Archive for the ‘Social Commnentary’ Category

Letter From Claverack 09 15 2017 Thoughts from a train…

September 15, 2017

It’s early on Friday morning and I am cruising down to the city today to have lunch with James Green, my former CEO from Sabela Media.  It’s sale to 24/7 is what resulted in my moving to New York and ultimately in my being on this train, on my way to see him.

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When I woke this morning, the cottage was being pelted by heavy rain and by the time I reached the train station the sun had broken through and there is the promise of a lovely day in front of me.

I will probably not linger in the city as I will be back again next Monday and Wednesday and today have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Cleaning up is what my friends on Saba are doing, my sister and brother-in-law in Florida, people in Georgia and South Caroline and the Keys and Cuba; everywhere touched by the wrath of Irma, following hard on the heels of Harvey, thinking of that just after texting my friend in Houston who missed Harvey and has now returned.

Figuring out what to do about the pudgy, pugnacious, paranoid, peculiar, peevish, perturbed, peculiar, pesky, piggish, perverse, pompous, potbellied, preposterous little dictator Kim Jong-Un in North Korea is becoming ever more problematic.  While I slept, he shot another missile across Japan, after the U.N. passed more sanctions against him.

Distressing, horrible and disturbing is that another bomb went off in the London subway, eighteen have been injured. Thankfully none of them seriously.  Something went wrong and it apparently didn’t fully detonate.  Thank God.

Our Tweeter in Chief, lectured the Brits and used the incident to appeal for a broader travel ban and tighter internet controls.  I didn’t see any condolences; might have missed them.  I hope they were sent.

They weren’t sent after the earthquake in Mexico that killed a hundred; that has resulted in increasing the stress in our already stressed relations with that country.  It’s a pretty deep and treacherous arroyo.

Out is space, the Cassini spacecraft has burned up in the rings of Saturn after discovering six new moons and many other discoveries, including subsurface oceans on Enceladus.  Mysteries to be solved, discovered by a mission that some scientists have worked on for nearly three decades.  At the end, they hugged, applauded and cried.

Earlier today I posted this quote on Facebook:

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
― Edgar D. Mitchell about looking at the earth from the moon…

And that’s what I want to say to Kim Jong-Un and the rest of the politicians.  Look at that you sons of bitches!  Look at that!

 

 

Letter From Claverack 09 12 2017 Memories, hard and bittersweet…

September 12, 2017

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Living disjointedly in time, apparently, I woke up thinking yesterday was September 10th and, as I read the morning paper, realized I was out of step with time.  Yesterday was the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 and I had a deep heaviness fall on me as I listened to a young woman on NPR who had been born after that day and for whom it is an event heard about in history classes, not something she can return to in her mind as so many of us can, particularly if you were in New York City, Washington, or Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

It’s not often I go there in my mind and today, for the first time, I haven’t felt an emotional ouch of the kind I have every other year.  Much of that is that I am monitoring Irma as friends and family are enduring her as she moves up the peninsula.  My sister and brother-in-law are without power but seem okay while I have friends not yet heard from in Jacksonville which is suffering “historic” flooding.

Yesterday was not dissimilar to that day sixteen years ago; bright sun, hardly a cloud in the sky, warm, waking on a day that seemed God had made to put smiles on our faces.

So, it is I ended my day with a moment of silence, thinking on the thousands that died that day and all the many, many thousands more that have died since in the ripple of effects of 9/11.

For perhaps the eighth or ninth time, I re-read the last few pages of “Call Me by Your Name,” a novel by Andre Aciman, a brilliant and, for me, painful read.  It is the story of seventeen-year-old Elio, son of a professor, living on the Italian Riviera who has an affair with Oliver, a twenty-five-year-old graduate assistant to his father.

Andre Aciman’s writing is so exquisite it is hard for anyone who works with words to read because that kind of beauty is so hard to achieve and I know I will never achieve that kind of beauty in my own work.

