Posts Tagged ‘NY Times’

Letter from Claverack 07 22 2017 Still in the land of off, praying for souls…

July 22, 2017

It is Saturday afternoon; I am sitting where I have been sitting every afternoon since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard, on the veranda of my friends’ home, gazing out at the harbor, listening to the sound of boats motoring.  There is almost no wind and so the sailboats, if moving at all, are using their motors.

It was early that I woke this morning, nudged into wakefulness by a text on my phone.  A second text banished sleep and I laid in bed and read the NY Times, edging into the day with the Food section.  Hard news seemed too much for the early hour.

Joining my friend, Jeffrey, we went over to Behind the Bookstore to pick up some things to take to their outpost up in Vineyard Haven where Igor made me a powerful coffee drink with a hint of lavender.  Back at BTB with some needed ice, I soothed the caffeine edge with a mimosa.

Now, I am back in my favorite spot, reading science fiction short stories before starting the mystery I purchased at Edgartown Books this morning, “Moriarity,” about which I had read good things earlier in the year.  Yesterday, I finished a trifle of a mystery just before a marathon nap.

Jeffrey calls this the “land of off.”  It is; I am very “off.” It is a comfortable house in both physical terms and the graciousness of my hosts.  As I wandered into the kitchen to make myself a sandwich, I appreciated that.

Later in the day, I looked at the news and winced.  Today’s twitter storm seemed to be all about our President telling the world that he absolutely has a right to pardon anyone he wants, including himself.

Witnessing these things results in some attitude I have yet to describe, a mélange of incoherence, amusement, fear, incredulity and amazement.  There must be a word for it somewhere.

A friend forwarded me an article today; it is a portrait of the man who is leading a prayer group that includes most of our President’s cabinet.  It seems he believes God only hears the prayers of Christians.  My friend is Jewish.  Her only comment:  Oy!

I concur.

Sean Spicer left the building yesterday, resigning after the elevation of Scaramucci to the office of White House Communications Director, a move with which Spicer had vehemently disagreed.  But he was named and Spicer left, replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  It is hoped Melissa McCarthy can do as good a job with her as she did with “Spicey.”

The NY Times published a scathing, oh, really scathing article called, “The Mooch and the Mogul.”  You can read it here.

Googling for an article that praised Scaramucci’s appointment, I found little.  The closest was this, an article in Forbes, by Nathan Vardi.  You can read that here.  It’s not that great but best to be found.  Apparently, the NY Times called him “the mooch” because that’s his nickname on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, Congress has put together a package of sanctions against Russia that our president is not going to like.  It has broad bi-partisan support.  Imagine that?!  Insiders think the president won’t veto it despite how much he dislikes it.

John Heard, the father in the “Home Alone” movies, passed away at 71, while recovering from back surgery.  R.I.P.

And R.I.P. to Jamel Dunn, a disabled Florida man who drowned while five teenage boys recorded his demise, laughing and taunting him, doing nothing to help him.  They posted the video on YouTube and didn’t bother to alert authorities.  Florida police are searching for a statue by which to charge them.

It is a story which saddens me, sickens me and causes me to wonder about my fellowman.

Tonight, I will say a prayer for Jamel Dunn and for the souls of the young men who laughed while he died and light candles next time I am in church.

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 04 30 2017 Without hope, we have nothing…

May 1, 2017

It is a Sunday evening at the cottage.  Jazz is playing, the lights splash the creek.  I have made myself a martini.  It was a typical Sunday, up early, read the NY Times and a few articles from the WSJ online before the shower and then off to church, where I did the readings and then coffee hour, errands before settling at the Dot for a long and lazy brunch, reading more off my phone and chatting with a few people, home to the cottage, put away laundry, got the trash together and sat down to write.

IMG_1778

Very hygge.

Because I need the steady rhythm of familiar things in this Age of Trump.

