Posts Tagged ‘West Point’

Letter From New York 12 10 15 River ramblings…

December 10, 2015

Global warming. Todd Broder. Broderville. Uber. Trump. Goldwater. Lyndon Johnson.  West Point.  Penn Station. Moynihan Station. Grand Central. Union Station. “Newtown.” Odyssey Networks.

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m riding north, leaving the city for the weekend.  It’s the 10th of December and the sky is bright and the temperature is hovering near 60 degrees.

Gallows humor jokes about global warming proliferate.  Burdened with things I am returning to the cottage, I got an Uber to take me to Todd’s office for a call. Chiek, my driver, and I discussed it most of the time between the apartment and office.

He just became an American citizen and so we talked about the election scene.  He said in the six years he has been in America, he’s never seen anything like it.  I must be twice as old as he and I’ve never seen anything like it either.

Trump barrels on, his foot firmly inserted in his mouth, a condition which does not seem to prevent him from topping the Republican polls.  As far as I can tell from newspaper accounts, Republicans are terrified of him and too terrified to do anything about him.

Some are saying that if he is nominated it will be the harbinger of a defeat of the magnitude of 1964, when Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson and was overwhelmingly defeated, taking down much of the party with him.

If that happens, there is a part of me that says they deserve it if they give the nomination to him.

The Republican circus is dismaying me.  And probably most other thinking adults…

We are gliding past West Point, the redoubt looking splendid in the afternoon sun as we move north.

When I got on the train today, I remarked to myself what a depressing place Penn Station is, especially when compared with Grand Central or Union Station in Washington DC.  Those places put a bit of pep in your feet while Penn grinds down the soul.

If I live long enough, they may eventually move train traffic from Penn across the street to what is now being called “Moynihan Station.”  Named after the late New York Senator, Daniel Moynihan, the new station will be forged from the old Post Office, designed by the same architect who built the original Penn, torn down in one of New York’s greatest moments of folly.

I woke up grumpy this morning and made a conscious choice to be happy, to enjoy the day – and I am.  Yesterday, a project I have been working on died with a whimper.

Yesterday, I was surrounded by friends and a dinner held by Odyssey for its Board and friends at which were shown clips from the films they are working on.  “Newtown” has been accepted into Sundance and The White House has asked to see their film on mass incarceration.  Much to celebrate.

But when I got home and the laughter passed, I took a little time to mourn my project, falling asleep wanting my teddy bear.

When I woke, the sadness was still hanging on me so I got a grip on myself and reminded myself that the sun had still risen, it was a remarkable weather day for the 10th of December, that other opportunities will come and there are other project joys to be found in the future.

Letter From New York 11 30 15 Stepping up to hope…

November 30, 2015

Brian Gallagher.  Joe Boardman.  Amtrak. Hudson River. West Point. X-tra Mart murder.  IS.  COP21. Climate Change Conference. Producer’s Guild of America.“Tut” SpikeTV. Christ Church.  Hope.

It’s a grey day, chill and gloomy.  The train is crawling south toward the city.  In front of me is Brian Gallagher, who is the sidekick of Joe Boardman, President of Amtrak, who is sitting across from him.  Brian is by way of being a friend and  I went up to say hello to Brian when I saw him, realized that Boardman was across from him and said hello to him too.  He seems a very shy man, something Brian is not.  Perhaps that’s why they seem to make a good team.

The Hudson River is smooth as a mirror, reflecting the muted colors on the banks above it.

With me I am carrying twenty pounds of textbooks from which I must choose the one I will use in the class I will be teaching at our local community college near the cottage.  It’s challenging and I have to make the plunge by Friday.

That said, I’m excited about teaching the class. 

Waking up around seven, I almost immediately plunged into emails and got lost in them.  Before I drove to the train station, I organized all the Christmas presents I’ve purchased during the year in piles for the person for which they are intended.  With Christmas carols playing, I found myself in a festive mood.

Which is the mood in which I intend to stay.