It was also hard for me to read because during my 17th year I had my own Oliver, though we never consummated our affair.  On a sunny, spectacular Minnesota fall day I walked into my first Spanish class of my freshman year and there was Marvin, my T.A., a man slightly taller than I, exotically handsome.  He looked Latin, as if he walked out of Andean village.

He was from Queens, who had been in the Peace Corps in Chile.  As I came into the room, he greeted me with “Hola, rubio!” “Blonde one” and that is what he called me during the year.  And I am not sure how it was I became friends with Marvin but I did as well as his two closest friends, Maryam and Caroline.

We had dinner together at the old Nankin restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, a palace of Chinese deco and good food.  Marvin and I talked through the night on many nights, wrapping each other in words when we probably wanted to wrap our arms around each other.  Maryam lived in Mexico when she was not in school and was addicted to Coca-Cola and we made a hysterical search for a real coke one winter night, tearing around in my Acapulco Blue Mustang.  Place after place served Pepsi and that was no alternative for a Maryam in need of a fix.

Early on, Caroline and I sat drinking coffee in Coffman Union and she suddenly looked at me and said:  why am I telling all of this to a seventeen-year old?  But we told most things to each other and I loved them all and Marvin most of all.

Not seducing me was his way of loving me.  And I remember the last summer, drinking Cuba Libres and hearing how he was not coming back to work on his Doctorate but leaving for New York to become a rent boy, which shocked the other three of us.

He left one day, leaving me with a sadness that still can be called up in my heart.  Caroline went on to more grad school; Maryam back to Mexico and that magical year slipped into the wake of my days, coming back to bittersweet life as I read the story of Elio and Oliver, remembering a time when I had an Oliver.

 

Letter From Claverack 07 20 2017 Written from the “land of off…”

July 20, 2017

Edgartown harbor shimmers below me; boats bob at anchor on a quiet, very warm afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard – the warmest day I have experienced in the half dozen or so summers I have visited the island.  Seated in the shade, with a soft wind blowing off the water, it is tolerable though earlier today most people seemed intent on finding air conditioning, crowding cool restaurants and shops.

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Last year I was here to help with my friends’ bookstore, Edgartown Books.  This year, I am here for just a week, to relax, read, relax some more, eat, perhaps sail a bit with my friends, eat, relax, sip a martini, read, a wonderful and undemanding rhythm; my friend Jeffrey calls it “the land of off.”

Reading was too wearying for me and I went to my room and promptly napped, waking just in time for a conference call.

Sadie, one of the two Bernese mountain dogs who live here, is recovering from back surgery, making slow and steady improvement from a bad fall some months ago.  Every day, she has water therapy in the pool.

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Far above me, a bi-plane circles, taking sightseers on an aerial tour of the island.  It is soft, bucolic and very, very far from the madding crowd.

Which is why it is very nice, in these strange times, to be in “the land of off.”  The amount of news consumed is less.  Last year, the kitchen television played CNN.  This year, old movies run constantly.  In the background of my morning coffee, “The Great Race” played, starring Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis.

Finishing a trifle of a murder mystery by a woman who seems to knock off a book a month, I felt content with little demanded of me.

An exegesis of political affairs is a shade depressing, to make mild of a situation now more astounding by the day.

Donald Trump, Jr. is being described as a “good boy,” a “nice young man” though he is scraping forty and has five children.  It is a time honored American defense used by the Kennedys when Teddy drove off a bridge not far from where I sit and a young woman died, Mary Jo Kopechne, lest we forget her name.  It is a time-honored defense for American men though not for women.  Ponder that.

Railing to the New York Times, Donald Trump, has declared he would never have offered Jeff Sessions the job of Attorney General if he had known he would recuse himself from the Russian investigation.  Sessions has said, post Trump’s remarks, he’ll stay as long as “it’s appropriate.”  Geez, I don’t know if I would stay when I knew I wasn’t wanted, especially so publicly unwanted.

