Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Jenner’

Letter From New York 06 09 15 From gloomy days to bright news…

June 9, 2015

Yesterday, I spent the day in meetings and in transit. On the train coming back to New York, my laptop was low on battery power and the outlet seemed a bridge too far as I was in an aisle seat on a train going north and the outlet was near the window, occupied by chargers owned by the young lady sitting next to me. So I settled in and napped and read a book. She got off the train at Metro Park and I powered up as much as I could in the short time between there and New York City.

The result: no letter yesterday.

Today is another grey and gloomy day in New York, as it was mostly grey and gloomy in Baltimore over the weekend, as it has seemed mostly grey and gloomy for the last month or so, which, according to reports, was the wettest May in years, hence the grey and gloomy.

In a bit, I’m off to have lunch with my sister-in-law’s sister and her husband, who are in New York. Cliff and Barb are lovely people and we attempt a lunch or dinner whenever they are in New York.

Mostly, I am in a good mood this morning though I wonder what my mood would be like if I was Albert Woodfox, a Louisiana man who has spent forty-three years in solitary confinement. He has been ordered released though Louisiana says they are going to fight it. He was accused of killing a prison guard in a riot. Twice tried, and twice the verdict was overturned.

I think of myself as reasonably self-reliant but forty-three years alone would cause me to go over the edge, I suspect. Louisiana has temporarily blocked his release though hope remains.

In other prison news, the search is on for two killers who escaped from Clinton in upstate New York. They used power tools to escape – and one wonders how they got power tools – cutting through steel, down six floors, through a steam pipe, out the steam pipe and through a manhole. Authorities are guessing they had inside help. They are questioning a female prison employee but have not charged her with anything.

They could, at this point, be anywhere and the search has expanded across all of North America. I am sure they are looking for a new life though it is going to be hard to find when everyone is looking for you.

As Caitlin Jenner starts her new life, some things are still following her from her old life. When still Bruce Jenner, she was involved in a car crash in Malibu that resulted in a fatality. The dead women’s stepchildren have filed a lawsuit, as has the woman who owned the third car involved in the pile-up. At this point, it is not expected that Jenner will be charged.

There was an extensive article today from the BBC outlining life in Mosul under IS. It does not sound pretty. Woman must go out in black from top to bottom and their faces must be covered. If a man is convicted of adultery, he is thrown from the roof of a tall building; a woman is stoned. Thievery is punished with the removal of a hand. Minorities are being persecuted and thus areas of Mosul once occupied by them stand empty as minorities have fled for the most part. You will probably be flogged if you are caught smoking a cigarette. People seem to be living in terror and stay shut up in their houses.

As we all know, it is the summer of Presidential candidates. Rick Santorum is stumping through Iowa and an astounding four people showed up at an event. There were more reporters than voters. Rick brushed it off and said it was all part of “the plan.” Jeb Bush will likely announce his candidacy next Monday. Probably about time – he has begun to get questions about acting like a candidate without actually having declared his candidacy.

Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House, declared his innocence today of lying to Federal investigators about movements of money, allegedly made to “Individual A” as a result of “past misconduct” on Hastert’s part. He’s been accused of sexual abuse to male minors during his time as a wrestling coach in Illinois but that’s not what he’s been indicted for; that’s for lying about the money movements.

The Fifth Circuit Court, highly conservative, upheld the toughest provisions in Texas’ Abortion Laws, which might result in 13 of 21 clinics closing in that state.

102-year-old Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport, was denied the right to defend her doctoral thesis in 1938 because she was part Jewish. Today, the University of Hamburg awarded her a Doctorate after her successful oral defense. According to the University, she was “brilliant” and not just for her age.

Letter From New York 06 02 15 Muddling through…

June 2, 2015

It’s been downright chill in New York City today and I wish I had worn a wool sweater instead of a cotton one. I am heading this evening up to Hudson; Alana, my friend who is the owner of my favorite bistro, The Red Dot, is having a special Japanese meal at the restaurant and asked me if I could be there for it. Hard to say no to such a good friend so I am up tonight and back tomorrow.

When I get to the cottage, I may have to turn on the heat, as it will be chiller there than it is in the city. If I weren’t coming back to the city in the morning, there’d be a Franklin stove fire in my future.

What is not in the future for Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, is more time as head of FIFA. I subscribe to VICE News and its news of the resignation popped up on the upper right corner of my screen while I was on a conference call. The paper trail is moving closer to him in regards to the corruption scandal. His right hand man, Jerome Valcke, apparently was a recipient of a letter that links him to the alleged $10,000,000 bribe for the World Cup to be held in South Africa.

