Friends & Colleagues

Writing critical commentaries in bold language has consequences. One of them is being placed on assorted “No Invite” lists. That shunning does have its compensations, though. It adds to the time available to indulge pastimes. Mine include viewing European detective film series.

They are instructive.


Michael Brenner




If I am not on more "no invite" lists than DR.  Brenner, I wish to make a formal complaint to the Blacklist Section at AIPAC and its subordinate branch at the WH.  BTW, we too, watch a lot of Euro crime.  "Engrenage" would be my favorite.  pl




Detective stories have been making a splash on European screens for the past decade. Some attract top-notch directors, actors and script writers. They are far superior to anything that appears over here – whether on TV or from Hollywood. Part of the impetus has come from the remarkable Italian series Montelbano, the name of a Sicilian commissario in Ragusa (Vigata) who was first featured in the skillfully crafted novellas of Andrea Camilleri.

Italians remain in the forefront of the genre as Montelbano was followed by similar high class productions set in Bologna, Ferrara, Turino, Milano, Palermo and Roma. A few are placed in evocative historical context. The French follow close behind with a rich variety of series ranging from a revived Maigret circa 2004(Bruno Cremer) and Frank Riva (Alain Delon) to the gritty Blood On The Docks (Le Havre) and the refined dramatizations of other Simenon tales. Others have jumped in: Austria, Germany (several) and all the Scandinavians. The former, Anatomy of Evil, offers us a dark yet riveting set of mysteries featuring a taciturn middle-aged police psychiatrist. Germany’s gem, Homicide Unit – Istanbul, has a cast of talented Turkish Germans who speak German in a vividly portrayed contemporary Istanbul. Shows from the last mentioned region tend to be dreary and the characters uni-dimensional, so will receive short shrift in these comments.


Most striking to an American viewer are the strange mores and customs of the local protagonists compared to their counterparts over here. So are the physical traits as well as the social contexts. Here are a few immediately noteworthy examples. Tattoos and facial hardware are strangely absent – even among the bad guys. Green or orange hair is equally out of sight. The former, I guess, are disfiguring. The latter types are too crude for the sophisticated plots. European salons also seem unable to produce that commonplace style of artificial blond hair parted by a conspicuous streak of dark brown roots so favored by news anchors, talk show howlers and other female luminaries.  Jeans, of course, are universal – and usually filled in comely fashion. It’s what people do in them (or out of them) that stands out.

First, almost no workout routines – or animated talk about them. Nautilus? Nordic Track? Yoga pants? From roughly 50 programs, I can recall only one, in fact – a rather humorous scene in an Istanbul health club that doubles as a drug depot. There is a bit of jogging, just a bit – none in Italy. The Italians do do some swimming (Montalbano) and are pictured hauling cases of wine up steep cellar stairs with uncanny frequency. Kale appears nowhere on the menu; and vegan or gluten are words unspoken. Speaking of food, almost all of these characters actually sit down to eat lunch, albeit the main protagonist tends to lose an appetite when on the heels of a particularly elusive villain. Oblique references to cholesterol levels occur on but two occasions. Those omnipresent little containers of yoghurt are considered unworthy of camera time.

A few other features of contemporary American life are missing from the dialogue. I cannot recall the word “consultant’ being uttered once. In the face of this amazing reality, one can only wonder how whiz-kid 21 year old graduates from elite European universities manage to get that first critical foothold on the ladder of financial excess. Something else is lacking in the organizational culture of police departments, high-powered real estate operations, environmental NGOs or law firms: formal evaluations.  In those retro environments, it all turns on long-standing personal ties, budgetary appropriations and actual accomplishment – not graded memo writing skills. Moreover, the abrupt firing of professionals is a surprising rarity. No wonder Europe is lagging so far behind in the league table of billionaires produced annually and on-the-job suicides

Then, there is that staple of all American conversation – real estate prices.  They crop up very rarely – and then only when retirement is the subject. Admittedly, that is a pretty boring subject for a tense crime drama – however compelling it is for academics, investors, lawyers and doctors over here.  Still, it fits a pattern.

