Friday, August 29, 2008

Clever, Clever, Clever

So the GOP has chosen Alaska's governor as the vice presidential nominee. Now that's clever.

Sarah Palin is the perfect answer to so many of McCain's problems....she's young, she's a Washington outsider...even a political outsider. She's a woman. If I agreed with her politics I'd probably be dancing in the streets.

I'm hoping that women who are still smarting from Hillary Clinton's fall from the political podium are smart enough to look beyond gender.

I was raked over the coals via email by a NOW official for not enthusiastically jumping on board the Clinton bandwagon during the primary. It wasn't about gender for me. Nor was it about race. I had problems with Clinton as a candidate. I found less to worry about in what I knew of Obama.

Now the Republicans have a woman on the ticket. This could make McCain's many unpalatable positions go down a lot easier. If this smart, capable woman thinks he's okay, maybe he's not as bad as we thought, huh?

Don't settle for the easy answers. Women are an important part of this nation's voting block and they need to use that power intelligently. That doesn't mean voting for one of our own simply because she's one of us. Condoleeza Rice is a smart, capable woman, too. Do you agree with her political views?

This election is about very important issues: the economy, the war, the environment, our relationship with the rest of the global community.

I don't presume to tell you what to do. But I desperately hope that no matter whether you're a woman or a man, white, red, black or any other color in the rainbow, gay, straight, rich or poor, young or old, you use your head as well as your heart. Decide where you stand on the issues and support the candidate who best represents what you believe to be the right answers.

Be clever, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democrats, Otters and Earthquakes

Bill Clinton spoke at the Democratic National Convention tonight. I heard he really wanted to talk about his own legacy, but he toed the party line and used the spotlight to call the troops to rally around their candidate. As usual, I was very conflicted. President Bill Clinton, for all the accomplishments he had, always struck me as a less than stellar human being. Not just because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, though that certainly didn't win him any points with me. In general, he strikes me as a capable, bright and ambitious man with a dearth of principles. Yet every time he made a speech he won me over, if only until the speech was over. I would watch the State of the Nation address and be left wondering how I could be so easily manipulated.

I didn't fall under his spell this time, but I will never dispute the man is a wonderful speaker. I'm glad it appears the Democrats are starting to get their act together. It would be a shame to squander the enthusiasm and energy that Democrats generated during the primary. And I seriously thought Hillary might just slap him silly if he created any more problems for the Democrats this year.

So tonight I learned something new - Bill Clinton can put aside his personal feelings for the good of his country. It was good to see.

There are a lot of new things happening lately...or at least they're new to me.

My daughter told me about the link between dying sea otters and cat litter. I hadn't heard it.
If you haven't either, here's a story you can read in Time . Or you can be lazy and I'll tell you. Basically, it's believed that the huge increase in the use of flushable cat litter is leading to an increase in a bacteria present in cat waste that survives long enough to get into creatures in the water...creatures that otters eat. I adore otters. I've loved them since "Ring of Bright Water." I was traumatized by that story's unhappy ending. So now I have to stop flushing cat litter...and that means our trash is going to be just horrible.

But isn't it bothering you how many things we do eventually prove to be a problem?

There's another new thing under the ground in my neck of the woods. Or maybe, more accurately, something we never knew about under the ground.

There's a new study out that's discovered there's a bigger risk of earthquakes in the metro New York area than we knew. It's legit - the result of measurements by the Columbia University Lamont-Dougherty Earth Lab. You can read more here... Lab Website

I spoke with the author of that study this week. The folks at the Indian Point nuclear power plant are quick to say he's been an outspoken opponent of their facility. When I spoke with him, Dr. Lynn Sykes sounded like a very level-headed man who was very concerned about the possibility of damage to a nuclear facility that is sited near not one, but two existing fault lines.

