Letter from the Vineyard 09 11 2018 All kinds of memories…

September 12, 2018

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Evening is about to slip down upon us, a couple of minutes earlier than last night.  The twilight is misty with fog rolling in from South Beach toward my little cottage, scattered with bins, boxes and suitcases as I gather myself up to leave for the season.

Four bins are going to Joyce and Jeffrey’s garage against the possibility I will return next “season,” a thing I am considering seriously as I had serious fun in the bookstore this year especially since I told one employee she did not have my permission to be disrespectful to me.  She has been good; there have been times when she is about to say something and thinks better of it.

Last night, I had a long and good farewell dinner with Vlad, the young man from Romania who has taught me so much this summer.  We feasted at The Atlantic, drank cocktails and talked of life and things.  My parting gift was a passport case in hopes for many good long journeys in his life.

One of his gifts to me was he enjoyed my sense of humor.  Au revoir, Vlad!  Au revoir!

 

And the day that is ending is the 17th anniversary of 9/11; Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” has been released, his damning exegesis of the Trump Administration.  I doubt there was any coincidence to the timing.

 

Today, as I was driving while erranding, I could not listen to the memorial reporting as I feared I start sobbing.

That day is alive inside of me and will be until I die.  In past ‘letters” I have written about my feelings.  Nothing has changed; it is alive and painful and inspiring and terrifying now as much as then, a little softer around the edges, perhaps, but not too much so if I could not listen to the reportage.

There is a part of my that will forever stand on the morning of September 12th, with Spring Street in Soho looking like the last shot of the film “On the Beach;” not the television remake but the one in the 1950’s with Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire – a street empty of life, with sheets of paper whipping with the wind, somewhere, anywhere with the smell of burnt plastic and death all around me.

That morning is the strongest mental snapshot I have of the tragedy – a street empty of human beings, paper drifting in the wind like sagebrush across a Dakota highway.

 

The bookstore sells a child’s series called “I survived…”    …the Hindenburg Disaster, the siege of Warsaw, the Johnstown Flood, the Battle of Gettysburg.  It would appear there is no disaster they have left behind.

There were a group of parents who wouldn’t let their children buy the “I Survived 9/11” because I think it was too hard for them.  Every one of them, I would bet, were in the city that day and they don’t want their children to be scarred as they are.

None of those kids were alive but the parents were and are still wrestling with what happened.  As am I, obviously.

 

Just under three thousand died that day.

More than three times that number of first responders are struggling with cancers resulting from being there.  The number who succumb to those cancers rises every day.

A few days after 9/11 I went to my doctor because I was having trouble breathing and he gave me an inhaler, having ordered extras for people like me as soon as the Towers tumbled.  Occasionally, I wonder did I breathe in something that is now a time bomb ticking in my body?  Should some kind of study be done of everyone living within the stream of toxins released, particularly Manhattan and New Jersey?

Today NASA released pictures taken from the International Space Station that day.  You can look at them here.

Seventeen years ago, a bright and glorious Tuesday, I was prepping for a conference call, working to get things finished before I left for ten days in Greece and the world changed forever.

My head bows in memory.  A soft prayer rises.

Letter from the Vineyard 09 05 2018 The people I knew…

September 5, 2018

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My time on the Vineyard is finishing, finding me at the end of “the season,” feeling surprisingly nostalgic for my “Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” guest house while facing the departure of the people who have intersected my life “this season;” some already gone while others I will leave behind when I depart in eleven days.

Let’s see:

There is Alexander, a high school senior who is now off for his freshman year at Duke, a human who seems capable of unbridled delight at life, off into pre-med.  When he was hired I told Joyce that every older woman would want him to be her grandson.  I was not far off.  Extraordinarily knowledgeable about books for an eighteen-year-old, he was a charm to be around.

Alexander

Sam, short for Samantha, is off to the University of Michigan for her Masters in Choral and Musical Theater.  It would not surprise me that we would see her on Broadway one day.

Sam

Janet, high school teacher turned cleric, has accepted her first “call.”

Janet

Tea, the Serbian, here for her third summer, will remain after I leave and then go back to grad school in her hometown, not far from Belgrade.

Tea

Courtney, is off to finish college, and will face life full on.  She is one of “the Mettlers,” a family of long island history; her father and grandfather members of the most exclusive club on the island, unavailable to certain billionaires who lust to be included.