None of the main characters devotes time to soliciting offers from other institutions – be they universities, elite police units in a different city, insurance companies, banks, or architectural firms. They are peculiarly rooted where they are. In the U.S., professionals are constantly on the look-out for some prospective employer who will make them an attractive offer. That offer is then taken to their current institution along with the demand that it be matched or they’ll be packing their bags. Most of the time, it makes little difference if that “offer” is from College Station, Texas or La Jolla, California. That doesn’t occur in the programs that I’ve viewed. No one is driven to abandon colleagues, friends, a comfortable home and favorite restaurants for the hope of upward mobility. What a touching, if archaic way of viewing life.

The pedigree of actors help make all this credible. For example, the classiest female leads are a “Turk” (Idil Uner) who in real life studied voice in Berlin for 17 years and a transplanted Russo-Italian (Natasha Stephanenko) whose father was a nuclear physicist at a secret facility in the Urals. Each has a parallel non-acting career in the arts. It shows.

After viewing the first dozen or so mysteries of diverse nationality, an American viewer begins to feel an unease creeping up on him. Something is amiss; something awry; something missing. Where are those little bottles of natural water that are ubiquitous in the U.S? The ones with the nipple tip. Meetings of all sorts are held without their comforting presence. Receptionists – glamorous or unglamorous alike – make do without them. Heat tormented Sicilians seem immune to the temptation. Cyclists don’t stick them in handlebar holders.  Even stray teenagers and university students are lacking their company. Uneasiness gives way to a sensation of dread. For European civilization looks to be on the brink of extinction due to mass dehydration.

That’s a pity. Any society where cityscapes are not cluttered with SUVs deserves to survive as a reserve of sanity on that score at least. It also allows for car chases through the crooked, cobbled streets of old towns unobstructed by herds of Yukons and Outbacks on the prowl for a double parking space. Bonus: Montelbano’s unwashed Fiat has been missing a right front hubcap for 4 years (just like my car).  To meet Hollywood standards for car chases he’d have to borrow Ingrid’s red Maserati.

Social intercourse reveals a number of even more bizarre phenomena. In conversation, above all. Volume is several decibels below what it is on American TV shows and in our society. It is not necessary to grab the remote to drop sound levels down into the 20s in order to avoid irreparable hearing damage. Nor is one afflicted by those piercing, high-pitched voices that can cut through 3 inches of solid steel. All manner of intelligible conversations are held in restaurants, cafes and other public places. Most incomprehensible are the moments of silence. Some last for up to a minute while the mind contemplates an intellectual puzzle or complex emotions. Such extreme behavior does crop up occasionally in shows or films over here – but invariably followed by a diagnosis of concealed autism which provides the dramatic theme for the rest of the episode.

Tragedy is more common, and takes more subtle forms in these European dramatizations. Certainly, America has long since departed from the standard formula of happy endings. Over there, tragic endings are not only varied – they include forms of tragedy that do not end in death or violence.  The Sicilian series stands out in this respect.

As to violence, there is a fair amount as only could be expected in detective series. Not everyone can be killed decorously by slow arsenic poisoning. So there is some blood and gore. But there is no visual lingering on either the acts themselves or their grisly aftermaths. People bleed – but without geysers of blood or minutes fixed on its portentous dripping. Violence is part of life – not to be denied, not to be magnified as an object of occult fascination. The same with sexual abuse and perversion.

Finally, it surprises an American to see how little the Europeans portrayed in these stories care about us. We tend to assume that the entire world is obsessed by the United States. True, our pop culture is everywhere. Relatives from ‘over there’ do make an occasional appearance – especially in Italian shows. However, unlike their leaders who give the impression that they can’t take an unscheduled leak without first checking with the White House or National Security Council in Washington, these characters manage quite nicely to handle their lives in their own way on their own terms.

Anyone who lives on the Continent or spends a lot of time there off the tourist circuit knows all this. The image presented by TV dramas may have the effect of exaggerating the differences with the U.S. That is not their intention, though. Moreover, isn’t the purpose of art to force us to see things that otherwise may not be obvious?

P.S.  All of these programs are available from an outfit called MHZ: https://mhzchoice.desk.com/customer/portal/emails/new

For $7.95 a month (first month free), you get 87 series totaling about 500 individual programs. Most run 1:30 or so and have quite good English subtitles. They are excellent debate-blockers and talk show-blockers. And engaging enough to carry one through the election, the Inaugural and whatever follows – even without counting the Scandinavian series.