Indian Point owners Entergy say the lab is fact, they go so far as to say it would be the safest place to be in an earthquake. They probably believe it. But neighboring Westchester County, which is bristling with homes, malls, and industry, is wondering now how well it could evacuate its citizens if its aging bridges and roads were falling apart during an earthquake. And evacuation was always an important part of Westchester's emergency planning...the goal was to reduce everyone's potential radiation exposure.

So now we're facing a new issue based on science, and each interest group is entrenched...the Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn't think the new study offers any significant new threat to the nuclear plant....Indian Point doesn't think it needs to shore up its building in the face of an increased earthquake risk. But it's possible we're all standing on shaky ground.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who Are We, Anyway?

I've been giving some thought to this. I've been having a lot of thoughts, lately, about bigger issues than I usually deal with. Maybe it's The Show. Maybe it's having my daughter around more and watching her deal with issues that I realize are still unresolved in my own life. Maybe it's all the reading I'm doing. Maybe it's living with another human being, one whose neuroses and complexities often are mirrors of my own.

Anyway, this week I had a conference call with two former hosts of The Show, as it's approaching its 1000th show. It's taken 19 years to get there. And as I listened to them talk about how The Show changed them and how they changed it, I heard echoes of my own experiences. I've had to think hard about what 'women's issues' are. I've had to examine my own opinions about issues, my philosophy of life, what attracts me, what repels me. They're things we take for granted, a lens through which we see the world without usually checking it for cracks, distortions or clouds.

My filter is a firm belief that everyone has rights, everyone has potential, that humanity has an essential goodness that needs only to be encouraged. I've confessed before to having a large Pollyanna streak. But my filter also is clouded by a need to be liked, accepted, considered capable, interesting and attractive...a need to please. I'm not crazy about that realization, but it's true.

I read books about today's young women, driven not to be just 'good', but 'effortlessly perfect.' I see it in my daughter and she sees it in herself. It's an unattainable goal and one that leaves them constantly dissatisfied with themselves. Courtney Martin's "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters" is an excellent discussion on the topic and I'm giving it to my daughter as soon as I've finished it. I see no answers, but perhaps even being aware of the universality of the problem is a first step toward finding a solution.

But it goes deeper than that: we, as humans, choose - no, NEED, to be with others. We can live alone. But we miss than connection, that sharing of experience with another. And when we live together, we are immediately in an intricate, unrehearsed dance as we step around each other's neuroses and 'hot buttons'. We find outselves twisting ourselves into a new shape that doesn't rock the boat. And if we twist too far, we break. The relationship ends. This isn't a women's issue exclusively - men do it, too.

So what's the answer? How do we have a relationship that allows each of us to be who and what we are without compromise? Is there such a thing? And if we had that space, would we even know how to do it?

Welcome to my head. I think I need a vacation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Radioactivity, Coincidence and Individual Rights

If you read an older post, you'll know I've been hot on the trail of information regarding the US's latest gold rush - the race to drill a couple of miles into the ground, then horizontally, to suck up natural gas that has never been tapped.

So imagine my surprise when the author of the book "Welcome To Shirley, a memoir of an atomic town" today told me that her next project is a book on the "new gold rush" in her part of Pennsylvania. Yup. Horizontal drilling for natural gas.

Kelly McMaster's book is a good one. It's not a strident anti-nuke book, though after reading it you may think she ought to be a whole lot angrier and more bitter than she sounds. It's the story of a kid growing up in a wrong-side-of-the-tracks town on Long Island who loves where she comes from, and is shocked to discover that not everyone she meets after she leaves is afraid of developing cancer.

Long Island, she says, has a far higher-than-average rate of cancer. And she knows dozens of neighbors, young and old, who have developed some pretty strange cancers...sometimes more than one. And no one's ever said for sure if that's because their neighbor is the Brookhaven Nuclear Laboratory.

There were leaks from Brookhaven's reactors over the years, and the lab sits atop the aquifer which supplies the area's water. Nobody knew. The lab was eventually declared a Superfund site and a new administration was brought in. But McMasters believes the damage was already done.

"So what's your next project?" I asked her.

