Posts Tagged ‘Hudson River’

Letter From Claverack 06 28 2017 Too beautiful a day to waste…

June 28, 2017

Yesterday, I determined I would go down to the city to attend the Producer’s Guild Annual Meeting.  This morning, walking out of the studio after my program, I made an abrupt determination that I was not going.  It is just too beautiful a day to be in the city; when I left the studio, I knew what I wanted to do was to be sitting on my deck, a good strong mug of coffee next to me, with my fingers tapping on my laptop, which is where I am now.

The sky occasionally greys over but it is still a pleasant day, a little cooler than I would like but not by much.

The creek is clear, meandering gently to the west where it will eventually pour itself into the Hudson River.  The coffee is a rich mix of Honduran and Nicaraguan beans, freshly ground, from Tierra Farm, a local business that is at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and from whom I buy my coffee.  Now that I know they have a retail store, I won’t need to worry about stocking up between the Summer and Winter Markets.

On Wednesday afternoons, during the summer, there is a smaller market in the park across from Proprietor’s Square.  Perhaps I’ll go down there this afternoon; I have friends who sell their flavored D’arcy butters there.

Once I made the decision not to go the city, I felt playful.  When I woke this morning, as the sun was just beginning to ascend in the eastern sky, I was thinking it would be fun.  Then I read an article about the deteriorating state of the subway system and remembered the achingly long waits for the C Train last time I was in the city but was still determined to go.

Until the moment I walked out and saw how beautiful it was and breathed in the sweet air and thought: why?  Yes, I would like to go to the Annual Meeting but was it worth a two-hour ride down and two hours back, an overnight stay, especially when my other meetings had cancelled or not confirmed?  And I decided the beauty of where I was would beat the beauty of where I was going.  I came home, threw my overnight bag onto the bed to be unpacked, made coffee and came out to the deck.

Opening my email inbox, I ruthlessly deleted anything that was not personal.  Delete, delete, delete to all the emails from all progressive causes pleading for money.  Delete, delete, delete to all emails referencing politics while savoring several teasing me with recipes I would like to make one day.

In the political chaos of our time, I have been seeking solace in the carefully laid out steps in recipes, promising a decent outcome if one follows the road map.  Out there in the real world, there is no real road map and anyone attempting to create one, is not having much success.

McConnell’s gamble on secrecy in creating the Senate version of the American Health Care Act, seems to have backfired on him, leaving him postponing debate and a vote until after the July 4th recess.  It does not go far enough for the conservatives and too far for the moderates while the Democrats are not having any of it.

The U.S. spends more than any other country on healthcare and, in at least some studies comparing it to other countries of similar economic status, comes out dead last in quality.  Just fix it, please. Go ahead, guys, get together and put together a plan that works. Republicans! Democrats! Please.  Aren’t we all Americans?  Can’t we do better?

Everywhere I wander on news sites today, I am flooded with ads for Pepper, a Soft Bank Robotics robot, that they are offering to help in retail and offices.  One package will replace your receptionist.  It’s about 4 feet high with big eyes, a wide range of movement and what looks like an iPad plastered to its chest.  They may be coming for us.

There is another ransomware attack hitting, mostly in Europe and Asia right now.  It’s called “Petya” and is derived from code hacked from the NSA.  Perhaps the next war won’t be fought with tanks, ships, planes and soldiers but by bunkered hackers working to bring their enemy to its technological knees.

Outside, it’s a beautiful day, a good moment, jazz standards are playing on my Echo and I am going to head to the Wednesday Market and see what’s for offer today instead of plying the subway lines of New York City.  Yes, that sounds like a very good idea on a beautiful day.

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Letter From Claverack 06 11 2017 Returning to hygge…

June 12, 2017

It is delightfully quiet as I sit on the deck, the fierce heat of the day receding and all the noise of the city left behind.  About four o’clock, I returned to Columbia County from four days in the city, a delightful time, packed with adventures and sights and people.  And I was glad to return to the quiet of the cottage and knit it all together.

