Saturday, June 29, 2002

Cé hé John Doe 2?

My 9/11 web page carries a link to an article about the Oklahoma City bombing, Was Tim McVeigh an agent of Iraq? A friend in the Russian Catholic community who recalled this sent me a very interesting piece published in Belfast, in the Irish language, Cé hé John Doe 2?. For those of us who have the Irish, here it is. And for those of us who do not, I am hoping to see a translation soon over at the blog Between the Worlds.

John Berger is the blogger whose site has done most to spark interest in the Oklahoma City-WTC connection. Take a look at it.

In late September and October, working sporadic night shifts on a New Jersey mountaintop, I was able to follow the aftermath of the incident, and reflect on it. I was fascinated by the responses of some Traditionalist followers of Julius Evola in favor of bin Laden, and realized that his movement may be limited to Muslims, but it has warm sympathizers among Americans of what is mistakenly called the extreme right. That's probably why I picked up on McVeigh'a alleged Iraqi connection.

Like most Americans, I was deeply moved by the outpouring of sympathy from every nation on earth. Every nation but one. The response of the government of Israel struck me as brutal and bullying. I was somewhat prepared by Jewish friends who said things like, Well now you people know how it feels to be an Israeli, with almost a sneer of satisfaction.

There was something very wrong there, and I read with interest European reports that the Israeli agents expelled from the United States early this year had had the hijackers under close surveillance in the weeks up to September 11. Their government's response to the attack would make sense as the guilty reaction of those who had some prior knowledge of the plan, which they did not see fit to share with the Americans. If so they must have been as horrified as bin Laden was elated by the unbelievable success of it. Or so I would like to think.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

In a former life, never mind which, I was given to falling in love with books, even with dictionaries. In my present occupation one flirts more with file formats, even graphic ones. I first heard of the Century Dictionary while researching the life of Charles Sanders Peirce, who wrote the scientific, mathematical, and philosophical entries. When I finally got around to reading Barzun and Graff's Modern Researcher I learned that it was one of the great dictionaries of all time, edited by William Dwight Whitney, author of what was still the great first year Sanskrit text. Visiting a used bookstore in Nyack I found a copy, twleve enormous and lovely volumes bound in leather I still despair of reconditioning, for a not unreasonable price of (I think) forty dollars. It occupies the place of honor in the great red bookcase which dominates my livingroom, though the bookcase is, alas, hard to get to, and the binding leaves red stains on the reader's shirt. A new graphic file format and the kindness of strangers now allow me to share it with you, if you will be so kind as to download the browser plugin via the button on the lower left corner of The Century Dictionary Online.

Speaking of dictionaries, that greatest of all lexicographers, our good and dear friend the late Dr. Samuel Johnson now has a blog devoted to his wisdom as illustrated in the reflections of a contemporary Brooklynite. I refer you to The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page. Yes, Ed, some good comes from Brooklyn.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Again, I leave the apartment to the strains of the War March of the Priests on WQXR, almost thirty seven years to the day since we played it for our graduation from River Dell Regional High School.

Life goes on.

I was going to continue the theme of New Jersey and anti-New Jersey, but got distracted by thoughts of perverted priests and corrupt bishops which I still haven't formulated for publication. And when I do, I may well post them elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I see there is a Thomas Love Peacock conference coming up, but not in New Jersey or even Indiana, so I shall have to content myself with being there in spirit.

Monday, June 17, 2002

The Pot and the Kettle

Or, A Brooklyn Look at New Jersey

From: EMacDonald
Subject: Blog
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 10:51:05 -0400

Dear Frank;

I am very gratified to discover that my quasi-encomium upon the State of New Jersey and its folk has been found worthy to be posted on your blog.

Let me add this note. I have been a Tolkien fan since 1965. In all these years, I have never found the slightest evidence that New Jersey provided him the model for the Land of Mordor. New Jersey's resemblence to Mordor is, in general, but slight and is restricted to a relatively few localities such as Elizabeth. Green things do grow there, too; just ragweed and stunted trees perhaps, but, still, real vegetation. Doubtless Samwise, Treebeard or Galadriel, finding themselves in Jersey, would seek to make hasty exits, but that does not make it a bad place.