And that's when we started talking about gas drilling. She said she knows of people whose wells have gone dry once the drilling started. The horizontal fracking process takes millions of gallons of water, combined with some chemicals that, thanks to the federal government's industry-friendly mood, don't have to be disclosed.

"I'm just hoping I can preserve my little piece of property here," she told me.

And that got me thinking about rights we take for granted - but rights that maybe aren't as secure as we think they are.

For instance, HSO and I have a nice house within walking distance to town. There's a little traffic noise and our road is a favorite shortcut for locals, but it's far from busy.

But we noticed the other day that someone had hung pink plastic ribbons on bushes at the border with our neighbor. We assumed maybe they were thinking of putting up a fence. Instead, they stopped HSO the other day at the store.

"What's up with the ribbon? Are you doing some construction or something?"

Turns out the state was out marking boundaries, preparing to do something regarding traffic to a proposed affordable housing development that's going to be built about a quarter of a mile away. Our road isn't the best way to reach it. There's a closer road. But apparently something is being planned that could direct traffic up our street. And no one said a word.

"Don't they have to tell us?" HSO was not pleased.

I used to live in the cutest little schoolhouse in the world on a scenic road in a remote section of Connecticut. No one told me when I was buying it that the summer would be one long jet-engine howl of hoardes of motorcycles. I had to keep my windows closed. Despite that, conversation was impossible when they went by. I know, buyer beware. But really. And the town I lived in argued every year about those bikers.

"They bring business into town," some shop owners said.

"They drive down the value of our homes, make noise that's unbearable and hog up every parking spot in town," the residents countered.

Other merchants weren't so biker-friendly. I heard some say the bikers never bought anything more than coffee or a sandwich. And some said the bikers drove away families who might have shopped in town if it weren't overrun by middle aged men reclaiming their rebel youths.

So whose rights do we protect? The bikers' right to travel freely and make as much noise as they want because they argue it makes them easier to notice, thereby safer from cars? The rights of people who live on the roads they travel, who should have a reasonable assurance of comfort and protection from other people's noise when they're in their own homes? The rights of shopkeepers who have to make a living?

Do we have to sacrifice the rights of people who have bought homes in a neighborhood in favor of the right of affordable housing to others?

Is there a compromise position that protects all of them? Or do I conclude that all of our rights are suspect? Do we only have rights so long as no one else's rights take precedence?

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Bit of a Bygone Era

This is a photo of a painting called The Dream Garden...done by Nathan Dolinsky of the grounds near his home in the Catskills.

I went there today. It doesn't look much like this anymore.

Imagine an enchanted cottage and gardens, tangled vines, crumbling walls and complete solitude. That would be what I found.

The house is for sale and has been for quite some time. HSO and I have dreamed about it since we first started looking for a house almost two years ago. It was way beyond our means and clearly needed a lot of work. But we kept looking for it. We just wanted to see it.

As part of my 'make this job fun' resolution, I decided to track down the house and the man who clearly loved it. It's going to make a far better story than I could ever have imagined. I found a gallery (Bantam Fine Arts, to whom I owe a thanks for this photo of The Dream Garden) and that led me to fascinating people and ideas that I think would make terrific books. Now that's fun.

I also arranged to get a tour of the house with the realtor who's listed it. HSO is ecstatic. And my daughter, who loves abandoned old houses as much as her mother does, was willing to go look for it with me today. Kind of an advance scouting trip.

HSO and I have tried in the past and failed. But I had better directions today and voila! Down a long, overgrown driveway, into a clearing we walked and I stopped in my tracks. There is magic there. The old iron gate hangs open, an invitation to explore the overgrown grounds and peek in grimy windows where carefree people in summer finery once gathered to hear concerts and sip tea. The stones in the painting lean precariously toward the ground but the ghosts of what once was still linger, whispering of happy children, adults who remembered how to play. Music and art, they say softly, were as thick there as the bees buzzing in the flowers.