Courtney

Hayley begins her senior year of high school, a quiet individual with huge depth, making her final decisions as to where she will spend her collegiate years.

Hayley

Young Layla is back in California already, a sprite with a whole life in front of her; her parents are friends of Joyce and Jeffrey and this was her first job.  So young and so old at the same time…

Layla

Colin is the expert mixologist at BTB, a talent in the mixology world that will rise and probably be considered one of the great bartenders somewhere, someday.  He is, as you can see, intense about mixology.

Colin

There is Nadia, who rose to the occasion when the chef hired for the season flamed out.

Nadia

And we have Misha, the barista who oversees the coffee, an island legend after three years of consistently producing the island’s best coffee, famous for having been stateless for a while when the Soviet Union broke up and his USSR passport no longer meant anything to anyone.

Misha

 

The list goes on and can’t end without my mentioning Vlad, the Romanian young man who works at the bookstore and at The Paper Store down the block.  There is something between us that makes me smile.  He is protective of me.  We bring each other food and water for shifts.  After I was in the ER when I threw out my back, he did his best to make sure I didn’t lift the tables and chairs that go on the porch.

Vlad

Monday, he showed up when he wasn’t working to make sure I didn’t do it.

Truth is, I am old enough to be his grandfather and yet, how sweet it is, we are friends.  He is not planning on returning next year; this is his fourth year and he thinks it’s enough.  He’s probably right.

What I have learned from Vlad, or re-learned, perhaps, is that friendships can bridge generations; caring knows no age. When I leave, I will miss him.  He has been the unexpected human joy of this summer.  It is likely I will never see him again and before I leave, I want to share with him how much he has meant to me.

Thank you all!

 

 

 

 

Poem from the Vineyard 09 02 2018

September 3, 2018

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Insects buzz

through a green world;

seems eternal,

sitting here this

early evening.

 

Time is slipping;

soon

all this magic

will be gone.

Letter from the Vineyard 08/31/2018 Evening comes earlier, every night…

August 30, 2018

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It is Thursday early evening; my day in the bookstore is finished and I am at BTB, the restaurant behind the bookstore, [hence, BTB] and am sipping a tall, summery drink, a bespoke composition by Colin, master mixologist, listening to “island” music.  Steadily busy all day, the bookstore also hosted David Cleveland, who sat on the porch and signed copies of his newest novel, “Time’s Betrayal,” a book that concurs Tolstoy in length and breadth.

Wednesday was arguably the hottest day on the Vineyard so far; it scorched up to 90 degrees and that’s not usual for the Vineyard though the humidity was in check.

It was my sort of normal kind of Vineyard Wednesday – I didn’t work though I had thought that might be a possibility.  Waking early, I read the news for a good while, rolling my eyes more than once.

Some time was spent cleaning “The Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” of guest houses and then I settled into the most “white wine” of problems, planning my upcoming trip to Europe.  Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I ended up booking a flight to Copenhagen and then I will meander my way across Europe, floating on my whims.  To get to Berlin from Copenhagen, one must change trains in Hamburg.  Never been there, though I think that may have been where my paternal great-grandparents sailed from to come to America.  A night or two there?

Or not to Hamburg or Berlin.  Somewhere else?  A shot across Europe to Portugal, the most talked about European country this year?

My exit point is November 4th, when I will board the Queen Mary 2, having booked a balcony stateroom and will spend seven days sailing west to America – not unlike my great-grandparents, though I am sure their trip took longer.

All the rest is up in the air.

Today, I found that my long-time friends, Chuck and Lois, will be in Paris when I am in Europe, so I will stop there to see them and re-visit Paris.  Once before I left for Europe with no plans and ended up for weeks in Paris in one of the great passionate episodes of my life.  Ah, sweet youth…

Having just finished reading Nina George’s “The Little French Bistro,” I am planning on winding my way through Brittany, then a ferry crossing to Cornwall, time wandering there, a drink with a good acquaintance, and then across to London to see an old friend not seen in a decade, then to Southampton, the crossing, and home in time for my birthday.

Not that I really have a home anymore; home is where I am.  My “stuff” is in Baltimore and I am now, truly, a vagabond with Baltimore as my base with my friends, Lionel and Pierre.

