Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

That which is to come

It rained here steadily for New Year's. I wandered the streets, cut through the Port Authority bus station at one point to try to get unrained-upon to Ninth Avenue. There were hundreds of young revellers, in states of sleep and drowse on the floor, with amiable cops leaning around. A trio of cleaners laughed heartily at something, and I went up to ask if I could get through to Ninth Avenue, and one of them turned to me and opening his eyes wide, said "Why sir, you ask too much!" which prompted another round of chuckles, so I smiled and walked on.

There were cops everywhere, building in clusters in every subway station and in the trains, and presumably there were undercover guys everywhere. I trudged around in the rain.

Hardly anyone reads my blog, so therefore often blogging is a case of me talking to myself. My grandfather used to admit to talking to himself in old age by saying it served a twofold purpose: it meant he could get to talking to a sensible man, and it meant that he got to hear a sensible man talking. I lay no claim to good sense for 2007, being merely glad that 2006, a generally bad year for me, I feel, is finally gone and never to return. Someone I overheard on New Year's Day said something about how "everyone remembers January 1st but no one remembers anything about January 2nd." Here is a man who won't forget January 2nd, 2007.

Other things, in keeping with randomness: I suddenly remembered having had to report on the workings of IMRO about two years ago. IMRO is the Irish Music Rights Organsation, a kind of government-appointed-then-forgotten watchdog for the Irish music industry. They once recorded dozens of examples of Irish music being used as elevator music in American hotels and said that they would recoup millions of dollars in royalties; I don't think they did.

I mentioned Rudy Giuliani's possible run for U.S. President recently, and how shite I think he is generally; so it goes!

Monday, January 01, 2007

2006 is dead, long live 2007

Somehow these thoughts of an approaching new year have the effect of a glance in a rear-view mirror...

[Photo courtesy of Top Left Pixel]

Sunday, December 31, 2006

GERALD FORD & oliver sipple

GERALD FORD is a permanently bold-face, all-caps, household name, even without his recent prominence in the news due to dying on December 26th.

Far less prominent is the name Oliver Sipple, who at most will remain a footnote in history. Without Sipple's intervention, however, Ford would not have seen the end of 1975, rather than the ripe old age of 93. Nor, I imagine, would Sipple have wanted even this footnote in history.

Sipple's story is sometimes used as an example in journalism ethics classes. On September 22, 1975, President Ford was leaving the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco, before a crowd of about 3,000 onlookers who had turned out to see the President. In the crowd was Oliver Sipple, former U.S. Marine and Vietnam veteran, who as he watched the scene, saw a woman near him pull out a .38 pistol and aim it at Ford.

Sipple lunged at the woman's arm just as she pulled the trigger — in the above photo, Ford is seen reacting to the sound of the pistol shot. The shot missed, and the woman, Sarah Jane Moore, was arrested (she is still in jail serving life in California); police and secret service personnel immediately acclaimed Sipple as the hero who had saved the President.

The instant hero became an instant victim as well. Sipple was horrified by the attention, not least because he was gay and was barely out of the closet, even in San Francisco, and none of his family knew of his orientation. He asked reporters who thronged around him not to mention that he was gay, but soon gay politician Harvey Milk, called Sipple a "gay hero" and said his act "will help break the stereotype of homosexuals."

A newspaper in Sipple's home state of Michigan carried the unwelcome news to his parents, and they immediately disowned him. When he called home, they hung up. In 1979, when his mother died, his father did not bother to contact Sipple to let him know.

Sipple turned to drink. On February 2, 1989, he was found dead in his bed, at the age of forty-seven. At least former President Ford sent a letter to Sipple's few remaining friends, acknowledging his role in saving his life, and mourning his passing.