Right now I am watching Australian TV and listening to a Chinese Violinist playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons while viewing scenes from New York City, and just now the scenes switched to Finland and a Finnish man first continuing the Vivaldi and then going into some local fiddle playing that resembles US Country music.  Now the scenes shift to Lapland and Ice Fishing, reindeer pulling sleds, and scenes redolent of the last 3 minutes of the Sunday Morning TV Program founded by Charles Kuralt.  

This is one of the moments when I love Vietnamese TV as compared to those when they decide to throw in commercials and obliterate the last 15 minutes of the movie, A FEW GOOD MEN.  The program ends with more Vivaldi and a beautiful Chinese girl making a violin do what it was created to do–make beautiful music.

Australian TV has some really boring programs–political discussion groups, police dramas without anything interesting happening, and cooking shows demonstrating how to cook boring food.  Every once in a while they come up with a show like NOT QUITE ART  or  THE NEW INVENTORS.  The first show is on now, and they are doing a walk-thru of a Melbourne neighborhood showing “Tagging”, or Graffiti or Wall Art. The moderator even tries to show us what the artist was portraying and the meaning thereof.  They call it Street Art, and here’s an old brick wall covered with framed old pictures, and the tourists who photograph this for lack of anything interesting in and around Melbourne.  The art is eclectic, with amazing ingenuity that is redolent of Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollack,  as well as collages featuring stuck-on forms of art.  It really makes the streets into galleries, and the program questions whether a gallery per se is really necessary.

There are the rare moments in American TV like SUNDAY MORNING and 60 MINUTES when one’s mind is actually pushed into wakeful excitement, but they are few.  Here, in Vietnam, I can turn on TV and see Chinese Opera, Vietnamese Opera, Vietnamese Drama, Vietnamese Variety Shows which remind me of the worst days of Ed Sullivan or Sid Caesar. At times we slip into the muck of watching The Dog Whisperer, but then on the same National Geographic Channel we are treated to an explanation of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity that makes sense and is comprehensible. It is these moments when I feel happy and excited to be alive here and now, and a bit sad that one of these days I’m going to be ashes on the Eastern Sea. 

I wonder if I’ll hear the water music.


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