Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Because the Center's office is still on dial-up, that means no phone AND no internet.
Like any business, Fritz's depends on communication. We worked out a plan whereby I will monitor his email, printing out important messages and attachments to deliver to him a couple of times a week. I also told him that he finally has to get a cell phone (something I've wanted him to have for a long time as he drives around a couple of states giving workshops). Once he has a wireless phone he can call Verizon, have the business's calls forwarded to the cell's number and they can run the office that way during the black-out.
New England weather is always chancy but this last week has been above and beyond. The major nor'easter is still hanging on here with strong winds, flood tides along the coast, and temperatures just on the cusp of freezing. We may have more snow tonight and there isn't going to be any real improvement until late Thursday. The trees all remain dormant; by now their buds should have swollen and begun to open. Every day is--or seems--gloomier, colder and more hostile than the last.
The other situation that remains hostile is the local real estate scene. Not to belabor you with my house selling woes yet again, I'll just mention that the asking price has again been reduced due to market pressures pulling all asking prices in the area downward. I'm winning, but I've been battling depression and discouragement over this whole mess.
At MIT everyone's reviewing security and quick response procedures in the face of the Virginia Tech horror. In my time at the Institute there hasn't been any incident of that kind except for one grad student many years ago who committed suicide by turning on the gas in the oven of his apartment, and taking his wife and child with him. I love this country, I really do. For all its faults it still has enormous potential, into which I hope we can tap once the Bush nightmare is over on January 20, 2009.
But we are a violent nation. We're puritanical about a healthy enjoyment of sex, and the population at large fears the arts, intellectuals and liberals (frequently all the same thing). But we positively rush into war, we settle arguments by fighting, and we pick up guns to settle a score or act out our inner torment at the drop of a hat. It's incredibly sad. I wonder if any enlightened leader could, or would even have the strength to try, to turn the situation around. Such a huge percentage of the population is so deeply invested in the cult of violence I doubt he or she would have a chance.
If any good can come out of the Don Imus business, it may be that at long last influential leaders in the African-American community are beginning to ask questions of their own, particularly in the music business where misogynistic and racist lyrics are the norm. Barak Obama and commentator Nancy Giles are just two of the many who have admitted publicly that rap lyrics are much worse than anything Imus said (Giles, who has a fine sense of humor, said concerning one of Imuss remarks, "trust me on this, commenting on a black woman’s hair is something you don't want to do. Just don't go there. Not good.")
But I noticed that while there's a new willingness to question those degrading rap lyrics vis-à-vis race and women, there hasn't been any mention, at least from the prominent figures I've heard, of the rampant homophobia in rap, statements by some black athletes and entertainers, and the pronouncements of black clergy. That issue needs to be addressed urgently, and ASAP.
I've been meaning to ask you, what kind of student at a school like MIT, known mostly for it's science and technology programs spends $25,000 a year to major in music, the arts, or theater?
I immediately thought of your story of meeting Cardinal O'Malley in the hospital elevator when I walked into the Cardinal's bedroom in the former Residence (capital R!) on Comm Ave. yesterday. Boston college now owns it and is considering turning it into a sort of an Inn - similar to the Harvard Faculty Club. I was touring with a BC Trustee who has been a client for years and is pushing them in that direction. The Residence is large, with high ceilings and large rooms, in a sort of austere classical style with no warmth or cheer, dating from the 1920's. The outside has lots of limestone moldings, and a brick that matches the limestone - quite unusual and looking almost like concrete. The Cardinal's bedroom is a large sunny room, with an attached dressing area including a private chapel - just a small square unadorned room. Was that where Cardinal Cushing said the daily rosary that was broadcast on the radio? There is also a 2nd bedroom in the suite, which made me wonder about the sleeping arrangements. There about 10 additional bedrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors, and at least 6 large reception/living rooms on the first and 2nd floor, and a large kitchen and laundry for vestments in the basement. I suppose with the right furnishings and paintings it could be quite oppulent, but I suspect it wasn't even very comfortable.