Train Reading Across Austria

On the train to Kitzbuhel, I parked myself on the wide leather seats of the first class car, thanks for Rail Europe, who hooked me up with a Eurail pass days before I left. As I settled in and turned on the iPod, the conductor approached with a stack of Austrian newspapers. I declined, thanking him but unable to read them in German. He came back with a NY Times section in English from Der Standard. As we passed lazy cows and chalets with full flower boxes, I read about a discovery in Stonewall Mississippi–a huge swimming pool that was filled in with red dirt at the onset of integration back in the ’70s.

It seems that the locals were fearful of such a level of integration, of black and white kids literally mixing in the pool, so they filled the 30 meter by 9 meter pool in with Mississippi dirt. Recently a developer poking around in the ground found the fancy blue tile of the forgotten oasis, and he’s spent $25,000 to dig it up and restore it. So next summer black and whites can mix in the steamy setting of Stonewall.

Then it was on to another feature about actress Ellen Barkin. She recently got a $20 million divorce from billionaire Revlon chair Ronald Perelman, and was left with about $15 million in jewels he had bestowed on her during their marraige. One piece in fact, he gave her two months before he surprised her by sending his lawyers with the news that he wanted a divorce, and security guards escorted her unceremoniously from the marital townhouse. So she’s getting even by selling them at Christy’s. You’d think that she’d donate them to charity, or do something more noble than keep all that cash, on top of the 20 mill. But hey, who knows, maybe she will.