Letter from a vagabond 04 October 2018 Breakfast in Paris…

October 4, 2018

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In front of me is a narrow Parisian street; I am looking out at it through the windows of the restaurant attached to the Hotel Aero, where I am staying.  The attractive lady with the red scarf is having morning tea, with a little white dog comfortably settled out of sight at her side.

After taxiing in from Charles De Gaulle, I checked into my little hotel in the 16th on Place de Passy.  As I handed over my American passport, the gentleman behind the desk probed to see if I was a Trump supporter.  When I assured him I was not, he let loose with his not very high opinion of our American president.

Last night, I went over to the little Parisian apartment of my friends Chuck and Lois, which they are in the process of selling, as they, too, are thinking about what the next phase of their lives will be, how it will take shape.

We sat having cocktails avant le diner, when they shared with me they had come over on the Queen Mary 2.  Informing them I was sailing back on her, Lois asked, “When?”  As I said November 4th, she squealed, and Chuck guffawed.  Turns out they are on that on that crossing, too, and we will all be together.  It felt like a very 1930’s kind of moment.

We dined at one of their favorites, around the corner from them, Le Clocher du Village, a small sweet café where they are known and appreciated.  Lovely steak frites!

Chuck and Lois shared that their experience of Paris since Trump’s election.  The French love Americans but have only vitriol in their hearts for him.  And for most other politicians, including Macron.

Back to my hotel, off to sweet sleep and it was, waking to a sunny Parisian day, warm but not hot, life passing in front of me as I sit here, sipping my second café au lait.

Lois, Chuck and I have discussed going to the Musee de Orsay today.  I’ll check in when I finish this.  If not with them, perhaps on my own.  A day to be explored, enjoyed.

 

Letter from a vagabond… 03/10/2018 First day…

October 3, 2018

As I stare at the screen in front of me, I am 5 hours, 26 minutes out of Paris, having left New York two hours late due to storms raging through the region.  I am sipping a not bad white wine, ensconced in premium class on Norwegian Air, an upstart airline recently come to America after doing business as an intra-Europe air shuttle.

It’s not bad, not luxe but not bad.  The beef for dinner was quite good; the blanket provided is one of the best I’ve had on any flight, anywhere, in any class.  If there were another scrunch of room in my two bags, I would be tempted to depart the plane with it but there is not a scrunch of room in my two bags.

Most of my things are vacuum packed so that I could fit a wardrobe for five weeks in two bags, including my tuxedo and dress shoes for the crossing on the Queen Mary 2.

My great friend Larry Divney has named me “the vagabond” and so I am going to call these missives the Vagabond Letters, reports from the road as I traverse Europe, trying to decide what it is that I will be when I grow up.

And how exciting it is that I am still working out what it is that I will be when I grow up.  I’ve done many things, each one could have been the place I stopped and none of them have been.

The summer was glorious, a simple book seller in the magical kingdom of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, though it didn’t feel simple.  It did feel good.

Watching the map in front of me, it seems that in a half an hour or so, we will have passed beyond North America and will be out over the Atlantic at 36,000 feet, headed straight into Charles De Gaulle in Paris.  The last time I was at CDG, I was walking next to Bo Derek and her husband/manager John Derek, now long, long gone.

It was a blurry moment, one of those times when it seemed every other day was another country, another set of people to meet with.  On that trip, not only did I see Bo Derek, I arrived in Paris while there was a strike on.  Who was striking and for what, I don’t know.  To get to my meeting I had to walk up 7 flights, through the strikers who were, at 9:30 in the morning, eating croissants and sipping champagne – a very civilized kind of strike, I must say.

This is five weeks when I have no real agenda except to wander where I will, when I will.  During the bookstore summer I read Nina George’s “The Little French Bistro,” which was one of the great life affirming books I have read. It is why I would like to visit Brittany, where the book is set.

A row or two in front of me, a man is asleep.  He snores for the ages.  Earlier, I thought he somehow had managed to get on the loudspeaker system, but it was just him.

It is the middle of the night, I am sleepy and will go to sleep. When I wake, we should be coasting into Paris.

When I have done all my other letters, I have done my best to be measured, thoughtful, concise, perhaps insightful.  These are going to be more free form, a stream of consciousness, notes from the road.  It is 2:35 AM in New York and 8:35 AM in Paris.

Good night from over the western Atlantic, 36,000 feet.

