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Archive for September, 2007

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Marcel Marceau: 1923-2007

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Famed French mime, Marcel Marceau has died.

The family had no comment.

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 2 Comments »

The Dangers of Online Chatrooms…

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

This from the Daily Telegraph:

A married couple who didn’t realise they were chatting each other up on the internet are divorcing.

Sana Klaric and husband Adnan, who used the names “Sweetie” and “Prince of Joy” in an online chatroom, spent hours telling each other about their marriage troubles, Metro.co.uk reported.

The truth emerged when the two turned up for a date. Now the pair, from Zenica in central Bosnia, are divorcing after accusing each other of being unfaithful.

“I was suddenly in love. It was amazing. We seemed to be stuck in the same kind of miserable marriage. How right that turned out to be,” Sana, 27, said.

Adnan, 32, said: “I still find it hard to believe that Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years”.

Not mentioned in the article: both Sana and Adnan like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain…

Categories: The World Wide Weird | 1 Comment »

ISBS Concert Review: Jimmy Buffett at Madison Square Garden

Friday, September 21st, 2007

When I was seventeen, a friend and I went to Florida to hang out at beaches and stare at girls. At one point, we found ourselves in a small beachside bar in Tampa, where we set ourselves up for a few hours with a nice view, some food and drink and a lot of sun. I remember that particular bar because there was a guy there in a Hawaiian shirt with a guitar, a stool, and a microphone. The first thing we heard him say was, “How ’bout a little Jimmy Buffett?” Then he played a Jimmy Buffett tune. Then he said, “How ’bout a little Jimmy Buffett?” and played another Buffett tune. Then he did it again. And again. And again. And…well, you get the idea.

Tonight, twenty years later, I had myself a Cheeseburger in Paradise (actually at the Hard Rock Cafe, but let’s not pick nits) and set myself up in a seat in Madison Square Garden to listen to “a little Jimmy Buffett.”

What a fun show. It’s important to focus on how much fun it was, because focusing on anything else can get a little depressing.

So let’s focus on the fun, shall we? Buffett came on stage barefoot, riding a bicycle, and wearing a turquoise t-shirt and yellow shorts. His attitude was as relaxed as his attire. He did not stop smiling the entire show, chatted with the audience between songs (and sometimes even during songs), occasionally stepped away from the microphone to kick a beach ball or two back into the audience, and genuinely seemed to be enjoying the evening. There were no teleprompters for lyrics or between-song banter as I’ve seen in other shows. This is a man who’s doing something he loves, and revels in that fact at all times. At one point, when the entire Coral Reefer Band had left the stage, leaving him alone with his guitar to serenade us with Boat Drinks, he commented that he was standing alone, center stage at Madison Square Garden. He said, “It took me a long time to get here, and I’m going to enjoy every second of it.” Nothing sums up the general tone & feeling of the show more than that single statement.

He played many of the Jimmy Buffett tunes you’d expect – Cheeseburger in Paradise,
Boat Drinks, Come Monday, Changes in Latitudes, Volcano Rock, Margaritaville, and others. Unlike the guy at the beach bar in Tampa, though, he also played a few songs by other artists, including Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again, Van Morrison’s
Brown-Eyed Girl, and Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days (a version which proved, incidentally, that The Boss’ music should never, ever be played in Buffett’s signature beach-party style). The entire set list is here.

The Coral Reefer band was outstanding, especially his two guests – Sonny Landreth on slide guitar and Billy Payne (founder of Little Feat), who did a tribute to New York on the keyboard, mashing together songs by various well known New York artists, culminating in a rousing version of Little Feat’s Dixie Chicken.