I know very little about Nathan Dolinsky. But I know I would have liked him. And there's something about this house that remembers those easier times. I can't wait to get inside. More to come....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quantum Physics and Vegan Cookbooks

I almost forgot ... I'm supposed to be having fun!

It all came back to me today. In my compulsive need to be ahead of schedule, the current understaffed nature of The Station is making me feel the need to get my work done hours ahead of time. Two stories a day used to be a full day's work. Lately I'm getting those done by halfway through the day, skipping lunch and continuing to work on The Show.

I stand up at the end of the day, wonder at my tense shoulders and aching back and drag myself home. I'm a ton of fun, let me tell you.

But that shifted today. I did my usual overdrive morning, got two stories put together hours before they were needed, then started surfing the Internet. It wasn't casual surfing; I was looking for new ideas for The Show. But today I looked at what I was curious about...not whatever idea seemed feasible and easy to find guests for.

I started with cookbooks. I have been trying to drop animal products from my diet with limited success for months now. And HSO's various aches, ailments and general discomforts make it clear he's due for a dietary upgrade as well. So I looked for a vegan cookbook that looked not only fun, but tasty and within the cooking abilities of a regular kitchen shlump (that would be me). I found Vegan With a Vengeance. It's called post-punk cooking and I loved it on sight.
So I wrote to the author. And wouldn't you know it - she's going to be in my very own neighborhood within a month or two so I can talk to her in person. Yippee!

I moved on to quantum physics. I'm a closet nerd - or maybe the closet isn't as tightly shut as I think. I've read Chaos. I've waded through The Dancing Wu-Li Masters. I've read Ramtha and Seth, navigated The Tao of Physics : I've seen Mindwalk and What the Bleep Do We Know? I know just enough to know I don't know anything. I want to find someone who does.

I discovered that the guy who became rich with the invention of the Blackberry used a good chunk of his profits to establish an institute in Canada to study quantum physics. Oh this is fun. I checked them out and there are a few women there...I faxed them to see if they'd talk to me. The institute doesn't have an email contact. Interesting, no?

My daughter dropped in, we went out and had a bite to eat (I had seitan, if you're checking
on me) and I realized I was having the best day at work I've had in ages.

Time to relax, I think. It's all in how I approach it...and I know that. I just have to remember not to forget.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Publicists are People, too.

The Show with Issues gets some attention from the world of publicists. It's apparently listed on some master list as a place to get your women guests a little air time. I had no idea that I didn't necessarily have to hunt for people to talk to - they come knocking on my door.
Or, more accurately, ringing my phone when I'm 15 minutes to deadline and my fingers are tapping out a news story at 80 miles per hour.
I try to be polite. They're offering me interviews and sometime what they're offering is gold.
For instance, one publicist hooked me up with two amazing women who had written books on the Iraq war...what we should have learned from our mistakes there, and why/how big oil is pulling the strings. Fascinating stuff.
But then there's the sincere, eager phone call pushing a book that, when I read it, is just so poorly done that I can't get past the second chapter. What do you say?
"I'm sorry. That's the worst garbage I've ever read and I'm sorry you have to try to sell it"?
The latest call came from someone wanting me to interview the "First Lady of Fiction." My mom used to read her stuff - it was pretty puffy fare. Not my taste. It was also 15 minutes to deadline (of course). But I wrote back later in the day (emails are far preferred by this particular host) and after second and third thoughts, decided it would be stupid to let the opportunity pass just because I don't like her books. Who says I'm the authority? Plenty of people like her. Or I'm guessing they do.
So I suggested she'd fit nicely in the segment I try to reserve for artists. I have a feeling The Author will be expecting a far longer interview, but perhaps we'll hit it off and have a rollicking good discussion that I'll be glad to have done.
Or maybe I'll put it in the 'someday' pile.
But the publicist will be happy. And that counts for something.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Night at the Plaza

Leon doesn't have much to say, but he still puts on a hell of a show. So do some of his fans.

