A friend of mine posted this graphic on their Facebook feed. Nobody claim 2022 as “your year”. And I get it.
I got to sing in my church’s Christmas Eve service for the first time in two years, which was great. Now, I felt rusty but that was OK. In 2020, the church had audio and video of the choir’s prior performances shown on the Facebook feed. Listening to the sounds of our voices was OK; I’d been doing so almost every week for months of the regular service. but watching the film of me, and others, singing made me EXTREMELY melancholy.
The Boston Globe readers commented on the past year. The intro: “If 2020 felt like a year like no other, then 2021 felt like more of the same. One step forward and two steps back, or vice versa? It depended on the day. We saw vaccines rolled out, then resisted. Bitter partisanship kept its grip on our politics.”
I love the word hegemony
If I read this article, The Respite Is Coming to an End. “All around us we can see the forces of white nationalist authoritarianism engaged in a second, far more methodical, far better coordinated, and already more successful attempt to do what they failed to do on January 6, 2021. If matters continue on this path, the Biden administration will prove only a brief respite before those forces snuff out the grand American experiment and secure a permanent, counter-majoritarian chokehold on the erstwhile republic.” And it’s a compelling argument.
And Foreign Affairs had a piece, The Real Crisis of Global Order. Illiberalism on the Rise. It addresses, among other things, the collapse of US hegemony, which Trump’s election helped to create and Biden’s election almost certainly can’t fix. For instance, as the Daily Show illustrated, Why China Is in Africa.
Rodgers and Hammerstein
I’m already exhausted from 2022, like Sinatra or Gordon MacRae singing Soliloquy from Carousel, musing what “my boy Bill” will be like. “Say, why am I carrying on like this? My kid ain’t even been born yet.” And neither has 2022. Well, maybe in New Zealand.
Perhaps I need more humour and a stiff upper lip, like Queen Elizabeth who lost her husband, Prince Philip, in 2021, who she’d only been married to since 1947, before I was born.
So I’m going to decide that 2022 will be great! Of course, I will also retreat to the ‘trust but verify” position about the new year, which is a quote Ronald Reagan cleverly pilfered.
147 New York dams are ‘unsound’ and potentially dangerous Thousands of dams have not been inspected in more than 20 years
Hidden Pentagon records reveal patterns of failure in deadly airstrikes
Desmond Tutu, a cleric who campaigned against apartheid in South Africa, dies at 90. “A moral beacon in a deeply troubled land, Tutu managed to irritate the African National Congress government that took power after South Africa’s first all-race elections, as much as he had riled the apartheid regime that had previously oppressed the country’s Black majority.”
This Year, Hollywood’s China Relationship Finally Unraveled
After his performance in The Music Man, Hugh Jackman touts Broadway understudies, standbys, and swings. The role of Marion Paroo, the female lead, was supposed to be played by Sutton Foster, who tested positive for COVID. The role was covered by a swing named Kathy Voytko, who also covered seven other smaller roles in the production.
Flying from Honolulu to Buffalo just before Christmas
I Stopped Caring About My Kids’ School Grades. You Should, Too.
See the movie short: Seasoned Greetings (1933 Vitaphone). Lita Grey Chaplin w/ 7 Yr Old Sammy Davis Jr
Now I Know: A Brick That Broke The Glass Ceiling and The Amazing Spider-Man Coincidence and When It Feels Good to Pay More
Inspiring Quotes: If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror. – Shane Koyczan
Nominate the next Literary Legend!
Each year, the Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library select a new outstanding person of letters to be honored as our Literary Legend. The FFAPL invites the public to nominate writers for the selection committee to consider.
Nominations must be received by January 9, 2022, for consideration by this year’s Selection Committee. The Literary Legends Selection Committee includes members of the FFAPL board, past Gala Chairpersons, and APL librarians.
Sound Treasures Enter the Public Domain
On January 1, 2022, 400,000 pre-1923 sound recordings will enter the public domain, thanks to a new U.S. law, the Music Modernization Act. To celebrate, you may attend a virtual event on January 20, “A Celebration of Sound.”
And it’s not just music! On January 1st, children’s classic Winnie the Pooh, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Rudolph Valentino in The Son of the Sheik, in addition to musical recordings such as Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, and thousands more will all be free for creative reuse and sharing.
Am I Enough. Words: Nell Stokes. Vocals: CJay Philip, Nell’s daughter. Musical arrangement: Gail Sparlin. Piano: Larry Finke.
Dave Koz and Friends // The Greatest Hits of Christmas – LIVESTREAM VIRTUAL CONCERT Recorded 12/12/20. With Jonathan Butler, Peter White, Kenny Lattimore, Michael Lington, Brian Simpson, and REBECCA JADE!
I was compelled to write one last damn COVID post this year. And it’s a function of an error on my part. A good friend of mine asked me an Ask Roger Anything question and I failed to reply.
