Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Letter From New York 07 27 15 From the side of creek…

July 27, 2015

As I begin to write this, I am seated on the deck. I realized I had the choice of writing at my desk or being here on the deck so I moved my laptop out here.

It is an elegant day in Claverack. The sun is glinting through the trees and the birds are singing all around me. Jazz is playing on Pandora. The creek is mirror like today, reflecting the green trees hanging over the water. It is warm and a shade humid but not uncomfortable.

I lazed around the house this morning reading and visiting with a friend who was up for a day and a half. Around two, I finally did the errands I had meant to do much earlier in the day and then it seemed too late to head into the city so I returned to the cottage to do a little work and write.

The New York Times’ T Magazine is up, shooting over at Jim Ivory’s house [Merchant Ivory Films], just down the road from me. I ran into Jeremiah today, a friend who is helping with the shoot while having lunch at Relish, across from the Train Station.

It is a day, here, of pastoral beauty.

The world is not quite like that. The Shanghai Exchange fell 8.5%, a move that rattled world markets. The Chinese government is intervening though it didn’t move quickly enough to stop today’s slide. There are market jitters everywhere because of China and the ongoing Greek situation, one that doesn’t seem resolved yet though not in the news as much.

Boston has terminated its bid for the Olympics in 2024. Resistance to the bid was rising among the denizens of the city. Everyone capitulated and that might not have been a bad thing.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock the last couple of days [and I have almost been] you will have known Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, died after months in a medically induced coma. She was found in a bathtub [as was her late mother] and never recovered. Tragedy follows tragedy and it is so sad. Did she have a chance? Probably but probably not many supported her in having that chance. The American entertainment industry has created a small industry of tragic stories, going back as far the dawn of the movies.

Huckabee, one the many Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination, said a deal with Iran would march Israelis to the ovens. Ouch. Lots of people are working to distance themselves from that comment. Though some are not.

In one of the most interesting stories I heard on NPR today as I was driving is that “Jihadi John,” a Kuwaiti born British citizen who fell in with IS, is now on the run from IS. He was responsible for some of the worst of the beheadings. Now that he has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi, he apparently feels his value to IS has diminished and he is fleeing for his life. Prime Minister David Cameron so wants to bring him to justice…

The humidity has slipped away and it is remarkably pleasant sitting on my deck. A while ago mosquitoes began to plague me. I went to my iPhone and went to my apps and set off the mosquito repellant app and they actually have disappeared, hounded away by a noise I can’t hear but which makes them really unhappy. Have not seen a mosquito since I activated it.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India, and the foremost promoter of both its nuclear and space programs, died today. He is a personal friend of my friend, Howard Bloom, writer and theorist. Howard has been in my life since 2008 or so, maybe earlier. A producer friend introduced me to him. He has had a remarkable life. He was a public relations maven and handled Michael Jackson, Queen, Mellenkamp, you name it, back in the 70’s and 80’s, Bloom was the man for the big groups and individuals.

He’s amazing. So apparently was Kalam, who died while giving a speech. Not a bad way to go.

The sun is beginning to set. It is a perfect night in Claverack. Soft, cool breezes are beginning to blow across my land. The creek no longer is so brilliantly reflecting the trees; the sun has fallen too low for that.

The world is not content. I am.

Letter From New York February 27, 2010

February 28, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

As I begin to write this, I am watching the 2010 Winter Olympics – as I have done often during the last two weeks. It has been interesting to me that I have spent so much time on this Olympics, more than I have on any other. I have asked myself frequently why I have become so engaged with this event? Certainly I can’t remember any other Olympics in which I have become so engaged.

Perhaps it is because the U.S. is doing well and, God knows, we could use some good news – it has been pretty unremittingly awful for a long time now. Or is it that I am so aware of winter this year, writing while I am watching the Olympics and while the Northeast is struggling through another brutal winter storm, making me hyper aware of winter and its challenges.

Perhaps it is that having been in meetings back to back from the time [it seems] I have brushed my teeth in the morning until the time I have brushed my teeth at night, I wanted something that had nothing to do with anything else I was doing – escape. The Winter Olympics provided me with that, thank God.