HSO piled me into the car and we drove about an hour into the capital city to check out the weekly Food Fest at the Empire State Plaza, hear a little Martha Wainwright and KT Tunstall, and see one of my musical favorites - Leon Russell. HSO saw him with the Mad Dogs and Englishman tour at the Fillmore.

"But I didn't really see it," he confessed. "I was backstage learning how to do lighting."

We both saw Leon this time. Up close. But let me back up a bit.

The Empire State Plaza, for those of you who've never been there, is really quite impressive. It was built by Governor Nelson Rockefeller about fifty years ago and, at the time, was considered a boondoggle. There are massive towers surrounding a huge marble plaza in which shallow, lighted pools glimmer, anchored on either end by the massive museum building and the Rococo beauty of the state capital. The state hosts a big party there every week during the summer. Food vendors line the sidewalks, the marble walkway (where I used to roller skate in younger days) is dotted with strolling visitors, and a bandstand is set up at one end facing the row of marble steps.

The first group we saw was a hard-rockin' bunch of guys called The Audiostars.
As we sauntered by, one of the guitar players caught my eye and nodded. This has never happened to me. There had to be a reason. I looked around, looked back and he nodded again. As I clearly looked confused, he mouthed HSO's name. all made sense. HSO had, in the few second this took, noticed and was smiling.

"Bobbie Van Detta," he said. "Great guitarist...sweet, sweet guy."

HSO knows everybody.

We shopped the vendors and decided to split a pulled pork sandwich and some concoction involving cheese and fried cornbread. Delicious.

Martha Wainwright was next. I saw her at Carnegie Hall with my daughter when Martha's brother, Rufus, did his historic recreation of Judy Garland's concert at Carnegie. David Bowie was in the audience that night but we didn't know. Martha did a full throttle, max volume, nervous breakdown number that brought the house down that night.

"I don't know if you'll like her," I told HSO, "but she's certainly a showman."

This set was mostly folk and her mom, Kate McGarrigle, played piano for her. Martha played guitar and has an interesting leg-lift thing she does when she plays. There's something about her I like, especially when she does torch songs. She did one this time. And closed with a loud, angry song she warned the parents wouldn't be appropriate for kids. It wasn't. But it was funny.

Then came Leon. He came out, sat down, and never spoke a word except "thank you." But he played a slick, amazing set that lasted more than an hour backed up by some amazing musicians. You can find out more about them at his website. Suffice to say, we stood right by the railing in front of him and were blown away. As were our ears.

But there was phenomenon I wonder about. Directly in front of us was a woman of ample girth and mature years who spent the entire set trying to catch Leon's eye. She'd point at him, she'd make motions indicating eye contact, she'd point again. She blew kisses. She bumped. She grinded (ground?). She shimmied, she boogied, she did everything she could to get his attention except take her shirt off. I am immensely grateful she didn't do that.

HSO, who brought a walking stick as the knee he broke last winter on an icy night when I expressed a craving for Oreos still bothers him when he's walking a lot, threatened to bean her with it. I was holding a water bottle and more than once had to repress the urge to hose her down.

When Leon left, she stayed behind...and started doing some of the same things to KT Tunstall when her set began. Huh.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Leon, Nukes and Same Sex Marriage

It's a typical day...lots going on although it's hard to say anything is particularly happening.

I've got a half day off so HSO and I can travel upstate to see a dear friend I've never met - Leon Russell. I guess I need to explain that.

I grew up in Woodstock, a pretty straight, Donna Reed-raised kid in a town that was a heaving mass of dirty, happy, drugged-out hippies. I wasn't part of the scene, but I loved their attitude. Leon Russell was one of my few links to the counter-culture.

I know, I know...his music wasn't particularly subversive...but he could beat the hell out of a piano and his hair scared my dad to death. That was big fun.

I never saw him in person until many years later. I was grown and had children and he was appearing at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Massachusetts. I hadn't seen any recent pictures and was shocked when he took the stage: when had the man whose nails-on-a-blackboard voice was part of my history become Santa Claus? The years had changed us both, but Leon certainly showed the changes more. His long, lean body was very well fed and his long, long hair was snow white.

