European Diary

Up and Down in Palermo

The American billionaire Elon Musk, lately much in the news on account of his ambition to send apple pie, solar energy, Pay­Pal, and Ninja Turtles to other planets in our galaxy, was once a cash-strapped college student.  The experience, as he boasted to the Los Angeles Times, had taught him frugality:

“I tried various experiments to live on less than $1 a day without getting scurvy,” he said with a chuckle.  “You can cook spaghetti sauce with, like, a third of a green pepper, or buy a thing of sausages and a loaf of bread to make hot dogs for 25 or 30 cents apiece.”

What sort of civilization, I invite the reader to speculate, will Musk be exporting to the remoter extremities of the solar system?  What sort of olive and what manner of vine will this Roman colonist of the new millennium be planting throughout a future United States of Solaria, for future generations of compatriots to husband and cherish?  Like, a thing of sausages?  Inevitably, his advice to the indigent made me think of Nat King Cole.

Cole, as far as I’m concerned, had but one masterwork in his entire singing career, a song he recorded roughly at Musk’s cash-strapped age.  Basically, “Calypso Blues” is a comparison of the buying power of a dollar in America and the singer’s native Trinidad: “Fine...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here