May 2010

Enchanted by a Hungarian love story

By Art Goodtimes

LOVE WITH PAPRIKA … Maria Molnar wrote this romantic tale of pre- WWII Hungary back in 1958 with the aid of her daughter, Ava Heinsrichdorff — a dear friend of mine who lives in Colorado Springs. She gave me a copy of the book at the end of last year. And, this week, stuck home with a bad cold, I soon found myself devouring the story. But why would I do a review of a book that’s half-a-century old? … Two reasons, really. One, I couldn’t find a review of it on-line, anywhere. And two, it is one of the most charming, delightfully written stories I’ve read in years. It’s a love story, tracking the memories of a young woman coming of age in a lively upperclass family in rural Hungary back in the 1930s. The characters are memorable, so striking as to come leaping off the page. The cast is Magyar to the core and full of the mutual reciprocities of the old landlord/ peasant social structure when it worked (which wasn't always, but it certainly appears to in this tale). The scene in which the returning Russian husband of the family cook is rescued from gendarmes intent on hanging him as a spy reveals nobility in everyone involved (except the gendarmes) … Really, the book is all about amour in its many and sometimes contradictory guises. Agápe, éros, philía, and storge, as the Greeks would say. And it bursts with that Hungarian passion and flair for life that often breaks out in dance and song, spontaneously, unleashed by both men and women. The writing is lovely, almost luscious in its descriptions. The dialogue quite captivating, spare and unique to each character ... Invariably entertaining, but with a deeper intent, Molnar brings the reader to a profound understanding of love, not by lecturing, but by captivating us with all these many reflections of love sought, love found, love lost, and love changed. A dazzling read. (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1958) … Highly recommended.

THE TALKING GOURD

Chinese Mountains

for Dolores

that's what she called it
her favorite rendezvous
in the silvery San Juans

not wanting to draw
attention to something
she relished

thick spruce
rock spires
high alpine hoodoos

drenched
in a calligraphy
of mist

took us there
as hunter/gatherers
of earth wisdom

telling bardic tales
around a small fire
our voices smoky

& wild
in the deep
starry sky

HEALTH CARE … Some folks have prophesied that this new government program will be the death of the Republic. Insurance-corporation ads have said nothing good will come of the proposed reform. And others have already begun ceremoniously throwing tea overboard … But I, for one, am proud that my U.S. Rep. John Salazar (and both my senators) voted for the bill that will, in the Third Congressional District … Improve coverage for 362,000 Colorado residents with existing health insurance … Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 184,000 families and 24,400 small businesses to help them afford coverage … Improve Medicare for 106,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole … Extend coverage to 105,500 uninsured residents … Guarantee that 18,600 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage … Protect 900 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs … Allow 57,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans … Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 35 community health centers … Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $84 million annually … Nope, it wasn’t a perfect bill. Government is an imperfect union, as President Obama is fond of saying. But it’s a damn good start … Now let’s start thinking how to tweak and improve what’s been approved.

PAUL STAMETS … Confirmed as Mushfest headliner for the 30th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival this summer, the mycowizard CEO of Fungi Perfecti will join mycologist & psychonaut Gary Lincoff, founder Manny Salzman, Elinoar Shavit, John Winslow, Daniel Winkler, Fungi magazine’s Britt Bunyard, David Rose and many more fungophiles … Aug. 26 to the 29th. At the Galaxy Theater and Elks Park … Parade on Saturday at 5 p.m. Costumes a must! SWOS …Got to speak about politics for a class at Cortez’s Southwest Open School — I love the energy there. I try to make it down there at least once a year. The teachers are hard-working and dedicated. The kids are awesome. Some have been hurt. Some still have a chip on their shoulder. But when they ask you a question, it’s a real question. I love coming there to share what I know and learn from what the kids there know well.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN … The editorial in the April edition calls for Congress to give federal agencies greater authority to test and regulate chemicals. Why? Because of disasters like bisphenol A or BPA. It’s what they put in plastic as a building block back in the 1890s. In the ’30s, it was identified as a mimic of estrogen that would bind to receptors like the natural female hormone. It wasn’t until the ’90s that BPA was found to be an endocrine disruptor, and was soon linked to asthma, cancers, diabetes, heart disease and obesity … This past January the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning for parents not to put hot liquids into plastic baby bottles, particularly if scratched … It turns out low doses of BPA could be as dangerous as high doses … It turns out that “of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the U.S., only five have been restricted or banned. Not five percent, five chemicals … The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA by-products in their urine … The European Union has generated a list of suspected chemicals that need to be tested for human toxicity. Scientific American editorializes for strengthening the Toxic Substances Control Act with much-needed enforcement reforms. It sounds like something every American ought to pay attention to.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.