Posts Tagged ‘Greek Elections’

Letter From New York 09 20 15 Getting ready to go on the road…

September 20, 2015

Today begins three weeks of travel for me. I am heading down to the city this noon to attend a party for my friends, Kris and Eric, who now live in California. They are stopping by New York on their way to Martha’s Vineyard for a week.

Monday and Tuesday I am in the city, Wednesday I leave for Provincetown to visit friends, back to the city, down to Baltimore for Lionel’s birthday, off to Indianapolis for a conference and then on to Minneapolis to visit family and friends, circling back to the city before heading home.

I am squeezing in all of this, fulfilling promises to visit, before winter hits. I do my best not to go to Minneapolis when it’s freezing.

It’s a gentle morning here, temperature in the sixties with no rain forecast either in the Hudson Valley or down in the city. It has warmed enough that I am now on the deck with my coffee and my increasingly cranky laptop. It is now three years old and beginning to feel its age. Oh well, aren’t we all?

There is a touch of fall in the morning’s air, cool with no humidity, a desire to go put on a sweater. Yesterday young Nick and I discussed the need to fill the racks near the house with seasoned firewood from the piles out by the shed. I am settling in to a comfortable fall.

Not so in Europe where refugees and migrants find themselves trapped at borders, struggling to get around them. The nights are already cool and I doubt any of them are prepared for a chill walk across Europe. The seas will be getting rougher and therefore more dangerous.

Pope Francis has arrived in Cuba and is asking for more freedom for the church. If anyone can convince the Castros to loosen their grip, it’s this man. Tuesday he arrives in New York, one of the reasons I am choosing to be gone. It will be a little bit of chaos; no it will likely be a lot of chaos. Pundits think it will be worse than when the President is in town. But the town is revving up for him.

On the west coast, Seattle is getting ready for a two day visit starting also on Tuesday by Xi Jinping, President of China, in which he will immerse himself in all things tech before heading on to visit Obama in Washington on Thursday.

Ben Carson has declared a Muslim should not be President and The Donald has had to respond, which he has done in typical The Donald style, to not having corrected a man in an audience who said the country had a problem: Muslims and the President was not an American and was a Muslim.

Staggeringly, near thirty percent of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim. It causes me to roll my eyes and despair of the electorate.

The Greek electorate is deciding today whether to return to office Alexis Tsipras, who was elected to defy the country’s European creditors and ended capitulating to them. The Greeks are weary; this is their fifth national election in six years. Ridiculous, says one man. It will be a very tight election.

The Conservatives are running neck and neck with Tsipras and his Syriza Party. We will know by the morning, at least, who wins.

Tonight are the Emmy Awards. Since I no longer have cable, I’ll not be able to watch them. I don’t have over-the-air service either. I’m interested in seeing if Jon Hamm will FINALLY get an Award for his iconic performance as Don Draper in “Mad Men.” A couple of others interest me too, but not terribly.

Increasingly, I feel removed from media except as a distant observer. I’ve had my fun.

Now I seem to be looking for other fun, closer to home, some still media related but on the very local level. It brings a smile to my lips.

Now I must go and get ready to go to that party…

Letter From the Train 08 31 15 Ruminating about a long good weekend…

August 31, 2015

This morning, I sat on the deck, looking over the creek, fog wafted through the little valley in which the creek lies. The sun was hidden in the haze; the effect was magical. I read the New York Times and from the BBC app.

For the last three days, I have not written, wanting a little perspective on my world. I worked on my Emmy judging and my CINE Golden Eagle judging.

I strolled down Warren, noticing the new shops and old ones that seemed flourishing. As I walked, I exchanged nods with a few people who I knew by sight. It was a pleasant, warm evening, not too hot.

Arriving at the Dot I visited with friends there after perusing the new Rivertown Lodge opening on Warren Street, extending the gentrification of Hudson eastward.

This weekend was “The Travers,” a $1.25 million dollar purse at Saratoga. American Pharaoh was running, winner of the Triple Crown this year. That night, the word among aficionados of horse racing was that if any horse could beat American Pharaoh, it would be Keen Ice. And he did.

Saturday was running errands while Nick and his younger brother Mikey restacked the woodpiles and got the fountain working.

Saturday afternoon was spent on the deck and the evening watching movies. Up early on Sunday, I did all kinds of backlogged paperwork and stopped my desk from overflowing.

Sunday I lunched with my friend Alicia at Passing the Thyme, a little Kinderhook café that is closing in September. Alicia and I made plans to go there the final day. She goes frequently; this was my first time, to my regret.