When the show started, I was in a time warp and very happy to be there.

That was probably ten years ago. He's going to be appearing at a free event in Albany, New York. He's not the headliner - KT Tunstall is. How times change. But HSO knows I love Leon and we're going...unless it pours rain.

My morning began with interviews regarding our local nuclear power plant. It's up for relicensing and it seems there's always some problem or other there - whether it's non-functioning sirens, rotting infrastructure or the latest news - the finding of 'trace' amounts of a radioactive element that was the chief problem after the Chernobyl disaster.

"Because a second element wasn't present in the monitoring well," the company spokesman told me, "we think this is just leftover fallout from Cold War nuclear tests."

The NRC didn't rubber stamp that explanation, but the federal spokesman did say it was a very, very small amount...not a danger.

Local environmental groups expressed frustration - they say the feds stack the deck in the nuclear industry's favor when relicensing hearings are held. The feds decide what arguments they're willing to hear. Out of about 150 complaints, 15 have been accepted as worth hearing. The saga is unlikely to end anytime soon.

From that I moved on to an interview with a woman who had to go to court to get her employer, a state university, to offer her wife and child the family benefits that heterosexual couples are automatically entitled to. This is a follow up to an interview I did with a gay couple who'd just returned from California where they'd gotten married. I'm sorry to hear that one of them is back in the hospital...apparently he's got heart trouble. At least they've now got the legal standing of a married couple as they deal with his illness.

It's one of those days when I realize my job suits me perfectly - I have trouble sticking with one thing for very long before my mind goes flying off in another direction. This job lets me dig as deep as I possibly can in a limited time, then demands I shut down and open the books on something new.

The best story today? The 83 year old guy who was taken to court after he shot a bear that kept showing up in his garage. The judge put him on accelerated probation...if he behaves, his record will be wiped clean. Think he's happy he's finally an outlaw?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vaguely Off

Ever have one of those "I'm not sick but I'm not well" days? Weeks, even? Me, too.

I couldn't tell you what exactly is wrong. Maybe Lyme is rearing its ugly head again (it does that sometimes). Maybe I'm sublimating stress and it's leaking into my skull and stomach. Maybe I'm just sick...or going to be.

All I can tell you is that I'm usually pretty even-tempered, if a bit neurotic. But I've been cranky. By my own rather strict standards, perhaps even bitchy.

Not a good move when you're living with a highly sensitive man. A bit of what's bothering me hissed out in his direction last night, so in addition to not feeling well I felt horribly guilty.

I apologized with all my heart and took me off to bed at nine pm, where I stayed for a solid ten hours and still felt 'off' when I woke in the morning.

Took myself off to work, did what was required and even a bit more, but just couldn't face a media panel after work. They wanted to know how they could get more media coverage and as my head began to roar I had to call and tell them that, today at least, they just didn't want to hear what I would probably say.

I'll pay a few bills tonight and perhaps fall into bed early again. Ah, life in the fast lane.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gas, Oil and Charges of Greed

My job keeps me abreast of things I might not pay attention to if I didn't have to...but I'm grateful. The issue of horizontal natural gas drilling is one that's important to my area now, and we didn't know a thing about it just a couple of months ago.

I spotted a small notice that there was going to be a public hearing on the subject out in the wilds of Sullivan County (better known as home of the Borscht Belt) and did some digging (pardon the pun). What I discovered was that a relatively new technology is making New York mecca for natural gas drillers...they can now get at shale a mile or more below the ground and still make money. So they're coming in droves, buying up drilling rights and promising riches that could put the state lottery out of business.

But that comes with a price - there's a chemical cocktail that's combined with millions of gallons of water when they drill. And the companies don't have to tell anyone what those chemicals are. Thank our president for that. His administration sliced and diced environmental laws seen as 'unfavorable' to gas and oil companies.