His aides were caught off guard when he extended an invitation to President Duterte of the Philippines to come visit him during a Saturday call.  If you haven’t been following it, President Duterte has been accused of extra-judicial killings in that country’s current “drug war.” Now those surprised aides are preparing for an avalanche of criticism as it’s hard to find a world leader disliked as much as Duterte by pretty much everyone.

Then, after unleashing a problem for everyone around him, Mr. Trump jetted off to Harrisburg, PA for a campaign style rally to “record breaking crowds,” where he railed to his supporters about the media which was, at the same time, roasting him in DC, even if he was not there.  In two events, the official White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the Samantha Bee hosted “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” withered the sitting President, the first to have missed this event since 1981, when Ronald Reagan was recuperating from an assassin’s attack.

I wake up in the morning and find I am in a state of continuing bemusement in what is going on in Washington.  It is reality television, which is what we should have expected when we elected a reality television star to the Presidency.  With Reagan, we had an actor who knew how to deliver his lines.  There aren’t really “lines” in reality television.  There is direction but no script.  We have a President who is making up his script as he goes along, knowing he knows better than everyone else.  Even if he doesn’t.

The WSJ, a deeply conservative publication, to which I now subscribe, seems to be wanting to support him and just can’t find a way not to point out that it’s all a little…off.

And it is more than a little off.

Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff, said the White House was looking at ways of changing the libel laws to make it easier to for Trump to sue media organizations who criticize him.  Imagine how the Democrats responded to that, not to mention many Republicans?  Not pretty.  Do we not remember the First Amendment?  Or is Trump being inspired by Erdogan of Turkey who has been arresting thousands of people he suspects of being disloyal while cracking down on the press?  Cracking down makes it sound nice.  He is dismantling any vocal opposition to him.

One thing we should note is that the economy grew at the slowest rate in three years in the first quarter of Trump.   Maybe it’s a holdover from Obama or maybe it’s the fear of Trump.

We are in a political Wild West except in this Wild West we have nuclear weapons.

It’s a dark time in American democracy and we need to remember, in this “of the moment” world in which we live, this has not been the only dark time in American democracy.  We had the Civil War, dark time.  We survived Andrew Jackson, a really, really not nice President [who, by the way, our current President seems to identify with].

We will, God willing, live through this.

In the meantime, I will play jazz.  I will drink martinis.  I will write and I will hope, because without hope we have nothing.

 

 

Letter From New York 01 12 2016 No mean spirits allowed…

January 12, 2016

It’s late afternoon, Tuesday the 16th, and I am in the Acela Lounge waiting for my train north.  I could grab an earlier one but it is probable if I wait for the 5:47, I will see one or two friends I haven’t seen for a while.

Before opening the laptop and letting my fingers tap the keyboard, I was reading about the death of David Bowie at 69.  He did not much share the news of his health and the announcement of his death did not reveal the kind of cancer which felled him nor the place where he died.

I was told not long ago that he had a place up in the Hudson Valley.  The now ex-wife of my friend Paul Krich, Lorraine, was a good friend of Iman, now Bowie’s widow and she was visiting them one night when I was there for dinner.  She was quiet and shy and was with their daughter.  She and her daughter retired early, smilingly and charmingly.

Bowie has been prolific in the last months of his life, co-writing a play titled “Lazarus” along with a music video of the same name.  Now he is dead, they can be seen as his communicating to the world his time was short.

Time is short for all of us.  It’s a blip of time we inhabit this planet, no matter how old we get. 

Making the most of his blip of time, media mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced his engagement to the ex-wife of Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, the former supermodel.  This is her second marriage, his fourth.  She is 59; he is 84.  Between them they have ten children.

In Istanbul, not far from the Hagia Sofia, a sixth century Orthodox church now a museum, a young Syrian blew himself up, killing at least ten, mostly Germans, and wounding more.  The Turks believe it is IS and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has decried the event.