Today, at noon, Trump celebrated the six-month mark in office.  You make your own decision on how well he has done.  We are one eighth of the way through his Presidency.

In Palos Verde, CA, forty-one-year old Chester Bennington, lead singer of the group Linkin Park, was found dead, an apparent suicide, succumbing to the demons he was open about but could not, it seems, master.  Rest in peace.

Twenty-two years ago, I was in Australia when OJ Simpson was acquitted of murdering his wife Nicole and her friend, Ron Goldman.  Today he was granted parole from a prison sentence resulting from an armed robbery.  He should be released in October.

Seeking comfort, I watch the newest season of “Midsomer Mysteries” and anticipate the return of “The Last Tycoon,” starring Matt Bomer and Kelsey Grammer, about a movie studio in the 1930’s, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last, unfinished novel.

It seems no wonder to me, we are immersing ourselves in some of the best television in history; we need escape, diversion and pleasure from a world that is more than untidy.

So, I sit, on my friends’ deck, watching boats bob at anchor or scud across the bay, with birds chirping while Sadie is ministered to, the future feels far, far away and the present oh so pleasant.

Letter From Claverack 05 24 2017 Where is Robin Hood when you need him?

May 25, 2017

This morning one of my guests on the radio show was Tadd Mann, who is an astrologer and, in these parts, is THE astrologer.

He has been a guest at the cottage several times, including the last beautiful night of last year; the next day the damp and dark fell upon us but that night was a moment out of eternity.

He told me that among his skills are those of feng shui, the Chinese art of placement, and that he had just returned from advising some people on the best places to build on their new property.

His belief is that the cottage is so coddled in peace because of its feng shui; whether consciously or not the house was built in the perfect spot on the land, the creek flows correctly, all is good by the rules of the art.

Every time I walk in the door, I feel the pressure in my body fall.  And I need the cottage’s coddling sorely these days.

It feels like I am living in the time of King Richard, off to the Crusades, and Prince John is the keeper of the kingdom.  Prince John, with the Sheriff of Nottingham, is raping the land [and the maidens] while the King is away.

Trump is Prince John and someone is the Sheriff [there are many candidates for that role in this administration].

It feels we are living through an interregnum.  The real king will return someday.

And I am feeling much of this because Trump’s budget has been revealed and it seemed to be a steal from the poor and give to the rich kind of budget.  It is an outrageous plan for America and avoids so much we need to be worried about and hurts, deeply, many of the people who voted for him.

It is outrageous.

The policies being put forward by this administration are mind boggling.  Seriously mind boggling.

Churchill quote on Art

 

Everything needs to be fixed and it doesn’t need to be destroyed.  The ACA was flawed.  So, fix it.  Medicare was flawed and people worked to fix it.  There isn’t anything that can’t be improved and throwing something away isn’t always the best way of fixing.

The CBO analysis of the Republican AHCA has come out, revealed to be more harmful than the first version.

May the Senate stand strong.  On Health Care.  On this cockamamie budget.

If you have been reading me, you know I take breaks from all of this because I can’t take it.  Last week one day, I went through the wormhole and surfaced hours later, dazed, and feeling like I needed a good, long, hot shower with copious amounts of soap.

The New York Post, the mouthpiece for Rupert Murdoch, is reporting that our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, did not reveal meetings with Russians in forms he filled out.  Nor did Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, reveal meetings with Russians he had had when he applied for security clearance.

Sessions says he didn’t think he needed to because he met them as part of his Senatorial responsibilities. Gosh.

The liberal press will be all over this.  What I find interesting is that the Post is all over this.  The New York Post.  The effing NY Post, the most conservative paper in New York, generally the excuser of all Republican foibles.  Is this the work of James and Lachlan, not fans of Trump?  Or is it that Rupert smells blood in the water and wants to be on the right side of the story?

All of this, and I mean all of this, is so extraordinary it boggles the mind.  Apparently my word for the day.

