Posts Tagged ‘Brussels’

Letter From New York 04 09 2016 As it happens…

April 10, 2016

It is one of my favorite times at the cottage; the sun is setting and twilight is arriving.  As I look out the front window, seated on my sofa, the view slowly becomes very like a black and white photo.  There are only woods, slipping away into the night, a few branches slowly blowing in the soft wind of a cool spring evening.

Touring Amazon Prime Music, I added a playlist of “Classical for Reading” while I sip a martini and type, laptop balanced on my lap.  It had been my intention to go out and attend a gallery opening down in Hudson but after Nick and his father, Martin, left after completing a few finishing touches to my newly painted bath, I sat on the couch, read for a while and decided that, no, I wasn’t headed out; I was staying home to enjoy my cottage.

Last night, I did the same.  Watched “Grantchester” on line and then drifted off, reading a book on my Kindle.

As I sat, as I normally do, having lunch at the bar at The Red Dot, reading and bantering with Alana, the owner, the individuals around me were chattering about the New York Primary, scheduled for the week after next.  Bernie will be in Albany on Monday and one woman is calling in sick in hopes of getting into the rally.  The once solid upstate affection for Hillary has seemed to cool this year and it’s Bernie that is capturing the attention.

Hillary is playing well downstate and I think is headed upstate soon.  It’s a big contest for the two of them, particularly now that he has won Wyoming.  “Pivotal” is the word newspeople are using to describe what happens in New York on the Democratic side.

Hillary herself says she needs to win big, according to the Washington Post.

Ted Cruz had a relatively warm reception in upstate New York when he spoke at a Christian school here but did not fare as well downstate, which finds his “New York values” statement more than a little offensive.  He was, I do believe, booed in Brooklyn.

Donald is trumping through the state, playing on Cruz’s statement and is leading on the GOP side here in New York. 

Arianna Huffington has become a great promoter of sleep.  Yes, that’s right, sleep!  She said in a radio interview that The Donald is exhibiting signs of sleep deprivation.  It’s a point of honor with him that he only sleeps four hours a night.

Meanwhile, Turkey, a country I visited some years ago and was one of my favorite places, is facing warnings from the US and Israel about tourists going there; credible reports of potential incidents in Istanbul and elsewhere have caused the warnings.  A bomb in a bag was exploded today in Istanbul by police, two slightly wounded when they did so.

In Brussels, “the man in the hat” was arrested. He has been ardently searched for by authorities for weeks and was apprehended.  Mohamed Abrini admits to being there, being “the man in the hat” and while he has been apprehended the threat remains all over Europe.

It was a very good day for three sailors in Micronesia, who had been reported missing.  They spelled the world “Help” in palm fronds and that was spotted by a rescue helicopter and they were picked up from the uninhabited island.

Tomorrow night there will be a documentary on HBO about the legendary Gloria Vanderbilt, done with her son, Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor.  She reveals in the new memoir accompanying the documentary that she seduced both Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, not to mention Errol Flynn and Howard Hughes.  What a life she has led…

She is 92, by the way, and doing quite well, thank you!  The book is called, “The Rainbow Comes and Goes.”

And now, outside, it is dark, the music plays and I will end and cozy up with a book.

Letter From New York 03 22 2016 A dirge for Brussels

March 23, 2016

The sun is setting as I sit looking out at the creek, the vista in front of me full of greying light and the still barren branches of the trees clawing to the sky. 

Mahler plays in the background.  He seemed right for the moment, a day in which I have been enraged and sad, felt broken and hopeless, contemplative and escapist.

When the alarms went off this morning, the screen of my phone was cluttered with news pushes from the BBC and AP about the tragedy in Brussels.  I rubbed my eyes and attempted to focus, not wanting to believe what I was reading.  But it was there, a truth that had entered the world, unwanted but present, never to be put back in any bottle.

I hit the snooze alarm and closed my eyes, staying there until I had to break into the day.  Playing commuter, I made a round trip to the city today for a meeting I felt I could not miss.  If I missed my train, I might miss the meeting.

