Archive for the ‘Airstrikes’ Category

Letter From Claverack 04 26 2017 Surviving a bad emperor…

April 27, 2017

It’s been a busy day.  At 5:30 the alarms starting going off as today is Wednesday, the day I do my morning show on WGXC and I need the time to be good when I go on air.   Once I was a morning person, when I lived in LA and worked for New York based companies and had to be up to catch New Yorkers.

Mornings were always best because after lunch, particularly in the early 1980’s, was not a good time.  The three martini lunch was slowly fading but not yet gone.  It was an early lesson in my career.

So, for most of the time I lived in LA, I was up about the time dawn was cracking so I could catch people before I lost them.  It won me many friends and a few who wished I would sleep longer so that I wasn’t around to harass them.

The memories I have of that time are quite fond.

Knowing myself, I am up early on the day I do my show so that I am fully functioning by the time I reach the station around 8, letting myself in, sipping coffee and getting organized.  I want to be at my best.

Today, I was pretty good, if I say so myself.  The first interview was with Brenda Adams, Executive Director for Columbia County Habitat for Humanity and the President of their board, Peter Cervi.  It went well.  They are having an event which they were there to publicize and I also wanted people to know about all the other good things they are doing, including helping people remain in their homes as opposed to having to go to a nursing home.

That was followed by an interview with an environmental journalist, Susan Zakin, which was good and funny and fun.  She is appalled by what Trump is doing.

Which brings us to our unpredictable President, Donald Trump.  It is dizzying to me and disturbing to me as I can’t seem to find a coherence to what is going on though I am not sure why I am surprised by that.  He hasn’t been, to me, coherent from the beginning.

And now he is President.

He, the President, announced today a reform to the tax code. Details to follow.  No one I’ve read today seems to “grok” it.

He signed an Executive Order today that potentially takes away protection from something like 24 national monuments.  Why?

Trump summoned the whole Senate to the White House to brief them on North Korea.  No real reports on what was revealed though some Senators said they came out of the meeting “sobered.” Though it seems diplomacy is being chosen rather military action.

A long time ago, there was a remake of “On the Beach,” a story of nuclear destruction.  In the remake, the President of the United States ordered a nuclear strike on China and it resulted in the end of human life on earth.

That haunts me right now.

North Korea is playing with fire and we’re playing with North Korean fire.  It worries me how this will turn out.

Look, I am in the last act of my life and if the world blows up, I’ve had the best of it.  And I think about the children who were playing at OMI, an art center, I visited last week.  There was such delightful young life in that room.

I think that should be protected.

Look, ladies and gentleman, the Roman Empire went through a number of really bad Emperors so I am hoping we can get through a really bad President.

Less than a hundred days out, I think he is a bad President, dangerous, more so than “W” who I thought was a bad President and dangerous.  He gave us the morass of the Middle East.

And now it is later at night, the lights are on the creek, Nina Simone is playing on Echo and I am moving toward bed in my freshly cleaned home.

The lights are on and I am looking at the creek, flowing on, hopefully forever.

Earlier, as I was settling in, I looked out my window and saw my hedgehog sniffling around the house, looking for food.  And its presence gave me hope.

The world is changing and the hedgehogs remain, constant against change.  A part of life…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter from the Train, returning… Passover arrives and Tillerson departs…

April 10, 2017

The train is rumbling north from Baltimore to New York City where I change trains to Hudson, arriving there around 3:30 this afternoon.  It is a sunny day and the fleece pullover and winter jacket needed on the way down are unnecessary on the way home.

Hudson River

As I travel north, I have trimmed down the email inbox, sent some electronic Passover cards and started reading how to make large quantities of scrambled eggs as this coming Sunday is Easter Sunday and I am in charge of preparing the Easter Brunch that follows the 10:30 service.

It’s my hope that Mother Eileen’s clipboard filled with some people to help me. If not…

The weekend visit with Lionel and Pierre and Marcel, the poodle, was wonderful, overflowing with good food at various venues:  Modern Cook Shop, Peter’s Inn, Red Star, Rusty Scupper, Nanimi, Petit Louis.

