Posts Tagged ‘Robert Murray’

Letter From Claverack 10 21 2017 Dinner parties and politics…

October 21, 2017

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Last Saturday night was one of the most magical nights ever at the Cottage.  Six friends from the train community came over for dinner and it entirely worked.  The food was good, the menu seemed to please everyone, the wine pairings were appreciated, the dinner setting seemed to please, the conversation flowed.  People arrived around 7 PM and left around 1:15 AM and it felt as if no time had passed.

We worked our way from cheese and crackers, to radishes with butter and kosher salt to a potato and leek soup, followed by a salad with beets and candied pecans, salmon filets with a mustard mayonnaise sauce, finished by a chocolate ganache meringue cake.  We laughed and rejoiced in each other’s company.

Early on, it was determined we would avoid politics which is a choice that only limits and does not eliminate the conversation.  How could it be otherwise?  So much is going on that the tumult cannot be completely ignored but it can be limited.

One person reminded us that Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the war years, had a weekly cocktail party for Cabinet members and aides and the one thing they could NOT talk about was the war.  Anything but the war.  Their children, their gardens, their hobbies, fly-fishing but not the war.  The President said something like:  we need to have lives.

Saturday night, for the most part, we chose to have lives.  We talked of upcoming plans, recent vacations, upcoming things that would bring us joy.  But not politics. Much.  Just a little.

The week just past had been tumultuous.  Healthcare is in shambles and Trump’s order to stop paying subsidies will be challenged in courts by some states, including New York.  Some New York congressmen, Republicans, are suddenly calling for bi-partisan action to fix the ACA.

The president is not going to certify the Iran agreement and is throwing it to Congress to fix it while the Secretary of State seems to contradict the president on the Sunday morning talk shows.  Our allies in Europe are scratching their heads about us and how to absorb that a far-right party seems to be coming to power in Austria.

Reading the papers today, everyone seemed to have advice on how to mentally escape the chaos.  Watch and read Harry Potter again.  Rom-coms are just the thing.  Murder mysteries are quite a diversion.

And we do need diversion.  My mind hurts more than it doesn’t.  Every morning I get up, read the NY Times, the Washington Post and WSJ and find myself going what the…

Sometimes I avoid the headlines until later in the day, particularly if I have things to do.

If I don’t, I fear a kind of madness.

 

This epistle was started last Sunday evening.  Monday morning found me wretchedly ill; the vague sense I wasn’t well the week before suddenly became the reality.  Monday and Tuesday were devoted to sleep and recuperation, Wednesday my radio show.  It had been my intention to go to the city on Wednesday for dinner with a friend and I could not quite muster the energy, fearful of pushing too far, too fast.

And now I am home from a meeting, curled up in the cottage, finishing a letter started nearly a week ago.

The madness goes on and I do my best to maintain my balance.  My friend Lynn speaks frequently to me of her difficulty of maintaining balance these days; she feels assaulted on a daily basis.

Some Facebook friends post things that cause me to wonder why they are my Facebook friends as we are so politically divergent?  One California friend posted something and asked for comments.  All I could say was: ah, I don’t know what to say.

Harvey Weinstein, producer extraordinaire and, allegedly, serial sexual predator, has fallen from grace as woman after woman after woman has come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.  He has been ejected from The Academy of Motion Pictures Sciences; the Producer’s Guild is working on doing the same.  The TV Academy is considering it.  Organizations are making moves to strip him of honors.

Is this a turning point for Hollywood?  Perhaps.  Certainly, it is putting out notice that the game is changing.

Mr. Trump is involved in another brou ha ha with Gold Star families.  John Kelly has Trump’s back, which I find interesting.

The common wisdom seems to be that our president can’t help himself from wounding himself and, from my vantage point, it seems plausible.

Without invoking his name, both George W. and Obama have delivered rebukes to the president.  Wowza!  W and Clinton have found themselves friendly.  Will the same happen with W and Obama?  Time will tell.

Time to say good-bye for this missive but not before circling back to last Saturday’s dinner which may well have been the best the cottage has ever seen.

Thank you, Robert and Tanya, James and Susan, Maria and Dairo.  You have made your mark on the history of a special place.

