On Line At New York

Outside the Helen Hayes Theatre, waiting for the doors to open, a very agitated male teenager passed on the sidewalk.  He was walking briskly and talking in a loud voice with himself.  He was also gesticulating, and in so-doing was using up all the free airspace in all directions.

“What’s the matter with him?” asked the woman on the line ahead of me.

“’T’s an angry young man.  What can I tell you?” replied her husband, as indulgent as he could sound.

This was my introduction to blasé New Yorkers.

Slowly the line shortened and I was up at the wicket at Lincoln Center.  I was mostly interested in seeing the spectacular setting and inside of the 16 acre site—home of the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet.  I was ready to listen or watch.  As it became my turn at the wicket, I asked:

“What’s playing?”  

Wicket keeper:  “Joo-lee-us Cee-ah.”

I guess I paused for a New York beat too long, so wicket man added:

“’Ts an Apra”

I bought a ticket and achieved all my goals.  

I would regularly walk on near the Ed Sullivan Theatre, home of the old David Letterman Show.  I watched the show on hundreds of occasions, and was in the studio audience several times.  I’d  occasionally stop in to chat with Rupert Gee, the deli-operator who was also a regular guest on Letterman.  Rupert is as he appears on TV—a little startled with the attention, but sincere.

On one occasion there was a big crowd extending down the block.  I thought perhaps Rupert was having a sale of special deli sandwiches.

No, it was a lineup to see someone coming in or leaving the stage door of the theatre.  This is where the guests came and went.  This time I was the talkative New York street performer:

“Who’s all this for?”

“Wa-keen Phoenix” said my fellow street performer.

This was early in Mr Phoenix’s career.  I guess after all my trips to New York I still paused a New York moment too long, because an older woman in the crowd showed some empathy:

“Ever since Frank Sinatra died, I don’t know any of them.

Way out in the Rockaways, I ran out of gas.  My GPS told me there was a gas station close by and so I locked my wife in the car and began walking.  The GPS was wrong and the gas station had closed.  I thought of lining up at a bus stop, but didn’t know how often busses came or where they went.  I lined up at a red light and thought I’d hitch hike.  Up came a convertible Thunderbird.  I could see inside and the driver could see me.  I explained my situation and asked for a ride.

“Sure” he said as he started moving a mountain of stuff off his passenger seat to the small spaces in the back of the car and between the seats.

“Oh, don’t worry, if you see my gun, I’m a cop.”

I pointed to a spot of blood on my shirt, and said:

“Great, and if you notice the blood on my shirt, I’m not an axe murderer, I just reached into my shaving kit this morning and cut my finger on my razor.”

“No problem.  Get in.”

Unlike so many New York stories, this man was a cop, seconded to the Triborough Bridge, and I wasn’t an axe murderer.  Many people go to the Big Apple to reinvent themselves.  Others remain who they actually are.      

Today in History: February 21st

1982: David Peterson is elected leader of the Ontario Liberal Party succeeding Stuart Smith. Peterson will go on to defeat Frank Miller’s Conservatives and become Premier of Ontario.

1972: President Richard Nixon visits the People’s Republic of China, marking an important step in formally normalizing relations between the U.S. and China, and ending 25 years of separation between the two countries. The visit shifts the Cold War balance, pitting China with the U.S. against the Soviet Union.

1891: A fire at the Springhill coal mine in Nova Scotia kills 129 miners and injures dozens more. Some of the victims are 10 to 13 years old. An inspection a few days earlier found everything to be in excellent condition, and the cause of the fire remains a mystery.

Today in History: January 29th

2002: Not long after the shocking attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush delivers a State of Union address in which he denounces countries suspected of harboring terrorists and developing weapons of mass destruction.

1940: Three trains in Osaka, Japan, collide and explode, killing 181 people.

1922: Accumulated snowfall from a blizzard collapses the Knickerbocker Theatre in Washington, D.C., killing 98 people and injuring 133 others. For two days, snow blanketed the nation’s capital, resulting in accumulations of more than two feet. The large amount of snow crippled transportation in Washington and shut down the government.

Today in History: January 28th

1986: Space Shuttle Challenger breaks apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing 7 astronauts. President Ronald Reagan postpones his State of the Union address scheduled for that evening, and instead delivered a national address on the disaster from the Oval Office.

