Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Peace on Earth; Good will toward men

A flock of sparrows play in the snow outside the Guggenheim Museum. Photo: JH.
January 2, 2018. New Year’s Day was cold and grey in New York, with temperatures dipping to 9 in the morning, warming up to 14 by midday.

I stayed home and did my laundry which always makes me feel like I’m being constructive. The night before my old friend Phil came over, and we went over to JH and Danielle’s apartment for champagne and caviar and other healthy and delicious little snacks that Danielle put together to go along with it.  It was a very pleasant evening away from all of the hubbub and hullabaloo of New York on New Year’s Eve.

There were fireworks in the Park after midnight. JH told me could see their reflection in the buildings north of him on Madison Avenue. I didn’t hear them over here by the River.
Waiting in the long line (in the bitter cold) outside the Met.
New Year’s Eve lost its allure for me long ago. In the earliest years when I was independent enough to leave the house for an evening, it meant a party, and all parties were something to anticipate, and in one way or another, fun. When I was 17 I got drunk on New Year’s Eve drinking screwdrivers. I can still remember swerving around (losing my balance) Carolyn Clarke’s parents’ dining room, just missing the tables and the chairs. The next day I didn’t get out of bed. I told my mother I had an upset stomach (and headache) from something I ate the night before. Thinking back she couldn’t have believed me but said nothing. Besides, nothing she could say that would have made me feel worse than I felt from all that vodka and orange juice the night before. I think that was the last time I ever had a screwdriver.

Those are classic moments growing up in America in the mid-20th century. I don’t think the newer citizens wait till New Year’s Eve nowadays, although I’ve personally seen none of it. Mainly because I stay close to home on that night. When I walked the dogs Sunday night about one a.m., there was quite a bit of traffic on East End Avenue. Usually there’s only an occasional car or taxi at that hour dropping someone off at home. And it was cold. Brrrr.

I also consciously avoided the news over the holidays. I checked out the Post columns to see the latest mess someone’s made out of their own or someone else’s life. They used to be called “scandals” — now they’re fillers for phone-apps, and there is a lot more violence and boundary-crossing among individuals involved.
A typical scene on Christmas Day (this one is in New Jersey) — The one day even the big box stores are closed.
The spirit of those holiday and Christmas cards we got made me think a little more about our world, as we know it. This year it occurred to me — and perhaps I’ve missed something — that the words “Peace on Earth; Good will toward men ...” were rarely present in the messages.  

Actually I just looked it up and it’s Luke 2:24: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Leaving aside the religious aspect of those words, we rarely hear the word “peace” in the public delivery, be it media or elected leaders. Same with “good will toward men.”

It’s in all of us, as creatures, even if it requires some concentration at times. Peace, peace of mind; we all long for it at least at certain times if not at all times.  It’s ironic when you consider that it is also our only Saving Grace.
The Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden at the Cooper Hewitt, after a sprinkling of snow on Friday.
Meanwhile, over the weekend Blair Sabol sent me and JH this perfect antidote, this video of classic movie musical dance clips — some of the most remarkable dancing by the greats like Astaire, Kelly, Hayworth, the Nicholas Brothers, Garland, Powell, Bill Bojangles, etcetera — all to a beat, to a song entirely contemporary and not on the original film clips.

The man who put the film montage together demonstrates something about our nature — the beat goes on, and it’s the same beat, ironically. This is fun and also, while I’m at it, it gives you a sense of peace as well as a very good will toward men ...

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