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48 Responses to “THROUGH THE DETECTIVE’S LENS” by Michael Brenner

  1. Stephen J says:

    I concur with Michael Brenner’s perspectives on the characteristics and merits of European Detective series and their utility as ‘blockers’ for similar US programming as well as all the idiot political Kabuki stuff we’re in for this year on TV. As a subscriber of MHZ Choice for some time now, (they used to air programming on various PBS stations across the country but PBS congressional funding cuts led to their eventual elimination there), the $7.99 per month rate is well worth it as they have so many shows, most of them good, and a fair number of new ones, included new seasons of some excellent existing series, beginning in March and April of this year. One can sign up for a 30 day free trial too

  2. MHZ Networks is a broadcast jewel. I refuse to spring for cable and FIOS is still not available, so I rely on free digital broadcast signal with an antenna in the attic. In addition to the fine European series noted by Michael Brenner, MHZ offers many foreign news casts including RT, France 24 and Deutche Welle. These are broadcast on channel 30 in the DC area. Here in Stafford, this is the best (strongest) signal available.

  3. rjj says:

    Grievances are expectations in need of revision. US TeeVee makes more sense if you think of it as a smorgasbord of goyische nachas.

  4. rjj says:

    … or nachas, as the case may be.

  5. Ulenspiegel says:

    I, as German, do not want to spoil the party, however, my 19 and 21 years old kids do watch on DVD which series? The ugly truth is, all the US stuff like “Bones”, “Castle”, “NCIS”, “CSI”, “CSI:NY”, “Closer”, “Profiler”, “Criminal Minds”….
    We have very likely 2 m of DVDs in our shelf with US series.
    In contrast, the domestic series are highly unpopular with German teenagers, my are no exceptions. Even good English series like Inspector Morse and its good spin-offs are shunned. 🙁
    The high tempo and the action of most US series kill the competitors. The bad aspect IMHO is that the “TV reality” is taken for real.
    BTW: A really good French series is “Spiral”.

  6. Tom says:

    Fantastic Michael Brenner. I was never even aware that there are good European detective shows. Hilarious observations. Very well done.

  7. turcopolier says:

    Well, they are kids. Unfortunately their brain development will be adversely affected by our TV bilge as is the brain development of our young who, IMO are less educated and capable of thought than their ancestors. “Spiral” is titled “Engrenage” in French. pl

  8. cynic says:

    This article also illustrates another difference between American and European attitudes. Americans often refer to films while Europeans would refer to books. It is also often the case that it is more enjoyable and memorable to read the book on which a film is based rather than see the film, because that engages one’s own imagination.
    In addition to Camilleri’s ‘Montalbano’ books, I like Michael Dibdin’s ‘Aurelio Zen’ series and Donna Leon’s detective stories set in Venice are enjoyable.
    I wonder what effect the mobility of Americans has on their regional cultures, accents and loyalties. Is it all rapidly becoming homogenized? If circumstances become difficult would many Americans feel a primary loyalty to their state or region or ethnicity or religion of birth, or just to their immediate material interests?

  9. Ulenspiegel says:

    “Well, they are kids. Unfortunately their brain development will be adversely affected by our TV bilge as is the brain development of our young who, IMO are less educated and capable of thought than their ancestors.”
    No dispute here. Some of my daughter’s friends took part in a highschool student exchange with families in a New England town. They were shocked by the discrepancy between reality and TV. The BMI aspect was one. 🙂
    It is hard for teenagers to get a feeling for the reality in other countries with the high impact of TV. That own TV series, which sometimes are actually much better, become collateral damage is an ugly, but minor, side effect. The illusion that you can “learn” by TV is the real issue.

  10. Ulenspiegel says:

    older Europeans refer to books, teenagers are not that different. However, in central Europe you simply can not ignore other cultures, most countries are smaller than US states.
    Donna Leon was for my wife and me a disappointment: The books are better in the German translation than in the English original, usually it is the other way round. 🙁
    The selling point of US series is that they are in English. Most European series are only markable in an English version that reduces their appeal a lot.
    I watched my favourite Austrian crime series at the beginning with German subtitles to avoid loss of chracter but to understand the actors which sometimes spoke with a brutal Austrian dialect. 🙂

  11. sillybill says:

