so probably Linh misspelled the name (Rivas and Ribas are pronounced exactly the same in Spanish AFAIK).

    • Replies: @Hardrock
  98. @anon

    True, no knee tremblers in a dark alley with a wench you fancy, Albania is famous for blood feuds that go on for generations.

  99. @thou/thee/thine pronouns

    Ask 10 people to define “hell on earth” and you’d likely get at least seven different definitions. All of them would be correct because it is a matter of opinion, not fact.

    Xboxes are irrelevant to the discussion but, GDP per capita is indicative of plenty.

    I live in the USA and here are my answers:

    How easy is it for most people to get the right amount of food? Very easy and those with low incomes can often get it for free from a variety of sources.

    Do they get along well? If people consume minimal amounts of corrupt media and avoid negative people, it is not very difficult.

    Are they free from vice? Some moderate partaking of vices is part of life and often fun. People are free to choose what, how much or not at all.

    What is the prevalence of disease and is childhood usually survived? Disease is also part of life and plenty of options abound in this country for avoiding it, managing it or curing it.

  100. @Trinity

    I believe that God gives everyone (after all, He created each one of us and gave us a name) one final chance to recognise Him as I am who am, and to admit that He it is who must be obeyed and not one’s own thieving heart.
    If Hitler made this choice then he is certainly in heaven.

    Apart from all that though, I do wish that someone would ask the prestidigitator in Rome, he who is happy to speculate that Judas is in heaven, about precisely this: “If Judas, then surely Hitler to0?

    He would melt before our rejoicing eyes, like the Wicked Witch of the West that he is.

    • Thanks: profnasty
  101. Blade says:
    @Peter Akuleyev

    https://rainbow-europe.org/country-ranking

    They are up there in the top ten if you exclude tiny countryettes like Malta. Then compare it to Turkey and Azerbaijan. Too bad Greeks chose to be gays instead of being imperials.

  102. TheBoom says:
    @thou/thee/thine pronouns

    There are some personality differences in Asians from Westerners and, especially, Africans that could impact Covid mania.

    Asians outside of the Philippines, for the most part have shame rather than guilt based (Christian) cultures. They tend to be far more group rather than individually oriented. In some ways this helps preserve their societies against the onslaught of the Jewish led Globohomo. However, the group conformity probably makes it easier to get them to conform to nonsensical Covid rules especially the ones about masks. Most Westerners would traditionally never wear a mask to protect others when they have a cold (especially the ones who are cluefull enough to know that they don’t work) but you see or a lot of people in Chinese areas of Asia wearing masks in normal times if they are sick or the pollution is high.

    • Agree: Alfred
  103. @Irish Savant

    Your desire will remain unsatisfied since post-modernists don’t write blank verse and wouldn’t know it if they heard it anyways.

  104. @Linh Dinh

    There’s an Italian joke that the Albanians have the patience to wait for them build their roads — first Caesar Augustus, then, later, Mussolini.

  105. America used to drive her poets to suicide — Vachel Lindsay, Hart Crane, Weldon Kees — or into exile — H.D., T.S. Eliot — or first into exile and then dragged back and imprisoned in a madhouse — Ezra Pound. Now, thanks to the front foundation funding and academic bureaucratic machinations of the same old usual suspects, America has instead whole kennels crammed with College Writing Program AWP-MFA-POBIZ adjunct professors — their soi disant poetry confined to belletristics, coterie jargons and pseudo-intellectual gangster cant and chained to a Sisyphean treadmill rag-trade fashion cycle — their audience limited (by terminal boredom) to fellow professionals (and scarcely that), their subjects restricted to the private personal domestic inconsequential currently fashionable innocuous uncomprehending incomprehensible for the moment permissible bland blank: Professionally trained Poodle Poets paraded on leashes by their Pimp Masters, muzzled, gelded, with perfect hair.

    • LOL: gar manarnar
    • Replies: @ricpic
  106. @Dumbo

    I have pondered on this often Dumbo. Are you implying that technology is to be blamed? I have written this everywhere….I think the internet is to be blamed for all the chaos in America and the world. Instant news, social media…everyone is addicted and unhinged, waiting for likes, or waiting to fight an invisible online foe.

    I sailed the world with my father in the 90s and i remember being in America and white people taking pictures with me because i was exotic. Everything seemed friendly and nice. Ahhh the memories.

    I tell you’ll…..everyone says I’m crazy but the silicon valley nerds are as big a danger and threat to peace and happiness as any terrorist organization.

  107. @Dei

    Commagene and Osroene were in South Anatolia/Syria, and close to Göbeklitepe, the most famous Turkish Neolithic site.

    Nevertheless, the popular paternal haplotype in Albania, E, would point to Somalia/Horn of Africa as the place of origins of Albanians. Another is J2 which is associated with Lebanon and Phoenicians.
    Well, Somalians and the Lebanese are very clannish: Albanians too share this proclivity, probably helping them to their fame as ‘mafia’.

    Anyway, they seem to be pre-Indoeuropeans.

