Posts Tagged ‘Mary Dickey’

Letter From New York 11 10 15 He’s back…

November 10, 2015

Mary Dickey.  Failed Computer.  Apple Store.  Tek Serve. 240th anniversary of the Marines. Russian Doping.  George W Bush.  George H.W. Bush.  Dick Cheney.  Donald Rumsfeld. Syria. Assad. Aleppo.

It is late in the afternoon and I’m in the city, where it has been raining or drizzling all this grey day.

If you, like my friend Mary Dickey, have noticed I have not been posting, it is because on Friday of last week, I dumped a glass of water onto my laptop.  It didn’t recover.  I let it dry from Friday until Monday morning.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

Yesterday was a very full day so I determined I would use today, which was relatively unscheduled, to deal with this.  Since it didn’t return to life this morning, I went to my breakfast with old friend David McKillop and went from him to the Apple Store in Grand Central Station, where a very nice young lady named Karen sold me a new MacAir. Then young Jason and I attempted to port over the data on my back-up drive.

In what was a nightmare moment, Jason and I realized, after much effort, that it, too, was dead and none of those king’s men could put that Humpty back together again.

They sent me from the Apple Store to Tek Serve where a very nice young ex-Marine helped me get the data off the failed drive and onto another drive, from which I could extract the data I needed.

That he was an ex-Marine was found out when I asked him how his day was.  He told me that he was an ex-Marine and that today is the 240th anniversary of the Marines and when he was off work, he and a few buddies were going to celebrate.

Leaving there, I sat down and extracted the data I needed from the restored back-up drive, sorted through all the 1300 emails that downloaded from the server and then determined I would write a letter, to let those who have been wondering about my absence, know my trials and travails.

Being without a laptop has not been totally a curse.  I have done a good amount of reading since Friday.  i think I have gone through at least two books.

But it does feel good to be re-connected with the outside world via laptop.

It has come to my attention from reading off my phone that the Russians have been accused of condoning and perhaps encouraging their athletes to dope.  Imagine my surprise when I read that!  Just as shocked as Claude Rains was in “Casablanca” that there was gambling in Rick’s Cafe.

There is a FOURTH GOP debate tonight and we’re still a year away from the election.  Jeb is in a tough place and needs to break through tonight, say the pundits, or he’ll be in much more trouble than he is.

“Pappy” Bush, George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States and father of George W. Bush, our 43rd President, has just published a book that is more than a bit cutting about Cheney and Rumsfeld. I’m not surprised but when asked about his father’s comments, “W” expressed surprise.

What did the Bushes talk about on Thanksgiving?  Certainly not about the country they were running.

The University of Missouri has lost it’s two top officials in a protest on the handling of race relations.

Today is also Diwali, the Festival of Lights in India.  Twenty years ago I was in New Delhi, celebrating the festival by riding an elephant down the streets and watching a barrage of fireworks from every side.  It was a surreal but exciting experience.  I went back to my hotel with a swirl of light rotating in my eyes.

During that time, Discovery Channel, for whom I was working, officially launched in India with a party at the American Embassy.  There were fireworks then, too.  An Embassy official, looking much like he could be a character in some Graham Greene novel, sidled up to me and confided there hadn’t been fireworks since Jackie. Kennedy.

The night I left India for the first time, the Minister for Human Resources, with whom I had visited, was arrested for appropriating 16 million dollars to his personal use.

There is still a refugee crisis and Germany is beginning to have its patience exhausted.  The fighting continues in Syria with the Assad government claiming to have lifted the two year long siege of Aleppo.

In other words, while I have been feeling almost lost without my MacAir anchor, the world has continued on.

But now I’m back!

Letter From New York 09 21 15 Some stories are hard to comprehend…

September 21, 2015

It is dusk here in the city. I have just come from the taping of one of Howard Bloom’s podcasts. Sometime this week it should be live and when it is, I will share the URL. Today we talked about sin. The show’s title: Howard Bloom Saves the Universe.

As I left Howard and was descending into the subway, I realized it was cool. It had been my intention to go to Thai Market and write but I realized by the time I was finished it would be chill. I’m going to need a jacket tonight so I came back to the little apartment and opened my laptop.

It has been an okay day, up early to do some work and then a few other errands. Tomorrow I’m moderating a panel for the Religious Communicator’s Council on blogging, followed by coffee with the producer for that, my friend Mary Dickey, and then a meeting in Chelsea and then off to the train.

On Wednesday, I am driving over to the Cape.

There’ll be many things that will occupy my mind as I drive, I’m sure. The world is a rocky place these days.