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On “The Avenue” [36th Street] I shopped the antique stores and found some Christmas presents, tucked in my luggage; that it is expandable saved me from buying another piece.  At BJ’s with Pierre, I stocked up on Excedrin, Prilosec and more.

Long train rides give one a time to think and I enjoy them for that, for being able to see the countryside glide by without the responsibility of driving.

Pierre sings in the choir at the Church of the Advent in Baltimore.  While Lionel and I were preparing to go to hear him at church, the television flashed pictures and video of the Palm Sunday explosions in Egypt, targeting Coptic Christians, who represent about ten percent of that country’s population.  Last word I heard, forty-seven have died and scores are injured.  At Christ Church this week, I will light a candle for them.

In response to the bombings, responsibility for which was claimed by IS, Egypt has declared a three-month state of emergency.

Rex Tillerson, our low-profile Secretary of State, heads to Moscow for meetings, either strengthened or weakened [depending on your view] by the US bombing of the airfield in Syria where chemical attacks against a rebel city were initiated.  Tillerson called the Russians incompetent for allowing Assad to keep chemical weapons.

Putin is thinking of revoking the award he gave to Tillerson.

This should be an interesting week for watching Syrian affairs.  How are they all going to react?  Niki Hailey is talking regime change; Tillerson is not. Trump is unpredictable and Putin a risk taker; Assad seemingly a wily survivor who managed to turn peaceful protests into a civil war no one seems capable of winning or willing to negotiate an end.

Syria is bringing five questions about the situation to the head, outlined in an article in Bloomberg, available here.

We have ships moving toward the Korean peninsula, possibly to be in place in case there is a decision to attack North Korea and its pudgy, vindictive, unpredictable little dictator, Kim Jong Un.

President Xi of China and Trump managed to get through their summit without damaging each other and we will await to see what China will do vis-à-vis North Korea.

In 2013, Democrats used the “nuclear option” and McConnell said they would live to regret it, which they did last week when Gorsuch was successfully nominated to the Supreme Court and sworn in this morning.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right French candidate for president, has declared that France was NOT responsible for the deportation of Jews during WWII, a statement that has created, as one might imagine, more than a soupcon of controversy.

New York is the first state offering free four-year public college to its students in families with incomes under $100,000, a move to help residents avoid crushing college loans and to help the state have a work force ready for the future.

May it work.

For all my friends celebrating Passover tonight, Chaq Kasher veSameach! [Happy Passover!]

Letter From the Train 04 06 2017 Thoughts through mist and fog…

April 6, 2017

It is dusty grey; mist and fog lay lightly on the Hudson River as I head south toward New York City and then on to Baltimore to visit Lionel and Pierre.  It will be a long weekend; I return on Monday.

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It had been my intent to drive but when I woke this morning to predictions of thunderstorms and tornadoes along my route, I opted for the train.

Last night, I sat down to begin a letter and could not find words.  Ennui swept over me and I wandered off to bed, watched an episode of “Grace and Frankie” and fell asleep, waking early to prepare to leave.

Yesterday was my first day as host of the Wednesday version of WGXC’s “Morning Show,” from 9 AM to 11 AM.  The night before, I had a night full of crazy dreams in which I got to the studio on Wednesday morning only to find they had changed all the controls and I had no idea on how to work them.  In another dream, I decided to sleep at the station the night before to make sure that I didn’t miss the program but did anyway.

No psychiatrist is needed to interpret these dreams.

And the program went well; there was much praise from friends and colleagues and I relaxed, thinking I can manage this.  It was fun and for my first guest, I had Alana Hauptman, who owns my beloved “Red Dot.”

Probably no one remembers Texas Guinan anymore; she ran the biggest, best, brassiest, funniest, speakeasy in New York during Prohibition.  She was loved and admired and imitated.  She was known for her big heart and saucy character.  Alana is all of that and is the Texas Guinan of Hudson.  The Red Dot has stood for nineteen years and been an anchor to the town and certainly my world.

