Posts Tagged ‘France’

Letter From Claverack 07 15 2017 On the Auto Train outside of Jacksonville, FL…

July 15, 2017

It is closing on 6:00 on the 15th of July, 2017 and I am riding north on the auto train from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia.  Pierre Font, married to my friend Lionel, and I are bringing his parents’ car from Miami to Columbia County, which is where they will be living while they sort out their lives.

There are no stops.  Well, except for the one where one of the engines lost power but they managed to fix it and we are going again.  It is a bit like being on a cruise, having a day at sea.

Forty years ago, in Tehran, Maryam Mirzakhani, was born.  She is the only woman to have won the Field Award in mathematics, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize.  And today, she passed away, a victim of breast cancer, a brilliant mind gone quiet.  She has been a Professor at Stanford University since 2008.  RIP.  It is hard to lose such a brilliant mind.  By the way, she was Muslim.

Yesterday, one of my relatives sent me an email warning me about a young Muslim politician in Michigan.  It was, to me, both xenophobic and un-American, and I angrily deleted it.  We were being warned he might one day become President of the United States.  Today, I wanted to retrieve it but couldn’t seem to find it.  My relative’s unhappiness with the man was simply based on the fact he was Muslim.

One of the finest people I have known in my life was Omar Ahmad, a Muslim, who when he died prematurely from a heart attack a few years ago, was Mayor of San Carlos, CA.

There was a moment when I wanted to respond.  I didn’t because it would have no effect on him as nothing I say would change his mind.  This is who he is, xenophobic and un-American and he has been that way since I have known him.

Yet, I feel guilty at not having responded.

Such is life in 21st Century America.

The election of Trump to the Presidency has given lots of people more freedom to express xenophobia and racism and all the ugly things we haven’t dealt with in America.  And all the things that more and more of the world is having to deal with as huge populations move around the globe.

France was welcoming to Josephine Baker in the 1920’s; it could afford to be.  It looked down on the United States and its racial policies.  But would a Josephine Baker from a Muslim country today still find the embrace she did?  I’m not sure.

It is one thing to be a rarity in the 1920’s and another to be part of an encroaching potential majority in the 2010’s.

I am saddened and worn by all these things and grateful I will be gone before all this plays out.

It is possible for me to look back and think, gratefully, on what a life I have had.  It is my hope that the people who are younger than me will also have a wonderful life and that a solution will be found to all of this because if we do not find a way to embrace each other, it is not going to be pretty.

Letter From The Train 09 07 15 Going up the river…

September 8, 2015

The train is moving north; it is dusk. A soft rose glow dominates the western sky causing the Hudson to also glow with a soft rose gold color. The moment is magical. Members of my family, my brother, his wife, his daughter, her husband were in New York this weekend. They went to the U.S. Open and we spent time together, wining, dining, walking, and seeing “Kinky Boots,” the Broadway musical that burns with exuberance and joy. While I didn’t walk out humming tunes, I walked out feeling alive and exhilarated.

The weekend winds down and I am heading north for a couple of quiet days at the cottage. The city was hot over the weekend but never felt as warm as the temperature recorded. The city today seemed deserted, people and motor traffic minimal. It was almost serene.

I’m looking forward to the quiet in the country for a couple of days.

While I have been enjoying the city and its delights with the joyful company of my relatives, the world has been seething with its usual issues. Europe is struggling with the refugee crisis. The UK, unwilling until now to help, has agreed to take on 20,000 refugees while France will take 24,000. Arab nations have been taking very, very few refugees and the world is beginning to wonder why.

David Cameron has informed Parliament that British forces have killed some Britons who had gone to fight with IS. They were targeted because there was, according to Cameron, evidence they would return to the UK to carry out terrorist acts.

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has filed an emergency appeal with a Federal Court, petitioning her release. It asks the Governor of Kentucky to grant her an exemption from having to issue marriage licenses.

If obeying the law conflicts with her beliefs, I have wondered why she does not resign?

Speaking of getting around the law, teenagers have always been at the forefront of attempting to circumvent rules. Today’s teenagers are using e-cigarettes to now vaporize pot. Very clever and not entirely surprising…

When I was young, I was a great fan of “Route 66,” a television series starring Martin Milner and George Maharis as two young men wandering around the country in a Corvette, encountering adventures in every new city. It seemed romantic and I wanted to do just that.

I did one summer, in my Mustang, driving all over the country, sleeping on friends’ couches and having my share of adventures.

Martin Milner died today. RIP.

It is just past 8:00 PM and the world is dark, a sure sign the seasons are beginning to change. The long and lovely summer evenings are now in the past and the days will grow ever shorter until, at last, they will begin to grow longer.

I’ve never liked snakes. I have a morbid fear of them. Today Sanofi-Pasteur has announced it will no longer manufacture one of the most powerful anti-venom drugs because it is no longer profitable. 30,000 die of snake bites every year in sub-Saharan Africa and 8,000 lose limbs to amputation. It makes me shudder.

What causes great awe in me is the fact we exist at all. Some 13.8 billion years ago, scientists believe, the Big Bang occurred and the universe blossomed into existence. Scientists now have found a galaxy nearly as old as the universe. It makes me glow with wonder.

Other scientists and archeologists have found a “Superhenge” about two miles from Stonehenge. Apparently it makes Stonehenge look tiny. Still buried but found by earth penetrating radar it has scientists and archeologists panting in excitement. One has said that everything about Stonehenge will need to be re-written.

The bigger, older brother of Stonehenge was built 4,500 years ago about the time Egypt was rising and pyramids were being built.

Labor Day Weekend is coming to an end. Unlike in my childhood, I have no tension about moving on. I regret the passing of summer and will relish the coming of fall, a season that has always been my favorite.