Provocations with an unpredictable outcome are fraught with quarrels. You just pour a spoonful of salt into a guest’s tea glass, and a minute of hearty laugh will cost you many days of scorn. It’s clear even to an idiot that what arouses anger is not so much a salted tea as the intention to play a dirty trick on your neighbor. So you don’t have to get puzzled if you bring a bitch in heat together with a male dog or drive spiders into a jar – in other words, if you deliberately trigger a chain of quite expected events. The same happens at TV talk shows, when an attempt is made to clarify an absolutely clear thing. For example, do nationalists and communists love Lenin and Bandera, respectively? Almost every Ukrainian village answered this burning question long ago, and villagers try not to invite their “commies” and “Banderaites” to the same table, for they are sure to come to blows even if they have not had a drop too much. Of course, the wild temper of TV studios is incomparable to rural pastorals. Every forelock torn out before the camera is like an audience award – it carries high ratings, publicity, and all the rest that is carefully calculated. The only limitation is the pitch of passions. It is bad taste at talk shows to lower it to the level of cockfighting. For it is not the thirst of blood that causes powdered-up newsmakers to come under the studio’s scorching floodlights. They come to speak and argue about some important things, but the program format has the better of them. In this case, hearing the scream of an excited rival, very few “golden combed cocks” will resist pecking in reply. This is the basis of a plot.
Cockfighting is out of fashion now. For it is inhumane to play on the genetic code of the already doomed birds. The spirit of cockfighting is vanishing, like tobacco smoke, into thin air, and there are almost no public places left, where domination-thirsty individuals throw feathers in the wind. They do not bring together, for a spectacular effect, the Israeli Right and Palestinian fighters, the Spanish Phalanx and the Basque ETA, British conservatives and IRA veterans… There are so many extreme flanks in every European country, not to mention the other continents. Emotions in a studio may well splash over to the streets, for everybody has fans to support him. Television hosts are supposed to benefit from increasing the mass of center in the studio, i.e., the number of political parties’ delegates capable of cooperating with or at least hearing one another. Of course, this will require a more representative audience and lots of troubles to prepare and direct the show. Cockfighting is much easier. You just pit the historical antagonists beak to beak, and the spectacle will go on its own right to its culmination. I say it again that not all conflicts in TV studios occur with malice aforethought on the part of hosts. Sometimes they just want to take it easy. Life is itself a cockfight, and there are cocks of all the colors of the political spectrum galore here.
GRILLED CHICKEN OR STEWED CUCKOO CHICK?
Continuing the subject of the feathered feeders of our body and soul, we cannot miss Texas Chicken. In the image of a Russian company cutely named European Active Corporation, it is going to spread its tail on the Dniproside hills. This means Kyivites will have some more fast food outlets. At first glance, we are supposed to rejoice at investments if not in dollars then in the shape of grilled drumsticks and adorn the commerce chamber’s facade with a worldwide trademark. But this brings to mind another fast food chain whose name begins with “M.” Almost as old as our independence, it still continues to bring 40 percent of its menu from abroad. For example, it has set up vegetable greenhouses in Russia, which keep sending us their produce. The economy cannot possibly benefit from a franchise, in which we give them converted “greenery” and they supply us with lettuce leaves. I only wish a similar lot wouldn’t befall Texas Chicken. It may just thumb its nose at our Havrylivski Kurchata, Nasha Riaba, and others who want to make their way onto their compatriots’ tables, and that’s it – we’ll be sucking the legs of birds from Wild West or East. To avert mishaps, it would be good if people knew the names of not only those who arrive in this country but also those who receive them on the market which is ours so far, even though it is about fast food.
EDINBURGHAND BRUSSELS: ANY RHYME OR REASON?
Our international economic song defies comparison with the political one – it is the hit of a season now. I mean the speech our Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara delivered at Ukraine 2013 Expert Forum. It is just the place that reveals the true horizons of global-scale changes. Firstly, Kozhara claims that EU impact is dwindling in all fields, while the role of small countries, such as Qatar, is on the rise. Casting a sagacious look at the dying Europe, Mr. Kozhara pictures Edinburgh as the Old Word’s new center. He does not explain why he tips the capital of Scotland for this role but, instead, he very precisely describes the whereabouts of Ukraine within the borders of the continent named after a Phoenician queen. It turns out that Europe “does not end on the boundary of the Donbas and Sloboda Ukraine – it embraces a vast space from the Atlantic to Istanbul, the Urals, and the Caucasus.” A daring statement of geographical and political factors, isn’t it? Our fatherland’s maneuver is clearer now. We are not going to Brussels on our own: we will go the Edinburgh summit together with Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Turkey. For Brussels not to agonize about its shrinking influence, Mr. Kozhara makes a diplomatic show of respect, as courtesy would demand, calling the EU this continent’s most influential association which can – in theory, not in practice, – serve as a model for our domestic reforms. The point is that 74 percent of Russians are taking a good attitude to Ukrainians, and we must not let our Slavic congeners down. “And, besides, both Russia and Ukraine are right to feel themselves as part of the same civilization,” the minister says, which, of course, does not rule out our movement aside – to other parts of the Romance-Germanic and Anglo-Saxon worlds. The minister spelled out the choice of civilization in no uncertain terms. And, to finally dispel any doubts, he summed up in the Aesopian language: “Skovoroda used to say: ‘Let us thank merciful God who made necessary things simple and complicated things unnecessary’.” Knowing how hard and slowly we are moving closer to the European Union, we can easily catch a providential message from above: why on earth do you need all this membership fuss?