There is a slew of people lined up to be guests on the show including the folks who run Bridge Street Theater in Catskill, world premiering a new play shortly and Jeff Cole, who is the CEO of the Center for the Digital Future at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication as well as Howard Bloom, who is a multi-published author and once press agent to every major rock group in the 1970’s and ‘80’s.  And Fayal Greene, who has lived in Hudson for a long time, civically active, and is leaving at the end of the month for Maine, where she and her husband will live in a retirement community near their summer home and many relatives.

The farewell party will, of course, be at the Red Dot.

All of this is very hygge.

And I roll around in the hygge-ness of my life as outside my bubble I am often stupefied by my world.

Politics has never been this raucous in my lifetime and perhaps not this much since the founding of the Republic, which, I understand, was a very raucous time.

As I was getting ready to board the train, Representative Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has now recused himself from the Russian investigation over ethics concerns.

In Syria, eighty plus people, including children, died in an apparent gas attack.  Trump says the incident crossed “a lot of lines for him.”  Tillerson has said that it was undoubtedly Assad’s regime.  Assad is saying bombs ignited a store of gas weapons in the attacked town.  Russia is demanding the US lay out its cards on how to solve the Syrian problem.

This all sounds like a lot like another replay of the last few years, with some new players and no new results.  In the meantime, Syrians continue to suffer; something like five million of them are refugees, many living in squalor with their only drinking water coming from septic tanks causing typhoid and a further circling down into this hell that has been created.

A radio report from a Syrian refugee camp yesterday may have been the cause of last night’s ennui.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago today and tomorrow.  It is a high stakes meeting reports say.  Wide chasms exist in trade with Trump the candidate picking on China through most of the campaign and the Chinese, unlike some Americans, have long memories and play a long game.

If this turns out to be the pivot point for the United States, future historians might look at our tendency to be focused on short term goals as a factor in creating this pivot.

And in this miasma of non-hygge news, is a report that Jeff Bezos, second richest man on the planet, is selling a billion dollars of Amazon stock a year to finance Blue Origin, his space venture.  That makes me smile.  Money at work on building the future.

 

 

Letter From The Train 10 21 2016 Parsing the post debate world…

October 21, 2016

As the train moves north, the Hudson River is steel grey while bordered by trees with leaves of rust, gold, crimson and green.  The beautiful day on Tuesday is a but a memory; this Friday ride is on a day of grey and chill, with intermittent spits of rain.

My niece, Kristen, and I texted each other throughout the debate, commenting on both candidates.  While we both support Hillary, we are not immune to her faults.  It seemed such an effort for her to smile and when she did, it looked so forced as to be painful.  But being on the stage with Trump must have been painful for her.

The candidates did not shake hands before or after.  I don’t think I remember that happening before.

It was no effort for Trump to be dour and sour.  It is his natural state it seems.

During the first part of the debate, he held it together better than he had and looked like he was on track to do what he was supposed to do – not lose his cool.  But then he did; not as badly as before but enough that he was damaged and more Republicans are distancing themselves from him.

Somewhere after about twenty minutes, he began to lose the thread, veering off the script someone must have given him.  Calling Hillary “a nasty woman” may hurt more than he ever meant as it might well be a catalyst to some women who had been leaning toward him to back away.

The thing he said that had most up in arms was his failure to agree to accept the result of the election. He’ll keep us “in suspense” on that one.  Newspapers around the country led with his statement.

Trump clarified later.  He will accept the results of the election — if he wins.  It also seems he has backed away from that a bit more, saying he would, maybe.

Donald called Hillary “wrong” when she said he had supported the Iraq War before it began.  Hillary told people to google “Donald Trump Iraq.”  And many did.  There is the evidence, in a tape on Howard Stern’s Radio Program, of Trump supporting the idea of the war before it had begun.