Putin has hinted today that if Assad ever feels the need to leave Damascus, he might well find welcome in Moscow.  If he made that choice, it would lessen the complications for a Syrian peace.

Humanitarian workers who have reached the town of Madaya have found “barely moving skeletons.”  It is the worst they have seen in the five year Syrian wars and the image causes me to think of the photos taken of Jews as the camps were liberated from the Germans.

The political circus continues.  ANOTHER Republican debate is upon us with Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina now relegated to the “undercard” debate.  Rand Paul says no way and he is off to do more campaigning in person than appearing in the second tier debate.  Paul could be smart or desperate.  Remains to be seen…

Bernie Sanders has a lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and has just moved slightly ahead of her in Iowa.  Chelsea has been sent out to campaign.

Though it will probably offend my conservative friends, the NY Times today did a scathing piece on Ted Cruz accusing him of exploiting evangelicals and actually espousing actions that are cruel, painful, and harmful — ones that certainly aren’t very Christian.

As Solicitor General of Texas, he went to the Supreme Court to keep a man in jail who had stolen a calculator from Walmart.  Because of a judicial mistake, the man got sixteen  years instead of two.  When the mistake was discovered, Cruz went into overdrive to keep him in jail the full sixteen.  Eventually the poor man was freed after six.  All over a calculator?  Cruz seems petty and mean and mean spirited all the way round.

Not feeling specially mean spirited and with suspicions friends would be on the train, I went down to Penn Spirits and purchased a bottle of a nice Sauvignon Blanc and a small bottle of sake.  And I got several cups.

Now the train is moving. My friends are here.  Soon we will open the bottle and enjoy good spirited company.  Here’s NOT to you, Mr. Cruz!

Letter From New York 08 01 15 Thoughts from the west bank of the Claverack Creek…

August 2, 2015

Behind me, soft jazz plays on Pandora. In front of me the creek is reflecting the green that overhangs it. The sun is setting and I am at the table on the deck writing on my laptop. It seems the perfect way to end a day.

It was not an eventful day. I woke early. As I went to turn on the coffee pot, the deck glistened with a recent rain. I went out there to sit.

In the early morning, I sat reading the NY Times and taking in the fresh air, listening to the songs of the birds in the trees. It seems right that I am bookending the day with more time on the deck. Every moment here is precious. In a time I can see coming, the trees will turn the brilliant colors of fall and then the winter will come. I enjoy the seasons and am grateful that my little piece of heaven includes four of them.

It is a soft and silky evening. Alana, proprietress of the Red Dot, and Patrick, her partner, were here for part of the afternoon and recently left. As I was leaving after lunch at the Dot, she asked me to stay and I did. She wanted to come and sit on the deck, watch the creek and experience a moment of peace. It has been a tough week for her.

They came. We had wine and cheese and then they left and I am here in the silver light of the end of day, listening again to the songs of the birds and thinking about the world.

An eighteen-month-old Palestinian baby was laid to rest today, immolated by Israeli extremists apparently. The rest of his family is being treated for burns. It is unsure that his mother will survive. Following a Jewish Orthodox man attacking the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, knifing nine people, including a fifteen year old who is fighting for her life, this is a week when Israel is asking itself serious questions.

The serious questions they ask themselves are the same serious questions we all need to be asking ourselves. In America, we have become inured to the violence and that is tragic. For a few moments, after an event such as the killing of nine in Charleston, we ask questions but then go on, forgetting what has occurred until the next atrocity and when that happens, we quickly forget. It seems, sometimes, we learn nothing. The Confederate Flag has gone down in South Carolina and that is good but shouldn’t it have come down long ago?

While it is warm in upstate New York, it is blisteringly hot in Iran and Iraq. Iran posted a heat index of 165 degrees Fahrenheit today and in Iraq a four-day mandatory holiday has been declared to help people cope, especially since the delivery of electricity is not very reliable. I can’t comprehend a heat index of 165 Fahrenheit. Sorry, not processing. I think I would incinerate.

