Posts Tagged ‘James Linkin’

Letter From Claverack 10 21 2017 Dinner parties and politics…

October 21, 2017


Last Saturday night was one of the most magical nights ever at the Cottage.  Six friends from the train community came over for dinner and it entirely worked.  The food was good, the menu seemed to please everyone, the wine pairings were appreciated, the dinner setting seemed to please, the conversation flowed.  People arrived around 7 PM and left around 1:15 AM and it felt as if no time had passed.

We worked our way from cheese and crackers, to radishes with butter and kosher salt to a potato and leek soup, followed by a salad with beets and candied pecans, salmon filets with a mustard mayonnaise sauce, finished by a chocolate ganache meringue cake.  We laughed and rejoiced in each other’s company.

Early on, it was determined we would avoid politics which is a choice that only limits and does not eliminate the conversation.  How could it be otherwise?  So much is going on that the tumult cannot be completely ignored but it can be limited.

One person reminded us that Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the war years, had a weekly cocktail party for Cabinet members and aides and the one thing they could NOT talk about was the war.  Anything but the war.  Their children, their gardens, their hobbies, fly-fishing but not the war.  The President said something like:  we need to have lives.

Saturday night, for the most part, we chose to have lives.  We talked of upcoming plans, recent vacations, upcoming things that would bring us joy.  But not politics. Much.  Just a little.

The week just past had been tumultuous.  Healthcare is in shambles and Trump’s order to stop paying subsidies will be challenged in courts by some states, including New York.  Some New York congressmen, Republicans, are suddenly calling for bi-partisan action to fix the ACA.

The president is not going to certify the Iran agreement and is throwing it to Congress to fix it while the Secretary of State seems to contradict the president on the Sunday morning talk shows.  Our allies in Europe are scratching their heads about us and how to absorb that a far-right party seems to be coming to power in Austria.

Reading the papers today, everyone seemed to have advice on how to mentally escape the chaos.  Watch and read Harry Potter again.  Rom-coms are just the thing.  Murder mysteries are quite a diversion.

And we do need diversion.  My mind hurts more than it doesn’t.  Every morning I get up, read the NY Times, the Washington Post and WSJ and find myself going what the…

Sometimes I avoid the headlines until later in the day, particularly if I have things to do.

If I don’t, I fear a kind of madness.


This epistle was started last Sunday evening.  Monday morning found me wretchedly ill; the vague sense I wasn’t well the week before suddenly became the reality.  Monday and Tuesday were devoted to sleep and recuperation, Wednesday my radio show.  It had been my intention to go to the city on Wednesday for dinner with a friend and I could not quite muster the energy, fearful of pushing too far, too fast.

And now I am home from a meeting, curled up in the cottage, finishing a letter started nearly a week ago.

The madness goes on and I do my best to maintain my balance.  My friend Lynn speaks frequently to me of her difficulty of maintaining balance these days; she feels assaulted on a daily basis.

Some Facebook friends post things that cause me to wonder why they are my Facebook friends as we are so politically divergent?  One California friend posted something and asked for comments.  All I could say was: ah, I don’t know what to say.

Harvey Weinstein, producer extraordinaire and, allegedly, serial sexual predator, has fallen from grace as woman after woman after woman has come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.  He has been ejected from The Academy of Motion Pictures Sciences; the Producer’s Guild is working on doing the same.  The TV Academy is considering it.  Organizations are making moves to strip him of honors.

Is this a turning point for Hollywood?  Perhaps.  Certainly, it is putting out notice that the game is changing.

Mr. Trump is involved in another brou ha ha with Gold Star families.  John Kelly has Trump’s back, which I find interesting.

The common wisdom seems to be that our president can’t help himself from wounding himself and, from my vantage point, it seems plausible.

Without invoking his name, both George W. and Obama have delivered rebukes to the president.  Wowza!  W and Clinton have found themselves friendly.  Will the same happen with W and Obama?  Time will tell.

Time to say good-bye for this missive but not before circling back to last Saturday’s dinner which may well have been the best the cottage has ever seen.

Thank you, Robert and Tanya, James and Susan, Maria and Dairo.  You have made your mark on the history of a special place.




Letter From New York 12 05 15 Winter Walk in Hudson…

December 6, 2015

Hudson, New York.  Winter Walk. The Red Dot. James Linkin.  Mat Tombers. Mathew Tombers. Nutcracker. Columbia County, New York.  Warren Street, Hudson.  Old Chatham Kettle Corn.  Alana Hauptman. Brooklyn North. Hamptons.

It is the first Saturday in December and that means that tonight was Winter Walk in Hudson, an event I have attended faithfully for fourteen years. 

Hudson has one of the most magnificent collections of late 19th Century buildings in the country and each year on the first Saturday in December decks itself out for a winter party. 

Carolers line the streets and sing traditional carols while people in costume meander the street.  Shops decorate themselves for the day and there are probably 30,000 people who show up for the party.

It is Hudson’s kick-off for the Holiday Season.

For me, it reached its culmination when I returned from wandering the streets to go to The Red Dot to meet my friend James Linkin.  You couldn’t move in the place and it was the most festive of the places I had visited.