After looking at European train schedules, I had my weekly conversation with my friends Medora and Meryl.  For gosh knows how many years, at least eighteen and probably more, we talk once a week, sharing our lives, our hopes, our frustrations and giving each other advice and support.  It is one of the most amazing gifts of my life and I’m not even quite sure how we started this but it’s here and we plan for it and miss it when it doesn’t happen because one of us is traveling.

Salute to you two! We had a marvelous conversation Wednesday morning which helped me feel I was engaged in life and that’s what always happens when we talk.

After speaking with them and a little more cleaning, I headed into town to watch “Crazy Rich Asians.”  Having read the book, I loved the movie and, terrible romantic I am, I cried at the end.

One wants love to succeed.

Twilight is falling here on the Vineyard; the sun is slipping into the west earlier every evening and I am going to curl up with a good book and read. I’ve joked that I am a monk this summer and the bookstore is my monastery.  In a way, it’s true and I think I like it.

Letter from the Vineyard 08 23 2018 The season ends, the moon is full and truth isn’t truth…

August 24, 2018

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It’s evening and I am in “The Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” of guest houses, sipping a martini, listening to classical music and pondering my world.

I drove up to Oak Bluffs on Tuesday to a printer to pick up bookmarks to promote a couple of book signings this weekend.  It was a grey day, the air warm, perfect for a light sweater and shorts.  It seemed as if at any moment, fog would roll in, but it didn’t.  As I drove to OB, I crossed the bridge from which young people throw themselves into the water; it is known as the “Jaws” bridge as it was featured in the film. Some of the island’s ethos is shaped by the film being shot here even though set somewhere else.  Every Sunday night the local cinema has a 6:30 screening of “Jaws,” winter, spring, summer and fall.

As I drove to Oak Bluffs, the windows of the car were open, and I felt the sea salt breeze as I drove, and I realized I sort of, kind of, live here.  And it felt good.  The road was familiar.  The sight of young people throwing themselves into the water was familiar.

The people at the printer know me as the Edgartown Books guy.  There is a man who comes to the bookstore and looks to me for approval for his reads.  He wants my opinion before he tosses down his credit card.

The owner of Edgartown Pizza knows my name and what I like.  The lady at Lapels, the only dry cleaner on the island knows me by sight and name.  One of the young waitresses at Edgartown Diner occasionally runs and gives me a hug in welcome.  Certainly, I know the staff of BTB, the restaurant behind the bookstore.

Landry Harlan, who writes for the Vineyard Gazette, came in to chat today before going to the courthouse to cover a story about the estuary.

It makes me feel a part of this community.

And the reality is, I will be leaving in three weeks.

There is a change happening; people are acknowledging “the season” is coming to an end.  Colin, the wonderful mixologist at BTB, is leaving September 21st – he has booked his flight, home to San Francisco.

Me? I’m back to Columbia County, a quick trip to Minneapolis, then Europe.  This is now the vagabond part of my life.

And wherever I vagabond to, I will watch how events unfold here.

There is a phrase in the television business, based on an episode of “Happy Days,” when Fonzie was in Hawaii and jumped a shark.  It now means a plot twist so unbelievable that you just don’t know what to do with it.

And that’s what Tuesday felt like, that the Trump reality presidency had jumped the shark, plot wise.  In the same hour, on the same day, Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight charges, with a mistrial on ten and Michael Cohen pled guilty to eight charges in New York.  A wag said if this were an episode of “House of Cards” or “West Wing,” we would have jumped the shark.

All quite stunning.

One columnist equated Omarosa with Martha Mitchell.  The painful part of that is not many people remember Martha Mitchell – she was the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General and had a lot to say.

In the late 1970’s, I went to a photo exhibit at St. John the Divine in New York and many of the photos were of Martha Mitchell in her death throes, battling cancer.  She was a bit of a “whack job” but she also spoke truth to power.

We are, once again, living in stunning times.

Michael Cohen’s guilty plea included some stunning points that indicated he was doing illegal things at the direction of the man who is now president.

There is an excellent article in “Fortune” about why half-speak is more dangerous than doublespeak.  I suggest you read it here. It was inspired by Rudy Giuliani’s statement, “Truth isn’t truth.”  Even listening to it several times in context I was left reeling.

