Wednesday, August 19, 2015
This is the Sedan crater in Nevada, site of a nuclear test explosion (July 6, 1962). It certainly is impressive.
I thought what it might be like to visit such a site: is it even open to the public? So I looked it up on Google Maps: oh snort!
Weathered sign on Herkimer Street, Brooklyn.
Mallow bush emerging from sidewalk, Harlem.
A brick field in Chelsea.
Armored rhino, Chelsea.
He gets bad cat hair.
Elegy in brass for Chris Christie? A trombonist practices underneath the George Washington Bridge.
Farewell, Baron: my friend's elderly boxer went to a dog rest home somewhere near Albany...
Friday, August 14, 2015
Friday, August 07, 2015
No human is entirely free of vanity, but amongst politicians, it's an especially dangerous occupational hazard (Max Weber).
Donald Trump's biggest fan is a short, slim man of late middle-age, neatly dressed, with a twinkle in his eye and a willingness to share his views on politics with just about anyone, including me, who asked him for a light on a recent weekday morning. He's also a mess of contradictions — or perhaps a very subtle comedian, I'm not sure which.
A steady stream of neatly-dressed commuters flowed towards the swinging doors that lead through a short tunnel to the A train on West 184th Street. Donald Trump's biggest fan did not yet reveal himself, as he readily offered me a light. I turned casually away, and reached into a newspaper box for a copy of Metro NYC. "Thanks," I said. Then he spoke.
His voice was gravelly and smoky, and it carried clear down the street.
"You know what?" he said, "I think that what Donald Trump has been saying is right, and I'm glad he's speaking his mind, we should listen to him, he's a self-made man, and he knows what he's talking about."
For anyone who does not yet know, Donald Trump is running for election to become the Republican Party candidate for U.S. President, in the very early days of a campaign that promises to be really quite wild, and also utterly meaningless: candidates will heap scorn and outrage upon each other in the manner of those WWF wrestling morons, then they will try in turn to look their most operatically outraged: a nonexistent moral high ground will be fought over. Casualties will include the truth, and candidates who are vying to show their abilities to control the public purse strings, will spend like shopaholics.
New Yorkers have an undeserved reputation for being horrifically rude, and an actual horrifically rude native son like Trump is unlikely to find any love in his hometown — which is what made this sudden outbreak of pro-Trump trumpetry surprising, spilling like a chamber pot and its contents, out into the beautiful August morning: a Trump supporter, here, in Washington Heights?
But what completely shocked me was this: as I turn slightly to get a better look at Donald's biggest backer, and just as he's going on about how honest Trump is and what a hardworking straight arrow New Yorker he is, a real reproach to all his critics, I see that our man is now elbow-deep in a trash can, rootling and rummaging away, until finally he pulls out… a paper coffee cup.
And then he's over at the swing doors to the A train, swinging one of them open for each and every commuter, and each one gets a hearty "good morning!… what a fine day, sir!… good morning, ma'am!… thank you, sir!… hello, little fella! Off to school?…"
Each commuter faces a shake of the cup, which is soon rattling with coins.
Donald Trump, self-made man, up-by-the-bootstraps local lad, total boor and sexist pig: you have a fan in Washington Heights. He blows a lot of air on your behalf. And he's a homeless bum.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
There I was, on an early morning stroll through Times Square, when suddenly I saw them, lips locked in that eternal, age-defying kiss, as if time itself had locked, and it was August 14th, 1945 again, just after 7PM…
Imagine the crick in their necks after 75 years!
Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the grass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-littered ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,
Washing at their identity…"
Monday, July 06, 2015
Thursday, July 02, 2015
What you see above seems remarkable: London has an overnight subway service, and will no longer screech and clunk to a halt at midnight, forcing thousands of marooned commuters out into the dark jungle of the night bus with curried chips.
