At times, my intuition is way ahead of my brain. I’d like to think that I arrive at a lot of my opinions through logical reasoning, but often, I feel like something is wrong long before I can articulate why it’s wrong. This was the case with the word “privilege” as used in the phrases “white privilege,” “male privilege,” and the especially reviled “white male privilege.” Something about the way these terms are bandied about bothered me, but I couldn’t explain why until recently.
It’s not that I have any doubt that privilege exists; I’ve certainly seen it in action. Even if you’re not particularly devoted to the cause of achieving greater social justice, it’s not difficult to see that being white and male confer some advantages in our culture. So if I admit privilege exists, why does the term make me wince in annoyance?
In the last two months I have become involved with the great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen. In my class at SUNY Old Westbury, I have had the pleasure of studying A Doll’s House with Professor Narayan Hedge of the English Department. Dr. Hedge is very meticulous and he studies the text line by line. Many subtleties of the text are brought forth and the ideas open up to the average reader.
In addition to A Doll’s House, Lorraine and I purchased tickets to the Manhattan Theater Club’s version of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater.
Nassau County was shocked last week with the sad news of Peter Schmitt’s untimely death. As the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, Schmitt was a prominent political figure and often the voice of Nassau County Republicans. He was opinionated and often quite blunt about defending his stance on county issues and he frequently sparred with the leaders of Nassau County Democrats. If you are a Republican, you often chuckled at his comments, and if you are a Democrat, you probably have clenched your teeth in anger at something he said. Much like his favorite baseball team, the Yankees, you were either strongly with him or strongly against him, but there was often no room for being in-between.
However, there was a side to Peter Schmitt that most of Nassau County didn’t know, which is how I will remember him. Despite the hard image, which he sometimes portrayed, Schmitt, or simply “Peter”, as he was known around Massapequa, was tremendously approachable and friendly. I often bumped into him in the local stores in and around Massapequa, and he would be quick to strike up a conversation. Recently, the conversation would always turn to his grandchild, who he had recently welcomed into the world. He was a devoted family man who adored his wife Lois, and he was so proud of their daughter, Samantha.
Lorraine and I are planning to go on a 17-day cruise to Europe. All you geography fans can trace our ship entering and leaving the various ports. Our stay at these ports is not very long; we usually arrive early in the morning and leave in the late afternoon or early evening.
We meet the ship in Southampton, England and we are off. Two days later, we arrive in Seville (Cadiz) Spain. Seville is the home of Flamenco dancing, which Lorraine and I both love.
One morning last October I’m driving to the hawk watch at Fire Island, where migrating raptors are counted and recorded during the fall migration season. Just before starting over a bridge leading to Fire Island, two great egrets, which are large white birds, are rising into the air. Driving over a second bridge, a vast clouded sky hangs on the horizon like a curtain on a theatrical stage. What will be revealed when the clouds part? On Fire Island, going around the traffic circle, there are four deer feeding on the grass. The scene is bucolic.
At the two-tiered hawk watch platform, the sky is overcast with a pale salmon color. With a west wind at 5-7 mph, today promises to be slow. Someone calls out that there’s a “sharpie” or sharp-shinned hawk coming through. I get my binoculars on a fast flying bird that flaps, flaps, flaps, then glides and repeats this movement. It’s no sharpie. The bird shows yellow on its underwings. However it isn’t a hawk but rather a flicker, a woodpecker that migrating raptors sometimes take as prey. A lone, lazy flapping dark osprey flies over the bay, scanning the still-as-glass, dark blue water below for a fish. Hooked talons, large toes and rough areas on its feet allow the “fish-hawk” to firmly grip a fish after diving into the water. However, this one sees nothing and flies on.
I was a freshman at CCNY (City College of New York). I had just graduated from high school and was 16-and-a-half years old. Honestly, I was not very worldly and my education was vastly underwhelming in both social aspects and in the knowledge department. However, I had been accepted to this great learning academy and I was determined to do my best.
Lunchtime at CCNY turned out to be an experience I had to conquer. I took my brown bag lunch that my mother had prepared for me, with its obvious oil stain on the outside. I was about to enter the lunchroom at the college.
I take back my Sept. 14 letter’s statement about not knowing which judge to vote for. I now think I’ll vote for incumbent NYS Supreme Court Justice Leonard B. Austin, because his ad in the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald wished me (a Jew) “L’Shanah Tovah/a happy and healthy New Year!” Also, he has a nice, if subtle, smile in his photo.
But then, I’m tempted to vote for Leonard Steinman for Supreme Court Justice, because his Herald ad promises that he, “Len,” (maybe he’s a more “regular guy” than the stiffly-formal Leonard Austin) “will respect the law by ensuring that everyone follows the rules.” Is he insinuating that Austin has not been following them? Additional reasons to vote for “Len” include that he has a wider smile than Judge Austin; plus a wife, two daughters, and even a dog. Also, he’s “tough, but fair.” What could be better than that?
“They’re coming—they’re coming.”
The grandchildren are about to make their annual invasion of the old family homestead. Get everything that is breakable out of sight and definitely out of reach of the diminutive bandits. The favorite toys are brought up from the basement to distract and divert them.
(Editor’s note: The following is a response to Karen Gellender’s column, “The Opposite Of Voting.”)
I too have been finding it’s much easier this year to identify the candidates I don’t like than to pick one that I do like. So, I’m thinking about “third party” candidates, but worried that a vote for a third party is a vote thrown away. But here’s how I convinced myself that voting for a third party candidate is an okay thing to do: Unless you live in one of the “swing” states (like Michigan) that the polls say can go either way, then voting for a major party candidate, who isn’t the favorite in your state, is pretty much a thrown away vote anyhow. By voting instead for a suitable third party candidate, you at least convey the message to the major parties that the candidates they provided were not attractive to you.
I lived the first 27 years of my life in the Bronx. I am proud of my many years and experiences that I enjoyed in that much-maligned borough.
I attended Yankee Stadium for both football and baseball games. My public school, P.S. 50, my junior high school P.S. 98 (Herman Ridder) and James Monroe High School all provided happy and memorable experiences. I also went to the Bronx Zoo many, many times. It was always enlightening to learn about nature and the animals of our world. The steamy streets of asphalt and concrete did not convey much information in that area.
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