Posts Tagged ‘Lionel White’

Letter From Claverack 11 27 2018 Thanksgiving thoughts…

November 27, 2017


            This year I took on the responsibility for preparing Thanksgiving dinner, to be served at the home of my friends, Larry and Alicia, with six other guests.  After cooking for two days, I loaded all the food into the Prius and followed the most level roads from my house to Alicia’s and Larry’s home.  My menu, which I printed, is below:

Thanksgiving Dinner

November 23, 2017

Hors D’oeuvres

With cocktails, champagne and wine

Selection of cheeses & crackers


Radishes with butter and kosher salt


Pumpkin Soup a la Jacques Pepin

Main Course


Rubbed in spices


Brown bread dressing

Rice and Mushroom Dressing

Traditional Bread Dressing


Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Mashed White Potatoes

Smashed Russet Potatoes with skins


Honey Glazed Carrots

Haricot Vert with sage butter sauce

Freshly baked multigrain bread




With musical merry making in the parlor

Led by

Lionel J White

            As I was very carefully driving, with pots, pans and containers rattling in the back of my car, I was listening to NEPR, New England Public Radio, and they switched to a story of a town just outside of Damascus, under siege by Assad’s forces for two years.  Children were eating garbage and there wasn’t even much of that.

So, I drove to my friends’ home, thinking of the bounty in my car and the stark contrast there was to the scene being described in Syria.  It is days later and I am still processing that story and the contrasts in the world and, as my friend, Medora, said this morning, you probably will be until you die.

We live in a world of contrasts and contradictions.

Yesterday, as I usually do on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, I set up my Christmas tree, while listening to Christmas Carols ordered up from my Amazon Echo.  Alexa, play holiday music!



It is a world of wonder and a world of hard contrasts, of political acrimony and discord and it is just less than a month to Christmas and I am heading into this most wonderful of seasons [for me], determined to enjoy the bounty I have been given and to seriously think of how I can address the inequities that exist in my world, knowing I will be confounded by them until I die.


Letter from the Train, returning… Passover arrives and Tillerson departs…

April 10, 2017

The train is rumbling north from Baltimore to New York City where I change trains to Hudson, arriving there around 3:30 this afternoon.  It is a sunny day and the fleece pullover and winter jacket needed on the way down are unnecessary on the way home.

Hudson River

As I travel north, I have trimmed down the email inbox, sent some electronic Passover cards and started reading how to make large quantities of scrambled eggs as this coming Sunday is Easter Sunday and I am in charge of preparing the Easter Brunch that follows the 10:30 service.

It’s my hope that Mother Eileen’s clipboard filled with some people to help me. If not…

The weekend visit with Lionel and Pierre and Marcel, the poodle, was wonderful, overflowing with good food at various venues:  Modern Cook Shop, Peter’s Inn, Red Star, Rusty Scupper, Nanimi, Petit Louis.


On “The Avenue” [36th Street] I shopped the antique stores and found some Christmas presents, tucked in my luggage; that it is expandable saved me from buying another piece.  At BJ’s with Pierre, I stocked up on Excedrin, Prilosec and more.

Long train rides give one a time to think and I enjoy them for that, for being able to see the countryside glide by without the responsibility of driving.

Pierre sings in the choir at the Church of the Advent in Baltimore.  While Lionel and I were preparing to go to hear him at church, the television flashed pictures and video of the Palm Sunday explosions in Egypt, targeting Coptic Christians, who represent about ten percent of that country’s population.  Last word I heard, forty-seven have died and scores are injured.  At Christ Church this week, I will light a candle for them.

In response to the bombings, responsibility for which was claimed by IS, Egypt has declared a three-month state of emergency.

Rex Tillerson, our low-profile Secretary of State, heads to Moscow for meetings, either strengthened or weakened [depending on your view] by the US bombing of the airfield in Syria where chemical attacks against a rebel city were initiated.  Tillerson called the Russians incompetent for allowing Assad to keep chemical weapons.