Letter from Minnesota 09 26 2018 I’m still here…

September 27, 2018

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It is a grey and sober day in Bloomington, MN, where I am today, visiting kith and kin before departing next week for Europe – a journey for which I know few details.  I arrive in Paris on the 3rd of October, depart Southampton on the 4th of November aboard the Queen Mary 2, arriving in New York on the 11th.  For my arrival, I have reserved a room at a hotel in Paris in the 16th, not too far, I hope, from friends who live part of the year in the City of Light.

On this grey and sober day, Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are presenting their different interpretations of an encounter between them in high school.

Last night, I was gifted with attending a performance of HAMILTON by my friend Christine Olson.  Trouble over sexual encounters happened then, too; political careers lost and born on the public reaction to sexual events.

On my weekly call with my friends, Medora and Meryl, I mused on the sense of life sadness that has settled upon me on returning from the Vineyard.  A neighbor in Claverack has succumbed to brain cancer, another friend is being treated for it, another friend has had to take in her grandson to raise because heroin has destroyed his family. Another son of hers could not take custody of his children when their mother was arrested for heroin possession [with her children in the car] because he could not pass a drug test, so they were sent to foster care. The brother of the husband of the couple who cleaned my home was shot to death by police in the parking lot of the restaurant where he worked, allegedly intoxicated and aggressive to a woman, ignoring the police.  A native of Ecuador, I wonder if he understood what the police were asking him to do.

So, I, too, am sober and grey like this Minnesota day, feeling life and death delicately flutter near me, grief near, coupled with the strength of people who go on, their spouses passing, struggling to live, with grace, dignity and humor, even while battling disease and adversity, taking on responsibility not really theirs but for which no one else will.

One night I stayed up with a friend who is enduring and together we howled to the moon, celebrating that at this moment, if only for this moment, we were alive and could howl at the moon, as if we were young men in a younger time that might seem simpler in retrospect than it was in reality, surrounded by nature’s beauty, curated by my friend’s vision.

I am off tonight to dinner with a friend from high school, with a couple of other friends whom we have known for decades, toasting our survival.  As Carlotta sings in “Follies,” “I’m still here…”

Here’s to all of us still here and a toast to all of us who aren’t still here but who were and who are, I hope, singing to us from the stars.

Letter from the Vineyard 09 11 2018 All kinds of memories…

September 12, 2018

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Evening is about to slip down upon us, a couple of minutes earlier than last night.  The twilight is misty with fog rolling in from South Beach toward my little cottage, scattered with bins, boxes and suitcases as I gather myself up to leave for the season.

Four bins are going to Joyce and Jeffrey’s garage against the possibility I will return next “season,” a thing I am considering seriously as I had serious fun in the bookstore this year especially since I told one employee she did not have my permission to be disrespectful to me.  She has been good; there have been times when she is about to say something and thinks better of it.

Last night, I had a long and good farewell dinner with Vlad, the young man from Romania who has taught me so much this summer.  We feasted at The Atlantic, drank cocktails and talked of life and things.  My parting gift was a passport case in hopes for many good long journeys in his life.

One of his gifts to me was he enjoyed my sense of humor.  Au revoir, Vlad!  Au revoir!

 

And the day that is ending is the 17th anniversary of 9/11; Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” has been released, his damning exegesis of the Trump Administration.  I doubt there was any coincidence to the timing.

 

Today, as I was driving while erranding, I could not listen to the memorial reporting as I feared I start sobbing.

That day is alive inside of me and will be until I die.  In past ‘letters” I have written about my feelings.  Nothing has changed; it is alive and painful and inspiring and terrifying now as much as then, a little softer around the edges, perhaps, but not too much so if I could not listen to the reportage.

There is a part of my that will forever stand on the morning of September 12th, with Spring Street in Soho looking like the last shot of the film “On the Beach;” not the television remake but the one in the 1950’s with Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire – a street empty of life, with sheets of paper whipping with the wind, somewhere, anywhere with the smell of burnt plastic and death all around me.

That morning is the strongest mental snapshot I have of the tragedy – a street empty of human beings, paper drifting in the wind like sagebrush across a Dakota highway.

 

The bookstore sells a child’s series called “I survived…”    …the Hindenburg Disaster, the siege of Warsaw, the Johnstown Flood, the Battle of Gettysburg.  It would appear there is no disaster they have left behind.

