Village Voices

It is all a conspiracy

It is all a conspiracy

I have no idea what’s behind the outages. Downed tree, Liz thinks, but well into the calm after what wasn’t much of a storm anyway, I prefer to suspect a creeping infrastructural collapse, a climate-related over-taxation of the Eastern Seaboard power grid and SCADA systems, regulatory and staffing insufficiency, and the malignant let-it-rot indifference of the one percent.

Success

Success

I danced with my granddaughters this weekend, one of them on my hip and the other twirling around the floor. We sang as I made breakfast. They tried to snap their fingers and whistle. We played hide and seek and we had a good talk during an early morning walk.

Hello, hacker

Hello, hacker

Clearly, all hackers are, to a degree, sociopaths. Some more blind to other people’s emotional lives than others. My vigilant nature, combined with my innate, ever-sharper curiosity, wants to look them in the eye, hear how they talk, register them in my mind’s impregnable database.

Raindrops falling on my head

Raindrops falling on my head

I’d sensed rain’s power when I was young. At the moment the 1969 Aquarian Festival in Bethel became a mudpit, my parents got caught out in that same storm’s southern origins as Hurricane Camille. My mother ran our Virginia county’s welfare department at the time. My father had a motorcycle and was called in to duty reaching mountain hamlets cut off from regular vehicles. We took trips through the devastation in the family car well into 1970.

Stormy weather

Stormy weather

For many in New York, Irene and Sandy were startling awakenings to the fact that, yes, we get real weather here, too, weather that can destroy, disrupt, reposition large structures, and burn permanent and surreal images in our minds, like Avenue C turning into a river along which taxicabs merrily floated by toward New York harbor and the light of Liberty.

Warrior workout

Warrior workout

During the shutdown, I discovered online ballet workouts, and they are actually kind of enjoyable. Some chirpy young women conduct classes that are not only a tough workout but also make you laugh while you’re doing them. “Why are we doing another five sets?” one asks the camera. “Because I cannot remember how many we’ve done so far! Big smile, everyone!  And …”

At the drive-in

At the drive-in

We had arrived early, in the gloaming, so I got out to stretch and look around at the hundred or so audience members, not all of them families. An unspoken sense of community pervaded the dusk, lots of waving at faraway strangers to whom we now felt more connected. The distinctive ambiance of crowd sound – usually a common aspect of modern life, in malls, theaters, restaurants, clubs, etc. – was intoxicating.

Memorable juxtapositions

Memorable juxtapositions

A dinner date was arranged at La Coupole, the grand old Montparnasse brasserie. Enter all the Rolling Stones minus Bill Wyman and Jagger. A grand old time was started, with Charlie Watts holding court like the aristocrat he’s become, while Ronnie and Keith kept running off to the men’s room giggling. I felt at ease, like one of the crowd. A half-hour in I took a taxi to pick up French star Sandrine Bonnaire, and by the time I returned to our table my seat had been taken by Mr. Jagger. My knees went wobbly. “Did you eat my tartare?” was all I could say. He laughed.

Four brutal, short works

Four brutal, short works

The superintendent of a tiny, predominantly Mexican Arizona school district struggles out loud over an agonizing decision he has to make whether he should open his schools or lose five percent of his annual funding. He’s already had a teacher die of Covid-19, contracted at one of his schools when only two other teachers were present and all protocols strenuously observed.

Mars is not the answer

Mars is not the answer

China has launched its first mission to land on the red planet. NASA is launching another mission with a new Mars Rover named Perseverence on board. The little robot will crawl around the dusty landscape, exploring what was once a river delta and a dry lakebed for signs of prior life. And the United Arab Emirates launched a small vehicle from Japan that will stay in the Mars atmosphere for two years, studying it and sending back data.