Summer In The City

If you are reading this in the northern latitudes, you might be wondering why I am writing anything at all with the word summer in it?

April in New York was always a confusing month for me. It could be downright frigid in the morning when I was heading to the train, but by the time I got off the subway in Brooklyn, it was already getting quite warm.

For some reason, I always felt the cold more intensely in April than in February. I reasoned that you expect to be cold in February, but by April, I knew you were close to summer with baseball starting and trees budding. But then you really weren’t, and those thirty and forty-degree days seemed to go right through me.

I have no such confusion in Florida.

It’s freakin hot already, and I can only feel that summer has arrived. So, that is why I am writing about Sumer In The City.

Of course, many of you will remember that Summer In The City is a song that the Lovin Spoonful put out in the summer of 1966. You might not remember that the summer of 1966 was one of the hottest in New York City history, at least on Leland Avenue in the Bronx. On Sunday, the temperature reached 106 degrees, and so every time I hear Summer In The City, I can feel the heat of that particular day.

But it is not the heat that I wish to write about in summer in the city but rather the joy of summer in the city.

I used to love New York in the summer. I got to walk around the city quite a lot when working as a mail clerk for Lorillard Corp. Walking on Fifth Avenue on a steamy hot summer’s day with thousands of New Yorkers walking with and against you like the surf at Jones Beach or Hot Dog Beach. I can still see the heads of my fellow travelers bobbing up and down in uniform precision like the Rockettes leg kicking at Radio City.

It was exciting just to be there walking with everyone.

I never understood how people didn’t love New York City.

These were the days of Woodstock and Goin To The Country when all the hippies wanted to live on a farm or commune far, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Not me. I wanted to be in New York.

Despite working a whole week in the city, every Saturday morning would see me board another Pelham Bay local downtown. Heading to my summer haven, Central Park, I had no disdain for yet another subway ride on a hot, un-airconditioned train. After all, the subways were always empty on the weekend, so it was a pleasure, and even the fans overhead, which, on any weekday were but mere feeble attempts at comfort, actually served a refreshing breezed making your journey tolerable.

Going to Central Park on a Saturday was at once Goin To The Country and urbanization at its best. I got to enjoy a stroll through the park and stop at the baseball fields to catch a few innings of a softball game. Then I would make my way to the Bethesda Fountain, where on its plaza frisbees were zooming overhead in a never-ending display of ultimate faith in your fellow human as you were sure to get your frisbee back at the end of the day. (Perhaps this was the origin of Ultimate Frisbee?)

Having enjoyed the beauty of the frisbee toss and the splash of the fountain’s waters, I continued my walk.

I aimed to reach Literary Walk to welcome the coolness of the shade provided by the umbrella of trees lining the walkway. Maybe I would read a bit from my book? But it wouldn’t be long until I sought out the several folk groups that provided afternoon entertainment for all to enjoy.

On Saturday, I continued up the walk to the Band Shell, where Pete Seeger gave a free concert. As I said, it was like going to the country…without leaving the city.

What made these Saturday meandering even more enjoyable was the freedom that summer always represented. School was out, and even though I had actually learned to love learning, not having five or six-term papers to do was liberating. I could finally read what I wanted to read.

I always thought of these summers as times for reading and listening to music. Since then, I try to have a summer reading list and an accompanying music list.

I guess the Pandemic has put all of these memories in stark comparison to days when it was ok to find and live joy. It seems we have to be grateful for what we have and never mind what we have been unable to enjoy.

During a storm, whether a hurricane or blizzard, Lockdown is always a challenge but one that is short-lived. The Pandemic doesn’t seem to want to go away. We have vaccines, but it still seems to be spreading and mutating so that even the hope we have that normality is coming to a place near you may be only a dream.

Nevertheless, I will be going up again to be with my children in the Bronx, and I will be making a reading list and checking it twice and re-doing my summer playlist, both of which will be the subject of a forthcoming Newell Post.

It’s going to be a glorious summer. I still have faith in that.

I

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I Watched The News Today…Oh Boy….Or Lies Lies And More Lies

All America is divided into two parts.

Julius Caesar crafted a similar sentence much more capably than I when he was describing Gaul, but I thought I would steal from him today, even it is only by allusion.

While Gaul may have been divided into three parts in Caesar’s day, he was writing in the geographical sense. Whereas America consists (with apologies to Hawaii and Alaska) of one part geographically, politically, we are split in half.

I won’t try to discern if the two parts are of equal size.

I have taken it upon myself to identify these two constituencies MSNBC and Fox News.

