Misguided

Jul. 11th, 2009 05:10 pm
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Last month, I spent a couple of weeks on holiday in the States with [livejournal.com profile] frankie_ecap. Needless to say, this was not without controversy (sorry if you can't this, these are locked posts!).

I like travel – I like exploring new places, I like going back to places I know and wandering about; and this time, we were in New York, a city I know better than any other city I haven't lived in, I would – I get to visit New York every couple of years, staying with friends. (This trip will undoubtedly get written about sometime, but experience shows me it might take a year or two... - not least cos I have about seven hundred photographs to process first!)

Image4



I went to New York in October 2002 – a year after 11 September 2001 (you're smart, you'll have noticed that...) - then (I think) in 2005 and again in June 2007. In 2002, I avoided “Ground Zero" - it felt too raw: there were shrines all over the city, remembering firefighters who were missing, there were posters all over the place with details of missing workers from the World Trade Center, and tattered flags all over the city, left out in all weathers as a sign of defiance.

In 2007, I did go to the site of the WTC, because I was doing stuff in the surrounding area and it seemed churlish to go out of my way to avoid it; it was a chilling, moving experience.

So I do react to the events of 11 September. So far, so good.

Thing is, this trip I had a guide book with me. Indeed, I had several: new guides to Washington (earlier in the trip) and Philadelphia (later); and two to New York: one, the Time Out guide, dating from 2007, the other, the Lonely Planet, from (I think) 1997.

I like guide books: they are just that – guides. I have used the Lonely Planet guide many times – I have several editions, going back to the 1980s. I like the layout, the way they work, the feel - the very vibe of the book.

It is, though, a guide book. I know it is old, but I am adult, I can cope with that: the world changes, jazz clubs and restaurants close and open; and the guide book is a way to help me navigate the city. Not infallible, obviously, and used with caution – because neither the guide nor me – nor the city – are immortal.

I also took bus and subway maps, kindly provided by Manhattan Transportation Authority - if you're ever in New York, stop by a subway station and pick up a free bus map: the best map of the city you can get, free. The maps I had I think dated back to my 1997 trip, too – I think they were from 1993 and 1995 respectively.

The age of the Lonely Planet guide and subway and bus maps didn't bother me. Some things had changed – the World Trade Center, for instance – restaurants opened and closed, neighbourhoods moved up market or down; perhaps some changes to the subway, maybe different routes on some buses.

[livejournal.com profile] frankie_ecap saw it a bit differently, of course. This is partly because she used my subway map to plan a trip on the only bit of the network that had significantly changed: in the midtown area, one of the routes had been renamed, and, had she relied on my map, she'd have ended up somewhere she didn't want to be. Still she had the wherewithal to check her route on a subway map in the station, and she saw that the old map was wrong, and avoided getting lost. Still, it was my fault for lending her my map... She found ALL the changes on the bus map, too, sifting through it route by route, highlighting how it might have got her lost (had she wanted to take every bus in Manhattan...)!

She then extended this argument to the guide book itself.

When we'd arrived in New York, we went for a long walk, and sought food near where we were staying; I looked at my decade-old guide book and suggested a local diner, and steered us right there. So the one time we relied on the guide book, it worked – it came good when it needed to.

However, [livejournal.com profile] frankie_ecap felt that simply using a guide book that discussed the World Trade Center as a tourist attraction – since it was a tourist attraction when it was written – was somehow wrong: disrespectful to the dead, to the city, to the past; a sacrilegious act.

This became a major point of contention, as if by using my old, friendly, workable guide book I was doing great wrong.

Thing is, I know the city had changed: like everyone else, I saw the tv footage. I know something historical happened; but that doesn't change the whole city: I know the context. And I can live with that:it is a guide, not an instruction manual1. The world had changed, the time of the guide book is different from now, but the guide still holds, by and large.

For me, knowing there is hole in the book wasn't a problem; knowing there was a hole in the ground, the result of some murdering terrorists was the problem. That the book reminded me of that actually seemed right: an act of rememberance, for how the city – the people and the place – used to be.

Image29




1I was going to write “not a map..." but thought this might be counterproductive...
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
[livejournal.com profile] innerbrat has been writing about a US soldier who was fired for coming out. Her latest post has a link to a copy of a handwritten note from Barack Obama to another gay soldier.

It is several weeks since the very mention of Obama made me smile - but it's happening all over again. I love the guy.

Miming

Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:38 pm
rhythmaning: (cat)
I have just heard that the string quartet that played at Obama’s inauguration were miming!

Well, I am not shocked in the slightest. I was amazed they were playing outside at all – as the presenters kept telling us, it was very cold. Yo-yo Ma said “It was wicked cold!”

I was surprised they weren’t wearing hats and gloves – it must have been hard to play in that temperature at all.

Miming

Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:38 pm
rhythmaning: (cat)
I have just heard that the string quartet that played at Obama’s inauguration were miming!

