songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, January 19, 2018

#skywatchfriday a view from a bridge

So we were on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge....

And I was bored.

And saw the view of lower Manhattan.

And Brooklyn.

And got a perfect shot of the bridge at sunset.  Or so I thought.

Sunlight hits my iPad, which reflects on the windshield, which reflects back to the camera lens...



Thursday, January 18, 2018

More sad news

So much sadness lately....too much.

When my daughters, now in their mid twenties, were children and young teens, they spent their summers at day camp.  The camp had a fabulous teen travel program, the kids would be on the road for days at a time during the week, but would be home every weekend.  Later, Jen was a counselor at the camp; she worked at the camp this past summer.   The girls have a lot of friends from their camp days.

Becca came home unexpectedly last night.  She told me  she and Jen will be attending a funeral this morning.  

I expected to hear that a friend’s parent had died.  Someone from the neighborhood, perhaps.

Instead I heard that the funeral isn’t for a friend’s parent, it’s for a friend.  A young man, a fellow camper and coworker.  The funeral is this morning.  The camp friends are all planning to pay a shiva call tomorrow.

I can only imagine the grief his parents must feel.  Makes me want to hug my own kids that much tighter.

It’s hard enough, at my age, to experience the death of a friend, someone close to my age.  How much more difficult it must be to face the death of a peer while in your twenties.

I never lost a friend when I was young, never had to face such loss, such grief, never had to face my own mortality at an age when most people are just coming into their own.

And yet, this isn’t the first time my girls have experienced such a loss.  There was a young man they knew in high school who died in a car crash.

So much death.

So sad.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

If it's Wednesday, it's time for Joyce's Hodgepodge.

1. What keeps you blogging?

I blog for myself.  I've always kept a diary or a journal, now that function rests in my blog.  the fact that I get to share my thoughts, and have other people comment, is a bonus.

2. Some people like to travel in the winter months. Do you enjoy the beach in winter? According to Southern Living the best U.S. beach towns to visit this winter are-

St Simons Island (Georgia), Hilton Head (South Carolina), Bald Head Island (North Carolina), Seaside (Florida), Bay St. Louis (Mississippi), Cape San Blas (Florida), South Padre Island (Texas), Folly Beach (South Carolina), Chincoteague (Virginia), Duck Key (Florida), Nags Head (North Carolina), and Fairhope (Alabama)

Have you been to any of the towns listed (in any season)? Which on the list appeals to you most this winter? 

I've never been to any of the beaches you mention.  But I have been to some of Florida's nice beaches in the dead of winter.  It was a welcome respite from the snow and the cold.  I'd love to go back.

but I really want to go back to Sanibel Island.  I was there twice, in the early 1990's, and both times were disasterous. It seems like such a  great place.  I'd like to have a nice, pleasant, normal trip to the island.

 3. What's a song you're embarrassed to know all the lyrics to? Are you really embarrassed or do just think you should be?
"Don't Cry For Me, Argentina".  I listened to the Evita cast album over and over and over again.  Knowing the lyrics makes me a real Broadway geek, doesn't it?

Worse yet, I know all the lyrics to almost all of the songs in Cats.  I even named a cat Mr. Mistoffeles once.  How could I not?  He was quiet.  He was small.  He was black, from his ears to the tip of his tail...

4. When you were a kid what's something you thought would be fantastic as an adult, but now that you're an adult you realize it's not all that fantastic?
Shopping.  When I was a kid, the stores were filled with wondrous things, so many things I wanted to buy.  But alas, I didn't have a lot of money, had to ask my parents to buy things, and quite often the answer was "no".   i couldn't wait to grow up and have my own money, so that I could buy whatever I wanted.

No one told me about, groceries, utilities, car payments, insurance ...

5. Share a quote you hope will inspire you in 2018.
Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. -- Anne Frank

 6. Insert your own random thought here.

Can't believe Janaury is more than half over!  Time is flying by this month.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Post

In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.  —  New York Times v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), Black, J., concurring.

I don’t commonly begin a blog post with a legal citation.  But Justice Black’s quote, from his concurring opinion in New York Times v. United States, expresses my thoughts about the cries of “fake news” that emanate from the Oval  Office these days.

I saw an incredible movie last weekend, Steven Spielberg’s newest masterpiece, The Post.  When people think of the Pentagon Papers, what comes to mind is Daniel Ellsberg and The New York Times.  Ellsberg stole 7,000 pages of classified documents detailing the history of the Vietnam war, and shared the report with The New York Times, which chose to publish the classified documents.

What is often forgotten, though, is that after the first article was printed, the government obtained an injunction preventing the Times from continuing to publish the classified documents. At that point, the Washington Post obtained some of the documents, and published them.   The government failed to obtain an injunction against the Post.  As a result of these inconsistent rulings, the two cases were fast tracked to the US Supreme Court, which permitted both papers to continue to publish the story.

Spielberg’s movie focuses on the Post, how it obtained the documents, and the discussion and debate as to whether to risk jail to publish the story.  Meryl Streep as the paper’s owner Kathryn Graham and Tom Hanks as the editor in chief give amazing performances.  And the debate is one we could be having today.  The power of the press, the people’s right to know what their government is doing versus the government’s attempt to keep someone from publishing material that portrays the White House in negative terms, didn’t WW have that debate again just recently?  (Remind me to pick up my copy of Fire and Fury ...)

Spoiler alert...

At the end of the movie, Streep’s character says something to the effect of “I hope I don’t have to make that kind of decision again.”

And my first thought was “Didn’t Woodward and Bernstein Work for the Post?”

