The mayor is right. No more “Ground Zero”. I was relieved to learn that post 9/11, the NYC subway system was pro-America. They’re on our side. But for crying out loud… did we do this a decade after even World War fucking II?
I hadn’t been out there since last fall, but as it happened, the day before, I had been speaking to Andy Schultz, the president of CAJAC, the group that has been working to rescue Basyide (as well as other cemeteries), from decades of neglect. He told me incidents of vandalism have been greatly reduced, but do still occur.
I went out this past Sunday to do some work, and took some pictures. The truth is, as long as I’ve worked there, there have been toppled headstones, and there’s no tracking going of the vandalism, so it’s hard to tell new from old.
From the video on WPIX, I think the mausoleums being broken into, is new. Unfortunately, because there is no full-time security or anything, they really need to be sealed up (most have been). It’s unfortunate, but necessary. Some of the stained glass in them is beautiful and would not be able to be replaced. This is video I shot last summer.
This, I believe is new too. This does get me thinking we should be using some geo-mapping software to track this.
The good news though, is, thing are getting better. In the picture below, ypu can see a truck that has a wood-chipper. The newly-hired (by CAJAC) landscapers have been mulching the scores of wild trees that overran the place, and have since been chopped down.
We’re leaving the larger trees, as they provide shade and quiet, but paths that were literally impenetrable a year ago, are now clear. Not only can many graves be visited now, but burials could conceivably take place (things were so over-run before, equipment wouldn’t have been able to get in to dig a hole).
This past Monday, was the 207th anniversary of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr at the cliffs under Weehawken. Hamilton, of course, was fatally wounded, and lingered in agony, before dying the next day in Manhattan.
What always strikes me about the event, was that at the time of the confrontation, Burr was Vice-President of the United States.
“Mr. Vice-President — is that a pistol in your hand?”
“Where are you going?”
“To have a duel with Alexander Hamilton.”
Likwise, how does anyone let Hamilton have a duel with the Vice-President?
Burr never stood trial, and though he remained Vice-President, his political career was over.
Hamilton is a hero of mine. Rising from an illegitimate birth in the West Indies, and orphaned by 13, he so impressed the locals, they banded together to pay for his voyage to North America, so that he could continue his studies. After being rebuffed by the toffs at Princeton, (for asking to complete his studies at an accelerated pace), he graduated from King’s College (now Columbia). Through his work and brilliance, he rose to Lieutanant Colonel in the Continental Army, and and chief-of-staff to George Washington, all by his mid 20’s.
Hamilton served as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, and came up with the plan for the federal government to assume the debt of the states, that was accumulated during the war.
In a foreshadowing of current debate, Jefferson, a smart guy, but no Hamilton (or John Adams), opposed the United States taking on the debt. Hamilton prevailed, after agreeing to Jefferson’s demand that the permanent capital of the U.S. be on the Potomac.
He was a lawyer, and founder of the Bank of New York. He also served in the New York State Legislature and Continental Congress. A New Yorker through and through, his grave is in the churchyard of Trinity Church, steps from Wall Street.
Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and similarly, after landing on the pile of “to read” books in my apartment, it took a while to get to. Well, I just finished the book, and liked it, learning about someone who before, I knew nothing but his name.
Interestingly, the book’s original owner appears to have been the attorney Jack Litman (click the photo to see the watermark). Litman was most famous for his defense in 1986 of “preppie killer”, Robert Chambers.
The trial put on display his “blame-the-victim” strategy, one he employed often to good effect. The former deputy homicide chief in the Manhattan DA’s office, in this case arguing that Jennifer Levin was responsible for her own death (strangulation by Chambers, during a sexual encounter in Central Park). Her bruised and battered body was found under a tree.
Everyone deserves a lawyer, even a psychopath like Chambers. Still, the defense sickened me, and I can recall that a woman who worked in the same office with me, (we were both paralegals) believed that poor Robert, the parochial-school boy, was indeed getting a raw deal (I don’t think I ever spoke with her again). Chambers of course, took a plea before the jury reached a verdict, and after serving his sentence, was re-imprisoned for narcotics sales and possesion.
I wonder if Litman was interested in Cicero because of Cicero’s career as a defense attorney in ancient Rome. Those trials established him as the most skilled orator in the history of the Republic. Cicero’s death, by order of Marc Antony, (along with the suicide of Cato), are seen as the events that signalled the end of the Republic.
Litman, lived on the Upper West Side, and died last year, after a long battle with lymphoma. In its obituary, the Times wrote,
While his cerebral approach to his cases seemed almost mathematical, Mr. Litman insisted that it was his love of literature, psychoanalysis and French film that taught him to appeal to the psychology of the jury and put cases in narrative form.
He was admired by defense lawyers and prosecutors alike for aggressive cross-examinations and closing arguments that often had an almost novelistic sweep. His talent as an amateur actor — his favorite film was “Twelve Angry Men” and he acted in an all-lawyer stage production based on it — served him well in the courtroom."
So the Brooklyn Bridge is celebrating the anniversary of its opening today, in low-key fashion. Back in 1983 though, the centenary was a big deal. Lots of fireworks, and the FDR Drive was closed to cars, so people could get a good view.
I was working as a messenger for a downtown law firm at the time and brought my camera and tripod in to work, to capture the evening’s festivities.
Earlier that day, I was making my rounds in midtown, and as I was approaching Fifth Avenue, I noticed a blonde woman walking with her arms through those of the gentlemen on either side of her, crossing the street.
They turned to cross 55th street, and as they stood waiting for the light, no one seemed to recognize them. I tapped Paul on the shoulder.
“Mr McCartney?”, I said, as I tapped Paul on the shoulder.
“Yes?” he said, turning around.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you”, he said, shaking my hand.
I only remember two more things…how beautiful Linda was; I know everyone (including me) thought of her as ‘plain’, but up close, she had a real “Ivory Snow” beauty about her. I also remember running towards Madison Avenue, looking for a payphone. I found one in a parking garage. I called my dad in his office, and when he picked up, I screamed, “I just shook hands with Paul McCartney!” My parents owned a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s, in case the hippies broke the door in, but that was about the extent of their rock & roll knowledge.
Twenty-eight years later, still, every time I see a video of McCartney, I glance at his right hand. And no, no pictures. I didn’t want to schlep my camera around on my runs, so I had left it at the office.
That is over $63 million of stuff that we have go buy more of.
If someone spent that much money beating on me, that would give me a hint about their opinion of me.
Military action is serious stuff. I’m so very grateful to the men and women who are risking their lives. Because it is serious, I’m also glad to see that the United States seems to have picked a name for this operation, “Odyssey Dawn” that doesn’t seem to have been made for t-shirts or bumper stickers. Hopefully this is breaks the patttern of crap like “Enduring Freedom”, “Desert Storm”, etc., This isn’t a video-game, or something for a guy listening to Kid Rock, to pump his fist at, and say, “Yeah!”.