Well, I am not shocked in the slightest. I was amazed they were playing outside at all – as the presenters kept telling us, it was very cold. Yo-yo Ma said “It was wicked cold!”

I was surprised they weren’t wearing hats and gloves – it must have been hard to play in that temperature at all.

Smile

Jan. 23rd, 2009 04:43 pm
rhythmaning: (cat)
I have noticed something quite strange over the past couple of days.

Every time I see a photograph of Barack Obama, my face erupts into a strong, broad grin.

There are of course many pictures of Obama in the newspaper. One very like this made me realise I had a happy, manic grin on my face.


Picture: from International Herald Tribune. Getty Images.



Then I turned the page and saw another photo, accompanying this article about Twitter.

I can see my face is going to be twisted into a smile for at least the next four years. (And probably longer.)

I hope I don’t get bored of smiling.

Smile

Jan. 23rd, 2009 04:43 pm
rhythmaning: (cat)
I have noticed something quite strange over the past couple of days.

Every time I see a photograph of Barack Obama, my face erupts into a strong, broad grin.

There are of course many pictures of Obama in the newspaper. One very like this made me realise I had a happy, manic grin on my face.


Picture: from International Herald Tribune. Getty Images.



Then I turned the page and saw another photo, accompanying this article about Twitter.

I can see my face is going to be twisted into a smile for at least the next four years. (And probably longer.)

I hope I don’t get bored of smiling.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
[livejournal.com profile] the_red_shoes linked to this article on the New York Times: Obama Orders Secret Prisons and Detention Camps Closed.

The bit she referred to, and really, really makes sense, was:
John D. Hutson, a retired admiral and law school dean, was at the signing ceremony “He really gets it,” Mr. Hutson said of Mr. Obama in an interview a few minutes after the ceremony. “He acknowledged that this isn’t easy. But he is absolutely dedicated to getting us back on track as a nation. This is the right thing to do morally, diplomatically, militarily and Constitutionally. But it also makes us safer.”


The right thing to do. And safer.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
[livejournal.com profile] the_red_shoes linked to this article on the New York Times: Obama Orders Secret Prisons and Detention Camps Closed.

The bit she referred to, and really, really makes sense, was:
John D. Hutson, a retired admiral and law school dean, was at the signing ceremony “He really gets it,” Mr. Hutson said of Mr. Obama in an interview a few minutes after the ceremony. “He acknowledged that this isn’t easy. But he is absolutely dedicated to getting us back on track as a nation. This is the right thing to do morally, diplomatically, militarily and Constitutionally. But it also makes us safer.”


The right thing to do. And safer.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
From the BBC: Obama orders Guantanamo closure and bans torture.

This pleases me greatly.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
From the BBC: Obama orders Guantanamo closure and bans torture.

This pleases me greatly.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Catherine Townsend, a columnist on the Independent, has posted about some bizarre reactions to the use of the word "choice".

It is very strange how, for some people, a single word can embody so much meaning. Words do indeed have power.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Catherine Townsend, a columnist on the Independent, has posted about some bizarre reactions to the use of the word "choice".

It is very strange how, for some people, a single word can embody so much meaning. Words do indeed have power.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Harper's have produced "an index" of George W. Bush's career as president of the USA.

It is simultaneously hilarious and chilling.

My "favourite" numbers include...

  • Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98
  • Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182
  • Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0
  • Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations: 22,000
  • Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

And on it goes...

(via Boing Boing)
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Harper's have produced "an index" of George W. Bush's career as president of the USA.

It is simultaneously hilarious and chilling.

My "favourite" numbers include...

  • Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98
  • Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182
  • Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0
  • Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations: 22,000
  • Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

And on it goes...

(via Boing Boing)

Voting

Nov. 4th, 2008 02:01 pm
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I have voted in every election I have been able to. It isn't that complex a procedure (apart from this one!): walk in, pick up a bit of paper, go into a cubicle, put a cross in a box. It has never taken more than a minute or two, and I have never had to queue.

There were pictures on tv yesterday of people queuing for four hours to cast their votes in "early voting" in the US Presidential elections, and the radio news had just described long queues to votes today, too.


Voters queuing in New York - picture from the BBC website (no photographer credited)



Could someone explain to me why voters in the US have to queue?

Voting

Nov. 4th, 2008 02:01 pm
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I have voted in every election I have been able to. It isn't that complex a procedure (apart from this one!): walk in, pick up a bit of paper, go into a cubicle, put a cross in a box. It has never taken more than a minute or two, and I have never had to queue.

There were pictures on tv yesterday of people queuing for four hours to cast their votes in "early voting" in the US Presidential elections, and the radio news had just described long queues to votes today, too.


Voters queuing in New York - picture from the BBC website (no photographer credited)



Could someone explain to me why voters in the US have to queue?

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