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 06 19 2017 An Attitude of Gratitude

June 19, 2017

It is the evening of June 19th; Father’s Day is beginning to fade as is Pride Weekend in Hudson.

Pride

An on again, off again rain falls and an hour or two ago the sky was nighttime dark.  Cosseted in the cottage, a martini by my side, I watch the raindrops splatter on the Claverack Creek.

It’s interesting.  I was very sensitive over the weekend, a little raw.  When I woke Saturday, I was in an unexpectedly foul mood and at the end of the day I took myself home and had a talk with myself.

I felt raw because it was Pride weekend and I woke acutely aware that I am not part of a unit and that I haven’t been very good at dating.  The last one felt like I had entered a reality version of Sartre’s “No Exit.”

I am alone and normally it doesn’t bother me and over the weekend it did.  Hudson is a town of couples and I am not coupled, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage. You’re the odd one at the dinner party.

And, then, Sunday, it was Father’s Day.  Always a hard day for me.  I did not have a great relationship with my father.  He was good to me the first few years and then, he wasn’t.  The last seven years of his life he had almost nothing to say to me.  The night before he died, I was being a squirrely twelve-year-old and he angrily sent me to my room.

It was the last exchange I had with him.  The next morning, he had a stroke and died.  So, I have spent my life trying to read the runes of the little time I had with him.

Okay, so it’s problematic.  Parental relationships are problematic.  Maybe mine a little more than others and mine probably a lot less than others, too.

It’s just it pops up on Father’s Day.

And I know so many good fathers; I sent text messages to them today.  My godson, Paul, among them.  He has two children, a girl, Sophia, and a boy, Noah.  I don’t know them well and know enough to know they are interesting children and that’s because they have wonderfully invested parents.

And then there is Tom Fudali, who is Paul’s father, who made me Paul’s godfather and I am eternally grateful for that because Paul is not my son and he is my godson and our relationship is something I had hoped for and didn’t think would happen and has.

And there is my friend, Robert Murray, father of five, who exchanged texts with me while watching his son, Colin, play soccer in New Windsor.  Robert reminds me of my oldest friend, Sarah’s, father, John McCormick, who had six children and made their home the place to be.  On bitter Minnesota winter nights, the neighborhood would gather and skate on the rink in John’s backyard.  They are some of my most magical childhood memories.

And then there is Kevin Malone, Sarah’s son, who has always thought of me as his uncle even though I am not actually his uncle but we have an avuncular relationship that is so effing wonderful!  He is not a father and he is wonderful and is a jewel in my life.

So, I was being self-indulgently depressed, and I need to focus in on all the wonderful things which go on in my life and all the wonderful people who are in it.

In the craziness that has been in my mind this weekend, I am so glad I wrote this as it reminds me of all the things for which I need to remind myself that I need to have an “attitude of gratitude.”

In Memoriam:

I read today that Stephen Furst had died.  He gained fame in “Animal House” as Flounder, went on to “St. Elsewhere” and “Babylon Five” and directed movies and television shows.  For a time, in the 1990’s, we were friendly.  He was a gracious, gentle soul, doing his very best in life.  RIP. I remember you fondly.

Otto Warmbier, the young student returned from North Korea in a coma, has passed away.  It is heartbreaking. At least he was at home, with family.

 

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

November 22, 2016

It is November 21st.

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

And that was okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join me on the barricades!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From New York 04 29 2016 Protesting Trump to bombing Aleppo…

April 30, 2016

The day began with a conversation over coffee with my friend Robert Murray about Wednesday’s remarks by former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, that Ted Cruz was “Lucifer in the flesh” and that he “was the most miserable son of a bitch” that Boehner had ever worked with.

Ouch!  Gloves off, totally off.

Boehner, apparently, has never forgiven Cruz for his part in the 2013 government shutdown. 

We discussed how stunning it was that such a prominent Republican has said such harsh words about a front runner for the Presidential nomination of their own party.

It is probable that Trump will be the Republican Presidential nominee and Boehner said that he would vote for him, if he was, which is far short of an enthusiastic endorsement. 