Bruce Jenner has now officially become Caitlyn Jenner, doing so with a splash in a Vanity Fair spread. She gained a million twitter followers more quickly than Obama did when he launched @potus. As someone who remembers her when she was Bruce and the triumphant Olympian, I can only imagine what a journey this has been for her. So public a life, so private a journey.

Last night on the Yangtze River, a river cruise ship named the Eastern Star or Oriental Star, depending on how you translate its Chinese name, was sailing through a storm when high winds struck and the ship capsized. So far, only fourteen people have been found alive of the 456 aboard. One survivor, a cruise director, floated fifty miles downriver before rescue.

There was no distress signal and the first realization of the disaster was when a few survivors reached shore and raised the cry.

Most of the passengers were elderly Chinese on holiday.

The Patriot Act, with some revisions, was resuscitated on the Hill today and will go to President Obama for his signature, which he has pledged to do. I have some mixed feelings about this. I have friends who rant that the Patriot Act has turned us into a police state while others are equally adamant that it is absolutely necessary for protection.

The process has elevated Rand Paul who worked against it and weakened Mitch McConnell, who thought it should be passed without revisions. Somewhere along the line he miscalculated the misgivings of his fellow Senators.

To me, whatever you think of Snowden, he revealed some unsavory aspects to our spying that have left, at least me, uncomfortable.

The situation in Syria is deteriorating. IS has begun to encroach upon Aleppo and non-IS affiliated rebels are accusing Assad of using his air force to support IS against them. Which in the convoluted realities of Syria today might actually be true.

A meeting of anti-IS countries concluded a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry attending by video link. Everyone agreed more needs to be done but didn’t seem to come up with any concrete steps beyond muddling along in the same way they currently are.

Which is what we’re doing, muddling along through one of the great crises of our time.

The EU seems to be muddling along through the Greek crisis, with more meetings scheduled for tomorrow. The EU financial ministers can’t seem to get their arms around the political realities on the ground in Greece.   Greece is living through a Great Depression experience and is desperate, which is why Tsipras was so overwhelmingly elected. He promised to change that and Greece needs some positive changes.

In a startling rewrite to biology books, the endangered smalltooth sawfish, has found away to avoid extinction. They have now seemed to have mastered “virgin births.” Seen occasionally in animals in captivity, it is not entirely unknown but what happens to men when women can experience “virgin births?”

On the train going up north, it has been a frustrating ride. North of where we were, a Metro North train had become disabled and we waited thirty minutes for the track to be cleared. I will probably arrive in time for dessert. But so it goes when you travel the rails, in America.

Letter From New York 06 01 15 More musings from grey days…

June 1, 2015

It has been another dark and sullen day and I am a little cranky about that. We went from shorts to sweatshirts in about 18 hours. It was cold and dank at the cottage when I woke this morning, slightly before the alarm was to go off. I went and got my coffee and curled back on the bed, wrapped in my favorite robe, and read the news.

My first reading of the day was an alert that had come in from the BBC about the torture of a 14 year old by IS and I winced when I saw it, the barbarity of it was incomprehensible. IS is forcing children as young as thirteen into service as soldiers. An entire generation is being perverted and the world will be paying the consequences for generations.

Ahmed, the boy, was caught on video by a man who has since deserted IS and Ahmed himself has escaped. But hundreds, thousands, remain and are being taught to be creatures of hate. My mind dazzles.

In the meantime, 41 have died in another IS suicide attack. What draws individuals to suicide attacks? I want to know. I really do.

While IS creates its havoc with suicide attacks, al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, is plotting on how they will take back Ramadi. The meeting is being held in Paris, far from the suicide bombers and the disintegration that is Iraq. The land has run red with blood and it is nowhere near a solution.

And that haunts me nearly every night though it does not infest my dreams. In my last, very colorful dream I was working with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep on a film that neither of them should have been in at the age they were. It was very complicated and I woke up amused.

In my dreams, I would be in Greece, which is where my friend Winn is, sharing photographs of places that I haunted in other times of my life and I remember them fondly. He posted just an hour ago a photo of himself outside of Franco’s, a bar and club on Santorini, a place where I spent many an evening watching the sun set, understanding in those moments of glorious sun fall, why the Greek myths have been so powerful It brings a smile to my face and I am so glad that I have experienced it and am so glad that Winn is experiencing it.

The sun is setting here in New York but you can’t see it because the sun is hidden behind the drab grey clouds that have dominated that last 48 hours. It makes me want to be home, cuddled on my couch with a fire in the Franklin stove with a good British mystery on the television.

