Friday, November 30, 2001
Hello, again. Cindy and the girls are happily back in Jamestown now. We've finished our Thanksgiving leftovers, and now it's time to gear up for the big holidaython that runs through the end of the year. Hard to believe December is about 25 hours away, but then it seems like we lost at least a month this year.
Denise and I are wine fans. We like reds, especially full-bodied, complex reds. Chateauneuf du Pape, Côte du Rhone, Haut-Médoc, Chianti Classico Riserva, and our latest rave, big red Zinfandels...
The other night, a bottle from a small French winery knocked our socks off—Domane du Grand Arc Corbieres Cuvée des Quarante. The kicker on the label was this part: "Élevée en Barrique", meaning that the wine was aged in smaller oak barrels, which increases the ratio of the wine's surface that comes in direct contact with the wood of the barrels. The result? Smooth, complex, mellow, good-drinking wine. We'll definitely be purchasing more. Find it and try it, if you can.
The woman standing near the elevator coughs one of those deep foghorn coughs, the kind that sounds like she's trying to lift 200 pounds of gunk from deep within her chest, using only her diaphragm. It is a sound that suggests maybe it would be prudent for her to be home taking care of herself. Lovely. She turns to her friend and says "honey, you better back away from me; you know I'm full of Anthrax spores!" Why do I get the feeling we're all going to be hearing comments like that for years to come?
Something's been deleted
On the way back home last night, I noticed that the Bowling Green station felt emptier. As I surveyed the area, I noticed that the TKTS booth was still parked next to the subway entrance, but something else was missing. The little police carts were gone... so was the police Winnebago... then I noticed that the big white tent that had seemed to be effectively a permanent structure, was gone too. A sign on the tent had read "Bowling Green Relief Station." With the tent, seemed to go a noticeable police presence. I guess we're no longer at maximum alert.
I rode the N train uptown from Whitehall street today. The train passes through the Chambers Street station without stopping. The platform area has big plywood signs saying "Chambers Street Do Not Stop." Wooden beams and 2-by-4s are criss-crossed to provide extra support to the ceiling, a significant reminder of the devastation above.
Last week, I saw a message on the whiteboard inside a closed ticket booth. It read:
"1,2,3 train rerouting continues due to damage to the #1 tunnel.
The Courtlandt, Rectors, and South Ferry stations will be closed for several years....
I am a big fan of Marc Levy, who is featured in the poetry section of BeansAboutIt.com. I'm reminded of him, now that we have troops on the ground in Afghanistan, because Marc was a medic in Viet Nam, and he has written extensively about his experiences. Last year, we talked about some of his latest material, which has been fun and even erotic. He told me that he's begun to move on from Viet Nam in his writing. I'd say that he's spent the last 30 years writing that stuff out of his system.
Afghanistan and the War Against Terrorism have just begun. A new crop of veterans is born, and the conflict may ebb and flow for many years to come, producing a new crop of Marc Levys who'll spend the next 30 years working it out in their writings.
So be it... If it's any consolation, hopefully, their writing will be as good as Marc's.
Rest in peace, George
The first time I heard "Here Comes the Sun", was riding in the back of a Saab sedan with my best friend Brian Walker. The Sunday drive was part of the Walker Family tradition, and it was a big deal to be able to go for a ride and listen to music with them. It was one of those simple pleasures I'll always remember.
Brian's father was into amazing and exotic things. Nobody else in Norwich, New York, or the rest of the world, it seemed, had even heard of a Saab. Brian's father had two. The one we were riding in was a two-stroke model, which sounded more like a lawn mower than a car (you always knew when Mr. Walker was driving by), yet it was clear that something about those cars inspired Mr. Walker's passion.
I hadn't gotten heavily into the sound of the early Beatles. To be fair, I wasn't that old when their first hits broke. I was hardly the age to be a rabid music fan. I left Norwich with my family in about 1967, before my 10th birthday. Brian was only a year or two older than me. I think Mr. Walker was the music afficionado -- I think this was his music.
