Posts Tagged ‘The Red Dot’

Letter From Claverack 12 24 2016 Ho Ho Ho…

December 25, 2016

Tonight is Christmas Eve.  The floodlights illuminate the creek in front of me; my trees are lit and Christmas carols are playing on my Echo.  Shortly I will leave to attend Christmas Eve festivities at the Red Dot, closed this evening to the public and home to the party Alana, the owner, has prepared.

Every year the Dot is decorated to the nines.  This year is in honor to Wendy Frost, the artist who helped Alana every year create magic and who passed away during the summer, not long after moving to Florida.

When I was a wee boy, Christmas Eve was Christmas.  It was the night we celebrated and opened presents.  My Juettner cousins would come and we would all frolic in the basement or play games in the living room until it was time for the Christmas Eve feast and then we would rip into our packages.

When they had gone home, we opened our own family presents, then sleepy I would head off to bed while my older siblings and parents attended Midnight Mass.

As things do, the traditions changed and the Juettners ceased coming and things toned down a bit.  My older siblings departed, my brother to medical school, my sister to the convent.  The next Christmases were quiet.

After my father’s passing, it seemed Christmases picked up again after a while.  My brother returned to Minneapolis, post internship, a year in Honduras giving medical care to children and a couple of years in the Air Force.

In college, it was fun to leave where I was living and return to my old bedroom, sometimes with an out of town roommate in tow.

For me, tonight is Christmas.

Christmas Day always seemed a bit anti-climactic.  The big presents had been given and Christmas exhaustion had set in.

Tonight, this Christmas of 2016, I wish all of you who celebrate the holiday, the merriest of Christmases.

It is also the beginning of Hanukkah, which rarely coincides with Christmas but it does this year.  So Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!

I am off to a party, with two quiches and some gag gifts, as Alana requested.

 

May this day be very merry, safe and happy for all of us.

Letter From New York 04 23 2016 Prince is gone and Shakespeare is remembered…

April 23, 2016

On Thursday, I was sitting at Molly Wee, an Irish Pub a block from Penn Station, having lunch with Mark Sklawer, a filmmaker who is working on a film about the music period in the life of Howard Bloom, who is a client of mine.  As we talked, my phone buzzed in my pocket and I took it out to see what was going on.

Both the AP and BBC were sending alerts that Prince had died.  It was shocking as Prince wasn’t ill as far as I knew and still relatively young at 57, younger than me.  We are both natives of Minneapolis though I had left about the time he was beginning his ascent.

What struck the three of us was that the news hit us as we were talking about Howard, who had been Prince’s PR guru at the time of “Purple Rain.”  It was, in fact, Howard who persuaded Warner Bros. to release the film.  After a screening, studio executives were terrified of what they had on their hands and some wanted to kill the film.

It was Howard that convinced them that the film was brilliant and would be a hit.  And he was right. 

The papers on Thursday were filled with paeans to the musical legend, as well they should have been.  He helped turn many a corner and, through it all, remained close to Minneapolis, his place of origin.  He died at his estate in Chanhassen, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis.

Prince Picture

RIP.

It is spring like and the last two days have been singularly beautiful though rain fell Friday evening, the day the Hubble turned 26 years old, sending back glorious pictures of deep space.

Friday, in honor of Earth Day, was a day to go without a car in New York City.  It did seem traffic was lighter.  I used subways to get about.

The weekend will be full of chores, which I will have to accomplish on my own.  “Young Nick,” the young man who helps out every weekend, left today for a week’s vacation.  He’ll be back a week from Saturday.  After all the years of Saturdays when he has helped me, Saturday doesn’t feel like Saturday without a bit of “Nick time.”

Last Wednesday, in my class, students were talking about cyber bullying and how it leads to suicide.  Today, it has been reported that suicide has increased in this country by 24% since 1999.  I am sure someone will do a correlation between the rise in suicides and the rise of Social Media.

Barak and Michelle Obama attended on Friday a dinner at Kensington Palace hosted by Princes William and Harry after he had  lunched with the Queen, who is celebrating her 90th birthday.  She has reigned longer than any other British monarch and is the oldest monarch in history.  Good on her! 

In popular news, “Live with Kelly and Michael” has been in turmoil.  Kelly was informed this past week that Michael Strahan, her co-host, is leaving the show to become a full time co-host on “Good Morning, America.”  Feeling blindsided and hurt, Kelly did not appear on Wednesday.  She is supposed to be off for a few days to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary to soap star Mark Consuelos.