Throughout the show, the giant monitors on the sides of the stage alternated nicely between shots of Buffett and the band on stage, and what was basically Jimmy’s home movies – shots of him sailing, surfing, and partying with his fans, including the occasional Parrothead flashing her breasts to the camera. Like I said before, what a fun show…

Here’s the thing, though: Jimmy Buffett is sixty years old. And (there’s really no nice way of saying this) he can’t really sing anymore. For many of the songs, especially the slower ones, he half sang, half spoke the lyrics, particularly at the end of a sentence where he was obviously running out of breath, or where the melody called for a note that was uncomfortably high for him.

It was a shame, but to be honest, it really didn’t matter. Because the fact is this: Jimmy Buffett, standing on stage at Madison Square Garden, half-singing Margaritaville while 16,000 fans sing it back at him at the top of their lungs makes for a pretty awesome sound on its own. It’s as if his presence and his voice are close enough to the original to allow people to hear it in their heads, and that’s really all they need. Well, that and a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt, preferably one with a parrot on it.

Categories: ISBS Reviews, Words about Music | 3 Comments »

Random Acts of Blogging

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I usually try to avoid posts like this, but there’s a list of things I’ve been meaning to blog about and I just haven’t been able to find the time. So, some quick hits:

- The Yankees have pulled within 1 1/2 games of the Red Sox in the American League East. On May 30th, the Red Sox lead was 14 1/2 games. Just two weeks ago, the lead was 7 games. Ah, September baseball…

- Former President of Harvard University, Larry Summers, has been uninvited to speak at the University of California at Davis due to pressure from a group of female professors who signed an online petition. The petition called Summers a “keynote speaker who has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia.” Leaving aside the idea that they’re preventing someone from speaking because they’re offended by his views (a concept that seems completely antithetical to free speech), note that their concern is his symbolism regarding gender and racial prejudice, not the prejudice itself. I think that speaks volumes about the protesters’ real intent here.

- Speaking of turning down visitors, New York City has denied a request by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero. I think this is the right answer, both because his presence would offend the many, many people who think of this space as hallowed ground, and also because of the official reason given by the New York City Police Department: security. There is no doubt in my mind that President Ahmadinejad would encounter an angry mob if he showed up at the site. On the upside, Ahmadinejad apparently acknowledges the existence of 9/11, as opposed to the Holocaust, which he famously regards as a hoax. Also note that while I’m glad Ahmadinejad will not be visiting Ground Zero, I’d be fine with him speaking at the University of California at Davis.

- Dan Rather – September 10th, 2004:

“I believe, I know that this story is true. I believe the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn’t have gone to air if they had not been.”

Dan Rather – September 18, 2007:

Dan Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit Wednesday against CBS, alleging that the network made him a ‘scapegoat’ for a discredited story about President Bush’s National Guard service. The 75-year-old Rather, whose final months were clouded by controversy over the report, says the complaint stems from ‘CBS’ intentional mishandling’ of the aftermath of the story.

Is it me, or is he really not helping his own credibility here?

Categories: Political Rantings, Random Acts of Blogging, Sports Talk | No Comments »


Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Live from Rockefeller Center…it’s a burning taxi cab! Well, at this point, a burnt taxi cab.

I was at lunch when it happened, but I’m told flames started shooting out from under the hood, and the cabbie just stopped the car, got out of the cab and watched it burn. He got his 15 minutes of fame talking to news reporters, etc. on the scene.

When I got back from lunch, the remaining melted hunk of metal, glass and plastic was sitting in the street, surrounded by two firetrucks, several firemen, and about two dozen tourists, all taking pictures of the wreckage (gotta love Rockefeller Center…). This picture was taken from my office window in 50 Rockefeller Plaza, as a forklift took the cab away.

Another colleague has pictures of the actual fire, but needs to send them to me from his home account tonight. When I get them, I’ll post them here.

UPDATE: More pictures here. (Hat tip: Gothamist)


UPDATE #2: Three more pictures from my colleague, Joe Woods. Click to see the larger versions:

Categories: New York, New York | 1 Comment »

Red Sox Memories…

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Since the Yankees are currently giving the Red Sox a run for the AL East, I thought I’d post this video for inspiration: It’s the bottom of the tenth inning in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox, complete with actual audio, re-enacted with a video game called RBI Baseball.