Hillary claimed her plans wouldn’t raise the deficit.  That’s doubtful.  Trump refuted claims his plans would raise the deficit by twenty trillion dollars, double what it is.  He claimed that it wasn’t true because he would create so many jobs.  Also doubtful.

Every year of a presidential election, there is the Al B. Smith Dinner to raise funds for the charitable foundation named after the man who was the first Catholic to run for President.

Hillary was on one side of Cardinal Dolan and Donald was on the other.  The civility and joking that is the signature of this traditional dinner was soon lost to hostility.  Trump was booed when he went over the line by saying something like:  Hillary is here pretending she doesn’t hate Catholics, a reference to a WikiLeaks released email from her campaign expressing concern about conservative Catholics.

But they shook hands at the end, an event that was announced from the stage.

President Duterte of the Philippines is in China, where he has declared that his country will “separate” from the United States as we “have lost.”  However, he didn’t give China the carrot they really wanted.  He won’t walk away from the 1951 deal that gives the US bases in the Philippines.

Duterte is quite the character.  He has been accused of mounting squads of killers when he was a Mayor.  The Philippines Senate is looking into those charges and some senior officials have been saying: oh no!  He didn’t mean separation.

He has compared his crusade against drug dealers and users to Hitler’s Holocaust.

The battle to retake Mosul carries on while at the same time, IS has launched an attack on oil rich Kirkuk with suicide bombers and gunmen targeting police.  In Mosul, Iraqi fighters have made significant gains, probably better than expected.  But Kirkuk pointed out the shift in IS tactics to “pop up” attacks rather than holding territory.  And that even when vanquished from Mosul, they will not have been defeated.

In forty or so minutes, I will be back in Hudson.  In my mailbox, it is my hope, is my Cozmo, my robotic toy, which I hope will divert me from the trials and travails of the “real” world.

Though my world has not been harsh to me today.  Last night I watched my friend Todd Broder present to the NY Video Meet-up, had dinner with a friend and, today, breakfast with my friends Meryl and Ray before a pre-op physical [my eye] and now the grey ride home…

Later.

 

 

Letter From Claverack 10 18 2016 On the cusp…

October 18, 2016

The day is diminishing; the sunset flickers through the turning leaves, a panorama of burnished gold in the west.  Classical music plays in the background and a soft wind is blowing through this, the last great weather day we will probably have until spring unfolds over Claverack Creek.  It was 86 degrees today with a cloudless sky and a fall wind in a warm day.

Once I recall a day like this when I was very young.  It is the kind of day that holds intimations of immortality.  Tonight’s sunset reminds me of the brilliant ones I witnessed on trips to Santorini, up at Franco’s Bar, poised over the caldera, thinking that in the sunset I understood the hold Greek myth has had over us for twenty-five centuries or more.

Once, at Franco’s, I wrote a poem on that and now have no idea where it is.  But I remember the moment, sitting there, pen scratching in my notebook as the golden sun turned the waters in the caldera its ripe color.

We are in the cusp of fall and summer has reached out to hold us one day more in its warm embrace, harkening us to remember its feel so we will wait, patiently, for its return in another new year.

2017

Who would have thought? Certainly in my youth I never thought that year would see me inhabit it.  Yet chances are I’ll be here when it comes marching in or crawling in or bursting upon us.

Soon there will be an election and someone new will move into the White House.  If it is Hillary, she’ll have been there but in a very different role now than then.  If it is Donald Trump, it will, perchance, signal a new and different age in our political history.

Time will tell.  Tomorrow is the next debate and I will watch, though not waiting breathlessly for it.  But I will watch.  It is “must see” TV for me this season.

The tree tops are swaying in the wind; the burnished gold has become the color of smoky topaz.  Twilight is descending.

Iraqi troops are marching toward Mosul, meeting, as expected, fierce resistance from IS.  Some Iraqis, in a scene that reminded me of tales of our Civil War, went onto a mountain side to watch the battle unfold beneath them.

IS intends to hold Mosul at any cost and if it loses it, to make it a humanitarian disaster.  The word that crosses my mind as I type is “barbarian.”

