Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

On a snowy day…

March 19, 2018

Snow bowed branches

Shift in wind.

Delicious day,

storm watching,

cocooned at home,

Nature’s prisoner.

On The Water Posted March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018

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Slosh of waves,
Sea silence.

Warning buoy bell.

Men silent
While waves thrush,
A moment of sea respect.

Father/son
Born to
Island life;
Friend who chose it,
Man boy who lives by it.

And me,
The dilettante.

The meaning of Mathew… 03/07/2017

March 7, 2018

Last night it appeared that by dawn the world around me would be wrapped in the arms of Winter Storm Quinn and so it was decided I would not attempt to get to the studio and do my program.  Something would be used to cover me.

When I woke, the snow had not yet started so I raced to the station and did my program and, every week, when I remember, I tell my listeners what things are being celebrated today.

And one of today’s celebrations is:  what’s the meaning of your name?  So while I was playing some music I googled my name and this is what I came up with:

Mathew, a really nice guy. He is very friendly once you get to know him. He has a heart that is just waiting for some love. He is the kind of guy that will be willing to listen to you, he makes you smile when you don’t want to smile. He might be a constant downer on himself, but one day he’ll realize that he is very important to someone. He is an amazing person to talk to. He will make you laugh without him thinking that he is funny. He has his own personality and is really interesting once you get to know him. He may be weird sometimes, but that’s what makes him funto talk to.
My friend Mathew is an amazing person and he does not spell his name wrong.
My name is spelled with only one “t” because of a decision made by my family back in 1869 when the paternal side of my family arrived in America from Bavaria.  I think it seems like me.  Surprisingly so…

Today!

February 27, 2018

View while waiting for a presentation to start at Sony HQ in NYC. 02/27/2018

Letter From Claverack 02 01 2018 Closing remarks…

February 1, 2018

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It has been awhile since I last blogged, not since Thanksgiving.  There haven’t been any things I wanted to say, write about or, even, perhaps, think about.

My Facebook feed is filled with mostly the drumbeat of outrage friends have toward the Trump Administration.  My Republican friends have un-friended me and I have un-friended one over what I felt were unnecessarily impolite comments that debased our dialogue.

This blog, this “letter” began in the dark weeks following 9/11, when Hal Eisner asked me to write for his website, oriented to west coast journalists, about what it was like to be living in New York in that tragic time.

It was a very hard time.  The streets in SoHo where we were living were washed down every morning to dampen the smell of death that lingered in the air, foul, too, with the smell of burnt plastic, rubber and other toxic things.

Anthrax was sent through the mails and a jet for Puerto Rico fell from the skies over Queens.

While it was all terrible, it seemed, there was a feeling, at least I had the feeling, I was moving away from darkness toward something better, that we would overcome the horror and the hurt, there would come a day when we would not walk the streets stunned or afraid of noise, your face searched by strangers seeking the Tower lost.

We came to some normality, shattered for many when George W. Bush invaded Iraq and unleashed that genie.  We have since survived the Great Recession, seen an African American elected president and had him followed by Donald J. Trump.

In a conversation with my friends Medora and Meryl, I said I no longer felt we were walking toward light but into darkness.  There has never been a time in my life that has been like this.  Everyone morning I wake to read what are, to me, incredible stories from the political life of this nation that leave me incredulous, bemused, angered, bewildered, frightened, anxious, disturbed, uneasy, baffled, perplexed, shocked, concerned and sometimes amused.

In sitting on my deck this past summer, I decided to shake up my life.  My beloved cottage is for sale.  For a time, I will be a vagabond of sorts, anchored by what work I’m doing and the people I might want to see.  There is the possibility of some work with the Center for the Digital Future; perhaps I will go again to the Vineyard and help my friends at Edgartown Books, should they want me.  There will be time in Minneapolis with kith and kin; time in Baltimore with Lionel and Pierre.

The folks who read my “letter” mostly agree with me about the body politic and they certainly don’t need me underscoring their own anxieties nor will I convince any who read this that disagree with me.  Both sides of the political spectrum seem incapable of breathing the same air.

