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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Columns I Never Finished

November 6, 2020

Many hours were spent this year counting words, seeking the magical 600 to justify calling it a column. Strident calls from the White House interrupted this process repeatedly, demanding that our columnist Stop The Count. Here is what survives.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

Courthouse News columnist Robert “the jackanapes” Kahn spent many hours this year counting words, seeking the magical 600 to justify calling it a column. He was interrupted repeatedly by strident calls from the White House, demanding that he Stop The Count.
Here is what survives.

We Shall Overcome

Here’s the protest I’d like to see: Millions of white men and women in blackface, marching in the streets with their hands up, toward police, with our black brothers and sisters, all across the nation, names of murder victims hanging around our necks, chanting: “Shoot me! I can’t breathe.” As we advance upon the police. What would the police do then?

We live in a video culture. How would they know whom to shoot?

This column could end here. In fact, it will.

How would they know who to shoot?

The Joys and Terrors of Incompetence

Bad writing can be good. Beethoven, in the mood, loved bad music. He wrote some pieces for a really bad quintet that played at the Three Ravens tavern, just outside the Vienna walls. The cats couldn’t believe it when the famous Beethoven presented them with his dance tunes. 

The Maestro, still able to hear, took a seat and called for a beer and enjoyed himself as they butchered his music.

Beethoven is my favorite human being — that poor guy. I resort to him always when in disgrace in fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, and look upon myself and curse my fate.

Because, after all, look at Beethoven. The greatest, and most famous, pianist in Europe realized he was becoming deaf at 32. He had to give up performing — his life’s, and wallet’s, heartblood — but continued to compose when he was deaf as a stone, and wrote the most intensely emotional, and intellectually challenging, and satisfying, music the world has ever known — and probably ever will know — though he could hear it only in his head.

Why do I bring this up today?

Because Beethoven never whined about his life.

He did his job.

A Simple Test

When a church turns from trying help some people to trying to hurt others, it ain’t a church any more, right? Or is it?

Dear America

Dear America,

How’s that laissez faire against the pandemic working out for you? Do you feel better off than you were six months ago?

An Old Cliché

There’s an old 12-step cliché: “Thank god that all of us are not sick at the same time.” I wish I could say that about that United States today, but I don’t think I can.

Mark Twain Tonight

In a speech at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on Dec. 12, 1900,Mark Twain introduced Winston Churchill to Andrew Carnegie, and that crowd, by asking why they should want to listen to a man who had just committed war crimes in South Africa — as Twain’s own country had just done in the Philippines.

Twain introduced Churchill, genially, to the most powerful men in the United States, as a war criminal, and accused his own country of the same. Then Twain sat down to see how Churchill liked it.

Churchill, Andrew Carnegie and that crowd laughed it off, because their accuser was, after all, just a humorist.

Ha, ha! How backward those people were … laughing it off … back then.

Shine, Perishing Republic
by Robinson Jeffers

… shine, perishing republic.

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening

center; corruption

Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there

are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,

insufferable master.

The World’s Biggest Crybaby
by Robert Kahn

So, looks like it’s all over but the incessant whining …

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