However, she has now announced she will return on Tuesday as scheduled and it will be interesting to see how they interact.

Today is a brilliant day, sun out but with a chill wind.  Following my Saturday round of the Farmer’s Market, I went to The Red Dot for brunch, where I worked on the final exam for my class, “Media & Society” after finishing my food.

It is a good day; off tonight to dinner with some people I haven’t yet met but with whom I am working on a project for the community radio station, WGXC.

While I write this, the world is still absorbing the death of Prince, that North Korea has apparently fired a ballistic missile from a submarine, that 8 relatives were killed execution style in Ohio, including a woman lying next to a four day old baby and markingß today, the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death at the age of 52.

He wrote 37 plays that will live on and on and on…  He wrote about life and no one will tire of that…

Letter From New York 11 18 15 Happy Birthday to me…

November 18, 2015

The day started grey; it looks like it will end grey but at lunchtime the world was flooded with sunlight and happiness, the way I was feeling.

Today is my birthday.  I’m a year older and, I think, a year wiser.  It has been an awfully contemplative year this past year.  When I was in high school, I had my “gang” and we’d laugh and say: live quick, die young and have a good looking corpse.

Unfortunately, some did just that but most of have lived on, exiting middle age for the last act, working to shape this phase of our lives with as much care as we worked to shape other periods in our lives, whether we succeeded or not, we attempted.

At 6:00 AM my friend, Nick Stuart, texted me with what he wanted to be my first “Happy Birthday” of the day.  It was.  I went right back to sleep.  Later, up and having my first coffee, another friend, Mary Dickey, called and we chatted, planning a time to see each other.

I’m here for the rest of the week, snuggling into my cottage.  Right now, I’m listening to jazz and looking across the table, out to the creek.  The trees have shed their leaves and the branches claw nakedly to the sky.

It is not the winter of my discontent.  If anything, I am more content than I have been in my life while watching life unfold in its mysterious ways.  Next January, I will be teaching a class, “Media and Society.”  I’m excited.

My friends Jeffrey and Joyce sent me a message today:  I hope today is a reminder of all good things that have and can happen.

And I am reminded of all the good things that have happened and may well still happen.

As I drove through the countryside, my friend Dairo phoned and we’re meeting for a martini in Hudson, a completely unexpected delight.  Alana Hauptmann, proprietress of The Red Dot, phoned me while I was eating at Relish to sing me “Happy Birthday” and to tell me to stop on by as she had a present for me.

My inbox overflows with messages of good wishes on this day.   Every other second it seems, a new Facebook birthday wish pops up.  This is one of the wonderful things about Facebook.  I’ve heard today by phone, text, email and Facebook from at least a 150 people wishing me well, not to mention the snail mail cards I have collected.

I have not paid much attention to the world beyond me today.  I know there have been developments in Paris and I have not followed them. 

It is my birthday and I am allowing myself to be joyful and whimsical and inattentive to the problem’s of the world.  Time enough tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to me!

Letter From New York 11 02 15 Working on not to being a cranky old man…

November 2, 2015

Henry Hudson.  Hudson River. Russian Jet Crash. Halloween. The Red Dot. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  Amazon Prime. Benedict Cumberbatch.  Hamlet. Ophelia. European Refugee Crisis. Sumte, Germany. Nazi. Turkey. Erdogan.

I am gliding south on the 8:45 out of Hudson, down to the city for a few meetings this week and then will head back Wednesday evening. The Hudson River is still and mirrors the muted colors of fall. A barge makes its way north to Albany. In certain stretches, it is possible to imagine that this was the way the river looked when Henry Hudson first sailed north.

It is so placid a scene that it is almost possible to detach from the battering of the news.

It has been two days since I have written; Saturday afternoon I was having a late, for me, brunch at the Red Dot before heading home to service any Trick or Treaters. Several people were sitting not far from me, chatting rather loudly and raucously about their summer exploits of jet skis and pool parties, dancing and dating.

At the moment, I was reading the New York Times and was feeling very aware of the various crises that are engulfing the planet. A Russian jet had crashed in the Sinai earlier that day. More had drowned in the Aegean and Germany is preparing to settle nearly a million refugees within its borders.

The conversation happening not far from me grated on me. Unreasonably, I wanted to walk over and say to them something like: you fools! Don’t you know serious things are happening?

I didn’t.

They were having a harmless conversation. I have had harmless conversations about silly things, too. And I am also aware of what is happening in the world. It bothered me at the moment because on the Saturday of Halloween it seemed no one was paying attention except me. I was having a cranky old man moment.

