Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ones and zeros



Well, we made it through Christmas without any repeat of last year's incident when a Northwest Airbus 330 was very nearly brought down by a tiny amount of liquid explosive secreted in a terrorist's underwear. Disaster was apparently averted by a defective firing device and the passengers, in our era highly energized, attacked the man and diffused the situation. He is unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon, and the public is adjusting to the notion that something so small could bring down an airliner. But thirty eight years ago today, a brand new jumbo jet was lost over something much more insignificant.

There wasn't a bomb aboard Eastern Airlines Flight 401 as it flew toward Miami on the night of December 29, 1972. The airplane itself was a Lockheed L-1011, brand sparkling new. Here I digress and interject that I refer to the L-1011 as the binary airliner, not only because her name is made of ones and zeros, but also because they featured the most sophisticated flight controls in the air at that time. The plane was full of ones and zeros.

This particular airframe had been delivered to Eastern on July 30, 1972 and was not yet five months old. She carried serial number 1011 (a most interesting and binary coincidence) and was the tenth passenger airframe completed. All of the earliest L-1011's went to Eastern, she carried tail number N310EA (one-zero again) in sequence with her sister ships. She had completed just 501 landings prior to that morning, when she departed Tampa to New York's Kennedy airport as Flight 164 where she would then turn around and return to Florida that evening.

The flight was by all accounts comfortable, luxurious and uneventful. The big L-1011 departed JFK at 9:20 PM and headed south. Captain Robert Loft put the bird in the sky and then turned on the autopilot, whose ones and zeros controlled the plane for most of the trip. The big Rolls Royce engines purred along, so silently that Eastern referred to their L-1011's as "Whisperliners". At only two-thirds capacity, the passengers stretched out. The L-1011 has always been one of my personal favorites- the power of the Rolls-Royce engines, the spacious cabin whose very high ceilings and wide aisles provided a great environment for flying. The night was clear, the winds calm. The passengers were Holiday travelers, returning from Christmas and preparing for the New Year.

Upon approach to Miami, a minor problem occurred. The landing gear was lowered, but the green nose gear light did not illuminate. Probably the bulb, the flight crew decided, but not wanting to risk their brand new airplane, they abandoned their approach. First officer Bert Stockstill increased their altitude to 2000 feet and turned the Whisperliner west over the Everglades. Captain Loft instructed him to reengage the autopilot, so the ones and zeros flew the plane while the flight crew diagnosed the problem. Soon the pilot, first officer, flight engineer and an Eastern L-1011 maintenance specialist were engrossed in attempting to replace a failed light bulb. So engrossed that no one noticed that First Officer Stockstill had nudged the control column and unknowingly turned off the altitude hold. The flight crew realized their error seconds before the big L-1011 flew itself into the swamp.

Amazingly, of the 176 souls on board, seventy five lived. One hundred and one perished, including the three man flight crew who became so obsessed with a failed light bulb that they somehow forgot to fly the plane. Survivors and victims seemed almost randomly disbursed, as if a computer were randomly assigning ones and zeros. In the end, there were seventy five ones, and one hundred and one zeros. One brand new fifteen million dollar aircraft, absolutely airworthy in every way except for a failed light bulb was destroyed. In the Florida swamp, investigators found the nose landing gear. It was down and locked.

To mark each anniversary, survivors gather to remember the experience, give thanks to the rescuers and honor the victims. They will reflect on how their lives were affected by the massive convergence of ones and zeros. Among those attending will be Flight Attendant Mercedes Ruiz, who wrote the poem below in February 1972 when the accident was still fresh in her memory:

Because I've been granted the gift of life
I want to live each moment to the fullest
I want to submerge my being much more than before
Into the wonders of nature and love.
I want to reach and feel,
because feeling in itself is a way of loving.
I want to tremble at the wildness of the storm,
and bathe myself with rain.
I want to touch the clouds
and hold the blue within one word.
I want to cry before the ocean waves
because they rush to me and kiss me
and then they leave.
I want the wonder of the starry night above,
the moon, a sigh, and each of all my silences.


The ones and zeros can change the course of our lives in an instant. Let us remember all of the souls flying back to Miami on that clear December night- those that returned safely to earth, and those for whom fate had other plans.

For those who desire to read more, here are two excellent sites:

Eastern 401 Homepage
Remembering Eastern 401

Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas darlings

For Patsy, for my family in Michigan, for anyone missing a loved one today, and for all of you who keep me going, here is my Christmas wish for you- the most perfect voice with the most heartfelt Christmas song of all time:




Merry Christmas, Darlings!

Love,

Jeff

Friday, December 24, 2010

duelling mimis

We're almost there- one day to go. Going to keep with our "nice" theme today with a holiday double-dose of Mimi- Mariah Carey herself with my favorite modern day Christmas tune.

For my fabulous retro friends, who live in the past because the future is not what it used to be, who can do the swim and ther frug and know the names of every hairstyle of the Johnson Administration, here's an awesome sixties version with white go go boots and ironed hair to make the Ronettes jealous:



And for those who live for fabulousness, and who understand that what separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize, here's a version that's so far over the top it's already halfway down the other side- live from Disney World in Orlando, Christmas 2004, emerging from Sleeping Beauty's Castle, with giant wooden soldiers, a gaggle of boy dancers, giant gingerbread men, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Santa-hatted throngs and daytime fireworks. It's Mimi, and All I want for Christmas is You.



Whichever camp you prefer, retro or camp, enjoy your own personal Mimi.

Joyous holiday to each and every one of you.

All I want for Christmas is you.


Originally published in Dec. 2008

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nice is nice

I simply love the style of the sixties. The narrow ties, the bouffant hairstyles, the elegant cocktail dresses, the entire world dressed as if about to step out of a 1964 Thunderbird. It seems I was mad about "Mad Men" living before there even were "Mad Men" to be mad about. Or something.

Even the lowly sitcom had panache, to wit the Dick Van Dyke show with the lovely and talented Mary Tyler Moore. Both trained dancers, in case suburban living should suddenly cause one to burst into song. Which it often did.

And in their third season, the revered Christmas Special, called "Alan Brady Presents". All in all one of the best Christmas episodes of any sitcom (mental note: remember when sitcoms HAD Christmas episodes?)

I'm simply ALL about this hot Santa-On-Santa action- an original song by Persky and Denoff, and Dick and Mary do an engaging dance number. Be sure to listen to Mary's cutesy catty comments at the end of each line, and watch their faces- they are having a great time. An underplayed classic. So decorate the aluminum tree (pride of Manitowoc WI), turn on the four color wheel and enjoy. And yes, Nice IS nice.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

clipper maid



A very sad anniversary to recognize- it was twenty-two years ago today that a Boeing 747-121, bearing s/n 19646 and registered to Pan Am as N739PA took off from Heathrow and ascended into immortality. Clipper Maid of the Seas as she was known was the third and final flight of the day from London to New York and was filled with passengers anxious to return home to the states for the holidays. Among the two hundred fifty nine aboard were thirty five students from Syracuse University returning home after a semester abroad.

The fifteenth 747 ever assembled, Clipper Maid was delivered to Pan Am in February of 1970. Now well into her middle age, she had circled the globe for almost eighteen years without incident. That morning she had arrived at Heathrow from San Francisco and parked at Kilo 14 from which she would depart as Flight 103. She pushed back at 18:04 PM local time and was given take off clearance at 18:24. Pilot Captain James Bruce "Jim" MacQuarrie, a Pan Am veteran with over 4,000 hours of experience at the helm of the 747 pushed the thrust levers forward for the final time and three hundred tons of aircraft raced down the runway and lifted off.

Clipper Maid climbed to 31,000 feet and entered Scottish airspace at 19:00 GMT. Air control at Prestwick, Scotland contacted the craft. Captain MacQuarrie radioed back "Good Evening Scottish, Clipper One Zero Three. We are at level Three One Zero."

Moments later First Officer Raymond Wagner requested oceanic clearance. Pam Am 103 was flying normally at flight level 310, compass direction 316 magnetic, and airspeed of 313 knots. Everything was exquisitely ordinary. And then at 19:02.46.9, PA103 disappeared from radar.

Of course we all know what happened, that a cowardly act of terrorism literally blew the 747 apart. And as tragic and horrifying as it was, today is a day to remember the victims and their families and not the perpetrators.

Twenty two years ago today, Clipper Maid of the Seas fell from the sky taking with her two hundred seventy souls heading home for the holidays. May their memory be part of us now and always.

