Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Letter From New York 11 02 15 Working on not to being a cranky old man…

November 2, 2015

Henry Hudson.  Hudson River. Russian Jet Crash. Halloween. The Red Dot. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  Amazon Prime. Benedict Cumberbatch.  Hamlet. Ophelia. European Refugee Crisis. Sumte, Germany. Nazi. Turkey. Erdogan.

I am gliding south on the 8:45 out of Hudson, down to the city for a few meetings this week and then will head back Wednesday evening. The Hudson River is still and mirrors the muted colors of fall. A barge makes its way north to Albany. In certain stretches, it is possible to imagine that this was the way the river looked when Henry Hudson first sailed north.

It is so placid a scene that it is almost possible to detach from the battering of the news.

It has been two days since I have written; Saturday afternoon I was having a late, for me, brunch at the Red Dot before heading home to service any Trick or Treaters. Several people were sitting not far from me, chatting rather loudly and raucously about their summer exploits of jet skis and pool parties, dancing and dating.

At the moment, I was reading the New York Times and was feeling very aware of the various crises that are engulfing the planet. A Russian jet had crashed in the Sinai earlier that day. More had drowned in the Aegean and Germany is preparing to settle nearly a million refugees within its borders.

The conversation happening not far from me grated on me. Unreasonably, I wanted to walk over and say to them something like: you fools! Don’t you know serious things are happening?

I didn’t.

They were having a harmless conversation. I have had harmless conversations about silly things, too. And I am also aware of what is happening in the world. It bothered me at the moment because on the Saturday of Halloween it seemed no one was paying attention except me. I was having a cranky old man moment.

Last year, there had been a few Trick or Treaters. This year, there were none. As I waited, I watched “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” from Amazon Prime. When I finished, I went off to bed to read a book, soon falling into the arms of Morpheus.

Early up on Sunday, I went off to Christ Church, slipping away after communion because I had a ticket for an HD version of Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Hamlet.” He and the production were superb. It is the first time I have witnessed a production that indicated that Ophelia was fragile even before the Prince of Denmark’s attentions.

At home, afterwards, I did some paperwork and read some more and am now heading down to the city.

The Russian airliner is much in the news; it apparently broke up in mid-air and it is being posited that some “external event” resulted in the loss.

In Germany, one small town of 102 individuals is being asked to take in 750 refugees. The Mayor of Sumte’s wife thought it was a joke when they were first notified. It has energized a youngish local Nazi who has a seat on the town’s council: it will be good for his brand of politics he thinks. This is a harbinger of the challenges facing Germany and those challenges also threaten Angela Merkel’s position as Chancellor.

Erdogan has won a big victory in Turkey, giving him the impetus to push forward once again with a plan for an executive presidency, not that it has been a de facto executive presidency since Erdogan took that office. He has been playing the role of both Prime Minister and President as he feels like it, a bit like the arrangement Putin had with Medvedev.

The day, which began gloriously, has turned grey as we have moved south. Mild temperatures are expected this week, a last gasp of Indian summer.

Loving to entertain, I am having two sets of people in for dinner this week.

We will talk, I’m sure, of silly things and serious matters and I will do my best to not be a cranky old man.

Letter From New York 09 01 15 Hot day, hot news…

September 1, 2015

It’s a sunny, warm day in New York. Waking up in the New York apartment, I was disoriented and not quite sure where I was. Then I got a cramp in my left leg that catapulted me out of bed and into the realization I was in New York. During the morning I worked out of the apartment and then headed down to the offices of Broderville.

It is supposed to scrape ninety degrees today but it didn’t feel that warm when, around noon, I reached the office. Since then, I have been cossetted in the air conditioning while doing my afternoon’s online work.

While I have been hammering on the laptop’s keys, the market has been swooning over more bad news from China. The Wall Street Fear Index is up again today but not as high as it was a week ago.

No longer standing at all is the Temple of Bel/Baal at Palmyra. Satellite photographs have shown clearly that it has been demolished. Until these shots came through there was some hope but it is now gone, forever, a temple which has stood since the time of Christ.

