Brexit: Blame It on Angry Old Men

Most Europeans I chatted with before the Brexit referendum were far more worried about Donald Trump than the Brexit vote.    Now that “reality” has set in, most everyone is second-guessing themselves and wondering how such a silly election ploy by Cameron could have backfired so tragically.

My own view of the impact of the Brexit referendum is far more pedestrian than most.

UK opts for bangers and mash


Even though the UK will be cheaper for tourists, I dread eating pub fare, even though young Europeans commonly refer to them as “gastropubs.”

Blame It on Angry Old Men

While there are no doubt many reasons why UK voters decided to say au revoir to the European Union, I am struck by the attack on “angry old men,” who Jochen Bittner blames for the game-changing vote:

“The British vote feels momentous, but we will most likely look back at it as merely the first in a series of fights for the soul of Europe. The outpouring of anger and anti-establishment aggression in Europe has only begun. The next countries where the political bulldozers see their chances to act out their long-kept lust for demolition are the Netherlands and France.

“We can no longer think of reconciliation between the opposing views of destruction and progress. The angry old men will not be mollified, their xenophobia cannot be controlled or channeled into constructive cooperation. We, the young, the future of Europe, must push back. Too much time has been lost already.”

Other political pundits cite the views of old people as cause for the unsettling vote, but frankly many of my aging British friends were bitterly opposed to a break from their continental neighbors.

I have no way of knowing whether there are more “angry old men” than “angry young men” in Europe, but taking the good with the bad seems to me to be simply a part of the democratic process.  With gender, ethnic and religious intolerance plaguing almost every phase of rigorous intellectual debate, I would hate to see “age” raised as yet another barrier why people of good will simply can’t get along.

George Washington’s Advice to Alexander Hamilton

George Washington said to Alexander Hamilton (at least according to Lin-Manuel Miranda) that “Winning is easy young man, governing is harder.”  We  need to see what the citizens of Britain and other countries in the European Union do going forward.   Nevertheless, blaming “angry old men” for the plight of the young is far too simple an explanation.

Brexit: A Humorous Perspective

I don’t have a vote in Thursday’s referendum on whether the UK will leave the European Union, but I wish I did.  Sadly, our Revolutionary forefathers decided to breakup with England in the traditional “American way” with guns and violence.  In fact, our bold Colonial behavior was not even protected by the Second Amendment.

Fortunately, our Revolutionaries didn’t need assault weapons to deal with the over-matched Red Coats.

I don’t have a dog in this fight (actually dogfighting is illegal – suggesting that U.S. dogs are better protected by our government than its people). Nevertheless, I am glad to see that the Brits haven’t lost their sense of humor despite an appalling act of violence against one Labor MP. Fortunately, English thugs tend to confine their anti-social behavior to the football pitch.

As the Brexit referendum and U.S. primaries suggest: Democracy is somewhat overrated – i.e the governing establishment doesn’t like it. Hopefully, common sense will prevail, but they don’t teach common sense or cursive writing in U.S. schools anymore. Viva la Revolución!

National Music Festival in Chestertown, MD

The National Music Festival at Washington College at Chestertown, MD is clearly one of the best kept secrets on the eastern coast. Thanks to a gracious invitation from our friends, the Reynolds of Maiden Lot Farm, Sheila and I were able to attend this delightful cultural adventure and rub elbows with people who make melodious sounds.

Talented musicians from around the world gather in this bucolic setting for two weeks to train and THEN entertain an appreciate audience with music that ranges from small duets playing music from 18th century composers to Japanese folk songs “reinterpreted” by a classical guitarist to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with 3 choral groups.

Some 120 young classically trained artists are competitively selected to attend a two-week bootcamp with roughly 70 hand-picked mentors and then pushed hard to perform in a series of public small ensembles and a full orchestra. Learning Beethoven’s 9th in a week is no easy feat, but we were treated to a nearly perfect and riveting performance. The musicians looked exhausted, but enthusiastically embraced the challenge.

Kurt Weill

While nearly everything comes off without a hitch, I was drafted into the orchestra at the last moment (see image above) to replace a sick guitarist in Kurt Weill’s “The Seven Deadly Sins.”  Fortunately, it was a small part, but I had an opportunity after the performance to “jam” with my new found banjo buddy Don Vappie, who was playing beside me.

I was a little rusty on the guitar, but after a few drinks I was able to keep up with Don and the rest of his Creole crew.

Actually, it was the talented Brazilian guitarist Camilo Carrara who performed in Kurt Weill’s symphony – NOT ME!

As far as “jamming” with Don Vappie is concerned, Sheila and I attended a lovely evening of music which featured a selection of Creole jazz with several young musicians who have never played this genre of music before. Nevertheless, they seemed to grow in confidence during the performance. I was particularly impressed by a shy clarinet player.

Mr. Vappie is a charming and helpful mentor to these young artists and kindly talked the audience through the history of Creole music and its influence on Jazz and improvisation. It was an evening that I will not soon forget.

While every performance has its own special elements, my favorite was a concert performed at the Mainstay in Rock Hall by Camilo Carrara and Friends. For those unfamiliar with the Mainstay, it was a favorite venue of acclaimed jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd who first introduced Bossa Nova into the U.S. in the 1950s.

Camilo, seen in the video above, kicked off an eclectic mix of music that ranged from Japanese lullabies adapted for the guitar, to a quintet playing Boccherini and even Bluegrass music where Camilo starred with the Lions of Bluegrass.

My favorite piece was a lovely duet with talented flutist, Jennifer Parker-Harley. Jennifer is a mentor from the University of South Carolina. She accompanied Camilo in a moving piece, Sicilienne by Maria Theresa von Paradis. Maria Theresa was blind at the age of 5, but that didn’t prevent her from becoming an accomplished composer in 18th century Vienna. Jennifer informed me that that Jacqueline du Pré often performed the Sicilienne as an encore.

If you want to get involved to support this wonderful event, CLICK HERE so we can continue to encourage these fine young musicians.  Let’s keep the music alive.