The occasion of my trip was that it was my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding anniversary.  They were married in New York four years ago and return every year to celebrate.  Last year, I was absent, selling books in Edgartown, on Martha’s Vineyard.

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This year, I was present.  On Wednesday, they went for a private celebration of their anniversary while I had dinner with my wonderful godson, Paul Geffre.  We had a wonderful dinner and then went to the Parker Meridien for after dinner drinks with Joe and Deb, who had not met him.

Joe, Deb and I went, over the days of the visit, to the Intrepid, Ellis Island, the site of the deadly Triangle fire, to “Spamilton,” which Deb and I enjoyed more than Joe as we got the Broadway references.

JoeandDeb

As I type, the Tonys are being broadcast and I am not watching.  It seems more important to gather myself together after these hectic days, wonderful, full of visiting and fun and feasting and I’m sure my waist has expanded and I must handle that.

Today, after Joe and Deb had left for the airport, I brunched with old friends from California, one of whom has residences in both places and Meryl and Ray, who were in for a visit and work for Meryl.

Before I met them, I had a quick coffee with my bestest friend, Nick Stuart [Lionel, you are more than friend; we are family of choice], and we spoke of things and we talked about how I have been working on living in an “attitude of gratitude,” appreciating the good things in life and not yearning after what I don’t have and celebrating what I have, which is quite, quite wonderful.

Deb and Joe gave me a wonderful book about hygge and I laughed at getting it because I have been writing about hygge ever since I heard about it and, gosh, don’t we need it now.

hygge

At this moment, I am having a very hygge moment.  Sitting on my deck, the creek is calm, birds are chirping.  My neighbor’s dogs are romping some distance away.  Far away there is a sound of a truck traversing the road a third of a mile away and I am not caught in the cacophony of New York, which is wonderful and now wearying for me.

When I was moving to DC, I lived for a time in an apartment in Georgetown, across from Dumbarton Oaks, and thought: wow, Mathew is getting to live in some of the great cities of the world.  That has continued.  And now, in the third act of this life, I am always glad to return to the quiet and the hygge of the cottage.

At dinners and brunches, we all discussed the political madness of our time, which is, at least to me, the most serious since Watergate, and all wonder how we got here and where will we go.  The Democrats are in disarray; the Republicans fleeing or feeding the strangeness that is Trump [the kindest way I can describe this presidency].

The Clinton impeachment was a distraction, a hounding of a serial sexual player who didn’t want to admit in public what we all knew.

This is not a distraction.  It is serious.  This is Watergate level.

Theresa May in the UK, having lost [and it is almost impossible to believe she did] her gamble to get a greater majority to support her Brexit negotiations, was described tonight in some UK papers as “dead woman walking.”

Macron, in France, has seized the government in a way no one has since De Gaulle [I think] and we have a new day there.  Angela Merkel looks to be re-elected in Germany.  The political scene is exciting, if more than a bit scary.

 

Letter From Claverack 05 15 2017 Messy in the life politic…

May 16, 2017

As I ride south on the train, white caps lap at the island which hold the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle, a building designed in the 19th Century to look like a medieval European fortress, purposed for holding ammunition and which began its slide to ruin when the ammunition blew the building up.

It’s one of the sites on the journey down into the city, where I am going today for a doctor’s appointment, a lunch and afternoon drinks with my friend, Ann Frisbee Naymie, in from Vancouver, British Columbia.  Back in the day, we worked together at A&E in Los Angeles before life took her north of the border.

Across from me now is the citadel of West Point, the redoubt of American military might. The Catskills are covered in the verdant green of spring and the sun is attempting to break through the clouds which have hovered over us for several days now.