Video of a man who appeared to have raised his arms in San Antonio and was then shot by police is posted online by a local television station, KSAT, and can be seen on their website. http://www.ksat.com/news/ksatcom-exclusive-unedited-video-of-fatal-deputy-involved-shooting

I couldn’t watch. I didn’t want to see a man gunned down, rightly or wrongly, though it is looking very suspect at this moment.

In Chicago, a manhunt is on for three men who allegedly shot a police officer there.

All in all, according to a NY Times article I read, murders are soaring in a number of cities. People are struggling to understand after years of falling murder numbers. One reason posited is that gangs are better organized and better armed.

Kim Davis, the County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court to prevent her from having to issue gay marriage licenses.   The Supreme Court was having none of it. Nope. No way. We’re not hearing this.

This morning a rowdy group showed up demanding their marriage licenses. She now must show up in Court on Thursday for a hearing. Gay couples that want licenses don’t want her to go to jail but do want her fined.

Rand Paul, erstwhile candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency, thinks Ms. Davis’ protest is all just part of the American way. Unfortunately, I agree with him but not for the reasons he has, I suspect. I’m only surprised there aren’t more holdouts like Ms. Davis.

The migrant crisis is growing in Europe. Today, trains were halted in Hungary and migrants, even those holding tickets, were not allowed to board. Hundreds have died at sea, attempting the crossing from Africa to Italy, just in the last week.

The number of Syrian refugees accepted by Britain would barely be enough to fill a car on the Underground, hence all the rush to get to Germany where Angela Merkel is fending off a rising right that wants to put a stop to it.

The EU has had, at best, a slapdash approach to the refugee crisis, ignoring or suspending its own rules willy-nilly with no central government organized response.

All of this, after the Greek Crisis, further strains the credibility of the EU.

My credibility is not feeling strained today. I’m going to close up shop for the night, head up to Café du Soleil for a bite to eat and then go back home and read a book for a while.

All good. Hope it is for you, too!

Letter From The Train 08 25 15 Black holes, Putin’s justice and barbarians on the march…

August 25, 2015

It was a hot, muggy day in New York. About four this afternoon, as I was strolling back to the office after a meeting on Park Avenue South, a walk of about fifteen minutes, I determined that I would go home even though I have a meeting tomorrow in the afternoon.

It’s a gorgeous day and I want to be home, sleep in my own bed and listen to the insects buzz outside while I sit on the deck and watch the creek, lit up by floodlights beneath the deck.

The markets bounced upwards most of the day before closing another 205 points down. The China rout continues; one Chinese billionaire by the name of Wang has lost thirteen billion dollars so far. That’s a big bucket of dollars.

The outrage of the world about the destruction of the temple to Baalshamin continues. Much has been destroyed by Islamic militants in the last year, including the temple to Baalshamin as well as the two statues of Buddha destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan some years ago and treasures in Timbuktu.

Barbarians. Barbarous in the way they treat treasures and barbarous in the way they treat people.

Refugees are swarming across the world. The island of Kos in Greece is overrun and the Mediterranean is filled with boats of every size carrying souls from Africa. From Kos, thousands have made their way by hook or crook through the Balkans to the border of countries like Hungary, which is scrambling to build a fence to hold them back. The refugee problem is the worst it has been since the end of WWII.

Germany alone will be taking in 800,000 refugees this year, four times last year’s total. I don’t think we take in that many immigrants in a year and Germany is a fraction of our size. If I am remembering correctly, Germany has some eighty million people living there. They will be adding one percent to their population this year. That is a lot of assimilation.

The Baltic countries are balking about taking in even a couple of hundred refugees and anti-immigrant rallies are all over in Germany. The immigrant problem has overwhelmed Merkel’s agenda as thoroughly as Greece did.

Putin’s Russia has just sentenced Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director, to twenty years in a Labor Camp for plotting terrorist attacks against Russians after their annexation of the Crimea. The Russians say the bruises on his body after his arrest were from S&M sex he had before his arrest.

The chief prosecution witness against Sentsov withdrew his testimony halfway through the trial, announcing he had been tortured to get it.