Which is why I am so glad I can return to my cottage, feng shui perfect, listen to jazz, have a martini or two, and center myself in the earth and realize that there are some things I can do and many things I cannot.

It is my obligation to be aware and to comment.

And it is my obligation to myself to center myself in the universe to survive all this, all of which feels like some dystopian novel I am living through and it is not a novel: it is reality.

So, go be good to yourselves and don’t forget we need to get beyond the interregnum.  The King will return.

Letter From Claverack 11 14 2016 The world we are waking to…

November 15, 2016

On Sunday, as I was returning to my pew post communion, one of my fellow parishioners, Susan Schuette, reached out her hand to me and asked if everything was alright?  She had noticed a dearth of postings since Election Day.

Wednesday, the day after the Election, I had cataract surgery [which went very well] and it gave me the perfect excuse to be at home with the blinds drawn, to not listen to the news, to eat comfort food and to binge watch on Amazon Prime.  I ate enough mashed potatoes with gravy AND butter for a family of five.

In the slightly hungover state from the relaxants they gave me while working on my eye, I sought to absorb the absolute fact the Donald Trump, television reality star, billionaire real estate mogul, orange tinged with the magnificently weird hair, was President Elect.

Rejoicing is being had on the right while the left is shattered and, quite frankly, totally at a loss as to what has happened.

My dear, dear friend Sarah, known since we were three, and I spoke today.  She lived for seven years in Franco’s Spain and feels we are moving in that direction, to be living in that kind of fear.  A social worker, her Hispanic clients are terrified, if undocumented they fear a door to door search for them.  If documented, they simply fear being profiled and harassed or worse.

Events since the election have fueled all our fears.

At an Episcopal Church in Maryland, the times for Spanish language service were torn down, replaced by graffiti that said: Trump Nation.  Whites only!

At the University at Pennsylvania, incoming African American students received emails from a group called “Mudmen,” announcing a “Nigger” lynching every day.

In Wellsville, NY a dugout was spray painted with the words:  Make America White Again, with a swastika.

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The swastika seems to be a much used symbol for those who are doing these things.

It has been reported in St. Louis a group of high school students marched through their school halls with a Trump sign shouting, “White power!  White power!”

A Muslim woman at the University of Michigan was approached by a white man, demanding she remove her hijab or be set on fire.

Ah, yes, the milk of human kindness…

When asked what I think, I say that I expect the next few years are going to be experiential.

A friend phoned me on Thursday and we talked about the election and he said, well you don’t have anything to be worried about.  After all, Pence is the one who is going to be running things after all.

Pence is homophobic.  Mentioning that to my friend, I said I did not feel safer as a gay man in America since this election.  Some of Trump’s supporters say unpleasant things about us though Trump did say in an interview with Lesley Stahl for “60 Minutes” that gay marriage was the law of the land.

He also told, in a bit of milk toast sort of way, that his supporters who might be doing anti-Semitic actions or harassing Hispanics to stop it.  It didn’t sound all that forceful.

The New York Post has called “fake” incidents of hate crimes since the election.  Maybe they would have happened anyway.  I’m not convinced.

It is a sobering time.  It is now my responsibility to be vigilant and to work against moments of hate.  It is my responsibility to work to restore a more liberal voice in this country and I will.  I’m not sure how but I will find some way to do it.

Republicans own the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and 32 of 50 gubernatorial posts.  They have the run of the land.  Let us see what they do with it.

And let us be prepared to be the loyal opposition.

At Christ Church Episcopal on Sunday, safety pins were given out.  They are to say to those who are frightened because of color, sex, race, religion, disability that you are a person they can be safe with.

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Mine will be worn tomorrow.  It maybe I will offer them to my students.  It is my hope we all continue to be safe and that we are not falling into my friend Sarah’s fear that we are living in a time that will evolve into Franco’s Spain.

 

Letter From the Train, going south 10 28 2016 Mindful and grateful…

October 28, 2016

The bright sun that launched the day has become hidden behind clouds as I progress south on the train into New York City.  The fall colors still show themselves and we are definitely making a walk toward winter.