BUT. Before you rejoice, it's only a couple of lines that will run all night, and only at the weekends! That's the spirit, London, ever-cautious, mustn't grumble, keep calm and just put up with it.
I have more than a passing interest in London's underground and its night schedule, if only from the melancholic perspective of having once had a friend who died in an accident on the underground late at night. Someone I knew in my two final years at college was in London the summer of our graduation, and — well, it was speculated that he fell asleep on a train that was being parked for the night, woke up in confusion and tried to get out of the still-moving train, and he fell between two carriages.
I can still hear the voice of another friend on the phone, telling me about Edwin's death, his voice calm and unwavering, yet so sad, so somber.
Monday, June 15, 2015
George Ezra (above) is a Brit from Bristol, and is a singer with a voice that seems weathered and worn by far more years than its owner has lived. He is 22. You can hear it and see him in the music video for his top ten song 'Budapest',
I can't get my head around the fact that someone born in 1993 is today 22 years old!
Continuing in a vein musically, I recently started listening to some Anton Bruckner symphonies, prompted by nothing more mundane than talking to someone one day about the south Bronx, and what a horrible stretch of road the Bruckner Expressway is...
At his most heavy-handed, Bruckner may make you feel like you are a helpless passenger in a small, flimsy car, as enormous juggernauts bear down on your tail at hysterical speeds, on the Bruckner Expressway; if you are screaming, no one can hear you, because of the deafening roar of pistons, gasoline, sparks, shocks, thundering wheels...
I was most surprised in listening to Bruckner again, that many themes came up that I would have almost certainly have said were the work of Mahler.
And I also did not know until today that a Bruckner symphony which he did not think was coherent enough, has been designated his Symphony # 0... For what it's worth, here are the opening bars...:
Monday, June 08, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Irish voters on May 22nd voted yes to extend the right to marry to same sex couples, by a two-to-one majority.
Several people contacted me to show their approval, to say "isn't that progressive?" and so on. But I had to point out that the referendum was held in the Irish Republic. I am from Northern Ireland, which is a separate jurisdiction. There are two Irelands on the island:
If that doesn't clear things up, the Guardian put it like this:
After Friday’s historic referendum, in which the Irish Republic’s voters endorsed same-sex marriage by 2-1, Northern Ireland remains the last country in western Europe where LGBT couples are barred from getting married.
So there! Had they been voting in the referendum on Friday, it's likely that a majority of voters in Northern Ireland would have voted no.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Thursday, May 14, 2015
On the shores of Chesapeake Bay lie many fine fishing ports and sleepy harbors, but none so misfortunate as …Onancock. What an albatross to drag with one into the wider, tittering and scornful world! It's bad enough that cock is involgved, but Onan as well — Onan of course, being in one origin, the Old Testament figure who, well, hmm, became very dead after displeasing God with an act that some (the Catholic Church, for example) equated with masturbation, but more accurately, seems to have been coitus interruptus...
Anyway, in an age when no one reads, perhaps it's safe enough to admit to coming from Onancock, without provoking snickering. If you're an... Onancockian? Onancockette? Onancockney*?? you can look at the above map and think "others are less fortunate than I..."
For no reason at all, this made me think of the story of the man on the train that was passing through a station in Scotland. The traveler, wondering if this station was his destination, leaned out of a window and querulously called out to someone on the platform, "Leatherhead?" and the someone roared back: "Bum face!"
* Onancocker? Onancockist? Onancockman/woman? Onancockerel? Onancockonian?!
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
James Garner died yesterday. He was a one of those tall, dark, strong, square-jawed Hollywood actors whom we've all seen, but whose performances were all the more memorable for the complex vulnerabilities he allowed to show through that tough exterior.
I saw one of his best, quirkiest performances late last year: Mister Buddwing (1966). The above still shows the stammering Garner, afflicted with amnesia, meeting Angela Lansbury playing a louche woman. The movie is a gem, filmed in black and white, and the plot keeps twisting to the very last scene.