There were a group of parents who wouldn’t let their children buy the “I Survived 9/11” because I think it was too hard for them.  Every one of them, I would bet, were in the city that day and they don’t want their children to be scarred as they are.

None of those kids were alive but the parents were and are still wrestling with what happened.  As am I, obviously.

 

Just under three thousand died that day.

More than three times that number of first responders are struggling with cancers resulting from being there.  The number who succumb to those cancers rises every day.

A few days after 9/11 I went to my doctor because I was having trouble breathing and he gave me an inhaler, having ordered extras for people like me as soon as the Towers tumbled.  Occasionally, I wonder did I breathe in something that is now a time bomb ticking in my body?  Should some kind of study be done of everyone living within the stream of toxins released, particularly Manhattan and New Jersey?

Today NASA released pictures taken from the International Space Station that day.  You can look at them here.

Seventeen years ago, a bright and glorious Tuesday, I was prepping for a conference call, working to get things finished before I left for ten days in Greece and the world changed forever.

My head bows in memory.  A soft prayer rises.

Letter from the Vineyard 09 05 2018 The people I knew…

September 5, 2018

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My time on the Vineyard is finishing, finding me at the end of “the season,” feeling surprisingly nostalgic for my “Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” guest house while facing the departure of the people who have intersected my life “this season;” some already gone while others I will leave behind when I depart in eleven days.

Let’s see:

There is Alexander, a high school senior who is now off for his freshman year at Duke, a human who seems capable of unbridled delight at life, off into pre-med.  When he was hired I told Joyce that every older woman would want him to be her grandson.  I was not far off.  Extraordinarily knowledgeable about books for an eighteen-year-old, he was a charm to be around.

Alexander

Sam, short for Samantha, is off to the University of Michigan for her Masters in Choral and Musical Theater.  It would not surprise me that we would see her on Broadway one day.

Sam

Janet, high school teacher turned cleric, has accepted her first “call.”

Janet

Tea, the Serbian, here for her third summer, will remain after I leave and then go back to grad school in her hometown, not far from Belgrade.

Tea

Courtney, is off to finish college, and will face life full on.  She is one of “the Mettlers,” a family of long island history; her father and grandfather members of the most exclusive club on the island, unavailable to certain billionaires who lust to be included.

Courtney

Hayley begins her senior year of high school, a quiet individual with huge depth, making her final decisions as to where she will spend her collegiate years.

Hayley

Young Layla is back in California already, a sprite with a whole life in front of her; her parents are friends of Joyce and Jeffrey and this was her first job.  So young and so old at the same time…

Layla

Colin is the expert mixologist at BTB, a talent in the mixology world that will rise and probably be considered one of the great bartenders somewhere, someday.  He is, as you can see, intense about mixology.

Colin

There is Nadia, who rose to the occasion when the chef hired for the season flamed out.

Nadia

And we have Misha, the barista who oversees the coffee, an island legend after three years of consistently producing the island’s best coffee, famous for having been stateless for a while when the Soviet Union broke up and his USSR passport no longer meant anything to anyone.

Misha

 

The list goes on and can’t end without my mentioning Vlad, the Romanian young man who works at the bookstore and at The Paper Store down the block.  There is something between us that makes me smile.  He is protective of me.  We bring each other food and water for shifts.  After I was in the ER when I threw out my back, he did his best to make sure I didn’t lift the tables and chairs that go on the porch.

Vlad

Monday, he showed up when he wasn’t working to make sure I didn’t do it.

Truth is, I am old enough to be his grandfather and yet, how sweet it is, we are friends.  He is not planning on returning next year; this is his fourth year and he thinks it’s enough.  He’s probably right.

What I have learned from Vlad, or re-learned, perhaps, is that friendships can bridge generations; caring knows no age. When I leave, I will miss him.  He has been the unexpected human joy of this summer.  It is likely I will never see him again and before I leave, I want to share with him how much he has meant to me.

Thank you all!

 

 

 

 

Poem from the Vineyard 09 02 2018

September 3, 2018

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Insects buzz

through a green world;

seems eternal,

sitting here this

early evening.

 

Time is slipping;

soon

all this magic

will be gone.

Letter from the Vineyard 08/31/2018 Evening comes earlier, every night…

August 30, 2018

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It is Thursday early evening; my day in the bookstore is finished and I am at BTB, the restaurant behind the bookstore, [hence, BTB] and am sipping a tall, summery drink, a bespoke composition by Colin, master mixologist, listening to “island” music.  Steadily busy all day, the bookstore also hosted David Cleveland, who sat on the porch and signed copies of his newest novel, “Time’s Betrayal,” a book that concurs Tolstoy in length and breadth.