Avonye, Nichole Elizabeth, flight attendant, 44 years, born 05.05.44, Croissy-Sur-Seine, France, French

Avritt, Jerry Don, flight engineer, 46 years, born 30.07.42, Westminster, California, American

Berti, Noelle Lydie, flight attendant, 40 years, born 24.12.47, Paris, France, American

Engstrom, Siv Ulla, flight attendant, 51 years, born 21.09.37, Berkshire, England, Swedish

Franklin, Stacie Denise, flight attendant, 20 years, born 16.02.68, San Diego, California, American

Garrett, Paul Isaac, flight attendant, 41 years, born 16.11.47, Napa, California, American

Kuehne, Elke Etha, flight attendant, 43 years, born 17.03.45, Hanover, Germany, German

Larracoechea, Maria Nieves, flight attendant, 39 years, born 03.03.49, Madrid, Spain, Spanish

MacQuarrie, James Bruce, captain, 55 years, born 30.09.33, Kensington, New Hampshire, American

McAlolooy, Lilibeth Tobila, flight attendant, 27 years, born 02.11.61, Kelsterback, Germany, American

Murphy, Mary Geraldine, purser, 51 years, born 14.05.37, Middlesex, England, British

Reina, Jocelyn, flight attendant, 26 years, born 26.05.62, Isleworth, England, American

Royal, Myra Josephine, flight attendant, 30 years, born 20.12.58, London, England, American

Skabo, Irja Syhnove, flight attendant, 38 years, born 03.07.50, Oslo, Norway, American

Velimirovich, Milutin, chief purser, 35 years, born 14.10.53, Middlesex, England, American

Wagner, Raymond Ronald, first officer, 52 years, born 18.01.36, Pennington, New Jersey, American

Pan Am Flight 103 Passengers

Ahern, John Michael Gerard, bond broker, 26 years, born 16.04.62, Rockville Center, New York, American, Seat Number 30C

Aicher, Sarah Margaret, playwright, 29 years, born 09.02.59, London, England, American, Seat Number 46C

Akerstrom, John David, 34 years, born 20.05.54, Medina, Ohio, American, Seat Number 25A

Alexander, Ronald Ely, businessman, 46 years, born 15.07.42, New York, New York, Swiss, seat number 42C

Ammerman, Thomas Joseph, marketing manager, 36 years, born 06.08.52, Old Tappan, New Jersey, American, seat number 16E

Apfelbaum, Martin Lewis, stamp dealer, 59 years, born 16.08.29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 15H

Asrelsky, Rachel Marie, student, 21 years, born 26.11.67, New York, New York, American, seat number 38D

Atkinson, William Garretson III, engineer, 33 years, born 18.08.55, London, England, American, seat number 15A

Atkinson, Judith Ellen, art historian and consultant, 37 years, born 18.01.51, London, England, American, seat number 15B

Bacciochi, Clare Louise, hair stylist, 19 years, born 15.03.69, Warwickshire, England, British, seat number 50K

Bainbridge, Harry Michael, attorney, 34 years, born 16.11.54, Montrose, New York, American, seat number 4B

Barclay, Stuart Murray, businessman, 29 years, born 28.11.59, Farm Barnard, Vermont, Canadian, seat number 18G

Bell, Jean Mary, 44 years, born 16.03.44, Berkshire, England, British, seat number 5A

Benello, Julian MacBain, student, 25 years, born 28.12.62, Brookline, Massachusetts, American, seat number 23H

Bennett, Lawrence Ray, pharmaceutical chemist, 41 years, born 05.11.47, Chelsea, Michigan, American, seat number 15J

Bergstrom, Philip Vernon, army sergeant, 22 years, born 21.12.66, Forest Lake, Minnesota, American, seat number 46A

Berkley, Alistair David, professor of law, 29 years, born 11.04.59, London, England, American

Bernstein, Michael Stuart, lawyer, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Special Investigation, 36 years, born 03.07.52, Bethesda, Maryland, American, seat number 47D

Berrell, Steven Russell, student, 2O years, born 19.06.68, Fargo, North Dakota, American, seat number 46F

Bhatia, Surinder Mohan, businessman, 51 years, born 21.05.37, Los Angeles, California, American, seat number 34D

Bissett, Kenneth John, student, 21 years, born 19.12.67, Hartsdale, New York, American, seat number 31J

Boatman-Fuller, Diane Anne, playwright, 37 years, born 08.01.53, London, England, American, seat number 22H

Boland, Stephen John, student, 20 years, born 28.09.68, Nashua, New Hampshire, American, seat number 46 G

Bouckley, Glen John, sales, 27 years, born 24.02.61, Liverpool, New York, British, seat number 39K

Bouckley, Paula Marie, sales, 29 years, born 14.10.59, Liverpool, New York, American, seat number 39J

Boulanger, Nicole Elise, student, 21 years, born 28.10.67, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, American, seat number 28B

Boyer, Francis, 43 years, born 22.06.45, Toulosane, France, French, seat number 9A

Bright, Nicholas, businessman, 32 years, born 29.08.56, Brookline, Massachusetts, American, seat number 13A

Browner (Bier), Daniel Solomon, 23 years, born 20.08.65, Parod, Israel, Israeli, seat number 21A

Brunner, Colleen Renee, student, 20 years, born 01.04.68, Hamburg, New York, American, seat number 44C

Burman, Timothy Guy, banker, 24 years, born 09.10.64, London, England, British, seat number 38G

Buser, Michael Warren, advertising executive, 34 years, born 08.08.54, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, American, seat number 35B

Buser, Warren Max, civil engineer, 62 years, born 22.09.26, Glen Rock, New Jersey, American, seat number 35A

Butler, Steven Lee, teacher, 35 years, born 30.08.53, Denver, Colorado, American, seat number 36G

Cadman, William Martin, musician, 32 years, born 10.09.56, London, England, British, seat number 29J

Caffarone, Fabiana, 28 years, born 30.09.60, London, England, British, seat number 7B

Caffarone, Hernan, 28 years, born14.12.60, London, England, Argentinean, seat number 7A

Canady, Valerie, auditor, 25 years, born 29.06.63, Morgantown, West Virginia, American, seat number 24K

Capasso, Gregory, student, 21 years, born 12.12.67, Brooklyn, New York, American, seat number 48H

Cardwell, Timothy Michael, student, 21 years, born 05.07.67, Cresco, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 37D

Carlsson, Bernt Wilmar, diplomat, 50 years, born 21.11.38, New York, New York, Swedish, seat number 17H

Cawley, Richard Anthony, businessman, 43 years, born 09.07.45, New York, New York, American, seat number 16J

Ciulla, Frank, banker, 45 years, born 06.08.43, Park Ridge, New Jersey, American, seat number 11B

Cohen, Theodora Eugenia, student, 20 years, born 10.09.68, Port Jervis, New York, American, seat number 21H

Coker, Eric Michael, student, 20 years, born 23.04.68, Mendham, New Jersey, American, seat number 43B

Coker,Jason Michael, student, 20 years, born 23.04.68, Mendham, New Jersey, American, seat number 43A

Colasanti, Gary Leonard, student, 20 years, born 01.08.68, Melrose, Massachusetts, American, seat number 43C

Concannon, Bridget, 53 years, born 13.07.35, Oxfordshire, England, Irish, seat number 33H

Concannon, Sean, 16 years, born 18.02.72, Oxfordshire, England, British, seat number 33J

Concannon, Thomas, 51 years, born 21.11.37, Oxfordshire, England, Irish, seat number 33G

Corner, Tracey Jane, 17 years, born 04.05.71, Sheffield, England, British, seat number 33A

Cory, Scott, student, 20 years, born 27.09.68, Old Lyme Court, Connecticut, American, seat number 46D

Coursey, Willis Larry, military, 40 years, born 25.08.48, San Antonio, Texas, American, seat number 36K

Coyle, Patricia Mary, student, 20 years, born 04.06.68, Wallingford, Connecticut, American, seat number 20B

Cummock, John Binning, 38 years, born 31.05.50, Coral Gables, Florida, American, seat number 3A

Curry, Joseph Patrick, army captain, 31 years, born 21.03.57, Fort Devens, Massachusetts, American, seat number 44K

Daniels, William, Allen, research chemist, 40 years, born 28.03.48, Belle Mead, New Jersey, American, seat number 9H

Dater, Gretchen Joyce, student, 20 years, born 17.05.68, Ramsey, New Jersey, American, seat number 52J

Davis, Shannon, student, 19 years, born 19.02.69, Shelton, Connecticut, American, seat number 31A

Della-Ripa, Gabriel, Pan Am Airlines employee, 46 years, born 03.04.42, Floral Park, New York, Italian, seat number 2B