Last year, there had been a few Trick or Treaters. This year, there were none. As I waited, I watched “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” from Amazon Prime. When I finished, I went off to bed to read a book, soon falling into the arms of Morpheus.

Early up on Sunday, I went off to Christ Church, slipping away after communion because I had a ticket for an HD version of Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Hamlet.” He and the production were superb. It is the first time I have witnessed a production that indicated that Ophelia was fragile even before the Prince of Denmark’s attentions.

At home, afterwards, I did some paperwork and read some more and am now heading down to the city.

The Russian airliner is much in the news; it apparently broke up in mid-air and it is being posited that some “external event” resulted in the loss.

In Germany, one small town of 102 individuals is being asked to take in 750 refugees. The Mayor of Sumte’s wife thought it was a joke when they were first notified. It has energized a youngish local Nazi who has a seat on the town’s council: it will be good for his brand of politics he thinks. This is a harbinger of the challenges facing Germany and those challenges also threaten Angela Merkel’s position as Chancellor.

Erdogan has won a big victory in Turkey, giving him the impetus to push forward once again with a plan for an executive presidency, not that it has been a de facto executive presidency since Erdogan took that office. He has been playing the role of both Prime Minister and President as he feels like it, a bit like the arrangement Putin had with Medvedev.

The day, which began gloriously, has turned grey as we have moved south. Mild temperatures are expected this week, a last gasp of Indian summer.

Loving to entertain, I am having two sets of people in for dinner this week.

We will talk, I’m sure, of silly things and serious matters and I will do my best to not be a cranky old man.

Letter From New York 10 23 15 From looking Presidential to Hurricane Patricia

October 23, 2015

Shakespeare. Relish. Benghazi. Hillary Clinton. Rep. Jim Jordan. Trey Gowdy. Fox News. Jeb Bush. Donald Trump. Ben Carson. Iowa. Politics. Paul Ryan. Tea Party Republicans. Obamacare. Assault with a carrot. AIDS. Turing Pharmaceuticals. Imprimis Pharmaceuticals. China rate cut. Pakistan bombing. Kurd hostages. Nigerian mosque killings. Hurricane Patricia. The Red Dot. Lionel White.

Outside it is a brilliant, perfect fall day, demanding a warm jacket but not necessarily needing to be zipped, a clear blue sky filled with sunlight that ricochets off the golden leaves. Turning a corner this morning near a pond, my breath was taken away by beauty; sun glinting off water and multi-colored leaves, all ablaze.

My friend Lionel is up from Baltimore, tending to his house across the street from mine. We had lunch together at Relish before doing errands after having lazy coffee moments this morning while he helped get my printer back online.

I have been having a time with my electronics this past week. Ah well, everything now seems back in working shape. As Shakespeare said: alls well that ends well.

Not perhaps ending well for the Republicans, probably much to their chagrin, was the eleven-hour grilling of Hillary Clinton on Benghazi. Today’s reports have been mostly favorable to the former Secretary of State and not very kind to the Republicans on the Committee.

It never looks very good when angry white men spend eleven hours yelling at a woman, and one who maintains composure when they do not. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio looked particularly bad, followed close behind by the Chairman, Trey Gowdy. One source said all that happened was that for eleven hours Hillary Clinton managed to look presidential while the Republicans didn’t even look Congressional.

And even Fox News had to acknowledge she did a pretty good job, which must mean she must have been spectacular.

In other political news, Jeb Bush is cutting his campaign spending and concentrating on early voting states. In Iowa, Ben Carson is leading Donald Trump, partly because he is evangelical and Trump is not.

With two more Republican groups signaling their support, Paul Ryan has agreed to run to serve as the next Speaker of the House but that doesn’t mean he is making Tea Party Republicans happy. He isn’t meeting their demands. One of which, according to The NY Times, translates, once stripped of arcane language, to: shut down the government.

Ah, Washington! That’s the place where Congress just voted to gut Obamacare, a move that will likely stall in the Senate.

A 14-year-old Virginia schoolgirl is facing assault and battery charges for throwing and hitting in the forehead her teacher, with a carrot. It is the center of much back and forth on the Internet.

AIDS is a devastating disease. Many of us lost friends and relatives to it in the 1980’s and 90’s. Then came drugs that did not cure but did extend lives and allowed people to live productive lives. It has become a disease that is not curable but is treatable.

