Friday, November 22, 2013

Let Memory Go Forth

Fifty years later, I'm traveling and wish I had more time to blog because I remember the tumultuous events of that long weekend 50 years ago. Briefly: on Friday, the intense shock of President Kennedy's assassination, the hurried swearing in of his successor on Air Force One, the second murder by the shooter, the manhunt and his rapid apprehension; on Saturday, the national and international mourning; on Sunday, the sensational revenge killing of the assassin in full view of live television; then on Monday, the state funeral, the intense grief and silence of the crowds, interment at Arlington National Cemetery, the lighting of the eternal flame.

President Kennedy gravesite

A lot of moss has grown between the stones in 50 years -- three generations have come of age. "Jokes" about assassination are routine staples for a certain type of humorist; some boorish visitors to Arlington routinely need to be reminded to observe silence and respect. For them perhaps there is no history beyond personal experience. Perhaps they tire of the question, "Where were you?" when the answer is nowhere. Perhaps they've never seen a New York Times headline (they're rare), perhaps they consider the news retrospectives self-indulgent, even maudlin. Yet somehow, as it must, the word continues to go forth, the torch continues to be passed, and the dream of a more perfect union never dies.

ETA: Thanks to the Internet, I've found the data for what I've been haltingly pondering above. According to Pew Research, for those who remember it the JFK assassination is almost as vivid a memory as the 9/11 attacks. But only 28.9% of Americans are of an age to remember.

I remember both. And I've been wondering if those who don't are suffering a sense of fatigue and impatience at the retrospection – dare one say nostalgia? – of their elders. As perhaps – dare one add? – someday in turn their juniors may feel about 9/11 memorials. O tempora, o mores.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

See Time Go By

My NaKniSweMo project is knitting a replacement for my trusty old hausfrau cardigan, which is looking quite worn. Hausfrau cardis are what I call the capable cardigan sweaters I wear while doing rough work around the house – cleaning gutters, breaking garden beds, shoveling snow, etc. They're as much to protect my other clothes as to keep me warm, and they have specific criteria: must have deep raglan armholes for layering, must be wash-and-wear, must be a go-with-everything basic color. Oh, and pockets are a helpful touch. Loni fit the bill. It achieved the vast expanse o' stockinette stage almost immediately. I suppose that's a good thing, albeit lacking in dramatic flair.

Vast expanse o' stockinette

Compared with a vast expanse o' stockinette, this video of eight geese a-walking is simply chock full of action and suspense. DH says it reminds him of the Warhol movie Empire, a highlight of which is a flock of birds going by.

Warhol said that in his film gentle viewers can "see time go by." No offense, I prefer Branch Brook Park in autumn guise.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NJ General

After last night's disturbing events at the Garden State Plaza mall, gentle readers may find the video below of interest. "Run. Hide. Fight." from the City of Houston portrays what to do in the (hopefully unlikely) event of an active shooter incident.

For gentle readers who missed the news: Last night shortly after 9:00 p.m. there were reports of shots fired at the Garden State Plaza, the largest enclosed shopping mall in New Jersey. In terms of public safety that translates to over 300 shops and kiosks, food court and restaurants, amusements like a carousel, movie theaters, mass transit facilities, parking fields and structures, and truck concourses – an accessible place that appeals to almost everyone of all ages. A shooting there is a suburban nightmare.

I first learned about the unfolding emergency on social media – it's amazing how many of my friends were out shopping at that mall on a Monday night. As the news reports rolled in, it was notable there was coverage of the massive police response and the chaotic lockdown and evacuation of the mall; nothing on shooting victims because, thankfully, there weren't any. It would seem there was one gunman, who fired shots at no one and nothing in particular and who died of a single self-inflicted gunshot. His friends say he was a nice guy; his family guessed it was him, and provided information to the police.

Today the mall is closed and there is ample time to reflect on the horror of a personal tragedy writ large in a public gathering place, and to tally the costs. Not least among them, bricks-and-mortar retailers were already concerned about projections of weak holiday sales because of the government shutdown – they'll be in even worse trouble if shoppers stay away because of fears of violence. And because it's General Election Day in New Jersey, there's also an opportunity to select candidates who support sensible gun control and mental health initiatives.

Vote today

This photo of my polling place is from November 2006, but I'm using it anyway because it looks pretty much the same now, with the exception the PTA isn't allowed to do a bake sale anymore.

Fellow New Jerseyans, be sure to exercise your right to vote.  There's a full slate of state offices, including for governor, and two public questions. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Find voter information here.