DiMauro, Joyce Christine, marketing director, 32 years, born 09.05.56, New York, New York, American, seat number 11J

DiNardo, Gianfranca, 26 years, born 14.10.62, London, England, Italian, seat number 20C

Dix, Peter Thomas Stanley, management consultant, 35 years, born 06.05.53, London, England, Irish, seat number 14B

Dixit, Om, college professor, 54 years, born 29.12.33, Fairborn, Ohio, Indian, seat number 24A

Dixit, Shanti, 54 years, born 14.12.34, Fairborn, Ohio, American, seat number 24B

Dornstein, David Scott, student, 25 years, born 03.04.63, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 40K

Doyle, Michael Joseph, accountant, 30 years, born 21.05.58, Voorhees, New Jersey, American, seat number 9B

Eggleston, Edgar Howard III, air force sergeant, 24 years, born 13.10.64, Glens Falls, New York, American, seat number 32D

Ergin, Turhan, student, 22 years, born 14.05.66, West Hartford, Connecticut, American, seat number 28C

Fisher, Charles Thomas IV, banker, 34 years, born 24.12.53, London, England, American, seat number 25K

Flick, Clayton Lee, businessman, 25 years, born 23.02.63, Coventry, England, British, seat number 50J

Flynn, John Patrick, student, 21 years, born 24.11.67, Montville, New Jersey, American, seat number 45A

Fondiler, Arthur, attorney, 33 years, born 12.12.55, West Armonk, New York, American, seat number 47C

Fortune, Robert Gerard, insurance executive, 40 years, born 24.07.48, Jackson Heights, New York, American, seat number 1A

Freeman, Paul Matthew Stephen, 25 years, born 02.04.63, London, England, Canadian, Seat Number 46B

Fuller, James Ralph, corporate vice president, 50 years, born 17.09.38, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, America, seat number 3H

Gabor, Ibolya Robertine, 79 years, born 14.06.09, Budapest, Hungary, Hungarian, seat number 26F

Gallagher, Amy Beth, student, 22 years, born 30.08.66, Pointe Claire, Quebec, Canada, American, seat number 23G

Gannon, Matthew Kevin, foreign service officer, 34 years, born 11.08.54, Los Angeles, California, American, seat number 14J

Garczynski, Kenneth Raymond, industrial engineer, 37 years, born 17.10.51, North Brunswick, New Jersey, American, seat number 47K

Gibson, Kenneth James, army specialist four, 20 years, born 16.02.68, Romulus, Michigan, American, seat number 48K

Giebler, William David, bond broker, 29 years, born 08.07.59, London, England, American, seat number 30B

Gordon, Olive Leonora, 25 years, born 09.03.63, London, England, British, seat number 45G

Gordon-Gorgacz, Linda Susan, 39 years, born 15.09.49, London, England, American, seat number 37A

Gorgacz, Anne Madelene, 76 years, born 27.09.12, Newcastle, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 38A

Gorgacz, Loretta Anne, 47 years, born 15.03.41, Newcastle, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 37B

Gould, David, college professor, 45 years, born 03.01.43, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 22C

Guevorgian, Andre Nikolai, businessman, 32 years, born 11.11.56, Sea Cliff, New York, American, seat number 11A

Hall, Nicola Jane, 23 years, born 03.02.65, Sandton, South Africa, South African, seat number 23K

Halsch, Lorraine Frances, special education teacher, 31 years, born 06.11.57, Fairport, New York, American, seat number 35C

Hartunian, Lynne Carol, student, 21 years, born 13.03.67, Schenectady, New York, American, seat number 44A

Hawkins, Anthony Lacey, businessman, 57 years, born 13.11.31, Brooklyn, New York, British, seat number 28K

Herbert, Pamela Elaine, student, 19 years, born 27.03.69, Battle Creek, Michigan, American, seat number 37J

Hilbert, Rodney Peter, 40 years, born 19.07.48, Newton, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 16H

Hill, Alfred, 29 years, born 29.06.59, Sonthofen, Germany, German, seat number 14A

Hollister, Katherine Augusta, student, 20 years, born 26.08.68, Rego Park, New York, American, seat number 54C

Hudson, Josephine Lisa, nurse, 22 years, born 14.05.66, London, England, British, seat number 50D

Hudson, Melina Kristina, student, 16 years, born 25.01.72, Albany, New York, seat number American 29A

Hudson, Sophie Ailette Miriam, 26 years, born 22.09.62, Paris, France, French, seat number 29H

Hunt, Karen Lee, student, 20 years, born 07.01.68, Webster, New York, American, seat number 31K

Hurst, Roger Elwood, marketing manager, 38 years, born 12.07.50, Ringwood, New Jersey, American, seat number 2H

Ivell, Elizabeth Sophie, dog handler, 19 years, born 21.04.69, East Sussex, England, British, seat number 19C

Jaafar, Khalid Nazir, student, 20 years, born 01.05.68, Dearborn, Michigan, American, seat number 53K

Jeck, Robert van Houten, 57 years, born 08.10.31, Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, American, seat number 4J

Jeffreys, Paul Avron, musician, 36 years, born 13.02.52, Surrey, England, British, seat number 38J

Jeffreys, Rachel, advertising executive, 23, years, born 29.04.65, Surrey, England, British, seat number 38H

Jermyn, Kathleen Mary, student, 20 years, born 27.12.67, Staten Island, New York, American, seat number 49A

Johnson, Beth Ann, student, 21 years, born 24.03.67, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 36B

Johnson, Mary Alice Lincoln, student, 25 years, born 14.06.63, Wayland, Massachusetts, American, seat number 33D

Johnson, Timothy Baron, student, 21 years, born 30.11.67, Neptune, New Jersey, American, seat number 26A

Jones, Christopher Andrew, student, 20 years, born 04.03.68, Claverack, New York, American, seat number 52K

Kelly, Julianne Frances, student, 20 years, born 27.06.68, Dedham, Massachusetts, American, seat number 21E

Kingham, Jay Joseph, pharmaceuticals executive, 44 years, born 03.03.44, Potomac, Maryland, American, seat number 5B

Klein, Patricia Ann, social worker, 35 years, born 16.06.53, Trenton, New Jersey, American, seat number 28A

Kosmowski, Gregory, marketing executive, 40 years, born 08.10.48, MiIford, Michigan, American, seat number 8H

Kulukundis, Minas Christopher, ship brokerage director, 38 years, born 17.12.50, London, England, British, seat number 51K

LaRiviere, Ronald Albert, 33 years, born 19.11.55, Alexandria, Virginia, American, seat number 20H

Leckburg, Robert Milton, engineer, 30 years, born 12.10.58, Piscataway, New Jersey, seat number American 34C

Leyrer, William Chase, businessman, 46 years, born 24.08.42, Bay Shore, New York, American 2J

Lincoln, Wendy Anne, student, 23 years, born 21.01.65, North Adams, Massachusetts, American, seat number 28D

Lowenstein, Alexander Silas, student, 21 years, born 25.02.67, Morristown, New Jersey, American, seat number 20D

Ludlow, Lloyd David, army sergeant first class, 41 years, born 06.02.47, Macksville, Kansas, American, seat number 51A

Lurbke, Maria Theresia, 25 years, born 26.11.63, Balve Beckum, Germany, German, seat number 52A

Mack, William Edward, puppeteer, 30 years, born 24.04.58, New York, New York, American, seat number 36B

Malicote, Douglas Eugene, army specialist four, 22 years, born 31.08.66, Lebanon, Ohio, American, seat number 48B

Malicote, Wendy Gay, 21 years, born 31.07.67, Lebanon, Ohio, American, seat number 48A

Marek, Elizabeth Lillian, actress and peace activist, 30 years, born 17.02.58, New York, New York, American, seat number 36C

Marengo, Louis Anthony, marketing director, 33 years, born 09.02.55, Rochester, Michigan, American, seat number 3J

Martin, Noel George, 27 years, born 31.05.61, Clapton, England, Jamaican, seat number 53A

Maslowski, Diane Marie, currency trader, 30 years, born 10.08.58, New York, American, seat number 8B

McAllister, William John, 26 years, born 18.10.62 in the Isle of Mull, Argyll, Scotland , Scottish, seat number 14E

McCarthy, Daniel Emmet, banker, 31 years, born 02.11.57, Brooklyn, New York, American, seat number 6B

McCollum, Robert Eugene, university professor, 61 years, born 12.05.27, Wayne, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 7J