In the meantime, I am suspicious that the Republican Party, in which I grew up and had respect for, has become the home of a tawdry set of cheats, liars and oligarchs.  The Democrats are disorganized and, on a national level, cannot seem to find a voice to rally the nation.

I may return to some blogging, when I find something about which I would like to write and where I feel I might make some difference.  But not until I see some light at the end of the tunnel and have ascertained it’s not a train barreling toward me.

When I write again, if you would like to receive whatever blog I might create, please email me at mjt@intermat.tv.  I will create a new list.  This one will be shut down after today.

Thank you to those who have read me faithfully over lo these many years.

All best,

Mathew

 

Letter From Claverack 11 27 2018 Thanksgiving thoughts…

November 27, 2017

 

            This year I took on the responsibility for preparing Thanksgiving dinner, to be served at the home of my friends, Larry and Alicia, with six other guests.  After cooking for two days, I loaded all the food into the Prius and followed the most level roads from my house to Alicia’s and Larry’s home.  My menu, which I printed, is below:

Thanksgiving Dinner

November 23, 2017

Hors D’oeuvres

With cocktails, champagne and wine

Selection of cheeses & crackers

Pate

Radishes with butter and kosher salt

Soup

Pumpkin Soup a la Jacques Pepin

Main Course

Turkey

Rubbed in spices

Dressings

Brown bread dressing

Rice and Mushroom Dressing

Traditional Bread Dressing

Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Mashed White Potatoes

Smashed Russet Potatoes with skins

Vegetables

Honey Glazed Carrots

Haricot Vert with sage butter sauce

Freshly baked multigrain bread

Salad

Desserts

Digestifs

With musical merry making in the parlor

Led by

Lionel J White

            As I was very carefully driving, with pots, pans and containers rattling in the back of my car, I was listening to NEPR, New England Public Radio, and they switched to a story of a town just outside of Damascus, under siege by Assad’s forces for two years.  Children were eating garbage and there wasn’t even much of that.

So, I drove to my friends’ home, thinking of the bounty in my car and the stark contrast there was to the scene being described in Syria.  It is days later and I am still processing that story and the contrasts in the world and, as my friend, Medora, said this morning, you probably will be until you die.

We live in a world of contrasts and contradictions.

Yesterday, as I usually do on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, I set up my Christmas tree, while listening to Christmas Carols ordered up from my Amazon Echo.  Alexa, play holiday music!

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It is a world of wonder and a world of hard contrasts, of political acrimony and discord and it is just less than a month to Christmas and I am heading into this most wonderful of seasons [for me], determined to enjoy the bounty I have been given and to seriously think of how I can address the inequities that exist in my world, knowing I will be confounded by them until I die.

 

Letter From Claverack 11 08 2017 Thoughts while watching sun glint off the river…

November 8, 2017

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It is a grey and sullen day, seated in the United Red Carpet Club in Minneapolis’ airport, sipping a cappuccino, waiting to fly back home after a short visit to kith and kin.  It has been primarily grey and sullen here since my arrival on Friday though there was warmth in the town with my visits with friends and relatives.

It is an interesting time in my life; I am thinking of becoming a vagabond for a while, checking off some things on my bucket list while seeking sun when it is grey in the Northeast and Midwest.  A plan is beginning to emerge…

Out there in the world, the White House Reality Show continues to play to high ratings if not approval.  At this moment, the President is in Asia on the longest Asian trip since George H.W. Bush, when he famously threw up on the Prime Minister of Japan.

Bush pere and fils have come out blasting at Trump in statements, previously made, now coming to light.  “A blowhard” is one from pere.

A tragic shooting has occurred over the weekend in Texas, a man gunning down 46 people at a Baptist church in Sutherland, Texas.  26 are dead, eight from one family, and 20 injured.  There is a numbness some are feeling because we have come to accept these tragedies as part of the background of our lives.  They happen and it seems no one does anything.

Since last I wrote, a disaffected man from Uzbekistan, rolled a rental truck down a bike and walking path in New York, killing eight and wounding more.

After the Las Vegas shootings, it was “too soon” to politicize the conversation by talking about gun control but not too soon to politicize the terror attack.  Certain statements tweeted by Mr. Trump may complicate the adjudication of the crime.  But then our judicial system is a “joke” and a “laughing stock” per our president; a judicial system which is, in many ways, the envy of the world.

