Letter From New York June 5, 2009

This week’s letter is not the usual letter; it’s abbreviated and has only one go through by me. Usually I sit down on the weekend and write a draft which gets honed over a couple of days and then gets out on Tuesday evenings.

Last weekend, my brother Joe came for a visit and we had a wonderful New York weekend: dinner on Friday with my friend Gary, Saturday a leisurely brunch at a little slice of Britain, Tea and Sympathy, a restaurant that could have been transported from any British village to the West Village of NYC, followed by a leisurely stroll past Ground Zero, which is now mostly a construction site and which is still a magnet for people who want to come and see where the future we’re now living was born. We spent part of the afternoon on the sundeck of my apartment building, having eschewed the country for the delights of the pagan city and then went to a long, leisurely dinner at Café Luxembourg before seeing an Off-Broadway play starring Tracy Thoms, daughter of my good friend Donald Thoms. She is one of the stars of CBS’s COLD CASE.

Sunday late morning he left and I became involved in some impromptu business meetings between shopping and catching TERMINATOR SALVATION. Between all that and keeping up with the email stream there really wasn’t time for a rough draft, Monday was chock a block with meetings and on Tuesday evening I had dinner scheduled with my friends Annette and David Fox. It seemed more important to have dinner with them than to put my fingers to the keyboard. In a sobering time, and it is a sobering time in which we are living, it is better to take time to connect with other living beings than to labor over the computer.

General Motors has gone bankrupt… It is almost unimaginable — and would have been when I was a child. “What is good for General Motors is good for the country,” was a phrase famously said by one of its CEOs. Well, if that’s true, bankruptcy would be good for the country and there are those who are concerned that we might just go the way Argentina did a decade ago. The Chinese Economic Minister is busy lobbying behind the scenes for a new reserve currency, afraid the American dollar will cease to be effective. He’s getting some good listening to by others who have the same fear. It’s a bit self-serving, of course, as China sees this as a time when the Yuan can find itself in the position of the dollar in the foreseeable future as China works to make the 21st Century the Chinese Century.

It was sobering that an Air France Airbus went down – anyone who flies with any regularity has been on an Airbus and they have had a sterling record. This particular plane disintegrated over the Atlantic, reasons unknown though today it is being speculated that the plane may have suffered a computer glitch that cascaded into tragedy. Computers! The blessing and the bane of our time. Everything is being computer automated which is lovely when it works and possibly catastrophic when it doesn’t. Yet we could not return to the pre-computer world – without these machines we couldn’t handle the velocity we have created with them.

It has felt in the last few weeks that I’ve been living under the tyranny of emails – the volume has become ridiculous; 300 a day is not uncommon. When friends ask me what I read in my spare time I jokingly respond: my emails. It’s not a joke and I haven’t learned yet how to get through it all and I must or soon it will seem I have no life beyond my Mac. The volume and velocity is becoming almost terrifying. So, on Tuesday evening, when normally I would be getting out my LETTER FROM NEW YORK, I took a deep breath and went to visit friends. Let’s all do that this week – visit with someone and get our faces off the computer screen.

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