McKee, Charles Dennis, army major, 40 years, born 03.12.48 , Arlington, Virginia, American, seat number 15F

McLaughlin, Bernard Joseph, marketing manager, 30 years, born 12.12.58, Cranston, Rhode Island, American, seat number 36A

Melber, Jane Susan, musician and teacher, 27 years, born 01.01.61, Middlesex, England, American, seat number 27H

Merrill, John, seaman, 35 years, born 11.07.53, Hertfordshire, England, British, seat number 37K

Miazga, Suzanne Marie, student, 22 years, born 31.07.66, Marcy, New York, American, seat number 23A

Miller, Joseph Kenneth, accounting firm executive, 56 years, born 27.05.32, Woodmere, New York, American, seat number 10B

Mitchell, Jewel Courtney, army second lieutenant, 32 years, born 14.06.56, Brooklyn, New York, American, seat number 27A

Monetti, Richard Paul, student, 20 years, born 11.09.68, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, American, seat number 20E

Morgan, Jane Ann, attorney, 37 years, born 19.03.51, London, England, American, seat number 42A

Morson, Eva Ingeborg, 48 years, born 29.04.40, New, York, New York, American, seat number 19G

Mosey, Helga Rachael, student, 19 years, born 21.09.69, West Midlands, England, British, seat number 22K

Mulroy, Ingrid Elizabeth, 25 years, born 22.04.63, Lund, Sweden, Swedish, seat number 34J

Mulroy, John, journalist, 59 years, born 01.04.29, East Northport, New York, American, seat number 34G

Mulroy, Sean Kevin, 25 years, born 03.05.63, Lund, Sweden, American, seat number 34H

Noonan, Karen Elizabeth, student, 20 years, born 26.12.67, Potomac, Maryland, American, seat number 20A

O'Connor, Daniel Emmett, U.S. diplomatic service, 31 years, born 22.09.57, Dorchester, Massachusetts, American, seat number 25H

O'Neil, Mary Denice, student, 2l years, born 02.04.67, Bronx, New York, American, seat number 38K

Otenasek, Anne Lindsey, student, 21 years, born 31.01.67, Baltimore, Maryland, American, seat number 45K

Owen, Bryony Elise, 1 year, born 29.04.87, Bristol, England, British, seat number 19D

Owen, Gwyneth Yvonne Margaret, student, 29 years, born 03.05.59, Bristol, England, British, seat number 19D

Owens, Laura Abigail, 8 years, born 01.01.80, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, American, seat number 35K

Owens, Martha, 44 years, born 02.06.44, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, American, seat number 35H

Owens, Robert Plack, 45 years, born 05.03.43, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, American, seat number 35G

Owens, Sarah Rebecca, 14 years, born 09.12.74, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, American, seat number 35J

Pagnucco, Robert Italo, attorney, 51 years, born 20.10.37, South Salem, New York, American, seat number 4A

Papadopoulos, Christos Michael, 45 years, born 11.11.43, North Lawrence, New York, American, seat number 17A

Peirce, Peter Raymond, architect and student, 40 years, born 28.09.48, Perrysburg, Ohio, American, seat number 47G

Pescatore, Michael, businessman, 33 years, born 06.09.55, Solon, Ohio, American, seat number 17J

Philipps, Sarah Susannah Buchanan, student, 20 years, born 15.08.68, Newtonville, Massachusetts, American, seat number 49C

Phillips, Frederick Sandford, student, 27 years, born 08.05.61, Little Rock, Arkansas, American, seat number 21F

Pitt, James Andrew Campbell, student, 24 years, born 06.11.64, South Hadley, Massachusetts, American, seat number 29K

Platt, David, architect, 33 years, born 13.12.55, Staten Island, New York, American, seat number 8A

Porter, Walter Leonard, musician, 35 years, born 10.03.53, Brooklyn, New York, American, seat number 25C

Posen, Pamela Lynn, student, 20 years, born 30.01.68, Harrison, New York, American, seat number 26K

Pugh, William, businessman, 56 years, born 29.02.32, Margate, New Jersey, American, seat number 21D

Quiguyan, Crisostomo Estrella, hotel cashier, 43 years, born 16.03.45, London, England, Filipino, seat number 30A

Ramses, Rajesh Tarsis Priskel, 35 years, born 26.05.53, Leicester, England, Indian, seat number 22A

Rattan, Anmol, 2 years, born 24.09.86, Warren, Michigan. American, seat number 24C

Rattan, Garima, computer programmer, 29 years, born 15.07.59, Warren, Michigan, American, seat number 23D

Rattan, Suruchi, 3 years, born 20.06.85, Warren, Michigan. American, seat number 23E

Reeves, Anita Lynn, 24 years, born 03.09.64, Laurel, Maryland, American, seat number 45D

Rein, Mark Alan, businessman, 44 years, born 12.02.44, New York, New York, American, seat number 2A

Rencevicz, Diane Marie, student, 21 years, born 13.07.67, Burlington, New Jersey, American, seat number 29G

Rogers, Louise Ann, student, 20 years, born 13.02.67, Olney, Maryland, American, seat number 29D

Roller, Edina, 5 years, born 24.11.83, Hungary, Hungarian, seat number 26D

Roller, Janos Gabor, 29 years, born 26.03.59, Hungary, Hungarian, seat number 26E

Roller, Zsuzsana, 27 years, born 21.12.61, Hungary, Hungarian, seat number 26G

Root, Hanne Maria, management consultant, 26 years, born 15.12.62, Toronto, Canada, Canadian, seat number 34K

Rosen, Saul Mark, businessman, 35 years, born 24.11.53, Morris Plains, New Jersey, American, seat number 32A

Rosenthal, Andrea Victoria, student, 22 years, born 05.02.66, New York, New York, American, seat number 35D

Rosenthal, Daniel Peter, student, 20 years, born 02.06.68, Staten Island, New York, American, seat number 21J

Rubin, Arnaud David, 28 years, born 18.05.60, Waterloo, Belgium, Belgian, seat number 39G

Saraceni, Elyse Jeanne, student, 20 years, born 01.06.68, East London, England, American, seat number 36D

Saunders, Scott Christopher, student, 21 years, born 20.05.67, Macungie, Pennsylvania, American, seat number 24D

Saunders, Theresa Elizabeth Jane, marketing, 28 years, born 24.10.60, Sunbury-on-Thames, England, British, seat number 14F

Schauble, Johannes Otto, 41 years, born 08.08.47, Kappellenweg, Germany, German, seat number 49K

Schlageter, Robert Thomas, student, 20 years, born 12.08.68, Warwick, Rhode Island American, seat number 28G

Schultz, Thomas Britton, student, 20, years, born 05.01.68, Ridgefield, Connecticut, American, seat number 45C

Scott, Sally Elizabeth, chef, 22 years, born 17.01.66, Huntington, New York, British, seat number 56G

Shapiro, Amy Elizabeth, student, 21 years, born 28.10.67, Stamford, Connecticut, American, seat number 37G

Shastri, Mridula, 24 years, born 12.02.64, Oxford, England, Indian, seat number 24H

Sheanshang, Joan, 46 years, born 16.12.42, New York, New York, American, seat number 41C

Sigal, Irving Stanley, research biologist, 35 years, born 23.05.53, Pennington, New Jersey, American, seat number 13B

Simpson, Martin Bernard Christopher, financier, 52 years, born 25.10.36, Brooklyn, New York, American, seat number 27K

Smith, Cynthia Joan, student, 21 years, born 06.10.67, Milton, Massachusetts, American, seat number 41A

Smith, Ingrid Anita, chiropodist, 31 years, born 12.11.57, Berkshire, England, British, seat number 4H

Smith, James Alvin, 55 years, born 11.03.33, New York, New York, American, seat number 27G

Smith, Mary Edna, army sergeant, 34 years, born 14.07.54, Kalamazoo, Michigan, American, seat number 34A

Stevenson, Geraldine Anne, 37 years, born 31.03.51, Surrey, England, British, seat number 22E

Stevenson, Hannah Louise, 10 years, born 23.09.78, Surrey, England, British, seat number 22F

Stevenson, John Charles, 38 years, born 13.09.50, Surrey, England, British, seat number 22D

Stevenson, Rachael, 8 years, born 01.09.80, Surrey, England, British, seat number 22G

Stinnett, Charlotte Ann, 36 years, born 07.02.52, Duncanville, Texas, American, seat number 19J

Stinnett, Michael Gary, army specialist, 26 years, born 27.05.62, Duncanville, Texas, American, seat number 19H

Stinnett, Stacey Leanne, 9 years, born 30.07.79, Duncanville, Texas, American, seat number 19K