It was, as you know, a harsh weekend out there.  Our local tragedy was that a woman, working at the X-tra Mart not far from my local grocery store, allegedly went into the restroom, gave birth to a baby boy, strangled him and disposed of his body in a trash bin outside the store and then returned to work.

She is currently in the hospital receiving a mental evaluation.

As is the man who shot dead three in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We’re all a little crazy.  I think it is part of the human condition but these folks are really crazy, in tragic ways.

Crazy zealous are the members of IS, who, I think, honestly believe they are doing what God wants of them.  How you believe in such a crazy God is another question, but they do.

On a brighter note, COP21, the Climate Change Conference, has begun meetings in Paris.  Out of this might come good news, of nations agreeing to work together to cool the planet, which was warmer last year than any other year in recorded history.

That’s important to remember that we’re talking about “recorded history.”  The planet has gone through much colder and warmer times. 

As I am a member of the Producer’s Guild of America, I get screening copies of movies and television shows to watch for judging purposes.  One of them I got was “Tut,” the massive SpikeTV mini-series.  As I was watching, it occurred to me that it is amazing how humans seemed to make a leap toward civilization about 10,000 years ago and haven’t looked back.

The time we have wandered the planet as beings you and I would recognize, has been an incredibly short amount of time.

As I am choosing to be joyous, nature has chosen to support me with a burst of sunshine.  We have just sped past West Point and the sun is glittering off the river water.

Every Sunday that I go to Christ Church, I light a candle for myself, for a friend who is struggling with brain cancer and one for all the things I should be lighting a candle for, like world peace and the eradication of poverty.

I’m older now than I have ever been and will only continue down that path and as age piles upon me [with attendant wisdom, one hopes] I will continue to seek to be grateful for all the wonders of the world, those which I have experienced and the ones which lie ahead of me.

Letter From New York 07 13 15 Thoughts while traveling south by train to New York City…

July 13, 2015

The ride on Amtrak from Hudson to New York is one of the most beautiful train rides in the country, if not the world. There are a couple of bad patches like the gravel pit that seems to go on for quite a while and there is the passage by Sing Sing Prison, ominous, concrete and barbed wire. But 90% of the ride is astounding. Right now I am passing gently rolling hills that look much as they must have when Henry Hudson sailed the river centuries ago.

Opting to come in on a post noon train, I sat on the deck this morning with coffee in hand, listening to the birds sing and reading the New York Times. It was quiet, peaceful and soul soothing.

The markets have bounced up on having a deal with Greece in sight, despite the wariness of some European governments about the sincerity of the Greeks in keeping promises they’re making. There is a long road to go because this is just an agreement to negotiate. But, as someone once said to me, something is always better than nothing.

The Greek banks are still closed and cash is very, very short.

Scott Walker of Wisconsin surprised no one by announcing he is running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. Donald Trump still holds the lead in the polls for the Republican pack.

Chapo Guzman, “El Chapo,” escaped yesterday from a prison in Mexico. A nearly mile long tunnel was dug to his shower in his cell. Slipping in to the shower, he stepped into the tunnel and is now on the run. This is his second escape from a maximum-security prison. Last time he stayed free for thirteen years. There is, of course, a manhunt on but his escape has made Mexicans more cynical, and more distrusting of their officials. Bribery and/or intimidation are suspected factors in the escape. “El Chapo” has an estimated worth of $ 1 billion.

We have just glided by Indian Point, the nuclear reactor that sits on the Hudson River. Always controversial, its detractors want it closed. A couple of recent incidents have made people nervous.

Brian Gallagher is on the train with me. He’s the right hand of Joe Boardman, who is the President of Amtrak. Brian and I chat regularly about our favorite long distance routes. I need to go to Minneapolis this summer for my annual familial visit and I am probably going to take the train one way. I love the sense of traveling that trains provide, of moving through space on your way to a place.

Right now, as I move south, I also wish there was a boat that sailed from New York and put in at Hudson for a stop. I would love to make the trip by water, also a great way of having a sense of traveling.