Is there anyone we are enthusiastic about in this election?  I don’t think so.

At the Republican Convention in California, there was a tense stand-off between Trump protesters and police as hundreds stormed the convention in protest of Trump.  Railing at the man doesn’t some to be doing much good.  He is the juggernaut the Republicans did not expect.

To my surprise, though it shouldn’t be, 75 years ago “Citizen Kane” premiered and changed movies forever.  Lili St. Cyr, last of the great strippers, who I knew in Los Angeles, briefly had an affair with him while he was making the movie.  Filmmaker after filmmaker has given him homage in their own films and his legend will live on.

Obama is seeking to shore up his legacy, if not his legend, with interviews about his years as President.  I suspect, though I know many will not agree with me, that history will be kinder to him than his contemporaries.

Prince, recently dead, had a bad hip and being a Jehovah’s Witness, was not going to have a replacement.  He had been given pain pills to help and it may be that they played a part in his demise.  Police have obtained a search warrant for his home and have raided a Walgreen’s Pharmacy where Prince had his prescriptions filled.  Results from his autopsy will be available in a month or so.  As he died without a will, it will be an epic battle, probably, over his estate, including all the songs he never released.

In Syria, the fragile truce has frayed and Aleppo has returned to full scale war.  A hospital was bombed and the fatalities rise.  Secretary Kerry has been on the phone with Lavrov of Russia, working to get some sort of end to the tragedy.

It is being wondered if Syria’s President Assad has been dealing with IS, buying its oil.  Which would certainly give another wicked twist to the tragedy in Syria.

The Romans, in their day, ruled Syria and Spain and today, in Seville, in Spain, a group of workers repairing water pipes found 19 amphora or jars filled with Roman coins from the time of Constantine — the Emperor who embraced Christianity.  The find is worth millions of Euros.

While all these things go on, I am now back at the cottage,   There is a fall like chill in the air so I have lit a fire in the Franklin Stove and cranked up some jazz from Amazon Prime Music.  It is cozy and comfortable, a contented Friday evening.

The creek at twilight tonight…

Creek at twilight 04 29 2016

Letter From New York 09 02 15 Deliciously happy while refugees flee…

September 2, 2015

It’s been a warm but not unpleasant day in New York. The sun glittered down on the city and people moved about without seeming to be too uncomfortable though there was one man who got on the 1 train with me whose shirt was drenched. As I was walking up to the subway to head to my first appointment, I was thinking I was deliciously happy. Everything in my universe seemed quite right.

Of course, it isn’t. Since my friend, Robert Murray, mentioned it, I have noticed that there seem to be more beggars on the streets of New York this year. For months, Mayor DeBlasio has been downplaying homelessness as an issue. He has apparently realized it is a problem; the deputy mayor in charge of the issue, Ms. Barrios-Paoli, announced her resignation this week and more funds have been allocated for mental health care for the homeless.

The Syrian Crisis went viral today when its intensity and tragedy were captured in photographs of a drowned Syrian Kurd washed up on the shores of Turkey after failing to reach the Greek Island of Kos. He was three years old. His brother, five, also was lost. There are eleven million Syrian refugees, half the total of that country’s population.

Here is the picture if you would like to see. It broke my heart.

https://twitter.com/LizSly/status/639042438984699904

It makes the New York crisis seem small.

Chaos continues in Budapest as migrants attempt to make their way to Germany. For the second day in a row, trains have not run. Many migrants hold tickets but are not being allowed on the trains. EU officials continue to attempt to cope.

Greece, stuttering along under a caretaker government until elections on September 20th, is facing a huge crisis at a time it can least afford it. Kos is only a few miles from Turkey but the journey is dangerous and will become more so with the autumn.

IS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a mosque in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. At least 28 people are dead. I wonder how history will interpret this orgy of Muslim killing Muslim? It makes me think I should study the Hundred Years War; Christians were killing Christians in fierce numbers during that conflict.

I confess I don’t understand it.

I don’t understand Kim Davis who is the County Clerk in Kentucky who continues to refuse to give marriage licenses to gay couples. [Or anyone for that matter.] She has been married four times, twice to the same man. She found Jesus four years ago. When elected to office she pledged  “[I] will be the very best working clerk that I can be and will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.”

