Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Letter From Claverack 07 07 2017 Musings on being home…

July 8, 2017

As I begin writing, it is twilight at the cottage.  The day began damp and grey, changing mid-day to blue and lovely.  Sitting on the deck, the torches burn to ward off mosquitoes and to give a sense of atmosphere.  It is lovely.

Of course, as soon as I typed those words, I felt the first of the raindrops and had to scutter back into the cottage.

Out there in the world, momentous things have been happening.  Trump and Putin met for the first time. Trump:  It’s an honor.  Putin: ?

It’s certain we will be hearing the parsing of the meeting for days to come.  They talked election tampering.  Putin: we didn’t.  Trump: okay. [At least according to some early reports.]  No agreement on Crimea.   Not expected.

We are to agree on a ceasefire in southwest Syria.  Good for everyone if it holds.

In Washington, Mitch McConnell faces the daunting task of passing the Republican version of healthcare legislation.  It seems to be the single most unpopular piece of legislation of the last thirty years.

Over the weekend, I listened to some interviews with people from around the country who were absolutely opposed to Obamacare and absolutely loved the ACA, not realizing they are one and the same.  It left me shaking my head in amazement and then, why should I be amazed?  We, on both sides of the fence, don’t always analyze and we just react, ideologically, and that seems to be on the increase.

In a bright moment in the world, Malala Yousafzai, a young woman targeted by terrorists, terribly wounded, and who miraculously clawed her way back, graduated from high school today.  She is also a Nobel Peace laureate. She celebrated graduation by tweeting her first tweet.

Amazing human being…

Closer to home, Etsy has cut its workforce by 15% and I wonder how that is going to affect the offices on Columbia Street in Hudson.  While that is happening, the stock has been upgraded to a buy by some brokers.

It’s interesting to me to walk down Warren Street and see all the businesses that are there that weren’t when I came and to see the ones that are still here, still pulling along.  One of my favorites is Carousel, next to the CVS on Warren.  One of my friends collects mid-century hammered aluminum pieces and I go in there and sometimes find things for her.

The Red Dot has been here since I arrived and I remember the transition of Brandow’s to Swoon Kitchen Bar.  Seems Ca’Mea has always been there since I arrived, though I am not sure about that.  That’s a little foggy.

It’s been interesting to watch all of this.  The cottage has been my home longer than any place I have lived, including the home I grew up in.  That’s sobering.  That’s rooting.  I like the sense of roots I have created here.

Yesterday, I had my car serviced at Kinderhook Toyota and ran into someone I knew.  At the Red Dot, I am always running into people I know.  Same for Ca’Mea.  It’s wonderful to go into places and be known or to know people there.

The places I’ve lived are many:  Minneapolis, Toronto, Carbondale, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Eugene, OR, New York City and now Claverack.  The places I have visited seem innumerable. They’re not but…

Of all those places, including my hometown of Minneapolis, the only place that has felt like home is here.

And I am enormously grateful for that.  It is sweet and satisfying and that is how, I think, it should be as I enter this third act of my life.

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.

dessert

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 New York 10 21 15 From sunny streets to Holocaust denials…

October 21, 2015

New York City. Starbucks. Producer’s Guild of America. Lionel White. Justin Trudeau. Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton. White House Rose Garden. Paul Ryan. Freedom Caucus. Assad. Syria. Putin. Netanyahu. Holocaust denier. Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Al-Husseini. Angela Merkel. John Kerry. Pope Francis. Wikileaks. CIA Director Brennan. Back to the Future II. XNow.

It is a brilliant day in New York City; the sky is pale blue and the temperature is 74 degrees. Sitting in a Starbucks at 93rd and Broadway, sipping tea, a posse of young students has come in, most dressed in shorts.

Tomorrow morning, I am headed back to the country, an event I am looking forward to as I am sure it would be much more pleasant to be sitting on my deck writing than it is in Starbucks.

But this is where I am, reasonably happy and enjoying my tea. Tonight there is a meeting of the Doc Committee for the Producer’s Guild and I’m going to that, then coming home, catching some sleep.

My friend Lionel is coming up to direct some winterizing tasks at his house across the street and we’ll share dinners together tomorrow and Friday, before he returns to Baltimore on Saturday.