Putin is thinking of revoking the award he gave to Tillerson.

This should be an interesting week for watching Syrian affairs.  How are they all going to react?  Niki Hailey is talking regime change; Tillerson is not. Trump is unpredictable and Putin a risk taker; Assad seemingly a wily survivor who managed to turn peaceful protests into a civil war no one seems capable of winning or willing to negotiate an end.

Syria is bringing five questions about the situation to the head, outlined in an article in Bloomberg, available here.

We have ships moving toward the Korean peninsula, possibly to be in place in case there is a decision to attack North Korea and its pudgy, vindictive, unpredictable little dictator, Kim Jong Un.

President Xi of China and Trump managed to get through their summit without damaging each other and we will await to see what China will do vis-à-vis North Korea.

In 2013, Democrats used the “nuclear option” and McConnell said they would live to regret it, which they did last week when Gorsuch was successfully nominated to the Supreme Court and sworn in this morning.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right French candidate for president, has declared that France was NOT responsible for the deportation of Jews during WWII, a statement that has created, as one might imagine, more than a soupcon of controversy.

New York is the first state offering free four-year public college to its students in families with incomes under $100,000, a move to help residents avoid crushing college loans and to help the state have a work force ready for the future.

May it work.

For all my friends celebrating Passover tonight, Chaq Kasher veSameach! [Happy Passover!]

Letter From Claverack 01 29 2017 The Game is afoot…

January 30, 2017

It is a little past seven at the cottage; the weekend is winding down, “Swing Jazz” is the Amazon music station playing.  Marcel, Lionel and Pierre’s poodle, is situated comfortably on the couch, looking at the door to see when they will return, which will be in a few days.  The flood lights illuminate the creek and I am at the freshly polished dining room table, writing.

It’s the end of a good weekend, mostly very “hygge.” [Pronounced hoo-ga, it’s Danish for living a cozy life.]  And it’s been a cozy weekend.  Young Nick has returned from his walkabout and came over Friday afternoon and helped me prepare for what turned out to be a most excellent dinner party.

Saturday was cleaning up and being domestic, a solo lunch at the Dot, dinner with Lionel and Pierre at their house, home to sleep.

But all the hygge in my life has been overshadowed and squeezed by the events in the world around me.  President Trump has been issuing Executive Orders to his heart’s content. They feel a bit like Imperial Edicts.  Do this.  Ban that.  It’s been stunning.  And equally stunning is the response of the American public.

When he banned individuals from seven countries, all primarily Muslim, from entering the United States, hordes of lawyers went to airports and became filing appeals, sitting on the floor in the terminals, laptops plugged into whatever outlet could be found.

It made me proud.

At those same airports, crowds appeared.  At JFK, several New York Congressmen were there, attempting to help.  One quarantined gentleman was an Iraqi citizen who was on his way to the US because he had been an interpreter for our soldiers and his life was in danger.  Thankfully, he was released.

People with green cards are in limbo, depending on the airport they flew into.  Federal Judges are ordering limits on Trump’s ruling and some officials are ignoring them.

Excuse me, what?  What?

Heads are spinning.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief political operative, has been given a seat on the National Security Council while the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs and the Director of National Intelligence have been demoted.

What? What?

In the morning now, I get up, make my coffee and call my Senators and my Representative in Congress and tomorrow I don’t know what issue to focus on.  There are so many.

A relative sent me a clip of a State of the Union Address given by Bill Clinton, in which he talked about the dangers of illegal immigration.  The headline before the clip was “The hypocrisy of liberals!”

Well, really, hypocrisy?  Take a look at this article.  Mike Pence opposed what Trump has done and now is praising it.  Is that not hypocrisy?  Political opportunism?

