Posts Tagged ‘Tombers’

Letter From New York, October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013

Or, as it seems to me…

Usually I write my letters from the bucolic setting of the cottage, on quiet Sunday evenings.  Tonight, however, I am sitting in the Odyssey offices and my fingers got itchy for the keyboard and my mind needed the stretching that comes from putting words to digital paper.

It will be Halloween tomorrow night and I will likely be in the city, surrounded by a borough’s worth of children [and adults] dressed for trick or treat.  I vaguely remember being a child and working Bryant Avenue for a bag full of treats – I didn’t have any tricks up my sleeve.  There is something joyfully innocent in all the ruckus that comes with kids and Halloween.  Huge amounts of sweets will be given out and dentists all over the land will gleefully rub their hands together at the thoughts of the cavities coming.  One woman in North Dakota plans to hand out “fat letters” to obese children.  Now that’s a bummer. 

It is definitely turning nippy here in New York.  We went from a string of impossibly beautiful days to a string of days when the weather could best be described as: eh.  Which mostly describes my mood: eh.

I just passed over the headlines a while ago.  Sebelius has gently self-flagellated in front of Congress, apologizing for the blunders that have brought a harsh spotlight on the Affordable Healthcare Act, aka Obamacare.  She may be forced to resign though so far the President hasn’t demanded a head on a platter.  While she was apologizing the President was defending up in Boston while that state’s former Governor Mitt Romney went on record as blasting AHA once again.

The NSA [National Security Agency] is defending itself even as the revelations of what it’s been doing keep getting bigger.  Seems they are interested in everyone from Angela Merkel down to you and me. Sir Martin Sorrell, head of WPP, one of the biggest ad agencies groups in the world, has gone on record on NPR as saying that all of this has damaged “Brand America,” which it has.  Not irreparably, but damaged none the less, so Sorrell says.

Facebook, of the screwed up IPO, has rebounded and is now trading far above its original price point, making early investors finally happy.  Stocks, in general, are up, if down slightly today.  Happy we have avoided a shut down, the markets are ignoring that this is just a temporary fix and we have kicked the budget can down the road a bit – to past Christmas at least.

Vladimir Putin is, according to Forbes, the most powerful man in the world.  The President of the U.S. is number two.  Does this prove that it’s good to be the dictator?  I believe Angela Merkel of Germany is the fifth most powerful person in the world despite the fact she couldn’t keep the NSA from spying on her cell phone conversations.

We have had a lot of embarrassments lately, haven’t we?  I mean the very public, very bad, simply awful debut of the website of the AHA [Obamacare] and all this spying that the NSA has been doing, exposed by Snowden, who is holed up in Russia with the world’s most powerful man.

There’s good news.  Our deficit is DOWN to $680 billion!  Down to 680 billion.  We’re doing something right, I guess.

While the budget deficit is down, gun deaths went up again as six more people died in a North Carolina shooting today.  It appears to have been a custody dispute gone really wrong.  About 10,000 people have died from gunshot wounds since the Newtown massacre nearly a year ago.  It’s a drumbeat that just won’t stop.

And that’s sort of the way it is today, October 30th.  A bit like the constant line from the Laurel and Hardy movies:  now that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into! We move from mess to mess right now and it would be possible to get pretty discouraged from all of it.  But what else to do?

Vote!  It’s Election Day next Tuesday.  Time to make your voice heard! 

Letter From New York May 31, 2010

June 1, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Over the Memorial Day weekend my brother Joe and his friend Deb came to visit me in the city and we did everything we could to make it a New York weekend. We wandered the city, did a rickshaw ride through Central Park, went to see Jersey Boys on Broadway, went to very good restaurants, Redeye Grill and Capsouto Freres and Café du Soleil. We walked the streets, took taxis here and there and soaked in the beautiful weather.

It was hard not to be thinking of the military this weekend, what with it being Memorial Day and it also being Fleet Week and the city full of sailors and Marines, all marching through the town in crisp uniforms, unfailingly polite and looking oh so young while some, for reasons I can only imagine, also seemed so old, looks in their faces that spoke of what they had seen. One such young man was on the train with me on Thursday morning coming up from Washington, D.C. He was a Marine, carrying his kit with him, a face both impossibly young and impossibly old, eyes that burned, making me wonder what they had witnessed. It was a face that marked itself into my mind and will be with me for a long, long, long time.

We also walked around the area near Ground Zero, seeing the hole from which, slowly, is arising the new World Trade Center. We passed a listing of those who had died there, the first name, whose last name started with a double “a” was actually the son of a friend of my brother’s, a moment that made 9/11 even more real than it already was. We walked up Broadway and stopped at St. Paul’s Chapel, mere steps really from Ground Zero. On that day everything around it was destroyed but it endured. George Washington worshiped there during the months that New York was the nation’s capital. Since 9/11 it has become a shrine to that time, that moment in history. In the days and months following 9/11 it became a place of refuge for those who were working in “the pit.” Men and women would work, stagger to St. Paul’s and sleep in the pews or on the cots that were around the perimeter, each of which was outfitted with a stuffed animal. Food was served, souls were touched, bodies were cared for and human beings met human beings, anchoring the workers in the goodness of the human spirit as they were fresh from working in a place that spoke to the evil that men can do to one another.

It was difficult for me. When Deb asked me a question about where I was, what happened to me that day I found myself choking back tears. It comes that way sometimes – I can speak of 9/11 dispassionately and other times I can’t. I am there, I am back again in all the trauma of that day and the days that followed. I can feel the shudder of the building I was living in that was the result of the impact of the first plane hitting the first building. I can stand again at West Broadway and Spring Street and see the flames from the first hit tower. I am still somewhere in my life waiting for my friend of the time Cheryl to arrive, having walked up from near Ground Zero. I am still in the smoked filled, acrid smelling streets, filled with crowds of refugees and crying, dust covered men and women walking traumatically north.

I cannot get away from all of that day. It lives within my soul. Walking with Joe and Deb through that space brought it back, painfully. And yet it was good that I remembered. It reminded me that Memorial Day was about remembering and I was remembering this Memorial Day weekend, remembering 9/11, remembering that all those young Marines and sailors were serving us in the wars that resulted from that day, remembering that were other wars that have been fought and men and women who had sacrificed in those times.