Croatia is crying for help with the refugees and migrants that have crossed into the country. European leaders meet but seem to come to no conclusions on what to do. It feels likes million are on the move, though I am sure the numbers are not that high. Hungary has taken to posting warnings to refugees and migrants in Lebanon and Jordan NOT to come.

One of the issues Alexis Tsipras faces is that his country is a major transit point for those attempting to reach Western Europe. His is a country overflowing with crises. Reelected, he must now really govern.

David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, is fending off allegations he had sex with a dead pig in an initiation ceremony for the exclusive Piers Gaveston Society, named after the supposed gay lover of Edward II, while at Oxford. Oh those wacky Brits!

Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Governor, is suspending his campaign for President, warning there may have to be many more dropouts if Republicans want to stop Donald Trump, who has slipped while Carly Fiorina has risen. The merry dance goes on, Rome burning while the fiddler plays.

Bernie Sanders is the “passion” candidate for the Democrats while Hillary Clinton is the conventional one. The size of crowds they are attracting, with Bernie drawing more than Hillary, is causing Hillary’s detractors to, well, detract.

In a particularly disturbing story that was featured in the NY Times this morning, American soldiers and officers have been told to ignore the painful cries of young boys as they are sexually assaulted by their Afghan counterparts for fear of seeming culturally insensitive.

It was a story I had to read a couple of times to comprehend.

The Emmys are over. Jon Hamm got one, at last. Viola Davis won Best Actress in a drama and gave a heartfelt speech, which I read today.

Last night, leaving the reception for my friends Kris and Eric, I realized I was just a short distance from my friends, Mary Clare and Jim. I phoned them, we got together, I surveyed their new apartment and then we walked down the hill to a little restaurant near them. I’ve known Mary Clare forever and it was such fun to spontaneously join them.

I’m off now to get some food, do a little reading and get to sleep so I can do a good job moderating tomorrow.

Letter From New York 02 03 15 A Step Too Far…

February 3, 2015

The day didn’t start quietly; I was awakened by the sounds of trucks scraping the street outside the apartment in New York. It was a struggle to wake, having been in a long, convoluted dream about explaining some technology to a friend.

Running late for an early lunch date with a friend, I hailed a taxi on West End Avenue and headed for Le Bonne Soupe in Midtown. The driver was a cheery fellow and we chatted as we headed south; he was from Lebanon and has lived in the US for twenty-six years. He left Lebanon in the late eighties due to the civil war between Christians and Muslims. As his taxi was decorated with a number of rosaries, I pegged him as Christian. He reminded me that I have made a decision to live in an attitude of gratitude these days.

My friend, Mary Dickey, and I were the first customers of the day at Le Bonne Soupe, settling in for some warm food on a cold day. While we were eating, my phone buzzed with the distinct sound it has when an alert is coming in from BBC News. Picking up the phone, I read that ISIS had apparently burnt alive their captured Jordanian pilot.

Muath al-Kaseasbeh is his name. I want to say his name. If the video is legitimate and every one of ISIS’s videos has been legitimate, the “Caliphate” has stooped to a new low in its cruelty and depravity.

Apparently they dragged him in their signature orange jail suits to a cage, doused him with gasoline, and set him afire with great panache.

The Jordanians believe he was killed on January 3rd, long before ISIS dangled him as a pawn in an effort to secure the release of a woman in Jordan who has been condemned to death for being part of a suicide bombing in Amman ten years ago. Her own suicide vest failed to explode.

While having been disgusted at the beheadings, something about this latest death has caused me to feel anger, to want to do something to punish ISIS, to wish we had a hundred thousand snipers to deploy on them.

This was a step too far.

It has hung over me all day, a weight I should feel, I think. We have been at war so long we have all become a bit distant from the brutal meaning of humans killing other human beings. War is a brutal, brutish thing and takes men to the heart of a dark spot in their beings. It is no wonder we have so many veterans who are suffering the aftereffects of their time in service in Iraq and Afghanistan and every other place we have been in war.

Steven Pinker wrote the best selling book The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. He posits that over history we have gotten gentler.

It is hard on a day like this to believe it.

Letter From New York 12 31 14 Some thoughts at year’s end…

December 31, 2014

Outside, the sun is setting and I am prepping for my New Year’s Eve – as probably are all of you. I am following what has become my tradition of the last few years and I go down to Hudson, have dinner at the bar at Ca’Mea or the Dot and then attend the Red Dot’s annual New Year’s Eve party.