  108. Hardrock says: • Website
    @awry

    Any idea where the Norman Lewis quote came from? Did he write a book?

  109. Jim Smith says:

    Linh, your writing always makes me want to send more money to you. To reward you. To help you out. Why do you do that to me? What did I ever do to you?

  110. ricpic says:

    All boredom boils down to not having found the one thing you MUST do and then doing it. Which is to say artists are the least bored people of all…and even they don’t escape some boredom. Why everyone doesn’t become an artist escapes me.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  111. ricpic says:
    @J. Alfred Powell

    It is utter nonsense that America is uniquely hard on its poets. Name a country where poets mean something to more than one or two percent of the population, if that. Yes, they are lauded, they are officially honored. But needed? No. Read as if they matter? By almost none. And that’s everywhere, not just in America.

    And if you name Russia….poets only meant something there under intolerable conditions, in soul squeezing circumstances when the tiny fraction who need poetry expands. Temporarily.

    • Replies: @J. Alfred Powell
  112. republic says:

    Albania seems to be an ok place according to LD,but outside Albania,lots of Albanian criminals,for example in Greece where about 5% of the population are from Albania,over 30% of the prisoners are Albanian!

  113. @ricpic

    My comment makes no such claim (“uniquely hard”) and draws no comparisons with other cultures. Besides poor reading comprehension, yours displays ignorance on both scores. And a fixation with Ruskis, too. Three strikes. See ya.

    • Replies: @ricpic
  114. ricpic says:
    @J. Alfred Powell

    Really got to you to elicit that answer. Bye.

  115. @ricpic

    Why everyone doesn’t become an artist escapes me.

    First one needs some talent. Then one needs to earn a living which restricts time. Many would also want the satisfaction to be recognised and earn something from their art. Talentless celebrities who turn to art seem to be able to earn recognition and money out of it even though they don’t need them.

  116. Gugwee says:
    @Emslander

    Did you not read the part where I said I have family in eastern KY? I’ve been there. I’ve been to other poor, rural areas also. I don’t read the NYT. Not every person in rural America is poor, but a lot are. There are no industries or large employers in a lot of rural areas. Cost of living is cheap because few people want to live there. So yes, there is poverty in these areas, and poverty usually leads to social ills like drugs.

  117. Bossi says:
    @Koserte

    Communists were the saviors of Albania while the American imperialists pigs teied to destroy it

  118. Bossi says:

    Albanians are becoming bery enfriendly toward foreigners because they are the most suffered nation in the World from wars, invasions, killings. Albania is a small country and cant accept many people. They are consudering foreigners as invaders

  119. Jett Rucker says: • Website

    500 channels or endless porn

    ONE damn letter. Blows the spell away entirely. Maybe it’s me.

  120. @Ping Pong

    Linh might know more about Vietnam but I do know more about Mother Theresa. She was a stupid woman who went to India to save souls for Jesus.
    When asked why she did it, she replied it was for Jesus; not compassion for the dying and the destitute.
    Basically, the stupid woman did it to go to heaven while feeding her ego as well.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  121. @Rev. Spooner

    Maybe there was something more sordid at play with Mother Theresa, such as child trafficking.

    https://www.npr.org/2018/07/17/629681931/late-mother-teresas-order-investigated-for-child-trafficking-in-india

    or the money laundering of swindled money through donations to her foundation by financial criminal Charles Keating:

    https://globalnews.ca/news/4331469/mother-teresa-bharat-ratna-missionaries-of-charity-trafficking/

  122. klcard says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Yes, I was evicted from Vung Tau last April, 2021…so hunkering down in KL waiting for the craziness to subside. Yes travel is like a bad trip – I would never imagine such scenes in the airports as you can see now.

  123. @Thor Walhovd

    Portland is a sad and emblematic case. As a Reed student 60 years ago we called it “the biggest cow town in the country.” It was rustic, country. The taverns along Woodstock Avenue were filled with working people. Reed was a weird and foreign entity, filled with big-city types like Faye Stendler who would later gain fame as a victim of one of the black murderers she got sprung so they could commit more mayhem.

    Linh’s writing about normalcy is exquisite. Danang was normal when I lived there as a civilian during the war. Nicaragua building houses with Habitat. And now, Ukraine. What did they have in common? A sense of themselves and a lack of diversity. Real and meaningful jobs. Children grow up knowing who they were, and every member of society had an interest in everybody else’s kids. Diversity is divisity. It splits the society apart.

    • Agree: Alfred, AceDeuce
  124. AceDeuce says:
    @Trinity

    Liston is one of very few modern Americans of whom both their dates of birth and dates of death are unknown–quite a feat.

    Liston had 24 siblings (half and full).

  125. Uzbek food is actually quite excellent, so I wouldn’t mention it in the same breath with Congolese.

  126. Every few weeks when Linh Dinh doesn’t submit a new article, I start thinking that he’s bought it. I imagine him being carried belly up from some poor dive on a stretcher and given an anonymous municipal disposal.
    But then I weigh this against us poor mortals versus the Vietnamese. And I feel sure that he will rise again and enlighten us with some more truths.

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