Immigration has been an issue ever since we stopped accepting just about everybody.  Don’t know about you, but I’m here, an American citizen, because my great grandparents came over from Germany and settled in Minnesota.  Back then, almost everyone was taken in. [Though my great grandparents arrived in First Class so they didn’t have to go through the indignities of Ellis Island.]

Then it changed and immigration has been an issue ever since.  Okay, I get that.  And what President Trump has done is unprecedented.  His list of excluded countries does not include Saudi Arabia from which came many of the 9/11 hijackers.  It does not exclude Pakistan, one of whose citizens was part of the Riverside massacre.  It’s a bit bewildering. The banned countries have barely contributed to the numbers who have died from terrorist acts in the US.

And, amazingly, it appears the list was compiled during the Obama Administration but never activated.  Boggles the mind.

Not even during Viet Nam was I this agitated.  Agitated does not describe my mood when I am not working very hard at hygge.

In an article I scanned two days ago, it speculated that Trump may be to Millennials what Viet Nam was to my generation, a catalytic event.

You see, there is a movement to stop abortions.  There is a generation of young women who have grown up believing they had the right of choice.  Now some people want to take that it away from them.  No, not happy.  And abortions have been decreasing and in 2014 were the lowest since 1973.

There are young people who are in college whose friends are in limbo because they come from one of the banned countries and went home over winter break and may not be able to come back despite having valid visas.

And there are people like me, a Baby Boomer grown old, who is incensed in a way I have not been for god alone knows how many years.  The protests will not stop.  They will not go away.  The country is fired up in a way that hasn’t been seen since Viet Nam.

Wow!  The games have begun.

To be completely clear, I am one of the founders of Blue DOT [Democracy Opposing Trump] Hudson Indivisible.  It is my time of being an activist.  This Presidency must be opposed.  It is divisive.  It is immoral.  It has in its first week demonstrated a willingness to flaunt conventional order.

Tomorrow I am calling the office of John McCain and Lindsey Graham who are opposing Trump to thank them for their efforts.  We are all in for a rocky ride and maybe this was a good thing to happen.

The Left is galvanized the way the Right was when Obama was elected and already seems, and I hope it continues, to be more emphatic than the Tea Party movement.

The game is afoot…



Letter From Claverack 01 02 2017 Welcome to a new year and a new era…

January 3, 2017

Not yet quite six o’clock in the evening, the sun is gone and floodlights are on the creek.  Soft jazz is on the Echo and I am winding down from some writing I did today along with emails and a couple of loads of laundry.  An ordinary day at the cottage, most of it cozied up with my laptop while watching Marcel, Lionel and Pierre’s sixteen-year old poodle sleep on the couch.  I’m dog sitting again while they are off in Boston.


New Year’s was surprisingly good.  My expectations were low and the reality great.  There was a feast at my friend Matthew Morse’s house with thirteen people, followed by going down the road to friends of his who have restored as their home a 19th Century roadhouse.  There is a balcony looking down into the tavern area and I was standing there looking down at a crowd that seemed like a hundred, sipping Moet Chandon as the New Year came in…

New Year’s Day was spent in recovery with a game of Clue over cocktails, followed by roast chicken.  Not bad.

Every time I peek into the state of the world, I want to slam the door and run into my bedroom with a cold bottle of vodka and a straw.

It sometimes feels like I have stepped into a Jean Cocteau film.

Hours after I exchanged e-mails with a friend who lives in Istanbul, working for Sony Pictures, there was a nightclub slaughter.  Responsibility for it has been claimed by IS.

In Baghdad, a suicide bomber killer a couple of dozen people.  This Sunday, I will light a candle for them at church, the people of Baghdad and Istanbul.  Turkey has been assaulted this month by a whole series of attacks.  Baghdad has never not been assaulted since we invaded.

Trump tweeted something New Year’s Eve that has lots of people outraged.  It seems impossible for me to follow his tweets though I have been told the cable news channels have been spending hours attempting to decipher them.

