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15 central park west
This is a book about the 1%, the billionaires, or some of them, who can pay $50 million for a condo they use a couple weeks a year while otherwise camped in one of their other lavish homes. Mitt Romney accused ordinary people of feelings of entitlement when they expect social security and medicare but Mitt was playing to his audience, the true practitioners of entitlement. But this is not a political book. The wall street protests are mentioned in passing but its focus is the acquisition of Fifteen Central Park West property, the construction of the outstanding structure and the selling of its units to the aristocracy of money…
the business of death
Have you noticed the changes that are taking place at funerals these days?
There are several ways that the funerals are not what they once were. The first I noticed it was about 15 years ago, when I was at a graveside funeral for a former boss of mine at Riverside Cemetery in Macon. I arrived just as the service began. The funeral home had set perhaps 50 chairs about, and the minister had just started the service.
anything to win
I sympathize with those brushing aside the “Deflategate” scandal swirling around the New England Patriots as much ado over little of consequence. After all, the Patriots absolutely annihilated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game on January 18. It’s hard to conceive any edge Patriots quarterback Tom Brady allegedly gained from playing with deliberately underinflated footballs could be primarily responsible for that butt whipping.
tracks in the snow
“Please hold my hand now. I am dying.” As this soul pulled me close to her, she looked up but just smiled. I had just finished reading “Walking Home From Oak Head” by Mary Oliver to her and she seemed to be pleased to hear some of the refrains again,
There is something
about the snow-laden sky
in the late afternoon
that brings to the heart elation
and the lovely meaninglessness
The 31st Chinese Export Commodities Fair (Spring) was held from 15 April to 15 May 1972, and most of the foreign traders attended for the whole month. While the main purpose of the Fair was for China to exhibit and sell its products to the western world, buyers from the Beijing Government’s import agencies attended to negotiate the purchase of raw materials, metals, minerals and other commodities from the west, hopefully paying with Chinese goods.
China saw itself as a potential exporter of machinery and equipment, automobiles and other manufactured goods. In reality most of what was on display at the Fair in 1972 was several decades behind…
anything to win
James Holland writes: Glynn County public works is at it again. I thought my eyes were lying to me when I observed the images in my photos. Tide coming in and you can see how high it is and it is still coming. Glynn County simply has to be the most unscrupulous county in the entire state. Why is it that they continue to do this when all the science is out there about what buffers do to protect our marshes and waters? If anyone knows the name of the single individual that gave the order to do this would you please enlighten me so I will know who is the dumbest person in this county….
photo of the week
While men slumber, daring men trawl off the coast. Through dusk, midnight, into dawn their boats dance upon waves, major and minor. But what if a rogue wave or something gone awry scuttled an ill-fated trawler long ago. Does this surreal daybreak reveal that ghostly trawler? Could it be some phantom or mirage, a Fata Morgana?
Look again. It is there absolutely true and believable. High tide has tempted captain intrepid to sift for crustaceans close to shore. To his west, a colossal curl of wind-borne gravity-stricken saltwater topples and the greatest white noise—falling surf—reveals Earth’s great exhaling.
two name songwriters
My friend Tom says most, if not all, great writers are fractured individuals. I hope he’s wrong about that; I’ve always been a happy, well-adjusted guy. I plan to achieve Great Writer status one day and would hate to think lack of a tortured soul, along with precious little talent, will prevent such dreams. The only thing even remotely dark about me is my middle name.
If I had been a girl, none of this would have happened. I would have been Betty Louise. At least that’s what my mother said. The Mike part of my name originated with an old Army buddy of my dad’s from WWII. I have no idea where my middle name came from and there’s no one left to ask.
In her autobiography A Backward Glance (1934), Edith Wharton wrote: “In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”
I like that concept which I stumbled upon this morning in a delightful newsletter called Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week — Jan 18-24, 2015. Wharton was a great stylist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century whose books on the conflicts between societal mores and the pursuit of happiness are still read with great enjoyment after all these years…
what might yours say?
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful, lest you let other people spend it for you. — Carl Sandburg
In my explorations along back roads, deep woods, and left-behind places, I come across forgotten graveyards. Their tombstones, like tragic figures in some sad drama, long ago surrendered to weathering. Stones cut from rocks softer than granite appear to melt. Their epitaphs, devoid of sharp edges, a bit chalky, and softened by time and the elements prove difficult to decipher, their words illegible…
called for good
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
Whether Edmund Burke or someone before him first said it is a matter of some debate. But, we all recognize the statement. It’s a weighty sentiment for weighty times, one often referenced in the context of the worst atrocities inflicted on mankind. But, there’s another way to think of this: Every act of good, no matter how small, isolated, or even invisible, is a victory for all that is right.
Not having grown up American, I find that I am often ignorant of American culture. On the other hand, when it is pointed out to me, I see it as an outsider and, I sometimes think, more clearly. That was the case with the car culture “discovered” by my spouse in the American cinema. We agreed that the ancillary side-effects of Americans’ love affair with their cars — urban sprawl, social disruption, environmental degradation, individual isolation — are all deplorable…
The Dong Fang (East Wind) Hotel was on Liuhua Road, between Liuhua Lake and Yuehsiu Park with its Chenhai Tower. Even though it was not close to the Chinese Export Commodities Fair, it was favored by the British and European traders. In 1972, the Dong Fang was a multi-story non-air conditioned building set amongst what must have been beautiful gardens. It was quiet, away from the Pearl River traffic. Beside the hotel was a rough field used by the foreign traders to play rugby, soccer and volleyball during the Fair.
stop going backwards
Georgia’s General Assembly began Monday. Watch out! Few of us are safe from its machinations!
