The subject at hand

Featured image
Lincoln Center — Closed until further notice. Photo: JH.

Friday, August 14, 2020. A beautiful August weekday in New York. The temp was in the low 70s and presented a brief but ample ran shower mid-morning, followed by sunshine and no sense of humidity.

The subject at hand for many of us remains as it has been since last March 14th. Things have changed, and improved since we first went into lockdown. Just being able to go out and dine with friends is a great improvement if you’re living in New York. Even though we have been in transit emotionally all these months that have delivered great economic losses to a great number of people who work for a living. And I’m not referring to a virus. At least not one that some say might have come out of a laboratory.

Photo: JH.

The effect the situation has had on so many of us is emotional, to put it mildly. I hear almost daily of the misfortunes in so many lives around it: the private raging, the abuse of children and partners and animals and the environment. So it has been important to us over here at NYSD to give you the reader something else to think about besides tragedy. Furthermore, I need to at least see a brighter side, as much as anyone.

The times still seem strange. However, the going out to dinner is a great relief. I am also one of those people who has never had a problem being alone. I often prefer it, as a writer, and a reader. But we need each other, as earthlings.

For the past quarter century my life has been absorbed by my business. That is, reporting on the social doings of what were once referred to as society, and high society and ultimately people with money. This was a powerful subject in my development because I grew up in a poor family. The kind of poor where people fear they won’t have enough for the rent, or the heat, or the phone, or the electricity; and often don’t. I am very conscious of it all around me. We consciously promote assistance we can get in various lifetime matters. It’s always been called Philanthropy in better times. Now it is basic: Help.

The house at 17 High Street, taken in 1958. Built in 1839 as a farmhouse, it hadn’t been lived in or maintained for many decades when my mother and father found it in 1945. The house when we moved in was not wired for electricity, had no indoor plumbing (an outhouse in the backyard out behind a small aging and dilapidated two story barn) and no heat except a wood burning stove in the kitchen. $12 a month was the reason the couple took it. Ove time they “fixed it up” over time and lived there for the next 35 years. The kid mowed the lawn, in the beginning with a hand mower (phew) and eventually with a power mower.

As a small child I imagined the flip side of that dilemma with my toys. It seemed to this boy, to be the answer to all problems. As I was growing into a young man and then young adult I began to see the other side of that coin of privilege and abundance I’d wished for — and all the problems it creates for all of us, including its proudest possessors.

Little David, age 3, with his wonderful big sister Helen (then age 17).

Meanwhile, reading is also important for peace of mind. Even if it riles incessantly at times, you learn. I have been a longtime reader of the “financials” and its world. It’s a personal curiosity that began when I had a rich uncle (rich for our circumstances) when I was a kid. He always got the Wall Street Journal. I was about twelve when I first picked it up to see what Unk was reading. I was looking for clues to a better life than the one I was experiencing back home.

Like a lot of American young men of my generation – I even had an early — very superficial –interest in the stock market for what it represented in the image of “financial stability.” In my late 20s, married and attempting to be stable and practical, I got a job as a Registered Rep at Harris, Upham & Company, an old line private stock brokerage firm.

I was a lousy salesman but loved learning about the markets, and the Money. I’ve never had a lot of money but markets are about The Money. Money is our common language — for all of us. It is the civilization we live in, and have lived in for many centuries, BC and AD. It’s our way of communicating about the essential needs in human life. And I am interested in all that it evokes, provokes and invokes in us.

Now, in these modern times, with all of the warnings we’re getting about our fiscal future, I recently discovered a website “Tom Dyson’s Postcards From The Fringe” Interestingly it doesn’t have anything to do with making money. It’s part of a larger site called Rogue Economics which also carries a financially-oriented site called Bill Bonner’s Diary which I’ve been reading regularly for years.

The Dyson family, on the move again, here in the canyons of Utah.

Both sites are autobiographical as well as providing valuable thought and information about the state of our world. Tyson, who looks to be a man in his mid-40s, evidently very successful in the financial world, has been traveling with his wife and three young children (two boys and a girl) all over America, backroads especially. I think this is their third year of being vagabonds (while he’s looking after his financial interests which he includes in his copy). But what he has for me, and I’d guess most of his readers, is his travel stories. We’re traveling with him.

The descriptions are very down home — apt and realistic and an eye out always for the solace of nature’s beauty. It tugs on thoughts and dreams of adventure for us, Good Adventure. Reading it almost daily I am taking another trip (to calm the anxiety), an adventure where I find myself thinking of what a fascinating adventure to be on the road at this moment in America. For the Dysons it is freedom, the kind we grew up learning about. They see beauty and the real down-home world that most of us live in or would like tto live in.

Visit Tom Dyson’s Postcards From the Fringe.

More good news. Meanwhile, back here in little ole New York, Mother Nature’s gifts are bursting all over. Yesterday afternoon, I drove JH through my routes for the West Side (and Zabar’s) and back through the 86th (going west) and 79th Street (traveling east) transverses which are bursting with Mother Nature’s gifts right here in the middle of New York City. You can think for a moment you’re in another world, peaceful and fine.

I also learned exactly how quickly the transition from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West. About a minute and a half each way; a miracle in the town with millions of cars everywhere. Below we are traveling west on the 86th Street transverse to Central Park West.

Rain had been in the forecast, leaving us with a very dry day until about 5:30 in the afternoon, when I had stopped by JH’s building to drop off an envelope, and it came down. All at once. It poured for the better part of an hour, and then it stopped. An hour or so later I was at dinner — outside — with a friend. Perfect weather.

Recent Posts