His press secretary has pleaded with people to stop mocking him.  I don’t think that’s going to happen.  Alec Baldwin has stepped into a brand-new career on SNL and we are going to be living with it for Trump’s entire term in office.  He is just too juicy a target for satirists.  I wish I were a comedy writer.

Trump’s team is saying we should be focusing more on punishing Hillary Clinton than being concerned about Russian hacking.  Did I say something about being in a Cocteau film?  [And if you don’t know who Jean Cocteau is, Google him…]

US officials are saying Russia’s “fingerprints” are all over the hacking and Trump is saying he has inside information on the hacking which he will reveal tomorrow or Wednesday. Personally, I can’t wait.  But then I am still waiting for him to tell us how he will separate himself from his businesses.  That may be more difficult than handling the Russian hacking.

Then, of course, since I last wrote Carrie Fisher, “Princess Leia” from “Star Wars” died after a heart attack on a flight back from London, only to be followed across the River Styx by her mother, the legendary Debbie Reynolds, the following day.

Eras seem ending all around me and I am not happy…




Letter From Claverack 11 25 2016 Thankfulness after Thanksgiving…

November 25, 2016

Outside the window, it is grey, darkish and chill.  Judy Collins is playing on my Echo [Alexa!  Play Judy Collins!  And she does.]. It is the day after Thanksgiving, the kind of day to curl up with a good book, a blanket and a fire, which I will do after finishing this missive.

My friend, Sarah, sent me something she had received from one of her dearest friends, who now lives in a Buddhist monastery.  “May you enjoy a peaceful day of gratitude for everything that is good and right in the world.”

A great thought for the day after Thanksgiving.  There is, after all, much that is not right in the world.

The list of things wrong in this world is endless.

And so, too, is the list of all the things right in the world.  When I wake in the morning, I do my best to take a moment to be grateful that I have awakened, that I live, that I am surrounded these days by the soft winter beauty that is my little patch of earth.

Yesterday, Lionel, Pierre, their dog, Marcel, and I wandered up the road to Larry and Alicia’s home, with a view down to the Hudson River.  We ate, drank, were merry, and grateful and then gathered around the baby grand piano and Lionel “bashed” out tunes to which all but me sang along.  I cannot carry a tune; sitting instead on the sofa, I listened with joy.

We stayed last night at the Keene Farm, Larry and Alicia’s guest house, a wonderful, smaller house than their home at Mill Brook Farm, which is the main residence. That is a house with its foundations in the Dutch settlers in the 1600’s, added onto in the 18th Century, restored in the 20th, added onto again in the 21st.  As we left there today, I was thinking I have what I have and I am happy with what I have, content in this third act time.

One of the things I have in this world are wonderful friends.

On Holidays, I have a tradition of texting everyone I have texted in the last year with a “Happy Thanksgiving” or a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year.”  Yesterday, my friend Jeffrey texted back he was grateful I was in his life and tears sprung to my eyes.  We’ve known each other a long time; been a constant in each other’s lives.  It felt so good to know.

Kevin, my nephew, texted me that he loved me as did my godson.  Smiles played on my lips.  Two such wonderful men; so lucky to have them in my life.

After last night’s feast, we brunched today at the Keene Farm; Lionel and I cooked while Pierre walked, Marcel sniffing around, enjoying the wonders of a new place.

The world is scary.  Terrible things are happening and I know that.  I am sourly aware that a bomb exploded yesterday in Baghdad, killing Iranian pilgrims.  In Iran, a train derailment took 43 lives.  Refugees are pawns in the political war of wills between the EU and Turkey.

And outside my window, the Claverack Creek slowly makes it way to the pond at the edge of Jim Ivory’s land, full this year of geese, after their absence for nearly five years. It feels a little order has returned to the universe.

Yesterday, a bald eagle swooped up the creek and took momentary residence on a tree limb across from my window.  Then he spread his wings wide and soared up creek, to the north, seeking I know not what.