Since I last wrote, Justin Trudeau is the Prime Minister elect of Canada, sweeping into office more seats in Parliament than anyone expected.

Joe Biden announced from the White House Rose Garden he was NOT running for President. Hillary must be doing the “happy dance” wherever she is.

Paul Ryan is considering running for Speaker of the House but only on his terms, pretty much telling the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus he will be Speaker on his terms or he won’t be Speaker at all.

Unbelievably, the Freedom Caucus thinks Paul Ryan is too liberal.

President Assad of Syria snuck into Russia for a quick set of meetings with Putin and his colleagues. The visit likely gives confidence to Assad and bolsters Russia’s play to be a power broker in the future of Syria.

“Bibi” Netanyahu has drawn broad criticism from most quarters for his declaration that it was a Palestinian, al-Husseini, the then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews. Before that, according to “Bibi,” Hitler only intended to ship them out.

Most historians agree that Netanyahu’s remarks were historically inaccurate.

Some have been calling him a “holocaust denier.” Mr. Netanyahu has a habit; it seems, of unfortunate remarks. This one is a doozy.

As he left to meet Angela Merkel and John Kerry in Berlin, Netanyahu’s office was issuing clarifications.

Speaking of clarifications, the Vatican was stoutly denying that Pope Francis has a brain tumor.   The rumor was called “seriously irresponsible.”

In not good news for CIA Director Brennan, Wikileaks has begun to release his private emails. Shades of Edward Snowden.

Today, if you haven’t noticed somewhere else, is the 30th Anniversary of “Back to the Future II.” No we don’t have hoverboards but we do have contraptions that electrically scoot down the street on wheels, the XNow. My friend Winn arrived on one for lunch.

It glows blue when it is powered. Several fascinated people came over to chat with him about it. He offered me a chance to ride it but I declined. My sense of balance is not that good.

Some critics think “Future II” is the best blockbuster ever. I remember it as very, very good but am not sure it is the best ever.

But it’s pretty darn good. Darn good too is the afternoon and before it thoroughly evaporates, I am headed out of Starbucks for a walk in the waning afternoon.

Letter From New York 09 28 15 Dealing with Putin, Obama, VW, NASA and IS

September 28, 2015

Super Moon. Putin and Obama at the UN. Water flowing on Mars. An independent Catalonia? Taliban rising, again. Living on $17 a day. More on Volkswagen.

Last night, when the eclipse came at 10:47, I was already deeply in the arms of Morpheus. I had thought I might be able to make it but I was asleep before ten, drifting off, like many other days, reading a book.

Now I am on my way into New York City to have dinner with my godson, after a meeting this morning in Hudson. The day, which I thought was going to be sunny, has turned gray and mournful. The Hudson River looks like a sheet of beaten silver. Leaves are beginning to turn though I suspect it may not be a too colorful fall; the leaves that have turned haven’t much color and look as if they had just surrendered to winter, without a final burst of brilliance.

Both Putin and Obama spoke today at the UN. Even though he is meeting Putin today, Obama questioned Russian motives while leaving the door open for a constructive working relationship. That feels a little hard to imagine, a day after Russia, Syria, Iraq and Syria made an agreement to collaborate with each other on IS, without alerting or consulting the U.S.

But who knows what will happen behind closed doors with the two of them?

NASA now says that water flows intermittently on Mars. While it may be briny, it does flow at times which opens the doors wider for life on the Red Planet at some point in its past or present. Wouldn’t that be amazing? [And you’re correct, I am eagerly awaiting the Matt Damon starrer, “The Martian.”]

While I was wrapped in the arms of Morpheus, worshipping the god Somnus, the Taliban seized most of the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan, giving them a prize they have long desired. Afghan Security Forces and UN Personnel fled to safety as defenses collapsed.

It is the first time in fourteen years that the Taliban have managed to swarm into a city rather than attack with isolated bombings and individual acts.

Far to the west, in Spain, the Catalonian region held elections yesterday. A year ago, the region held a referendum on independence from Spain and those who wanted to leave outvoted those who wanted to stay. Madrid declared it unconstitutional and Catalonia remains part of Spain.