In the meantime, at this moment, the classical music is playing, my martini is finished. I am dealing with the fact I screwed up something at the bookstore and that’s not easy and I need to head to sleep because the last three weeks will be hard as all the wonderful young people who worked at the bookstore are leaving, heading off to college, graduate school, back to their countries of origin.

Ah, sweet summer on the Vineyard, such a mix of things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter from the Vineyard 08 15 2018 White Wine Problems…

August 16, 2018

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The day began dark, with thundering rumbling across the morning sky and a digital warning that lightning had struck nearby.  But by the time I had showered and prepared to take my friend, Tory, to the ferry, the skies had cleared; it was the beginning of a sun kissed Vineyard day.

I sit, at this moment, at the bar at BTB [Behind the Bookstore], sipping a summer concoction by Colin, mixologist extraordinaire.  When I have sipped it to conclusion, I will gather myself, the coffee I’ve purchased, my newest book [“Little French Bistro”] and head back to my “Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” guest house, read and head off for an early night.

Tonight is “Illumination Night” on the Vineyard, when all the gingerbread houses in the MV Camp Meeting Association are strung with hundreds of lanterns of every variety, lit at dark, creating something that Disney has tried to accomplish but can’t fully.  The porches of the homes are populated by their residents.  My favorites from a couple of years ago were a husband and wife, actors retired from Broadway, dressed in 19th Century garb, talking of all the things they have seen and done, a black lab curled quietly at their feet.

Friday there will be fireworks.  And then “the season” will begin to crawl to an end.  Yesterday we did a book signing for “Nine Irish Lives” at a grand house near the Harbor View Hotel, a book edited by Mark Bailey and one of whose contributors was Mark Shriver.  It was a gaggle of Kennedys and Shrivers, a group that looks alike and sounds alike and made me think they were all one big tribe.

Leaving them, I met Tory at the Harbor View and had a lovely late dinner at a table looking out toward the lighthouse, especially enjoying the lobster tacos.

Around me the world swirls and I keep to reading about it as opposed to listening to it – so much quieter.  The Donald and Omarosa are sinking their verbal teeth into each other, carrying the Trump Reality Presidency to new ratings highs.

Trump has also revoked security clearance for John Brennan, a former C.I.A. Director who has been highly critical of the current President.  Some Democrats are raising the specter of a “Nixonian” enemies list.

Manafort’s trial is drawing to a close without the defense bringing in a single witness, believing it had done its job in cross examinations.

The Vatican is slow to respond to a report about sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania that boggles the mind [not to mention the churns it gives to the stomach], dating back seventy years.  It is a crisis that has been brewing for decades, if not centuries and is raging in both North and South America and in Europe and, probably, everywhere there have been priests.

Bouncing off that darkness, there was an article yesterday about how sex robots could be good for marriage, which conjured up the world of Asimov’s “I, Robot” and “The Caves of Steel.”  History and the future are bumping into each other.

And, whether we like it or not, robots are coming.  Hopefully not for us but to help us.

The day on the Vineyard is ending.  The sky is now Dove grey.

My morning will be spent finding a cookbook which has arrived on the island but is in UPS limbo and we need it by 11:30 for a signing at the Harbor View Hotel, a place I have grown to know much more than I would have thought because we have been doing multiple book signings there.

My first night on the island was spent at the Harbor View while my brother and his wife were here, visiting the Vineyard for the first time. Sebastian, who mans the front desk, still remembers my name from that brief encounter.  A memory like that rocks the brain.

Classical music plays; a bird chirps off my deck and another Vineyard day ends.  Not bad.  All my problems today are white wine problems; I could be living in a suburb of Damascus being bombed every day.  Remember that when you are really frustrated; gives life a certain perspective.

 

 

Letter from the Vineyard 08/08/2018 Paying it forward…

August 8, 2018

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It’s been a bit since I’ve written; the path to hell is paved with good intentions, as our mothers used to tell us.  Do parents still use that old one to chide their children into good behavior?

Good behavior is sometimes hard to find, as I find myself dealing with a personnel issue at the book store.  Can’t be nasty when you’re in the customer service business and we have someone who is…

And to others in the store.  As I left on Saturday, I informed her she does not have my permission to be disrespectful to me.

And then I sailed away into the night as I didn’t trust myself to contain my anger.

