Letter from New York
December 16, 2004
While in a taxi, I looked out at the brightly lit buildings
of New York and went: oh my god! We LIVE in New York. We live
here in a very real, deep sense. We have an apartment in the
city and we have an upstate home. We are deeply entrenched
in both. I have told friends and family that we are more at
home here than any of the other places we have been. Ever.
I have lived in Minneapolis, briefly in Toronto, in Illinois,
back to Minneapolis, in Los Angeles, in Washington, D.C.,
in Eugene, Oregon, back to Los Angeles, to New York.
I have spent considerable amounts of time in Sydney, Australia,
London, England, New Delhi, India, Paris, France, San Francisco,
I have visited more countries than I remember though I havent
seen Africa, except from a ship sailing by its northern coast.
I havent been to Russia, which I would like to do and
I have only changed planes in Germany, which is the country
my paternal ancestors came from.
But I have a sense of home here I havent experienced
before. I love Los Angeles but never was quite sure I was
at home there though I lived there for a LONG time.
But here I am, living in New York, splitting my time between
the City and between Claverack. The thought of how much I
loved it was much with me this week
It is Christmas in the city and its Christmas in the
country. The tree is up in Rockefeller Center and Warren Street
in Hudson is ablaze with holiday lights on its old fashioned
street lamps, looking nothing so much as a real life version
of the miniature old fashioned Christmas villages so popular
Driving up Warren Street in Hudson on my way back to the
house after dropping Tripp at the train I rode the quiet,
empty street with its lights and the windows decorated in
ways that reminded me of what I thought small town America
must have always been like followed later that very
day by my striding down the crowded avenues of New York with
its bright lights, sophisticated decorations and bustling
Returning to Hudson at night, I found myself entranced by
the fact that in the parking lot picking up the car, I could
see both the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. When I was
a kid, I could see them all the time but in my adulthood,
Ive always lived or been in places where there have
been too many lights.
Claverack is bucolic; New York exhilarating.
But beyond the safe and sacred world I currently inhabit
is the larger world.
Baghdad is blowing up but the news I see in the morning is
not talking much about all those car bombs.
We have been fixated in New York this week with the problems
of Pale Male and his family, a hawk and his kin, that have
inhabited a cornice for a number of years on one of the toniest
buildings in New York. Mary Tyler Moore inhabits the building.
So does Paula Zahn. The co-op board decided to evict the birds
and there has been a city-wide brou ha ha about it. So much
so that the co-op board had to relent and Pale Male and family
are returning to their home, though they have to rebuild their
Now I think its wonderful that a city like New York
will rise up to defend Pale Male and family but is it so important
that the local news talked only of that and nothing of events
half way round the world?
Tripp reported having read in the international press that
American media seems intent on diverting our attention from
the global situation, making sure we dont think too
much about Iraq for fear it will interrupt our shopping.
I would like to think not but it seems we are getting very
only dribbles of information about the war while receiving
torrents about the mundane, the cute, the superficial and,
ultimately, the unimportant.