PS... A Column
By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.
October 18, 1999
This just in: Vassar 12 Columbia 0.
I have a day job, so I need to make it clear to anyone who comes here that the opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer, my family, or your great-aunt Mathilda. Offer not valid in Wisconsin. You must enter to win.
Table of Contents:
PSACOT 1st Anniversary
It was a year ago this week that PSACOT was reborn in its present form. In the ensuing 52 weeks, I have written 45 columns, which means I have missed just over one every other month. Not bad for an outlet which, as Vicki likes to remind me, I receive nothing but personal satisfaction.
Actually, it has been very satisfying. I don't know how many of you can remember back 12 months, but the genesis of this column is still clear in my mind, even it isn't in yours. It was the forced march to impeachment, rammed down America's throat by the rabid Republicans. Thus, I have something in common with Ted Koppel; my outlet was born in crisis, but outlasted the crisis and found a voice of its own over time.
I started PSACOT (by the way, many of you try to pronounce that acronym. Don't bother. It has no proper pronunciation) because I was afraid I was going insane, shouting back at the TV and the newspaper every night. Also, I missed the fact that my job had mutated, such that I wasn't really a professional writer any more, but more of an editor and an administrator. I love to write. Always have. Not once in a 25-year career can I remember a moment of writer's block.
So, I dusted off the name I used on my favorite college column, and started to write for you, my three-score readers. It's the ultimate in vanity publishing, a column about me, my family and my opinions on public affairs. But it simultaneously keeps me from yelling at the television and alleviates any desire I might have to write a Christmas letter, and isn't a fine combination?
I like doing this, even if it does rob me of most potential conversational topics with most of you. I mean, most of you say, "I knew that. I read it in your column."
I hope you're enjoying reading this as much as I'm enjoying writing it. Thank you for being there.
Sunday in Poughkeepsie
You'll recall when I left you last week, I had not yet taken the bus to Poughkeepsie, where Vassar College is located. Well, it was quite a ride--2.5 hours, instead of the 2 hours we expected. The Vassar College Rugby Club plays on a pitch located on the Vassar Experimental farm in the lovely hamlet of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a founding member of the League Of America Cities With Funny Names.
A portion of the men's team came to root for the women's team. If you've never seen Rugby, I won't try to describe it to you, and if you have, I don't need to. Suffice it to say that the game is played by 15 people on a football-sized pitch (field) in two 40-minute running-clock halves, rain or shine. It is hard on knees and teeth. When I mentioned the game to a friend, he exclaimed, "Women are playing Rugby now?" They are indeed.
It rained all day on Sunday, except for a brief period of threatening rain during the game. The score is similar to that of football, so the 12-0 final score means Vassar scored twice with one 2 point field goal, and shut Columbia out. The game was much closer to the score; it was played entirely at the middle of the field, with only the briefest forays towards one goal or the other.
And Marlow got to play! Ten minutes at the end, but I got to see her, out there on the field, getting muddy and having fun. Watching her made the 5 hour round-trip bus ride worth it. I am very proud of her.
I exchanged my limited Baseball knowledge with one her suitemates while watching a Yankees-Red Sox game during her shower. We dined at Le Monde (113 and Broadway), the very nicest restaurant within walking distance of the Columbia campus. It's a French bistro. We treated ourselves to dessert. We had a profiterole and a "floating island" thing that involved egg whites on a sea of vanilla cream. Heavenly. Second only to the company. I will miss Marlow. If I am lucky, business will take me back to NY before Christmas.
I marvel at Marlow's ability to get by on very little sleep, sometimes as little as four or five hours a night. Two nights of that (and I get two nights of that rather more often than I care to admit) and I am a zombie. She gets sleep-deprived every weekend, and sometimes on weekdays as well.
I well remember the late Edwin Diamond, my journalism professor, advising me that there was "sleep aplenty in the grave," and that "I'm tired" was a pretty poor excuse for missing a once-in-a-lifetime part of the college experience. Marlow, apparently, seldom uses "I'm tired" as an excuse.