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It snowed yesterday, three inches, quickly gone with the cold seeping deeply into my bones while I layered clothes for the weather.

Today and tomorrow, I am going to be attending “Produced By,” a conference held by the Producers Guild of America, of which I am a member.  There are several sessions that should be helpful as I work on producing “First Guru,” a film about Vivekananda, who brought Yoga and Hinduism to the US in 1893.  WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago, will be the presenting station.  Near the Art Institute of Chicago, where Vivekananda gave his first speech, there is a Vivekananda Way.

There is much talk in the world today of “mindfulness,” pausing a moment to find yourself in the clutter of noise that surrounds us.  As I was writing that sentence and attempting to be mindful of myself and the beauty around me, I received an email that put me out of mindfulness into gratitude.

Several weeks ago I was requested to submit a proposal to The University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Presidential Politics and Policies to do a consulting assignment for them and an email arrived while I was on the train that they had accepted my proposal and wanted to start moving.

Which generated a flurry of activity as I reached out to thank my references for graciously supporting me.  Followed by other things and setting up a conference call with The Miller Center for Monday afternoon and before I knew it, the train was gliding into Penn Station.

After stopping at Tracks Restaurant in the belly of Penn Station for a bowl of their clam chowder, I am now at the apartment, finishing the letter before going off to the first session of the conference.

As I was driving to the station today, I noticed that there were many Trump/Pence signs and no Clinton/Kaine signs.  Pondering that, I wonder if the liberals in Columbia and Greene Counties tend to be “closeted.”  Political discord can run deep in the Hudson River Valley.  I’ve been told the tale of a Greene County resident who years ago registered himself as a Republican because until he did his County services were, shall we say, spotty…

There is another FBI look into Clinton’s emails.  The two big burly men seated next to me at Tracks as I chowdered were none too happy about that.

Anthony Weiner, who fell from Congress because of his sexting problems, apparently had some emails that somehow connected to the Clinton case on the computer the FBI seized after his most recent sexting troubles.  His wife, a close confidante and aid to Hillary Clinton, left her husband after it was discovered he was sexting someone while their son slept next to him.

The “Produced By” Conference is being held at Time – Warner Center.  Time Warner has just been purchased by AT&T.

The single most catastrophic merger in the history of corporations was the merger of AOL and Time Warner.  Now, it is hoped that Time Warner and AT&T will do better.  But as a friend of mine, Jeff Cole, Executive Director of USC’s Annenberg School of Communications Center for the Digital Future, has observed that it is a little hard to imagine a phone company meshing well with a Hollywood behemoth.

We will see, if the regulators allow it to happen.

And, in Jerusalem, researchers have opened, for the first time in centuries, what is believed to have been Jesus’ tomb.  Since the days of Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor, there has been a building there to make the spot.  Constantine sent his mother, Helena, to Jerusalem to find it.  [Maybe a good way to get a pesky mother off your hands for a few years?]

Marble has encased the slab where is body is said to have rested.  Careful archeological work will be done over the next months and years.

Off to the conference…

 

 

Letter From Claverack 09 23 2016 And what Springsteen said…

September 24, 2016

It has been days since I have written a letter.  Partially it is because I have been socially busy when I am usually not.   Lionel and Pierre are here.  Yesterday his sister and brother-in-law and their son Harry arrived from Australia.  Tomorrow they are leaving for a cruise in the Caribbean.  While they’re gone, I will be caretaker for Marcel for most of the time, a task I will both enjoy and of which I am afraid.  In less than a month, Marcel will be 16 years old.  He is a little old man who soldiers on with bravado.

Fall has officially arrived and leaves are beginning to flutter down upon the cottage.  Every few minutes an acorn falls on the roof.  While still warmish in the days, it cools significantly at night.  A cold front is arriving, the weatherman says.

