Letter From New York July 11 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Who has been able to miss the endless replays of Lindsay Lohan breaking down in court as she was sentenced to three months of jail time plus three months of rehab? This train wreck has been happening for a time but only really broke through to my world when her sentencing became “breaking news,” causing me a moment of bemusement as certainly her sentencing to 90 days jail time didn’t strike me as “breaking news” worthy but, hey, I am not an editor trying to get ratings while living as we do in a celebrity fueled culture.

I suspect there is going to be some culture shock for the ten Russian spies –oh wait, excuse me, unregistered agents for a foreign government – who are now in Russia after a spy swap on the tarmac in Vienna in a scene worthy of a decent spy novel. Ten of theirs for four of ours. This has been going on for twelve days. New York tabloids have been smitten with one, Anna Chapman. Ready made for tabloid fodder, she is a beautiful red head looking as if she could have been cast as a Bond girl. With a taste for the high life, a fixation about bedding the sons of Princess Diana and an ex-husband who sold racy pictures of her to the papers as well as salacious stories of their sex life, she was front-page tabloid fare if ever there was. The NY Post trumpeted we should keep her when news of the swap leaked out. We didn’t; she’s in Moscow though I suspect we haven’t heard the last of her. She had “stardust” as far as the tabloids were concerned.

Both governments played the swap in a very low key fashion; relations are getting better between us and them; no one seemed in the mood to let a little old fashioned espionage get in the way of thawing the chilliness that had come during the Bush years. When looking at pictures of the American plane in Vienna I wondered who was Vision Airlines? Apparently an airline used by the U.S. for special trips like this – or for renditions, of which they have been suspected.

There are no suspicions about this being a dangerous world. Suicide bombers have been striking in Iraq and Pakistan. I found myself staring for a long time at a photo in the Financial Times of a father in Iraq carrying his dead infant son. It is a scene repeated too often in that part of the world.

The Gulf states are repeating a Day of Prayer this Sunday; it may be there is some good news in the offing. BP is starting a new effort to cap the well and if everything goes well this could actually contain the flow. I am sure nearly everyone will be praying that all goes well. The oil spill now covers an area about the size of Belgium. Oh, heck, Belgium is just a tiny country…

Not far from the real Belgium, new technology literally had its moment in the sun when the Solar Impulse, a plane powered entirely by the sun, flew for twenty-six hours over Switzerland, safely landing at dawn after having flown all night on stored energy. It is a glimmer of energy hope.

On the medical horizon there has also been a glimmer of hope; some advances have been announced this week in the search for an HIV vaccine, a disease that still ravages even as we have grown better at extending the life of its victims.

A friend of mine told me she no longer reads the papers because the news is so grim. Though grim it is, there are those glimmers that lift our hearts like the solar plane soaring or a small movement towards stopping a disease that has killed millions, including my friend Richard Easthouse, who I still miss and am haunted by the desecration the disease worked on his body.

So the news cycle clicks on; a mixture of good and bad, of things that give hope and provide despair.

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3 Responses to “Letter From New York July 11 2010”

  1. Patty Morse Says:

    Richard was a dear friend of mine from high school. The old gang has been reuniting on facebook, and some friends were so deeply saddened by news of his death. He was a blast! We all adored him so much. I still miss him too. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. Mathew Tombers Says:

    thank you! richard was a dear friend to me also…

  3. Virginia Says:

    Gone but not forgotten…. My dear friend Richard. I have a great picture of him that I have on my FB photos.. if anyone would like to have his picture just email with your FB name and I can send it off to you for your photo album. I was so blessed to know him, blessed to have memories of great times we shared together. God Bless you all for your love and faithfulness to keep him alive in your hearts. V

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