The bald eagle, symbol of the American Republic, a troubled Republic we all know, yet I quote my great friend Jan Hummel:  we will survive this.  We survived Warren G. Harding, after all, and Grover Cleveland, who was a scoundrel of the worst sort.

Google it…

Dried, dead leaves scatter my deck, an Adirondack chair sits looking lonely over the creek, the dull grey of the skies has continued now for two days.  Now I am listening to Joan Baez, thinking back, gratefully, to those days in my youth when I first heard Judy Collins and Joan Baez.

We are all tender right now.  Being grateful for the good things in our lives will help us heal, I think.




Letter From Claverack 11 21 2016 Join me on the barricades, please…

November 22, 2016

It is November 21st.

Three days after my birthday, a time of extraordinary celebration.  Starting on the night of the 17th, I had dinner with my friends Annette & David Fox.  Leaving them, I connected with my friend Robert Murray and I kept him company while he ate at Thai Market.  Feeling frisky, we followed that by a stopover at Buceo, a Wine Bar on 95th Street.  Things got a little hazy about then.

And that was okay.

The following day, I took the train north and met my friend Larry Divney and his friend, Mark, at Ca’Mea for a birthday lunch.  Then dinner with Lionel and Pierre.

Saturday, I spent the day doing my best to respond personally to everyone who had wished me “Happy Birthday” on Facebook or in emails.  I am still doing that.

It was great.  It was wonderful.  It was a great and lovely distraction in this most confusing time.

Donald Trump, billionaire reality TV star, is the President Elect.

My friend, Pierre, husband to Lionel White, more than best friend said it was [and he is right] that it’s a little bit like we’re Italy and we have elected Silvio Berlusconi as President.

For days, I have done my best to adjust to this.

Over the weekend, for my birthday celebrations, people entered the evening doing their best not to talk politics but that lasted maybe five minutes. How can you not talk politics at this moment?  Once people realized they were in a “safe” place there were revelatory expressions of emotions…

In whatever way you want to think about it, there has been a major shift in American politics.  What I saw this weekend was a beginning of a counter-revolution, a sudden and decisive movement by the left to become a “loyal opposition.”

For years, they/we have felt we had the moral high ground and that was just whisked away from us.  So who are we?

We are faced with the rightfully disenfranchised who voted to place Trump in office. [Let us make note that he did not win the POPULAR vote.]  He won the Electoral College vote, an arcane system I haven’t really thought about since I studied it in high school civics and so I need to understand it better as TWICE in this short century, a President has been elected who won the popular vote but did not win the Electoral College.

As I said, I need to study this but it seems the Electoral College was weighted to help slave states be reasonably represented.  So much to relearn… Or learn for the first time!

We are entering a decisive time and, I think, everyone call feel it.  Politics in this country will never be the same.

Nor should it.  A registered Independent, I am resolutely Liberal and now I have found I must actively fight for the liberal ideals in which I believe.

Join me on the barricades!







Letter From Claverack 10 02 2016 We, of this island planet…

October 2, 2016

It is twilight outside the windows; classical music plays, a gentle piano sonata.  In the trail of grey days that we have left in our time wake, the leaves have begun to change outside.  Most are still green but yellow branches now sway with the green in the twilight wind.

It is a quiet, magical moment here in the cottage.  Marcel lays sleeping on the couch, tired after taking me on a tour of his domain across the street. I am a bit tired too, for no great reason.  Waking at a reasonable hour, I did some early morning work, showered and went off to church.

Going home, I briefly walked Marcel and went off to the gym and from there to the Red Dot for my normal Sunday brunch, visiting with all the folks I know who also frequent there.

While sitting at the Dot, I read the NY Times on the phone and perused my emails.

The world was rocked today that Trump in 1995 claimed a loss of nearly a billion dollars.  It shielded him from many taxes for the next eighteen years.  It was legal and staggering at the same time.  A billion dollars in losses in one year?  In 1995?

