Sunday, April 11, 2010

The top five 80s songs about foreign places

We live in a list-crazy society. Long, drawn-out lists are pretty much the only thing that airs on VH1. At the end of the year, newspapers became almost unreadable because of all the lists about top stories of the year filling those gaping news holes. The good news (pun?) is that the papers will be dead in a few years so that won’t be a problem any more (I kid, I kid. I love newspapers and think they’ll be around for at least 20 more years). If someone comes up with a thought-provoking well-reasoned article, nobody will read it. If all those nuggets of information are picked apart and put in list format, everyone will. It's just the way things are.

Here’s my contribution to the ADD generation with a list that hasn’t been done before, at least according to a quick Google search. Not just the best songs from the 1980s. Not just the best songs about foreign places, either. Rather, this is the best of both worlds: the top 80s songs about foreign places.

Honorable mentions
Istanbul by They Might Be Giants: It’s technically a cover, and conflicting information says that the song came out in either 1989 or 1991. Still, it’s a great song and was immortalized in an episode of Tiny Toons.

Jerusalem by Alphaville: The lyrics are a bit incomprehensible, like many of the German band’s songs, but still pretty powerful. I’m not Jewish and I’ve never been to Israel, but for some reason this song fills me with nationalistic pride for the country.

Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses: This song doesn’t exactly fit the criteria of the list, although I suppose it can be argued that it does. All I know is that I've never been where both the grass is green and the girls are pretty.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poland Has Not Yet Succumbed

When I think of the Katyn Forest massacre, I find it hard to imagine a time time when something so catastrophic could happen.

Quick history lesson: When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Russia did the same. Theeir goal was to slice up the country, with bits going to the German invaders and other parts going to their communist allies. Everyone knows about the horrific crimes committed by Poland’s western neighbors, but few seem to know about what the nation on the east did.

In Poland, able-bodied people are required to serve in military. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professor, a lawyer, an artist or a factory worker. The most educated people – the leaders of society – are typically the officers. When World War II broke out, the fighting Polish soldiers came from all walks of life since they weren’t volunteers.

In 1940, 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were executed by Russian authorities. I’m not saying one of these events is worse than the other, but here are some other massive tragedies for comparison. On 9/11/01, 2,752 people were killed in the World Trace Center. In Pearl Harbor, 2,350 people died. In the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history, 6,821 American troops were killed. About 18,000 Japanese also perished.