Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thoughts about Ted Kennedy

I'm Irish and, of course, that means I'm supposed to hero-worship the Kennedy's as a matter of principle.

Well, I didn't. In fact, I never really was much concerned about their doings as I went about my life. I was a kid when JFK died. What I read about the senior father disgusted me, though I did like Rose. One flaw was her religiosity, so intense she could not forgive Kathleen for marrying into a British aristocratic family because they were Anglicans and would not attend her funeral after her tragic death.

I didn't intend to watch the funeral mass for Ted today. However, I did. I was riveted. Absolutely riveted. It was as if a President had died, perhaps more so.
I haven't really felt such biting sympathy for someone I didn't know since Princess Diana died.

Over the last couple of days, as I've watched the media, another picture of Teddy Kennedy began to emerge. One in which he was shown to be amazingly human and flawed, and kind, a man who wanted to do much good in his life, a man I know I'd have liked a lot if I'd ever met him.

It's true, the Kennedy's are quintessentially an American family. To borrow a cliche, they are indeed the closest a family will ever become to being American aristocracy.

And, of course, in their fiber and DNA, the Kennedy's are stolidly Irish no matter how far they've risen and American they've become. They celebrate raucously, sing the cheesy American ballads, gather together and love/hate one another. They relished their Irishness, celebrated it, never forgot it. They just wouldn't want to return to the old sod because it offered them nothing to begin with.

And there's a lot to be said about a modest family hungry with ambition, not content to rest until they achieve the farthest they can.

So, I'm sad he has passed before he had the opportunity to realize his dearest desire. I'm sure universal medical coverage will come. It's just he won;'t see it.

It's a given that the Irish like to tear down their own, sort of keep them in tehir place. I don't know why that is. Maybe other nationalities do it too.

Today I feel very proud to be Irish in America.

Rest in Peace, Senator Kennedy. You made this country a better place.

And my sincere condolences to the extended Kennedy family.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Towns

Back from a beautiful relaxing week in Provincetown, Cape Cod.

It was my first time to P-town and I loved it. In many respects, New Hope in Bucks County is a little similar in that lots of artists, writers and gay and lesbians live there and it's a 'live and let live' community. But P-town has the upper hand because of the great beaches, bay and ocean where the water is ice-cold when you first get in but delicious after you're fully immersed.

The local people are exceptionally friendly--whether gay or straight--and visitors flock like seagulls from the Eastern seaboard, Canada and Europe mainly. (We had a seagull spend a few hours on the balcony of our condo and Larry even hand-fed him pieces of bread.)

Of course, having been to Rehoboth, it was inevitable I'd start to make comparisons in my mind between the beach towns. While Rehoboth has some charms--the beach is good and ocean pretty--it has many strip malls on the approach to the town center which render it chaotic and somewhat unappealing. I also think its fair to say P-town is more sophisticated and architecturally elegant. Admittedly, our friends now own a pretty home outside the town so we don't go into Rehoboth very much and instead visit Lewes, a much more elegant nearby village.

The straight visitors to Rehoboth Beach and P-town are very different. The vast majority of P-town's straight visitors and their kids are educated, friendly and possess the manners to be respectful and know how to conduct themselves on another territory that's welcoming and different to their own. That said, P-town does open its arms to a small number of ill-informed visitors arriving by hydrofoil from Boston to eat ice-cream and gawk at the gays and lesbians. Thankfully, they don't stay to dine in the fine restaurants and rush back to the boat dock at dusk where they again set sail for the Boston burbs, their hearts full of thanks that their beloved little 'buddies' and 'princesses' aren't that way, their minds brimming with sights of kissing homosexuals, nipple rings and other bizarreness to recount at the next PTA or fire station spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

No such luck for Rehoboth residents: they have Hooters and a variety of cheap restaurants where the out-of-towners congregate to continue their hostile looks and naked sense of superiority. I found more than enough such visitors to the Rohoboth Beach boardwalk to consider it a phenomenon. That said, one begins to comprehend but NOT sanction why this is so when one understands Rehoboth Beach lies in the south where there's an Evangelical or Southern Baptist church on every street corner and gun-toting rednecks reared on a diet of squirrels and shucked corn in the back woods.

One bonus for us was it was P-town's annual Carnival--what a sight at the Gay Bingo evening (won nothing, but came close) and later, on Thursday, as a legion of drag queens took to the sun-beaten Commercial Street in garish, hilarious array.

In ending, I have to admit I did buy a T-shirt. An elegant one, mind you. And a sweatshirt as well. Also elegant. Vintage in style, as if it's already ten years old.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

ABBA and a Russian couple

Go my ABBA and fireworks display fix last night at Longwood Gardens, the former home of Piere duPont which he then gave to the nation.

We didn't have the greatest view as we were underneath a beautiful sprawling Cypress tree due to arriving a little after 4 p.m. and finding many had already staked their claim--leaving rugs and other personal belongings on the benches.

The fountains--installed by duPont in the 20s were spectacular, lighting up in an array of rainbow colors in time to the frantic beat of Dancing Queen, Take A Chance on Me, etc. And then came the spectacular finale to Waterloo, the hit that brought ABBA to the world stage when they won the Eurovision contest.

Only downer of the evening was a run-in with a Russian couple at the cafe--it was packed and they made everyone wait while they argued with first the server and then the manager because they wanted to mix-and-match menu choices that weren't available to them at the price they wanted to pay. (It has to be said they also cut the line.)

Helpfully (or so I thought), I said, "I think you'd be best just picking from the choices allowed as the manager's pissed off at you and the line for food is getting very long."

The woman looked at me--vulpine face with ice-blue eyes and a slash serving as a mouth--and said "Shut Up."

At that, the server ignored them and moved on to me.

Moral of the tale: There are nice Russian tourists and then there are the others.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


On way to dentist I saw this sign outside business selling granite memorials

"Drive carefully
We can wait."

Guy's got a good sense of humor.