Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Mystery of Simon Gamble

Recently, I re-discovered a stack of letters I received from a British friend, Simon Gamble.  I never actually met Simon; we became "pen-pals," writing to each other for about five years, beginning when I was nineteen.  In 1980, the internet was unknown, and so the world was still a lot bigger.  My sister related her experience with having international friends, and I thought it sounded interesting.  I saw an article in the Cal State Northridge college newspaper about an organization that matched up people with similar interests, and before long, I began writing to Simon.

When we began writing, Simon was living in Northampton. One of his earliest letters discussed the Moscow Olympics (which the US was boycotting),  the difference between his cold English weather and my warm California weather, and our mutual interest in Charles Dickens.  Over time, he would relate the ups and downs in his life, and his progress from living in a remote English city with few friends of his own age, to a full social life in London.

Over the following several years, each of us would write nearly 20 letters.  I'll be recalling some of these letters over my next few blog entries, seeking out clues to a mystery:  After five years of correspondence, Simon abruptly stopped writing to me.  In his last letter, he expressed interest in my upcoming first visit to London, and our opportunity to  meet for the first time.  We would never meet, however.  In fact, I would never hear from him again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Kid Landmarks

Since Google Earth has improved it's technology, I thought it was time to revisit my old neighborhood in New Hyde Park, New York - This is where I lived until I was eleven, and we moved to California.  Here's a key to some of my own personal walking tour:

a - This is it...home base!  Though our street was flat, our house had to be the flattest.  Once we had a flash flood and our house was the only one that flooded. I remember looking down into our basement, and discovering that books float.
b - Ridder's Pond.  During that same flash flood, the pond overflowed, and we ended up with a snapping turtle in our backyard.
c - This is where the bus stop to Wickshire School used to be, before it moved across the street.
d - This is the new bus stop.  I don't know why it moved, but we thought it was unfair that we had to deal with the inconvenience of crossing the street.
e - My lemonade stand was usually located here.  I didn't build it into a multi-billion dollar empire.
f - My friend Larry lived here.  He sometimes was my partner in the lemonade business. We usually parted ways over financial issues.
g - I got into a huge screaming argument with Chris on this corner. I don't remember why, exactly, but we ended up yelling "What a friend YOU are!" at each other as we walked away from each other.
h - This is where Chris lived, and where he went when our argument was over.  Notice that we lived over the fence from each other. We built the fence to keep out his St. Bernard, Nard.
i - My Stingray bike was stolen from a bike rack located right here. Larry swore up and down he saw bigger kids with it, and they through it into some flood control channel.  We never turned up any evidence.
j - There's a little police way-station located here.  I remember when they built it.  I thought they build it to catch me.
k - As a kid, I didn't even know this existed.  I still don't know what it is.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Pal Al

I am very excited to announce that I have recovered one of my long-lost documentary classics.
As a documentary filmmaker, I am sometimes given the opportunity to develop close personal relationships with powerful people. In this documentary, shot at the 2000 Democratic Convention, observe Al Gore and I as we ponder his candidacy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Evil Plots

I was standing in line at a Fry's Electronics Store today, listening to a conversation just ahead of me about the causes of the worldwide economic meltdown.   The two parties ahead of me - one, an older couple, and the other a guy somewhere in his 20's - were convinced that the crisis was a planned event.  Apparently, in their view, this was all a great manipulation to move us to a One World Goverment.  They see the coordinated efforts of international governments as the precursor to the creation of a true World Bank.  They recalled George Bush Sr.'s pronouncements of a New World Order.  The younger guy reminded his new friends that it's easy to manipulate people when they're down (in other words, while we're all poor and desperate).

I'm always fascinated with theories that involve massive plots that would need to involve legions of co-conspirators.  Usually, these are the same people furious at our ineffective government.  Yet, somehow, that ineffective government excels in only two areas - creating intricate secret plots and keeping thousands of co-conspirators quiet.  Apparently, our government brilliantly conceived a faked moon landing, and staged 9/11, both with a level of secrecy that has disposed of the uncertainty of human beings, and an extra dose of complexity (after all , why simply implode the World Trade Center when we could fly planes into the buildings) simply for good measure.

I suspect we'll see a dramatic rise in paranoia over the next several months as the financial crisis continues to develop.  The greatest danger isn't financial - it's desperation.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sarah, Sarah

I came across this interesting tidbit of information.  Robert F. Kennedy Jr., writing on his blog on the "Huffington Post" website, comments on a writer quoted by Sarah Palin in her acceptance speech to emphasize the importance of so-called "small town values." It turns out the author quoted isn't exactly a symbol of virtue.

One has to wonder what Palin's values are, if this is the sort of author she reads....

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Final Weeks

We're in the final weeks of the presidential campaign - perhaps one of the most interesting campaigns in recent history.

I find it fascinating how people can see entirely different people in the same candidates, depending on whom they support.  Sarah Palin, of course, is the ultimate example.  During her interview on CBS News, Katie Couric asked Palin what newspapers she reads.  She couldn't clearly answer:

Palin's answer, to me, seems nothing short of bizarre.  It's really a simple question.  One or two titles would have sufficed.  She couldn't - or wouldn't answer.  

Others have complained that the media is engaged in a hatchet job on Palin - it's hard to see how such a "soft" question could be construed as confrontative or even manipulative.  

Palin did better than expected during the Vice Presidential Debate with Joe Biden - but that's a situation that reflects, for both candidates, a week or longer of cramming for the big night. 

It's the little things that count.