The Donald is still leading the Republicans in the polls and I am still confused how that can be but it is.

There has been no agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after meetings in Hawaii. Everyone seems to thing it will still happen but that it didn’t happen was unexpected. And a bit of an embarrassment for Obama… However, there were 650 people meeting! It’s hard for me to get three people to agree on where to eat!

Facebook is prepping a drone to bring Internet access to people who don’t have it. Its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is expecting a baby. Gosh, the world keeps going on. I’m more excited by the Internet access than the baby but that’s probably because I don’t know Mark personally.

An Ebola vaccine looks more than promising and, hopefully, it will help contain and eliminate that scourge from the world.

The light around me is very silver. The day is ending. I am in twilight and the world around me is growing quiet. The birds are not as outspoken. Far away is the sound of something motorized, a sound I don’t recognize, something new. The jazz continues playing and soon I will go into the house and watch a movie.

Letter From New York 07 21 15 Of cabbages and kings…

July 21, 2015

In the past eight hours, I think I have done at least eight loads in the dishwasher. Last night, my friends Alana and Patrick were here for dinner along with Jeremiah and Jim. In prepping the dinner and setting the table, I used many dishes and most of my pots and pans. The cleanup was formidable but worth it. The night was a success.

Since I am working from home, I granted myself extra sleep this morning and sat on the deck with my coffee and NY Times. The day has shifted from sun to clouds, with a spattering of rain about thirty minutes ago. We’ve been warned to watch for stray thunderstorms. I’m watching.

Before the sun was too high in the sky, I meandered through the neighborhood and spent most of the walk swatting bugs from around my eyes. But it was a peaceful, restful moment and I was glad for the time by myself. My phone was in my pocket but I was undisturbed.

Except for a few conference calls and emails, there wasn’t much on my agenda today.

I’m treasuring this week at the cottage, letting things flow through my mind, as they will, without the distraction of traffic and congestion and the noise of the big city. Today, I have not left the neighborhood.

It has been delicious.

When I went online to take a look at the news, it seemed all rather grim. Or maybe it is just the grey sky outside.

Though Donald Trump has managed to bring me a laugh or two today. He gave out, for who knows what reason, Lindsey Graham’s personal cell phone number whom then told him to stop being a “jackass.” No way that is going to happen. Let us watch the game play out! Bombastic and irrational, he is stirring up this race in interesting ways. Everyone wants him to go away but Donald is not going to go away, at least while he is leading in the polls.

Ohio Governor Kasich is joining the Republican herd seeking the Presidential nomination. He will be the 16th person seeking that party’s nomination. I don’t ever remember a time when the field was this crowded, on either side.

Stephen Hawking, who is, unbelievably, 73 years old, has launched a quest to find out if we are alone. Backed by US based Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner, a hundred million dollars has been committed to seeing if we can find intelligent life out there. Bravo!

Have you ever been to Ottawa? I was once, a thousand and two years ago. It’s the capital of Canada and is the place where 20% of the population is on Ashleymadison.com, a website devoted to people who want to have an affair, highest percentage of any city in the world. Ottawa! You Canadians go! I’m astounded but not totally surprised.

Prince George is turning two tomorrow. Cute pictures of him are everywhere on the web. We may have declared independence from Britain but we still love their royal family.

There are no more splatters of rain. The sun is setting. We have a pearl grey night shining upon us. I am happy. Hope you are too.

Letter From New York 05 31 15 Musings on a dark and sullen day…

May 31, 2015

It is a dark and sullen day; at ten in the morning it looks as if night is about to fall. The sky is dark and leaden. Wind whips through the trees outside my bedroom windows. Rain fell in the night, puddling on the deck outside.

