Incidental New Yorker VI


August 22, 2015


⭐ Four nights of salubrious sleep, open windows, fresh air, birdsong, quiet, splendid nights. Late afternoon swimming in the lake; loons, hummingbirds, bald headed eagles, quaint fishing villages, coves with glassy water. Seafood, fish, fresh, natural vegetables. Bliss! Okay, so we did leave NYC for a spell. We had a splendid time with relatives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Four days of good company, concentrated sight seeing and delicious lobster dinners, halibut, clams, muscles, homemade pies, local wines and local beer … For years I had wanted to visit Halifax, and finally going was wonderful. Visiting Canada, one can’t help but notice peoples trust in one another and love of nature. They happily leave home without locking the door. 

🔫 Even if they have a lot of guns in Canada they don’t generally shoot one another as they do on a daily basis here in America. I have touched upon that before. I found this video on the subject, on one of New Yorks – few, I am told – gun shops, and probably the only fake one. But it serves a purpose.

Hall’s Harbour © Mette Holm


⭐ Back in NYC, I notice that you don’t really have to leave home to engage in outdoor activity or feel the sun. “No Sun? No worry!” says the ad that offers organic sunless tanning; or I can drink myself  stronger in “muscle milk,” on offer on the endless shelves with healthy stuff at the supermarket. Wherever I turn I find this urge to manipulate nature, improve it or perhaps, in particular, improve oneself. I see lots people obsessed with themselves and their bodies: teeth whiter than white and straighter than straight, hectic exercise; all sorts of additives, hormones, GMO, vitamins, whatever, to their intake to make everything stronger, healthier, better, bigger, anything but natural. At the other end of the spectrum of course, I see the all to many people who, on the contrary, are obviously quite indifferent to themselves and their bodies. People here don’t seem to trust nature. I do. I trust nature, and feel very comfortable with and in it.

⭐ At home, in Denmark, I am used to walking an hour or so every day, 4.5-5 kilometres along the coast and in the nearby forest park, Dyrehaven. It is delightful, energises and relaxes both mind and body; you know exactly what the weather is, you sense the time of day, the season, you feel the wind, see the deer, the birds and more. So what to do here, where nature, peace and quiet is so painfully not at my doorstep? Good people have tried to remedy this in the basement belly of our high rise. Deep underground we have a “health club” – much like a torture chamber full of deadly machines. I force myself down there every so often to do fake miles on a fake bicycle followed by more fake miles of fake walk on a cross trainer! The closest I get to the water down there is the long, narrow swimming pool where my husband swims, lap after lap, up and down, up and down, like a sea lion in a zoo pool. But then, I do have a wonderful view of East River from my study.


⭐ Luckily, other forces serve to lighten up your day here. Stevie Wonder made a free pop up concert in Central Park the other day! The sound track of my youth (and to be fair, also middle age and beyond …). Oh, would I have loved to attend, but by the time I found out, it was much too late and I couldn’t make it. What a treat! Even if it did light up my day at first, I ended up feeling pathetically sorry for myself for not having been able to attend.

🎻 The subway is fun – if hot and muggy at the height of summer. The other day I went to Columbia University to register. Three different subway trains. Met lots of people along the way to lift my spirits. Delightful and delicate violin music lured me yet further down into the hot belly of the city; just round a bend in the gallery, a young woman, delicate as her own music, expertly playing the violin. And once on the pleasantly air conditioned line 2 express train, two slender, long limbed young men entered, moving up and down the carriage, reciting and rhyming their lives, their longings, desires and worries; living in the ghetto, staying out of trouble, fighting to stay clear of the gangs and their leaders, fertile minds creatively reaching out for the future. People applauded, and the two collected well-deserved money in their caps. On the way back a young man sold ice cream and gummies …


⭐ Oh, and at Columbia, one of many forms asked me to fill in my ethnicity – voluntarily of course. It is new to me, and it was a strange feeling to tick my two relevant boxes, Asian and White. I could have refused of course, but when in Rome …

📺 The idea of paying taxes is quiet alien here. Endlessly, you are asked to pay extra for this service and that. In the street, the shops, the restaurants and on the web you are asked to support, donate, help … People want to decide for themselves what to pay for, and when it comes to education, health and unemployment, a lot of people seem to think they are better off on their own. Weird choice, but in this “free” country it is theirs to make. I, on the other hand, can’t stand watching TV here, because it so heavily taxes viewers with endless commercials, not only both end of programmes but every few minutes in actual programme content. So TV is paid for by commercials. What does that do for content? Content is paid for by commercial interests, and thus to a large degree controlled by the market, and not the other way round. I find it much healthier for humankind to control the market than the other way round; and thus, for news editors to edit their programmes according to news criteria rather than the market. Anyway, seen from my couch the continuous commercial perforation of content on my TV screen makes both news and films boring, incoherent and ridiculously long to watch. And it is an extremely heavy duty to tax my viewing with. Although this should be the country in which to watch TV, I hardly bother.


⭐ Obama is back in my inbox urging me, and in particular everyone else here, to prepare for the vote in Congress next month on the Iran Nuclear Deal, “the most consequential foreign policy debate that our country has had since the invasion of Iraq,” says POTUS. He strongly urges people to engage in the issue, discuss it, talk to each other and to your congress man. Earlier this month the president talked to an audience of 200 people at American University in Washington DC, where president John F Kennedy made his speech on nuclear diplomacy in 1963. Obama said, “Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some sort of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.” May Congress vote for a safer future!

🎶🎸 This is all for now. I am off to Saturday Blues and BBQ in Tribeca!