Iraqis remaining in the city have become bolder in their resistance of late to IS, supplying Iraq with vital information.  IS is killing anyone found attempting to leave the city.

When I was with the Internet start-up, Sabela Media, Yahoo was the industry behemoth.

Its revenue declined again this quarter and Verizon is asking for a reduction in price to buy it because of the hacking scandal.

Because they were known as bullies in the early years, I have always found it hard to be empathic though it is sorry to see a once great company slowly self-immolate.  And from people I know who are dealing with them currently, some within Yahoo just can’t accept what is happening now.  Ostriches with their heads in the sand…

Dark has descended and I am sitting at the table on the deck, with candlelight for illumination, listening to the classical music but also listening to the sounds of woodland creatures making their noises.

It is very special tonight.  The world is swinging in its orbit, momentous things are happening and as they are happening, there are the sounds of birds in the night, classical music and, because of them, a murmur of hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

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

June 4, 2016

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.

Letter From New York 04 14 2016 Moving down the Hudson River…

April 14, 2016

The Catskills are covered with a soft haze as I move south on the train; the Hudson River glistens like rippled, burnished steel.  I am headed to the city for a few social get togethers, more about pleasure than business.  Tomorrow morning, I am going to the exhibit “Pergamon” at the Metropolitan Museum.  It chronicles the art of the Hellenistic period, from the death of Alexander to the rise of the Roman Empire.

I have a late lunch with my childhood friend, Mary Clare, and then drinks with Nick Stuart, of whom I have seen too little in the last few weeks and then back to Hudson on tomorrow’s 5:47.

The sun glitters but it is not yet warm and yet so pleasant that it feels decadent.  Speaking with friends this morning, we reminded each other that we were incredibly lucky:  we are not Syrian refugees or fleeing Boko Haram or fearing suicide bombers in Baghdad.

Nor am I in southern Japan where an earthquake measuring 6.5 struck, toppled houses and buckled roads.

All those things happened today, the 14th of April, 2016 CE.

It is a good day for Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who will not be charged with battery over his altercation with a reporter recently.

It was a good and bad day for mothers whose daughters were kidnapped two years ago by Boko Haram.  CNN aired a “proof of life” video that showed many of the lost girls alive and at the same time highlighted the failure of the Nigerian government to free them.

For 3 hours and 40 minutes Putin fielded questions on his annual call-in show.  He described the Panama Papers as an “American provocation” and assured viewers that the economy will get better next year.  He ordered an investigation into two women’s complaints they hadn’t been paid in months.   It gave him a chance to seem grand and magnanimous while underscoring the illusion that Russia is a democracy.

As he chatted with his constituents, Putin’s jets flew low passes over a US warship, something that disturbed Secretary of State John Kerry.

We are putting combat troops into the Philippines as the South China Sea dispute ratchets up with the Chinese, who have now deployed combat jets in the area.

Isn’t there a better way?

Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican and a supporter of gay sex marriage, was booed off the state at an event in Boston when he didn’t say he would support a bill that would give transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their gender identity rather than that of their gender at birth.  It’s not what he expected.

Trump and Cruz are accusing each other of strong arming delegates to the Republican Convention, which has been pointing out to the general population on both sides of the political spectrum what an arcane world convention politics is, with super delegates, strange rules, and all sorts of other traditions that can manipulate the popular vote.

That is what Kasich and Cruz are hoping for the Republican convention, a brokered one that will allow one of them to grab the nomination.

Hillary is counting on those same things in the Democratic Party to ensure that she gets the nomination on her side.

Brings up images of “smoke filled rooms” from past generations.

The Hudson River in the afternoon sun is impossibly beautiful and I am privileged to enjoy the view, comfortable that I am probably not going to have to flee in the night, that I will get an evening meal and that I will be safe as I sleep.

Hudson River

It is these simple things we need to keep remembering or, at least, I need to keep remembering.