To avoid all the dangers of driving on New Year’s Eve, I check into the Inn at Ca’Mea and make it a bit of a holiday. I don’t have to worry about driving and I don’t have to worry about other drivers.

As I was driving back home from checking in, the obituary writer for the New York Times was being interviewed on NPR. She posited that the industry hardest hit by deaths during the year was Hollywood, with many of the last that went through the old studio system passing away, such as Lauren Bacall and Shirley Temple, as well as those who went too young, like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams, both having so much left to give. And let us not forget Louise Rainer, who died this week, having been the first to receive back-to-back Oscars for her work in the 1930’s. She lived to 104. Today saw the passing of the great character actor, Edward Hermann, best known for his work in Gilmore Girls.

This last day of the year is a good one for contemplation. To think about the ones who have gone before us and to hold close to our hearts the good things that have happened. I find it a bittersweet day and not one I particularly like. That’s one reason I make a plan for New Year’s Eve and probably make one that is not dependent on others.

As I often do, I peruse the stories breaking around the world and the world is going on its drumbeat. 2015 has already begun in Australia. New York security is supposed to be tighter than a drum. A two year old accidentally killed his mother when he reached into her gun-loaded purse.

Out in Asia, bad weather is hampering recovery efforts for the AirAsia flight that crashed. The news is the news; often not much good is reported. But I like to remember that good things happen, too. My friend, Mary Dickey, brought me a Christmas gift today, a battery powered toothbrush, just the right size for my backpack. We share a passion for brushing. I’m taking it with me tonight.

It is that blend of good and bad that makes the world so interesting and so unpredictable as well as frightening. Nature plays with us. It will snow in California tonight, I understand.

Dark is falling on Claverack. The old year is ending. The new one will begin. May you all have the Happiest [and safest] of New Year’s!

Letter From New York 12 15 14 Terrorists or madmen…

December 15, 2014

Last night, my friends Lionel and Pierre came over for dinner – asparagus soup, mashed sweet potatoes, baked squash and a sirloin fresh from the farmer’s market. We were just into the soup course when his phone made a noise; a news alert was coming in.

The alert was that hostages had been taken in Sydney, a drama that would be played out into the morning today. Lionel is from Sydney originally and he excused himself to phone his family to make sure none were involved. All were accounted for and far from the scene.

I arrived in New York this morning and went into the Acela Club at Penn Station as I had a bit of time before I was to meet my friend Mary Dickey for lunch. My arrival at the Acela Club coincided with the moment that the Sydney police stormed the café and I watched events unfold, live and in real time.

It seemed a bit surreal, to be seated in the Acela Club, sipping a coffee, while half a world away this drama was being acted out, in a city I once knew fairly well and which I loved.

Little was known at the time and much is yet to be revealed, even though the crisis is over. There are two dead plus the gunman, an individual who identified himself as a Muslim cleric. He had some of the hostages hold up what appeared to be a black and white Islamic flag in the windows of the Lindt Chocolate Café, an unlikely seeming place for a hostage crisis.

Turns out he was quite the fellow, this Man Haron Monis. He had served community service time for pleading guilty to sending threatening letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers, calling the deceased “child killers.” He called himself a spiritual healer and had allegedly sexually abused some of those he was supposed to be healing and it seems that he was being linked to the murder of an ex-wife. He apparently had no religious training.

A website by Monis or his supporters claim that all the allegations were trumped up.

Some believe he was committing suicide by police, a thing not unheard of. He certainly seemed to have gotten the attention he wanted. From what I can gather, it’s believed in Sydney that he wasn’t really a terrorist but a deranged man.

Whatever the truth, two innocent people are dead.

In a gesture that was affecting, citizens of Sydney began a twitter campaign to combat a potential Muslim backlash. #illridewithyou was the campaign’s hashtag, offering to ride with Muslims needing to get around Sydney on public transportation. It has since gone viral. It seems very Australian.

My eyes watered up when I read the story.

Australia is an “open and generous” country said Prime Minister Tony Abbott and that is how it has struck me and it has struck me as a place removed from the violence of our terror stained world. But it is not. No place is safe from terrorists or madmen, whatever Man Haron Monis turns out to be.

In Pennsylvania, as I write this, a manhunt is ongoing for an individual who apparently killed six members of his family in a domestic dispute. That was happening as I was sitting in the café above the Fairview Market on Broadway, having a delightful lunch, chatting with Mary about the fallout from the Sony hacking scandal.

It is on days like this that I treasure the peace of the countryside and am grateful for the respite it provides from the terrors of the world in which we live, counterbalanced by the incredible human generosity of those who took the #Illridewithyou viral.