Belgium breaking up? Who gets the beer?

Town Hall in Leuven, Belgium

Town Hall in Leuven, Belgium; image from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Did I really miss this last month?  A television  network in Belgium, RTBF, started out the morning reporting on the breakup of Belgium.  Rather contrary to the rules of hoaxes set up by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre, no mention of a dramatization was made for at least a half-hour.

And of course, it was all a hoax.  The network said they wanted to generate discussion about how Belgium works, etc., etc.   Not everyone was happy with the kickoff to discussion.

I have no particular dog in that fight, though I’m fond of Belgium.  My wife spent a year studying in Louvin (Louvain, Leuven) (before I knew her), and we have wonderful photos.  My own business trip to Brussells was less than 24 hours, though we conducted our business in lightning fashion and were able to spend the evening in a wonderfully lit historic square sampling several brands of beer — okay, many brands.  We all made it to the Oh-Dark-thirty airplane home the next morning (some in better shape than others).

It’s always an eye-opener to learn how little most people know about the country, though it plays a huge role in the European Union, in NATO, and in the history of the 20th century, especially World Wars I and II.

Now it appears even Belgians don’t know whether their nation would break up or not.  Jacques Brel is no longer alive and well.



3 Responses to Belgium breaking up? Who gets the beer?

  1. jsojourner says:

    Yeah, there is some tension between the Flemings and the Walloons. I recall some violence in the 1970’s.

    Personally, given Belgium’s record of Colonial brutality, I think I’d see any future conflicts settled there with Congolese peacekeepers. Perhaps the UN could make Belgium a Congolese colony?

    Granted, that might set a bad precedent. But perhaps we could single them out for being the worst of the former colonial powers. I’m not holding my breath, of course.


  2. Daniel Valentine says:

    The son of a Utah bartender grew up to be the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 2004 to 2007—Tom Korologos, a good friend of my dad’s.

    Last year, his brother Mike, a former Salt Lake Tribune editor, reporter, and “legend in the world of skiing” for his ski writing, was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. He, too, was a close friend of my dad’s.

    The daughter of the former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium is actress Paula Lisbe, known for her role as Joanie in the TV series “Providence.”

    Once, years before he become an ambassador, I interviewed him for a story on D.C. lobbyists for the Washington Times. Before serving in Belgium, he co-founded Timmons & Company, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm, known for giving an honorable name to lobbying.

    And that’s saying something!

    Case in point, the following funny/sad story he told me during the interview, an anecdote that didn’t make it into the paper when my article was printed. It ended up on the cutting room floor, as they say.

    It concerned the government bailout of Chrysler years ago. According to the tale, Lee Ioccoa, the head of Chrysler, stopped by the home of a Congressman one afternoon and paid a visit to his wife.

    That evening, when the husband returned from his duties on The Hill, his wife, beaming ear-to-ear, gleefully met him at the door. “Honey,” she said, taking his coat and hanging it up for him, “I have good news!” She fixed him a martini. “You’re voting for the bailout bill.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a kiss. “And I’m getting a new car.”


  3. thomas says:

    After doing a search for “Belgium,” I found this piece more than four years after it appeared on this blog. I know a lot about Belgium. I was an American Airman stationed at Chievres AB, the personal airfield of the SACEUR, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe – Commander of NATO Forces in Europe, at that time Gen. Lemnitzer of the USAF.

    I married a Belgian (a beautiful young woman who was a translator for NATO and who spoke five languages fluently and beautifuly) from the village of Deux-Acren, near Lessines (Hainaut Province). I immersed myself in that country. I loved the people, their simple village/country charm (generally – though many in Brussels copied the sophistication, dress and manners of Parisians)and their ongoing disputes regarding language (French v. Dutch). The road signs naming cities, towns and villages change names completely (French to Dutch) as one goes north into the Flemish (Dutch) half of Belgium. Those were proud people, the Dutch. The French were proud in their own superior way, “que sera, sera,” meaning, it’s destiny, of course we have a better culture!

    So, James Madison, wherever you are, thank you for this beautiful reminder of how much I loved the Belgians, the French and their beautiful countries.

    Merci beaucoup,

    thomas/tampa FL


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