That she hasn’t done.

Someone launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for her. So far, it’s not raised a single dime.

Tomorrow she and her staff go to court to explain why she/they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court.

In another court matter, a Baltimore judge refused to throw out the cases against the policemen indicted in the death of Freddie Gray. His death set off days of riots in Baltimore. In a win for the defense, the cases will be tried separately, something the prosecution wanted. Baltimore has cancelled all leaves for policemen during this period though early protests have been mostly peaceful.

In San Antonio, controversy continues over the death of Gilbert Flores. Video apparently showed him with his arms up though he may have been holding a knife. It’s a stretch, hence the controversy, that holding a knife in a hand upraised in a surrender signal, constituted a real and present danger to the police that were present.

Outside my window, the day is shading gray and I’m going off to get some food at Thai Market and then head home to read. I’ve taken to falling asleep in bed, reading off my Kindle. It’s a nice way to slip into the arms of Morpheus.

Letter From New York 08 24 15 Of market crashes and treasures ruined…

August 25, 2015

The day started peacefully, coffee on the deck, a reading of the New York Times which presaged the market fall today, with a good article about hanging on, breathing deep and not panicking.   It was that kind of day. I was getting ready to go into a meeting when I had an alert from the AP that the market plunged 1000 points at the open.

With that in my mind, I walked into my meeting and did my best to push that out of my consciousness and center myself in the moment. I’m not sure anything will come of it but the local community college, Columbia Greene, is interested in me as a potential adjunct professor. Their enrollment is down but they won’t really know until the end of next week when open registration ends. They seem to be considering me for two potential positions, Public Communications and/or Intro to Journalism.

There isn’t much pay involved but I would love to go back to the classroom. We’ll see but it has been a fun thought with which to play.

So the big news of the day in the conversations around me is the Dow’s Dive, which follows a dive of similar proportions on Friday.

But that’s not the only news of the day. The Dow will go up; the Dow will go down. But the fluctuations, which do affect us, don’t last for millennia. What has lasted for millennia are the ruins of a temple of Baalshamin, until now. IS planted it with explosives and destroyed it. It may have been yesterday or a month ago but it is gone, destroyed. It was part of the ruins of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has seen empires rise and fall, markets rise and crash and it endured. Until now.

Once I walked amongst the ruins of Ephesus and marveled at what they were and Palmyra was so much more. This week, IS beheaded the man in charge of Palmyra’s antiquities and destroyed one of its major temples.

Barbarians walk the earth again.

As I write this, I am in one of my favorite restaurants, Thai Market. It is at 107 and Amsterdam. My friend Lionel, whose New York apartment was not far from here, introduced me to it. I come, about once a week. Some of the staff knows me and it is a good place to come, eat, and write sometimes, as I am doing now.

It is the Chinese slowdown that is so roiling the markets; I thought it would be the Greeks but the market seemed to have, over the years, factored that crisis into its workings. China was not expected.

The Greeks are going through their own drama. Tsipras has resigned, triggering snap elections. Right now an anti-Euro, pro-drachma party is attempting to form a government but without much success. It will be interesting to see what happens in Greece. Tsipras, defiled by some for his U-turn on anti-austerity, is incredibly popular because he represents something “different.”

Also representing something “different” is our Donald Trump.

Howard Bloom, my writer friend, author of “The Lucifer Principle” and three other books, is doing a podcast. The second one taped tonight. I am fresh from that. At the end, we all talked about Trump and Howard posited that he is sending out all kinds of male dominance signals, which are resonating with those who need to have their male dominance plucked up.

It makes some sense.

He holds a resounding lead in the Republican polls and that makes me think Howard may be onto something. The Donald is primal if he is anything.

Three Americans and a Brit have been honored by France with the Legion of Honor for their participation in overwhelming a potential terrorist on a fast train between Amsterdam and Paris. They took him on and subdued him. It prevented a potential tragedy. No one died and no one was critically injured. Bravo!

Ukraine is unsettled even as it celebrates its independence. More trouble will come from there before the year is out.