Riding in the café car on a train that has no café, people sit at the tables working; Stephen sleeps and there is a quiet.  Most of us in here know each other: we are Empire Regulars, folks who ride this line enough that we are on the email list which informs us of all train developments.  It’s been busy this past week as Amtrak is planning repair work on several tunnels in Penn, which may result in some trains going in and out of Grand Central.  Whatever happens, it will be messy.

Messy, too, is the life politic.  Some Republican Senators seem to be backing away from Mr. Trump, alarmed by his “inconsistencies,” a few shocked by his weekend threats to fired FBI Director Comey that he should hope there were no “tapes” of their conversations.

Republicans still support him though his overall ratings remain low, 39% in a WSJ/NBC poll, not low enough for mass defection but low enough for wariness.

A friend in California, a Trump supporter, is convinced Trump has a plan.  This presidency seems improvisational and some improvisations go well and others…

If we didn’t know the definition of ransomware before the weekend, we are likely to know it now as hundreds of thousands of computers around the world have been infected with the “Wanna Cry” virus, locking them down until a ransom in bitcoin has been paid or a workaround is found.  China is a mess today because of it; their use of pirated software making them especially vulnerable.  Britain’s National Health took a blow as did the German national rail company.

That pudgy, pouty, unpredictable little man who is North Korea’s dictator, fired a rocket into the Sea of Japan, ending in the water not terribly far from Vladivostok.  I doubt Tsar Vladimir is amused. But who knows?  It may serve his purpose to look away.

And President Xi of China is finding that North Korea is more of a headache than he’d like these days, as he announces a new “Silk Road” to knit together some 60 countries with hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments.

We are gliding through the stretch of towns that line the Hudson, bedroom communities, passing by Metro North stations, all of it testifying to the hum and thrum of New York City, not far away now.

Letter From The Train 10 21 2016 Parsing the post debate world…

October 21, 2016

As the train moves north, the Hudson River is steel grey while bordered by trees with leaves of rust, gold, crimson and green.  The beautiful day on Tuesday is a but a memory; this Friday ride is on a day of grey and chill, with intermittent spits of rain.

My niece, Kristen, and I texted each other throughout the debate, commenting on both candidates.  While we both support Hillary, we are not immune to her faults.  It seemed such an effort for her to smile and when she did, it looked so forced as to be painful.  But being on the stage with Trump must have been painful for her.

The candidates did not shake hands before or after.  I don’t think I remember that happening before.

It was no effort for Trump to be dour and sour.  It is his natural state it seems.

During the first part of the debate, he held it together better than he had and looked like he was on track to do what he was supposed to do – not lose his cool.  But then he did; not as badly as before but enough that he was damaged and more Republicans are distancing themselves from him.

Somewhere after about twenty minutes, he began to lose the thread, veering off the script someone must have given him.  Calling Hillary “a nasty woman” may hurt more than he ever meant as it might well be a catalyst to some women who had been leaning toward him to back away.

The thing he said that had most up in arms was his failure to agree to accept the result of the election. He’ll keep us “in suspense” on that one.  Newspapers around the country led with his statement.

Trump clarified later.  He will accept the results of the election — if he wins.  It also seems he has backed away from that a bit more, saying he would, maybe.

Donald called Hillary “wrong” when she said he had supported the Iraq War before it began.  Hillary told people to google “Donald Trump Iraq.”  And many did.  There is the evidence, in a tape on Howard Stern’s Radio Program, of Trump supporting the idea of the war before it had begun.

Hillary claimed her plans wouldn’t raise the deficit.  That’s doubtful.  Trump refuted claims his plans would raise the deficit by twenty trillion dollars, double what it is.  He claimed that it wasn’t true because he would create so many jobs.  Also doubtful.

Every year of a presidential election, there is the Al B. Smith Dinner to raise funds for the charitable foundation named after the man who was the first Catholic to run for President.

Hillary was on one side of Cardinal Dolan and Donald was on the other.  The civility and joking that is the signature of this traditional dinner was soon lost to hostility.  Trump was booed when he went over the line by saying something like:  Hillary is here pretending she doesn’t hate Catholics, a reference to a WikiLeaks released email from her campaign expressing concern about conservative Catholics.