If any certainties have survived the last four-plus years, it is that a FOX viewer firmly believes that everything said on MSNBC is a lie.

Similarly, MSNBC viewers condemn FOX for spreading lies and disinformation.

Which one is right?

The answer hardly matters.

We used to watch the news for information; now it’s just a Neo-reality show put on each night for our entertainment.

Stories are presented in a particular bias that may or may not have vestiges of truth. So long as we are fans of the NJ (News Jockey), we will believe it.

No matter what the truth is, we have decided only to believe those we trust and never take it upon ourselves to question this allegiance.

It was bad enough when people were divided over a particular issue because they had honest differences of opinions. They had their own view on a specific problem and how w should solve it.

A runner on first in the bottom of the ninth with no out?

A reasonable baseball fan would urge his team to bunt the runner over into scoring position.

Another reasonable fan would rather have them try for a hit and run.

Another reasonable fan would say let the batter hit without any distractions.

These reasonable fans all had a difference of opinion, and each had their solution to the problem at hand.

They were fans of the same team.

They wanted their team to win.

They only had different views as to how that could be best accomplished.

They didn’t hate each other.

If the team won utilizing one of the fans’ plans, the other two fans would rejoice in the team’s victory, nevertheless.

If that could only work in politics, Susan.

Compared to the real issues that divide us, what to do in the ninth inning with a runner on first and no out is child’s play.

I know what the truth is on many of the issues that divide us, and I have solutions for each.

The trouble is that many people feel the same way and vehemently disagree with my take on the issues.

There doesn’t seem to be any wiggle room to allow any kind of compromise.

Truth trumps truth in a world where everything is true and nothing is true.

The sad thing is someone is lying but damned if I know who.

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Techno-cide In Plain Sight

I have often complained that our technology is killing us. Well, I got even.

When I was up in The Bronx a few weeks ago, I tried to download the New York Times Crossword puzzle app. The app was free and, since I have a subscription to the Times, I could do the puzzle on my iPad for free.

Except I couldn’t.

It seems that my iPad was so old that it could not accommodate the current version of the crossword puzzle app.

While trying to download a new app, I learned that I needed several updates for other apps on my device. I immediately set out to update them all.

Except I couldn’t.

Apparently, iPads do not last forever, or perhaps I should write they don’t stay useful forever.

I know I shouldn’t complain about an iPad that I got for Christmas in 2010, but I do have several Lionel trains that were made in the 1940s that still operate. Is it too much to ask of 21st-century technology for the same level of utility?

Well, it didn’t take me long to figure out that it was too much to ask, so I went on the Apple Store App conveniently included in the assortment of apps on my iPhone and ordered a new iPad.

It was waiting for me when I came back from The Bronx.

Upon my return to Florida, I did not immediately open the iPad box waiting for me but, instead, I went on my iMac to pay some bills, organize a spreadsheet, and do a little writing.

Except I couldn’t.

When I started up my Mac, it produced the traditional chime that sounds an awful lot like a blaring TADA!

It then went into the usual process with a glowing Apple logo and then a process bar slowly scrawling left to right. The trouble is that it never completed the opening act. Instead, I was offered several options to restart the computer with various sources of backups. I tried several times to click on an option hoping for something that looked familiar. Maybe my desktop, for instance?

Finally, I did what no man likes to do. I asked for directions.

I called the Apple Care people and was immediately greeted by what I assumed was a young woman who was eager to solve my technology issue.

I did as she advised and provided her with the serial number and model number, and she said she was ready to help me.

Except she couldn’t.

I was told that my computer (little more than an abacus) was “obsolete.” I bought it in 2010.

How obsolete, you might ask?

“We don’t even carry the parts for this computer.”

So, I returned to the Apple Store app on my phone and ordered a new computer.

You see, I really needed it.

I had no choice but to get a new computer.

Why?

I’ll tell you why.

You see, our four-year-old dishwasher was leaking, and after I paid $148 to be told that it would take another $458 to repair it, I opted to buy a new one.

I shopped online and read reviews, and then I did what any other sane man would do.

I ordered the machine that my wife told me to order.

The good news is that my wife will probably be needing a new iPhone.

“Don’t worry”, I told her, “I know where to buy them.”

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Who Was That Masked Man?…I Don’t Know But I Wanted To Thank Him.

 I guess the first masked man that most of us Boomers came upon was the Lone Ranger accompanied by his Native American (we called Indian) sidekick, Tonto. And his white stallion, Silver.

That was back in the ’50s.

Today, you can’t go too far without seeing many masked men and women.

