Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore protests’

Letter From New York 08 10 2016 Gloomy but not ugly…

August 10, 2016

In my driveway there is a floodlight with a dusk until dawn timer.  It was so gloomy this morning, “dawn” did not arrive until about 9:30.  As bright and beautiful as the days were before, today has been singularly dark, a day when one wants to slip quietly into a corner and delve deep into a mystery. 

I didn’t do that all day but some of the day, reading “The Hotel on Place Vendome,” a study of the Ritz Hotel before, during and after WWII.  Good reading, not quite a mystery, not quite a page turner but a sound non-fiction account of the place that was at the center of Parisian life in those tumultuous years. 

Of course, “Papa” Hemingway appears and his appearances further tatter the legend he built around himself even as his writing powers were beginning to fade, worn down by drinking and partying.

Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring was a morphine addict and spent at least part of the war soaking in the large bathtubs at the Ritz, attempting to wean himself off the drug.

Something like 80,000 children fathered by Germans were born in France during the war years.

It is a time we have not known.  Somewhere today, I was reading an article online and the author was saying the last 70 years had been a dream.  We had gone to peace and are now awaking into another era, not so peaceful.  Yes, perhaps, but we did “duck and cover” as children and during the Cuban missile crisis my very young mind was convinced that we would all be evaporated.

It is not a peaceful world but never has it been very peaceful.  I am peaceful this very moment, wrapped in a cloudy, gloomy day with verdant trees outside my windows, skies heavy with promises of rain, snug inside my cottage, the only sound the humming of the refrigerator.

The thunder of the campaign trail has been held at bay for the most part by my simply choosing not to delve much into it.  Trump said something about “Second Amendment” folks should do something about Hillary and Democrats are charging that he was inciting violence against her.  Of course he wasn’t, he said.

And Hillary has her blind spots, this week they’ve been showing up in relations between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.

Though the report I was reading was released by a conservative group so I will add my grain of salt to what I was reading.  Just as I put a bit of salt into my reading of the Democratic reaction to Trump’s latest.  Don’t get me wrong, I won’t vote for the man.  He’s crackers…

The number of ill considered things the man has said has slowly become numbing, no longer outraging me.  It is just one unbelievable thing after another and, as far as I can tell, Trump’s not enjoying it much himself.

And he is embattled by his fellow Republicans.  Susan Collins, Senator from Maine, has disavowed Trump.  She’ll vote Libertarian or write in someone.  She won’t support him or Hillary but go her own way.  She is not alone.  A dismaying number of Republicans are following her.

Whereas Clinton…  I think she — and he — live for this kind of season, coming alive in amazing ways.  Though Bill looks frail these days, a shadow of the man.

The Department of Justice released its report about the Police Department in Baltimore.  “Scathing but not surprising” was one headline.  In Ferguson, MO the wheels of justice are turning very slowly there, two years after Michael Brown died.  Change is slow in coming, disheartening to many but the wheels are turning, I hope.

Like many, I have received two phone calls telling me the IRS is about to start a lawsuit against me.  It’s a scam and it makes me crazy and people are being sucked in.  One man paid the scammers $500,000 before he got wise.  So ugly…

And while it is not beautiful outside, it is not ugly in my corner of the world.

Letter From New York 04 26 15 Bright day mixed with cloudy news…

April 26, 2015

Last night, most of our train community showed up for Dairo’s 39th birthday party, held in a deconsecrated church in Tivoli, about 30 minutes south of Claverack. It was great seeing old friends, especially ones who aren’t riding the train that often anymore. My friend Ty West was there with his wife, Cathy. Now that he is working in mid-town he takes Metro North into the city rather than Amtrak.

We traded stories of “the old days” of ten years ago before the Great Recession cost so many their jobs. We held parties on the train, great sumptuous feasts of parties, celebrating holidays and special events. We held a particularly raucous baby shower for Kelly and George, complete with blue and red “babytinis.” They had chosen not to know the sex of their child before birth so we had a drink for each potential sex.

Getting home not too late, Lionel and I stayed up for awhile chatting and catching up. He went home and I went to sleep, to wake to a day that was brighter than predicted with dreary news to be consumed.

While I was partying in Tivoli, there was violence in Baltimore as a thousand people came out to protest the death while in police custody of Freddie Gray, whose family appealed for calm.