Stow, James Ralph, businessman, 49 years, born 18.07.39, New York, New York, American, seat number 15E

Stratis, Elia G., accountant, 43 years, born 17.06.45, Montvale, New Jersey, American, seat number 1B

Swan, Anthony Selwyn, 29 years, born 15.05.59, Brooklyn, New York, Trinidadian, seat number 41K

Swire, Flora MacDonald Margaret, medical student and researcher, 24 years, born 22.12.64, London, England, British, seat number 39D

Tager, Marc Alex, 22 years, born 03.08.66, London, England, British, seat number 26H

Tanaka, Hidekazu, 26 years, born 13.05.62, London, England, Japanese, seat number 24G

Teran, Andrew Alexander, student, 20 years, born 31.08.68, New Haven, Connecticut, Bolivian, seat number 27D

Thomas, Arva Anthony, student, 17 years, born 26.04.71, Detroit, Michigan, American, seat number 19A

Thomas, Jonathan Ryan, 2 months, born 29.09.88, Southfield, Michigan, American, seat number 32K

Thomas, Lawanda, air force sergeant, 21 years, born 17.02.67, Southfield, Michigan, American, seat number 32K

Tobin, Mark Lawrence, student, 21 years, born 04.04.67, North Hempstead, New York, American, seat number 32G

Trimmer-Smith, David William, publishing executive, 51 years, born 26.04.37, New York, New York, American, seat number 12A

Tsairis, Alexia Kathryn, student, 20 years, born 06.07.68, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, American, seat number 21G

Valentino, Barry Joseph, exhibit designer, 28 years, born 25.02.60, San Francisco, California, American, seat number 20G

Van-Tienhoven, Thomas Floro, 45 years, born 30.05.43, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Argentinean, seat number 2B

Vejdany, Asaad Eidi, 46 years, born 24.02.42, South Great Neck, New York, American, seat number 20C

Vrenios, Nicholas Andreas, student, 20 years, born 20.08.68, Washington, DC, American, seat number 46E

Vulcu, Peter, stockbroker and student, 21 years, born 01.08.67, Alliance, Ohio, American, seat number 20K

Waido, Janina Jozefa, 61 years, born 19.03.27, Chicago, Illinois, American, seat number 50A

Walker, Thomas Edwin, electronics specialist, 47 years, born 11.12.41, Quincy, Massachusetts, American, seat number 16A

Weedon, Kesha, student, 20 years, born 02.10.68, Bronx, New York, American, seat number 37H

Weston, Jerome Lee, engineer, 45 years, born 11.11.43, Baldwin, New York, American, seat number 10A

White, Jonathan, accountant, 33 years, born 14.07.55, North Hollywood, California, American, seat number 55J

Williams, Bonnie Leigh, military, 21 years, born 12.01.67, Crown Point, New York, American, seat number 46K

Williams, Brittany Leigh, 2 months, born 13.10.88, Crown Point, New York, American, seat number 46J

Williams, Eric Jon, army sergeant, 24 years, born 15.08.64, Crown Point, New York, American, seat number 46J

Williams, George Waterson, army first lieutenant, 24 years, born 17.05.64, Joppa, Maryland, American, seat number 33K

Williams, Stephanie Leigh, 1 year, born 23.05.87, Crown Point, New York, American, seat number 46K

Wolfe, Miriam Luby, student, 20 years, born 26.09.68, Severna Park, Maryland, American, seat number 21K

Woods, Chelsea Marie, 10 months, born 06.02.88, Willingboro, New Jersey, American, seat number 25F

Woods, Dedera Lynn, air force sergeant, 27 years, born 04.02.61, Willingboro, New Jersey, American, seat number 25G

Woods, Joe Nathan, civilian military worker, 28 years, born 05.03.60, Willingboro, New Jersey, American, seat number 25D

Woods, Joe Nathan, Jr., 2 years, born 24.09.86, Willingboro, New Jersey, American, seat number 25E

Wright, Andrew Christopher Gillies, site agent, 24 years, born 02.05.64, Surrey, England, British, seat number 55G

Zwynenburg, Mark James, investment banker, 29 years, born 14.10.59, West Nyack, New York, American, seat number 12B

Lockerbie Residents

Flannigan, Kathleen Mary, 41 years, born 26.01.47, 16 Sherwood Crescent

Flannigan, Thomas Brown, 44 years, born 20.12.44, 16 Sherwood Crescent

Flannigan, Joanne, 10 years, born 13.06.78, 16 Sherwood Crescent

Henry, Dora Henrietta, 56 years, born 27.03.32, 13 Sherwood Crescent

Henry, Maurice Peter, 63 years, born 18.07.25, 13 Sherwood Crescent

Lancaster, Mary, 81 years, born 12.01.07, 11 Sherwood Crescent

Murray, Jean Aitkin, 82 years, born 29.11.06, 14 Sherwood Crescent

Somerville, John, 40 years, born 31.05.48, 15 Sherwood Crescent

Somerville, Rosaleen Later, affectionately know as 'Rosalind', 40 years, born 31.05.48, 15 Sherwood Crescent

Somerville, Paul, 13 years, born 21.01.75, 15 Sherwood Crescent

Somerville, Lyndsey Ann, 10 years, 13.07.78, 15 Sherwood Crescent

Sunday, December 19, 2010

night of silence



Possibly my favorite Advent Carol of all time, composed by Daniel Kantor (1981). This performance by the San Diego Men's Chorus. Stunning in its simplicity. Nearly unimprovable. Nothing more to say. Please listen.

Much love to all this Christmas season.



Cold are the people, Winter of life.
We tremble in shadows this cold endless night.
Frozen in the snow lie roses sleeping.
Flowers that will echo the sunrise.
Fire of hope is our only warmth.
Weary, its flame will be dying soon.

Spirit among us, Shine like the star.
Your light that guides shepherds and kings from afar.
Shimmer in the sky so empty, lonely-
Rising in the warmth of your Son's love.
Star unknowing of night and day, Spirit we wait for your loving Son.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

the eagle has landed

For John, on the second anniversary of his untimely passing. Rest well.

That was John's code. It meant that he had gotten some last night. I would see this message scrawled on a business card left in my cubicle.

It was 1985, and I was working for a major corporation in Michigan. John was my most intense post college friendship,we were like frat brothers who hadn't met until after graduation. He was my IT support person, and the term "Metrosexual" was probably coined to describe him. Our first post-work adventure was shopping at J.L Hudson. I should have had an inkling.

We became close friends, traveling companions, drinking pals and bong buddies. Living in a rust belt town with very limited sophistication, we learned to travel. We traveled for shopping, for movies, for concerts, for adventures. I saw Betty Blue, the Psychadelic Furs, Sid and Nancy, The Pretenders, and Blue Velvet because of him. He had friends in Chicago. I wanted to see the Prairie Home Companion in Minneapolis. He wanted to experience Boxing Day in Toronto. By now we were also workout buddies, and we had both noticed a certain spark in the shower, although we both double dated with women. By now I had noted that my future was elsewhere, but I was yet to act on it.

It was on a weekend trip to Dad's cabin in a Michigan winter that we managed to land the Eagle ourselves. The cabin had a gas powered sauna, which once warmed up, allowed our relationship to find a new level. He admitted that he was bisexual in words moments before he demonstrated it in gesture. At some point his wrist somehow made contact with the heating element, causing a burn which he wore as his mark of retribution for weeks to come. It was one of many inside jokes we would have. And it was the first that I began to notice a pattern of him disappearing for a while after the Eagle landed. But he always came back around, and the situation repeated itself.

I guess it peaked on our trip to Europe. We had both scheduled vacation for the same week. The entire office knew where I was going, and John created a cover story of a camping trip. Only our General Manager's secretary knew the real story, and we sent her a post card from Paris. Paris was wonderful. Our first night there we shared the company of a girl named Gina, on subsquent evenings we somehow got by without her. We discovered early on that wine was cheaper than Coca Cola, so we drank heavily and fucked like dogs. His regret spirals were conveniently short in duration by then, and pretty much gone by nightfall. And while I never thought of him as gay, it became clear that he was enjoying himself. Perhaps this was his week to just let his guard down and live. I must admit he did it well.

Things cooled after that trip, as I had suspected they would. I was now ready to be out, and steered accordingly. I believed he was bi, so his needs were much more supplemental in nature. We spent less time together, although we remained friends. I transferred to Chicago, he took a job in Denver. We saw each other a few times after that. He came up one weekend to Chicago, I spent thanksgiving one year with his new girlfriend and himself. We spoke of the past landings of the Eagle in code.