After a troubled night’s sleep, perhaps from caffeine too late in the day, I woke early and have begun to do household duties. The second load of laundry is already in the washer and I am deep into my reading of the Sunday NY Times. The chimes of the clock in the foyer have just sounded the top of the hour.

While I was in Delhi, I learned that its air was the worst of any city in the world, worse than Beijing. This morning’s Times had a story about the terrible Delhi air effect it has, particularly, on children. I thought of my friends there, Raja and Jag, whose daughter, Noor, is eight. She has trouble with the air sometimes and, as I recall, needs an inhaler.

Sidelines at soccer games are littered with inhalers, the report said. India has 13 of the top 25 polluted cities. Beijing, which I had always thought was number one, is actually 79th.

The cost to children in such polluted cities is hard to calculate but it is huge, with permanent damage being done to the most vulnerable in the population. It is a sobering fact.

While the day is dark and sullen, the air in the Hudson Valley is absolutely pristine compared to places such as Delhi.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of Narendra Modi’s election to Prime Minister of India. For the most part, he seems to be getting good marks though in the religious diversity arena he gets rather poor marks. His party, the BJP, is avidly pro-Hindu and after his election there were forced conversions and attacks on churches across India. He remained too quiet about the matter until prodded by President Obama during his State visit there earlier this year. The Ford Foundation has been put on a security watch list because it has funded an Indian group that has had conversations about religious violence. 9000 NGO’s have had their licenses cancelled.

Not a good way to project its mantle as the world’s largest democracy.

Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, succumbed yesterday to brain cancer at the age of 46. He was a promising politician and was planning on running for Governor next year. He had served a tour of duty in Iraq with the National Guard. It feels as we have been deprived of what might have been a valuable future voice.

Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in France while bicycling and is now on his way to Boston for treatment by the same doctor who replaced his hip. The peripatetic Mr. Kerry has been on the road for 356 of the last 365 days. This will tie him down for a while and he will be attending at least one conference by video link.

In Nepal, the country is attempting to return to some form of normalcy. Schools have been reopening while remote villages still struggle to get supplies. Normalcy is a long way away for that country but the first steps are being made.

A magnitude 8.1 earthquake shook Japan yesterday with 12 injured but no major damage. Still it was the sixth largest earthquake since 1885.

“San Andreas” set off a tremor at the Box Office, bringing in $53 plus million over the weekend, while Bradley Cooper’s “Aloha” bombed. We love our disaster films, apparently, especially with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The U.S. and China have toned the rhetoric down a bit about the artificial islands being created in the South China Sea but we’re a LONG way to any kind of resolution.

With my second load of laundry done, I am going to depart for the Red Dot and my usual Sunday brunch there, perhaps adding what I can to the weekly solving of the NY Times Crossword Puzzle – and that usually isn’t much.

Good Sunday, all!

Letter From New York 12 29 14 Solace in the countryside…

December 29, 2014

Yesterday was a chill, dark, grey, desolate sort of day; so dark it required lights to be turned on in the house early in the day. My mood seemed to match the day and I had to forcibly choose not to be as gloomy as the day.

It had been my intention when I got up in the morning to get myself to church but I dawdled too much and my window of opportunity closed. I simply didn’t feel motivated to move.

The day brightened when my neighbors, the Karics, phoned and invited me as well as Lionel and Pierre over for “wine and nibbles” at 6:30. Jim and Pat have the loveliest home on the block and set out a feast of nibbles and we chatted late into the evening, about all manner of things.

This morning there is a bit of blue in the sky but the early morning sudden sun is now hidden behind clouds. I have an agenda of things to do today, one of which is find a birthday present for Pierre. He turns thirty today.

This is an interesting time, this week between Christmas and New Year’s. Many offices are closed or people have taken the time off of work. It feels like a time poised between events, a slow moving week of rest and relaxation.

The NY Times had a breakdown of what Mr. Obama has been doing on his vacation in Hawaii, golfing six times and bowling once. He played golf with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, who is now home and having what must be a terrible time as another airliner has gone down in the region and is probably at the bottom of the ocean. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are all involved in what might be a hopeless search. The United States is on alert to help if requested.