In yesterday’s elections, secessionists won a majority of seats but conventional wisdom seems to be thinking that Catalonia doesn’t really want independence but it wants a better deal from the Central government. This election helps strengthen their hand.

17 Florida legislators, mostly Democrats, are going to live on $17.00 a day for a week in a gesture to support a law to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. They figure that $17.00 is what a minimum wage worker has left over to live on when all the basics are paid.

We all know that Volkswagen had some really good code writers for the software they used in their diesel cars. It fooled testers into believing the cars weren’t emitting pollution when they were.   Now the former head, who stepped down after the scandal broke, is now being investigated for fraud. Martin Winterkorn intimated he knew nothing but the German authorities aren’t so sure.

VW has lost a third of it market capitalization since the crisis exploded and the 78-year-old company is facing its biggest challenge.

More dull economic news from China resulted in more losses for the markets today. No denying it’s a global economy.

Nor can I deny that the sun has come out as I am passing the slowly rising new Tappan Zee Bridge. It burst through clouds and now glimmers off the silver water.

The train is well over an hour late and the conductors are being bombarded by questions as to when we’ll get to New York. One poor man is attempting to catch a plane out of Kennedy. He might JUST make it.

I will make my dinner with my godson and for that, I’m grateful.

Letter From New York 09 01 15 Hot day, hot news…

September 1, 2015

It’s a sunny, warm day in New York. Waking up in the New York apartment, I was disoriented and not quite sure where I was. Then I got a cramp in my left leg that catapulted me out of bed and into the realization I was in New York. During the morning I worked out of the apartment and then headed down to the offices of Broderville.

It is supposed to scrape ninety degrees today but it didn’t feel that warm when, around noon, I reached the office. Since then, I have been cossetted in the air conditioning while doing my afternoon’s online work.

While I have been hammering on the laptop’s keys, the market has been swooning over more bad news from China. The Wall Street Fear Index is up again today but not as high as it was a week ago.

No longer standing at all is the Temple of Bel/Baal at Palmyra. Satellite photographs have shown clearly that it has been demolished. Until these shots came through there was some hope but it is now gone, forever, a temple which has stood since the time of Christ.

Video of a man who appeared to have raised his arms in San Antonio and was then shot by police is posted online by a local television station, KSAT, and can be seen on their website. http://www.ksat.com/news/ksatcom-exclusive-unedited-video-of-fatal-deputy-involved-shooting

I couldn’t watch. I didn’t want to see a man gunned down, rightly or wrongly, though it is looking very suspect at this moment.

In Chicago, a manhunt is on for three men who allegedly shot a police officer there.

All in all, according to a NY Times article I read, murders are soaring in a number of cities. People are struggling to understand after years of falling murder numbers. One reason posited is that gangs are better organized and better armed.

Kim Davis, the County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court to prevent her from having to issue gay marriage licenses.   The Supreme Court was having none of it. Nope. No way. We’re not hearing this.

This morning a rowdy group showed up demanding their marriage licenses. She now must show up in Court on Thursday for a hearing. Gay couples that want licenses don’t want her to go to jail but do want her fined.

Rand Paul, erstwhile candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency, thinks Ms. Davis’ protest is all just part of the American way. Unfortunately, I agree with him but not for the reasons he has, I suspect. I’m only surprised there aren’t more holdouts like Ms. Davis.

The migrant crisis is growing in Europe. Today, trains were halted in Hungary and migrants, even those holding tickets, were not allowed to board. Hundreds have died at sea, attempting the crossing from Africa to Italy, just in the last week.

The number of Syrian refugees accepted by Britain would barely be enough to fill a car on the Underground, hence all the rush to get to Germany where Angela Merkel is fending off a rising right that wants to put a stop to it.

The EU has had, at best, a slapdash approach to the refugee crisis, ignoring or suspending its own rules willy-nilly with no central government organized response.

All of this, after the Greek Crisis, further strains the credibility of the EU.

My credibility is not feeling strained today. I’m going to close up shop for the night, head up to Café du Soleil for a bite to eat and then go back home and read a book for a while.

All good. Hope it is for you, too!