    It does seem like reading books is a dying practice.
    Homogenization of culture has been a very noticeable phenomenon in the US for quite a while. Some is due to the tendency of Americans to job jump all over the country. Almost everyone I know is from ‘somewhere else’. American corporations insist on their execs and skilled employees being able to move wherever they are most needed. Being in the military also encourages movement and resettling.
    Many if not most people like being around the familiar. Couple this with the desire of companies to make as much as possible with the smallest investment and national advertising, and you end up with radio stations playing the same thing coast to coast, the same restaraunts and store chains, hotel rooms look the same everywhere, nation wide food brands, the same movies playing everywhere, local book and hardware stores being replaced by big box stores, etc.
    There is however, a noticeable reaction against this phenomenon. The slow food movement, community radio stations, the incredible growth of community gardens and farmer’s markets, etc. One of the most noticeable is beer – over the last 15 years the entire face of American beer consumption has changed, small breweries are popping up everywhere, here in Asheville alone there are almost 3 dozen breweries (beer city USA!).
    But these are mostly reactions against the overall trend of corporate and national media driven homogenization.
    As far as loyalties during times of difficulty, I think they would vary wildly. People would do what they have always done – stick with the people they know best and can count on. In rural areas that would be their neighbors and church groups, county govt.
    In cities and suburbs many people barely know their neighbors because of all the mobility, I’m not sure what they would do. Confusion would reign.

  12. And auto chases minimized in favor of dialogue!

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think you are reading too much into this.
    US film & movie production is aiming at a global audience. Dialogue requires too much of an understanding of the nuances of the native idiom of North America by the rest of the world.
    Physical action, then, has to substitute for dialogue – intelligent or not so intelligent – to sell movies etc.
    Almost a hundred years ago, silent films relied on action to sell their product – and not dialogue. The supreme expression of that may be found in the movies of one Charlie Chaplin, trailed by those of Harold Lloyd’s.
    Chaplin used action to communicate comedy – to a vast global audience – including reigning monarchs and government leaders etc.
    A witty dialogue – say like the US TV series “House” – will be lost to anyone not having lived in US for decades.

  14. gnv233 says:

    I feel Montalbano is in a class by itself. The detective work (or is it some form of coreography?) seems a pretext for offering a complex society structure and interactions that makes Sicily both a mythical and yet a credible every day solid alternative.
    Thanks for your great post.

  15. YT says:

    “The acting that one sees upon the stage does not show how human beings comport themselves in crises, but how actors think they ought to.
    It is thus, like poetry and religion, a device for gladdening the heart with what is palpably not true.”
    — H L Mencken
    Ya, der Amerikaner ist Teenager Eternal.
    Prince Otto from Bismarck was right: they are children.
    (Apart from other less pleasant associations…)
    The high tempo adrenalin rush [on average every 5 – 10 min.] suits the needs of those who are addicts of violent sport & sugar-saturated soda pop (e.g. kool aid).
    Americans are ∴ de facto inheritors of Futurist dogma: worshippers of speed, technology, youth, & violence.
    Physically manifestations: the motorcar, the aeroplane, & the industrial city – I dub the “unholy trinity.”
    ∓ deemed “cool” & “hip” by the rest of the world due to the box office as well as DVD.
    While old people: ± depositories of Knowledge & Wisdom are (sadly) not…

  16. cynic says:

    I wonder if English will remain so popular as American influence gradually wanes. Will it still be desirable in itself, or useful as an intermediary lingua franca? Will better computer translations reduce the utility of an intermediary language?
    Is the mass media standardizing speech, or debasing it? In Britain the BBC radio and television initially promoted a ‘Received Pronunciation’ of ‘The Queen’s English’ or ‘BBC English’, and this is very evident in repeats of old broadcasts. However, from about the 1960’s regional accents became the fashionable replacement.Lefty education denigrated the idea that one way of doing something might be better than another. I think they even stopped teaching grammar. I met someone who taught German and French, and he said that he was not allowed to teach grammar!

  17. cynic says:

    When the populace has been mentally, morally, culturally and racially as well as materially homogenized, I expect there would not be many Robert E. Lee’s who would follow their States rather than their personal inclinations.
    Scenarios for a possible break up of the United States usually assume a division of interests into neat territorial blocs,rather than a patchwork of local preferences and predominances. In view of the homogenization of the population, I wonder whether old regional associations would be strong enough to prevail. On the other hand, does the continued existence of local States provide nucleii around which re-consolidation would occur? Why would each state not be at loggerheads with all its neighbours?