But they shook hands at the end, an event that was announced from the stage.

President Duterte of the Philippines is in China, where he has declared that his country will “separate” from the United States as we “have lost.”  However, he didn’t give China the carrot they really wanted.  He won’t walk away from the 1951 deal that gives the US bases in the Philippines.

Duterte is quite the character.  He has been accused of mounting squads of killers when he was a Mayor.  The Philippines Senate is looking into those charges and some senior officials have been saying: oh no!  He didn’t mean separation.

He has compared his crusade against drug dealers and users to Hitler’s Holocaust.

The battle to retake Mosul carries on while at the same time, IS has launched an attack on oil rich Kirkuk with suicide bombers and gunmen targeting police.  In Mosul, Iraqi fighters have made significant gains, probably better than expected.  But Kirkuk pointed out the shift in IS tactics to “pop up” attacks rather than holding territory.  And that even when vanquished from Mosul, they will not have been defeated.

In forty or so minutes, I will be back in Hudson.  In my mailbox, it is my hope, is my Cozmo, my robotic toy, which I hope will divert me from the trials and travails of the “real” world.

Though my world has not been harsh to me today.  Last night I watched my friend Todd Broder present to the NY Video Meet-up, had dinner with a friend and, today, breakfast with my friends Meryl and Ray before a pre-op physical [my eye] and now the grey ride home…

Later.

 

 

Letter From the Train 09 15 2016 Thoughts Heading South

September 15, 2016

It is stunning today as I am riding south to the city.  It is a perfect September day, low humidity, temperature in the 70’s, sunny with glints of silver reflecting off the water of the Hudson while low puffy clouds rest behind the Catskills.

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Tonight I am on my way to the city [New York] to have dinner with my friend Ann Frisbee Namye, with whom I worked thirty years ago at A&E and who I have not seen for twenty years.  She connected with me through LinkedIn and we set a dinner date while on a business trip to New York.  I’m excited.

To be truthful, I haven’t let much noise in over the week.  The days have been too special for that.  I woke up happy this morning and didn’t disturb that happiness with a burst of news.  Besides, I had a lot of organizing to do as I was teaching this morning and had lots of handouts for my students.

So I checked into the news once I boarded the train.  Panic at the poll numbers is upon us.  Trump is closing on Hillary and fright walks the land and one Democratic friend of mine may actually have another panic attack over this.

It is my choice not to panic and to read the article that tells me that the polls are meaningless at this moment.

Though the thought of Trump as President is scary.  His Presidency would be one long fright night, I fear.

He released a letter from his doctor of thirty years after a physical on Friday, stating he was in good health.  He was the same doctor who earlier wrote a letter in five minutes stating how healthy Trump was.

When I was in college, many friends made extra money by driving cabs.  Now they’d be driving for Uber.  And those opportunities may go away if Google and Uber and Lyft and the car companies get their way.

Uber has launched a pilot program in Pittsburgh with driverless cars.  They have a back-up human for now but eventually the back-ups will go and then some day there will be no taxi or Uber or Lyft drivers for that matter.  Gone the way of the Dodo…

In yet another gun tragedy, police in Columbus, Ohio shot to death a 13-year-old black robbery suspect.  He apparently pulled from his belt a BB gun that looks almost exactly like standard issue weaponry for the Columbus police.  What adult would allow a child to have such a weapon, such a thing?

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said, “A 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns.”

And in a stunning additional gun tragedy, a 77-year-old resident of a Senior Home shot two other residents and a staff member, fled the scene on a bicycle and then killed himself as officers approached.  Apparently, he was upset about poker games.

Jackson Grubb, a nine-year-old from West Virginia, took his life on Saturday because he was being bullied.  I feel like crying.