Ah, the sun has come out and is casting a golden glow across the landscape out the windows where I am writing. My stand of trees glistens in the light. Squirrels are romping across the gravel drive, looking, it appears, for crumbs. It is another day in the country.

It is so peaceful here, in my little corner of the world. I know that the world out beyond ii is not peaceful but I find respite and solace in the quiet of my world.

Twenty thousand strong was the crowd that came out to say good-bye to Officer Ramos, shot down execution style in New York last week. Many of the police officers turned their backs on Mayor DeBlasio as he gave the eulogy. They blame him for having encouraged protests to the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two black men killed by police officers earlier this year in separate parts of the country, one in Missouri and one on Staten Island, here in New York. The man who killed Officer Ramos and his partner said they were revenge killings.

The NY Times, which I check every morning on my iPhone, is full of things that are sobering. It always is. The world is a sobering place every morning and every morning this fall that I have been at the cottage, I find my solace in the rhythms of nature as reflected in my yard.

Letter From New York November 25, 2011

November 29, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

My birthday is just past; I was feted to a fair thee well by friends over my birthday weekend, starting on my birthday eve with Lionel and Pierre at Thai Market, followed by a Friday evening dinner at the fabulous Robert on the 9th floor of the Museum of Art and Design at Columbus Circle, with a stunning view up Broadway, to five hours of haunting the New York Antique Show with my friend Paul, who then took me to dinner, followed by Todd Broder taking me to brunch and so it went on and on and on and I admit I allowed myself to be smothered in all kinds of affection over the weekend, for which I was very grateful.

It is Thanksgiving morning and I am curled on the couch at the cottage with the sun pouring in while glistening off the creek; in the distance are the morning cries of the geese flocks that call the creek home.

These are moments of self-indulgence, of celebratory rejoicing, of placid enjoyment of the time, moments when one can shutter out the harsher realities of our world. This morning, as I perused the digital version of the New York Times, I stumbled upon an article that posits that we, as a human race, are getting nicer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/opinion/kristof-are-we-getting-nicer.html?_r=1&src=tp

When I saw the headline, I raised my eyebrows. How, in the century of 9/11, could we think that the human race is getting “nicer”? But the writer makes a strong case that historically, we are. May it be so. If so, we should be grateful that there may be an evolutionary process happening with mankind that heralds a better age for all.

As I left a breakfast at Pershing Square yesterday, the man with whom I was meeting, paused on the street and commented on how lucky we were to have had a good breakfast in a good restaurant, talking about interesting things. Compared with 99.9% of the world, my life is absolutely magical, which I remind myself of as often as I can as and if we, as a human race, are becoming nicer, then indeed we must be grateful on this Thanksgiving.

It is a good thought; a powerful one that comes at a good time because when we look around we can find reason enough for despairing shakes of the head. Because we are so wired together we learn of every brutal hiccup in the process of the evolution heralded by Mr. Pinker in his book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and commented upon by the notable Nicholas Kristoph in his NY Times column today. The Thirty Years War, fought, at least partially, over religion, decimated much of what is now Germany while killing off a third of the population. As grim and stupid as the Iraq war has been, it has not affected that kind of mortality, at least to date.

Some of the thoughts ring true if stunning when thought. “Today’s conservatives are more liberal than yesterday’s liberals.” Yes, let us hope so.

On such a beautiful day, with soft jazz playing, sunlight bursting into the room, with promises of magnificent food in the hours ahead, with the great good company of my friends Larry and Alicia, it is a day to be both thankful and hopeful.

One of the dazzling aspects of human nature is that we as a race do change and against the darkness of our own acts have the capability to hope and to believe in a better future.

I am thankful today. I am hopeful today. May you all have grand and hopeful Thanksgivings as well…