Letter From New York 08 13 15 Of nice days and atrocities…

August 13, 2015

This morning I woke early and took the third train into town. It was stunningly beautiful at the cottage and I was regretful about leaving and coming into New York City. I’ve been away for a while and it’s always a bit of an assault when I get off the train for the first time after an absence.

Today was no different; Penn Station was summer madness and I felt jostled by the crowds as I made my way down 7th Avenue to the Greek Corner, the little diner I frequent at 28th. The Spanish waitress who serves me seemed genuinely glad to see me.

Eating my egg white omelet, I read a book and then went on to my noon meeting. Some of my day has been productive; some of it not so much. Though all of it has been pleasant.

In the morning, I have a breakfast meeting and then am off to the train, back to the country and a full weekend there. Lionel and Pierre are arriving for the weekend and on Saturday a couple of neighbors are coming to my house for drinks and “nibbles and bits.”

Hopefully, the brilliant weather will continue and we can stand and sit on the deck, looking over the stream. As I rode the train down into the city, the river glistened with the morning sun. I was reading the Times on my iPhone.

The story was horrific.

Yazidis are not Christian nor Muslim nor Jewish. Because they are not “people of the book” they have been targeted by IS for particularly harsh treatment. The Times reported on manuals that have been written for IS soldiers explaining to them that raping these women is an act of worship and brings them closer to God. They pray before and after the rapes.

In Yazidi towns that have been taken, men are separated from the women. Boys must raise their shirts and show whether they have hair in their armpits. If they do, they go with the men. Most of them are told to lie down in fields and then are shot to death. Women are bussed away, sold into sexual slavery. One woman who had been purchased was set free when her “master” finished his suicide training and had no more use for her. He gave her a paper, signed by IS officials, that allowed her to leave IS territory and reunite with what was left of her family.

The reality of this happening is almost beyond comprehension. But it is happening. Frankly, almost any horror seems within the ken of IS.

A Croatian national, Tomislav Salopek, working in Egypt for a French company, was kidnapped outside of Cairo by a gang that demanded ransom. Then nothing was heard until IS began to demand the release of Muslim women prisoners from Egypt in exchange for him. They now claim they have beheaded him. Everyone fears the worst while waiting for confirmation.

Then there is the news that IS has claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in a Baghdad vegetable market that killed 67 and wounded hundreds. IS has been busy this week, getting itself into the news, rejoicing in knowing their atrocities are being reported.

I clench my hands and wonder what I as one individual can do? I do not know but I wish there was something.

On a brighter note, tomorrow the US Flag will fly above our Embassy in Havana again. Kerry is on his way to Cuba to be present for the official re-opening of the American Embassy in Cuba.

Investors are fleeing Russia, just preferring to do business somewhere a bit more predictable. Everyone is trying to read the runes of Putin’s actions but a former Kremlin insider posits he just not that interested anymore. He acts like a Tsar but has no succession plan. Right now Putin is Russia and he is disinterested…

I was not disinterested to find out that “Sesame Street” is moving to HBO for its first run and then to PBS and it’s being cut from an hour to half an hour. I am still getting past it. Good if it keeps “Sesame Street” on the air. As my friend Medora Heilbron once said: no deal too strange to make.

Letter From New York 07 16 15 Observations as I have wandered the town…

July 16, 2015

It has been a lovely day in New York City. The day dawned warm, sunny and not humid. As I walked up 93rd Street to the subway, I cherished every moment, looking up at the trees, moving slightly in the wind. People were out walking their dogs, chatting with them as they did morning duty. There is a bulldog I see occasionally; he has a face only a father could love. He walks sprightly with him on many a morning as I am making my way to Broadway and the subway.

As I took the 1 train to 28th, my car had scattered bunches of tourists. There was a young French couple, a small group of Germans; some folks with mid-western twangs. It is the fabric of the city this time of year. Later in the day there was a group of older tourists from Italy on Fifth Avenue, getting their bearings before strolling down the block.

Today, having only had a light dinner, I was hungry and stopped at the little Greek diner on the corner of 28th and 7th, appropriately called The Greek Corner. The menu has Santorini splashed across its cover. Once I asked the waitress if the owner came from Santorini. She shrugged and said: no, he’s from Sparta. I suspect he thought Santorini more beautiful than Sparta.