Today in class the subject of the exploding Samsung Note 7 came up and one of my students almost exploded out of her seat.  It was the first she had heard of it.  Another Note 7 blew up as owners are not listening to the recall requests.

If you have a Note 7, go to the phone store and get it replaced.  Please.  I saw what one did to a jeep the other day online and it was horrific.  This was not a small explosion.  It looked like the vehicle had been car bombed.

Filipino President Duterte, who apparently called President Obama a “son of a whore” is now being accused of ordering extrajudicial killings while he was Mayor of Davao City.  The Senate of that country is investigating.

And now I am caught up with the dreck that is happening out there beyond my world and have inoculated you with it – not in the sense of giving you a vaccine but in planting thoughts.

Today in class I was talking about persuasive speaking and one of the points I made was that a persuasive speaker inoculated their audience by planting ideas that would lead to change.

Perhaps some of these facts will inoculate you to work for change.  Fewer guns, a way to end bullying, more sensible politics…

And I woke up happy and I plan to go to bed happy.

 

 

Letter from Claverack 09 05 2016 On a Labor Day…

September 6, 2016

It is evening.  The floodlights illuminate the creek and we are losing daylight at the rate of about two minutes a day.  A month ago it would not have been this dark.  It is Labor Day, the unofficial official end of summer.  We start with Memorial Day and we end with Labor Day.  And Labor Day is ending as I sit here tapping out words on my laptop.

Tomorrow I start teaching and I have now pushed past my anxiety and am looking forward to the moment when I walk into class.  Oh, okay, ask me in the morning.  I am sure I will have anxiety in the morning but I will do it.  I’ve agreed to do it so therefore I must do it.

I have spent most of my time this weekend at home, secluded in the cottage, enjoying my home and being alone, having a good time with myself.  Yesterday, though, I went out to Larry Divney’s guest house, located a couple of miles from his own home.  There was a great and grand barbeque which included gluten free things, as that is what I am working to do.  Larry knows and so he took care of it, as is the way with Larry.

During this weekend, I have not paid particular attention to the world.  What is going on right now is redundant.  Syria continues to be a catastrophe.  Trump and Hillary continue their march across the nation, each besmirched by their own failings.  I will vote for Hillary because the idea of a Trump Presidency sends me to thoughts of expatriate life.  While flawed, deeply flawed, she is at least sane and not bombastic.  Could neither party come up with less flawed candidates?  Apparently not, because this is what we are dealing with…

We are also dealing with the first real beginnings of climate change.  Towns like Norfolk, VA are experiencing flooding that threatens them.  They are not the only ones.  It has, I am afraid, begun.

The Governor of Texas vetoed a bill to give assistance to the mentally ill based, at least in part, on a group of Scientologists who told him mental illness was a falsehood.  Texas gets the Stupid Award of the week.  Mental illness is not false; it does exist.  It is a plague upon the land and can we not find a place to help these poor souls?  Not in Texas.

The night has descended.  I alleviate it with my floodlights but it is here.  The fall is arriving.  And while I look forward to the fall and winter with Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will miss this soft summer and its delights.

 

 

 

 

Letter from Claverack, New York Thinking about a boy in Aleppo…

August 19, 2016

I am cozied in the cottage, the Smooth Jazz station playing on Amazon Prime Music, having returned only two hours ago from two days in the city.

Yesterday, I was in the city to have lunch with my friend David Arcara, a quarterly event for many years now; our conversations are wide ranging, deep, emotional and to the core of what is happening in our lives.  Yesterday’s underscored my appreciation for them.

There were drinks last night with Nick Stuart of Odyssey and Greg Nelson, formerly of Odyssey, who has returned from some weeks in Peru and that, too, was good. It gave me a chance to catch up with Greg, whom I have not seen for some months and, of course, to spend some time with Nick, my great friend.

When I woke this morning, I made my morning coffee at the apartment on the Upper West Side, and while sipping it, pursued the news of the day.  I read the NY Times and scrolled through the BBC News.