Eileen and I traveled up to New York by plane, and despite both of us having been duly vaccinated and negatively tested, we wore N95 masks and face shields as we ventured in the friendly skies.

It wasn’t fun.

God Bless healthcare workers who wore these masks for twelve-hour shifts day after day as they tended to the sick. I can’t imagine any group of people who want to return to normal than these people.

I found the wearing of these N95 masks to be painful and an ordeal for the few hours of flying and waiting in the airport, and I only had to do it once going and then again coming home.

I will, however, do it again as the alternative is less appealing.

Wearing the typical surgical masks is nothing compared to wearing the N95 in terms of discomfort, and it is no big deal to wear one as I do my daily chores or go to our restaurant here in our development. 

We can, of course, remove our masks when our drinks come as well as our meals. Our wait staff continues to wear their masks, and we are happy they do.

Warren G Harding promised a Return To Normalcy in the 1920 election. It had nothing to do with the Spanish Flu that was ravaging America at that time. It was more a reflection of kicking Woodrow Wilson’s ass (and his wife’s) out of the White House.

There was no such word as “normalcy” at the time as the correct term was normality, but that didn’t stop old Warren, but neither did the Teapot Dome scandal or hiding floozies in the White House closets. Normalcy ended for Harding when he died of an apparent heart attack two years into his presidency.

Notwithstanding Harding’s poor choice of words and untimely death, the desire to return to a usual way of living is something we all can hope to achieve in the coming months.

COVID fatigue is real.

Politics aside, no one wants to stay shut up in their locked-down abode anymore. There are baseball games and barbecues to attend and family gatherings by the score that needs to be held, and grandfathers and grandmothers who need their families at their side.

It’s all coming soon, but, like Christmas, we can’t rush it, and we still have to wear the mask.

Stay well. Be safe.

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Hiatus

It’s been quite a while since I last bothered you with an entry to the Newell Post.

There are a few reasons for my absence, not the least of which is my grandson, EJ, with whom I have spent six weeks of my vacation from writing.

Other reasons include election and insurrection fatigue and just wanting to get on with life.

But now I am back in Florida with a new Mac. Another reason for my missing in in-action was that my eleven-year-old Mac decided it had had enough, and its replacement just arrived on my doorstep courtesy of the good people at Apple and UPS.

So, here goes.

I only wish there was Rustoleum for delinquent bloggers.

Having been twice vaccinated, it was nice to travel to New York to see my children. It was well over a year since we’ve had the pleasure of their company. Thank God for Zoom and FaceTime and, might I add, Science in general.

Well, I was up in the Bronx when the Yankees played their first game of spring training, so it was fitting that I would be back in Florida when the Yankees opened the season in the Bronx.

Timing was never my forte.

But, still, it’s been great to watch baseball once again.

Then there is The Jets.

There have been worse franchises in sports, and it’s hard to remember that we were deemed a competitive team a short eleven years ago. But a few coshes and general managers later, we are once again rebuilding.
It’s not easy being a Jet fan which is why being a Yankee fan is the requisite anti-body to Jet dystopia.

The Yankees don’t have to win a World Series every year, but they do come close and have been putting more wins in the column than losses for over 27 years. That’s enough to keep fans (regular fans) happy and eager to watch their games.

The Jets, on the other hand, have not had a winning season in five years.

I don’t ask for much, but more wins than losses would be nice.

The Rule of Thumb that I subscribe to marks a good season for the Jets as to whether we are in the playoff hunt at Thanksgiving.

Lately, we haven’t made it to Columbus Day.

I am rustier than I had imagined, or maybe I am just uninspired as yet, but I will get my writing mojo back.

Just be patient.

That’s funny. Suggesting patience after 2020?

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Hiatus

It’s been quite a while since I last bothered you with an entry to the Newell Post.


There are a few reasons for my absence, not the least of which is my grandson, EJ, with whom I have spent six weeks of my vacation from writing.


Other reasons include election and insurrection fatigue and just wanting to get on with life.


But now I am back in Florida with a new Mac. Another reason for my missing in in-action was that my eleven-year-old Mac decided it had had enough, and its replacement just arrived on my doorstep courtesy of the good people at Apple and UPS.


So, here goes.


I only wish there was Rustoleum for delinquent bloggers.


Having been twice vaccinated, it was nice to travel to New York to see my children. It was well over a year since we’ve had the pleasure of their company. Thank God for Zoom and FaceTime and, might I add, Science in general.

Well, I was up in the Bronx when the Yankees played their first game of spring training, so it was fitting that I would be back in Florida when the Yankees opened the season in the Bronx.