I guess the letters stopped shortly after I moved to California. I saw him on a flight to Atlanta in the summer of '97, he wore a wedding band and a few extra pounds. We exchanged pleasantries but neither seemed compelled to stay in touch. Our paths were divergent by then.

It was on a whim that I typed his name into google and found a memorial site in his honor. Cancer, at age forty-eight, leaving a wife and two surviving children. Damn. Very sad.

I recall one conversation over Guinness Stout where he asked, "Where are the friends that we are going to know for the rest of our lives?" I wish I had been that friend for him. I'm certainly grateful for the adventures we had.

For John, in remembrance of Paris all those years ago, Edith Piaf from the year of his birth and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.




Rest well, my friend. No regrets.

Friday, December 17, 2010

blanche waits for santa


Looking for a festive holiday performance art display that your neighbors will remember for years to come? Well, here's one that's easy. Take one 1964 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, preferably in a Holiday compatible color. I chose Blanche, nicknamed for obvious reasons.

Position Blanche on your lawn. Use 300 outdoor red lights to outline the defining characteristics of the car, especially the tail fins and the peak of the hood. Now add nine hundred sequential blinking white lights on the horizontal surfaces to simulate snowfall. Add a festive holiday wreath on the grille, and optionally, a plastic Santa behind the wheel. Wait until dusk, turn on parking lamps, and enjoy. Serves thousands.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

remembering park slope





Fifty years ago today, on December 16, 1960, the residents of the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn were in the middle of a brisk winter morning when a most unwelcome visitor descended among them- a brand new United Airlines DC-8 Mainliner. The big jet, only a year old, had collided with a TWA Super Constellation in mid flight and was plunging to a premature end in a busy New York neighborhood. It happened much too quickly for anyone to react. A few miles away in Staten Island, a TWA Constellation on final approach to La Guardia was making a similar plunge.

Sadly, it wasn't the first time that such a meeting had happened. Just four years prior, an eerily similar accidental collision between a United DC-7 Turboprop and another TWA Constellation sent them both plunging into the Grand Canyon, where the wreckage remained for years.

The "Star of Sicily" was a Lockheed Super Constellation, model L-1049. It had entered service in 1952 and was just over eight years old with 21,000 odd hours in flight. It carried registration number N6907C and had departed Columbus, OH at 9 AM bound for New York's La Guardia with 39 passengers and a crew of 5. The triple-tailed Turbo Propeller driven Super Constellation was the backbone of TWA, a design from the immediate postwar era which had been the staple of air travel in the fifties, but was just now being outpaced by the new jet airliners entering the market from Boeing and Douglas.

In contrast, the United Airlines Douglas DC-8-11 Jet was nearly brand new. N8013U was only the twenty-second DC-8 off the assembly line. It had been completed in 1959 but not delivered to United until after the DC-8 received its Airworthiness Certificate in August of that year. The plane had only 2,434 hours in the air at the time of loss. Its powerful Pratt and Whitney JT3-C engines allowed it a cruising speed that was nearly double that of the Connie. Ironically, this aircraft carried the name "Mainliner Will Rogers", after the beloved orator who, tragically, had been killed in an air crash hinself in 1936. N8013U had departed Chicago O'Hare Airport at 9:11 AM bound for New York Idlewild with 77 passengers and a crew of seven.

The flights appeared to proceed routinely for both aircraft, except for limited visibility due to clouds and some fog. The United Flight was under the control of New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, which had guided them to a holding pattern point known as Preston and governed their descent from 25,000 to 5,000 feet, at which point they would be advised to contact Idlewild Approach. Unknown to NYART was the fact that N8013U's VOR radio receiver was misbehaving, meaning that their ability to hold their precise assigned course was less than certain. In fact, they were eleven miles off course and instead of circling Preston, were headed directly for Miller Field on Staten Island. In addition, they were traveling at just over 300 knots, despite being assigned an airspeed of 250.

At the same time, TWA Constellation N6907C was under the control of La Guardia approach and was also heading in the direction of Miller Army Air Station, while preparing for an ILS approach at Runway 04. The flight was descending to 5,000 feet when it was advised of "traffic at 2.30, six miles northeast", which was the misplaced DC-8. No acknowledgment came back from the TWA crew.

At 10:33 AM, both aircraft were flying inside cloud cover when suddenly, at an altitude of approximately 5,200 feet, the DC-8's number four engine sliced through the upper fuselage of the Constellation. The Connie's fuselage broke into three pieces and the wreckage fell about one mile onto Miller Field. The DC-8, badly damaged, continued for approximately ten miles before plummeting into the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn with the huge tail section coming to rest at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place. Victims and airplane parts rained from the sky. A church, a laundry, a funeral home and several apartment buildings were destroyed or badly damaged. Several people on the ground were killed, including occupants of a car that was crushed by the DC-8. All in all, over 130 people lost their lives in what was, at the time, the worst air disaster in American air space.

For a moment, there was a bright spot as rescuers found a survivor- eleven year old Steven Baltz of suburban Chicago was badly burned but alive. To many it seemed miraculous, and the whole city of New York prayed for him, but his injuries were too great. His lungs were badly damaged by the fire and the child succumbed to pneumonia the following day.

The tragedy was heartbreaking. The very first crash of a passenger jet in American airspace was a thoroughly avoidable collision of two totally airworthy craft. Two neighborhoods in ruins, and the greatest death toll in American history, and all ten days before Christmas. The heartbroken city dug out from the rubble, buried its dead and carried on. The tragic 1956 Grand Canyon crash had led to the "black box" data recorders on commercial aircraft, and significantly, this incident marks one of the first times such data was utilized in investigating a mishap. And there was one more significant development from this tragedy-then newly elected President Kennedy created a task force for Air Traffic Control that created the basic system that we use today.

This morning, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy, the Park Slope Neighborhood Council and Methodist Hospital held a memorial service at Greenwood Cemetery and unveiled a granite memorial to those lost. It is a tragic reality that the development of safe passenger air travel has a human cost. This was not a wartime accident, this was a civilian accident in peaceful airspace. The victims were ordinary citizens. The child who survived briefly could have been any eleven year old in the country. Just people in their daily routine of travel, and the time of year certainly compounds the tragedy and adds a poignance. May the victims never be forgotten.

New York Times Park Slope Series Here

A reminiscence from Steven Baltz' Younger Brother Here


Life Magazine Photos of the Crash Scenes Here


50's Travel Photographs taken by Dean Bowen, TWA Co-Pilot lost in the crash, Here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

from our house

From Hallmark, 1954. A charming holiday bi-fold card, dimunitive in scale, from before the day when holiday greetings became so big and bossy.

From our house to your house, Merry Christmas.


Friday, December 10, 2010

patriot act


I can't watch "I Love Lucy" anymore. It reminds me too much of her. The same strong will, the sheer determination. Nothing stood between Lucy and her crazy scheme. They were so much alike.

Like the time with the cookies. It was Christmastime 1990 and thanks to a Bush in the White House, we were building up to a war- Desert Shield, it was called at that time. Mom was seeing TV reports of all the troops away from home for the holiday and she wanted to do something nice for them. Somewhere she stumbled across a cookie recipe that was approved by the Marine Corps. It contained no processed sugar, instead it used fruit juice for sweetener. She baked a trial batch and declared it "not bad". She decided that instead of holiday cookies for the family, she would forego that this year and bake cookies for the troops instead.

I admit I encouraged her, I thought it was a cute little project that would give her something fun to do. I guessed she would make ten dozen, maybe twenty at the outset. It would give her something to talk about to the card club.

The cookies seemed to take a long time to bake. Every day it seemed she was mixing dough, or had a batch in the oven. Mother always thought big, I began to wonder exactly how many cookies she planned to bake. But it was her gig, I didn't interfere.

Finally the cookies were ready to ship. At that point I asked her point blank how many she had made. "Eleven Hundred" she said somewhat sheepishly. ""Eleven Hundred Cookies?" I asked. ""No" came her reply. "Eleven Hundred Dozen".

Eleven Hundred Dozen. Eleven Hundred DOZEN. She baked Thirteen Thousand Two Hundred cookies to send to the desert to feed to troops that she would never meet. She spent more than a month on the project. The Marines had to send four trucks to pick them all up. She received a Commendation from the Marine Corps Commander.

I told this story at the time to a client who chuckled and said, "Your Mother is quite a patriot". Yes, she was. And she was quite a Mom.