While I am moving down the Hudson Valley, in Vienna there are more last minute efforts to hammer out an Iranian nuclear deal despite rumors that an announcement would be made today that there was a deal in place. Perhaps not until later this week, if it happens at all.

The Iraqis are planning on an offensive to take back its largest province, Anbar, from IS.

The President of Nigeria has fired all the heads of his armed forces and will replace them. It has been expected. The chaps fired were the ones who didn’t make any progress against Boko Haram. Now that Boko Haram has lost much of its territory, Nigeria having had help from Chad and Cameroon, it has stepped up suicide attacks.

For those whose day is not complete without a bit of royal update, Prince William launched his career today as an air ambulance pilot.

Right this minute, I am south of Croton Harmon, with a stunning river view. West Point slipped by on the far shore not long ago.

Once in town, I am meeting a friend and then we are joining a third friend for our quarterly Indian dinner, tonight at Pipalli, on 29th near Lexington, in the heart of “Curry Hill.” Nick, David and I have been doing this for three or four years, always a good chance to get caught up and have a martini, our official drink.

Tomorrow, I will let you know how it is.

Letter From New York 05 04 15 A series of glorious days…

May 4, 2015

As I wend my way toward New York this morning, the sun is splashing off the Hudson River, a small boat cruising north as I trundle south, green beginning to tip the trees that line the river bank. It will be another in a short string of beautiful days that have blessed the Hudson Valley.

Saturday was an exquisite day. I rose early and went to the Farmer’s Market, sourcing from there everything I would serve for dinner that night. Ron Eglash, who also spoke the Indian Institute of Technology/Roorkee when I was there, came down with his wife, Audrey Bennett, who is also a professor at RPI in Troy.

Every moment of Saturday felt joyful, even blissful. I don’t know that I have ever experienced a day quite like it. Everything I did seem to bring me pleasure in a soft, delightful way. I reveled in the sheer pleasure of each moment.

I did not write a Letter on Saturday or Sunday. To do so would mean that I would look out into the world when all I wanted to do was savor the inner universe I was so pleasantly experiencing.

But now it is Monday morning and I am headed back to the city. My old friend, Michael DiPasquale, who lives in Los Angeles but was born in New York, is here to visit family and is coming into the city today from Long Island to visit with me.

As I have been typing, a CNN News Alert came crossing my screen to let me know that Carly Fiorina, once CEO of Hewlett-Packard, has announced she is running for President. I believe this marks the first time in history that two women have been seeking the Presidential nomination of their individual parties. Ms. Fiorina is a Republican. Hillary, as we all know, is a Democrat.

Also joining the Republican field of candidates is Ben Carson, popular with Republicans under thirty.

In Nepal, aid is beginning to flow and a 101-year-old man was dragged from the rubble alive, with only minor injuries. The Nepalese government has stated they will need much aid over a long period of time to rebuild. The death toll is over 7300 and still climbing.

In happier news, in case anyone missed it, their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, welcomed a baby girl, yet to be named, into their family. They are going up to their country house, Anmer Hall, which is two miles from where the Queen is at Sandringham House, so they may introduce her to her newest great-grandchild.   Sounds so civilized.

Not so civilized is the continuation of the air strikes in Yemen, as more and more Yemenis find themselves displaced by the bombings. More women and children have been rescued from Boko Haram in Nigeria as have some thousands been picked up in the Mediterranean, as they attempted crossing from Africa to Italy. Ethiopian Jews in Israel rioted over the weekend, hurling bottles and rocks at police, as they protested against racism toward them. Israeli police have said the protestors crossed the line.

In Garland, Texas, near Dallas, police shot down two gunmen when they leapt out of their vehicle and began shooting at a security guard at an exhibit of drawings of Mohammed. Muslims believe that you cannot depict The Prophet in a drawing. It was hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group noted for its anti-Islamic stands.