Bruce Jenner is making his first appearance as a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair and has chosen the name of Caitlin for himself as he moves from man to woman. What a journey that person must have had in his/her life. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to take it. I saw some photos online today. He/she does not look bad and I wish her/him well as she/he continues this process.

Life is a process. I’m going through my own process right now and sometimes I find it exhilarating and sometimes I find it exhausting. But it is a part of a journey and that is what life is all about: it is a journey, from the moment we are born until the moment that we die.

As the night goes into the grey, I will wrap up. I am going to meet my friend Robert and we’ll have a bite to eat and then I am headed home to the little apartment, where I will read a bit and then fall asleep, to wake in the morning to the next round of news.

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.

Letter From New York 04 24 15 2015, a big year for anniversaries…

April 24, 2015

First of all, my apologies…

I thought the Bruce Jenner/Diane Sawyer interview was last night and it is tonight. I misread the paper yesterday. Sorry about that.

But it is tonight and the Kardashians are gathering to watch it together. He’s their stepfather. Bruce says that 2015 is going to be a wild ride. And I am sure that it already has been for him.

2015 is a big year for a lot of things.

Los Angeles has a large Armenian community and thousands of them marched today to remember the Armenian Genocide. The centenary of that gruesome event is happening today.

2015 is also the centenary, celebrated tomorrow, of Gallipoli. The Allies in World War I wanted to break the back of Turkish participation by capturing Istanbul. They landed at Gallipoli and remained there for months, unable to advance, starving, dying and suffering from dysentery. Something like 45,000 Allied troops died there as did 80 some thousand Turkish troops.

Charles, Prince of Wales, and his son, Prince Harry, are there to lead the British delegation to the remembrance. Australians and soldiers from New Zealand died in the thousands there too. It was the their military debut on the world stage and it is remembered every year there and on the centenary, the Prime Ministers of both countries have traveled to Gallipoli to be present for the ceremonies.

While that conflict has long been ended, the one in Yemen seems nowhere near ending. The Houthis have advanced and the Saudi led coalition has bombed back. 150,000 Yemenis have been displaced and the country is collapsing. Nearly everything they need has to be imported and right now almost nothing is coming in as cargo ships are detained in the waters off Yemen.

A number of Afghans and Pakistanis were arrested in Italy today, accused of planning to carry out Al Qaeda attacks, including one aimed at the Vatican.

In the United States there has been a huge buzz all day about the demise of the Time Warner Cable and Comcast merger. Called off today, it once looked like a sure thing. But since the deal was announced the media revolution that is occurring caused the spotlight to shift from cable homes reached to broadband houses served. If the deal had gone through, the combined companies would have owned, according to some estimates, as much as 57% of broadband service to US costumers.

That was too much for anyone.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota was a lonely voice a year ago in disapproval of the deal. He is hardly alone now.

Feeling a bit isolated today is Ed Miliband, Labour’s candidate for Prime Minister of Britain. He set off a row by claiming in a speech that the migrant disaster in the Mediterranean could be traced back to a lack of planning after the fall of Gadhafi. The Tories declared he had reached a new low.

We’ll see. The elections are two weeks away. A new low could be just around the corner.

Not going to Poland are the Night Wolves, a Hell’s Angels sort of biking group in Russia that is very fond of Putin as Putin is fond of them. They planned to ride through Poland on their way to celebrate Soviet victories in World War II, 70 years ago this year. Nope, said the Poles. Russia is “indignant.”

Less indignant will be some parts of American society now that Abercrombie & Fitch is set to dial down the sexiness of their advertising. No more male shirtless models everywhere.

The NASDAQ had its highest intraday moment in history today, propelled by Google, Amazon and Microsoft, the tech triumvirate. They all soared on individual good news.

Good news here is that sun is out. I saw “Ex Machina” last night and it was good; not what I expected but good and disturbing at the end.

In about an hour I will head over to Penn Station to take the 5:47 train up to Hudson. Lionel and Pierre will be home this weekend to attend a birthday party and we’ll all go to the Dot tonight.

Should be a good weekend.

Letter From New York 04 23 15 Posting and running…

April 23, 2015

It’s grey and drab here in New York and a little on the chill side. I have been working part of the afternoon at my friend Todd’s office while he is prepping for production on some show or other. All I know is that there are lots of clothes for little girls hanging in the office.

I looked at the clock and realized I would have to rush this blog a bit as it was later than I thought. I’m slipping away to see “Ex Machina,” a movie about artificial intelligence, in a little while with a friend.

Loretta Lynch was finally confirmed as Attorney General after a record-breaking wait for confirmation. There was a part of a bill on human trafficking that I believe Republicans objected to and they tied Ms. Lynch’s confirmation to the passing of that bill. Well, they must have come to an agreement because the bill has passed and Ms. Lynch was confirmed.