Also, I am reliably informed, as the weather worsens in New York City (and it always worsens), her suitemates and friends are ever-less likely to stroll in and say "let's do something" that involves leaving the building.
In The Really Weird Department
Scene 1: Marlow and I are riding from Brooklyn to Columbia on the Number 2 Broadway Express. A man with a suitcase sitting across from us says, "Weren't you on a PBS documentary." We fess up and chat with him; he is a recent Columbia alumnus, headed for a weekend with his parents on the upper West side. He enjoyed the documentary.
Scene 2: The hostess at the Rio De Janeiros finds a pile of papers I left by accident at our table. She turns out to be a senior at Columbia.
Scene 3: I am rushing towards the Bart train at the Orinda station. A man I do not recognize (probably the father of a Miramonte student), says "Saw you on TV last week [this is 9 days after the broadcast]. How does your daughter like Columbia?" [fine thanks]
Scene 4: I am walking through the CMP China Basin office when one of the salespeople stops me. "There I was, watching PBS, when suddenly I saw you and your daughter! How does she like Columbia?" [fine thanks]
Who knew people paid that much attention to PBS?
CMP Finds A Webco CEO
CMP Media and Miller Freeman have named Bruce Armstrong CEO of CMPNet, the Internet company they are publicly committed to spinning off within a few months.
Armstrong was co-founder of Broadbase, leaving just as it went public this summer. It is an Internet e-commerce infrastructure company. He was also at Sybase as Vice
Big changes are ahead. He's meeting with the editorial, sales and technical staffs. He's listening. He's talking the talk. I am optimistic he will, at the appropriate time, walk the walk.
6 Presidents on a sinking boat...
The Paradox of our Time - George Carlin
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We've conquered outer space, but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of >food, but less nutrition.
These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
None This Week
The facts would be courtesy of the Internet Movie Database if I'd seen any movies this week.
This, That and Scat
Barry Surman notes that:
I believe it's elephant scat, not camel.
on the painting of the Madonna at the SensAtion exhibit in Brooklyn, covered here last week. As for our choice of a rodizio restaurant:
Ruth Reichl (editor of Gourmet magazine) is reported to have called Rio de Janeiro's the worst rodizio joint in the city. Next time you're in town, I'll get you the real thing in Queens, at a totally tacky palacia de rodizio recommended by Eric Asimov, the "$25 and under" restaurant reviewer at The Times.
In it's favor: Rio de Janeiros is on W 43rd one block East of Broadway. It's a long ride to Queens. But Barry has a track record of unbroken accuracy, good taste and intelligence (we've been friends for years). He was the press secretary for the Paul Simon presidential campaign--you can't get classier than that. So, Marlow and I will take him up on his offer the next time we're in town.
You guys rolled out the big guns for the SensAtion exhibit, however, mostly over my comment that Mayor Guiliani is a nut case. Native New Yorker Joe Brancatelli says:
It's a funny thing. The Brooklyn Museum is such a gem--has the largest Egypt collection out of Egypt, for instance--and it is sad that Guiliani is so weird on this. I just don't see how he gains here--so, failing to find a motive, I have to assume he's doing this on actual belief.
Wooo. I knewRudy had personal beliefs. I am sorry to see that censorship is one of them.
But then this isn't really about censorship is it? Not according to Jerry Pournelle, a very consistent and thoughtful strict constructionist:
Why is it insane for the Mayor of New York City to decline to pay subsidies for "art" that is offensive to a great many of the citizens of the city? If he's wrong in reading the taxpayer reactions the remedy is at the polls. If he's right, I have no idea what constitutional amendment gives anyone the right to an artistic subsidy from tax funds. I seriously doubt that when Alexander Hamilton signed the Constitution as a delegate from New York he thought he was approving art subsidies at all.
You'll probably find this another example of my woolly headed liberalism, Jerry, but my position on this is: once you've agreed to fund the arts, you've agreed to supply the money, stand back and wince. You either fund them or you don't, you don't pick and choose.
A final note; Per Brashers, who leaves CMP tomorrow, defined art to me today as "that which provokes a reaction." By that definition, SensAtion definitely is art.
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