  18. Stephen J says:

    TTG, Reading your remarks made me realize I was wrong about MHZ programming having been carried on PBS stations. Their ‘International Mysteries’ program was carried by another station and up until early last year was still available here where I live about 100 miles south of the San Francisco Bay Area. I don’t think it’s even available via TV service in SF now. In any case the MHZ Choice subscription is the only option available hereabouts and it is a good one. Glad you still have it in Virginia.

  19. mbrenner says:

    Confirming “Spiral” which I just came across. Not super sophisticated but very well done. Question: some of the actors in these series are extraordinarily good – especially cameo roles (e.g. the “juge” in Spiral). Look them up and you discover that they usually have had marginal careers – there or over here (many speak English). Far better than even most of theHollywood ‘stars.” I guess that the select/career process must resemble that for national security advisers in Washington.

  20. mbrenner says:

    Some have a Spanish sub-titled version, I think. E.G. The Wire (American). Not on MHZ I suspect

  21. turcopolier says:

    Capitaine Laure Berthaud and her crew become very engaging after a while. pl

  22. turcopolier says:

    I would challenge all this business about the homogenization of the US population. I get out and around a bit and I think that homogenization is not occurring in flyover America. The people who support Trump are not being homogenized. Remember on this blog and on other American social media you are dealing with that group of people who have been somewhat homogenized. BTW, the states generally ARE at loggerheads. pl

  23. Stephen J,
    Looks like it’s available on cable in SF and that’s about it. Don’t know if that helps.

  24. pl,
    I agree about the non-homogenization of the US population, but I do see a homogenization of two sides of the US population largely due to cable news shows and talk radio. It’s either left/democrat/urban or right/republican/rural in orientation. Even Trump and Sanders fit into this dichotomy. Luckily, neither one of them are fully aligned with the Borg foreign policy agenda that is endorsed by both sides.

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Please see my comments below in reply to WRC.
    I do not find anything wrong with Kung-Fu movies or Samurai movies; Action-Adventure stories have been a popular genre of story-telling from very old times; remember the “Monkey King”? “All Men Are Brothers”?
    In Arabic & Persian you also have such things as the stories of “Antar”, “Samak Ayyar”, “Amir Hamza…” etc.

  26. turcopolier says:

    I agree about the division into left/right and urban/rural but the states and regions still retain distinctive cultural qualities and animosities. i.e., even the Virginia and Maryland suburbs of the Washington metro area dislike each other and the populations of these suburbs sort themselves instinctively. No greater example of the lack of real cultural integration could be found than the misadventures of Terry McCauliffe in his forlorn attempt to govern Virginia by Yankee political custom. pl

  27. charly says:

    Budget is very important. Dialogue is much cheaper than action and the budget for a European TV series is just much lower than for an American TV series so putting in more dialogue instead of action helps in making it possible.
    There is also a selection effect. Only “good” European TV series are shown in the US. The budget for TV series in Europe is to low to make a good action series so the action series that are made in Europe (like for instance Cobra 11) aren’t shown in the US

  28. Ulenspiegel says:

    For me Spiral was good because the “heroes” stumple from one disaster into the next like in real life and are usually not strictly black/white, there many shades of grey.
    I liked the US series “Shield” for the same reasons. The “bad” main character Vic, a corrupt cop, fighting for his family…

  29. Ulenspiegel says:

    Addendum: The BBC series “Case Histories” with a perfectly casted Jason Isaacs as former soldier and police officer, now private investigator has a nice mixture of a believeable share of action, good tempo, interesing cases and interesting characters, Edinburgh is a bonus too.

  30. Ulenspiegel says:

    “Chaplin used action to communicate comedy – to a vast global audience – including reigning monarchs and government leaders etc.”
    Yes, but the difference to modern productions is that action was for Chaplin or Keaton (watch “The General”) a tool that was applied with the correct metrum in order to deliver a message, in many modern films action is end in itself, and here US movies “shine”.

