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    People I must write to/Bills I must pay

    It should be obvious by this point that I just kind of stop posting for weeks now and then, but I’m still grateful to those who’ve dropped a line to ask what’s up. Nothing in particular–except, perhaps, that my currently working as a translator considerably lowers the motivation to use free time to search out interesting Japanese news and translate it. And now that cherry blossom season is over there’s kind of a dead space for seasonal poetry.

    There’s never a dead space for political idiocy, however, and Sweden resident Michael Moynihan pounces on some from a recent episode of The Daily Show:

    Not a particularly funny bit, considering the available material, but a few points about the total awesomeness of Swedish social democracy and the show’s but-we’re-only-joking case for the Swedish model. (They are, after all, making a serious political point in an unserious way.) Cenac’s interview with ex-Abba frontman Björn Ulvaeus, during which he attempts to get him to admit that the song “Money, Money, Money” is a paean to American capitalism, leaves one with the impression that the millionaire songwriter is rather pleased with his country’s glorious socialist history. Well, no.

    In 2007, the Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported that governent “authorities claim[ed] Ulvaeus, using the services of a tax haven company, concealed millions in music production income to avoid paying taxes.” DN points out that “Since 1990 Ulvaeus royalties have been collected in a Dutch company, now known as Fintage. The company made a deal with the tax haven company Stanove, on the Dutch Antilles, to transfer 95% of [Abba’s] royalties there.” And avoid giving it to a mother desperately in need of a second year of maternity leave.

    Nor is this a new issue for Ulvaeus. In 1982, before the Social Democratic Party returned to power on promises of soaking the rich, the Christian Science Monitor reported that Abba’s manager Stig Anderson was “deeply concerned by the threat of a Socialist takeover of his [business] empire. ‘If we had had these funds today, we would have been forced this year to part with about $US2.16 million…Why should I continue to work 14-15 hours a day to give money away like this?…We don’t want to leave Sweden. Our roots are here. We have our friends here. I intend to stay here and fight these funds even if the Social Democrats are elected. But if it becomes impossible, of course it would be very easy for us to move out.'”

    All of this is, of course, just an excuse to indulge my recent ABBA jag. Here the four are performing the song from which I’ve snagged the title for this post:

    Some child-of-the-’70s observations: Agnetha looks like a Cheryl Ladd who might actually pull a gun and waste you if need be. And Benny has exactly the same mannerisms at the piano as Christine McVie–from the little smile to the way the hair moves. And look at how tiny those microphones are! They were cutting edge, they were. And tell me you’ve every seen anyone look as fierce in a quilted jacket as Frida.

    Bjorn doesn’t seem to be doing much; he just kind of reminds me of Dana Carvey.

    Lest you think I’ve forgotten about Japan, here’s another performance for Japanese TV from the same period:

    Can you imagine any production getting away with such a static set and nonexistent choreography today–especially when there’s not even any pretense that the band is performing live? Nowadays, poor Agnetha and Frida would have been rehearsed to within an inch of their lives, and there’d have to be something projected on the wall behind that arc-balloon thing.

    Added later: Oops–I think Moynihan has permanent residency in Sweden but now lives in DC. At least, he does if his bio at Reason.com is updated.

    3 Responses to “People I must write to/Bills I must pay”

    1. Charlie says:

      Thanks for article. Everytime like to read you.

    2. Maria says:

      Sean, for some reason I’m not getting the photo links from your posting. I just have giant white spaces… :-(

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks, Charlie. :)

      Maria, what was embedded was a YouTube video; you’re probably using a computer on which they’re blocked, but I can send you the regular old links if you like.

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