Other than that irritation, the summer continues, warmer than recent summers I am being told, with more humidity [not good in a book store].  I continue reading and listening to classical music and generally wake up happy.  And I love the interchanges with the customers and the folks who come back and ask me to help them make another choice because they liked what I suggested when they had been in before.

Yesterday, a man came up and bought two books, one very adult book and a children’s book that encouraged youngsters to think about science.  As I was about to put both books into a bag, he pushed the children’s book back toward me.  He told me to give it to some child; I would know the one when he or she came in.  His way of paying it forward. [Picture above.]

Inside it was signed, Dr. Mike, Harvard University, what have you discovered today?

It moved all of us.  For Joyce, who owns the store, it was a first.

And, Dr. Mike, you will not be forgotten.  Ever.  By me.

An old friend from my cable days has retired abroad and wrote me an email and asked me to walk him back from the ledge as he can barely understand what is happening in our country and it is painful for him.

And, I suspect, no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, it is a little painful these days, if not a lot painful.

I told him to turn off the television, read a few good sources [mine are the NY Times, Washington Post and the WSJ, with a soupcon of Time Magazine thrown in and a few other bits and blurbs].  It is not so agitating to read about events as it is to hear the endless drone of news commentators constantly attempting to read the runes of the latest tweet.

Frankly, it has grown so bewildering that I feel as if I am watching a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – who met who, where and when for what reason.  The Trump Tower story has changed again.  I think.  Didn’t it? Wasn’t there another tweet this morning?

It would all be a bit amusing if there wasn’t so much on the line.  New sanctions have hit Iran, just after Iran demonstrated their naval ability to close the Strait of Hormuz.  That’s probably the most important waterway in the world because so much oil goes through there.  We have an enlarged trade war with China as of this morning.

The Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been kicked out of the country because she spoke out against the arrest of a number of Saudi feminist leaders. The Saudi Crown Prince has given women the right to drive and has suppressed the women who advocated for that right.

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is on trial.  His right-hand man, Rick Gates, testified they stole, evaded and scammed and while they were doing those things together, Rick Gates embezzled from Paul Manafort.  Ugh.  Such a pretty pair.  If they go to jail, it would be poetic justice if they were cellmates. That’s a reality show waiting to happen.

Fires burn in California, a quake has ravaged Indonesia, a hurricane is threatening the big island of Hawaii and the climatic beat goes on with record high temperatures being set all over the world on an almost daily basis.

But while Trump tweets, and Mother Nature is being a very bitchy Mother Nature, there are men like Dr. Mike, who care to pay it forward and I am going to focus on him as I close this missive.  And here’s to all those folks out there paying it forward.

Letter from the Vineyard 07/26/2018 Written under a full moon…

July 27, 2018

 

It is the end of an exquisitely beautiful day on the Vineyard; the sky an azure blue that reminded me of late spring days in the south of France.  It was very warm and stayed just this side of unbearable.  Now the temperature is falling, and it will be a comfortable sleep tonight for which I will be grateful; my little guest house has no air conditioning.  Rain is coming but nothing like Baltimore, where friends live.  Places there where I have walked and shopped were evacuated today as the rain pelted down.

It’s been a good week.  The bookstore has been filled with interesting people, eager for books, to know about books, to talk about books and I relish that – the conversations that titillate the mind and toy with the intellectual synapses of a man now long past his prime but still vital.

My great, good friend, Dalton Delan, wandered in and there was a sweet reunion.  We’ve known each other now a long, good time.

Today, while sitting in the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven, I finished “The Alice Network,” one of the big books of the summer, about a female spy in World War I and a young girl in France after World War II, attempting to find her beloved cousin.  Very satisfying read.

Tonight, I am digging into a Philip R. Craig mystery, set on the Vineyard, and am relishing it.

This is a summer of reading, of listening to classical music, which I am now, of taking in the world in small doses as it is so – okay, I have run out of words.  Surreal, is one of the words writers have used to describe the times in which we live, and I agree, it is surreal.

So, it is comforting to read books and lovely for me to be in a bookstore, listening to people who are interested.  And that is wonderful.

Outside my bubble, I am fearful.  The world is a frightening place.

Reports say Russian hackers penetrated the electric system, deep enough they could cause blackouts.  Some voting machines have back doors which can be exploited.  Oy vey!