It has been a hectic day, starting early with documents to review, followed by a string of conference calls and then more documents to review.  When I went online to post something for my class, I discovered that Blackboard is offline, as it is every Friday at this time, for maintenance. It will have to wait until morning.

Social busyness was the cover for my not wanting to write, to not think about the world.  I read the New York Times Briefing every day and have found discouragement in its contents.

More people have been shot.  A white female officer in Tulsa has been charged with manslaughter in the case there.  In Charlotte, North Carolina, the town that prided itself as being the epitome of the “New South,” is still parsing the death of a black man there while protests have grown violent, leaving one more dead.

At times, frankly, it makes me want to crawl into bed with a chill bottle of vodka and a straw.  More and more people are telling me they are tuning out the acrid political scene of this year.  They have determined which way they are going to vote and have no need to be brutalized anymore.

The first of the debates are upon us and I may steel myself to watch it.  I just don’t know how long I will last.

Two of the most deeply disliked individuals in America are running for President.  There is no joy in Mudville.

Palmer Luckey is one of the founders of Oculus, the VR hardware company scooped up by Facebook a bit ago.  He is funding an anti-Clinton, pro-Trump group and a small group of developers are now dropping their support for Oculus because of his politics.  It’s far from a boycott but is unusual and probably unprecedented in the gaming world.

Once nominated for President, candidates get Secret Service protection.  The Secret Service reimburses campaigns for the agents’ travel.  In Trump’s case, it goes to TAG Air, a company he owns.  It has received $1.6 million so far.  I get it…  Sort of… Kind of…

Looking for things to distract me from drownings of refugees, our sordid political landscape, I turned tonight to Entertainment News, which is what feeds the American mind most of the time.

“Magnificent Seven” reigns at the box office, headlined by Denzel Washington.

The more than decade long spectacle that has been “Brangelina” is coming to an end as Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.  It was a good show, classier than most, most of the time.

The Emmys have come and gone.  All reports [I didn’t watch] was that it was a good show.  Jimmy Kimmel was highly praised for his hosting but the back slapping industry love fest plummeted 22% from last year in ratings.

And Jim Parsons, of “Big Bang Theory” is now TV’s highest paid actor, with $25,000,000 coming in for the next, and possibly last, season of the show.

Oh, and Bruce Springsteen called Trump a “moron.”

 

 

 

 

Letter From New York 07 21 15 Of cabbages and kings…

July 21, 2015

In the past eight hours, I think I have done at least eight loads in the dishwasher. Last night, my friends Alana and Patrick were here for dinner along with Jeremiah and Jim. In prepping the dinner and setting the table, I used many dishes and most of my pots and pans. The cleanup was formidable but worth it. The night was a success.

Since I am working from home, I granted myself extra sleep this morning and sat on the deck with my coffee and NY Times. The day has shifted from sun to clouds, with a spattering of rain about thirty minutes ago. We’ve been warned to watch for stray thunderstorms. I’m watching.

Before the sun was too high in the sky, I meandered through the neighborhood and spent most of the walk swatting bugs from around my eyes. But it was a peaceful, restful moment and I was glad for the time by myself. My phone was in my pocket but I was undisturbed.

Except for a few conference calls and emails, there wasn’t much on my agenda today.

I’m treasuring this week at the cottage, letting things flow through my mind, as they will, without the distraction of traffic and congestion and the noise of the big city. Today, I have not left the neighborhood.

It has been delicious.

When I went online to take a look at the news, it seemed all rather grim. Or maybe it is just the grey sky outside.

Though Donald Trump has managed to bring me a laugh or two today. He gave out, for who knows what reason, Lindsey Graham’s personal cell phone number whom then told him to stop being a “jackass.” No way that is going to happen. Let us watch the game play out! Bombastic and irrational, he is stirring up this race in interesting ways. Everyone wants him to go away but Donald is not going to go away, at least while he is leading in the polls.

