Friday, April 19, 2013

The Mario Cuomo Moment

In light of the events in Boston this week, I felt the need to introduce this phrase to the lexicon (or Blogicon).  It came to me last night when I did something stupid, again, and survived through pure luck.  I had dinner with a friend visiting from DC, and after he went back to his hotel I hung out for a couple more beers with some really interesting people I met.  This was at one of my favorite haunts near 29th and 7th Ave.  There are always a lot of cops parked around there, and recently they have been closing 29th Street at 11th Avenue, which makes my escape route to the West Side Highway several blocks longer.  At midnight I really hate that...

So when I headed out, I did not get too far up the West Side Highway before I realized that maybe it was unwise for me to be driving.   I had not been sleeping well and it had been along day.  So I pulled onto Riverside Drive and found a parking spot (surprisingly easy, as it happens).  Then  I called a car service to take me home (for ($51).  I had to return on the bus today to get my car.  Thi was the "Mario Cuomo Moment", when I realized that the rule of law is sometimes worth considerable inconvenience.  I could have been arrested for drunk driving and maybe even had my license suspended -- never mind the danger I posed to myself and others.  Truly a case of the law being there for  a good reason.  I did not consider the risk of mayhem, but the risk of legal repurcussions made me alter my behavior for the benefit of society.

I thought of this today when I heard the stories of people confined to their homes in Boston.  And we all benefit from their selfless participation in a society of laws.  Not a small thing.  We owe them thanks, and hope that their example continues to inspire communities throughout the nation and the world.  Co-operation and participation, no matter now inconvenient, is a building block of peace and security, at home and globally.       

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keep On running, and jumping, and throwing, and cheering

Like all of us, I will need much time to digest the events of Patriots Day.

I believe my perspective is unique for several reasons that I would like to share here, and from my perspective, this tragedy should make us all stop and think, but NOT about the dangers of being at a big sporting event, but the unmatched joys.

I spent half my life as a runner, until a stroke took that pleasure away.  Although I never even considered running a marathon, I have always been fascinated by this particular obsession.  When I lived in Boston in the 70's and early 80's, I loved seeing the Marathon; some years I was lucky enough to see the runners from my apartment, and sometimes I went downtown to watch.

Although I always felt a little like an alien in the city, having grown up in the Berkshires (where's that?) and attending Boston University with mostly New Yorkers,  the Race was probably the only truly inclusive sporting event in town.  I never saw any evidence of the racism made infamous in the school busing days, even when African runners started winning the big medals, surely an opening for bad behavior.  Not that the crowd was much less rowdy than on St. Patrick's Day, just that jingoism did not enter into it.  It has always been a true celebration of the beauty and power of the human body and the magnificence of the human spirit, from the first sinewy champion to the last sweaty wheelchair-bound hero carried through by hard work and plain old stubbornness.  It always seemed that every spectator knew someone running.  What a lesson in the shared joy of human celebration of an event together, in a crowd, in a city, possibly the most important city in the birth of this nation.  What beauty!  What love!  One could almost hear Walt Whitman singing praises over the P.A. system.

Eventually I moved on, to New York, to find work and love, which I did, but still celebrated Patriots Day, even though my New York, and later, New Jersey, friends had no idea it was even a holiday, and thought the Marathon was that one that went through Staten Island.

I became a Mets fan -- even after '86,  the Mets were okay; my dad would have disowned me if I became a Yankees fan.

Yesterday brought me back to 9/11.  Thankfully for my family and me it was not as threatening, not the same sense of imminent apocalypse.  But we have many friends and relations in the Boston area and shared that sense of terror and vulnerability. 

There is one thing that I remember from 2001 that provided the greatest comfort, sense of normalcy, and hope: sports, and in particular large sporting events.  That first Yankees game in September 2001 was a celebration and a statement.

A celebration of the gift of life and the joy of shared experience in the world.  Although I had never been a big sports fan as a child, after having children and then especially after 9/11 I realized this power and the healing potential of competition in the arena, in the park, and on the road.  
Mike Barnicle, my favorite columnist from my Boston days and now my favorite TV commentator, put it best this morning on "Morning Joe" when he quoted another Bostonian using a classic local expression when asked about looking forward to the Marathon next year: "f-ing A".

Bruce Gionet
Teaneck, NJ
April 16, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

bill is a regular guy, too

Saw NM frr. gov Bill Richardson on MTP this morning, and then found out he recommended chilling on the Obama Attorney General remark thing (may I suggest Oprettygate if no one has already).  I like this guy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

We've got it covered

When I was in high school, in the1970's, I carried a 35mm camera with me much of the time.  I saw my friend Michael Mullen's mom last year and she remembered this about me.  It was bulky, heavy,  and ugly, so that was a kind of a commitment.    But it also made me feel like I was part of an elite, a photographer.  I built my own darkroom and bulk-rolled my own black-and-white film to save money.  I wasted no shots.  Henri Cartier-Bresson was my hero -- the ability to capture that perfect moment and the patience to wait for it if needed.  Bracketing was carefully planned and recorded in a small notepad for later reference, especially for night photography, of which I did a lot, despite the wasteful nature of it.  Color film was saved for specific uses or when someone else was paying.

How times have changed.

Cameras are everywhere.  Our world is recorded in full color, from every angle, nearly everywhere we go.  Chris Harvey sent me a link to an app that enables you to walk point to point through Manhattan avoiding the cameras -- not easy I am sure.  I have not tried it yet.