It’s a little long, but you can fast forward to the end if you just want to relive the worst moment in Bill Buckner’s life…

Categories: Sports Talk | 1 Comment »

Keeping the Blood Pressure High…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007



Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 1 Comment »


Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

It has become a tradition of mine to post my thoughts about September 11, 2001 on its anniversary each year (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006). This year is different in several ways.

First, I’m not in New York. Due to an important business trip, I won’t be in or near New York City on the anniversary of the attacks, and will likely not see much (if any) of the annual memorial service at Ground Zero. Intellectually, I know it doesn’t matter much at all; I’ve never gone to Ground Zero for the ceremonies, or even taken time off of work to watch them on television.

The closest I’ve come to a personal memorial has been to try and do something nice for a New York Police Officer on 9/11. In 2002, an officer was on line in front of me at a pizza place and I insisted on buying him his dinner. In 2004, while stuck in traffic approaching the Lincoln Tunnel on a hot 9/11 afternoon, I offered to buy the cop directing traffic a drink from a nearby street vendor (he politely refused). This year, as in other years, I won’t come into contact with any of New York’s Finest, but they’ll be in my thoughts.

Also new this year: my wife and I told my older son, Avery, about the attacks this weekend. He was 18 months old when they happened, but he’s seven now and has just begun second grade. We figured there was a pretty good chance that either a teacher or fellow student would mention it today, and we wanted him to hear about it from us, rather than from someone else.

I have to say, he took it very well. When I told him that 3,000 people died, he looked scared, but recovered very quickly and began asking questions: Did the buildings hit other buildings when they fell down? Did the bad men who hijacked the airplanes die too? Why would anyone do something that they knew would kill them? Why would anyone think that God would like it if they killed people? We answered all his questions as best we could, and then he said, “Can I go now?” and ran back upstairs to play with his brother.

I suspect he’ll have more questions in the coming days, weeks, or even years. That’s okay – I’ve been preparing myself to answer them for six years now, and while it made me nervous to bring it up (more nervous than it made him to hear it), I felt well prepared to answer his questions and to reassure him from his fears.

Finally, a few words about Osama Bin Laden’s latest video. I have to say, I thought he was dead. That’s not to say I thought we killed him, mind you. I thought that years of running and hiding, given his poor health to begin with, had taken its toll, that he’d died of natural causes, and that Al Qaeda had covered it up in order to claim his ability to avoid capture as an ever-present victory over the United States.

I was also found some of the things he said fascinating. For instance:

“All praise is due to Allah, who built the heavens and earth in justice, and created man as a favor and grace from Him. And from His ways is that the days rotate between the people, and from His Law is retaliation in kind: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and the killer is killed.”

It’s revealing that he reads that ancient proverb as one of retaliation. James Lileks points out Dennis Prager’s thoughts:

It’s not about retaliation. It’s not an injunction to do unto others for the sake of vengeance. The message is proportionality. An eye for an eye, not two. A tooth for a tooth, not a mouthful.

The fact that Bin Laden sees it as a command to exact revenge on his enemies shows you the specific way in which his mind is severely twisted. Here’s more:

“There are two solutions for stopping [the Global War on Terror]. The first is from our side, and it is to continue to escalate the killing and fighting against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out, and I ask Allah to grant them resolve and victory.”

To reiterate: the best thing he can do to stop the war is to continue killing and fighting against us. The second solution, by the way, is for all of us to convert to Islam.

