Posts Tagged ‘Ty West’

Letter From New York 05 12 15 In a world of choices and not so many choices…

May 12, 2015

Once again, when I went to sleep last night, I expected rain today. When I woke it was cloudy but rain was not in the forecast. It’s sunny and warm and summery in the city. I am working from the office of Broderville Pictures, founded by my friend Todd and I’m doing some work for him.

Another friend is helping organize a documentary film festival in China in December and I’ve recommended a few people to him and will see if I can come up with others.

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve been networking with lots of friends and catching up with people. It’s been good. I had lunch yesterday with Ty West, who is producing “Charlie Rose: The Week” for PBS. He is a good friend; another one I met on the train between New York and Hudson.

Today I had my eyes examined and am just beginning to see again after having had my eyes dilated. My eyes have changed a fair amount in the last two years. My left eye is weaker. My right eye is stronger and now I need to go through the painful [for me] process of choosing new glasses.

I am lucky. I live in a world of choices. Too many people must feel like they have no choices when they are living in places like Yemen and Nepal.

Beleaguered Nepal suffered another massive earthquake, killing more, shaking down more buildings, and frightening the population even more. An American helicopter, involved in aid work, seems to have gone down there. The newest quake will make it even more difficult to get the aid to remote villages. Some roads that had been cleared are now filled again with rubble.

Today a ceasefire is to begin in Yemen. In the hours leading up to the ceasefire, the Saudi led coalition bombed Sana’a relentlessly. An Iranian cargo ship is headed there, convoyed by Iranian naval vessels. The UN is suggesting they deliver the aid to a distribution center in Djibouti, an African nation directly across from Yemen. The Iranian convey has everyone nervous. The Saudis are supporting the Sunni side and the Iranians the Shia side. The new UN envoy to Yemen is saying that fighting will solve nothing but that’s what they seem intent upon doing.

No longer having any choices whatever is Ananta Bijoy Das, a secular blogger in Pakistan who was hacked to death on his way to his day job at a bank in Sylhet, in the northeastern part of Bangladesh. He is the third secular blogger hacked to death in that country.

Tomorrow is the day when John Kerry is supposed to meet with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, site of the last Winter Olympics. Putin is supposed to be there; that’s why Kerry is en-route but today the Russians said Putin was yet to be confirmed. Last time Kerry saw him, Putin was three hours late for the meeting.

For the last five years the El Nino effect has been quiet. Now it is rearing its head again with unpredictable results. British forecasters are suggesting it might mean record snow next year in the UK, Australians are saying there might be severe drought in northern Australia. It could mean heavy rains on the US West Coast and its Gulf Coast but may be not enough or soon enough to ease the drought in California. The Australians think it is going to be severe and meteorologists in Canada and the US are suspecting it will be moderate. Wait and see. Weak or strong, it’s coming.

My friend, Lionel, just move to Baltimore to be Vice President of Ad Technology for AOL. Today I woke to the news that AOL had been purchased for $4.4 billion by Verizon, mostly for their ad technology. One business pundit said something like that was pocket change for Verizon and another said it was another bad move by Verizon in the Internet space while others thought it was a very smart move. Time will tell, as they always say.

In the long ago and far away days when I was working in Los Angeles for an Internet start-up, one of my very good friends was dating Sandra Lee, the TV food star.   Later I was best man in his wedding to another woman but during their tenure, I met Sandra a few times. She is now living with Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York. Today she announced she had breast cancer. I wish her well.

The day is beginning to come to a close. I am going up to the Café du Soleil tonight for a bite and then home to read a book.

Letter From New York 04 26 15 Bright day mixed with cloudy news…

April 26, 2015

Last night, most of our train community showed up for Dairo’s 39th birthday party, held in a deconsecrated church in Tivoli, about 30 minutes south of Claverack. It was great seeing old friends, especially ones who aren’t riding the train that often anymore. My friend Ty West was there with his wife, Cathy. Now that he is working in mid-town he takes Metro North into the city rather than Amtrak.

We traded stories of “the old days” of ten years ago before the Great Recession cost so many their jobs. We held parties on the train, great sumptuous feasts of parties, celebrating holidays and special events. We held a particularly raucous baby shower for Kelly and George, complete with blue and red “babytinis.” They had chosen not to know the sex of their child before birth so we had a drink for each potential sex.

Getting home not too late, Lionel and I stayed up for awhile chatting and catching up. He went home and I went to sleep, to wake to a day that was brighter than predicted with dreary news to be consumed.

While I was partying in Tivoli, there was violence in Baltimore as a thousand people came out to protest the death while in police custody of Freddie Gray, whose family appealed for calm.

The situation in Nepal remains dire. Aftershocks have rattled the country regularly, some as large as 6.7, resulting in more avalanches on Everest. People in Katmandu are sleeping in the streets, leaving almost no space for anyone to get around. Katmandu is a village that has grown into a city and is relentlessly crowded and shoddily built. The area affected by the earthquake is home to six million people. Roads have buckled and communications are out, hampering international efforts to bring relief.

The NY Times had many an article this morning on the Nepalese earthquake, all sad.