South Korea and North Korea have reached an agreement to ratchet down their escalating crisis. North Korea has, sort of, apologized for the landmines they placed across the border, which cost two South Koreans soldiers their legs. The South Koreans have agreed to quit their loudspeaker broadcasts across the border. The countries have gone off war footing, a good thing.

And a good thing is that my friend Robert will be coming shortly to join me and we will get some food because I am now very hungry.

Letter From New York 07 17 15 On theft and homelessness at home…

July 17, 2015

It is the end of the week and in about an hour, I will walk the short distance from the office where I work and get on the train to head to the cottage for a full nine days of working from home. I am so looking forward to being there, to doing my work at the table on the deck, to watching the creek flow by while I am on my laptop or reading off my Kindle.

Today is the second sun blessed day in New York, bright, warm and lacking in humidity. I started the day with breakfast with my friend Nick Stuart, catching him before he leaves for a week in Southern California with his daughter, Francesca. Then I worked in the office, lunched at PJ Clarke’s with Maria Santana, a treasured member of the train community.

After lunch, I discovered one of my cards had been cut off. Someone tried to use my number at a Target in Brooklyn. The bank shut it down and I’m glad. Whoever was stealing my numbers was attempting to get away with almost $600.00 in merchandise.

It is a bane of the age, the electronic stealing of our credit card numbers, our identities, and our digital selves that are almost as close to ourselves as our physical selves. Ten years ago someone got my information and opened an account at Home Depot and charged almost $7,000 worth of goods without my knowledge. When Home Depot called me to collect, they realized we’d both been scammed but they were the ones who were taking the financial hit.

Stealing is not in my DNA. Too much guilt goes with it and was never worth it to me. But that’s not the way it is with some; they like the thrill of getting away with it, until, of course, they don’t. The brother of a friend of mine was like that. He went from state to state, scam to scam, until one day my friend had to visit her brother in prison. He never really changed.

It troubles me on some profound level and fills me with disgust. Once, years ago in Rome, I gave some money to beggars and they pickpocketed me. I lost about a 1000 lira but they left me my passport and credit card. My friends said it was ironic I was the one they targeted because I was the one who actually gave their begging hands money.

It was a mother and her little girl. And I suspect the little girl has grown up to be like her mother. It was the life for which she was being trained.

Last night, my friend Robert and I walked through the Garment District to a restaurant for some dinner and to watch a bit of the Tour de France. Robert commented to me that the number of homeless on the streets has begun to rise again. We passed dozens in just a few blocks.

Is the social safety net failing more than before? Are the police not working on the problem because they are annoyed with our Mayor, Mr. DeBlasio?   Robert is right though, when I think about it I have noticed more homeless and mentally ill folks on the streets. I wrote about one yesterday.

It worries me. Help is needed. Where is it?

Letter From New York 07 07 15 Of anniversaries and Quaaludes…

July 7, 2015

The forecast for this afternoon was scattered thunderstorms, dark and gloomy with possible flash floods but… It hasn’t turned out that way, yet! Right now the sun is shining down; it’s warm and more than a little muggy but no torrents of rain have appeared.

Today I started the day with a long conversation over coffee with my friend, Robert Murray, who mentioned that his daughter, Fiona, likes art. I am going to recommend he take Fiona to the John Singer Sargent exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That was what I did after coffee with Robert. I went to the Met, met my friend David Wolf and strolled through a beautiful array of Sargent’s work. He was considered the greatest portrait artist of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. An American born in Florence, he managed to stride both sides of the Atlantic, earning kudos almost everywhere.

One painting caused a Parisian scandal. It showed a woman with one strap of her dress slipping down on her arm. Sargent had to depart Paris for London until the scandal simmered down.

Following our museum experience, David and I lunched at a small French bistro on 86th Street on the east side. I felt quite the boulevardier this morning and then went off to the office and have been grinding through emails in the afternoon.

It is the tenth anniversary of the London suicide bombings that claimed the lives of 52 people, the worst terrorist attack in that city’s history. Two days afterwards, I arrived on a business trip and walked through a city that felt not unlike New York in the days after 9/11, stunned, silent, mourning. As I rode in a black taxi to my hotel, the silence was pierced by a wailing siren as a motorcycle policeman roared by, answering the call of a jittery citizen.

