Archive for Friendship

Nashville: Skyline and All

“If you’re travelin’ in the north country fair

Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline

Remember me to one who lived there

For she was once a true love of mine.”

Both Bob Dylan and the Nashville skyline have changed since he wrote those words for the Nashville Skyline album in 1969. I loved the record (yes, it was a record in those days), and I loved his surprising shift from folk-protest to traditional country music including an off-pitch duet with Johnny Cash. Beyond that I didn’t know much about the city except that it was the home of the Grand Ole Opry. I had never been there and neither had M, but a chance meeting with a young couple at a Peter Cetera concert in Seattle got us thinking about a visit to their hometown. So, on impulse, with an Alaska Airlines companion ticket to burn, we booked the flight as just the right destination for an escape from our long wet winter in Seattle.

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Trump and Turkey…

There’s a lot to like about Turkey. It’s exotic, mysterious, and diverse – beautiful blue water sailing on the southwestern coast where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet, ancient rock dwellings at Cappadocia, the broad expanse of the Anatolian plateau, and a blending of cultures where Europe and Asia meet at the Bosporus. (above).

Long before the Orient Express, Istanbul felt mysterious and unpredictable, as if a camel driver might be blocking the path of a Mercedes consular car around the next corner. I spent time there on my own and on layovers as a Pan Am pilot. I had a favorite smoke-filled café near the Golden Horn that served doner kebab for a couple of bucks and a tiny shop nearby where I bought pistachios and squishy dried figs carefully wrapped in brown paper by the owner. I loved Istanbul, the crowds and excitement, even the diesel fumes, a Eurasian jumble of mosques, churches, narrow winding streets, designer shops, shared taxis, noisy ferries, and hard bargaining rug merchants in the Grand Bazaar.

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Old Age and Politics

“Do you know how lucky you are to be old?” This pointed question is asked of a character in a new novel called Our Short History. It’s the story of a woman dying of ovarian cancer who’s writing a letter for her 6-year-old son to read when he turns 18. Read the interview with its author on NPR’s Weekend Edition (Saturday, April 1, 2017). She’s fascinating and so is the story.

More to the point on a personal note, I don’t think I’ve ever seen old and lucky in the same sentence, but it’s true. Most of us have the same familiar complaints about getting older. We don’t see it as a blessing. We kvetch about our aches and pains, lament the doctor visits, wish we could still run marathons, and feel compassion for friends leaving the homes they love for  “retirement communities.” The other day a friend told me when he gets together with peers the conversation almost always begins with an “organ recital” – a list of all their current health problems.

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Critical Thinking and Politics

Like many Americans I am struggling with how to think about politics in the Age of Trump. I know my own mind – the policies I favor and the personalities I respect – but I’m bewildered by the otherness of the whole situation, the new president, his cabinet, and most of all the American electorate.

Is this, as many have said, categorically different than the political landscape of the past 241 years? Are we going from a proscenium stage to guerrilla street theater? Maybe that’s not the right metaphor. Is this war? Is this a game? Is this reality television? How can we best frame what’s happening to our body politic in the Age of Trump.

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Friendship and Politics

Political conversations can be tricky, and even trickier when friendships are involved and tested. This seems a particularly tricky time as the Trump administration takes office and moves to implement its agenda. As this completely new kind of political force takes over, friendships are straining, families are quarreling and the country’s divisions are hardening.

I’m as partisan as the next guy, maybe more, and last week an old friend called me out when I posted a snarky anti-Trump picture and caption on Facebook. His exact words were, “Hey Jack, you’ve forgotten what the former president (Barack Obama) said… ‘Elections have consequences.’ You lost. I won. Get over it.”

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