I have a swollen tonsil, probably allergies, but it’s been hanging on. Contacted my doctor’s office. Nurse called me back and said, “It sounds like Covid. Go get tested ASAP.”
I had gotten a test (negative) two days before bc I had been to visit The [Adult] Child.
I’m thinking the automatic Covid test recommendations are a form of CYA (Cover Your Ass) for doctors’ offices. That would skew the aggregate for reporting positive cases, no? Would love your opinion.
The question might be different now. And the truth is that I’ve been quite unclear what the US policy has been in the past two years about testing. It seems to operate in fits and starts. It is now abundantly clear now that as we focused on the stubbornly unvaxxed, we spent way too little effort on finding out who’s already infected.
The plan, scuttled
Vanity Fair reported that Biden’s White House “rejected an October plan by COVID-19 testing experts to put some 732 million at-home tests in the hands of the public.” I certainly can’t buy one from my local drug store.
“Authored by the COVID Collaborative, a group of several COVID testing expert organizations said the country needed a ‘bold’ plan to send out some 732 million tests per month for the disease before the holiday season to reduce family gathering outbreaks.
The story notes that “The plan, in effect, was a blueprint for how to avoid what is happening at this very moment — endless lines of desperate Americans clamoring for tests in order to safeguard holiday gatherings, just as COVID-19 is exploding again.”
Not that is the reality for some people. The Weekly Sift guy describes The Emotional Roots of Political Polarization. “In South Carolina, we bought the instant Covid tests that no CVS back in Massachusetts could keep in stock. When we asked about a limit on how many we could buy, the clerk looked at us strangely, as if we didn’t understand that the whole point of retail is to sell as much as you can.”
15th letter of the Greek alphabet
Omicron: we can’t even agree on the damn pronunciation. Pretty much the only new people in the US who’ll get the jab – Boris Johnson’s favorite term for the COVID vaccine – will be people getting ill with the disease.
The head of the World Health Organization has again noted that getting a third shot – or a fourth, which Israel has proposed – will only lengthen the pandemic. Certain news media, Newsmax, e.g., have spun that to suggest that getting the shot itself is bad for the recipient. The point is that if an Israeli gets a fourth jab, and someone from, say, Burkina Faso, which has 2.1% of the population with one vax, and only 1.6% with two as of December 15, the disease will continue to spread and almost certainly mutate.
Faux News hosts have compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to someone perpetrating the actual Holocaust and recommended his assassination. Oy. And, oh dear, Trump got HIS third shot. He confounds me; after helping to create the vital vaccines, he seems to lead the opposition to them.
A Los Angeles Times story – COVID stole the heart of my family. It also divided it – is behind a paywall. “The death of [reporter Brittny Mejia’s] grandmother from COVID-19 this month made her reflect on the personal toll the virus has had on her family. ‘My grandma was not vaccinated – not of her own will – and I fear it is a decision that will haunt my family and evoke anger for years.”
I’m REALLY hoping I can stop writing about the topic. It’s boring me with the too same narrative. Some hospitals are at or above capacity. Didn’t we see that movie already? Or does this one finally have a happier ending?
I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in upstate New York, specifically Binghamton and Albany.
A while ago, Kelly sent me a link to Walking America, part 2: Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott. Photos and thoughts from Broome County, New York.
Of course, Binghamton is my hometown. But I can’t argue with the first sentence. At all. “Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott are either the northern-most cities in Appalachia or the eastern-most in the Rust Belt, depending on what expert you talk to.” Even when I lived there, there were people suggesting the Appalachia designation.
(It doesn’t help that there is a Census-Designated Place called Apalachin in neighboring Tioga County. It’s less than 10 minutes west of Endicott and 15 minutes from JC. Apalachin is 20 minutes from Binghamton, the Broome County seat, and the only one of the Triple Cities which is actually a city, as the other two are villages.)
It can only get better
At Binghamton’s nadir, in the 1990s, the Boscov’s was the only major retailer keeping downtown Binghamton afloat. It depressed me greatly. In fact, for years, I just didn’t go downtown at all. I’d be in Broome County attending the Olin family reunion. But it was held in one of two parks in Endicott. And we’d stay in Endicott or Vestal, or even an hour away in Oneonta at my in-laws.
When I was a Binghamtonian, Harpur College/SUNY Binghamton seemed remote. (It’s technically in the town of Vestal.) So it didn’t have that economic stimulus some colleges provide to their locales. I’m thrilled the new businesses downtown, driven by the college kids now living there, has created new opportunities.
Still, as the article notes: “They are struggling towns with good people trying to keep their heads afloat. Towns that haven’t recovered from all the lost jobs that were once here, like making shoes [Endicott-Johnson, where my mother briefly was employed] or making computers [IBM, where I spent five months before college], and all the good people that left because of that.”
I saw this article in the Albany Times Union: Ex-Capital Region news anchor schmoozes with extremists in a bid for Arizona governor. Ugh.