  31. Valissa says:

    “It’s either left/democrat/urban or right/republican/rural in orientation.”
    While I think that often is true as a generalization, and therefore true for the most part in Massachusetts as well. But in MA we are a bit of an oddity due to having so many independent (“unenrolled” in a party) voters, who occasionally get feisty with the establishment. Sometimes Republicans do well here, especially as governor. The current Republican governor is well liked and his poll numbers top most all the Democrats in office including the two senators. I think this is because he is competent and does a good job.
    Here’s an interesting article on Trump’s support among MA voters… he is expected to do well here.
    Trump’s victory lab – Massachusetts is a blue state, but it’s full of the voters Trump would need to notch a White House win. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/donald-trump-massachusetts-219804
    Recent polling suggests Trump is headed for a resounding victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday. A WBUR/MassInc poll out Friday morning puts Trump at 40 percent among likely GOP primary voters — far ahead of John Kasich and Marco Rubio’s 19 percent apiece. Among independents who are likely to vote in the GOP primary, Trump does even better, pulling in 42 percent. … Scott Brown, who endorsed Trump earlier this month, said Trump’s potential to pick up independents mirrors his own. “He’s starting to have a broader appeal,” he said.
    … “You’re looking at a state where independents outnumber Democrats and Republicans combined,” said Jim Roosevelt, a prominent Massachusetts Democratic activist and grandson of Franklin D. Roosevelt. “I think appeal to independents in Massachusetts will be an important gauge as to how seriously we take him in November.”
    btw, On March 1st I will be one of those unenrolled MA voters who walks into my precinct and becomes a Republican for 10 minutes so I can vote in the Republican primary for Trump. I will enjoy that! Though I’ll be voting 3rd party in November.

  32. SWIMBO and I observed an interesting example of regionalism recently. We stopped at a Cold Stone Creamery in Massaponax on a return trip from Richmond. Three young adults from the local area sat at a table next to ours discussing what movie they would with that evening. The young gentleman recalled a line from some movie and SWIMBO and I broke out in laughter. One of the women acknowledged us and we joined the conversation about movies. and the merits of “Pride, Prejudice and Zombies”. The young man mentioned that this was the second movie in a series started by “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.” The young man noted how the Lincoln film weaved its fantasy around real events of the WBS.
    And now to the point of the story.
    Near the end of our very odd conversation, the young man noted, “Too bad we lost that war.” He said this in a matter of fact manner, but with a note of sadness in his voice and face and in the faces of his two companions. These young people, in their late 20s, were deep down still Virginians and Southerners. We departed as friends although we will probably never see each other again. I’m very glad that homogenization has not drained these young people of their distinctive regionalism.

  33. YT says:

    I beg to differ, sir.
    Methinks you “pale-skins” (“Gringo,” “Farang,” etcetera) are still going to “lead” the “culture front” world-wide (be they “gahbage” or otherwise).
    Your natural height as well as built (hence a certain “aura”) & angular facial features somehow attracts foolish youth across the world to mimic trends from occident west.
    Not to mention many fool wenches all the way from former Dutch East Indies to Indian sub-continent much preferring having a white boy ’round them – a living & breathing equivalent of a Prada or Louis Vuitton.
    (Chink culture of mine fails to attract as many adherents/converts from other parts of the world.)
    Everybody laughs when they see Ginks or Chinks do sci-fi flicks.
    Nobody freaking makes fun of Keanu Reeves.
    What is wrong with these lefties?, I’m disappointed with ’em – ta think I was left-leaning in me early 20s…
    They are going to destroy what little good there is left (pun intended) of western culture.
    I fondly recall Rowan Atkinson in “Black Adder” – more impressed I was than with ‘global idiot’ “Mr. Bean.”
    The strength of English shall stay for many decades to come (evidenced by mere statistics that there are more mainland Chinks studying your lingo than the entire population of your Albion isles).
    Your worries IMHO are simply displaced…

  34. YT says:

    Aye, sir.
    But we instruct our youth in Morality with our film from your Mid East to the Far East.
    What does hollywood “instruct” besides “loose” sex & violence?

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Very good points.
    “Talk is cheap…” as the saying goes!

  36. YT says:

    Sir, I’m a little sad that the South lost more than just the War.
    I’ve been “informed” that a large portion of Southern Customs & Traditions (as well as History) are now lost as well with the subsequent Yankee occupation…

  37. turcopolier says:

    Trump’s nomination will be the South’s ultimate vengeance. He is going to sweep most of the states of the Confederacy. His support in the rest of the country would not give him what he needs. The South will give him victory on Super Tuesday. Yes, some Southern identity has disappeared under the onslaught of propaganda and immigration but even as that happens there are those like TTG and many others here who have been assimilated into the local cultural matrix. Yankees have been telling themselves since the 1830s that the South as a distinct cultural area does not exist. When Malaniya Trump is re-decorating the White House remember how much difference the solid support of the South made to his success. pl

  38. Croesus says:

    M Brenner, a group has been meeting at the Shaler branch of CLPgh to learn to speak Italian. Once each month they watch Italian detective movies (w/ English subtitles). They’re viewing Fog and Crimes presently http://shop.mhznetworks.org/DVD-Fog-and-Crimes-Series-1.html
    The description for Season 1, with mention of the conflicts over “old wounds left over from WWII” reminded me of (former mayor of Rome) Walter Veltroni’s “The Discovery of Dawn.”
    Thanks for this essay.