Ah, the joys of Putin’s democracy…

Think of Sentsov in the months to come. He will haunt my thoughts for a while.

Megyn Kelly is flourishing despite The Donald’s tirades against her on Twitter. She has been gone on an eleven-day vacation, which may or may not have been scheduled. Her return resulted in her best ratings of the year, even though she didn’t mention Trump.

Her boss, Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News, has demanded that Trump apologize. What is an ice cube’s chance in hell?

Sex sites have taken a beating recently. Ashleymadison.com was hacked. 15,000 of their email accounts were linked to .gov or .edu addresses, causing some wonder about our government officials and our educators. Josh Duggar was a member, furthering the nation’s perception of him as the sleaziest man alive. Lawsuits are landing on their doorstep.

Today rentboy.com was raided and six present and past employees were arrested. It is alleged it was actually a site for prostitution and not for companionship. I think the allegation may prove true.

Stephen Hawking, the legendary physicist, speaking is Stockholm has said that if you fall into a black hole, don’t worry. There is a way out. You might pop out in an alternative universe. Do I find that comforting? I’m not much worried about black holes, not having encountered one in my life but, if I do, I will remember this as I am sucked in.

Letter From New York

July 2, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

Another day; another airport. Feels like the old days – I’ve been up at oh dark hundred several days now, catching planes to a variety of cities for a variety of reasons. I was having an email exchange with my friend Robert Murray who, as I recounted my schedule, gave me advice: meet interesting people. And I have.

First interesting person along the way was Sis Wenger, President and CEO of NACOA, the National Association of Children of Alcoholics. She is a powerhouse, a seventy something gray haired lady who has been an almost unstoppable force in the recovery community for a long, long, long time. Her work is amazing. And necessary.

When I was in college, there was a play that some friends did a scene from: “And Mrs. Riordan Drinks A Little.” Sometimes, when I was being a wag, I would say to my friends “And Mrs. Tombers Drinks A Little.” My mother had some issues – which is not to say that she couldn’t be the most charming individual on the planet. She could. And she did her best. And…

So I was confronted with some memories that I hadn’t expected when I was getting ready for my meeting with the indefagtible Sis Wenger. Studying her website opened some places in my heart I have not gone for a long time. But good that I did. I could be sad for young Mat and glad for old Mat and appreciative of the goodness that was in my mother and grateful for the fact we had resolution with each other before she died.

Sis Wenger is one of the most amazing individuals I’ve encountered for a long time. Sincere, interesting, dedicated, inspiring and very real. I am privileged to have met her.

So, moving on, to an afternoon in Philadelphia to meet another very interesting man: Michael Shevek, a Rabbi. I have a friend, David Arcara, and we get together once a quarter or so for a lunch to discuss global realities. He is, without a doubt, one of the smartest people I know. At our last lunch he mentioned Michael and suggested we get to know each other. He made a connection. Michael and I had a Skype conversation when he was in Paris and then met last weekend.

A man with an extraordinary history: Creative Director of a major ad agency and when he got let go from his position [an inevitability when in that position], went through a life crisis which ended with him as a Rabbi [I simplify a very complicated story]. He is now working with the Patton Foundation, founded by Helen Patton, who is the granddaughter of George S. Patton, the General who tore through Europe, defeating the Nazis.

Michael was in Europe around the time of D-Day and ended up, by circumstance, at a German Memorial Service for soldiers who died during D-Day. His presence resulted in the German organizer bursting into tears, as he had always wanted a Rabbi to be there, to bring some kind of closure. He begged Michael to be part of the memorial service for the Germans and he agreed. Even after Michael had been told that there were SS buried in the cemetery. When told that Michael’s response was: before they were SS, they were children.

And that is true. Before there is corruption, there is childhood and we are innocent. And at some point, the men who became SS were children, were innocent and uncorrupted. And how sad that someone offered them the apple from which they ate and which led them out of the garden of good into the garden of good and evil.

All of us are offered the apple; one of the great choices we make in life is how deeply we bite into the apple, how much we surrender the innocence of our childhood on our path through life. Because we all surrender some of our innocence.