Wednesday was arguably the hottest day on the Vineyard so far; it scorched up to 90 degrees and that’s not usual for the Vineyard though the humidity was in check.

It was my sort of normal kind of Vineyard Wednesday – I didn’t work though I had thought that might be a possibility.  Waking early, I read the news for a good while, rolling my eyes more than once.

Some time was spent cleaning “The Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” of guest houses and then I settled into the most “white wine” of problems, planning my upcoming trip to Europe.  Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I ended up booking a flight to Copenhagen and then I will meander my way across Europe, floating on my whims.  To get to Berlin from Copenhagen, one must change trains in Hamburg.  Never been there, though I think that may have been where my paternal great-grandparents sailed from to come to America.  A night or two there?

Or not to Hamburg or Berlin.  Somewhere else?  A shot across Europe to Portugal, the most talked about European country this year?

My exit point is November 4th, when I will board the Queen Mary 2, having booked a balcony stateroom and will spend seven days sailing west to America – not unlike my great-grandparents, though I am sure their trip took longer.

All the rest is up in the air.

Today, I found that my long-time friends, Chuck and Lois, will be in Paris when I am in Europe, so I will stop there to see them and re-visit Paris.  Once before I left for Europe with no plans and ended up for weeks in Paris in one of the great passionate episodes of my life.  Ah, sweet youth…

Having just finished reading Nina George’s “The Little French Bistro,” I am planning on winding my way through Brittany, then a ferry crossing to Cornwall, time wandering there, a drink with a good acquaintance, and then across to London to see an old friend not seen in a decade, then to Southampton, the crossing, and home in time for my birthday.

Not that I really have a home anymore; home is where I am.  My “stuff” is in Baltimore and I am now, truly, a vagabond with Baltimore as my base with my friends, Lionel and Pierre.

After looking at European train schedules, I had my weekly conversation with my friends Medora and Meryl.  For gosh knows how many years, at least eighteen and probably more, we talk once a week, sharing our lives, our hopes, our frustrations and giving each other advice and support.  It is one of the most amazing gifts of my life and I’m not even quite sure how we started this but it’s here and we plan for it and miss it when it doesn’t happen because one of us is traveling.

Salute to you two! We had a marvelous conversation Wednesday morning which helped me feel I was engaged in life and that’s what always happens when we talk.

After speaking with them and a little more cleaning, I headed into town to watch “Crazy Rich Asians.”  Having read the book, I loved the movie and, terrible romantic I am, I cried at the end.

One wants love to succeed.

Twilight is falling here on the Vineyard; the sun is slipping into the west earlier every evening and I am going to curl up with a good book and read. I’ve joked that I am a monk this summer and the bookstore is my monastery.  In a way, it’s true and I think I like it.

Letter from the Vineyard 08 23 2018 The season ends, the moon is full and truth isn’t truth…

August 24, 2018

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It’s evening and I am in “The Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” of guest houses, sipping a martini, listening to classical music and pondering my world.

I drove up to Oak Bluffs on Tuesday to a printer to pick up bookmarks to promote a couple of book signings this weekend.  It was a grey day, the air warm, perfect for a light sweater and shorts.  It seemed as if at any moment, fog would roll in, but it didn’t.  As I drove to OB, I crossed the bridge from which young people throw themselves into the water; it is known as the “Jaws” bridge as it was featured in the film. Some of the island’s ethos is shaped by the film being shot here even though set somewhere else.  Every Sunday night the local cinema has a 6:30 screening of “Jaws,” winter, spring, summer and fall.

As I drove to Oak Bluffs, the windows of the car were open, and I felt the sea salt breeze as I drove, and I realized I sort of, kind of, live here.  And it felt good.  The road was familiar.  The sight of young people throwing themselves into the water was familiar.

The people at the printer know me as the Edgartown Books guy.  There is a man who comes to the bookstore and looks to me for approval for his reads.  He wants my opinion before he tosses down his credit card.

The owner of Edgartown Pizza knows my name and what I like.  The lady at Lapels, the only dry cleaner on the island knows me by sight and name.  One of the young waitresses at Edgartown Diner occasionally runs and gives me a hug in welcome.  Certainly, I know the staff of BTB, the restaurant behind the bookstore.

