Greetings from cold and sunny Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, USA. Spending the afternoon trying desperately to get my life in order. Think this is going to take a bit longer than one afternoon, but...check book is balanced, bills are paid, dirty clothes are stuffed into laundry bag, bed is made, "to do" list written out on legal pad. Hmmm...think I just wrote a mini poem there. Go back and read that last sentence again and tell me what you think. Maybe a haiku, eh, KAM?
Undercurrent of melancholy in today's post. I could devote it entirely to the Obituaries. Fortunately, I found a few uplifting stories and articles to balance things out. That's what life is all about, right? Finding your balance - even when things are at their most unstable. Now then, before I get any more insufferably poetic or philosophical. Here we go...
Saturday Op-Ed Column
The Keystone Pipeline is a divisive issue that's lit up the Internet over the past few years. Passionate supporters on one side or the other beat their chests and wax hyperbolic in Facebook post after post. For too many people, it's either going to destroy the planet as we know it, or deliver this economic miracle that will solve most if not all of our country's problems. Joe Nocera does a nice job of pointing out how both extreme sides are wrong. He spoke with former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg about a "practical solution" that probably won't fully satisfy anyone, but makes a lot of sense to this blogger. Have a look at Nocera's column today and let me know what you think.
Hardly know where to begin here, but guess I should start with the one on the front page. (more tomorrow)
Like many of my generation, I grew up watching Star Trek reruns. The series first aired and was subsequently cancelled in the mid to late 60s when I was just a wee lad, but seemed to be on TV constantly throughout the 70s and 80s as I grew up. Mr. Scott aka Scottie was always my favorite character (ok, ok, I thought Uhura was very sexy and had the hots for Dr. Helen Noel), but Mr. Spock was always good for a few one liners during every episode - and later on in the movies that followed. My friends - especially JFS and Daniel D. - and I always enjoyed repeating them. With those fond memories in mind, I was saddened to hear about Leonard Nimoy's passing yesterday. I think the fact that his obituary is on the first page speaks for itself in terms of the impact of the show and the character Nimoy portrayed on the American pop culture landscape. One of Spock's famous lines resonated particularly today. It's from the episode when he experiences human emotions and romantic feelings. When they diminish, he tells the object of his temporary longings (portrayed by the future Mrs. Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland): "I am what I am, Leila. And if there are self made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else's." Rest in peace, Leonard. Of all the souls on network TV, your character's was the most...human.
Between the years 2003 and 2011, I was out of work for one reason or another four times. My longest duration of unemployment was 1.5 years. Fortunately, I never truly stopped working. In between full time, salaried jobs, I was able to make money "under the table" working at bars and restaurants, painting houses and apartments, doing landscaping work - whatever it took to pay the bills and stay in my apartment. I never understood - or could relate to - the men and women who spend their time out of work typing away on laptops inside coffee shops, glomming on free WiFi.
Full disclosure on my situation: a little help from Uncle Sam didn't hurt either and was greatly appreciated during those times, but was never enough. I don't know how people survive on their unemployment checks alone. My savings took a major beating during those stressful financial times. I still haven't fully recovered. For anyone facing long-term unemployment, Tara Siegel Bernard provides some helpful advice in her Your Money column today. Reminds me of some steps I could have taken to avoid the long-term damage. Live and learn.
Imagine that President Obama hired a gunman to take out his fiercest rival in the shadow of the White House and then pledged to lead the murder investigation personally. That's all I could think about when I read this story today about the assassination of Boris Y. Nemitsov. Keep that hypothetical in mind as you review the article about his murder by Andrew E. Kramer. As Mr. Spock would say, "fascinating." And pretty damn scary if you ask me.
Midnight Express was one of the first R-rated movies I watched back when my family first got cable TV and subscribed to Home Box Office. Drug use, nudity, a man-on-man love scene, torture. Eye opening stuff for the then teenage McCue. The movie, featuring a screenplay adapted from the memoirs of hashish smuggler Billy Hayes by Oliver Stone, painted Turkey in a most unflattering light. Nearly 40 years later, Hayes is taking his story around the world in a one-man play called "Riding the Midnight Express with Billy Hayes." He's the subject of a fascinating (there's that word again) Q&A in today's Travel section. I can still hear my brother K. saying, "VIL-LEE-UHM HIGHS" while impersonating the prosecutor in the trial scenes from the movie.
I love stories about men and women who lead "double lives" with one foot in mainstream society or corporate life and one foot squarely in another - like film or theater or music. I can relate all too well. Or should I say, I used to. Anyway, there's a great "Character Study" by Corey Kilgannon today on Kevin Gleeson - a NYPD worker by day who doubles - literally - as Keith Richards in a Rolling Stones tribute band during his free time. The article is called "Like a Rolling Stone." Nice.
I'll write about a barn in North Dakota, point out some great articles in this weekend's magazine (half the size of last weekend's, thank God), and share a few heartbreaking obits in tomorrow's post. Until then, stay warm and stay interesting.