Originally published in Feb. 2008. Merry Christmas, Patsy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

animated gem

So lovely I had to repeat it this year. A tiny treasure. From CBS, first shown for Christmas 1966. Stunning in its simplicity, this little gem embodies the spirit of Holidays. Designed by R.O. Blechman and animated by Willis Pyle. Hand drawn, if you can imagine a time when such gracious things happened. Music arranged by Arnie Black. Shown well into the seventies. Lovely. May your holidays be as exquisite. Love to all of you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

fairytale of new york

Why does it work so well? It's a Christmas tale about the struggle of immigrants, about alcoholism and drug addiction, about failed dreams and broken relationships, anger tempered with the memory of love. An exquisite tale. No "all our troubles will be far away", no "chestnuts roasting on an open fire", this one's real- a remembrance set in pain. Take the Pogues, add in the the haunting and inimitable Kirsty Mac Coll, set it against the magical twinkling lights of New York and you have Fairytale of New York. Stunningly beautiful, a holiday switchblade from 1987 that still cuts to the bone.

You took my dreams from me, when I first found you.


Savor it:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

friendly skies

The news is exploding with horror stories about innocent airline passengers being submitted to incredibly invasive searches in exchange for the apparently suspicious act of attempting to board an aircraft. Women have been forced to remove their prosthetic breast, men humiliated over a prosthetic testicle, and one retired gentleman forced to remove his colostomy bag in a manner more befitting an autopsy than a security screening, all at the hands of the TSA.

I had my own experience with "enhanced security", at the hands of the Canadians back in August. I had done quite a bit of travel over the summer, thirteen flights in July and August. The last trip of the season took me to Vancouver. It was returning to the US that I found myself in the "enhanced security" line, and even though I have NEVER set off a metal detector in my life nor had any more serious encounter with the law than a parking ticket, I was given the opportunity to prove I was not a terrorist.

So while my laptop was being checked for bomb residue, I was given the choice of an invasive pat down or am electronic strip search. Here I digress. I've got a great cock, and everyone who sees it loves it. Thick, veiny shaft, pouting head, a gentle curve that drives em wild. Jumps to attention at a moment's notice. And I'm not ashamed to show it off. So I'm sure that the pervert who spends all day looking at peoples scanned junk LOVED it. They all do. And I have no doubt that he took a picture of it as a keepsake, because we all know that that line about no images able to be stored or printed is total bullshit. But just to prove no hard feelings, if he wants to send me the print, I'll autograph it for him. And maybe include a color print in the return envelope. Because it's not about my junk, which is primo, but rather about the total violation of my fourth amendment rights without ANY cause or justification whatsoever.

And then it gets worse. In the line next to me is a family of four- two blond, blue eyes parents probably about 30 years old and their two children, a boy of perhaps three years old and a little girl of four, plus all of the ephemera that comes with children of that age. As I am being processed, the male agents are checking the children's toys for bomb residue, then they glove up and proceed to pat down the kids themselves. The agents are both middle aged hefty men. And I am certain that I am watching child abuse. I glance over at the parents and they seem as horrified as I am. And it occurred to me, that if the safety of our society is truly dependent on white gloved thugs feeling up little girls, then we don't deserve to survive.

Ah, but our safety is worth it, blah blah blah, you blather. Yes, I would be more forgiving if it were in fact the only solution, or necessary or even successful, but it's all theater designed to give us the illusion of safety, and there's nothing about feeling up little girls or taking pictures of grandma's boobs that will make us one iota safer. Michael Chertoff is trying to tell you that it's the only answer, but he's a paid consultant for the scanner's maker, so his "expert" testimony is somewhat tainted. Experts agree the scanner is far from foolproof, so it will not make us magically safe. But it will condition us to give up our fourth amendment rights. Right now, the airport is Abu Ghraib without the dogs. And unless we scream, and scream at the top of our lungs, the fourth amendment will be irretrievably lost.

Want air safety? Call El Al. Since 1946, there have been zero terrorist incidents on their flights. And what accounts for their amazing record? They ask questions. Seemingly innocent question, but then they observe the answers. And based on this, they decide who is likely to be a risk and deserve further scrutiny. No shoes removed, no pictures of your cock, no one feeling up your grandmother.

They have air safety, we have theater. Currently our options are electronic strip search, enhanced pat downs, or not flying. It is not random that in July and August I was on thirteen commercial flights, and since my experience I have been on zero.

I have no further plans for flying under this climate of terror.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

sunday tour: casual concours

My favorite show. The Great Autos Casual Concours, now in its second year in Palm Springs. Over 160 cars arranged on lush green grass under perfect Desert skies. A marvelous day indeed. Lots of great forties classics, a sea of fabulous fifties and swingin sixties, and of course seventies madness. Three alumni who previously shared my garage. And bestof all, the efforts benefitted the Desert Aids Project and other local LGBT charities. Fun for all! Enjoy!
























See More Photos Here

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

gayberry: one year later



Exactly one year later, Serena and I awoke under desert skies as brand new residents. Surrounded by boxes, we were taken by the tranquility of our newly adopted home and hopeful that the change from the din of Los Angeles would prove to be a correct decision. Palm Springs. The Rainbow Casket. Gayberry. We were here.

At the one year mark, I must say that it has treated us both well. Serena peers out the glass door much of the day, and has developed a fondness for desert life. She is particularly fascinated by the Lizard channel.

I'm relaxed and reinvigorated by the pace of the desert. The social life here is more spontaneous than in LA, perhaps because of the lack of traffic. One is not exhausted and ready to drop by the time they get home, so there is still some energy remaining to meet people out for a drink or a bite. And there is only a minor penalty for distance, which is the leading cause of shut-ins on the west side. I can even drive all the way to Palm Desert in twenty minutes, even thought it's still too far or civilized people to attempt.

In the desert, forty-something isn't automatically equated with the dinosaurs, so being relative chicken and all I've even been asked out on dates. Specifically I've dated two different people in the last year, with unspectacular but non-menacing outcomes. Okay, I must be honest. One was quite promising from afar, but one examined close up had me scrambling for the witness protection program. (Memo to staff: better vetting.) The other was a nice guy with a kind smile, whose hobbies were gardening, and using the internet as his personal petting zoo. No big loss, and I'm still willing to entertain the notion should a more promising candidate amble by, so there we are.

And coolest of all, I'm keeping myself more or less afloat with this here writing thing. Paying gigs do interfere with ones blogging time, but I'm happy with what I'm doing and so far am keeping the wolf away from the door. Technically, he's three doors down.

But I think he's busy prowling on the internet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hope? Nope. DOPE.



Roadside signage in Temecula, CA 9/23/10. Photo by Jeff Stork

Saturday, September 11, 2010

crisp clear morning

I was uncharacteristically awake at 5 am. Not one of those moments of awake where I then roll over and fall back asleep, but stone cold awake.

I decided to take a pre-dawn drive to relax myself. It's an hour of day where LA freeways are pretty much wide open. I took the 101 to the 405 to Mulholland, and drove back along the apex of the hills on a twisty two-lane mountain road. The sun gradually rose revealing a crisp, clear morning- cloudless and glorious. To my left was the San Fernando Valley, on my right was Hollywood. It all seemed so very serene.

I was smiling and relaxed when I pulled the car back into the garage at just after 6 am. Just what I needed- a glorious morning. Then I came inside and logged onto the computer just in time to read that the first tower had fallen.

To those who were lost, I wish eternal rest and peace.

To the families that are still trying to cope with their loss, I wish love and strength.

To the politicians who have usurped this tragedy and used it to rationalize an aggressive action totally unrelated to this, I wish eternal damnnation.

on this day

We are reminded that the wonder that is modern air travel can be literally hijacked to become a vessel of mass destruction.

May all those affected find peace.


