Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brooklyn, Of Ample Hills*

The trip has been great so far, despite a seven-gate change, nine-hour delay in my flight from New York to Boston. Brooklyn was delightful. On Foxessa's recommendation, I spent the afternoon prowling the precincts of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Even with little in bloom, it's a beauty, as is adjoining Prospect Park. For my money, they are more attractive than Central Park; I'd love to see both in the fall. 

Suffice to say that Macbeth was brilliant and Patrick Stewart even more so. I marvel at his diction -- not once did I have difficulty following Elizabethan syntax and rhythm. His performance paired with the Stalinist Russia setting built an atmosphere of terror and paranoia that culminated perfectly in the final scenes. Given the chance, I'd go again tonight, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. 

Anyway, what's a little plane delay when you find out that your son made the Dean's List?

Barack Obama's speech on race was masterful. As many commentators and editorials observed, it was the most direct and thorough discussion of the matter by a national figure since Lyndon Johnson. Obama successfully negotiated the mine field of white "resentment," showing sympathy while remaining steadfast in his assertion that the legacies of slavery and racism continue to curse African-Americans and the rest of us. He explained his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a way that should satisfy any reasonable person. I mean, how many times have I gritted my teeth through a Catholic priest's homily? 

Did it work? Dunno. Most surveys indicate that something like two-thirds of white Americans believe that racism is mostly in the heads of black Americans. It matters little that by every statistical measure, from cradle to grave African-Americans do not share the same quality of life as whites -- the attitude holds. I find it impossible to believe that a single speech -- no matter how well done -- can alter this to any degree. Racial attitudes run deep in the individual and are nearly impossible to change.

The other question, though, is will this distraction matter in the end?  It probably secures Pennsylvania for Hillary Clinton, but she was going to win that state anyway. In the end, though, it by itself is unlikely to change the dynamics of the Democratic race. Obama remains on track to be the party's nominee. Adam Nagourney of the New York Times explains why Hillary Clinton's chances grow slimmer by the day.

Though the Republicans will try to keep it alive, I can't see it mattering much in the fall. The Rev. Wright is Obama's pastor, not his running mate. Possibly it would have an impact in an election with less at stake, but the 2008 campaign will be about the recession, the war in Iraq, and the link between the two. That's difficult terrain for the Republican party.

On a more enoyable note, The Boston Phoenix announced the nominees for its annual music awards. Which means that yours truly can spend tomorrow tracking down and checking out local acts. Yahoo!

* Thanks, Walt!

1 comment:

Foxessa said...

I'm so sorry we didn't manage to get together during that short time you were here. I lost track of dates and so on -- rather under the gun right now.

I recognize that photo! I'm so glad you liked the Garden. The one in the Bronx is also beautiful, but it is enormous, just like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park. They seem so overwhelming until you've been able to spend a lot of time in them. Whereas the Brooklyn Museum, The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Prospect Park are more user friendly and accessible. And from where I live, though I live in Manhattan, they are easier to get to by subway than the others. Well, Central Park is really accessible, but you know.

Love, C.