There I found a haunting image of a five-year-old Syrian boy in Aleppo, an image that has now gone viral.  Frightened and alone, covered in blood and dust, he sat on an orange seat in the back of an ambulance.  You may have seen the picture already.  If not, here it is:

Boy

It shattered my morning.  I sat staring at this image for many, many minutes and my heart screamed to the universe.  It became hard to move on, to not want to go and do SOMETHING to stop the madness.  It reminded me of pictures I had seen taken during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s; comparisons between that conflict and this will be made.

Later, I went to have lunch at the Ace Hotel with my friend David McKillop; we talked of new, upcoming adventures for him.  We talked of the: what WERE they thinking? moment of Ryan Lochte and the other swimmers claiming to have been robbed when in reality they were a bit drunk and screwed up. What were they thinking?

And, unfortunately, this is what will follow them for the rest of their lives, this moment of dishonesty.

And then, there was the moment of what was President Obama thinking when he said that the $400,000,000 turned over to the Iranians wasn’t “ransom” but a previously scheduled release of funds.  Today it was revealed that the US wouldn’t let the plane with the cash take off until prisoners were released.  Dancing with the truth?

The Syrian boy’s picture has colored my whole day.  I have thought about what can I do to stop this debacle the world has created, so complicated, so odorous, so lacking in humanity, so not a moment of “our better angels.”

When I wake up in the morning, I do my best to have a moment of gratitude.  I am not living in Aleppo.  Today that came home so much because of the photo of the five-year-old.  It is a picture that has come to represent the Syrian crisis as much as the photo of the three-year-old dead child washed up on the coast of Greece did to galvanize the world about the refugee crisis, much of it a result of the Syrian war.

Closer to home, the Blue Cut Fire in California has consumed 31,000 acres and it still rages.

In Louisiana floods have consumed 40,000 homes and at least thirteen lives.  A preacher man who “testified” that natural disasters were God’s way of punishing us for same sex marriage was forced to flee his home in a canoe.

I have been so lucky to have been born when and where I was.  Our world is changing.  It is becoming global and integrated and reactionary and frightened and fundamentalism is having a heyday. But we still care…

The answers aren’t in front of me right now.  But seeing that little boy in Aleppo makes me realize I must do better. That we all have to do better.

Letter From New York 08 10 2016 Gloomy but not ugly…

August 10, 2016

In my driveway there is a floodlight with a dusk until dawn timer.  It was so gloomy this morning, “dawn” did not arrive until about 9:30.  As bright and beautiful as the days were before, today has been singularly dark, a day when one wants to slip quietly into a corner and delve deep into a mystery. 

I didn’t do that all day but some of the day, reading “The Hotel on Place Vendome,” a study of the Ritz Hotel before, during and after WWII.  Good reading, not quite a mystery, not quite a page turner but a sound non-fiction account of the place that was at the center of Parisian life in those tumultuous years. 

Of course, “Papa” Hemingway appears and his appearances further tatter the legend he built around himself even as his writing powers were beginning to fade, worn down by drinking and partying.

Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring was a morphine addict and spent at least part of the war soaking in the large bathtubs at the Ritz, attempting to wean himself off the drug.

Something like 80,000 children fathered by Germans were born in France during the war years.

It is a time we have not known.  Somewhere today, I was reading an article online and the author was saying the last 70 years had been a dream.  We had gone to peace and are now awaking into another era, not so peaceful.  Yes, perhaps, but we did “duck and cover” as children and during the Cuban missile crisis my very young mind was convinced that we would all be evaporated.

It is not a peaceful world but never has it been very peaceful.  I am peaceful this very moment, wrapped in a cloudy, gloomy day with verdant trees outside my windows, skies heavy with promises of rain, snug inside my cottage, the only sound the humming of the refrigerator.