Badly managed businesses provided that loss, especially the catastrophe of his Atlantic City Casinos.  And it seems to me that those catastrophes kept happening over the decades.

The returns were mailed to the NY Times anonymously with a return address of Trump Tower. His campaign called the NY Times an arm of the Clinton campaign.

In another report today, a commentator reminded us that several weeks after the death of Princess Diana, Trump was on Howard Stern’s program declaring he thought he could have “nailed” the Princess.  He was apparently between wives and sent Princess Diana mountains of flowers. A few years ago, a woman who had been close to Diana said that she felt creeped out by them and a bit like she was being stalked by the American billionaire.

Barely cold in her grave, he was boasting he could have “nailed” her.  How gallant!

How disgusting.

A person very close to me sent me an email, asking me to disseminate it widely.  It was in support of Trump.  Having known this woman for eons, I wondered how she possible could be thinking I would do anything to support Trump?  Perhaps she was just tweaking me, even though she knows I know she will vote for Trump.

Columbia has been at war for over fifty years with the rebellious FARC.  A peace deal was negotiated and put to a national referendum.  It appears to have been voted down, leaving all of us to wonder if Columbia is to face another fifty years of internal war?

My sister lives in central Florida and has been wondering if Matthew [spelled with two t’s} was going to land upon them but it appears it will weaken once it has scoured Haiti, a country that can’t seem to get a break.

Another young black man was shot in Los Angeles and activists are calling for transparency.

There is no transparency or mercy, it seems, in Aleppo.  The Syrian government of Assad, supported by Russia, are pummeling Aleppo into submission, apparently deliberately targeting the resources they have to handle the bombings: hospitals.  The healing capacity of the city has been halved.

And where is the boy?  Where is the boy?

We, the US, have been warned by Russia to not target the Damascus government.

We are living on this island Earth, not really paying attention to the tectonic shifts in the eco-system while we kill each other all over the place.

It is now totally dark outside but it is not totally dark in my soul.  When I witness what is happening in the world, I also remember that for every dire act there is an act of kindness, of balance, of work to make this place, this planet, a better place.

It is why I still go to church.




Letter From Claverack 09 29 2106 Musings at Twilight…

September 30, 2016

As I have been sitting here, listening to “Smooth Jazz” twilight has become almost night.  The last glimmerings of the silvery light are slipping away.

This week I have been dog sitting Marcel, Lionel and Pierre’s poodle, who will soon turn sixteen.  Every night, he takes me for a walk.  We leave my cottage and he marches me over to his house, across the street from mine and takes me for a tour of his yard.  He goes to the front door and looks at me uncomprehendingly when I do not let him in.

He is reluctant to leave once he is on his home territory; actually, he fights me.  He doesn’t want to come back to my house but eventually he realizes that he is not going home tonight and walks with me back to my place.

He is very smart, is little Mr. Marcel.  And sweet.  And I am enjoying his company right now though I realize my own time for pets is past.  I still come and go too much to give any pet like Marcel a real home.  And I am single.  Were there a partner, it would be easier.

There are soft sounds from woodland creatures that filter into my time here at the laptop, soft sounds from the night outside.

It is, this moment, a soft and gentle world that seems unconnected with all that is happening beyond me.  I feel, here, encapsulated, as if the outside world did not exist.

But it does.

The Syrians under Assad and their Russian allies have been brutally pulverizing Aleppo.  It has only become worse since the last time I wrote.  It is the kind of brutality we have not seen for a long time.  And, as I said before, I wonder about the poor boy in the ambulance.  Has he survived this assault?  I wonder about that day and night. I am haunted by wanting to know.

Here, at home, there was a horrific crash of a New Jersey Transit Train at Hoboken.  One person is dead.  100 are injured, some seriously.  I texted my friend Mary Dickey to check on her.  She had changed her plans today and did not take the train into New York City.  Just as something had diverted her the morning of 9/11 or she would have been under the Towers when one of the planes hit.