In Vegas, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. won “The Fight of The Century” against Manny Pacquiao and pocketed a reported $180,000,000, though the crowd at the end of the fight booed him. They apparently had feelings about his record of domestic violence.

In Boston, Russian relatives of Tsarnaev are going to testify in the penalty phase of his sentencing. His defense team ceded his guilt and is trying to win him life in prison rather than death.

A light haze now floats about the Hudson River, adding a moment of magic to the day. Not long ago we slipped past West Point, that formidable redoubt, passing by marinas prepping for the summer season, the river calm, still and probably very cold.

The day won’t be chill. It is predicted to hit in the 80’s today, the warmest weather yet of the year. I look forward to a good day.

Letter From New York 03 10 15 Some feeling pressure…

March 10, 2015

It is late morning and I am settled in at the Acela Club at Penn Station, having done some emails and doing some work before I go to my afternoon appointment. I’m catching up with my old friend, Peter Kaufman, who was one of my first clients. The day is pretty grey but it’s going to warm up to fifty degrees here in the city and that’s pretty marvelous! Rain may come this afternoon.

The ride into the city on Amtrak was a feast for the eyes. Near Hudson, the river was an almost solid sheet of ice. A Coast Guard icebreaker had cut a narrow line through the ice and a barge was majestically threading its way down the river. Further south, the ice became loose with small floes bobbing on the water.

As the train’s Internet service was going in and out, I often found myself staring out the window at the magnificence rolling by. Lately, bald eagles have been flying along the river, across from the train. A lone coyote has been seen making his way across the open ice. West Point sails by in all its sturdiness.

It will be a long time and perhaps never before the ice thaws between the current President and the current Congress. There is brutal chill right now due to the open letter sent to the Leaders of Iran by 47 Republican Senators suggesting any agreement with Iran wouldn’t outlast Obama. It resulted in a blistering response from Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, pointing out to the Senators that what is being negotiated is not a unilateral agreement with the US but with the US and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Zarif has a point.

Four officers rescued an 18-month-old baby who had survived for fourteen hours upside down in her car seat while in a vehicle in a river. Her mother had passed away. After the ordeal, she is gradually improving. All four officers claim they heard someone calling for help within the car. They are not sure where the voice was coming from.

In another accident, 55 were injured when an Amtrak train struck a semi stalled at a crossing. The accident was in North Carolina. The train was New York bound.

In Argentina, three French sports stars and five members of a French television crew, along with the pilots of two helicopters, died when the two copters apparently collided. They were on the way to shoot an episode of a French reality show called “Dropping.” France is in mourning.

Ukraine has been quiet the last few days though today the Ukrainian military authorities are claiming that the rebels are using the truce to amass major weaponry.

Reaching critical mass is the cry for Hillary Clinton to say something about the email fiasco. She is expected to do so today. The right is digging its teeth into this, hoping, I expect, for another Benghazi moment. Some on the left are rising in support but most are just asking her to explain herself. Quickly, before it gets worse.

Wikipedia and the ACLU are suing the NSA over privacy concerns. Among the thousands of documents Edward Snowden leaked was one that showed the NSA was particularly targeting Wikipedia, among others, including CNN.com. Wikipedia joins a long list of corporations and foundations suing the NSA over their snooping. It will probably keep growing unless some come to court and receive rulings.

What is definitely growing is pressure on “Bibi” Netanyahu at home, facing elections. They promise to be extremely close. Some recent polls have shown him falling behind and he is claiming a worldwide effort to get him out of office. Commentators in Israel see him showing the stress.

Also facing pressure from a crumbling economy is President Maduro of Venezuela, who is facing the challenge by asking Parliament for extraordinary powers to face down “imperialism.”

Not looking very imperial today is the Euro, which has hit a twelve year low against the American dollar. It costs $1.08 to buy one Euro, a bargain for travelers but a challenge for businessmen attempting to sell their goods on the continent. The market is responding by diving lower.

And now it is time to close up for the day and head off to meet my friend Peter up by Columbia University. He suggested hot cocoa but it may actually be a day for iced tea.