I remember an evening sitting through one of those ghastly, self-righteous arguments about the Vietnam War that seemed to plague any attempt at serious conversation in the 1970s. The wild-eyed beard next to me showed no interest whatsoever and seemed to regard all the hot air as little […]
The first thing you notice in this village on the Scheldt Estuary east of the port city of Antwerpen is the shops, restaurant, and hotel–there aren’t any. Anything that resembles a civic structure is boarded-up and ready for demolition. Then you notice that the only other human beings […]
Waffles are yet another example, along with modern beer, French Fries, and the saxophone, of how Belgium has been slowly and quietly conquering the civilized world.
The original Orient Express started running in 1881 from Paris to Istanbul via the northern, Romanian route (Paris-München-Wien-Budapest-București-Istanbul). After World War I, the southern route substituted Belgrade-Sofia for București to bypass the worst of the Balkan political mayhem. After growing up with Agatha Christie (Murder On the Orient Express), Graham Greene (Stamboul Train), and Ian […]
It was the bloodthirsty celebrity matchup the world had been waiting for. Not until El Alamein in 1942 would the world see a more anticipated and personalized battle than Waterloo. That earlier conflict, on 18 June, 1815, pitted the invincible French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte against Arthur Wellesley, the brilliant […]
Here we help the city of Dinant celebrate the birth of its favorite son Adolphe Saxe, who first patented the saxophone on 28 June, 1846. The Belgian musician was a human catastrophe who survived falls, poisoning, drowning, burning, explosions, two bankruptcies, and—most tellingly—lip cancer, only to die in abject poverty […]
For people who bemoan the state of US politics, Belgium provides an instructive example. The usual Left, Center, and Right political parties are each divided by ethnicity into French Wallon and Flemish, producing six major enduring parties and a host of splinters. Things get so bad that the […]