She is from Spain and was not terribly friendly at first but now she smiles a little when I come in. She now expects me not to need a menu though, like today, I sometimes ask for one. She always tries to serve me coffee even though I have never had a cup there.

Places like The Greek Corner are disappearing from New York City. There are articles in The Times chronicling their vanishing in all the boroughs.

As I was eating my food, another aspect of New York shuffled through the door, a homeless man, looking for water, smelling of dirt and urine. He was being respectful and the Spanish girl filled a cup for him with water and he shuffled away. It breaks my heart to see men and women like this, scattered all over the city.

As I walked down 7th Avenue to 30th, there is a woman who is there everyday, selling fruit. Yesterday, I wanted to ask her about her story, how she came to be selling fruit on 7th Avenue in New York, far from her homeland.

Since my last letter, a deal has been announced with Iran on its nuclear program. I am not sure how I feel about it, good or bad it is a path that is being played out. The Republicans and some Democrats have vowed to scuttle it and Obama says he will veto any legislation that will stop it. Rouhani of Iran is attempting to sell it through to his people and the all-powerful Ayatollah Khamenei. Neither of the men have an easy job.

The Iran drama has just reached a new stage and for some reason elicits a sense of exhaustion from me for reasons I can’t quite name. Despite the agreement, there is the reality of Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US all vying for position in the Middle East.

The Great Game continues, I guess.

TLC has cancelled, officially, the suspended “19 Kids and Counting” after the oldest son admitted abusing five underage girls, including two of his sisters. There was a celebration on Twitter that was quite amazing, I’m told.

In Chattanooga, TN, a shooter was killed after he had killed four others. The man identified as the shooter has an Arabic sounding name and one official, at least, has said it probably is a case of domestic terrorism. It happened at a military facility. The young man was born in 1990, which would make him twenty-five. He was so young to choose a path of violence. What rage burned in him? In any of these young men and women who seem to find killing so easy?

To no one’s great surprise, Dylann Roof, accused in the Charleston killing of nine churchgoers, had a troubled childhood. He grew more silent and withdrawn as time went on, using drugs and having non-violent run-ins with the law.

Tomorrow, North American Muslims will be celebrating Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting observed by Muslims. There will be gifts given and much family time enjoyed.

The potential for hate crimes makes it hard for some to enjoy. Recently, a man in New York fractured the jaw of a 19-year-old Muslim woman, while spewing anti-Muslim remarks.

As I write this, the world is waiting for the verdict in the case of James Holmes, who killed twelve and injured seventy in a shooting in a theater showing “Batman” in Aurora, Colorado. Before I post this, we should know.

Tomorrow is the year anniversary of the downing of MH17, brought to earth over Ukraine. There are at least two investigations going on. One has indicated it believes the most likely scenario is that Ukrainian separatists brought down the plane. There is talk of a UN Tribunal. Mr. Putin thinks it “premature.”

Lest we forget, Emmy nominations were announced today. Streaming services rise and broadcast slips in numbers of nominations.

The phone has buzzed three times. The verdict is in for James Holmes; he is guilty of murder and faces the death penalty.

Letter From New York 06 24 15 But it looked good in the movies…

June 24, 2015

It is a sunny day in New York City, the temperature is in the 80’s but the air is not sodden with humidity, as it was yesterday. Pleasant enough, with breezes, that I walked a mile to the restaurant where I met a friend, Guy McCarter, that I hadn’t seen in some years. It was nice, in that we picked up again as if no time had passed at all. We visited and then he headed to a meeting and I sauntered back to Todd’s office.

Tonight I am meeting a friend at 5:30 at the Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel, home of the “Round Table” back in the 30’s, and then to dinner with another friend at Nirvana, then home to read I suspect.

Last night, I stayed up too late finishing Evelyn Waugh’s “Scoop,” a funny book about the newspaper business pre World War II.

Joseph J. O’Donahue IV, who I had the great pleasure of knowing, was born in 1912 and passed away 88 years later. He was a great bon vivant, considered one of the best looking men of his generation, and sailed, mostly, through life with grace and elegance.

Mismanaged trust funds left him hard up at the end of his life but he carried on with huge style and was a fixture on the San Francisco social circuit.