You can be sure with the super majority that the Republican Party now has in the Legislature, we will see many proposals aimed at reducing taxes, that will give the rich more power, and forget the underprivileged. In other words, more of the same.
Terry and I were enjoying an unabridged, non-scripted evening together; our first in many months. Suzy has known him longer than me and likes to accompany me when I meet him for drinks. That isn’t true where my other friends are involved. Tom and Rick she could give a rat’s ass about seeing. My partner bristles at the idea that the “dynamics change” when she is present, but it’s true. With Suzy in attendance the conversation is driven by her interests. Terry and I, on our own, drift among subjects like a rudderless sailboat. No direction, no fact finding, no censors.
culture of obedience
The saga of Don Siegelman, the former popular democratic Governor of Alabama, who was convicted and imprisoned on largely trumped up bribery charges and whose prosecution has been, so far unsuccessfully, appealed continues to befuddle his supporters. That’s because, I would argue, Siegelman having supporters, who believe in his innocence, does not carry the weight with the judicial system they might think. Rather, it’s because he has supporters, who are likely to be impressed and depressed by the effort to break him and grind him down, that his persecution seems worth while. It’s not senseless at all.
grandma's weapon of choice
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “fly swatter” as “an implement used for swatting insects, typically a square of plastic mesh attached to a wire handle.” Really? I beg to differ. An honest-to-goodness fly swatter is made of screen-wire. Remember those? Both my grandmothers wielded those instruments of doom with an Olympic fencer’s skill. They were pros. How many times did I watch those ladies pull off a trifecta: dispatching three flies with one swat.
last bus in china
It had been a busy four days in Hong Kong after an interesting landing at Kai Tak Airport. There was only one approach to Kai Tak, up Victoria Harbor, turn north east across the Kowloon Peninsula towards Kowloon Peak with its blinking red light and make a sharp ninety degree turn over Mong Kok. The plane flew just above the streets of Kowloon, between the tall apartment buildings with their protruding bamboo poles holding the day’s laundry, and the wing tip almost touched the laundry as the plane dropped suddenly in its final turn onto the runway…
In 1971 I was a twenty-year old Mississippi college sophomore, terminally shy with a stutter and an undeclared major. What career choice did I have that didn’t involve actually speaking with people? Milton, a fast-talking, pimply-faced senior, said he had just the ticket for a shy guy like me. “How are you ever going to be a success if you’re afraid to open your mouth?” I shrugged. Milton was a student manager for a sales company that hired college kids to work during the summer.
black sheep bootlegger
In the riverbed between Edgefield County, South Carolina, and Lincoln County, Georgia, a copper still sleeps in the ooze gluing two states together. That still, the last vestige of a moonshiner’s art, belonged to my grandfather. How it ended in the Savannah River is a tale of brotherly salvation.
Every family—if it will admit it—shuns some relative from its past. Mine is no exception…
rock, soul & blues
The surprising thing about Joe Cocker’s recent death might be that he made it to 70. The human body can be most resilient.
More than half his lifetime ago, the obit for Cocker was likely being held in readiness at newspapers and periodicals throughout Europe and America. The reportage, even in Rolling Stone, by 1972, gave readers the impression that Cocker was trashing his career while on the way to becoming rock’s next drug casualty. This was only three years after his triumphant appearance at Woodstock.
Do I need me some inspiration as I face the new year? Heck yeah, and I’m getting it from a few good women.
Did you see Ursula Le Guin’s remarks as she accepted the Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards the other week? The clip is on YouTube, but in the meantime, picture a small, silver-haired woman with a kind and deeply lined 85-year-old face lobbing a grenade into a roomful of tuxedoed publishing-industry bigwigs. Those people didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. I promise: it’ll be a long time before that much truth gets told inside of six minutes again
I read recently that the American novelist, poet, and composer Paul Bowles once said, ”We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
our friend floyd
We took Christmas dinner to Floyd in southern Pennsylvania yesterday. Although he said he was continuing to feel “tired” most of the time and had a bit of trouble breathing (probably a lingering effect of the pneumonia he suffered before Thanksgiving), he seemed more alert and active than what he was at Thanksgiving. We’re never sure if he enjoys the meals that Jody prepares, but he always finishes everything and is pleased that she packages up the leftovers for him.
frozen in time
My first visit to China was in April 1972 but the journey started much earlier. China, then referred to as The People’s Republic of China (PRC), always had been a country of great interest due to its size, population and potential market for raw materials; so in 1970 and again in 1971 I contacted Minmetals in Beijing (Peking) seeking an invitation to attend the bi-annual export commodities fair. There was no reply.
Wow, it was great to get your card, man. Years been slipping by, right?
Anyhooby, we’re all good here. Ruthie pulled a twofer this summer—finished school and married Ben, pretty much on the same day. You’ll be happy to hear that Ben has accepted the responsibility of keeping music at the center of our little family. What about Jakob? Looked like the Wallflowers’ reunion album did well. And touring with Clapton? Helloooo. Of course, none of that changes the fact that you have a child who’s 45 years old.
Worthy of Comment
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