The thunder of the campaign trail has been held at bay for the most part by my simply choosing not to delve much into it.  Trump said something about “Second Amendment” folks should do something about Hillary and Democrats are charging that he was inciting violence against her.  Of course he wasn’t, he said.

And Hillary has her blind spots, this week they’ve been showing up in relations between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.

Though the report I was reading was released by a conservative group so I will add my grain of salt to what I was reading.  Just as I put a bit of salt into my reading of the Democratic reaction to Trump’s latest.  Don’t get me wrong, I won’t vote for the man.  He’s crackers…

The number of ill considered things the man has said has slowly become numbing, no longer outraging me.  It is just one unbelievable thing after another and, as far as I can tell, Trump’s not enjoying it much himself.

And he is embattled by his fellow Republicans.  Susan Collins, Senator from Maine, has disavowed Trump.  She’ll vote Libertarian or write in someone.  She won’t support him or Hillary but go her own way.  She is not alone.  A dismaying number of Republicans are following her.

Whereas Clinton…  I think she — and he — live for this kind of season, coming alive in amazing ways.  Though Bill looks frail these days, a shadow of the man.

The Department of Justice released its report about the Police Department in Baltimore.  “Scathing but not surprising” was one headline.  In Ferguson, MO the wheels of justice are turning very slowly there, two years after Michael Brown died.  Change is slow in coming, disheartening to many but the wheels are turning, I hope.

Like many, I have received two phone calls telling me the IRS is about to start a lawsuit against me.  It’s a scam and it makes me crazy and people are being sucked in.  One man paid the scammers $500,000 before he got wise.  So ugly…

And while it is not beautiful outside, it is not ugly in my corner of the world.

Letter From New York 08 02 2016 Going up the river…

August 3, 2016

The Hudson River flows south as I move north, the west bank is a wall of green and great, grey billowy clouds hover over the river with the sun now cutting between them to bathe me in light.  I am returning from a day in the city, a meeting with a client followed by a long lunch with my friend Nick.  An afternoon appointment cancelled and so I changed to an earlier train.

I haven’t written much lately.  Frankly, there has been so much to say about so many things I haven’t known where to begin or where to end.  There was the Democratic Convention last week.  I watched the finish of it the night I returned to the cottage after my Minnesota sojourn.

Hillary, who needed to be at her best, was at her best.  The Democrats were shadowed then and are today, by the hacking of the DNC’s emails, which were released by Wikileaks to the press.  Julian Assange, who is the head of Wikileaks, even while sequestered behind the walls of the Bolivian Embassy in London, timed it to do the most damage he could to Hillary, whom he reputedly despises.

Today, Amy Dacey, CEO of the DNC and two other officials resigned after the leaks demonstrated their bias to Clinton over Sanders.

Donna Brazile has replaced the much reviled Debbie Wassermann Schultz, former Chairperson.  Brazile is well liked and had been suggested by the Sanders camp as a possible replacement for Wassermann Schultz.

And we are all waiting to find out if the Russians were the ones who hacked the DNC as digital evidence seems to suggest which, of course, has led people to ask if Putin is working to influence our elections?

According to one poll, 50% of Americans think he is.  Would he try?  I am convinced there is very little he wouldn’t try.

Trump out trumps himself everyday as far as I can tell.  I am seated next to a friend of mine on the train who has confessed he has had panic attacks at the thought of a Trump Presidency.  He is not much given to panic attacks that I recall.

And Trump seems to find a new way to disturb me every day but nothing he does seem to sway his die hard supporters.

Jacques Hamel, the 86 year old French priest, who had his throat slit while saying Mass, was buried today.  He was killed by two teenage jihadists.  In honor to him, thousands of Muslims attended Mass on Sunday and appeared today at his funeral.

The Rio Olympics open this Friday and I am largely unenthusiastic.  The sports I am most interested in are aquatic and the reports of the condition of the water makes me cringe for the athletes who must compete.  I am not sure the pool water is safe and the open waters seem to be filled with human refuse and garbage.

