Cindy Sheehan’s Coming to Town

I’m very happy that Camp Casey has pricked the conscience of a lot of folks this summer. I’m happy that Cindy Sheehan will be in Albany on Wednesday, and I expect I’ll see her at some point.

And yet – I still get the feeling that it won’t matter. Colin Powell was interviewed on 20/20 last Friday, admitted that he was suckered into believing the WMD info, acknowledged that it was a stain on his career that will be with him the rest of his life. Yet, he still believes in “staying the course.”

Someone: please give me some encouraging words that will help me believe that this war will end sooner rather than later.

Thhe schedule, for those who might care:
10 a.m.- set up Camp Casey on the Capitol Park West
12 noon-rally in front of the Capitol
7 p.m.- forum in Chancellor’s Hall, State Education Bldg., Washington Avenue

This is Constitution week. Friday and Saturday are Constitution Days. I would have totally missed this except that my wife asked me to find material so that she can prepare a lesson plan dealing with the Bill of Rights on Friday.

I do think the irony is palpable that this President, who signed the so-called USA PATRIOT Act, has put his signature on a law plugging the Constitution.
Meanwhile, this conversation is taking place in the Letters to the Editor in the local newspapers, and other papers, I gather; the “logic” is this: the soldiers are in Iraq “protecting American freedom and our way of life” ; one of those freedoms is the right to dissent; but that we ought not to use that right because we’ll undermine the troops and provide succor to the enemy. I’m sure that the opposition to the American occupation, or the Iraqi liberation, depending on how you view these things, is sitting around waiting for Cindy Sheehan to plot her next vigil so that they can strike.

My JEOPARDY! desire

I believe the new season of the aforementioned game show’s new season starts today.

When Merv Griffin, inspired by his wife, came up with the concept of JEOPARDY! four decades ago, it was a stroke of genius. Three players who thought they knew a thing or two get to compete in a game where they give you the answer and you have to come up with the question. If you win five games, you go away, but you come back for the Tournament of Champions.

After a champion has retired, through the luck of the draw, there would be three new players; one of them would be able to go back to their hometown and say that he or she was a JEOPARDY! Champion.

What the rule change a couple seasons ago has meant has been the creation of scarcity. Under the old rules, Ken Jennings would have been gone after day five; under the new rules, and Ken’s 74th victory, about 15 people won’t even make it onto the show. The Tournament of Champions of 2004, in order to fill the fifteen slots allotted, needed to go to more four-time and even three-time champions.

This really isn’t about Ken Jennings, though I admit that I had tired of him in the same way some people root for anybody except the Yankees; it’s about the game. This is the designated hitter in baseball, the shot clock in basketball. And while those changes in other sports have produced MORE offense for SEVERAL, the new JEOPARDY! rule change has been beneficial for only a few, and as detrimental to the game as Astroturf is on the knees of a football running back.

I wish they would change the rule, if not to five appearances, then certainly 10. I want MORE JEOPARDY! champions, not fewer. But with the spike in ratings during Jennings’ run, I don’t anticipate any change. Sigh.

(Oh, yeah, for those joining me recently, I was on the show. I discussed it at length in this blog for 11 Saturdays starting May 28.)
I was flicking through the channels Saturday afternoon, and I saw Alex Trebek on one of those celebrity poker matches. Usually tight-fisted, according to the announcer, he won about $10K on a bluff (6 and 7 of hearts, I believe, with no pair). Tom the Dog can tell you more about celebrity poker in this column than I choose to know. And if you want to see the episode in question, I believe it’s airing again on Bravo this Thursday at 7 p.m., just before a new episode.

11 Sept 01 plus 4

I am on this listserv of Methodist clergy and laity. (I’m not a Methodist anymore, but what the hey.) They discussed weeks ago the fact that September 11 was going to be on a Sunday this year for the first time since the attacks. “What are you going to preach on?” “How are you going to deal with it during the service?” A potpourri of responses, but I saw no one who wasn’t going to acknowledge it in some significant way.

I’ve got a lot of thought about what’s gone on in the country over the past four years, how I don’t feel safer but rather the opposite, that our response to an emergency fills me with dread rather than confidence, how certain parties (think the 23rd letter) will attempt to exploit this day for political gain (again), and justify the Iraqi invasion (again). But I’m not going to get into it right now.