Congress overturned Obama’s veto of a law that would allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.  Personally, I think it was a political move that will have unintended consequence.  The Saudis are rethinking their alliance with us and it opens the door for a lot of problems we don’t want to have.  Like everyone in Iraq suing us for our “meddling.”

Not quite knowing how to parse this but right now there are reports that Trump may have violated the embargo that was in place during the 1990’s with Cuba.  If true, it will wound him with Cuban Americans in Florida, which is essential in his path to the Presidency.

Trump has had both a good year and a bad year.  He is the Republican nominee for President, a reality no one thought possible six months ago.  His net worth, according to Forbes, has dropped by $800 million this last year but it still leaves him with 3.7 billion dollars, according to the magazine.  Forbes is generally thought of as a conservative publication.

Samsung, the company of exploding Galaxy Note 7s, has a new problem.  Its washing machines are also exploding.  So glad I did not choose to get a Samsung gas stove when I bought new appliances for my kitchen.

It’s a brand in trouble.  Big trouble.

We were facing a government shutdown tomorrow but it has been avoided.  The government is funded until December 9th, after the elections.  Zika funding was approved to the tune of $1.1 billion.

It is a quiet evening here.  I have looked into the world and now I am going to take myself to bed, watch a little video and go to sleep, happy. The way I woke this morning.





Letter From Claverack 09 27 2016 Ruminating about the debate, looking over the creek…

September 27, 2016

Twilight is beginning to settle on the Hudson Valley, outside a silvery light surrounds the trees outside my window.  The trees remain mostly green, some falling, still green.  Over the weekend I listened to a report on NPR informing us that the turning of the leaves has been delayed by two weeks due to the long, hot, dry summer.  It’s fine with me; I am enjoying the illusion it is still more summery than it is.

Yesterday, I had a fire in my Franklin stove to take the edge off the chill in the cottage as I couldn’t bear the thought of turning on the heat.

Today has been a magical fall day, warm but not too warm, sunny and joyous.

It is Tuesday and therefore I taught my Public Communications class.  One of the questions I asked was, of course, who watched the Debate yesterday as it is an example of public communication with the highest of all possible stakes.  Of the twenty-one people in my class, five had watched the debate.

With the exception of one, they were millennials.  All of them found both candidates unacceptable.  And that surprised me.  Both Clinton and Trump failed to resonate with these five.  To them, Trump was a buffoon and Clinton was insincere.  They did not indicate to me which way they will vote, if they vote at all.

Last semester my students were exhausted by the campaign and turned off by it by the length and acrimoniousness of it.  And that was true today; my students, almost all of them of voting age, are bored to death with this election campaign, feeling no one is reaching out to them.

That is worrisome.

Personally, I really liked Hillary and thought she did a very decent job.  Trump started strong and then seemed to slide into exhaustion, an individual worn down and beyond really, really caring.

He did not shoot himself in the foot in the way I hoped but something was definitely off in the last part of the debate.  It seemed the helium had escaped from his balloon.

Howard Dean, once himself a potential Presidential candidate, tweeted about Trump’s sniffles during the debate, wondering if he might have used cocaine before going on.  I don’t remember sniffles but it has been retweeted across the blogosphere.  Trump said this morning there were no sniffles.

Chill Jazz plays in the background.  The silver light seems suspended over the creek, caught in a magic moment that promises it will eternally be this way…

Of course it won’t be.  Twilight will become dusk and dusk will become night.

Some weeks ago I wrote a letter that featured a photo of a little boy in Aleppo, in the back of an ambulance, traumatized, a face that haunts me tonight as the Syrian forces of Assad coupled with their Russian allies, are bombing the daylights out of Aleppo with bunker busting bombs.


