Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Marco Island got pummeled by #Irma Liam Martin on Twitter:

Liam Martin on Twitter: "Marco Island got pummeled by #Irma."

There's a lot of good footage of Irma- but this video of straining palm trees on Marco Island capture the force better than anything I have seen.


Monday, September 4, 2017

1967 - India - on the coast of the Arabian Sea Coast

Inline image 1
Ruins of Portuguese fort, Bassein (Vasai), India
Inline image 1
Fishing boats - Bassein  (Vasai) India
Like many people back then I got married straight  out of college.  We joined the Peace Corps.  It was 1967 and the peak of the Vietnam war.   At that time married men and grad students were exempt from the draft.  I do not claim that the two year exemption was unwelcome but it wasn't draft dodging but curiosity, desire to see something of the world, and doing some good that motivated me. 

Like an idiot 30 years ago or so I threw out the couple hundred aerogrammes my parents had saved, so my recollection of my two years in India from 1967- 1969 is faint  particularly since I never went back (though  my son Jesse visited Bassein abut 10 years ago).

We were assigned to a town about 30 miles north of Bombay - a fringe suburb then.  Some commuted to Bombay (the town Bassein was at the end of the electric commuter rail line.)  Others farmed sugar cane.  And many fished.

Margo and I accompanied deliveries of fish to rural schools - the price of the new marine engines provided by UNICEF as part of its Applied Nutrition Program.  We visited village schools and talked about nutrition - recognizing quickly that the local diet was much healthier than an American diet.

I was assigned to a fisherman's cooperative.  The township manager sent me to find Pedru, down by the ruins of the massive old Portuguese fort.  On my way I passed a Catholic school, then a Hindu fisherman's sahakari (cooperative) society with an ice factory and fleet of trucks.  The next building was the St. Peter sahakari society.  That was a turning point for me: Bassein (Vasai) was like the Brooklyn I knew from high school in Crown Heights- divided by clan.

High points of my first year (later for the second year) were fishing trips.  I stayed out as long as five days on open fishing boats using gill nets and bag nets.  The men wore lungis.  They chanted as they let the nets out and hauled them in by hand.  The catch was iced in the hold and we stayed out until it was full.  

We ate around a single huge platter of steamed rice with a brutally hot fish curry.  The bread was sorghum - dipped in salt water to soften it!  As a special treat the boy would clean and throw on the coals a pomfret.  But more often we ate skate which had little market value. (It's good BTW.)

There was no cabin - just a canvas tarp on poles for nap time and night time between setting and hauling nets - every six hours as the current reversed direction, and the tide rose and fell 3 meters or so.  We slept back to back on the teak deck - no mattresses.  I brought a cotton Sholapur blanket with me and spent some chilly, damp nights.

My Marathi was halfway decent so I could understand the chants - especially the teasing stanzas they made up as they hauled nets with  callused hands that protected them from stinging jelly fish.

When we landed - sometimes far from shore - trucks came out on the mud.  Women with wicker baskets on their heads took the dripping wet iced fish to the trucks for shipping to Bombay markets about thirty miles south There was no highway bridge across the Bassein river, so the trucks had to go about 25 miles east to Thane then south to the city.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Aboard the John J. Marchi - Staten Island Ferry

Northbound 15.8 kts.

Thanks Aly!

Thanks, Captain

Thanks, Evan

Friday, September 1, 2017

What Work Is - by Philip Levine | Poetry Foundation

What Work Is by Philip Levine | Poetry Foundation

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line 
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work. 
You know what work is—if you’re 
old enough to read this you know what 
work is, although you may not do it. 
Forget you. This is about waiting, 
shifting from one foot to another. 
Feeling the light rain falling like mist 
into your hair, blurring your vision 
until you think you see your own brother 
ahead of you, maybe ten places. 
You rub your glasses with your fingers, 
and of course it’s someone else’s brother, 
narrower across the shoulders than 
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin 
that does not hide the stubbornness, 
the sad refusal to give in to 
rain, to the hours of wasted waiting, 
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead 
a man is waiting who will say, “No, 
we’re not hiring today,” for any 
reason he wants. You love your brother, 
now suddenly you can hardly stand 
the love flooding you for your brother, 
who’s not beside you or behind or 
ahead because he’s home trying to   
sleep off a miserable night shift 
at Cadillac so he can get up 
before noon to study his German. 
Works eight hours a night so he can sing 
Wagner, the opera you hate most, 
the worst music ever invented. 
How long has it been since you told him 
you loved him, held his wide shoulders, 
opened your eyes wide and said those words, 
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never 
done something so simple, so obvious, 
not because you’re too young or too dumb, 
not because you’re jealous or even mean 
or incapable of crying in 
the presence of another man, no,   
just because you don’t know what work is.
Philip Levine, “What Work Is” from What Work Is. Copyright © 1992 by Philip Levine. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Source: What Work Is: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991)