Also in news from Capitol Hill: the Benghazi Committee wants to hear from Hillary again on her email and about the event in 2012. It’s another piece of bad news in a week that has been rough on the candidate. The NY Times had a story about the flow of money to the Clinton Foundation that, at the very least, leaves one uncomfortable.

I probably won’t be able to see it but Bruce Jenner is sitting down tonight with Diane Sawyer for an interview. It should make for fascinating viewing. I’d like to know what’s really happening with the former Olympian.

Once he stood as if on Olympus but now he is on probation. That’s what the court decided for David Petraeus, former commander in Afghanistan and CIA Director, for leaking secrets to his mistress.

Earlier today, the President accepted responsibility for the deaths of an American and an Italian in an anti-terrorism operation earlier this year.

A group of Iranian cargo ships heading to Yemen has reversed course while the country is still shuddering under bombings from the Saudi led coalition.

The President of Germany has declared the events of a hundred years ago in Armenia as genocide. Turkey will not be pleased.

A battle of words has erupted again between the US/Ukraine/Russia over where the US trainers are operating in Ukraine. Russia is claiming they are in the battle zone in eastern Ukraine; the US and Ukraine say: nonsense.

What is not nonsense is that I am rapidly running of time and so must post and go.

Letter From New York 02 01 15 The Beat Goes On

February 1, 2015

In advance of Winter Storm Linus, I headed down to the city tonight as I have a couple of meetings tomorrow that I hope won’t be cancelled because of the weather. If they’re not, I want to be in place to have them.

Upstate, they are predicting nine to eighteen inches of snow and some bitter cold. In the city, it’s freezing rain and then some snow. Unpleasant but hopefully manageable.

Earlier today, I went to the Candlemas service at Christ Church Episcopal in Hudson, a lovely service that officially ended the Christmas season. It celebrates the presentation of the Baby Jesus at the Temple, as was required for all first born Jewish males.

On my way home I stopped at the Red Dot for an omelet while reading the NY Times on my iPhone.

The news of the day is grim, as seems to be usual, with some bright spots in the headlines.

The Egyptians released and then deported Peter Greste, an Australian who had been working for Al Jazeera and was arrested in December 2013, for allegedly supporting the recently deposed Muslim Brotherhood. He and two other Al Jazeera journalists were tried and sentenced to prison. An enormous international outcry ensued and the Egyptians have been looking for a way out ever since. A recently enacted law allows Egypt to deport convicted criminals who are not Egyptian citizens. Hence, Greste is on his way home today.

But the other two remain in prison. One has dual Egyptian/Canadian citizenship and may be allowed to renounce his Egyptian citizenship and then be deported to Canada. The other poor chap is only an Egyptian citizen and hence may spend the next years in jail.

That’s the pretty good news.

The really dark news is that Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist kidnapped by ISIS, has apparently been beheaded in another gruesome killing. The fate of a downed Jordanian pilot who is being held by ISIS is unknown.

As I write this, the Super Bowl is about to start. I was going to watch but Linus intervened and I will keep up my record of not watching Super Bowls. My brother, an avid sports fan, surprised me by telling me he is NOT watching. He has not gotten over the Green Bay Packers loss to the Seahawks.

The tabloid press is all over the reports that Bruce Jenner, champion of the 1976 Olympics, is preparing to transition to being a woman on an E! Reality program. I have to respect his decision though some of it seems as if this is another Kardashian franchise and that feels a bit cheesy.

AMERICAN SNIPER continues to break Box Office Records while continuing to feed controversy. Michael Moore, the documentarian, has taken some swipes at the film apparently and apparently Sarah Palin was seen yesterday holding a sign that said: F**k you, Michael Moore.

Ah, Sarah, you are so classy.

California is working on legislation that will raise the legal age for smoking to twenty-one. Smoking is not what it used to be. A friend has an apartment in New York he can’t rent because the woman below is a heavy smoker. No one wants to live above her.

Long way from the days of Bogart and Bacall…

Just days shy of the three year anniversary of her mother’s death by drowning in a bathtub, Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was found unresponsive in a bathtub in her home by her husband. Tonight, she is in a medically induced coma.

Over in Minsk, parties were to have gathered to see if another truce could be patched together in Ukraine. Talks lasted four hours before they contentiously broke up, each party blaming the other. In the meantime, the dying continues.

In other words, the beat of life goes on. War continues to rage. ISIS continues to behead. Troubled young women get in trouble and the Super Bowl is being played. By my next posting, a winner will have been declared. New York is about to be iced in and I’m going to go to Thai Market for dinner.