I shall merely comment here that the late Howard Lovecraft did not see fit to set any of his stories in the Garden State; on the other hand, The Horror at Red Hook speaks pretty much for iteslf.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

From our Mailbag

From Ed MacDonald

Thanks, Frank. This just goes to illustrate my argument that NJ is not, contrary to the opinion of all these snotty NYC'ers, just an industrial sink-hole to be loathed, despised and mocked by us sophisticates. While NJ bears very little resemblance indeed to the New Jerusalem, it does have its points. Not many points, assuredly, but some. Well, a few. Or, at least a couple.

Why here is evidence of it! Frogs! Lovely green slimy frogs. Who make noises of various kinds. Which the Jerseyites record for the edification and listening pleasure of mankind. The kindly Jerseyites don't have much, but what they do have, they share with the world. Frog noises. One is forcibly reminded of the Widow's Mite, is one not?

But not only do the humble and generous Jerseyites regale us with the vociferations of their frogs, they offer us a guide to the amphibians and reptiles of their state! How many nature-lovers will now be enabled to fulfill their dreams of sloshing about in the filthy and polluted swamps of New Jersey with a reliable guide to the misshapen creatures to be found there in their possession? I myself do not actually know any such worthy souls, but, being an occasional bird-watcher, I do know how many very odd people there are out there in nature-land, and have no doubt that some have such an ambition.

And let us not forget that among the, um, several interesting things about NJ is the fact that none other than the Rev. Jonathan Edwards spent the latter years of his life at what became Princeton, thereby illustrating what can happen to sinners in the hands of an angry God.



-----Original Message-----

Sun Jun 9, 6:33 PM ET

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Some unlikely tunes are leaping up the charts in New Jersey.

A new CD featuring frogs croaking is selling so fast that state wildlife officials are having trouble keeping it in stock.

"It's pretty amazing," Linda Tesauro, executive director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "We never expected these to be as popular as they are."

Performers include the indigenous Pine Barrens Treefrog, the chirping Northern Spring Peeper, and the Carpenter Frog.

Frog fans also are buying the accompanying "Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of New Jersey."

Initial runs of 1,000 copies for each item sold out in 10 weeks - a record for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Non-game Species Program. A second run of 2,000 is expected within days.

The frog sounds were recorded in the woods and streams of the Garden State. The CD is meant to teach listeners to identify the calls and chirps of the tiny amphibians.

The CD and book sell for $10 each or $18 for the set.


On the Net

His Grace responds:

The Toxic Avenger of course is from New Jersey
although I understand his love interest Phoebe
Leger lives in New York and goes to Grace Episcopal.


For shame, for shame! You of all people should know that Tromaville is in reality Ossining. Or is it Peekskill? Somewhere around Pleasantville, to be sure, where black helicopters airlift hosts consecrated by traditionalist Brazilian priests to the secret martial arts training camps of the Tradition, Family, Property sect. The only part of the world bearing even a remote resemblance to the New Jersey of our imaginings.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Some folks say that the most boring thing in the world is reading user manuals for computer software. To them I say, you have no idea what boredom is until you have had to write the stuff.

Had to get out a little while ago and walked down Broadway to Bowling Green Park, that little circle just past the big brass bull. A notice posted by the Gummint informs all and sundry, or at least those who stop to read it, that the park is a top location for watching the peregrine falcons which have come back from the brink of extinction to build their nests on Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, places like that. Good to know.

Even better to learn, through Yahoo, that nostalgic Jerseymen can now purchase CD guides to the singing treefrogs of the Garden State. Nontree frogs, too, for all I know.

I just deleted an email from one with the subject line, It's me again. Maybe next time I'll open it.

The sun will have set in New York before the eclipse begins. An astrologer I met recently says that this is very bad news for Israel if the accepted birthchart is correct. The eclipse, I mean, not my missing it. I mentiion this just in case something spectacular happens tonight. I mean in Israel, not with Jenifer.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

I found myself on Washington Heights Saturday evening, and dined at a restaurant that would be worth the trip on the A Train, Bleu Evolution. Meanwhile, on the Upper West Side, I see that the number of blogs registered at Broadway and 72nd Street has grown to twelve, the newest being New York City Bartenders & Patrons.