He declared that civilization had ended with World War II.

I don’t know that is true but certainly sometimes it seems that on some levels the world was more civil then.

Treatment of blacks was worse in this country. Joe once brought Josephine Baker, the African American dancer who had wowed France, to El Morocco in New York and was turned away. He never returned to the Club. If Josephine wasn’t good enough, he wasn’t either.

Now that I think about it, it wasn’t so terribly civilized then but it sure looked good in the movies.

There were the Nazis. And there had been the “War to End All Wars,” which was merely a prelude to the big show, World War II. Joe was asked to leave Germany by Adolf Hitler after protesting the arrests of Jewish friends.

And there had been the Great Depression, not a good time for anyone.

No, civilization didn’t end with World War II, a new age opened up.

And that new age, in which we live, isn’t particularly pretty either. IS militants blew up a couple of tombs in Palmyra yesterday. They were about 500 years old and held the remains of important Shia. IS is, you see, Sunni. They have also mined the classical ruins to discourage any efforts to take them back.

Palmyra was a place that was on my bucket list. It will probably have to stay in the bucket. In interesting news, if not a media stunt, is that Lexus is developing a hoverboard like the one used by Marty McFly in “Back to the Future.” They plan to test it out in Barcelona in the next few weeks. I’ll be following.

The Queen [Elizabeth II of Great Britain] is visiting Germany. While there, a small robot performed for her and charmed her.

She may not be charmed by the fact she may have to move out of Buckingham Palace for an extended period of time, as there is so much updating to be done. Wiring, plumbing and decorating all need to be brought into the modern age as, for the most part, nothing has been done for at least sixty years.

In September the Queen will become the longest reigning British monarch. She will overtake Queen Victoria that month. Given that her mother lived to be something 103 or 104, I am guessing we may have the Queen around for a while.

One of the things which has been around for awhile is the Greek Debt Crisis, described by one as the slowest moving financial train wreck in history, which could be a good thing. Had a collapse happened three years ago it would have been much worse.

Monday’s optimism that a deal could be done has faded and a meeting broke up early because of “major policy differences.” There are only six days left to the month. At the end of June, Greece needs to make a payment and it doesn’t have the money. The European Central Bank is propping up Greek banks as depositors remove a billion Euros a day.

I feel a little like I need propping up after having stayed up too late reading. I’m off soon to drinks and dinner and hopefully a pleasant night in New York.

You have one, too, wherever you are!

Letter From New York 06 22 15 After me, the deluge?

June 22, 2015

Last night, I slept very deeply and forgot, as I was waking that I was in the city. I thought the beep beep beep I was hearing was the alarm going off and I was attempting to turn it off when I realized it was not the alarm but the sound of a truck backing up outside. I had a hard time waking up this morning but when I finally found consciousness, I found myself in a happy mood. No reason particularly. I was just happy.

Henry IV, Part 1 was delightful last night. Hotspur was played by a woman, which I found interesting. And she played it with such passion. I’d give you her name but the program is back in the apartment and I’m sitting at the Café du Soleil. I had been in the apartment most of the day and needed to see some new scenery so I came here to have a martini and to write my blog.

Nick, the bartender here, is leaving and I’ve grown fond of him. I often come here to have a glass of wine and a bite to eat when I find myself alone and hungry. So I am trying to stop by here once a week until he leaves for Miami.

It’s interesting when you eat at bars as much as I do. Whenever I joined my friends Lionel and Pierre for dinner in the city, which was often, we always ate at the bar. That’s Lionel’s preference. I went along even though I prefer a table usually.

It’s a New York night tonight, warm, a little humid but not unpleasant. The folding doors of the Café du Soleil are open and the sidewalk tables are bustling with folks. People are treasuring the night as tomorrow it’s supposed to rain and be very hot.

It’s so hot in Pakistan that over 200 people have died, mirroring the carnage in India earlier when thousands died from the heat.

The Greeks have offered proposals to resolve the debt crisis. Markets went up today on hopes that it will come together. Bonds went down. So goes the strange world of global finance.

In a very surprising move, Senator Lindsey Graham and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley have both called for retiring the Confederate flag, putting it in a museum. In one online article I read, it stated that the Confederate flag was never authorized by the Confederate Congress and really came to the fore under the KKK. Ouch.