There was a lot to escape from – the back-to-back meetings, for example. And then there was the former coffee cart worker who pleaded guilty this week to conspiring to blow up a bomb on a subway here in New York. The morning I heard that on the radio I didn’t get on the subway, a visceral response to an admitted threat. I was, for a moment, afraid. No wonder bobsled racing seemed interesting.

I had my favorites in Women’s Figure Skating. I wanted what was the actual result – the wonderful Korean for Gold, the magnificent Japanese for Silver and the very brave Canadian Joannie for Bronze, she who ice danced to a medal despite the death of her mother at the outset of the Games.

I had no idea who Lindsey Vonn was prior to these Games; same for Apolo Ohno – had no idea he had won Gold in Torino. Now I do. And I am following him now. All of this is a bit of a mystery to me – how did I and why did I become so engaged in these Games?
It was because I wanted escape. Escape from the back-to-back meetings. Escape from the man who wanted to bomb the subways. Escape from the unrelenting reality of the winter storms that have clogged the Northeast. Escape. Not a bad thing, I think.

The Olympics are reality, a reality as real as the snow and slush that dominate the streets of New York tonight. Men and women pushing themselves to the edge of what they or any human can do. It is inspiring to watch, humbling to see, awe inducing at the end. It has been an inspiring spectacle to watch. And a great escape from the endless meetings.

Letter From New York February 16, 2010

February 16, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

As I begin to write this, it is the end of the long President’s Day weekend, following on Valentine’s Day. Now the origin of Valentine’s Day, as I heard it recounted on NPR, goes something like this. There was a priest named Valentine who, during the reign of Claudius II, performed marriages even though the Emperor, for whatever reason, had decided no one should be getting married so he forbid it. Valentine got caught and thrown into prison and was sentenced to death by being beheaded [or clubbed to death, I’ve heard both].

While in prison he got friendly with the jail keeper’s daughter and before being led out to be beheaded [or clubbed to death], he left a note for her signed “Your Valentine.” It was February 14, 269 that he met his fate and February 14th has become Valentine’s Day – a day to celebrate love.

My Valentine’s Day celebration was punctuated by finding roses at my doorstep when I got home on Friday night, a remembrance from my friend Christine Olson, who gathered from the universe by some great sensitivity that I could use a bit of an uplift this Valentine’s Day. I spent Friday night arranging them in their vase and finding a place of pride for them in the cottage. It was, for me, the perfect uplift.

And the spirit of the day was carried through the weekend, with a surprising number of people wishing each other Happy Valentine’s Day.

Against the good spirits of the Holiday, the world itself was not so love filled. The largest NATO offensive since the invasion of Afghanistan itself was happening there, seeking to rout the Taliban from Helmand province – an adventure that seemed to be progressing well, despite the number of IED’s left everywhere as welcoming gifts for the soldiers.

Iran continues its mad plunge toward nuclear arms and Secretary Clinton has indicated that she thinks that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship. Yes, could well be given all that we’ve seen there since the last elections there. In the meantime, the world can’t seem to come to a consensus on how to respond to Iran and so they continue their mendacious ways.

Iraq, which is slowly taking control of its own security, is beset by recent bombings, with female suicide bombers making their mark, bedeviling that country’s efforts to climb back into civil stability.

The Winter Olympics have begun, with shadows. A young Georgian luge team member was killed in a practice run, casting a pall across the Games, which have been suffering from a surfeit of warm weather, causing delays in some sports as the runs are too slushy for competition. NBC says it will lose a couple of hundred million on the Olympics – the result of a too high bid for the rights when the economy was flush. All the computer modeling didn’t take into account the Great Recession.

So against Valentine’s Day, the celebration of love, there are a lot of things happening in the world that have little to do with love – from the nuclear ambitions of Iran to the suicide bombers of Iraq. It has been said that onstage dying is easy, comedy is hard. On the world stage, hate is easy, love is hard…