It was a beautiful summer day that day. The normally crowded London streets seemed rather empty. A few days later, on the tube to go to dinner with some friends, a man entered my car, wearing what seemed to be too many clothes for the temperate evening. I was nervous, as was everyone else in the car. He was revealed to be a homeless person. The tension was palpable.

Ah, I spoke too soon. Rain has just begun falling, splattering against the windows of the office where I’m working, big, heavy drops.

ESPN has pulled a game from a Trump golf course as a sign of protest for The Donald’s remarks about Mexicans. It is a celebrity charity tourney held to benefit a foundation that provides cancer help for minorities.

In the world of television, summer scripted series are swooning in the heat, drawing abysmal ratings and giving, I’m sure, some network executives in the television world are having the equivalent of heat stroke.

Subway is having a public relations problem. Jared Fogle, their spokesperson, is being investigated for child pornography. They have suspended their relationship with him.

Bill Cosby is in the spotlight again over his drug and sex scandal as court documents have been released from a case settled out of court where he admits that he gave the woman in the case Quaaludes. Oh my. BET and Bounce TV have pulled re-runs of his program from their schedules.

Greece has until Thursday to put together a new set of proposals for its creditors. They will then hold a meeting on them on Sunday. The IMF came out with a report that states Greece will need some kind of debt relief, causing the other EU creditors to feel a little cranky.

Some of them are beginning to think they need to give Greece some debt relief while the others are demanding a continuation of austerity.

The markets here closed higher while China’s sank some more. The Shanghai index is down 30%, much of it happening while the world was watching Greece. The Chinese are upset with the government for not doing something about it quickly enough.

The original deadline for the Iranian Nuclear talks was June 30, pushed to today and now the deadline is being pushed again so talks can continue. So close yet so far.

Three people got too close to the bulls in Pamplona as the Annual Running of the Bulls and were gored.

Jerry Weintraub, legendary Hollywood producer [“Ocean’s Eleven” among many others] died after his colon ruptured and he suffered two heart attacks. RIP.

The rain has stopped. I am going to use the pause to finish and then head up to the UWS for a bite. I am reading “My Townie Heart” by my friend Diana Sperrazza, who was Exec Producer on a couple of my projects at Discovery. It’s good.

Letter From New York 06 01 15 More musings from grey days…

June 1, 2015

It has been another dark and sullen day and I am a little cranky about that. We went from shorts to sweatshirts in about 18 hours. It was cold and dank at the cottage when I woke this morning, slightly before the alarm was to go off. I went and got my coffee and curled back on the bed, wrapped in my favorite robe, and read the news.

My first reading of the day was an alert that had come in from the BBC about the torture of a 14 year old by IS and I winced when I saw it, the barbarity of it was incomprehensible. IS is forcing children as young as thirteen into service as soldiers. An entire generation is being perverted and the world will be paying the consequences for generations.

Ahmed, the boy, was caught on video by a man who has since deserted IS and Ahmed himself has escaped. But hundreds, thousands, remain and are being taught to be creatures of hate. My mind dazzles.

In the meantime, 41 have died in another IS suicide attack. What draws individuals to suicide attacks? I want to know. I really do.

While IS creates its havoc with suicide attacks, al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, is plotting on how they will take back Ramadi. The meeting is being held in Paris, far from the suicide bombers and the disintegration that is Iraq. The land has run red with blood and it is nowhere near a solution.

And that haunts me nearly every night though it does not infest my dreams. In my last, very colorful dream I was working with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep on a film that neither of them should have been in at the age they were. It was very complicated and I woke up amused.

In my dreams, I would be in Greece, which is where my friend Winn is, sharing photographs of places that I haunted in other times of my life and I remember them fondly. He posted just an hour ago a photo of himself outside of Franco’s, a bar and club on Santorini, a place where I spent many an evening watching the sun set, understanding in those moments of glorious sun fall, why the Greek myths have been so powerful It brings a smile to my face and I am so glad that I have experienced it and am so glad that Winn is experiencing it.