Bin Laden’s message is rife with our most public complaints about the Bush administration: negative public opinion polling, corporate influence on government policy, the Democrats’ unwillingness to halt war funding, civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, the federal deficit, high taxes, global warming, and even the recent difficulties in the home mortgage market. Consistent with his reading of “an eye for an eye,” he sees these problems as a rationale for abandoning the democratic way of life, and embracing Islam. Our government has wronged us, he reasons, so out of revenge, we should wrong our government by running toward Islam. If we do so:

“It will also achieve your desire to stop the war as a consequence, because as soon as the warmongering owners of the major corporations realize that you have lost confidence in your democratic system and begun to search for an alternative, and that this alternative is Islam, they will run after you to please you and achieve what you want to steer you away from Islam. So your true compliance with Islam will deprive them of the opportunity to defraud the peoples and take their money under numerous pretexts, like arms deals and so on.”

What Bin Laden doesn’t realize – what he’s never been able to realize – is that our constant carping signifies the strength in our system, not its weakness. We do not need to seek revenge against our government to change its policies. We need only make our disagreements public in a way that convinces the leadership (or the voters) to change direction. To one who has never known this freedom, our complaints may sound like desperate rage. And, as I’ve discussed on these pages before, perhaps we’ve been going about it in somewhat ineffective ways lately, reinforcing that idea.

In the end, though, the open debate of ideas is precisely what will allow us to persevere long after Bin Laden has sacrificed himself to gain “entrance into Paradise.” It is what truly makes us the greatest country in the history of the world.

God Bless America.

Categories: New York, New York, Political Rantings | No Comments »

WABC-TV Comes to its Senses

Friday, September 7th, 2007

This morning, the news director at ABC’s New York affiliate, Kenny Plotnik told the New York Daily News that his station will not air the traditional reading of the victim’s names on the morning of September 11, 2007.

“We decided to provide continuous coverage on our Digital Channel and Web site so our audience could have a choice between their regular programming and the Sept. 11 ceremony. We hope to be respectful to the families and serve our audience. This is not about ratings, it’s about what’s right.”

“What’s right,” according to Mr. Plotnik, includes “Live with Regis and Kelly,” “Rachael Ray,” and “The View.” The fact that these shows have paid advertisers and the 9/11 memorial service would not, Mr. Plotnik is suggesting, has nothing to do with it. It would just be “wrong” to deny viewers their daily dose of Regis, Rachel & the girls for a silly thing like a national day of mourning.

Well, after this announcement (and before I could write a truly outraged blog posting), all hell broke loose. Or, as the beleaguered Mr. Plotnik puts it:

“I made some calls, I spoke to families, we got some emails. People were upset and confused. They were upset. It was upset and confusion. There wasn’t any anger.

Yeah, right. At any rate, to avoid further upsetting all of those non-angry, confused people, WABC-TV has decided to air the ceremony in full, just like every other local channel in New York.

Mr. Plotnik went on to explain that “the real issue, there is really a terrible misunderstanding with digital channels. There seems to be a situation where people don’t understand the concept of digital channels.” He went on to say, though, that there would be other opportunities to use the digital channel down the road, but the 9/11 ceremony was not the time to test it.

Good thinking, Mr. Plotnik. (Finally…)

Categories: News and/or Media | 2 Comments »

Jews to President Bush: Happy Arbor Day!

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

President George W. Bush issued the following statement today, September 5, 2007:

I send greetings to those around the world celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

The sound of the Shofar heralds the beginning of a new year and a time of remembrance and renewal for the Jewish people. During these holy days, men and women are called to reflect on their faith and to honor the blessings of creation.

The enduring traditions of Rosh Hashanah remind us of the deep values of faith and family that strengthen our Nation and help guide us each day. As Jewish people around the world come together to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, it is a chance to look to the new year with hope and faith.

Laura and I send our best wishes for a blessed Rosh Hashanah and shanah tovah.


It’s a lovely message, except that Rosh Hashanah doesn’t begin until sundown on September 12, 2007 (next Wednesday evening).

In the spirit of the President’s message, and on behalf of Jews throughout the world, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish him and his wife, Laura, a safe and happy Arbor Day.

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | No Comments »

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