July 24, 2006
Tombers Finds Mid-Summer Solace in the Ordinary!
Newspapers are having a tough time. They seem to be losing
space and place to the digital media as print media appears
to be having a tough time making the transition to the new
However, personally, there is a great comfort, particularly
on Sundays, in having a real newspaper in my hands. So it
was last Sunday, when, toward the end of a day when I had
been working when I hadn't really meant to work, I decided
to take a break and went down to the Dot, picking up the local
newspaper, The Register Star, and sat in the pleasant back
garden, sipping a diet soda while reading the paper.
This was on a day when CNN was reporting on the damage done
to Beirut by Israeli planes, when rockets from Hizbullah were
falling on Haifa and car bombs were going off with their clocklike
regularity in Baghdad and its environs. So sitting in the
garden, reading the Register-Star, was reassuring to me. The
front page was full of news - there had been a successful
reading of a play at a local synagogue which had been its
most successful fundraiser to date. A local resident, who
lost part of his leg in a bad motorcycle accident a year ago,
was out campaigning for motorcycle safety. His last named
matched the name of a road not far from my home and was named
after a relative.
Beyond the front page, there was news of the air strikes
and the kidnappings of the Olympic Committee in Iraq mixed
in with all the other things that make up the fabric of life.
There were pictures of pre-adolescents celebrating their birthdays
and prominence given to those who had survived adolescence
to the point they were celebrating their fiftieth or sixtieth
wedding anniversaries - replete with photos that made me smile
over the longevity of some couples.
It was full of all the things I like about living upstate,
a bit away from the city. The world can be in crisis yet our
local newspaper focuses often on the things which make us
believe in a future, the celebrations that are the fabric
of life. Those are the very things that seem, sometimes, threatened
by all the chaos that surrounds us.
My Uncle Henry described Beirut in the 50's and 60's as one
of the most beautiful places on earth; in the last years it
has been recovering from two decades of mad civil war. I can
only imagine the celebrations that have been interrupted by
the recent round of bloody mayhem. While that violence goes
on, so do all the other things in life, be it in Claverack
or Beirut or Baghdad.
It is good to be reminded that sports is more than multi-million
dollar players, that "sports" is perhaps better
embodied by the All Star Softball Team and the Senior League
Baseball folks than by Barry Bonds, living under his steroid
cloud. I admire the Register Star for helping ground us in
the present and the pleasant while also informing us of distant
horrors; it is a complement to the New York Times, which often
seems to give me too much to think about - and for which I
am also grateful.
I appreciate OUR TOWN, a quarterly magazine devoted to the
hamlet in which I live, Claverack, both highlighting the issues
facing the town while at the same time celebrating the history
of the community and its evolution as new citizens settle.
Fortunate to have traveled much, I think of myself as both
a citizen of the United States and of the world. It is good
to be reminded I am a member of a neighborhood and to have
publications which anchor me to that neighborhood. It is the
challenge facing all of us as we march inexorably into the
future, to be both responsible to the world which we inhabit
as well as the neighborhood in which we live.