My desire to be a vagabond is, I’m sure, bound in with a desire to flee.  And to be free to spend more time in Minneapolis with kith and kin, friends of decades and family of which I see too little.  While here, helped my former sister-in-law with an issue and it felt good to be useful to her.

 

 

And now it is the next day and I am sliding down the west side of the Hudson River on Train 238, going down to the city only to return on the 5:47 so that I can be part of the November birthday train as my birthday is in November.  I wasn’t sure I would do this but on a whim, I parked my car and am on my way.

The day has been fun.  Tired last night, I went to the Red Dot for a “pop up” Indian restaurant and then went home, read a mystery and soon fell asleep, waking before all the alarms I had set.

During my Wednesday version of WGXC’s “Morning Show,” I played some jazz [check out The Hot Sardines!] and interviewed one of the performers of “The Mother of Us All,” a rarely performed opera by 20th Century female icon, Gertrude Stein, with libretto by Virgil Thompson.  It’s the story of Susan B. Anthony, who campaigned for women’s right to vote, achieved only after death, a hundred years ago this month, in November 1917.

After the dreary days in Minneapolis, the sun burst through the windows of the chilly studio in Hudson this morning and I felt joyful.

At this moment, our president is in Beijing, where he is being feted with special panoply.  It seems Mr. Trump has gone from deriding China to recognizing some benefit to a relationship with the country and its now very powerful President Xi, ensconced recently in the heavens with Mao and Deng.

It was election day yesterday.  The off-year election didn’t bring many people out in some places though it did bring about a Democratic victory for governor in both Virginia and New Jersey.

In Virginia, the Republican candidate did his best to sound like Trump but was soundly defeated, raising the question among pundits if there can be Trumpism without Trump?  I don’t know.  I hope not.

Danica Roem, a transgender woman, made history by being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, defeating a Republican who has held the seat since 1992 and who made her sexuality an issue in the campaign.  She focused on the bad traffic problems.

Former President Obama showed up yesterday in Chicago for jury duty and was dismissed but not before creating a social media storm.

I bring this to a close as I continue down the Hudson, watching the occasional kayaker, with the sun glinting off the river, a slate of burnished steel reflecting light back to heaven.

Letter From Claverack 10 26 2017 Disgusted by them all…

October 26, 2017

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As I begin writing this letter, I am in New York City, at Birch, a coffee house just east of 5th Avenue on 27th, waiting for a friend and a colleague. There are some things he wants to chat over with me and then I will go to dinner with my great good friend, Nick Stuart and his friend, Jodd. Post dinner, I will head back to the cottage for a bunch of meetings and things to do tomorrow.
Walking from Penn Station to Birch, I realized how my relationship with New York City has changed over the last eighteen years. I’ve gone from “bright lights, big city” to being delighted not to be here that often; I have grown accustomed to the quiet of the country. Penn Station is an assault on the system after the tiny, bucolic station in Hudson and walking through the streets of the city, I feel more a sense of pressure, for want of another word, since I came here in 1999 to begin to live, then splitting my time between Los Angeles and New York.
For the last two and a half years, I have been mostly at the cottage and have slipped into the role and attitude of someone who lives in the country. On weekends, when the county fills with out of towners, I cringe when horns are blasted if someone doesn’t move quickly enough.
I relish waking in the morning to look out over the creek and to look out at my land and see no one.
One needs that kind of quiet and solitude these days to absorb the world news:

o A California judge won’t force Obamacare payments from the Federal government.
o Hillary and the Democrats paid for the dossier on Trump.
o The NAACP is warning people of color not to fly American Airlines.
o Whatever is going on with tax reform remains incomprehensible to me.
o The brother of the Las Vegas shooter was picked up on child porn charges.
o The president and a Gold Star widow can’t quit feuding.
o China’s Xi Jinping probably is with us indefinitely and we’ll see if that’s a good thing or a bad thing AND he’s now as important as Mao and Deng!!!!
o The ease of travel with a US passport has plummeted since Trump has become president.
o The US and North Korea are continuing saber rattling. North Korea is talking hydrogen bomb and the US military action.
o Amazon is going to start delivering packages into our homes. [Ah, not mine. Yet.]
o President George H.W. Bush has been accused by an actress of groping her in 2014. And has apologized.
o A Houston resident, originally from Mexico, died of flesh eating bacteria after working on homes damaged in Harvey. He was the third Houston case; the others were non-fatal.
o The Trump campaign, via a data analytics firm, contacted Wikileaks to access emails from Clinton’s server to make them into a searchable database for the campaign.