Landry Harlan, who writes for the Vineyard Gazette, came in to chat today before going to the courthouse to cover a story about the estuary.

It makes me feel a part of this community.

And the reality is, I will be leaving in three weeks.

There is a change happening; people are acknowledging “the season” is coming to an end.  Colin, the wonderful mixologist at BTB, is leaving September 21st – he has booked his flight, home to San Francisco.

Me? I’m back to Columbia County, a quick trip to Minneapolis, then Europe.  This is now the vagabond part of my life.

And wherever I vagabond to, I will watch how events unfold here.

There is a phrase in the television business, based on an episode of “Happy Days,” when Fonzie was in Hawaii and jumped a shark.  It now means a plot twist so unbelievable that you just don’t know what to do with it.

And that’s what Tuesday felt like, that the Trump reality presidency had jumped the shark, plot wise.  In the same hour, on the same day, Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight charges, with a mistrial on ten and Michael Cohen pled guilty to eight charges in New York.  A wag said if this were an episode of “House of Cards” or “West Wing,” we would have jumped the shark.

All quite stunning.

One columnist equated Omarosa with Martha Mitchell.  The painful part of that is not many people remember Martha Mitchell – she was the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General and had a lot to say.

In the late 1970’s, I went to a photo exhibit at St. John the Divine in New York and many of the photos were of Martha Mitchell in her death throes, battling cancer.  She was a bit of a “whack job” but she also spoke truth to power.

We are, once again, living in stunning times.

Michael Cohen’s guilty plea included some stunning points that indicated he was doing illegal things at the direction of the man who is now president.

There is an excellent article in “Fortune” about why half-speak is more dangerous than doublespeak.  I suggest you read it here. It was inspired by Rudy Giuliani’s statement, “Truth isn’t truth.”  Even listening to it several times in context I was left reeling.

In the meantime, at this moment, the classical music is playing, my martini is finished. I am dealing with the fact I screwed up something at the bookstore and that’s not easy and I need to head to sleep because the last three weeks will be hard as all the wonderful young people who worked at the bookstore are leaving, heading off to college, graduate school, back to their countries of origin.

Ah, sweet summer on the Vineyard, such a mix of things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter from the Vineyard 08 15 2018 White Wine Problems…

August 16, 2018

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The day began dark, with thundering rumbling across the morning sky and a digital warning that lightning had struck nearby.  But by the time I had showered and prepared to take my friend, Tory, to the ferry, the skies had cleared; it was the beginning of a sun kissed Vineyard day.

I sit, at this moment, at the bar at BTB [Behind the Bookstore], sipping a summer concoction by Colin, mixologist extraordinaire.  When I have sipped it to conclusion, I will gather myself, the coffee I’ve purchased, my newest book [“Little French Bistro”] and head back to my “Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel” guest house, read and head off for an early night.

Tonight is “Illumination Night” on the Vineyard, when all the gingerbread houses in the MV Camp Meeting Association are strung with hundreds of lanterns of every variety, lit at dark, creating something that Disney has tried to accomplish but can’t fully.  The porches of the homes are populated by their residents.  My favorites from a couple of years ago were a husband and wife, actors retired from Broadway, dressed in 19th Century garb, talking of all the things they have seen and done, a black lab curled quietly at their feet.

Friday there will be fireworks.  And then “the season” will begin to crawl to an end.  Yesterday we did a book signing for “Nine Irish Lives” at a grand house near the Harbor View Hotel, a book edited by Mark Bailey and one of whose contributors was Mark Shriver.  It was a gaggle of Kennedys and Shrivers, a group that looks alike and sounds alike and made me think they were all one big tribe.

Leaving them, I met Tory at the Harbor View and had a lovely late dinner at a table looking out toward the lighthouse, especially enjoying the lobster tacos.

Around me the world swirls and I keep to reading about it as opposed to listening to it – so much quieter.  The Donald and Omarosa are sinking their verbal teeth into each other, carrying the Trump Reality Presidency to new ratings highs.

Trump has also revoked security clearance for John Brennan, a former C.I.A. Director who has been highly critical of the current President.  Some Democrats are raising the specter of a “Nixonian” enemies list.

Manafort’s trial is drawing to a close without the defense bringing in a single witness, believing it had done its job in cross examinations.