Next to it is the Columbia County Museum. I was surprised to discover there was a County Museum and will go back soon to see what it contains.

They were good and mellow days, wandering the back roads of Columbia County, cornfields ready for harvesting, green fields that seemed to go on forever, people out on their decks or working in their yards. Rural America toward the end of a lazy summer, it was gloriously simple.

This morning I took paperwork to Columbia Greene Community College. If there are enough students I may teach a class this fall. Whenever I get the chance, I’m looking forward to it.

Of course, while I was relaxing in the simplicity of the country, the rest of the world was wrestling with all varieties of tumult.

IS used dynamite on another temple in Palmyra, this one built in 32 AD, to the god Baal. There is no consensus on whether it has survived or not.

More migrants drowned off the Libyan coast and 71 were found dead in a truck in Austria. The sense of crisis is growing all over Europe, a continent that feels on the verge of being overwhelmed by refugees.

The Greeks have called new elections. Trump is still leading the Republicans. In Iowa, two thirds of Republicans want a President from outside the government.   Hillary’s email debacle percolates all around her, a reality she is working her best to ignore.

Kyle Jean-Baptiste, a 21-year-old African American, the first black man to play Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” on Broadway, died when he fell from a fire escape where he had been sitting with a friend. It is said he had an amazing voice; he was scheduled to be in the new production of “A Color Purple.” His death, so young, reminds me of the fickleness of life.

That fickleness of life seems remote during times like this past weekend when time seemed to stretch on endlessly and pleasantly.

My train, ninety minutes late, is roaring down the track, doing its best to make up lost time. I may make the dentist on time, after all.

Letter From New York 01 25 15 Acts of men and weather must be left to others…

January 25, 2015

Waking early, sunlight danced off the creek while the geese sailed up it, as if there were no concerns in the world. All day, it was bright and sunny. Now, as I sit down to write, the light is beginning to fade and the temperature is about to plummet. Another storm is on its way, threatening inches of snow and deep cold.

As I usually do, the day started with coffee and the NY Times.

The Greeks went to the polls today and, as the day ends, it appears that the Anti-Austerity Party is going to win the day. No one has been hurt more in the west than the Greeks by the recession. They have depression levels of unemployment and social programs have been cut back; the Euro Zone has imposed harsh measures on the country. It has been a brutal period. Suicides became more common and an air of despair settled on the country.

Now, they seem to be saying: we’re not taking it anymore! If the anti-austerity party has won, there will be shaking across Europe. Lots of people in Spain and Italy are tired of austerity, too. The French aren’t so keen either. This will embolden their movements.

Antipathy runs particularly high toward Germany, the largest economy in the Euro Zone and mother hen to austerity as a way of life.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the morning. Will the markets across the world panic? This is exactly what they didn’t want. Alexis Tsipras is head of the Syriza party, which is anti-austerity. To actually govern he may have to become more centrist and he may not have won a clear majority so he’d have to create a coalition government, for which some are hoping.

But this is a turning point and there will be fraught days ahead for Greece and for Europe, with financial tensions high. Hopefully everyone will keep their heads and wits about them.

Greece, poor Greece, could end up significantly worse if things don’t get played correctly.

While Greece teeters on the edge, Obama is in India to cement relations with that country. From there he goes to Saudi Arabia to pay his respects at the passing of King Abdullah, who, from some reports, couldn’t stand Obama. But appearances must be kept.

In Nigeria, the Boko Haram has started an offensive against the major city in the Northeast, Maiduguri. Secretary Kerry is in Lagos, the commercial capital, visiting with the current President and his chief rival in upcoming elections, about how to deal with the Boko Haram. While we are closely watching ISIS as they try to establish their “Caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram is attempting to do the same thing in Nigeria and they are just as deadly and cruel as the fighters of ISIS.

And that is all far away; here the deer are roaming the yard and the fading light is being reflected off the snow. The blizzard watch is being upgraded to a blizzard warning and I can feel the temperature dropping. It is now developing into a major – if not historical – storm with potentially two feet of snow coming for the city and here. The Mayor of New York is saying it may be the worst in the history of the city. Blimey!

In a fun bit for today: 100 years ago the first transcontinental phone call was made between Alexander Graham Bell in New York and his former lab assistant, Thomas Watson, in San Francisco, 39 years after their famous first call. Added to the call were the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, and the President of AT&T, Theodore Vail. So it was also the first conference call.

In the not too distant future, a martini awaits and I will focus on other things. There is little I can do about the impending Greek crisis and less that I can do about the Boko Haram. I will leave them to other, hopefully wiser, men.  And both them and the weather to God.