Is it any wonder that yesterday when I walked along the wooded lane that is Patroon Street, I thought about none of these things?
I thought of other things, the changing of the leaves, friends, personal things, upcoming trips, hopeful things.
My amazement at the world is unbridled. Today, I commented to a friend: I think we are living in the second Gilded Age and my comfort comes from remembering that did not last and was reined in, eventually.
Each day, I get up and read the papers and find my eyes go wide while I say: lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my…
The Toronto Star blazoned out that Trump broke his own record this week – of lies. They counted 57 whoppers.
Call me disgusted by them all.

 

Letter From Claverack 10 21 2017 Dinner parties and politics…

October 21, 2017

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Last Saturday night was one of the most magical nights ever at the Cottage.  Six friends from the train community came over for dinner and it entirely worked.  The food was good, the menu seemed to please everyone, the wine pairings were appreciated, the dinner setting seemed to please, the conversation flowed.  People arrived around 7 PM and left around 1:15 AM and it felt as if no time had passed.

We worked our way from cheese and crackers, to radishes with butter and kosher salt to a potato and leek soup, followed by a salad with beets and candied pecans, salmon filets with a mustard mayonnaise sauce, finished by a chocolate ganache meringue cake.  We laughed and rejoiced in each other’s company.

Early on, it was determined we would avoid politics which is a choice that only limits and does not eliminate the conversation.  How could it be otherwise?  So much is going on that the tumult cannot be completely ignored but it can be limited.

One person reminded us that Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the war years, had a weekly cocktail party for Cabinet members and aides and the one thing they could NOT talk about was the war.  Anything but the war.  Their children, their gardens, their hobbies, fly-fishing but not the war.  The President said something like:  we need to have lives.

Saturday night, for the most part, we chose to have lives.  We talked of upcoming plans, recent vacations, upcoming things that would bring us joy.  But not politics. Much.  Just a little.

The week just past had been tumultuous.  Healthcare is in shambles and Trump’s order to stop paying subsidies will be challenged in courts by some states, including New York.  Some New York congressmen, Republicans, are suddenly calling for bi-partisan action to fix the ACA.

The president is not going to certify the Iran agreement and is throwing it to Congress to fix it while the Secretary of State seems to contradict the president on the Sunday morning talk shows.  Our allies in Europe are scratching their heads about us and how to absorb that a far-right party seems to be coming to power in Austria.

Reading the papers today, everyone seemed to have advice on how to mentally escape the chaos.  Watch and read Harry Potter again.  Rom-coms are just the thing.  Murder mysteries are quite a diversion.

And we do need diversion.  My mind hurts more than it doesn’t.  Every morning I get up, read the NY Times, the Washington Post and WSJ and find myself going what the…

Sometimes I avoid the headlines until later in the day, particularly if I have things to do.

If I don’t, I fear a kind of madness.

 

This epistle was started last Sunday evening.  Monday morning found me wretchedly ill; the vague sense I wasn’t well the week before suddenly became the reality.  Monday and Tuesday were devoted to sleep and recuperation, Wednesday my radio show.  It had been my intention to go to the city on Wednesday for dinner with a friend and I could not quite muster the energy, fearful of pushing too far, too fast.

And now I am home from a meeting, curled up in the cottage, finishing a letter started nearly a week ago.

The madness goes on and I do my best to maintain my balance.  My friend Lynn speaks frequently to me of her difficulty of maintaining balance these days; she feels assaulted on a daily basis.

Some Facebook friends post things that cause me to wonder why they are my Facebook friends as we are so politically divergent?  One California friend posted something and asked for comments.  All I could say was: ah, I don’t know what to say.