The Vatican is slow to respond to a report about sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania that boggles the mind [not to mention the churns it gives to the stomach], dating back seventy years.  It is a crisis that has been brewing for decades, if not centuries and is raging in both North and South America and in Europe and, probably, everywhere there have been priests.

Bouncing off that darkness, there was an article yesterday about how sex robots could be good for marriage, which conjured up the world of Asimov’s “I, Robot” and “The Caves of Steel.”  History and the future are bumping into each other.

And, whether we like it or not, robots are coming.  Hopefully not for us but to help us.

The day on the Vineyard is ending.  The sky is now Dove grey.

My morning will be spent finding a cookbook which has arrived on the island but is in UPS limbo and we need it by 11:30 for a signing at the Harbor View Hotel, a place I have grown to know much more than I would have thought because we have been doing multiple book signings there.

My first night on the island was spent at the Harbor View while my brother and his wife were here, visiting the Vineyard for the first time. Sebastian, who mans the front desk, still remembers my name from that brief encounter.  A memory like that rocks the brain.

Classical music plays; a bird chirps off my deck and another Vineyard day ends.  Not bad.  All my problems today are white wine problems; I could be living in a suburb of Damascus being bombed every day.  Remember that when you are really frustrated; gives life a certain perspective.

 

 

Letter from the Vineyard 08/08/2018 Paying it forward…

August 8, 2018

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It’s been a bit since I’ve written; the path to hell is paved with good intentions, as our mothers used to tell us.  Do parents still use that old one to chide their children into good behavior?

Good behavior is sometimes hard to find, as I find myself dealing with a personnel issue at the book store.  Can’t be nasty when you’re in the customer service business and we have someone who is…

And to others in the store.  As I left on Saturday, I informed her she does not have my permission to be disrespectful to me.

And then I sailed away into the night as I didn’t trust myself to contain my anger.

Other than that irritation, the summer continues, warmer than recent summers I am being told, with more humidity [not good in a book store].  I continue reading and listening to classical music and generally wake up happy.  And I love the interchanges with the customers and the folks who come back and ask me to help them make another choice because they liked what I suggested when they had been in before.

Yesterday, a man came up and bought two books, one very adult book and a children’s book that encouraged youngsters to think about science.  As I was about to put both books into a bag, he pushed the children’s book back toward me.  He told me to give it to some child; I would know the one when he or she came in.  His way of paying it forward. [Picture above.]

Inside it was signed, Dr. Mike, Harvard University, what have you discovered today?

It moved all of us.  For Joyce, who owns the store, it was a first.

And, Dr. Mike, you will not be forgotten.  Ever.  By me.

An old friend from my cable days has retired abroad and wrote me an email and asked me to walk him back from the ledge as he can barely understand what is happening in our country and it is painful for him.

And, I suspect, no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, it is a little painful these days, if not a lot painful.

I told him to turn off the television, read a few good sources [mine are the NY Times, Washington Post and the WSJ, with a soupcon of Time Magazine thrown in and a few other bits and blurbs].  It is not so agitating to read about events as it is to hear the endless drone of news commentators constantly attempting to read the runes of the latest tweet.

Frankly, it has grown so bewildering that I feel as if I am watching a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – who met who, where and when for what reason.  The Trump Tower story has changed again.  I think.  Didn’t it? Wasn’t there another tweet this morning?

It would all be a bit amusing if there wasn’t so much on the line.  New sanctions have hit Iran, just after Iran demonstrated their naval ability to close the Strait of Hormuz.  That’s probably the most important waterway in the world because so much oil goes through there.  We have an enlarged trade war with China as of this morning.

The Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been kicked out of the country because she spoke out against the arrest of a number of Saudi feminist leaders. The Saudi Crown Prince has given women the right to drive and has suppressed the women who advocated for that right.

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is on trial.  His right-hand man, Rick Gates, testified they stole, evaded and scammed and while they were doing those things together, Rick Gates embezzled from Paul Manafort.  Ugh.  Such a pretty pair.  If they go to jail, it would be poetic justice if they were cellmates. That’s a reality show waiting to happen.

Fires burn in California, a quake has ravaged Indonesia, a hurricane is threatening the big island of Hawaii and the climatic beat goes on with record high temperatures being set all over the world on an almost daily basis.

But while Trump tweets, and Mother Nature is being a very bitchy Mother Nature, there are men like Dr. Mike, who care to pay it forward and I am going to focus on him as I close this missive.  And here’s to all those folks out there paying it forward.