I thought I was alone until my friend, Nick, echoed my thoughts.

The Syrian government and the Rebel forces are accusing each other of gas attacks.  It seems someone used gas in Syria.  We have forgotten the lessons of other wars or perhaps whomever did it felt justified because Saddam Hussein used it effectively against some of his citizens before he lost his place.

A friend of mine asked me a couple of weeks ago how we could still call Turkey a democracy?  Magical thinking…

As we move north up the Hudson, the heavy clouds have dispersed and the sun rules the river, silver light glinting off of silver water, reflecting against banks of green rising from river’s edge.

I tried to find something funny to end today’s post.  I googled “funny thing that happened today” and “laughable thing that happened today.”  It doesn’t seem anything “funny” or “laughable” happened today, according to Google’s current algorithms. 

But I did find this:  on August 2nd, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the beginning of all that has not yet ended.

Letter From New York 07 15 2016 As the Great Game goes on…

July 15, 2016

It is a warm, humid day as I trundle north on the train, back to Hudson.  The Hudson River is dotted with boats and the spray of jet skis.  A soft haze lays across the river, so it seems that what I see is in soft focus.

It’s not a bad day for soft focus.

I went into the city yesterday afternoon to have drinks with my friends Nick and David at Le Monde, a French Bistro near Columbia and then drifted from there to Cafe du Soleil, where I joined a party for Bastille Day put together by friends David and Bill.  We were festive and the mood was buoyant and I was home and asleep by the time news was coming out of France that a young Tunisian Frenchman had driven a lorry into a crowd celebrating Frances’ National Holiday, plowing on for 1.2 miles before he was killed and after he had killed at least 84 and wounded 202 others.

As I look out of the window of the train, sold out, standing room only, I see the verdant green hills which line the western bank of the river, the beginnings of the Catskills, bucolic, peaceful, welcoming.

The dead in Nice, a pleasant city in the south of France, to the east of Cannes, on the Rivera, home of the airport that serves that golden stretch of land, setting for glittery events and the place of lovely villas climbing the hills to look down on the Mediterranean, include ten children.  Fifty others from last night hang between life and death, as medical professionals do their best.

One woman talked for a long time to her dead child.  The living and unwounded began to swarm toward the beaches, away from the lorry, in case it was loaded with explosives.

On Wednesday, July 13, in Syria, 58 people died, mostly civilians of war related wounds.   Since the beginning of 2016 about 8,000 have died, since the beginning of the war over 440,000.  11.5% of Syria’s population has been killed or wounded.

On the same day in Iraq, 22 died by gunfire, bombs, rockets.

Looking out at the beautiful Hudson River, the Catskills on the other side, with gracious, magical homes occasionally dotting the landscape, it is easy to focus on the green moment and not the black news but today I cannot slip away, into the beauty.

It is all so senseless and all leaders seem to talk about the senselessness of it and do they find the senselessness of it enough of a unifying theme that they commit to actions that will stop it? 

One of the books I am reading is “The Good Years” by Walter Lord, describing the years between 1900 and 1914, when World War I began.  I am near the end of it, the war is beginning.  Devastation was released upon the European continent over the tragic death of an Archduke and his wife, which gave “permission” for the Austro Hungarian Empire and the German Empire to act to achieve political goals they had long wanted and ended up destroying themselves.

Men in power are always playing “the great game,” and as the game is played, the innocent die. 

The train is arriving in Hudson and I am winding down.  I will say my prayers tonight for all the people who died today because they are pawns in “the great game” and see if I can find a way to work effectively for change.

In the time since I’ve arrived home, run some errands and prepare to go into town for a comedy show,  the Turkish military, apparently fed up with Erdogan, is attempting a coup. Bridges across the Bosporus are closed, military aircraft are flying low over Istanbul and Ankara and gunshots have been reported.

“The Great Game” goes on.