Harvey Weinstein, producer extraordinaire and, allegedly, serial sexual predator, has fallen from grace as woman after woman after woman has come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.  He has been ejected from The Academy of Motion Pictures Sciences; the Producer’s Guild is working on doing the same.  The TV Academy is considering it.  Organizations are making moves to strip him of honors.

Is this a turning point for Hollywood?  Perhaps.  Certainly, it is putting out notice that the game is changing.

Mr. Trump is involved in another brou ha ha with Gold Star families.  John Kelly has Trump’s back, which I find interesting.

The common wisdom seems to be that our president can’t help himself from wounding himself and, from my vantage point, it seems plausible.

Without invoking his name, both George W. and Obama have delivered rebukes to the president.  Wowza!  W and Clinton have found themselves friendly.  Will the same happen with W and Obama?  Time will tell.

Time to say good-bye for this missive but not before circling back to last Saturday’s dinner which may well have been the best the cottage has ever seen.

Thank you, Robert and Tanya, James and Susan, Maria and Dairo.  You have made your mark on the history of a special place.

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 10 12 2017 Thoughts on what I would preach…

October 12, 2017

At sea

Monday, I sent out a blog inspired by Mother Eileen’s sermon at Christ Church on Sunday and forwarded her a copy as she is not on my list.  She wrote back the following day and jokingly suggested I might preach this Sunday, which led me to think about what I would preach.  What would I say if I had to, this Sunday, preach at a church?

I looked up the gospel for next Sunday and its essential line is:  many are called but few are chosen.

Certainly, that fits with last year’s election cycle which started with more candidates for the Republican nomination for president than I remember in my life.  Many were called and, in the end, the one that was chosen was Donald Trump and he went on to become President of these United States.

It will probably surprise many who know me but every week at church I light a candle for the man.  No, I don’t like him.  His policies seem mean spirited, quixotic at best.  His relationship with the truth, as I experience it, is equally quixotic.

And he is President of these United States, a man with great power, influence and the ability to shake the world on more levels than I believe he is aware of or understands.  But he is the president and I pray for him, hoping, on a very fundamental level he doesn’t do anything that will prevent me from being back at church next Sunday to pray for him.

He appealed to a disenfranchised part of America we, all of us, have not been listening to or acknowledging.  They gravitated to Donald Trump as people in the water after the loss of Titanic, desperate to be saved, crying for help.  Do I think he will save them?  No.

But I want us to hear their cries and find a way to address them and to help them.  They are Americans.  With very real issues.

Today I read there are the most job openings than there have been for a very long time.  Those jobs are harder to fill because we have a massive opioid crisis and many people cannot pass drug tests.  Companies are beginning, in desperation, to turn a blind eye, not asking for drug tests for dangerous jobs because they can’t find enough people to fill them.

Not so long ago, there were two Amtrak employees killed, men not much younger than me and their autopsies revealed they had non-prescribed opioids in their systems.  Our local paper, the Register Star, gave a face to the epidemic by highlighting on the front page a young woman, full of hope, who overdosed.

It is time we faced this epidemic, its causes and its ravages and did something and quit pretending everything is going along just fine.

President Trump, weren’t you going to make this a national emergency?  What happened?

Nothing much.  Why not?

Even the beauty of the cottage is not soothing my soul these days.  What am I to do?

Many are called but few are chosen.  What is it I am called to do in this tumultuous time?  Every day I ask myself that question.  What am I to do?  What am I called to do?

Whether you are a supporter of Donald Trump or not, what is that you can do, personally, to change the awful things that are happening in this country?

Many are called, few are chosen.  What will make me chosen?  What thing can I do to make this awful time better?  I want to.  I do and I am not sure what it is that I should do.  Pack a bag and fly to some war-torn part of the world and put up my hand and say: I’m here to help? What can I do?

A friend suggested I do that.  Maybe I will.

We all need to ask ourselves how we are going to respond to Jesus’ call?  I am not a raving evangelical.  Far from that.  I respect, at the deepest level of my soul, the kindness Jesus worked to insert into the human dialogue and which has resonated for both good and ill since then.

Since I was a boy, I have thought Jesus would be appalled at what has happened to what he started.  He preached love and love is not often what has happened.

Many are called but few will be chosen.  Be one of the few.  Practice what Jesus taught.