AA11 Boeing 767-223ER N334AA MSN 22332 Delivered 4/13/1987.
North Tower

Crew:

John Ogonowski, 52, Dracut, MA, Pilot
Thomas McGuinness, 42, Portsmouth, NH, First Officer
Barbara Arestegui, 38, Marstons Mills, MA, Flight Attendant
Jeffrey Collman, Flight Attendant
Sara Low, 28, Batesville, AK, Flight Attendant
Karen Martin, Flight Attendant
Kathleen Nicosia, Flight Attendant
Betty Ong, 45, Andover, MA, Flight Attendant
Jean Roger, 24, Longmeadow, MA, Flight Attendant
Dianne Snyder, 42, Westport, MA, Flight Attendant
Madeline Sweeney, 35, Acton, MA, Flight Attendant


UA175 Boeing 767-222ER N612UA MSN 21873 Delivered 4/8/1984.
South Tower

Crew:

Robert J. Fangman, Flight Attendant
Michael Horrocks, First Officer
Amy Jarret, 28, North Smithfield, RI - flight attendant
Amy R. King, Flight Attendant
Kathryn L. Laborie, Flight Attendant
Alfred G. Marchand, 44, Alamogordo, NM - flight attendant
Victor J. Saracini, 51, Yardley, PA - pilot
Michael C. Tarrou, Flight Attendant
Alicia N. Titus, 28, Flight Attendant


AA77 Boeing 757-223 N644AA MSN 24602 Delivered 5/8/1991
Pentagon

Crew:

Charles F. Burlingame, Herndon, VA, Pilot
David Charlebois, Washington DC, First Officer
Michele Heidenberger of Chevy Chase, MD, Flight Attendant
Jennifer Lewis, 38, Culpeper, VA Flight Attendant
Kenneth Lewis, 49, Culpeper, VA, Flight Attendant
Renee May, 39, Baltimore, MD, Flight Attendant.


UA93 Boeing 757-222 N591UA MSN 28142 Delivered 7/1/1996
Shanksville, PA

Crew:

Lorraine G. Bay, Flight Attendant
Sandra W. Bradshaw, Greensboro, NC - Flight Attendant
Jason Dahl, Denver, Colorado Pilot
Wanda A. Green, Flight Attendant
Leroy Homer, Marlton, NJ - First Officer
Cee Cee Lyles, Fort Meyers FL - Flight Attendant
Deborah A. Welsh, Flight Attendant

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

flint drive: angelo's coney island

Flint natives will not need to read the text. And since only a handful of the rest of you will anyway, I'll keep it brief.

Angelo's was THE Coney Island restaurant, for the classic Flint Coney Island hot dog with genuine loose meat sauce, Koegel's Vienna dog, and steamed bun. Add onions and mustard. Heaven.

And besides thatm, a Flint institution. A fading location on Davison Rd. where it had been since 1960. A coworker used to say if you stayed there for a week, you'd see everyone in Flint. Politicians to whores. Often together. And we won't get into which is more trustworthy. (Ever had your taxed raised by a hooker?) Grandmother lived around the corner in a house with an old lady loan shark, who used to give her a break in the rent in exchange for answering the door late at night and taking the bad of money. Ah, the golden days of Flint.

Recently returned to the hands of the longtime owners that sold it to shady characters (no, not hookers) and set it on a decline. Now rescued, it looks very much the same as I remember. Controlled patina, for sure. I miss the original sign, which stood as a beacon since 1960 until it collapsed upon itself in a wind storm.

But all in all, a damn fine hot dog. Dad liked it too.








Tuesday, August 31, 2010

when pigs fly


Unsigned era cartoon supplied by Jeffrey Struyk- given to him by a TWA Captain



The Flying Pig, aka Boeing 727-231

Okay, I'm back as you know and in honor of the eleven aircraft I rode last month and their highly differentiated flying characteristics, I offer this amusing and true tale from the hallowed halls of TWA.

The Boeing 727 was their second passenger jet. It was intended for smaller hops than the 707, and so it was smaller in length, and designed to be more efficient. There was a debate about whether to have two or three engines- in those days, at least three engines were required for international flights over water and jet fuel was ten cents a gallon, so that pretty much sealed the deal. The 727 took to the skies in late 1963 and TWA began flying then in the spring of 1964.

It was a very good plane and soon became the backbone of domestic jet travel. That being said, it was not without its peculiarities. Possibly owning to the tail mounted third engine, the plane would tend to try and waddle left and right upon takeoff and landing. This caused them to acquire a nickname among TWA pilots- the "Flying Pig."

And then it went a step further. An unknown group began to assign individual 'pig" nicknames to each individual airframe, which is a lot of work considering the fact that TWA operated over 90 of them. So you might be flying to visit Aunt Martha on the "Heavenly Hambone", the "Wiener Winger" or even "Pigmalion". Their names were often found written on the logbook or scrawled in crew spaces where no passenger would see. It became an enormous inside joke.

Here, thanks to the excellent researchers at airliners.net, are the known nicknames of the fleet of "Flying Pigs"- take a look, the creativity is awesome. And yes, I do think of the pun as an art form:

N12301 -231 Porky's Flagship
N12302 -231 Porky's Petunia
N12303 -231 Hambone
N12304 -231 Porc du Jour
N12305 -231 Picnic Ham
N12306 -231 Heavenly Hambone
N12307 -231 Pigadilly
N12308 -231 Duroc Delight
N52309 -231 Sows About It
N52310 -231 Squealor Pealor
N52311 -231 Spring Chitlin
N52312 -231 Lard Sakes
N52313 -231 Kermit's Desire
N94314 -231 Hampshire Humper
N64315 -231 Hog Lander
N44316 -231 Trough Aloft
N74317 -231 Weiner Winger
N74318 -231 Pigmalion
N64319 -231 Aurora Boarialis
N64320 -231 Lard Above
N64321 -231 Heavenly Hog
N64322 -231 Ham Sweet Ham
N64323 -231 Petulant Porker
N64324 -231 Gilty Lady
N54325 -231 South Dakota Suey
N54326 -231 Me-a-Farrow
N54327 -231 Poland China Diner
N54329 -231 Makin' Bacon
N54330 -231 Short Lardage
N54331 -231 Smokin' Porkin'
N54332 -231 Porky's Palace
N54333 -231 Pig o' my Heart
N54334 -231 Truffle Hunter
N54335 -231 Strato Swine
N54336 -231 Fog Hog
N54337 -231 Oklahoma Oinker
N54338 -231(A) Pickled Pig's Feet
N64339 -231(A) Star Swine of Beirut
N54340 -231(A) Bacon Bomber
N54341 -231(A) Gloria Vandergilt
N54342 -231(A) City of Smithfield
N24343 -231(A) Boaring Soaring
N54344 -231(A) Old Lang Swine
N54345 -231(A) Pork Link Connected
N64346 -231(A) Sue Oui
N64347 -231(A) Road Hog
N54348 -231(A) My Hammy Vice
N54349 -231(A) Sty Stream
N54350 -231(A) Sow Belly
N54351 -231(A) Ozone Oinker
N54352 -231(A) Ham Commander
N54353 -231(A) Poland China Clipper
N54354 -231(A) Millenium Wallflower
N84355 -231(A) Porker Forker
N84356 -231(A) San Juan Sow
N84357 -231(A) Barbados Bristler
N831TW -31 Boeing Oink
N833TW -31 Ham Tram
N839TW -31 Piggy Sue
N840TW -31 Sky Pig
N841TW -31 Thunder Pig
N842TW -31 Porky's Pride
N844TW -31 Pork Chop
N845TW -31 Warped Hog
N846TW -31 Lil' Porky
N847TW -31 Schwine Der Blitzen
N848TW -31 Hog Jaw
N849TW -31 Lard Limo
N850TW -31 Jimmy Dean
N851TW -31 Short Snort
N852TW -31 Queen of the Sty
N853TW -31 Kitty Hog
N854TW -31 Cloud Boarer
N855TW -31 Slow Pork
N856TW -31 Porcine Princess
N857TW -31 Swine Flew
N859TW -31 Gloria DeJavaline
N889TW -31 Celestial Chitlin

I think I'll book my next trip on the "Strato Swine."

Gentlemen, start your pigs.

Monday, August 30, 2010

gone 404

Well, I'm back. Did you miss me? If you haven't noticed, it's been a whirlwind of travel but I am home for a few weeks.

Palm Springs to San Francisco and back, to Corona del Mar and Thousand Oaks and home, to Washington, DC and on to Detroit, then to Flint, Flint to Saugatuck and Three Oaks, Three Oaks to Kankakee, IL, to Kalamazoo (where I most assuredly do NOT have a gal), back to Flint, a quick run to Lansing and home again (via Dallas!), only to turn around and head back to LA and then off to Vancouver.

I've been on eleven airplanes (from a triple seven to a prop job that reminded me of a Jenny), two buses, a cruise ship, a car ferry, a pontoon boat, and behind the wheel of a range of cars from a '67 Fleetwood to a preproduction Nissan, with a Clenet Continental thrown in for good measure.

Most has been professional and is detailed on my other site, PS Automobilist. But there was lots of family and friend time as well as hometown stuff that will find its way here.

But I'm glad to be home. I have a stack of boarding passes and a million photos. Best of all, the desert is cooling off- today's high will be 92 or so. It hit 115 when I was traveling. I hope this means autumn is coming. I'm ready for it.

Summer is exhausting.