Obama did an interview today for a podcast where he used the “N” word. Not for the first time but the first time since he has been President. He will give a eulogy for Pastor Pinckney who was one of the Charleston Nine. They were personal friends. His anger is more to the front than it has been during his Presidency. As are his emotions, he has been know to tear up when talking about his daughters and choked back tears as he gave the eulogy for Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Biden.

Interestingly, the leader of the White Supremacist group with whom Dylann Storm Roof, the alleged killer, is associated, has given to the Presidential campaigns of several Republicans, including Rand Paul.

Taylor Swift, all of 24 years old, has brought Apple to its knees. They weren’t going to give royalties to artists while subscribers were on their trial period. She called them out for it and they are now going to pay royalties. She seems to be quite an amazing young woman.

The Taliban attacked the Afghan Parliament. The attackers were killed. Parliamentarians were safe but it was a brazen attack in the capital. So the beat goes on in the world.

According to the Pope, we live on a dying planet. But then so does the BBC, who thinks we have entered the next extinction phase. Slower than when the meteor knocked out the age of dinosaurs but still happening.

Cheery news to think about, as I will go to sleep tonight. But it is a perfect summer night in New York and I will enjoy the night. What did Louis XVI say: after me, the deluge? Let’s hope we avoid the deluge of this age.

Letter From New York 03 06 15 Ranting on a sunny evening…

June 3, 2015

Returning to the office from a series of appointments and meetings, I met with one of the phenomenon of New York City, the partially crazy person we all learn to just ignore. As I exited the 1 line at 28th Street, a very large gentleman came down 7th Avenue carrying huge black nylon bag, swinging at his side. As he strode the Avenue like a colossus, he was not exactly shouting; it was more like braying. He sounded rather like a human imitation of a siren. As I reached my turn at 30th Street, he began to alternate the braying with shouts of “I hate effing everything and everyone!”

No one seemed to really notice him. He just went on his way, slicing through the pedestrian traffic, a human battleship on some kind of mission.

Almost any foray onto the streets of New York means an encounter with at least one person with a loose grip on reality.

The other morning, there was a well-dressed, middle-aged lady on West End Avenue, chattering away. I thought she was speaking to someone while wearing a Jawbone. But she wasn’t. No Jawbone. Just having a merry conversation with her best imaginary friend.

We don’t intervene or do much except to give them as wide a berth as we can. If they’re not doing any harm, they sail on down the streets. Such people are part of the fabric of any metropolitan area. It sometimes causes me to think on the social welfare net we don’t seem to have for these folks.

There are so many human needs all over the world. Hundreds of thousands are facing potential starvation in South Sudan. Migrants are dying while attempting to reach Italy from Africa or from Myanmar to Indonesia. Nepal is in ruins. Heat is killing them by the hundreds in India.

The huge man on 7th Avenue got me thinking about the state of humanity. We spend so much time and money on fighting each other rather than uniting in curing what ails us. Howard Bloom posits that is part of our nature in “The Lucifer Principle.” He’s probably right. But my hope is that we head toward a better future though I’m not banking on it so much right this moment.

Fierce fighting has broken out in Ukraine again. Boko Haram has slaughtered thousands and kidnapped at least hundreds while Amnesty International is claiming the Nigerian Army has managed to kill off at least 7000 and should be investigated for war crimes.

China, Russia and the United States are all jockeying for position. Saudi Arabia and Iran are duking it out to see who is going to be the big kid on the block in the Middle East. Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines along with the U.S. are skittering to keep China from controlling the South China Sea.

But at the end of the day it is all geo-political nonsense that has been going on since the beginning of empires. The Egyptians wanted to be the big guy on the block and they were for a while. So were the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, Alexander had his moment – and it was just a moment – then came the Romans and so on and on and on. All about conquering and crushing.

I must pick up a copy of Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” Today it doesn’t feel like it.

While Mayor DeBlasio proclaims that New York is the safest big city in the country, murder rates have inched up the last two years.

Ah, I am ranting tonight but it’s what is on my mind tonight. And isn’t that what blogs are for? Our individual thoughts and rants and hopes and prayers?