Letter From New York 03 04 2016 Far from Damascus…

March 4, 2016

Chet Baker’s “Jazz in Paris” plays while I am typing, courtesy of Amazon Prime, the service I am learning it is hard to live without.  It pays for itself with free shipping around Christmas not to mention being able to find things there I can’t find easily in stores.  I mean it seems like everything is there.  They have just released a new device, Amazon Tap, that works with their Echo.  Have to learn more about that…

When I woke this morning, it was chill but bright and light speckled on the creek as I looked out the window waiting for my electric kettle to boil the water for my tea.

It was an easy day.  I spent the morning in the annual great American adventure, preparing information for my taxes for the accountant who does both my business and my personal returns.  Finishing that, I went to Hudson and had lunch with my friend Dena Moran, who has moved her shop, Olde Hudson, into larger digs.  Afterwards, I had my oil changed and then came home and gathered the piles of receipts and prepared for them to be stored away.

While we were at lunch, Dena and I both checked out what Mitt Romney said about Donald Trump.  While I was doing taxes, Mitt was skewering The Donald, calling him a “phony,” “a fraud” and many other things.  Good for Mitt… It’s the most I have respected him in years.

Trump responded in The Donald’s way.  He looked back on 2012 when he said Mitt would have dropped to his knees to have The Donald’s endorsement.  That’s not a pretty picture…  According to The Donald, Mitt’s a failed candidate and the only person who “chokes” more than Mitt is Marco Rubio.

Does anyone get tired of this?

Shockingly, among Muslims who vote Republican, he’s the most popular candidate.  What?  Not something I understand but it’s real.  It seems they think once elected, he’ll become pragmatic and work on economic issues, which is their greatest concern, and forgot all the anti-Muslim rhetoric.  There is a part of me that suspects they are delusional, rather like Jews who couldn’t really believe Hitler was serious.

Caitlyn Jenner is supporting Ted Cruz, which seems as crazy to me as Muslims supporting The Donald.

In other happy news, Kim Jong Un of North Korea has ordered his military to be ready to use nuclear weapons at any time.  Perhaps preemptively, as the UN voted in the most severe sanctions in twenty years against his country.  The pudgy young man is determined, desperately determined, the world give him respect.  I suspect bad parenting.

In Syria, the fragile truce has given some respite to the desperate inhabitants of that poor country.  Thinking about them helped me realize how grateful I am to be here, poised above the Claverack Creek where sun speckles in the morning on the water, where I can listen to jazz and think about the issues of the world while not dodging mortar fire or bombs from above.

Letter From New York 01 11 16 A temporary peace…

February 11, 2016

Amtrak  Hudson River  Gary and Angel Koven  The Knot  Bernie Sanders  Donald Trump  Hillary Clinton  Einstein  Theory of Relativity  Oregon Standoff  Ammon Bundy  NATO  Syria  Russia  Secretary Kerry  Lavrov  Saudi Arabia 

As I start this, I am riding south on Amtrak, heading into the city to see my primary care physician, who is in the city, to bring him up to date on my medical adventures.

The Hudson is a steely grey, occasionally looking like burnished silver when the sun breaks through the heavy cloud cover.  My friend, James Linkin, is sitting beside me, happy to see me up and walking.

The river is choppy, not surprising as the wind is up and biting, making it feel much colder than the temperature.  I am tired as I often am these days though grateful to be up and out of bed and on the move.

My world feels altered in some way by my sojourn in the hospital.  My friends often describe me as thoughtful and I am more so right now.  The last few days, I have lived in quiet, without my usual jazz playing in the background.  I’ve started to turn it on and then decided against it, preferring silence as my solace.

Tonight, I will have dinner with my friends Gary and Angel.  They have been married now for four + years and I was at their wedding.  Today their love for each other is as incandescent as it was the day they married.  I recommended them for a shoot for the 20th anniversary of The Knot, a website devoted to marriage.  One of the crew told me they were his favorite couple.