“Former WNYT Channel 13 television anchor Kari Lake… is greeting supporters who include a Jan. 6 insurrectionist, an anti-mask advocate, and a Nazi sympathizer… ” Of course, she’s being supported by 45.
“In August 1998, she moved to the Capital Region… At the time, Lake told the Times Union she ‘just wanted to live in a real nice place. And that is Albany.’ Some 15 months later, Lake was finished in Albany…”
But I think she was right about one thing at the time. “‘It is so parochial here. I could be here 30 years and feel sort of new… We came all the way across the country, to find out just how much we miss home.'”
I used the P-word when I wrote about the place back in 2013. My theory was that it does take about three decades to fit in with the unspoken norms. I moved here in 1979, so I’m nearly as close to a native as can be.
Still, I wasn’t present when 98 acres were leveled to build the Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, “a massive modern office complex” designed to transform ‘historic but shabby’ Albany into a ‘brilliant, beautiful, efficient and electrifying capital.'”
Well, there are modern office buildings, performance spaces, and many other amenities. But at a cost. “7,000 people, old and young, black and white, immigrant and native-born” were displaced as well as “more than 400 businesses, most of them small—neighborhood groceries, grills, taverns, tailors, and shoemakers.
“Over the course of two-and-a-half years, as the State demolished 1,150 structures to clear 40 city blocks, residents and businesses were forced to move out.” Occasionally, I STILL find someone who will lament the loss.
Walking America has made TWO visits to Albany, The first contains this paragraph: “Here, the poverty and wealth are juxtaposed against a downtown filled with politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists who claim to care about the very inequality they are surrounded by, making it a physical metaphor for the failures of our political class.” Ouch.
And he had avoided the aforementioned Empire State Plaza the first time, so he came back. “Avoiding it wasn’t fair though, because the Plaza dominates Albany, both spatially and as the manifestation of a technocratic philosophy found in every modern political center: The idea that government, empowered by the best and brightest, wielding ‘Science!,’ can mold humans, cities, and societies into their better selves…
“While the [surrounding] blocks are poor they also have what the Plaza doesn’t have. A genuine humanness.” The last part, alas, is certainly true. This doesn’t mean I don’t care for the place – and changing it back is impossible -but the downtown, in particular, is a bit soulless.
Still, I’m not looking to live elsewhere. Given the vagaries of climate change, being here suits me just fine.
Here’s one thing my late father, who grew up in Binghamton, but moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974, noticed. He made a comparison between his old city and his new one. Binghamton is near the Pennsylvania border, just as Charlotte is close to South Carolina. One has to travel northeast to get to the state capital, 140 miles to Albany, 175 to Raleigh, NC.
Here’s an odd stream of consciousness piece, I suppose. Back in the mid-1970s, I was in a local production of Godspell in New Paltz. At some point in the dialogue, much of the cast is chanting: “Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch, until…” I knew it had to be a reference to something, but I had no idea what. I didn’t bother to search YouTube or Google, since they didn’t exist at the time. So I forgot about it…
…until I was reading Arthur’s recent stories about the COVID protocols in New Zealand, specifically The next steps have been announced. “Critics, as the Prime Minister pointed out today, will complain that the government didn’t move fast enough, or that it’s moving too fast.” And somehow, my mind conflated the “next steps” and “too fast” into “Slowly I turn, step by step…” What IS that a reference to?
As it turns out, it’s a bit by the Three Stooges called Niagara Falls, which you can see here. It’s part of the 1944 short film Gents Without Cents. But the routine has been used for decades, going back to vaudeville. See the variation on I Love Lucy.
I was never a big fan of the Three Stooges. Their comedy seemed mean-spirited when I’d occasionally see them on Saturday afternoons growing up.
Where everybody knows your name
But they are the punchline to one of the most memorable pieces of dialogue on the sitcom Cheers. It’s from the episode entitled What’s Up, Doc? which I have not seen since it aired in March of 1989. A therapist says to Sam Malone (Ted Danson), “You’re an aging lothario who uses sex to cover up massive insecurity, a fear of true intimacy, fear of a relationship…”
Sam believes the diagnosis. “Come on, answer the question. What do I have in my life that isn’t women or sex?” His friend Rebecca notes his job bartending, his car, and sailing, but Sam notes these are all ways to meet women.
Rebecca: What about the Three Stooges? Sam: Oh, yeah, great. I like the Three Stooges. That helps a lot. Rebecca: Wait a minute, Sam. Think about this. Do women like the Three Stooges? Sam: No, they hate them. Rebecca: All right. Are women impressed that you like the Three Stooges? Sam: No, some of them even think they’re stupid. Rebecca: When you’re watching the Three Stooges, do you think they’re sexy? Sam: No, when you watch the Three Stooges, nobody has time to think about sex or women. Hey, wait a minute. That means I do have another interest in my life. I like the Stooges for themselves. Hey, whoa, I’m okay. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!