See also Canada in Space and Ounce of Prevention excerpt on this topic.

1980: Canada’s Ambassador to Iran Kenneth Taylor engineers escape of six US diplomats, housed with Canadian Embassy staff since November 22, 1979, when the US Embassy was overrun during the Iranian revolution, and 66 hostages taken. The Americans leave with Canadian passports; Taylor himself leaves a few hours later, and becomes a hero in the US, for masterminding ‘The Canadian Caper’.

1918: Manitoba becomes the first province in Canada to allow women the right to vote and to hold provincial office, after protests by leaders such as Nellie McClung.

Today in History: January 20th

1981: The Iranian Hostage Crisis ends when the last hostages are released.

An Ounce of Prevention – Iranian Embassy Siege

1980: Bleachers at a bullring in Colombia collapse, resulting in the deaths of 222 people, and hundreds more were injured. The collapse, the deadliest tragedy at a sporting event in Colombia’s history, was the result of overcrowding and poor construction.

1961: John F. Kennedy is sworn in as the 35th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he exhorts all Americans to ‘ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’

Political Conventions – Pirates and Thieves
Political Conventions – Top of the Class
Political Columns – Lunches With Wolves

Today in History: January 8th

2011: U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others are shot near Tucson, Arizona. Six die including a judge and a 9-year-old child, and Giffords is seriously wounded.

2008: The New Hampshire primary of the US Presidential race takes place.

Political Conventions – The Smell of the Greasepaint

1780: An earthquake hits Tabriz, Iran, killing about 200,000 people.

An Ounce of Prevention: Earthquake Simulation

Today in History: January 6th

1839: The ‘Night of the Big Wind’ in Ireland — a severe windstorm (the worst in 300 years) sweeps across the country. Around 300 are killed, Connacht, Ulster and Leinster suffer varying degrees of property damage, and 42 ships are wrecked.

1941: President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his ‘Four Freedoms’ State of the Union address.

1950: The United Kingdom recognizes the People’s Republic of China, prompting Taiwan to sever diplomatic relations with the UK.

1995: An apartment complex chemical fire in Manila, Philippines, leads to the discovery of plans for the Bojinka terrorist plot, a plan to blow up 12 planes and approximately 4000 passengers on their way from Asia to the USA.

2005: A collision involving two trains in Graniteville, South Carolina, USA releases about 60 tons of chlorine gas. Nine people die and at least 250 require treatment for chlorine exposure. 5400 residents living within a mile of the crash are forced to evacuate for 2 weeks while decontamination occurs.

See also Leadership in Canada, Learning from Past Disasters, A Ticket to Ride (Planning for Security and Safety), 9/11, the Resurgence of Russia

Today in History: January 5th

2003: British police arrest six suspects in London under suspicion of manufacturing ricin for use in an intended terrorist attack on the London Underground. See also A Ticket to Ride (Planning for Security and Safety)9/11

1972: American President Richard Nixon orders the development of a space shuttle program.  See also Canada in Space

1957: In a speech to the United States Congress, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces the establishment of a set of policies later to be called the Eisenhower Doctrine. Buy Political Conventions

Today in History: December 12th

2003: Paul Martin is sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada and promises to make drastic changes in the way the country is run.

1985: A plane crashes just after takeoff near Gander, Newfoundland, killing all 248 U.S. soldiers and eight crew members. The soldiers, part of a multinational peacekeeping force in the Sinai Desert, were on the last leg of their trip home to Kentucky for Christmas. It was the deadliest air disaster in Canada. It was a suspected act of terrorism.

1942: A fire tears through the Knights of Columbus Hall in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in just seven minutes, killing 99 people. Many died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The auditorium was packed with 350 people on this Saturday night for a weekly radio program “Uncle Tim’s Barn Dance.” It’s thought the fire was deliberately set.

Today in History: November 4th

***2008: Barack Obama is elected President of the United States, becoming the first African-American to hold that office.

1979: The Iranian Hostage Crisis begins when Islamist students and militants storm the American embassy in Tehran, holding 52 Americans hostage.

An Ounce of Prevention – Iranian Embassy Siege

Political Columns – Lunches With Wolves

Political Conventions – Top of the Class

1916: Birth of Walter Cronkite, a well respected broadcast journalist and best known as the anchorman for CBS Evening News. See also 6 O’Clock News.