All day, I have wondered if that little boy, who captured the world’s attention, is still alive?  Has he survived this new level of brutality?  The violence has become unimaginable and I feel broken for not knowing how to alleviate it.

This week I am dog sitting Marcel, the poodle of my friend Lionel, who owns the house across the street from me, my great friend I gained in the wondrous startup that was Sabela Media in the late 90’s.

He has been a magical friend to me and we have shared every Thanksgiving together since then, save two.

Marcel and I went on our afternoon walk together.  He brings me to their house and cannot understand why he cannot go home.

He enjoys me and he wants to be at home.  He is about to be sixteen and he soldiers on and I am impressed with his determination.

It is a time to be determined.  There are those who feel the future of the American experiment is on the line.  They may well be right.

What has happened in America in the last two and a half centuries has been amazing.  We have been blessed to be part of one of the most glorious experiments democracy has ever had.  We have been flawed and we have persevered.

Today I was reading all kinds of documents from Columbia Greene Community College about campus policy and I thought: we are just working to do it right.

That is the thread that has kept us going.  We are just working to do it right.  And I applaud American democracy, for it all its flaws, for trying to do it right.

Letter From New York 05 23 2016 Letter From New York Thoughts from the train north from Baltimore…

May 23, 2016

It is Monday morning and I am riding an overcrowded train from Baltimore to New York after spending the weekend there visiting friends.  At one point I thought I might end up sitting on the floor but found a seat at the very front of the train.

Outside ruined building pass; we are somewhere just north of Philadelphia.  Exotic graffiti adorns them while the sun blasts down.  Beyond the ruins lie bedraggled row houses that probably will someday be gentrified.  What contrasts we have in this country.

Baltimore is in a resurgence, at least near the water, where my friends live.  We dined on Saturday night at Peter’s Inn, a wonderfully, quirky little row house restaurant, rough around the edges with handwritten menus, food arriving in the order that the chef has prepared it which is not necessarily the way you ordered it.  Good chill martinis and a nice little wine list, friendly people and that wonderful thing called “atmosphere” that has not been scrupulously concocted but which emerges from the quirkiness of the place and people.

It was a time of sitting around and visiting with Lionel and Pierre and my friend Allen Skarsgard, with whom I had some long philosophical conversations over the weekend.  We had known each other in the long ago and faraway, reconnecting just enough that we can mark the present without dwelling in our past.

There was, of course, talk of the brutal politics of this election cycle.  I don’t remember a question that was asked on MSNBC on Sunday morning but recall the response:  it’s 2016, ANYTHING can happen.

So it seems.

As it seems all over the world.  A far right candidate is deadlocked with his rival in Austria.  If Herbert Norber of the right wins, it will be the first time a far right candidate will have won a European election since the end of Fascism, a warning shot across the bow of the world.

Troubling for Hillary are national polls, of which we have several a day it seems, that have her potentially losing to Trump.  They have Bernie beating Trump by 10.8 points.

Predictions are that a “Brexit” from the European Union will spark a year long recession.  The drive for a British exit from the European Union is, at least partially, being driven by anti-immigration and nationalistic feelings in the country.

Is this a bit like what the 1930’s felt like? 

In the meantime, Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” fame and fortune is playing Belle in a live action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” Somehow that seems comforting to me this morning.

In Syria, IS has claimed the responsibility for killing scores in that poor, broken country in areas considered Assad strongholds.  A suicide bomber killed many Army recruits in Aden, Yemen.

And a drone strike killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mansour, who opposed peace talks.  His death was confirmed by Obama, who will be the first sitting President to visit Hiroshima, struck by the US with an atomic bomb in !945, a move which forced the Japanese to move to surrender.  He has been in Viet Nam, where he lifted a fifty year old arms embargo, a move to help counter the rise of China in the South China Sea.

Moves and counter moves, the world is in play.  It always has been.  It just took longer in other times for the moves to be made and to feel their repercussions.  Now it’s almost instantaneous.