Timing was never my forte.

But, still, it’s been great to watch baseball once again.

Then there is The Jets.

There have been worse franchises in sports, and it’s hard to remember that we were deemed a competitive team a short eleven years ago. But a few coshes and general managers later, we are once again rebuilding.
It’s not easy being a Jet fan which is why being a Yankee fan is the requisite anti-body to Jet dystopia.

The Yankees don’t have to win a World Series every year, but they do come close and have been putting more wins in the column than losses for over 27 years. That’s enough to keep fans (regular fans) happy and eager to watch their games.


The Jets, on the other hand, have not had a winning season in five years.


I don’t ask for much, but more wins than losses would be nice.


The Rule of Thumb that I subscribe to marks a good season for the Jets as to whether we are in the playoff hunt at Thanksgiving.

Lately, we haven’t made it to Columbus Day.


I am rustier than I had imagined, or maybe I am just uninspired as yet, but I will get my writing mojo back.


Just be patient.


That’s funny. Suggesting patience after 2020?

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Snow Snow Snow Snow…

One of our favorite songs from White Christmas happens to be the title of today’s entry.

Snow.

Snow is something that I haven’t seen since January 16, 2017.

That was the day that we closed on the selling of our house in East Quogue.

Our Pod was picked up early that morning, and I had to go out to move the cars to allow the truck to access the Pod. It was nineteen degrees, and our driveway had a coating of ice and snow from a previous weather event.

It was winter’s last hurrah…for Eileen and me at least.

So, this morning when I got up, and the temperature in Bradenton was in the 50’s, and I was freezing and had to resort to jeans, sweatshirt, and socks in lieu of a tee-shirt, shorts, and sickles, I thought about what was heading to New York in the coming days.

Snow.

My reaction startled me.

For the last year of Covid, I have been in a geographical funk. I felt trapped in Florida because I was not able to go to London and Ireland. I was not able to come up to New York for my birthday. More importantly and more painful, we were not able to travel up to New York for our grandson’s first Christmas.

I regretted my decision to sell our house in East Quogue and to abandon my family on that last snowy day that we experienced in 2017.

But, watching the New York news channel provided by Spectrum and learning that NYC and Long Island might be getting over a foot of snow just a few days after single-digit temperatures….well, let’s just say Florida’s been looking pretty groovy to me after all.

Instead of looking for places to buy in New York, I started looking for classes my kids could move to down here.

Now, this is just a meteorological over-reaction on my part, but, nevertheless, there is something to be said for snowbirding.

I just re-posted a blog I wrote several years ago when I was still commuting on the Long Island Rail Road, and it reinforced the idea that our decision to move to Florida was a pretty good one after all.

Now, COVID has prevented us from coming up to see our kids. As soon as we are fully vaccinated, that, hopefully, will put an end to our self-imposed (state-imposed?) exile as mask in position, we will venture back to the friendly skies and the beautiful environs of The Bronx.

It will be something that we will no longer take for granted and our ability to see our little EJ in three dimensions will be a treasure we will protect and preserve.

If there is anything that we all have learned during this dark year, it’s that time together with our loved ones…family and friends in New York, as well as the dear friends and family we have down here in Florida, must be savored and enjoyed like a fine wine…a single malt whiskey…a hoppy craft beer.

Nothing says love like alcoholic similes.

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Future Perfect

One of the downsides of being a science fiction fan, both in video representations and literary, is that I was set up to believe that the future would be perfect. Perfect, at least, in the eyes of a child.

Whether it was traveling to the stars or living in a world free of strife, the future was laid out for us as Heaven on Earth. No Dystopian universe to depress us. We may have read Orwell and Huxley but were never persuaded to think that our future would-be authoritarian in nature. No, ultimate freedom and pleasure were what was in store for us.

If George Jetson worked not at all by our standards, and Jane Jetson had a robotic maid to do the housework, life would be grand indeed for us baby boomers of the ’60s.

All of our hopes and dreams for a glorious future were confirmed by the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

Whether it was in the General Electric Pavilion, Progressland, the General Motors Pavillion, Futurama, or The Ford Rotunda, the future was quite literally a Disneyland for all of us to desire.

What made this such a powerful statement of hope for a better life was that the Fair opened five months to the day after our President had been assassinated. If ever there were a time to lose hope for the future, this was one. Perhaps, it helped our nation renew its optimism for a glorious future despite the challenges we had faced and would continue to face?