When I heard the first notes of "Here Comes the Sun" rising over the hum of that Saab engine as we rolled down the back roads of Norwich, I experienced a moment of magic. "Rubber Soul" instantly intrigued me. I knew nobody else was doing music like that. It would still be some time before I actually bought a Beatles album, but I had a new appreciation for what they were doing.
"Something" may well be my favorite Beatles Ballad. I was content to hear it as a magnificent piece of work, and never wondered which of the four wrote it, because I knew John and Paul wrote so much of the material. Now that George is gone, I know better. I bet many more of my favorite Beatles tunes were penned by George. Like Joanie Mitchell said, "...you never know what you've got 'till it's gone."
Friendly fire is what comes out of a stove top. It's what heats your hot water, makes your gas dryer work, cooks hot dogs on the 4th of July. The fire that comes out of a Zippo lighter is amiable, but it's probably contributing to someone's lung or throat cancer, so it's not as friendly as it might seem. What they call "friendly fire" over there in Afghanistan is really "being fired upon by friends."
I think the first time I was really aware of the "friendly fire" phenomenon, was when stories about it started being reported during the Gulf War. I told my dad about the odd term I'd heard, and he said, "Yes, they've called it that for a long time. We had friendly fire when I was in the Korean War."
With that, my Dad, who saw the front lines in Korea, began to tell the story of being involved in a friendly fire incident. The group he was with spotted some men moving on a hillside, and watched as a hail of rockets and mortar fire began to rain down on the tiny figures. At first they had thought the people on the hillside were the enemy. Now they knew better. I think it was at that moment, tha my Dad did his little laugh. He seems to always laugh, when he's re-living an ironic, or fateful moment. Maybe, what he didn't say, was how close his own group came to being killed in that same incident.
Strange, to think that the first major firefight our troops are involved in over in Afghanistan, results in friendly fire.
John Grisham was on the Today Show recently, and he said that he always puts a lot of humor into his books, but his wife, who edits his books, usually doesn't get the jokes. It was like that with me and Denise tonight. I told her about the joke that Warren added to the close of an e-mail:
Two cannibals are eating a clown. One stops and says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"I laughed, anyway... Like Eddie Murphy used to say "I thought the shit was funny!"
- Thanks, Warren.
Monday, November 26, 2001
We all went shopping a couple of days ago. I snagged a copy of Scrabble from
the toy store, since it's the game that always gets mentioned, and we never
have it. I didn't spring for the deluxe Lazy Susan model, and I'm starting to
think that would have been a worthwhile move. I chose the basic version while
I was still considering buying two games.
My nieces, it turns out, are scrabble fiends. We've played several times this
weekend. Denise pulled off a beauty of a 30-point play with five letters. The
girls were fascintated when I played the word "dolt." They'd never heard the
word, so of course, they challenged. I read them the definition from the Websters
Unabridged, and they ate it up when they heard that "dolt" and "blockhead" were
synonymous. The next day, they were making up songs about who was and was not
I had no idea that "PAKIstan" was essentially an acronym for the land of Punjabi,
Afghan, Kashmiri, and Iranian people. It's striking to me, that we Americans
are so isolated from the rest of the world. Until September 11, we operated
as though the oceans surrounding us were a protective barrier that no one could
penetrate (since we're on workable terms with pretty much everybody who could
muster a navy or air force).
Until we started shooting in Afghanistan, few of
us knew anything about the land. I'd say the same was true of Kuait before the
gulf war, and of Iran before the Shah was deposed. Now, every guy in a bar is
a Middle-Eastern scholar.
Note to self:
On next shopping trip, don't forget toilet paper, glad bags, new oven
thermometer and 3 gas masks at "the hot price."
I'm very uneasy about the things that are being written about the way laws,
checks and balances are being eroded by the Attorney General and the White House.
Worse, this pattern started before September 11. We may soon long for the days
when the scandale du jour was a little Oval-Office fellatio.
I mentioned in an earlier post, that I was working on something. It's ready
for publication now. I've just put BeansAboutIt.com
e-cards online, starting with an assortment of about 40 images. All the
photos were taken by yours truly, but that may change in the future.
Go ahead, send a card to a friend!