The Trump Administration has admitted parents have been deported without their children.  So where are the children?  My heart aches.  What is going on?

The moon has risen, a full moon.  A time, perhaps, for werewolves? One wonders in these times if there are werewolves.  Not the kind from stories but the kind who are sucking the life out of the delicate system we have built, a system which has been careening from crisis to crisis throughout its history and a system which is, again, in crisis.

Faithful to the American dream, I suspect we will weather this one, too.  We will survive the Trump presidency.

What worries me, on some deeper level, is the growth of right wing movements across the globe.  Hungary. Austria. Germany. Italy. America.

So here I am, on the sublime island of Martha’s Vineyard, a full moon in the sky, visible through the trees outside, against a blue gray sky.

Whatever we do, the moon will rise and so will the sun.  Upon what world they do – well, that’s for us to determine.

Letter From the Vineyard July 18, 2018 The circus continues…

July 18, 2018

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This morning, as I was waiting for the shuttle bus to take me from Edgartown’s long-term parking lot into town, I watched the morning’s grey clouds whisk deliciously across the sky, a ferment of grey cotton candy after a stormy night.  The beauty of it awed me as I watched them swirl and scud.

Sitting on the covered bench, I did my best to do my day’s gratitudes, speaking softly to the universe, glad for another day this side of the sod, relative good health and a calm life, at this moment, in an un-calm time.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I am generally not at the bookstore.  Tuesday, I lazed my way through a lovely day, doing errands, going to the chiropractor for a final visit after wrenching my back three weeks ago, stopping at the end of it all, for a sandwich at one of my joints, Edgartown Pizza, for a gyro and a Diet Coke.

While eating, Donald Trump was on one of the screens, walking back his Helsinki comments, reading from a script, about how he intended to use “wouldn’t” but didn’t.  As if I believe him; I did believe what he said at the press conference with Putin.   That seemed real Trump, walking it back was patently awkward and painful for him.  Trump’s face seemed screwed with discomfort, as if he were someone being forced to say what he didn’t want to say.  Which is probably true.

The only thing I believed was when he said: it could have been others – or whatever exactly he said to prevaricate his walk back.

My mind was full of images of people staying up all night, fueled by caffeine [and hopefully only by caffeine (I know someone in DC who claims to know one of the big cocaine suppliers to Republican aides)], pouring over what Trump had said in Helsinki, thinking “how do we get out of this?” while the president was flying his way home.

Monday was appalling; Tuesday simply lame. Wednesday followed with Trump reportedly saying that Russia was no longer targeting us while shortly after that report Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump hadn’t said that the Russians weren’t targeting us.

The circus continues.

To take a break, I read at breakneck speed, “Crazy Rich Asians,” by Kevin Kwan, before the movie comes out next month, plunging myself into the wealth obsessed world of Singapore where everything seemed silly and I laughed out loud.  Now I am plunging into “The Alice Network” about female spies in World Wars I and II.

Both books recommended.

I need a break from the circus.

Letter from the Vineyard 11 11 2018 Thoughts…

July 11, 2018

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A relative of mine forwarded what is below to me and I feel quite conflicted by it and feel we are living in a world where there are “us” and “you” and this screed feels like it is contributing to that.  And America is so much more nuanced than that and, without acknowledging those vast nuances, we – and I pray God we do not – could end up like Rwanda.  I am skipping over the comments about the election, though our reactions to the past presidential election is a manifestation of “us” versus “you.”

Currently, I am reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Bunker Hill,” a book that demonstrates our patriot fathers often used a “you” versus “us” to achieve goals.  That wasn’t something I had thought about when thinking about the American Revolution.  Revolutions are about “us” versus “you.”

That this was sent to me by a relative is terribly painful, for, in some of the cases below, I am a “you” to his “us.”

 

“US” by Paul Genova 

 
  (Mr. Paul Genova has been President and Chief Operating Officer of Wireless Telecom Group Inc. Since June 30, 2016. 

 I haven’t said too much about this election since the start…but this is how I feel….

  I’m noticing that a lot of people aren’t graciously accepting the fact that their candidate lost.

In fact you seem to be posting even more hateful things about those who voted for Trump.

  Some are apparently “triggered” because they are posting how “sick” you feel about the results.

  How did this happen you ask? Well here is how it happened!

