Letter from the Vineyard 21 November 2019 Reflections from islands…

It is evening as my fingers dance across the keyboard, a soft clicking sound rising to my aging ears which, for some reason, made me think of the thunk our Royal typewriter made when I struck the keys, in a day when auto-correct was a fantasy and the mother of Mike Nesmith of The Monkees made a fortune inventing “White Out.”

Freshly returned from a trip to Ireland, my mind is full of things, wonders seen in a land where, as my friend Mike O’Rourke said, “The green is greener there.”  And it is.  Arriving a day early at the god forsaken hour of 4:45 AM, I decided, on an absolute whim, to go to Belfast for the Titanic Museum, one of those happy caprices resulting in cherished memories.  If you get to Ireland, go to Belfast, see the museum, edges as sharp as the prow of the ship, rippled to remind us of the iceberg that sank it, thorough, respectful, multi-leveled, figures from the time, speaking directly to you, almost but not quite, holograms.

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Before returning to Dublin, I took a Black Taxi Tour, an overview of “The Troubles;” my friend Nick Stuart them covered for the BBC.  The multi-layered, nuanced reasons, old as Ireland and its first interactions with England, boggle the mind, leaving a sense of sorrowful regret lacking a center.  To this day, which I did not know, there is a wall dividing Protestant and Catholic Belfast.  At night, gates are closed, dividing the town, even as it ascends to being one of the safest places in Europe, enjoying a prosperity unknown for a very long time.

On that wall, with a Sharpie, I wrote:

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In Dublin, I reunited, briefly, with friends, Lionel and Pierre, spending the weekend celebrating my birthday, dinners at lovely restaurants, days of sightseeing, several museums.

Some food and drink suggestions:  in Belfast, visit The Crown, possibly the oldest working pub in Ireland.  In Dublin, The Green Hen, a delightful place, a mix of Irish and French, Hugo’s where I had an inspired lunch, The Winding Stair, above a bookstore, deeply delicious, and let us not forget Pichet, another wonderful dinner, duck so succulent…

Museums have become hard, showing great beauty created while reminding also of the horrible ways we murder each other.  On view at the Irish Museum of Archeology are corpses, brutally killed for unknown reasons, then tossed into the bogs, which have preserved them for us to “enjoy” now.

As a result, I am almost becoming museum adverse, torn by balancing beauty and brutality.

Having left the island of Martha’s Vineyard for the Irish island, I continued to feel disconnected from events “back in America,” a blessing as those events become increasingly bizarre.

The current impeachment hearings feel Nixonian and a disgraceful mess.

It surprises many who know me, but I was raised in a good “cloth coat” wearing Republican family, as Nixon called us in his Checker’s Speech, and it also surprises many I am an Independent voter.  GASP! I have even voted for Republicans.

That said, I no longer know or own this Republican Party.  It has nothing to do with the Republican Party I once knew.

My father died when I was twelve; his older brother, my Uncle Joe, became a central figure in my life, as steadfast a Republican as you would ever find.  One day, I knew Richard Nixon was done because Uncle Joe had removed the medal received from the very badly named Committee to Re-elect the President, “CREEP.”   If Nixon had lost Uncle Joe, he had lost it all.  Not long after, he resigned.

As this current Impeachment Inquiry goes on, I have asked myself what Uncle Joe would think?  A deeply moral man, he would have been appalled, I believe, from the moment Trump descended that escalator to initiate this debacle.

 

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