Turing Pharmaceuticals sells one of those drugs, Daraprim. Recently, it jacked the price from less than $14.00 a pill to $750.00 a pill. A San Diego firm is going to offer an alternative to Daraprim for $1.00 a pill. You go, Imprimis!

The stock market soared today as China unexpectedly cut interest rates again, the sixth time in less than a year. The European Central Bank is thinking about another cut and The Fed probably won’t raise interest rates until early 2016.

Lest we forget, fighting continues all over the Mideast. An American soldier died in a raid to rescue Kurdish hostages in Iraq. Syria is still fighting. 22 Shiites died in Pakistan in a bombing while over in Nigeria, 42 were killed at mosques by suicide bombers.

The biggest hurricane ever, Hurricane Patricia, is about to hit western Mexico, right around the resort city of Puerto Vallarta. Tens of thousands are being evacuated. Its effects will be felt all the way into Texas, where flooding is expected.

The sun is setting and I am shortly off to The Red Dot for dinner with Lionel, where we expect to meet some friends. There is a pink tinge to the sky so that harbors well for tomorrow’s weather. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight…”

Letter From New York 06 02 15 Muddling through…

June 2, 2015

It’s been downright chill in New York City today and I wish I had worn a wool sweater instead of a cotton one. I am heading this evening up to Hudson; Alana, my friend who is the owner of my favorite bistro, The Red Dot, is having a special Japanese meal at the restaurant and asked me if I could be there for it. Hard to say no to such a good friend so I am up tonight and back tomorrow.

When I get to the cottage, I may have to turn on the heat, as it will be chiller there than it is in the city. If I weren’t coming back to the city in the morning, there’d be a Franklin stove fire in my future.

What is not in the future for Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, is more time as head of FIFA. I subscribe to VICE News and its news of the resignation popped up on the upper right corner of my screen while I was on a conference call. The paper trail is moving closer to him in regards to the corruption scandal. His right hand man, Jerome Valcke, apparently was a recipient of a letter that links him to the alleged $10,000,000 bribe for the World Cup to be held in South Africa.

Bruce Jenner has now officially become Caitlyn Jenner, doing so with a splash in a Vanity Fair spread. She gained a million twitter followers more quickly than Obama did when he launched @potus. As someone who remembers her when she was Bruce and the triumphant Olympian, I can only imagine what a journey this has been for her. So public a life, so private a journey.

Last night on the Yangtze River, a river cruise ship named the Eastern Star or Oriental Star, depending on how you translate its Chinese name, was sailing through a storm when high winds struck and the ship capsized. So far, only fourteen people have been found alive of the 456 aboard. One survivor, a cruise director, floated fifty miles downriver before rescue.

There was no distress signal and the first realization of the disaster was when a few survivors reached shore and raised the cry.

Most of the passengers were elderly Chinese on holiday.

The Patriot Act, with some revisions, was resuscitated on the Hill today and will go to President Obama for his signature, which he has pledged to do. I have some mixed feelings about this. I have friends who rant that the Patriot Act has turned us into a police state while others are equally adamant that it is absolutely necessary for protection.

The process has elevated Rand Paul who worked against it and weakened Mitch McConnell, who thought it should be passed without revisions. Somewhere along the line he miscalculated the misgivings of his fellow Senators.

To me, whatever you think of Snowden, he revealed some unsavory aspects to our spying that have left, at least me, uncomfortable.

The situation in Syria is deteriorating. IS has begun to encroach upon Aleppo and non-IS affiliated rebels are accusing Assad of using his air force to support IS against them. Which in the convoluted realities of Syria today might actually be true.

A meeting of anti-IS countries concluded a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry attending by video link. Everyone agreed more needs to be done but didn’t seem to come up with any concrete steps beyond muddling along in the same way they currently are.

Which is what we’re doing, muddling along through one of the great crises of our time.

The EU seems to be muddling along through the Greek crisis, with more meetings scheduled for tomorrow. The EU financial ministers can’t seem to get their arms around the political realities on the ground in Greece.   Greece is living through a Great Depression experience and is desperate, which is why Tsipras was so overwhelmingly elected. He promised to change that and Greece needs some positive changes.

In a startling rewrite to biology books, the endangered smalltooth sawfish, has found away to avoid extinction. They have now seemed to have mastered “virgin births.” Seen occasionally in animals in captivity, it is not entirely unknown but what happens to men when women can experience “virgin births?”

On the train going up north, it has been a frustrating ride. North of where we were, a Metro North train had become disabled and we waited thirty minutes for the track to be cleared. I will probably arrive in time for dessert. But so it goes when you travel the rails, in America.