A Letter From New York
01 06 2005
This week, more than most, I have shuttled back and forth
from the city and Claverack. Its been refreshing
as the differences between the hamlet of Claverack and the
big city are profound but so too are some similarities.
On one of my nights up here, Tripp was in the city and so
I ambled down to the Red Dot, a local bistro/tavern/Cheers
spot for Hudsonians. When I walked in, I was greeted warmly
by the owner, Alana, and Robert the bartender as well as the
rest of the staff. As we go there almost every Friday night
and have done so for the last three years, we have become
We are almost regulars and like a Cheers, I knew some of
the customers in there. There was David, who lives down the
road and a couple of others with whom I have nodding acquaintance.
It was a nice thing to go and have dinner at the bar with
a good Pinot Grigio and feel surrounded by friendly acquaintances.
Alana thanked me for our help on New Years Eve. We helped
fill helium balloons before the festivities.
It was neighborhood comfortable.
Down in the city, I went in to have lunch at my local diner,
Jimmys, on Madison between 32 and 33. Its near
the office and I frequent it occasionally but enough that
some of the waitresses know me. They wished me Happy New Year
and asked me about my holidays.
It too was neighborhood comfortable.
All week I have been thinking about neighborhoods. Marshall
McLuhan, back when I was in school, started writing about
the global village. It is now a dictionary term.
The world, esp. considered as the home of all nations
and peoples living interdependently. Random House Unabridged
Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc.,
If the world seemed a village when McLuhan started writing
about it in the 1960s, imagine how much more so it has
become since then, with the internet knitting us together,
with text messaging a prime methodology in Asia to locate
relatives scattered in the Tsunami.
It seems closer to me than ever when the waitress who serves
me at my local diner is a native of one of the countries assaulted
by the Tsunmai and when my eyes and ears are flooded with
images in real time from devastated countries, some of which
I have visited.
We are electronically linked and, more than ever, culturally
linked as America continues to be the melting pot of the world
[albeit, thats a bit under assault since 9/11].
However, it is this sense of village, sense of one planet,
which causes us to react so generously when catastrophe strikes
one part of the world or another. It is what resulted in an
outpouring of caring from the world to New York and the US
when the Towers fell. It is what causes us to reach into our
pockets to give to the Tsunami victims half a world away.
Because we are all connected and we know it now more than
we ever have because of our electronic connections, we feel
we live in the neighborhood. Although Americans
tend to be less well traveled than citizens of other countries,
our population is infused with individuals from all over the
world and many have traveled the world. Watching the Swedish
caskets arrive from Asia, I wondered about the people I had
known in Stockholm. Could they have been on Holiday there,
There are more than two thousand Americans missing. Most
of the people I know who travel in those parts of the world
are accounted for, but not all. As I write this, I have started
thinking of people I know from all over the world who spent
Christmas in areas that have been ravaged. I must account
It all illustrates how closely connected we are. And causes
me to wonder why it is that we are spending so much time working
on ways to hurt each other when there are so many hurt that
need to be helped?