The latest post, announcing the commencement of the pig roasting season in the meatpacking district, gives the flavor of it: "Nothing beats eating meat and drinking beer in the sunshine on Tenth Avenue, with scores of amazing Harleys parked all over the place. The crowd is good and the food isn't to be missed. The bar is hopping and crazy busy. Bring your appetite and you'll have a great time at Red Rock!"

On the main site, to which the blog is connected, the emphasis is on the bartenders, who are are preponderantly female, some of them quite preponderantly so. (Bartendresses? I like the sound of that.) I'm not going to link to it -- find it yourself! I'm a moral sort of guy, after all. Seriously, though, only one of the blogs at my stop is that of a porno professional (I'm not going there either), which speaks well of our fair city, at least on the nerdy side.

John Zmirak's new column is out, this one on Revolting France. Speaking of Bastille Day, as we were the entry before last or the one before that, it was of course John who organized that wonderful garden party in Alphabet City two years in memory of the martyrs of that unfortunate revolution. The proprietress of the garden almost refused to allow it to be used, as she is, alas, a Republican, that is to say, not a Monarchist.

Those of us in the Russian tradition should host a similar event some day, perhaps not in February or even October, but on the Sunday of All the Saints of Russia, which falls a week after All Saints, that is, two weeks after Pentacost, generally in June.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

I was back on Barclay for a meeting this morning and found my old cube dismantled and my new one not yet constructed. Good thing I got my stuff into boxes, which are now in the custody of the movers. My things here at Broad Street, opposite the Stock (not Stocking!) Exchange will have to be boxed at the end of next week.

At the North Fork Bank (formerly the Keshkerrigan Irish bookstore) I picked up a couple of local papers, with some details on the reconstruction effort. Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill has designed a rather nice tall prism in the form of a parallelogram to go up over part of the site of WTC 7, between Washington and Greenwich Streets, the latter being extended from Barclay to Vesey. A little park might go in the triangle left over.

And I see that the magnificent Hoboken ferry house is finally being renovated, to be completed for its centenary in 2007. My father took an early retirement when the ground started to be cleared for the World Trade Center at the end of the '60s. He particularly disliked having to ride the PATH, the Tubes, as he called them, rather than the ferries he had taken for so much of his life, at least since he graduated from eighth grade to work on the Hoboken docks.

After a late shift chalking freight in Hoboken for stronger men to lift, he and his cronies would cross for the 2 a.m. Mass which was held for the printers who worked for the newspapers around what is now Pace University. After communing with their God (and mine) they would gamble, whether with dice or with cards I am not certain -- perhaps with both. (He never told my mother that he bought her first present with the winnings of a poker game; she would have disapproved most strongly.)

In late middle age Western Electric transferred Dad from the great Kearny plant to AT&T headquarters at 195 Broadway. I remember singing carols in Christmas Eve in the grand lobby of this too little known architectural masterpiece, and it was one of the first places downtown I went after September 11, to see that, so close to Ground Zero, perhaps as close or closer than I myself had been, it was still all right.

I think that, as he commuted from a job he didn't really like to our suburban home, he took pleasure in embarking on the familiar boats to the grand terminal only two years younger than he, to take a train over the same railroad, I imagine, that his grandfather came over from Ireland to build, or rather, to carry water to the boys big enough to swing a pickax.

Monday, June 03, 2002

If you should happen to go to my remarks on Teachers College of a few weeks ago and click on the name of Lawrence Cremin, the link won't link; an excellent article critical of the man and his work has been removed from the WorldWide Web. The official tribute remains. The man's words speak for themselves to those who know how to read them, and the pictures are true to life -- Martin Dworkin took many of them, including some he isn't given credit for. Martin was a better critic than philosopher, better poet than critic, better photographer than poet. His one published book was a manual of weight training. With a physical therapist working on the range of motion of both shoulders, I could use that one now.