It seemed inconsequential when I really thought about it, a media meeting balanced against the carnage of Brussels, another IS attack on western civilization.  However, our worlds go on and we met and it was good and some business might develop from it and we never talked about Brussels.

We are becoming inured to the cadence of troubles that has burst upon the world.  We are accepting all of this as the new normal, much as did the Russians did during the last fifty years of the Empire when anarchists struck again and again.  You have to go on because what else does one do? 

Perhaps we should take a break, think about what is happening, see what individually we might do to change the horrible road we’re on.

We don’t really know how to change the map, the road; we do our best, or our worst, and keep on going.  We are, at this moment, caught up in the flow of history and we poor individuals don’t know how to do much to change it yet it is somehow, in democracies, in our hands.

Ted Cruz has apparently called for the patrolling and monitoring of American Muslim communities.  I wanted to take my phone and throw it across the drive when I read that. 

How do we make them our friends when we cast them all as enemies? 

It is frightening and complex and every Muslim I know is as appalled by IS as I am.  Monitor and patrol their communities?  He is taking a page from the Trump playbook.

As I drove to the train this morning a commentator on “Democracy Now” which I do not often listen to, claimed that if there were a Brussels style attack in America just before the election we will be looking at a President Trump.

And I was afraid he might be right.

On my way out of town tonight, on the 4:40 heading north, I might have been imaging it but it seemed there were a lot more soldiers in Penn Station than there normally are.  And I understood it.

Facebook notified me that Facebook friends of mine in Brussels were all safe, for which I was grateful.

I am frightened tonight.  I am going into the city again tomorrow and that doesn’t frighten me.  But the world in which we are living frightens me. 

“The War on Terror” may not be the best option in dealing with this situation which is rapidly, I think, growing out of control.

We have failed to address systemic issues in the Mideast and are reaping the rewards.  Just saying…

I am in the third act of my life.  It is for my younger friends and relatives I am concerned.

It is for the world I was born into that I am concerned.  It is slipping away from us.  IS is taking our peace and our consumption habits seem about to take much else from us. 

Scientists are saying global warming is worse than they thought.

No wonder I am playing Mahler tonight.

Letter From New York 03 16 2016 Riding into New York…

March 16, 2016

The Hudson River is nearly mirror still as I rumble south on the train, into New York for a visit to my gastroenterologist for a [ugh] colonoscopy, a follow-up to my stay in the hospital last month.

The morning was full of news about the primaries.  Trump, as had been expected, trounced Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida and Rubio, also as expected, withdrew from the race.

Bernie Sanders is wondering about what next as Hillary Clinton handily beat him in Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina and, of course, Florida.  It is looking like she eked out a win in Missouri, beating Bernie by a mere 1500 votes the last time I looked.

Kasich took his home state of Ohio so he is still playing the Republican game of musical chairs.

53% of Americans would choose Trump to be the Republican nominee.  61% don’t like him.  Go figure.

Trump is preening in his victories, winning everywhere but Ohio.  He claims there will be riots if the Republican Party denies him the nomination.  Even in victory he summons images of violence.

While there will likely not be physical violence, there will be much name calling and shouting now that Obama has nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Scalia’s death.  Republicans have vowed not to move on the matter until there is another President, keeping their fingers crossed a Republican will occupy the White House.

Congressional chaos…

In the streets of DC and its environs there was another piece of chaos on the streets.  After two electrical fires within the last year, the new head of the Metro ordered it shut down for twenty-four hours while they inspect it to ensure it is safe.

Having once lived in DC, I can only imagine what the day was like and be grateful I wasn’t there.  It’s how I usually get around DC.

Also, the Fed is being dovish about raising rates.  The dollar falls, gold rises as do the markets, modestly.

In Brussels, an Algerian, illegally in the country, was killed in a raid by police.  At least two others were detained; an Islamic flag was found with them.  Belgian police are promising more raids.

In Nigeria, two female suicide bombers killed twenty-four at a mosque.  A bomb placed on a bus in Pakistan killed fourteen.

Angelina Jolie has met with refugees in Lebanon and Greece in a bid to bring the spotlight on them.  Germany’s Merkel thinks only Turkey can stem the flow and has called for a Pan-European meeting to address the issue.