Today I also learned that there's a noise problem. Those drills run 24 hours a day. They have to, for efficiency and safety reasons. And they're loud. A watchdog group in Colorado says it's about 100 decibels...that's like a semi truck going by over and over again.

Noise experts say prolonged exposure to that level of noise can not only make you cranky and raise your blood pressure; it can damage your hearing. OSHA requires hearing protection and limited hours to workers who face that kind of racket. What if you're living near it?

Then I went to a press conference with an area congressman who's been saying for months that this president is the most impeachable in history. There was apparently a hearing on Dennis Kucinich's articles of impeachment just a couple of weeks ago, but no one talked about it. Some worry that if the impeachment effort built a head of steam, it would fizzle in the Senate, and that would give the administration an opening to say that it had no merit. But others argue that just publicly airing a laundry list of this president's actions, both unconstitutional and illegal, would limit the damage he could do in his remaining months. This congressman is from the former although he took part in the hearing, he holds out no hope of it. In fact, his reaction to the whole thing was rueful laughter. It must be frustrating and, eventually, demoralizing to see so much that you believe is wrong but be convinced that there's nothing that can be done to stop it.

He charges the latest calls for off shore drilling are just another smokescreen. Oil companies already have millions of acres of potentially productive land they're not drilling. And they're not paying for it, either. It's a sweet deal if you can get it, especially when you've got friends in high places who want to give you more.

Meanwhile, we're expecting to be very cold or very hungry this winter - we can't be warm and fed at the same time when fuel prices have more than doubled. But I'm told any relief from Washington will be bogged down in partisan infighting.

I'd guess I'd better start putting away some lunch money for the "I Don't Want to Be a Popsicle" fund this winter.

Friday, August 1, 2008

New York's In Trouble

That's the conclusion of Governor David Paterson and he seems to know what he's talking about. I spent most of this week tracking down what that might mean...cuts to spending, cuts in staff, hiring freezes, and what about the oh-so-heavily-promoted Quadricentennial celebration? No answers so far, but it was interesting to have one assembly member tell me that 'before we make any cuts that hurt the people of this state or ask them to spend more to prevent any cuts, we should look at those kinds of projects a second time, at the very least put them off until a better time or maybe look at whether we should be in that business at all.' That got a rise out of the head of the Quad committee, who has to deal with said assembly member on her committee. "Why would he cut off a very big source of potential revenue to his own district by putting the brakes on a project that would benefit his area most of all?"

She was talking about the Walkway of Terror...better known as the Walkway Over the Hudson. It's a 35 million dollar project to convert a former railroad bridge into a massive pedestrian walkway. I'd scoff, but I've been on top of the Eiffel Tower. It's pretty cool. I suppose it's possible people will travel a long way to walk a mile above the Hudson.

Then there were interviews for The Show. I spoke with the founders of Ode magazine. I love the concept: highlight what's good in the world. It's not a Pollyanna magazine and it's not escapist. It looks at the issue we're all confronting but doesn't just moan or try to scare us to death - it looks at solutions.

The founders are a couple who used to be journalists. She's French, he's Dutch. He's measured in his responses, hers were so peppered with swear words that I'm going have to do some editing to make her FCC-acceptable. But they weren't gratuitous swears...they sprang from her frustration with a media obsessed with finding disaster everywhere.

I like Ode.

Then I spoke with the woman who gave up a bank job to run the Heidelberg Project in Detroit. I had never heard of it before I stumbled across a story on it this week. It's wonderful. An artist took some run down buildings in the most derelict part of the city and turned them into wild and amazing art. It's grown into a huge tourist destination and he's even being recognized by a prestigious international architectural competition.

"Are you surprised by the way your life has changed?" I asked her.

"I never saw this coming," she laughed. But she's having fun.

She told me too many people live the lives people expect of them...and then get trapped in the boxes they build.

I understand that. And I guess my efforts to live outside a box have led me here...and will undoubtedly take me places I haven't even imagined yet.