When we thought about the future in the ’50s, and 60’s space flight was on the top of the list. How many times had we taken time away from math and English in order to watch a space launch? Our teachers back then realized these were historical events, and we frequently were allowed to witness them on a flickering black and white television screen.

We had heard our President declare that we would put a man (no thought of women going to space quite yet) by the end of the decade. So profound was our faith in the future that when our President was shot in 1963, we entertained no doubt that this goal would be achieved.

Indeed, we reached this goal in 1969 and remained seemingly able to launch another moon mission anytime we wanted. Then in 1968, Stanley Kubrick, along with Arthur C. Clarke, made us believe that by 2001 we would have a lunar base from which we could reach the outer planets.

Space shuttles would be the new airplane as Pan Am would expand beyond the Americas and provide space station service daily. Sadly, Kubick’s representation would prove a considerable gaff as the real Pan Am went out of business a full ten years before their so-called shuttle brought Dr. Heywood Floyd to the rotating space station on his way to the Moon.

Oh well.

Nevertheless, in 1968 when 2001 A Space Odyssey debuted, and a full year before Neil Armstrong took that first step, space stations, and lunar bases were still optimistically a certainty.

But the future we imagined as children of the ’50s and 60’s never seemed to come to fruition.

We have many frills of modernity that would have inspired awe in the teenagers of our youth, but few have made our lives that much better.

Sure, I can hear a song on my satellite radio and go to iTunes to instantly purchase it, but that is nothing like going to Camera Craft in Parckchester to get the first 45 copy of I Want To Hold Your Hand.

Finishing a book on my train ride home, it was nice and convenient to go to the Kindle Store and download a new book in a matter of seconds? But is this better than going to an out of the way book store and discovering an unknown author?

It’s not that we don’t have a choice in our music or books or movies, but there is no randomness about the process.

Smart Phones and Smart Televisions have their upside but so too are their downsides. Always being on the grid. Always being available. Always being calibrated by some logarithm.

Our phones and TVs may be smart but are we?

Nostalgia was something we never considered about the future. It would not even enter our mind that the future would present challenges the like of which we are now experiencing.

We read about Big Brother and the Brave New World, but they were never going to be our future, or so we dreamt.

Our dreams and whimsy’s privacy are no longer private as being on the grid is akin to standing naked in Macy’s window.

For many, work has become less laborious, but for too many, it has ceased to represent a means of changing one’s status.

Our lives are not that bad, and certainly I have no reason to bemoan my fate. It’s just that we have seemed to stagnate these last fifty years since we stopped going to the Moon.

Perhaps, successfully meeting our most significant challenge yet and eliminating the scourge of Covid-19 will help usher in those long lost dreams for a utopian future?

That indeed will be a miracle of science that will restore our faith.

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Promises Made Promises Kept

Trump has just delivered the promise of his red hat.

America IS Great Again!

Trump has left the White House.

God Bless America.

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The Deep Fake

Something occurred to me in the midst of my delicious Sunday morning breakfast prepared with excellent culinary skills by my wife, Eileen.

Let me start by stating that I am a devout Anglophile and love everything English. From music to literature, I love it all and consume as much as I can. I subscribe to two streaming services that provide a broad array of English television in both drama and comedy genres.

In many of these distinctly British presentations, the lead characters frequently sip from the omnipresent cup of tea.

I have yet to see any of my favorite characters imbibe in a crumpet and, I confess, which I wouldn’t be able to identify in the first place.

I never thought at all about this glaring omission and wouldn’t even think to raise it as an issue of concern or remorse. However, this morning, as I was finishing my breakfast (not a typical Brit Fryup but containing two of the basics, eggs and bacon), I hit upon a more serious concern than the missing English crumpet.

I was dabbing the last bit of Smuckers Strawberry onto my English Muffin when it occurred to me that not once in my forty years of watching British characters ranging from Monty Python to Sherlock Holmes have I ever seen a Brit as much as mention (not alone eat) an English Muffin!

What’s up with that?

Has a fraud been perpetrated against me? With all their alleged nooks and crannies, is there anything distinctively English about the so-called English Muffin?

For forty years, all I have seen my English cousins of the arts only enjoy two pieces of toast and jam to complement their tea.

I don’t even believe that what Americans buy as English Muffins actually originate in England!

Ok, so occasionally, I have seen the odd scone or two but never an English Muffin.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the English Muffins that I have been eating all my life with butter melting in the nooks and jam settling in the crannies, but I think I will have to refer to them by some other name.

It’s just going to take some time getting used to calling our beloved English Muffins, American Tea Breads.

Just another issue to deal with in 2021.

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