And sure enough, the next scene shows a security guard discovering a burglary at the DNC headquarters at The Watergate Hotel ...

Yes, this is a “must-see” for anyone who loves American History, and for anyone who believes in the First Amendment and the power of the press.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Ending poverty and hunger

Last night I had the privilege of participating in a special program. It was an interfaith, multicultural celebration and choir concert honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   Marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign and the 2018 New Poor People's Campaign, the program focused on poverty and hunger here on Long Island.

There were prayers led by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist clergy, readings by children in various languages, and five choirs, including a group  of Jewish day school students who sang in Hebrew, a group of children from a Catholic church who sang in Spanish, and an adult choir of Haitian immigrants.

The keynote speakers where the Regional Director of the NAACP, and our local Congressman (a Democrat), so yes, the evening took a bit of a political turn.  How could it not, after the disgusting remarks made by the current occupant of the Oval Office?

The price of admission for this delightful evening was a donation of nonperishable food to Long Island Cares, or, alternatively, a cash donation to Island Harvest.

Here is just a portion of what was collected last night.

Overall and incredible, and very satisfying, evening.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

We Are A Nation Of Immigrants, Part II

In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty is Ellis Island.  Ellis Island served as a major immigration processing center in the first half of the 20th century.  If your family emigrated from Europe during that time, chances are they came through Ellis Island.

It’s a museum now, has been for some time.  A group of us visited the museum when it reopened in 1990.  I haven’t been back since then, and I really should go again.  The experience was overwhelming.  I kept hearing my grandmother’s voice in my head.

My grandmother Dora was born in 1902, in a province called Galicia, which is now part of Poland but was then part of Austria-Hungary. She was the eldest of 5 children.  Her father came to New York before World War I, and sent for his family after the war.  Dora, two of her sisters and her brother all came here eventually, but Dora’s mother  never came, she was was afraid.  She walked with a limp, and was scared they’d send her back to Europe.  The youngest sister stayed with their mother.  Both were killed in the Holocaust.

Dora came here with her sister Shirley.  She told me the story many times. They travelled with their aunt and  uncle, and arrived in Rotterdam just before the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.  There was an argument about whether the girls could buy candy for the holiday, but by the time the uncle gave permission, the stores had all closed.

A sailor took a liking to Dora, and gave her a tin of sardines.  She said “He told me not to eat them when the ship got out onto the big water, but I didn’t listen,”. She blamed those sardines for the horrible seasickness she experienced the entire time the ship was on the Atlantic.

Consequently she was extremely debilitated when she arrived at Ellis Island, and was held at the hospital.  She spoke about how the doctor asked to walk a straight line, to prove she was well.  She also had her first encounter with an African American, he was serving food in the cafeteria. He had to explain to Dora that his skin was naturally dark,  not dirty.  

 My grandmother came here as a young woman, but did not become a citizen until my mother was an adult.  Why?  Because of a mistake at Ellis Island.   Apparently Dora’s uncle gave the wrong name to the immigration officials, and there was no record of Dora entering the country.  Rather, her sister Florence was recorded as as having entered twice, in two different years.

If my grandmother had not made that trip to Ellis Island, I would not be here today.

I don't hear the voices of my other grandparents, because they died before I was born.  but I know their stories...

Dora's husband Harry died when my mother was a little girl, so I don't know much.  He was also from Eastern Europe, not sure exactly where.  Maybe Hungary.  He was illegal alien.  I was told he sailed from Europe to Canada, walked across the border and made his way to New York City.  He never became a citizen, had to register as an alien during World War II.

My paternal grandparents came from the same small town outside Kiev, in the Ukraine.  My grandfather,  I'm told, was a Socialist and participated in the failed 1905 revolution.  He came to New York in 1907, and sent for my grandmother two years later.  In the 1920's he went to court and legally changed his name, and the names of his children, from something long and Russian to something very, very Jewish.

We cannot forget where we come from, that every family in America can trace its roots to immigrants, people like my grandparents, who came to this country looking for a better life for themselves and their children.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

We Are A Nation Of Immigrants

The most recent vulgar comments by that embarrassment in the Oval Office notwithstanding...

One of the most cherished symbols of our nation is the Statue of Liberty.  Full name: ”Liberty  Enlightening the World”.  She sits in New York Harbor, welcoming travelers to our shores.  She is gift from the people of France in recognition of our special bond with them.  The brilliant poem by Emma Lazarus is in our collective memory:  “Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...”

When I was a child, whenever we drove over the Verrazano Bridge, I’d look out the window, trying to spot the statue below.

When I worked in lower Manhattan, I’d often walk down to Battery Park to view Lady Liberty.  Back in the 80’s, when the statue was undergoing refurbishment in anticipation of her centennial, we jokingly referred to her as “The Scaffold of Liberty”.

When Drew and I were first married we lived in Brooklyn, and if you stood in the middle of our street, you could see Lady Liberty in the distance.  

When I worked in Jersey City, I was fortunate to have a cubicle by the window, and I could look up from my work and see her in the harbor.

I’ve visited the statue several times, first with my parents, and later with friends.   My friends and I climbed all the way up to the crown once, the view of Manhattan is spectacular.

Awhile back, Drew and I took a dinner cruise around Manhattan.  The highlight of the evening was when the boat stopped near Liberty Island, and I was able to take this photo.

This is who we are, not what the vulgar comments of the POTUS suggest.  Perhaps he has forgotten his mother was an immigrant.  Perhaps he just doesn’t care.

So let us remind him, in Lazarus’ soaring words:

The New Colossus

BY Emma Lazarus 
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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