Alana, proprietress of The Red Dot, goes full tilt every year to transform her establishment to some Christmas theme.  This year may well be the most spectacular she has created.  It was all about The Nutcracker. 

She did an amazing job and it, alone, put me in a festive mood.

It was a local night.  The conversations were about decorative windows and great themes and neighborly conversations.  It was a celebration of local joy.  Tonight was about hometown.  Hudson is the county seat and the heart of Columbia County.

While I don’t live in Hudson it is the center of my life in Columbia County.  It is for almost everyone who lives in the county.  Hudson has a life of its own.

It is the last suburb of New York and the first suburb of Albany.  It has attracted a number of people who are economic refugees from New York, people who are connected to the city and who can no longer afford to live there.

It is a haven for those who are artistic, many are the artists who once made SoHo, SoHo.    

The creative energy that has found itself here that is amazing. 

With humor, people have called this Brooklyn North or SoHo Redux.  And it is true, there is a creative energy that flows through the county that is quite amazing.

The weekenders are people who cannot afford nor want to be in the Hamptons; looking for something that is more tangible and real.  We are also inhabited with those who could afford the Hamptons but don’t want it.

I have been to fourteen successive Winter Walks and each year find something new to wonder at.

Tonight I wandered through almost all of Warren Street while eating some of the best popcorn in the world:  Old Chatham Kettle Corn.  In a kind of popcorn ecstasy I walked the streets, not buying but looking for gifts for the folks on my list for which I have not found the perfect item.

Tonight the trials and the tribulations of the world were far way.  I was in my own place, my own world and allowed myself to be drenched by it.

  It was so good to celebrate my time and my place.

Since parking was impossible I hitched a ride in with young Nick after we had finished our weekend chores.  And I called Riverview Taxi to bring me home. 

Andy, the driver, came into the Red Dot to find me.  He was early and he wanted to be sure he found me and got me into his cab. 

It is the kind of personal touch of small town America that is seeping away in the world of Uber but one that I appreciate as I appreciate my place in this special place.

I’ve witnessed the growth of Hudson, seen it change a bit and know it will change more.  But it is a special place as is this whole county which is my home now.

I am lucky and am lucky enough to know I am lucky.

Letter From New York 10 26 15 From Hudson to the city, in color

October 26, 2015

Amtrak. James Linkin. Relish. Bacon is cancer causing. Earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Taliban. Captagon. Saudi Royal arrested. Donald Trump. Matt Lauer. A small loan. Space junk. John Boehner. Budget Deal. Paul Ryan.

I’m heading back to the city, going south on the train. My friend, James Linkin, is sitting across from me, eating his lunch from Relish, the little café across from the Hudson Train Station, where I had breakfast. Today may be the last time I will have bacon; it is now categorized as cancerous as cigarettes, which I have long since quit. And so are hot dogs! Alas and alack…

The leaves are at their peak, fabulous in their colors. The train is temporarily stopped for unknown reasons, as happens now and again.

Last week, I had a week of doing some very stupid things. I left to go to the city and realized after I had shut the door, my keys were still on the table. I had the car fob so I went on my way. Getting off the train, I left one bag on it as it pulled out of Hudson when I was returning.

Gina, the conductor, realized it and called the Hudson Station, alerting them. She sent it back on the next south bound train and I picked it up after I finished my luncheon meeting in Hudson.

Nick brought me his keys so I could let myself in. It was that kind of week. Mistakes made better by helpful people.

Last night more than two hundred died in an earthquake that rocked Afghanistan and Pakistan. Measuring 7.5, it has destroyed hundreds of homes as winter sets in. In Afghanistan, rescue will be complicated by the escalating Taliban insurgency.

A so far unnamed Saudi Royal is being held in Beirut with four of his associates, charged with attempting to smuggle two tons of Captagon out of the country on a private jet. I have never heard of Captagon. It’s a stimulant. Two tons is a LOT of stimulation.

Back in Saudi Arabia, a bomb went of at a mosque, killing three, injuring more. No one has claimed responsibility. The Saudi Royal in Lebanon has an alibi.

Donald Trump told Matt Lauer that life has not been easy for him. His dad loaned him a small amount, a million dollars, when he was starting out and he had to repay it, with interest. I mean, he said, a million dollars isn’t so much when you consider what’s he built when challenged by Matt Lauer on a million being small.

It’s the perspective, you see.

WT1190F is the title given to a piece of space junk that is going to crash into the Indian Ocean in three weeks. Scientists are very excited because they don’t know what it is. It might even be a piece of the original Apollo missions to the moon. They just don’t know but they’re going to do their best to find out before it enters the atmosphere, where most of it will burn up and the rest will rust in the Indian Ocean.

Before departing Congress, John Boehner, still Speaker of the House, is attempting to close a budget deal with the White House. Parts of it, disturbingly, include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  It does include increases for military and domestic spending. Boehner is attempting to get fractious Republicans to go along so that waters will be smoother when Paul Ryan, as it is assumed, becomes Speaker.

I am in New York now and the day is still beautiful. Hope yours is too…