Monday, September 11, 2017

Epochal times

Waning Gibbous Phase. Sunday, 11:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, September 11, 2017. It was a beautiful sunny weekend in New York with temperatures in the low 70s and in the high 50s at night. Although our thoughts and curiosity were focused on Hurricane Irma and its effect. My niece lives in Naples. For whatever reason, after “buttoning up” their house, she and her boyfriend put up in a hotel (on a high floor) with their two cats smuggled in.

As of this writing (9:30 p.m., Sunday), she has been texting reports of their situation. The “eye” of the hurricane had passed through by her most recent text, and I am reading (and seeing) that the “surge” has begun. For many of us, this second major hurricane – with reports that a third and a fourth may be following, along with the fires (put out now) in Los Angeles, and the major earthquake in Mexico – conjures up images of epochal times. Our epochal times.

The storm’s landfall over the past few days has been one of those experiences that alters one’s routine, thinking pattern and attention. And it is occurring on the eve of the 16th anniversary of Another One of Those Days that altered the lives and thinking of so many of us.
Friday and Saturday while people in the hurricane's path waited, the beautiful blue skies over the city were visited by masses clouds to remind.
A lone cruiser motoring south on the East River.
Heading toward the New York Harbor.
On the 79th Street transverse heading to the West Side.
On East End Avenue and 83rd Street looking up and west at 4:30 in the afternoon on Friday.
In my heart of hearts, I know that what is best for me under such circumstances is to inject, subject myself to some keener, more positive considerations. Coincidentally, several days ago before all of the natural disasters began confronting so many of us in the Western Hemisphere, I came upon a Commencement Speech given by the great Kurt Vonnegut at MIT in 1996. A friend of mine had sent it to me with the message: “It is never too late to begin again. Nor is there a limit or how many times we can begin again.”

Vonnegut’s Commencement speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of ’96.  Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.  The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.  I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young,.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. 

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain unalienable truths. Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.  Advice is a form of nostalgia,  Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on sunscreen.

-- Kurt Vonnegut
 Kurt Vonnegut, with Flour. Photograph © by Jill Krementz
Meanwhile, despite Mother Nature’s admonishments there was good news and glad tidings in the air. On Sunday in the New York Times  were the “new beginnings” of two couples whom I know.

The first is the marriage of Jordana Sara Zizmor and Ian David Fichtenbaum who were married on September 4th by Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz at the Pierre Hotel in New York.

Jordana, who is in the social media business, has worked with the NYSD for several years.  She and JH, both New York City natives, have been friends of their families for many years.  Jordana is the daughter of Wendy Zizmor, who also lives here in New York, and Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, a now retired dermatologist here in New York who now lives in Chicago.
The newlyweds Jordana Zizmor and Ian Fichtenbaum on their wedding day. "I wanted to strap a rocket onto the Acela after our first date as I couldn't wait to see Jordana soon enough," said the groom during his speech." Photo: Annie Watt
The groom is the “space and satellite specialist overseeing investments and acquisitions in the space industry” according to the  Times. He grew up in Montreal, graduating from McGill and receiving a Master’s degrees in operations research from the University of British Columbia He is a son of Nellie and Hymie Fichtenbaum of Montreal.

The guest list at the Pierre for brunch consisted of 120 closest friends and family members. Bagels (from Montreal for the groom and New York for the bride) and lox and latkes and blintzes were in abundance. And what about the wedding cake, you ask? How about a six-layered babka.

Jordana who is 32 and Ian David who is 36, met on JDate in August 2015.
The six-layer babka wedding cake.
Also, this past Saturday, Amanda Powers Meigher and Edward Harris Mariner were married by The Very Rev. Marshall J. Vang, an Episcopal priest, officiating on Crown Island in Lake George, N.Y, the summer home of her parents who also live in New York and Palm Beach.

Amanda, who is 37, is the daughter of Grace and Chris Meigher. Her father is the owner/publisher of Quest magazine of which this writer is E-I-C. A graduate of Dartmouth, like her father, Amanda is managing editor of Allure  and of Teen Vogue at Conde Nast.
Amanda Powers Meigher and Edward Harris Mariner. Photo Harry Benson.
The groom, Mr. Mariner, 36, is a founder of York River Traders, a Boston company that manufacturers and sells belts, cuff links, dog collars and other accessories. He graduated from Union College in Schenectady and received an M.B.A. from Northeastern.

He is the son of Marion Mauran and Michael Mariner of Providence. The groom’s mother is a director of the Maurania Corporation, a privately held investment company in Providence. His father retired as the chief operating officer of Maurania.

The newlyweds first met in 2010, through a mutual friend while at York Harbor in Maine.

Congratulations to both couples.

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