samedi, août 08, 2009

Our town?

When a crisis in Philly gets into the New York Times Magazine, you know we've got a problem. Michael Sokolove, a former reporter for the Inquirer, has written a reasonably brisk but empathetic piece on the potentially terminal problems at our beloved home town paper.

I have to say that I've been in denial as to how serious the problems are -- when I meet with friends who used to work at the paper and one who still does this week, I'll have lots of questions.

In hindsight, I've been a bit player at the Inquirer in good times and in not so good ones. More than 15 years ago, I wrote my first commentary for the paper. Then a friend hired me to write book rewiews. More commentaries, until the section for suburban news disappeared. I have a T-shirt from the defunct Neighbors, the section for which I wrote last summer.

But I have been exceptionally fortunate, above all, in the friends that I've made, some of whom have been mentors, and some of whom I am still proud to call friends. Their almost monklike commitment to the art of reporting and editing has been and is a huge inspiration to me. It's difficult to see them retire early, or wonder if they will be pastured out into the public relations or nonprofit wilderness.

There's a lot of sausage being manufactured right now, as the paper's owners, owing huge amounts of money, try to keep them from going belly up. Those who diss mainstream journalism as being liberal/biased/old-fashioned need may feel a little different if, in a year or so, the upstart tabloid and paper of record in our town are gone. Soon we might be forced to rely on bloggers (God forbid!!), and local sites that give you the news in slivers -- leaving readers starving for a vision that was once as big as our town. And even, on its best days, as large as the world that it once covered.

mercredi, août 05, 2009

Should I let President Obama know?

I took Mr. C to the doctor yesterday. Come to find out, he'd had a little run in with a 16-year- old cheerleader while on vacation with Dad last week.

Trying to evade some teasing about whether he thought Gertrude (not her real name, but can't you tell I like her?) was attractive, my almost 12-year-old boy said "no, she's ugly."

What do you think would happen next? Screaming from her posse, perhaps. More teasing. Intelligent 16 year old girls would ignore what a 12 year old boy says about them.

Shrek's wife ran after him, and slapped his ear. She smacked him so hard that, when the doctor took a look with her scope, she told us that it was perforated in two places.

Driving back home, having missed our first day of vacation, I asked Mr. C whether this was a "teachable moment." Possibly he'd practice a bit of politesse, the next time?

Reflecting for a few seconds, he told me and his sister: "I didn't know a girl could hit so hard."

lundi, août 03, 2009

Close to the molten core

It came to me, sitting in the church in which I had so many epiphanies, and suffered so much pain, that betrayal is very close to the core of love.

That to yield oneself to the abandonment of love opens you to the possibility that at some point, the person, or persons, to whom you have given part of your heart will toss it. The wild creatures that howl just outside the boundaries that we put up to try to keep them out are waiting. And sometimes, of course, we do the tossing.

I don't want to make betrayal sound exotic, when it is very common.

So much going on at that last supper in the upper room. The nerves of the disciples as they ask each other, and themselves -- could I be the man to do this? One man whose loved turned to hate over a Passover meal. And Jesus, who will leave that room to grapple with His humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I who have loved, and betrayed, who have been betrayed, am still grappling with the possibility of learning to be open to love. Listening to the priest say the words of institution (this my body, this my blood), I had this oh so obvious thought -- and realized then, mid-eucharist, that it was, after all these years (this part of the journey at least) alright. I have moved on. Not because I'm resigned to betrayal or because I want to stick the thin blade between anyone else's shoulders.

But because I do believe that, in the end, love wins.

How about you?