You created “us” when you attacked our freedom of speech.

I’m not quite sure what this means.  Are we no longer allowed freedom of speech because we disagree with something?  This is the essence of our always rancorous democracy; we get to say what we think.  Whether you like it or not.  You get to say what you want to say, and I have a right to disagree.  That I disagree is not an attack; it is my constitutional right.

You created “us” when you attacked our right to bear arms.

I have never attacked the right to bear arms.  I have fervently questioned what is going on in our society when military attack grade weapons are being used to shoot up people in schools, theaters, here, there and everywhere.  When our murder rate by gun is so above the rest of the world, including those of other thriving democracies, I need to ask questions.

You created “us” when you attacked our Christian beliefs.

I seriously question the use of Christianity, today, and throughout history, to justify cruelty.  I have had to question Christian beliefs to come to terms with my own life.  A gay man, born to a rather devout Catholic family, had to question Christian beliefs to survive.  A non-practicing Catholic, I am a practicing Episcopalian.  They seem to have room for me.  Even under Pope Francis, I am a “you.”

And, frankly, to my thinking, Evangelical Christians have debased themselves for political ends in their embrace of Trump, who, in his own words, has shamed himself.

  You created “us” when you constantly referred to us as racists.

Are you?  I don’t know.  I certainly have seen racist actions by people who I think are part of your “us.”  And I have seen acts of kindness in times of tragedy that knew no racial boundaries; images of Hurricane Harvey had me in tears as did the stories that accompanied them.  Color had no boundaries in that storm and color should not have boundaries.  But, if you are racist, am I not called by God to question you?  Or did I miss something?

  You created “us” when you constantly called us xenophobic. You created “us” when you told us to get on board or get out of the way.

Were you xenophobic?  Sometimes, I realize my societal biases lie just beneath the surface and that I have to take a quick step back and gasp at something that pops, almost unbidden, into my brain when I see a person who is not my “us.”

I remember being told by my mother, after my father died, of things that frightened his family during WWI, because Tombers is a family of German extraction.  There were people then who wanted to intern Germans, the way we, shamefully, did Japanese Americans during WWII.

Also, it reminds me of a day painting a friend’s garage with him one day back in my college days.  He had grown up in southern Missouri.  He would not have been allowed to play with me as child because I was Catholic.  I was not part of their “us” because of the religion I was born into.

You created “us” when you attacked our flag

Whether we like it or not, the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional to attack the flag.  America is not perfect; far from it.  And protest is our history and will continue to be.  Protest is what created the American Revolution but let’s not have protest start another Civil War.  But protest, in all kinds of ways, has been here and will be here and to condemn it is an affront to our democracy.  Disagree, and forcibly articulate your disagreement and celebrate we can all disagree.

You created “us” when you took God out of our schools.

The Founding Fathers were very clear that they wanted separation of church and state.

You created “us” when you confused women’s rights with feminism.

True confession:  I don’t understand this one. Truly.  It must because I am thick and not one of “us.”

You created “us” when you began to emasculate men.

That can only happen when you choose to be emasculated.  Or does your sense of masculinity confuse “masculinity” with inappropriate dominance and disrespect of others, especially women?

You created “us” when you decided to make our children soft.

I would like to know what is meant here.  Helicopter parents?  Better helmets in football?  Teaching kids to be respectful?  Another instance in which I must be thick, really thick.

You created “us” when you decided to vote for progressive ideals.

It’s not that I mean to harp too much on a theme here, but the American Revolution was about progressive ideals, there was nothing more progressive in the 1770’s than to not have a king.  It hadn’t been that way for a couple of thousand years.  America is the progressive ideal.

You created “us” when you attacked our way of life.

What way of life was attacked?  It sounds pretty broad.  If your way of life included keeping black people in their place, Islamophobia, callous behavior toward others in any way, looking down on women, underpaying them, taking sexual advantage of them because they were women, then your “way of life” should have been attacked.  Those things are un-American, not Christian and unspeakable.

You created “us” when you decided to let our government get out of control.

Please understand, I am registered as an independent and I grew up a Republican; I wore “I Like Ike” buttons as a toddler.  I thought Republicans were the cat’s meow.  After George H.W. Bush, my respect for Republicans has steadily eroded but I can’t call myself a Democrat.  So, I am independent.