Here is where you can go to donate to UNICEF, if you should want to: www.unicefusa.org/nepal.

Fighting is escalating again in Yemen. There were bombing raids on Sana’a, the capital. The ex-president has called for peace talks but the current, Saudi Arabian supported President’s Foreign Minister has ruled that out.

In Syria, Assad’s regime is striking back after losing a strategic town yesterday, sending warplanes into bomb. 34 people were killed in a market, with the death toll expected to rise as many were seriously injured. Many were women and children.

In not so violent but still very disturbing news, hackers have been reading President Obama’s email but not the classified ones. Still… The White House is not pointing fingers at anybody but conventional wisdom is suggesting the Russians are the guilty parties.

And while we are thinking about Russia, they have arrested three women for twerking in front of a World War II Memorial. One was sentenced to 15 days in jail; the other two to ten. They were accused of “hooliganism,” the same charged hurled at Pussy Riot a couple of years ago. This is the second arrest in two weeks in Russia for twerking. What I wonder is why would anyone want to imitate Miley Cyrus?

Last night was the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner where President Obama made fun of everyone but mostly of himself. Alfre Woodard, who plays the President on NBC’s “State of Affairs,” said that President Obama “has a wicked sense of humor.”

This week, also in Washington, the Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments about gay marriage. There are a lot of people who will be tuning in closely on this on both sides of the equation. Opponents to gay marriage rallied on the Mall in Washington on Saturday but they are increasingly in the minority. A recent survey mentioned by Voice of America indicates 61 percent of Americans now favor gay marriage.

I have to say, this isn’t something I expected in my lifetime.

But what I have come to expect in my lifetime is that when the dishwasher is full, you have to go empty it. That’s what I am about to do.

Letter From New York April 6, 2010

April 6, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

In praise of community…

The weather over the Easter weekend in New York was storybook perfect, the kind of days that look and feel like they only happen in movies and while I moved through the splendor of them, I found myself ruminating a great deal about Thursday evening, the kick off to the long Easter weekend.

My train community chose that evening, which was also April Fool’s Day, to celebrate, to throw a party to provide a send off for one of our members, Ty West, who will, for a time, not be traveling the train as often and will be depriving his friends and fans of his constant contact. Ty is a producer and has been working on NOW on PBS since I have known him. NOW is no longer going to be in production. Ty is one of those folks who you think of when you hear the phrase, “salt of the earth.” He is a good friend, witty, clever and can be a little salty at times. He is what is known as a “stand up sort of guy.”

Ty appreciates my martinis so when the call came to declare what we were going to do for Ty’s send off party, I declared I’d make a martini. I do ones for all the train events – my personal favorites were the “babytinis” I did for Kelly’s baby shower, small blue and red drinks in honor of the fact they had opted not to know the sex of their child until that child was in their arms. But instead of doing anything fancy, I opted for a traditional martini – Ty likes the traditional martini.

It was quite a gathering of folks. Even the General came down from Albany for it. The General was a General in the Army who, when he retired from the service and went to work for the V.A., opted to remain living in Albany when his job was in New York, so that his wife didn’t have to move away from her grandchildren. So he rode the train from Albany to New York City every day, year in, year out. Another stand up guy who was once on the front page of one of New York’s daily papers as the man they found with the longest commute. When I started riding the train back in 2005 as a real regular, I discovered the community on the train but you didn’t get allowed into that community unless the General accepted you. I rode the train for weeks, an observer of this close knit world of regular Amtrak riders, riding the long rails into the city day in and day out, coming from the far reaches of the Hudson Valley into the city. I began to think of Hudson as the last suburb of New York.

I didn’t get a toe hold into that world until one day the General, struggling with the Crossword from the New York Times asked the café car in general if anyone knew the answer and it so happened I did… That was my entry point into the community. I had something to offer. Not long after came one of the famous Christmas parties on the train and one day the General marched up to me and wanted to know what I was going to contribute. I said I’d make martinis. And in the midst of shaking up a batch at that Christmas party, the General called me by my name and I was, officially, a member of the train community.

It is a community which has meant much to me over the last five years – we are continuous if not constant presences in each other’s lives, held together by long rides on the rails, a Google Groups list and intermittent events like the one for Ty West – affectionately known as the “Tie one on for Ty” party. As we lumbered north, the General stood in the café car and made a small speech. I heard bits and pieces of it. I was at my post, making another batch of martinis but this is what I gleaned from his words:

We’re a bunch of strangers that have been put together by the need to get from one place to another. Because of the length of our commute we have gotten to know each other well. Sometimes we spend more time with each other than we do with our families in a given day. And so, in a way, we have become family.

So, in a way, these people have become family to each other – and to me. Through the email list we learn of triumphs and tragedies and organize reactions to each. Collection was made for a conductor whose daughter had died in Iraq. Organization has been done for birthday parties and seasonal celebrations and events like “Tie one on for Ty.” We follow the travails of Amtrak, much of our lives depend upon what happens with that organization. We, occasionally, will gather off the rails just to enjoy each other – a large extended “family,” a community born on the rails and held together by the common bonds of our human experience.