Ohio Governor Kasich is joining the Republican herd seeking the Presidential nomination. He will be the 16th person seeking that party’s nomination. I don’t ever remember a time when the field was this crowded, on either side.

Stephen Hawking, who is, unbelievably, 73 years old, has launched a quest to find out if we are alone. Backed by US based Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner, a hundred million dollars has been committed to seeing if we can find intelligent life out there. Bravo!

Have you ever been to Ottawa? I was once, a thousand and two years ago. It’s the capital of Canada and is the place where 20% of the population is on Ashleymadison.com, a website devoted to people who want to have an affair, highest percentage of any city in the world. Ottawa! You Canadians go! I’m astounded but not totally surprised.

Prince George is turning two tomorrow. Cute pictures of him are everywhere on the web. We may have declared independence from Britain but we still love their royal family.

There are no more splatters of rain. The sun is setting. We have a pearl grey night shining upon us. I am happy. Hope you are too.

Letter From New York 06 18 15 From Waterloo to refugees to Laudato si…

June 18, 2015

Sitting at the dining room table at my cottage, I am looking out toward the creek, seeing a grey and moody day outside. It is almost chill and I’m wearing a fleece jacket to ward off the cool. I am in a slightly cranky mood from both the grey and that I am being told I must have flood insurance by the company which just bought my mortgage from the last owners of it who had bought it from someone else. In the fourteen and a half years I have been here, I have never had to have flood insurance before.

Part of me shrugs and goes: just one more thing to deal with and I will. My neighbors to the south of me have had some flooding issues but I am much, much higher than they are. We’ll see. But while I fight it, I guess I am going to have to get it and figure it out from there.

In the meantime, the British Royals have had a busy week. First there was the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta and then it’s been Ascot this week and then today we have the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in which Wellington defeated Napoleon once and for all. It was a ghastly, bloody battle in which a full quarter of the combatants were killed.

Many wrote accounts of the battle after it was over. The victors hardly felt jubilant in the wake of the destruction. But it did change history. Since then, the British and French have been allies, not enemies and have not fought each other. Napoleon was ushered into exile and his dreams of European hegemony faded. It ushered in the British Century and the great days of the British Empire.

Today there was a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to mark the Anniversary, attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

In South Carolina, there is mourning for nine individuals killed at a historic black church in Charleston by a young white man. The suspect, Dylann Roof, has been apprehended in Shelby, North Carolina. It is being labeled a hate crime. It is alleged that Roof entered the church during its Wednesday night Bible Study, stayed for an hour and then began shooting.

Obama expressed sadness and outrage and called for a national reckoning on guns, not that I think that will happen. One of the people killed was the Pastor; Obama knew him.

Laudato Si, Praise be to You, the Pope’s Encyclical, a letter of teaching, was published today and challenged the world to clean up its filth. Controversial even before its official release due to a leak, it is stirring up conversation about man’s relationship with the planet. Conservatives are not happy about it and some have been basically telling the Pope to mind his own business. But he considers this his business and he is going to have his word heard. Addressed not just to Catholics but also to every living human on the planet, Francis took a bold step that will probably only make him more popular to most while infuriating those who disagree with the stances he has taken.

It is the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, praying and spiritual rejuvenation for Muslims.   It moves with the lunar calendar.

Today there are more displaced people than ever in the world, over sixty million. Over 11 million are from Syria alone, some outside the country and some within the country. If all of them were in the same country together, it would be the 24th largest country in the world.

Lester Holt is now the permanent anchor of the Nightly News on NBC, the first African American to hold such a post. Brian Williams is not coming back to the chair he vacated when suspended in February, at least not for a while. He is going to ratings challenged MSNBC to deliver breaking news. It’s a lot like being tossed out of the Major Leagues in baseball and sent back down to the Minors.

And, apparently, he is getting a lot less money.

Outside, it is still grey, moody and gloomy. I am playing jazz on Pandora to lighten my mood. Soon, my friend Susan will be here and we’re going to Local 111 over in Philmont for dinner and a catch-up.