Generally, I associate the Government “out of control” argument from Republicans against Democrats.  The last time we had a balanced budget was under a Democrat.  The economy is doing well under the Trump tax cuts.  However, despite some administration officials’ statements, the deficit is soaring.   A person I know voted for Trump specifically because he believed Trump would address the deficit.  Well, he and the Republican Party are leading us down a deficit drain.  And that worries me.

  You created “us” the silent majority

The last time I heard the term “silent majority” was during the Nixon years, spewed from the mouth of Vice President Spiro Agnew.  This is not a good reference and not a good way to think of yourself; anything entangling “you” or “us” with Nixonian years will probably end badly.

You created “us” when you began murdering innocent law enforcement officers.

Yes, innocent law officers have been killed.  And law officers have killed innocent people.  It is not a one-sided argument.  It is a complex dynamic and innocents on both sides have been killed and you had better realize that or you are living in a vacuum of information.  And we need to keep working to find a solution.

  You created “us” when you lied and said we could keep our insurance plans and our doctors.

You’re right.  That was a mistake.

You created “us” when you allowed our jobs to continue to leave our country.

The far greater and more urgent question for RIGHT NOW is what we are doing to prepare for AI and robotics? It is coming just the way the steam engine came and the Industrial Revolution.  And we are doing almost nothing to prepare for it.  We are, societally, not adapting to the future that is barreling down on us.  We, America, has been woefully inadequate in re-training workers for the times in which we live, rather than the time in which we might wish we lived.

You created “us” when you took a knee or stayed seated or didn’t remove your hat during our National Anthem.

You know, it’s hard to keep coming back to this but if you are annoyed about the above, I get it but to say it created “you” or “us” or whatever, is to fail to acknowledge you are an American and Americans get the right to protest and to not acknowledge that sticky truth is to be Un-American.

You created “us” when you forced us to buy health care and then financially penalized us for not participating.

The United States, arguably the wealthiest country in the world, ranks LAST among 11 industrialized nations in health care DESPITE our spending more than any other country on that health care. Our infant mortality rate is also the WORST in industrialized countries. To not attempt to remedy that is a waste of national treasure.  Yes, the ACA is an imperfect piece of law.  Fix it.  But to ignore the sorry state of medical care in this country is to not see a problem that needs fixing.

And we became fed up and we pushed back and spoke up.

  And we did it with ballots, not bullets.
  With ballots, not riots.
  With ballots, not looting.
  With ballots, not blocking traffic.
  With ballots, not fires, except the one you started inside of “us”

I think that’s what Americans are supposed to do.  While I am not happy Donald J Trump is President of the United States, I accept it because I am an American.  And I also accept that since his occupancy of the highest office in this country makes me more frightened than almost, if not anything, I have witnessed in my life, I will make sure I vote and campaign and do what I think is right, which is what you did.  Good on you, as my Aussie friends would say.  And good on me, to get out and try to undo what you have done.  I really hope it wasn’t Russia.

“YOU” created “US”.

“We” didn’t create “you,” “you” created “you,” claiming patriotism as a method of holding people down and wrapping yourself in an American flag without, I think, understanding truly what it means to be an American.  “You” are blaming forces over which we have no control for the world in which we are finding ourselves living.  You can’t deny the future.  Demand your Senators and Congressmen do something about re-training the workers of America, so they can compete in the world that is rushing down on us.  Quit trying to hold up the past as an ideal.  Beating up blacks because they wanted to eat at a “white” diner counter is not American.  It is not American to shoot and kill Sikhs because someone thinks they’re Muslims.  It is not American, nor ever was, though certainly often practiced, to demonize someone because they weren’t “you” or part of your “us.”  We have done that with blacks, Italians, Poles, Germans, Swedes, you name it; to get your foot in the door in this country meant a lot of people taking knocks.  It shouldn’t be that way.  A friend’s grandmother recalls a New York mob racing by their home, screaming “Kill the Jews! Kill the Jews!”  As a little Jewish girl, she was rightly terrified.  None of those things were an expression of our better angels. And that’s what we need to be doing today, becoming our better angels and quit thinking of “us” versus “them.”  We’re in this together.  If we want to Make America Great Again [really, we are pretty great despite everything], then we need to stop ignoring reality and fix what needs fixing.

It’s what America does.