. . . . Much cooler today – 60’s, not the high 80’s of the last week. This is the longest stretch without rain since the drought of 2012. I hope the rain indicated for the weekend materializes.
WHERE WE ARE
The messages, social and professional, arriving in from people coming to NYC for various reasons, starting last week, who want to get together, increase every day. Right on annual schedule too, people are already arriving here from other states and countries for Gay Pride.
Well, They Declared the City completely open as of last week. So I guess we're open, all right. Everyone sounds so excited, while my own feelings are ... well, things don't seem to have changed for me very much. Except the noise and horror of the restaurants get worse and worse. Thursday the entire community, even other restaurants who get frequently cited for over-crowding and noise, had to call the police several times, because Laduree was so insanely beyond the pale.
Then a second building on Bleecker Street, meaning also a whole lot of homes, within three weeks, went out, due to fire. The fire department just couldn't get to the fire in time to save anything -- because of the goddamned realestaterestaurant covid sheds blocking all the streets and sidewalks. I said this was inevitable, but was not allowed to vocalize this or write it by those I attempted to address who are responsible for this insanity in first place, which They insist is permanent and the best thing that every happened to NYC.
Politicians here locally racing to promise full, in person, public school education this fall. But to even minimally adhere to health issues, starting with distance, we need far more classrooms, thus more teachers and more buildings. The kids may or may not be required to be vaccinated in the age groups for which vaccine is available, but teachers and staff are not -- across the board, from all the mayoral hopeful candidates. Sure, yes! they all say! We will hire teachers to take the place of those who for health reasons do not wish to return in the fall.
It's like these jerkwaddie politicians, despite all them boasting their own parenthood, have no idea how miserably teachers are treated and have been for decades. Even before the pandemic teachers were quitting. Enrollment in education depts. are way down. Why go into so much debt to get job that pays shyte, in which one is personally and as a member of a group treated like shyte, having to balance all the cray cray of conflicting local political, religious and cultural bs -- none of which have anything to do with educating anyone in anything. Additionally, ALL these jerkwaddie politicians, beginning with the current mayor, blithely opine how among other work this fall, teachers must be prepared to play counselor to All the Kids' traumas from the pandemic, integrate them back into socialization in groups, proper behavior and on and on. Not a mention of course that the teachers themselves may very well have plenty of trauma from the pandemic, not to mention already being burned out working out how to handle the myriad of troubles and problems they've had to deal with in the virtual realm of education and dealing with the children.
It's as though these jerkwaddies think teachers, like nurses, are a magical, ever naturally renewing resources, that they can just say, "More," and immediately materializing are all the needed teaches, with all the skills, socialization, expertise, experience and love that are to keep our kids healthy, safe from crazies with guns, and fulfill every specific need of every specific student, of the, how many students they are to deal with every day. But we crow about all the money we're pouring into the restaurant businesses and bringing back tourism. Nothing for people who LIVE here and contribute instead of mere exploiting and extracting.
The two books that have enthralled me these last weeks are Will Rosen's Justinian's Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire (2007), and A.N. Wilson's Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker (2017).
Justinian Flea's a re-read, this time aloud, with el V, at bedtime. He'd not read it before and is fascinated by the content, which ranges from how the architects created the Hagia Sophia, to in graphic, grisly, scientific detail the operation of the flee that propagates the Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for Bubonic Plague.
Charles Darwin is an examination of the naturalist's construction of his genius and his theories, and all the many others in the field who contributed, all with in the deep and broad context that is the Victorian eras in which they all operated. This one received outraged and scathing reviews from many, all insisting everything Wilson wrote is wrong. However, as I'm now nearly finished with Charles Darwin, and I too know a very great deal in depth and breadth of the Victorian eras, politically, culturally and intellectually, with a lot of knowledge of the figures involved, which I've been acquiring since about age 16. These critics often seem to have read something else, or out of the context within which Wilson is writing -- and Darwin himself is writing. But not always. There are contradictions that Wilson makes often to his own arguments. He writes very well, so there is this additional pleasure, as well as knowing a great deal, of arguing with the author, so this has been a joy to read.
I've watched a lot of Acorn TV this month. Three non-Acorn screen works have made a particular mark on my hour after dinner watching.
First is Mare of Easttown, featuring Kate Winslet as the centered character of Mare. As this contained mini series hasn't yet concluded, that's all I'll say for now, other than I am liking it enormously. I'll explain why, once it finishes -- if the finale lives up to the previous episodes, that is.
The second Big Watch is the 4th, the latest season of the Neapolitan series, Gomorrah. It's a long one, in a way that usually UK and US series no longer are. Have only reached the 5th episode. Like Mare of Easttown, Gomorrah, which began on Netflix, is on HBO.
The third worthy watch is via Netflix, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017) Joan Didion’s life and times. It is a fascinating watch on a variety of levels, not only because it centers, w/o ever vaunting/saying it, one of the few public intellectuals and commentators of the last 1/2 of the 20th century's USA, who is a woman -- and didn't come out of academia. The establishment of the non-academia affiliated New York Review of Books, did so much for her profile. It was a different time for writer-thinker-journalists, with so many outlets, including Look Magazine, for exhibiting their ideas. None of that exists now.
Didion's trajectory and perspective on so much is not part of Gloria Steinem's, or the clown, Germaine Greer's. IOW, like Susan Sontag, Didion didn't begin with, or arrive at her ground-breaking career, via the propellant of self-identifying as a member of any overtly political feminist group or organization, or even academia. Which is fascinating in its own right, because like many other ground-breaking, high achieving women before 'Feminism', in other ages, Didion was stalwartly supported and encouraged by a parent, in Didion's case, her mother.
It certainly helped, that like Steinem, cameras loved both Didion and Sontag.
HOW IT IS
It's been busy, and very productive here all month, yet I persist feeling unanchored, free-floating. I keep wondering who am I? who are we? as a city, as a nation, as human beings? Will my very ill friend survive, or will there be yet another loss long betimes? My sense is that we are all falling further and further and further behind reality.