Maybe it’s because I’m a little under the weather. Maybe it’s Katrina Fatigue. (Am I even ALLOWED to admit to that?) I haven’t even finished the series of Katrina-related stories in this week’s Metroland, but I do recommend the “Cracks in the Spin” links.

I’m not even going to share my own recollections of the day four years ago – maybe next year, on the fifth anniversary. Today, I’m just going to share tales of a couple friends of mine:

An Albany friend of mine took a train to NYC that morning. She had an appointment in one of the outer boroughs. But when she heard about the attacks, she didn’t even bother to try to call the client; she probably wouldn’t have gotten through, in any case. Instead, she took the very next train back to Albany at 9:30, just before the authorities decided to stop rail transportation out of the city. That proved to be a very sage decision, since it was likely the LAST train to leave the city for several days.
Subject: Where is your office?
Are you OK?

Hi. It’s Thursday morning. I was about to board a Jet Blue plane at JFK when I called my friend. Her father had died Monday night after a long hospiitalization and while we were on the phone at 8:45 she saw the hit on tv and conveyed it to me. I informed the people around me what she was telling me. They had us board the plane and another person informed us of the 2nd hit as we were boarding. After 5 minutes on the plane they cancelled our flight and asked us to disembark.

I got out of the airport as quickly as possible at about 9:30 expecting to stand in an impossibly long taxi line. I remarkably was only 5th in line and got a cab right away. We took choked local streets back to my house in Brooklyn, saw the horror of the towers in flames, watched the first one go down and heard on the radio that the Pentagon was also hit and that #2 WTC went down.

Once we entered my neighborhood at about 10:45AM, the once clear blue sky turned to a white and grey cloud of falling ash. It looked like a snowy winter day for a couple of hours as the debris descended and again later in the day when #7 WTC fell. The toxic acrid smell in the air is undescribable. I hesitate to think that the ash that fell from the sky could have been cremated human remains and the odor in the air like that of a crematorium.

My building is directly south of Governor’s Island, one block from Pier 7 and as the crow flies, probably a mile from what was the WTC. I used to be able to see the top of the WTC that had the tv antennas on it from my apartment windows. Needless to say I was relieved and grateful to be home and that I hadn’t been en route to my office in Manhattan when usually at 9:15-9:30AM, I would have been on a subway that goes underneath WTC. It was difficult getting out word of my safety to my family because of the choked phone lines.

I haven’t slept well (nothing new there) and in my walks through Brooklyn yesterday and on 9/11, I witness skittish people.
They just closed the subways south of 42nd because of the damage potential of the rumbling vibrations to the crash site. I guess I’ll be staying put again today. I’ve been purposefully trying not to get on-line or on the phone because the phone infrastructure is clogged enough and needs to be free for critical communication. Thanks for checking in.

Grandpa Green

I remember the first time it happened. It was a woman visiting my church. I was a bit perturbed but tried not to show it.

The telephone repair guy was the second one. I was defiant. Nope, “Mine,” I pointed.

The third time, my attitude was pretty matter-of-fact, as I caught a supposedly tethered baby unleashed while we were sitting at a concert in Washington Park. The guy said, “Thanks, gramps.” He assumed, as the others did, that my child was my grandchild. It is, if I’m being rational about it, understandable. I was 51 when I had Lydia. My father was 52 when my sister Leslie had her daughter Becky.

Of course, the point of mentioning this is not to protect my fragile ego – I’m all right now, thanks – but to note that one should avoid jumping to conclusions about these things without the facts.
This conversation, strangely, reminds me of something the wedding planner asked at Carol’s and my wedding in 1999. “Are your parents alive and still married to each other?”
“Are any of your grandparents still alive?”
“No, all deceased.”
I knew she wasn’t saying that it was good that our grandparents were all dead, merely that it was one less logistical issue to consider. It was too funny a comment to really offend us. But it was a dopey thing to say, and I hope she never said that to someone more easily offended.

3 Grand ?s

National Grandparents Day is coming up tomorrow. (And here I thought it was invented by Hallmark.) Thus, the source of my queries, which, if you would kindly respond to, I’d appeciate it:

1. Are your grandparents still on this plane of existence? If not, when did the last one pass away?

2. Who was/is your favorite, and why?

3. What side of the family did you spend the most time with as a kid (visits, reunions)?