The situation in Nepal remains dire. Aftershocks have rattled the country regularly, some as large as 6.7, resulting in more avalanches on Everest. People in Katmandu are sleeping in the streets, leaving almost no space for anyone to get around. Katmandu is a village that has grown into a city and is relentlessly crowded and shoddily built. The area affected by the earthquake is home to six million people. Roads have buckled and communications are out, hampering international efforts to bring relief.

The NY Times had many an article this morning on the Nepalese earthquake, all sad.

Here is where you can go to donate to UNICEF, if you should want to: www.unicefusa.org/nepal.

Fighting is escalating again in Yemen. There were bombing raids on Sana’a, the capital. The ex-president has called for peace talks but the current, Saudi Arabian supported President’s Foreign Minister has ruled that out.

In Syria, Assad’s regime is striking back after losing a strategic town yesterday, sending warplanes into bomb. 34 people were killed in a market, with the death toll expected to rise as many were seriously injured. Many were women and children.

In not so violent but still very disturbing news, hackers have been reading President Obama’s email but not the classified ones. Still… The White House is not pointing fingers at anybody but conventional wisdom is suggesting the Russians are the guilty parties.

And while we are thinking about Russia, they have arrested three women for twerking in front of a World War II Memorial. One was sentenced to 15 days in jail; the other two to ten. They were accused of “hooliganism,” the same charged hurled at Pussy Riot a couple of years ago. This is the second arrest in two weeks in Russia for twerking. What I wonder is why would anyone want to imitate Miley Cyrus?

Last night was the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner where President Obama made fun of everyone but mostly of himself. Alfre Woodard, who plays the President on NBC’s “State of Affairs,” said that President Obama “has a wicked sense of humor.”

This week, also in Washington, the Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments about gay marriage. There are a lot of people who will be tuning in closely on this on both sides of the equation. Opponents to gay marriage rallied on the Mall in Washington on Saturday but they are increasingly in the minority. A recent survey mentioned by Voice of America indicates 61 percent of Americans now favor gay marriage.

I have to say, this isn’t something I expected in my lifetime.

But what I have come to expect in my lifetime is that when the dishwasher is full, you have to go empty it. That’s what I am about to do.

Letter From New York 04 25 15 A good day for a party…

April 25, 2015

It is nearing 5:00 and the sun is beginning its slow fade to dark. I am sitting at my desk, looking out at the drive and the yard, still waiting for the trees to bloom. While the sun was bright today, it was none too warm.   Not bad but not a full blown spring day.

Trees in the city are beginning to bloom but not here in Claverack, a hundred miles to the north. And I’m eager for the weather to improve so we can begin to see some green. Usually by this time, the daffodils out the living room window have bloomed. This year they are barely out of the ground.

Over my morning coffee, I read that Bruce Jenner announced that he is really a woman and will continue his transformation, which, of course, will be covered in a reality series.

In far away Nepal, fifty miles outside the capital of Kathmandu, an earthquake struck and, at last count, nearly 1500 have died. It was a magnitude 7.8 quake that struck, huge, 22 times stronger than the 7.0 earthquake that ravaged Haiti.

Kathmandu was seriously affected; its narrow streets and old buildings were vulnerable to the quake. The death toll will likely mount. Perhaps hundreds are trapped under rubble. Hospitals are treating people in their parking lots as the buildings themselves are either compromised or overrun.

Lionel and Pierre are living in Baltimore now and that city is being disrupted by protests over a black man who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody and later died. His name was Freddie Gray.

Also in police custody in New York is a coyote that was cornered down near Battery Park City in Manhattan. The city has been experiencing an uptick in coyote sightings as they become less afraid of the big city and find good hunting in it. There was one in Chelsea earlier in the week as well as one not far from my apartment.

Despite international protests, Indonesia is going ahead with executing nine foreigners convicted of drug trafficking. If the protests do not change the mind of Indonesia’s President, they will die by firing squad perhaps as early as Wednesday.

Islamist rebels have seized a city in northeast Syria, Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib province.

It is a key city and the loss is a blow to Assad’s government. As seems to be the norm with Assad, his troops executed detainees before fleeing the city. It also appears many civilians were killed in the thirty air strikes that were done by Assad’s Air Force in an effort to break the Islamist advance.

The Italian navy has rescued 274 migrants in danger of drowning in the Mediterranean. Recent tragedies have not slowed the flow of refugees.

Tonight, I am going to a birthday party for my friend Dairo; it’s his 39th and he intends for it to be memorable. I am sure it will be.