Letter From New York 06 04 2016 Thoughts on Main Street in Edgartown…

The sun is laughing down Main Street in Edgartown, with cars slowly moving down the street, toward the water but without the congestion that is coming toward the end of the month when “the season” really gets going.  Across the street, Sundog, selling clothes, is as empty as we are. 

A few people have wandered into the store and have wandered out, rarely with a book in hand.  A lovely mother and daughter came in, the mother buying her daughter a copy of “A Man Named Ove,” by Fredrik Backman, a book she insisted her daughter read before they left the island next week.

It’s been interesting, watching people come and go, looking at books, some are wildly enthusiastic, some are just looking as they look languidly at titles, hoping something will spark their interest.

As I said to someone yesterday, I have a whole new respect for those who work in retail.

The morning was foggy, the afternoon sun blessed.  Music from the 1960’s plays gently in the background, the soundtrack of my youth.  It is easy here to put away the woes of the world and believe in the loveliness of life. 

Unfortunately, the reality is quite different in the off island world.

Muhammed Ali is being mourned everywhere.  A figure in my youth, I watched with fascination, not quite understanding his moves but also not being bothered by them.  If he no longer wanted to Cassius Clay, then why not?  There were days then I didn’t want to be Mathew Tombers. 

Many of his moves outraged the world and shook people up.  All for the ultimate good…  Rest in peace, Muhammed Ali, rest in peace and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Bernie Sanders has announced he will contest the Democratic Convention, fighting down to the last moment.

In France, floods are beginning to recede but not until after claiming three more lives.  My friends, Chuck and Lois, who have an apartment in Paris, are somewhere else with friends, waiting to get back to their place when the waters do recede.  Guards are standing watch at Louvre and artwork has been moved to higher ground as a precaution.  It has been nearly 34 years since this kind of flooding has been seen in the City of Lights.

It has been determined that Prince died from an accidental, self-administered dose of fentanyl, a pain killer 100 times more powerful than morphine and 50 times more powerful than heroin. One doctor described self-administration of fentanyl as playing with death; it is not to be used outside of hospitals.

The opiate crisis is enormous.  Even here on bucolic Martha’s Vineyard, meetings are being held to combat the island’s heroin problem.  Everywhere you turn right now, opiates are a critical problem.  It may be that Prince’s death will be a catalyst for change.

It is the 27th Anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square and tens of thousands have gathered in Hong Kong to commemorate the event, shunning the official memorial because it has become too “Chinese” oriented.

In the Mediterranean, with the beginning of warm weather, more migrants/refugees are risking the sea to reach Europe and what they hope will be a better life.  It is believed a thousand have drowned in the past week alone.  It will only grow worse.

Many are fleeing IS, which now finds itself fighting on four fronts in Syria and Iraq.  The unofficial capital of IS is Raqqa and Syrian forces, under the cover of Russian airstrikes and with help from Hezbollah have reached the border of Raqqa province.

Attempting to follow who is fighting whom in that part of the world is not easy.  IS is struggling for control of a town called Marea, which is controlled by the anti-Assad Nursa Front, which is associated with Al Qaeda.  There is also heavy fighting around Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city and commercial center.

The sun is beginning to set in Edgartown.  The streets are still quiet.  Anita, who works in the shop, has gone home as we are completely quiet.  Last night, after everyone had left and I was closing down, I had the most remarkable moment of peace, surrounded by books with the walls resonating with the laughter and voices of the people who had passed through yesterday, just looking for a good read.

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