While I have been recovering, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won their respective races in New Hampshire.  Headlines wonder whether Hillary’s campaign is about to implode and I wonder about the future of the country.  The Trump juggernaut continues and that scares the hell out of me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.  The Daily News had scathing headlines about his victory saying zombies had come out to vote.  One wonders…

Scientists are wondering less since they have found gravitational waves which fit into Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Great scientific excitement and my friend, James, was particularly excited.  He’s a fan of the physicist and shares his birthday with Einstein.

The Oregon Standoff is over.  Bundy, Sr. has been arrested, following son Ammon to jail.  And other standoff chapter is finished and this time, thankfully, without mass deaths.

NATO is sending warships into the Aegean to see if it can stem the flow of refugees, many being transported by human traffickers.  The seas are rough, dozens are dying and the fighting rages back in Syria.

Saudi Arabia is said to have made a “final” decision to send troops to Syria.  That is not going to uncomplicate things.

And while they might be sending troops, they’re not taking in their brethren, rather letting them suffer their fate on water than let them into their own lands.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Lavrov, says this will result in an terminable, never ending war with the possibility of a new world war at the end of the game.  Loverly.

The Saudis might make their move in concert with the Turks, who have been engaged in verbal hostilities with Russia ever since they downed a Russian jet before the New Year.

Secretary Kerry is desperately trying to get the Peace Talks going but it seems hard to get the sides into the same building not to mention the same room.  Well, actually, they have no intention of being in the same room.  If there is any dialogue, it will be through messengers shuttling between rooms.  Could cost a lot of shoe leather but if there is progress, it would be worth it.

The Mideast already seems mired in that “interminable war.”  470,000 have died in Syria since the outbreak of protests against Assad five years ago.  Millions of Syrians are in camps and desperate to get out to a better life, somewhere.

The day has faded.  I am sitting in a deli in the city, sipping a cup of black coffee [I’m not allowed cream yet], looking out into the night that has fallen, the bright lights of cars heading down 7th Avenue, people scurrying from the cold.

All peaceful here.  But for how long?

Letter From New York 11 25 15 On Thanksgiving Eve…

November 25, 2015

It is 5:12 on Thanksgiving Eve and it is dark out, pitch black.  The sun has receded and gone to sleep for the night.  As often is the case, jazz is playing and I am writing what probably will be a fairly quick Letter.

In the kitchen, I am preparing pumpkin soup for tomorrow, a quick and easy Jacques Pepin recipe I found some time ago and dearly love — as do the people to whose house I am going tomorrow for the Thanksgiving feast. 

When I finish that, I am going on to do the creamed pearl onions with peas.

Tomorrow, I will do the cranberries once I have decided on a recipe.  Then, around one, will pack it into the car and head up to Larry and Alicia’s where I’ll be, staying at their place for the night so I don’t have to drive back after all the feasting and fun.

Lionel will be there and has been asked to bring along his sheet music so he can bash out some tunes for us after dinner.

So, for me, this has been a day of prepping, which I find fun.  Had a haircut, for which I was overdue.

Even without the fire, it is cozy in the cottage.  In about half an hour I am going to head over to Lionel’s house where he is cooking us dinner.

Cooking onions now…

While I am involved in the pleasantries of prepping for The Great American Holiday, which I love almost as much as Christmas, I know the world is not having the fun I’m having.

There is the knotty problem of IS, and Syria, Turkey, Russia, France, the US, Iran, UK,  are all working to figure out how to deal with them against the backdrop of Turkey having just shot down a Russian warplane.  Russia is deploying anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.  Kick it up another notch…

Paris is still recovering.  Tunisia has been hit with a suicide bomber. 

Video of a young black man being shot by a white policeman in Chicago has stirred protests and residents are being warned of possible gang violence in the wake of its release.  The police officer has been charged with First Degree Murder. 

The video is online but I don’t have the stomach to watch it on Thanksgiving Eve, while cooking and prepping.

And the magic moment has arrived when I must close this missive and head over to Lionel’s.

To everyone who reads this and to everyone who doesn’t, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!  May you enjoy your day and the people with whom you spend it.