  39. Croesus says:

    I surely would like to know if there are still Old Europe ethnic enclaves in the USA, like there were in pre-WWI / WWII era and even the next generation. Are there still “Little Italys,” and Chinatowns, and heavily German regions? Are there discernible voting patterns among those groups and regions, or have they lost ethnic identity and, indeed, become homogenized into inchoate “left” and “right,” conservative and liberal.

  40. Cortes says:

    When Mrs C and I split about a decade ago I was glad to leave TV behind.
    US writers like Ed McBain, Walter Mosley, Joseph Wambaugh, John D MacDonald and George Pelecanos have all produced series capable of TV series. I’m ten years out of date, but know from conversations with my daughter of The Wire and Sopranos. Commissioners of Programming are the problem it seems to me.
    US authors deserve better.

  41. Valissa says:

    There are a number of ethnic groups in MA, but my knowledge of their voting patterns is limited. However I will attempt to answer your question best as I can. The older style of ethnic enclaves may not be around any more, but there are still enclaves of a sort. We have a North End in Boston that’s the Italian section but I don’t know anything about their voting patterns though I would expect that their being Catholic sometimes effects their vote (also those of Irish ancestry, a large ethnic group in MA). Our most common immigrants now are Brazilians so several large Brazilian communities, especially in Framingham, but I am not knowledgeable about their voting patterns either. We have several large communities of Portuguese-Americans in the state, especially in the fishing industry. Gov’t fishing regulations do effect that voting group.
    My town is noted for it’s large Armenian population, and is the hub for the greater Boston Armenian community. When Scott Brown first ran for the senate the Armenians voted for him instead of their typical support for Democrats because…
    “The Armenian-American community is understandably hesitant about supporting a candidate after the inexcusable manner in which President Obama and his administration broke his long-standing campaign promise to properly acknowledge the Armenian genocide,” Nazarian said in the Armenian Weekly on Jan. 16.
    “Why did so many Massachusetts Armenians, including myself, vote for the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Scott Brown? Because, we are primarily frustrated with President Obama breaking his pledge to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, and the White House decreasing U.S. aid to Armenia,” another Armenian-American, Berge Jololian, said Jan. 19 on the newspaper’s blog. “Our votes will deprive Obama and his Democratic Party the critical 60 votes in the Senate.” http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=massachusetts-vote-seen-as-armenian-punishment-for-obama-2010-01-22

  42. Mark Logan says:

    Whatever is causing it, it’s getting worse. A legislature (and not the first) considering forcing schools credit computer coding as a foreign language:

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think I have only seen two instance of a Euro-American female married to a Han.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Korean Sci-Fi movie, “Cho-Soen”, was good; check it out.

  45. rjj says:

    increase sample size. revise sampling strategy.
    …. EVERYBODY makes fun of keanu reeves.

  46. mbrenner says:

    Stronly recommend Fog and Crimes, too. That’s where Natasha Stephanenko appears. The first in the series is the least interesting (and lacks Natasha) so don’t be discouraged

  47. mbrenner says:

    The citing of highlight shows would not be complete without noting KABOUL KITCHEN – a French spoof of life in the Afghan capital under American/Karzai occupation. It is set in a hotel/bar/restaurant run by a loony Frenchman for Western expatriates. Its humor is on the slapstick side; the show is essentially a series of sketches. The Afghans playing Afghans are the real scene stealers (other than the American military officials/officers). I expect that they’re all on the Taliban short list for “re-education – that is, those who have not already met their unjust reward or are living in Dubai.

  48. edding says:

    Mr. Brenner, Thanks for the great article. One minor point: while you included Alain Delon’s Frank Riva series, you omitted Fabio Montale, which is even better, and is based the series of crime novels of that same police inspector by Jean Claude Izzo.

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