The sun is setting here in New York but you can’t see it because the sun is hidden behind the drab grey clouds that have dominated that last 48 hours. It makes me want to be home, cuddled on my couch with a fire in the Franklin stove with a good British mystery on the television.

Bruce Jenner is making his first appearance as a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair and has chosen the name of Caitlin for himself as he moves from man to woman. What a journey that person must have had in his/her life. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to take it. I saw some photos online today. He/she does not look bad and I wish her/him well as she/he continues this process.

Life is a process. I’m going through my own process right now and sometimes I find it exhilarating and sometimes I find it exhausting. But it is a part of a journey and that is what life is all about: it is a journey, from the moment we are born until the moment that we die.

As the night goes into the grey, I will wrap up. I am going to meet my friend Robert and we’ll have a bite to eat and then I am headed home to the little apartment, where I will read a bit and then fall asleep, to wake in the morning to the next round of news.

Letter From New York 01 20 15 Having a good visit…

February 20, 2015

Train travel has been unpredictable today so to ensure that I am up in Hudson for dinner with my good friend, Paul Krich, I have moved my train up to the 3:15 Empire Service so that I will actually arrive in time for dinner.

I am sitting in the Acela Lounge in Penn Station waiting for my train, hoping that another of my very good friends, Robert Murray, will be making the journey with me. He needs to get home in time for a Soccer League Board Meeting. Always good company, his presence would be a boost but he might not make it until the 4:40. Last night we had dinner and drinks at Thai Market, having a good visit or, as my Australian friends would say, a good “chin wag.”

Waking this morning, it was blistering cold in New York with wind chills of minus eleven. And the heat didn’t seem to be working well last night so it was cold inside and out. I huddled under the covers, reading the Times and drinking coffee, took a long, hot shower and went out to brave the world.

When I reached Penn Station, I treated myself to a bowl of New England Clam Chowder and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at Tracks Restaurant on the lower level and then came up to wait for my train.

In the background, CNN is on the television. They are reporting on three British schoolgirls who have apparently flown to Istanbul with the intention of crossing into Syria to join IS. Their parents are understandably frantic.

My heart goes out to them. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to wake up and find that your daughter has gone off to join IS.

IS has made an art form of their murders and have gained huge attention to them. Also very real is that everyday many are dying from barrel bombs being dropped by the Syrian Air Force, wretched weapons designed to do maximum civilian damage. But they have not gotten the attention that IS has gotten with its gruesome videos. Yesterday, I said they were clever with their messaging.

In breaking news, it appears the Eurozone has come to some sort of agreement with Greece, which is good news for everyone – until we lurch into the next Greek crisis. It may be a case of kicking the can down the road. I haven’t seen any details yet.

Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani declared that Obama doesn’t love America. It has become a bit of a case of “open mouth, insert foot.” Reactions have not been very good though Gov. Jindahl of Louisiana agrees, sort of.

Speaking of Obama, he was at the winter meeting of the Democratic Party, both mocking and criticizing Republicans, being relentlessly upbeat and energizing his party.

In Libya, 45 were killed in IS bombings. In Somalia, some government officials died while saying their prayers, killed by suicide bombers. More Muslims killing other Muslims.

Closer to home, the former First Lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell, was sentenced to twelve months and one day in jail. Her husband, the former Governor, was sentenced to more time than she was.

Brian Williams has resigned from the Board of the Medal of Honor Foundation and is not allowed to make public appearances during his suspension, confirmed by Bob Wright, former Chairman of NBCUniversal and close friend of Williams. A poll has indicated 52% of Americans think he should be given another chance while 40% think he should be canned.

Jeb Bush has hired a top-notch researcher, firming up convictions he is running for President.

SIM card maker, Gemalto, largest in the world has announced its SIM cards were hacked by US and UK intelligence services, a fact revealed in the mounds of documents that surfaced from Snowden. Gemalto wants some answers, not surprisingly.

Riding the train with me tonight is Brian Gallagher, the number 2 man at Amtrak. A gruff, blunt and honest man, I knew him from riding the Empire Corridor for a long time before I knew he was the number 2.

I suspect the train will arrive on time.