The Kurds in Syria are calling for a Federalization of Syria, creating more independence for them.  No else seems very much in favor of the solution, especially Assad, who sees it as the beginning of the break-up of  his country.

Putin has announced in the last couple of days that Russia has accomplished its mission in Syria and is beginning a withdrawal of a majority of its forces.  Indeed, half the Russian planes have departed but eyebrows are raised as to whether this is actually going to be the kind of withdrawal that Putin intimates.

“The Happiest Place on Earth” is Disney owned.  However, the happiest country on the planet is Denmark, which has held the top spot for three of the four years that the World Happiness Report has been issued. 

Next are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, The Netherlands,  New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

Poor Burundi is the unhappiest country.  Just above it on the list are Syria, Togo, Afghanistan, Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, Liberia, Tanzania and Madagascar.  Poor and riven with war or disease or both, they are at the bottom.

You’re wondering where the US is on this scale, aren’t you?  We’re number 13, actually a little higher than I thought we might be.

Russia is number 110 and China is 83rd and India is 118th.

If interested in Hollywood and the often salacious stories that come out that place,  a new book is due out, “James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes,” by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince, claiming that James Dean and Marlon Brando had an on/off sadomasochistic sexual relationship from their meeting to Dean’s death in a car accident in 1955.

Long dead but still capable of steaming up the book sales.

New York approaches.

Letter From New York 11 22 2015 The world goes its crazy ways…

November 23, 2015

Anniversary of Kennedy’s death. Lionel White. Pierre Font. Brussels. Paris. National Registry for Muslims. Donald Trump.  Marco Rubio.  Jeff Cole. George Stephanopoulos. Jeb Bush. Ebola. Liberia. Earthquake in Afghanistan.

It is the 22nd of November and for some reason I remembered that today is the 52nd anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy.  When I was reading the Times this morning with my first cup of coffee, it struck me.

I was in middle school and the principal came in and whispered to the teacher, who told us and we were all sent home from our Catholic School and began a mourning that I am not sure we are over.

It was a grayish day today and on the chill side but tonight there was the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen in my time here.  The sky was a lush red that filled the horizon.  I attempted a photo but it didn’t do the colors justice.IMG_1062

Also, the deer have returned.  There was a family of them scattered on the road, on my property and across the street at Lionel and Pierre’s home.  Standing proudly in Lionel’s yard was a young buck, watching as his family crossed the road in front of my very slowly moving car.

While I listen to jazz and wait for Lionel to arrive for Thanksgiving week festivities, the world itself goes on its crazy way.

Brussels seems to be in a virtual lockdown and a series of raids have been held during the course of the evening.  The city is on the highest level of alert, the Metro will not run tomorrow and schools are closed.  People are being advised to stay home and inside.

In Paris, they are searching for a third suspect and some are saying many “red flags” for the attacks were missed.

The world has changed, again, since the Paris attacks.  Trump is talking a “national registry” for Muslims.  He also claims that on 9/11 “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheered as the Towers fell.  He claims to have seen it himself, on television.  Really?  George Stephanopoulos reminded him that the police say it didn’t happen.  But it did, George, but it did.

The Washington Post did an evaluation of the top Republican candidates and estimated that the nominee is likely going to be Marco Rubio, which my friend Jeff Cole suggested when we had lunch six weeks ago.

Jeb Bush comes in at number 5.  Number two is Donald Trump.  Is this really happening?  I have stopped laughing because The Donald might just pull it off and that is a really scary thought.

The Paris attacks have changed the tone of our electoral campaign and will continue to influence it as we progress toward this, to me, most bizarre of electoral cycles.

Sadly, Ebola has re-emerged in Liberia and 153 people are being watched to see how it develops in them.

There has been a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Northeast Afghanistan, bringing even more misery to that land of misery.

Thankfully, the jazz is soothing and the fire cheery.  So I end the day, curled up in the comforts of the cottage, Tempting as it might be, I am not yet retreating into blocking out the news of the day.

When I was younger, globe trotting, I felt like a citizen of the world.  I still feel that way.