Our children and grandchildren will be around. .
My best to all the friends who check in on this little site.
Happy holidays. Be well.
I write this not only out of admiration for The New York Times but out of love for Mexico.
Many years ago my wife and I took a day trip to Teotihuacán and climbed the thick steps of the Pyramid of the Moon. We stayed a long time on top, marveling at the view, and still recall how it was easier – less scary -- to climb down backwards.
We’ve never been back to Teotihuacán but I have returned to Mexico for work and pleasure. I consider it a dear neighbor.
On Tuesday I read every word of three full pages of superb reporting in the Times about the profanation of that holy place. The article documents how a branch of the American company, Wal-Mart of Arkansas, apparently sent cash to evade zoning laws designed to maintain the green belt around the Pyramid.
Wal-Mart officials apparently found officials in Mexico who would take the money, although other people were suspicious and opposed the new store that went up, that looms there still.
The journalism by the Times is compelling. Everything fits, everything sounds right. I am less upset with venal officials in Mexico who did not mind cheapening their patrimony than I am with the American corporation that overlooked clear signs this was happening. Wal-Mart. Nice folks.
I was going to fulminate about pompous flag-waving self-proclaimed job creators who tell how much good they do by accumulating riches. But read it for yourself, in case you missed it. It really is worth the effort.
Robbie Parker, the father of Emilie Parker, put on a suit and tie and addressed the public on Saturday.
He was in visible grief, of course, but for a moment his face relaxed as he recalled their brief encounter Friday morning.
He has been teaching his daughter Portuguese – he did not say why -- and at six she went for it enough that she and her dad could conduct a conversation.
Good morning. How are you? -- the ritual between a parent and a child, perhaps for a purpose, or just the fun of sharing one of the world’s more beautiful languages.
“I gave her a kiss,” he said, “and I was out the door.”
When Robbie Parker went out the door Friday morning, all was right between them. They had that language in common.
As Graham Nash wrote in the song, Teach Your Children: “So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”
We need more than words. We need the connections, the daily acts, the time, the reminders, the bonds that say, “Eu te amo,” before we go out the door.
ESPN.com is reporting that seven Catholic basketball powers are talking about leaving the Big East. It’s a little late for that, since the Big East left them years ago, opting for football bowl money and damaging the heritage of the conference.
There’s nothing left – a bunch of strangers in a cuckoo conference, sending softball players and soccer players on long plane rides for conference matches, spending fortunes to justify incoming fortunes from the football television pool.
It’s all gone wrong. The presidents of the seven schools should take a deep breath and get out. The original partners slipped out the door years ago, leaving a bunch of strangers lounging around the premises with more strangers on the way. Have a little pride. Get out.
The survivors cannot leave out of sheer nostalgia. Eddie Pinckney and Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin are not coming back to play in one of the most amazing Final Fours ever – 1985. In less than a decade, they created one of the great basketball conferences ever, but then television football loot made everybody crazy.
They need a new model. They could call it the Northeast Quadrant Catholic Basketball We-Know-Who-We-Are Conference. Stick to the business of offering a focused education on essentially urban campuses.
Big-time hoops are still a risky business for St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Providence, Villanova, DePaul and Marquette, but at least they can get back to a more clear self-image and not get over their heads in football, with its gigantic rosters, bowl shenanigans, concussion legacies and recruiting frenzies.
Know thyself. The Ivy League has been stable forever. New York University gave up the big time, all for the better. City College educates New Yorkers rather than entertain gamblers and strangers. Nobody’s ever persuaded me what big-time sports have to do with education, anyway.
Big-time basketball is still something of a dance with, you should pardon the expression, the devil. But the football arrangement was blatantly Faustian.
If the survivors turn out the lights on the Big East as they go out the door, it doesn’t matter. The party’s over.
The ESPN story: http://espn.go.com/new-york/college-sports/story/_/id/8742607/seven-catholic-schools-leaning-leaving-big-east-sources-say
It all comes back to me now – the heat, the dust, the antiquity, the frustration when Adam Nelson could not prevent his foot from squiggling over the foul line.
By the slimmest of margins, Nelson fouled on his final shot in the 2004 Summer Games, which meant somebody else won the gold medal by virtue of a tiebreaker.
Nelson had two millenniums of history all around him on the most memorable day of the entire Olympics. The hosts had placed a medal event at the site of the ancient Games – the shot-put for men and women, fairly contained in one small corner of the old field.
I remember arriving the night before, walking the grounds in the dark with a few friends, sensing the old Olympians in the cosmic dust. Every step, every breath, was a privilege. Competitors and their followers had walked these hills and paths long ago.
Everybody got it, from the spectators to the athletes to the reporters. My daughter Laura Vecsey, then with the Baltimore Sun, made the trip out from Athens. This was the best day.
"It was surreal," said Cleopatra Borel, a shot-putter from Trinidad, who did not win a medal, but was exhilarated all the same.
"You can't believe that athletes just like myself competed here. I know it was an all-male environment back then. This can never, ever happen again like this. Even if they ever have something back here, it can never be like this again."
Borel was right. Now, eight years later, that day in ancient Olympia is being re-arranged. The sample from Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine has been judged to contain an illegal substance, untraceable by methods available in 2004.
It looks like Adam Nelson is going to get his gold medal. There is a warning out to all the cheaters, in all the sports. Be careful, pal; time and pharmacology may judge you yet.
The news about Nelson’s gold medal:
The column I wrote from Olympic in 2004:
I’ve never done much volunteer work because I was always busy.
Plus, my theory was, I was more valuable pecking away at the laptop for dollars than getting in somebody’s way.
However, I have been in awe of a couple of new-generation doctors I know who volunteer in places like Haiti and Africa. And I saw my wife make a difference as a volunteer an orphanage in India.
Having more time these days, I signed up for a few hours of labor with some new friends from The New York Times plant in College Point, Queens. Ever since the production and delivery part of the paper moved out of W. 43 St. in 1997, I have missed the bustle of the trucks and the workers on the sidewalks and elevators and in the cafeteria.
Last week, Mike Connors, managing director of the Production Department, invited me to help pack food at the City Harvest warehouse right off the East River in Long Island City, Queens. Over 30 volunteers were given gloves and divided ourselves into two groups. One prepared bags of donated non-perishable food – bottled water, coconut water, canned tuna, dry cereal, beef jerky, packaged chocolate chip cookies, sardines, granola bars, tomato soup, beans, crushed tomatoes, pasta and anchovies. Anchovies!
I was advised by Ernie Booth, an executive at the Times plant, that my vast skills were urgently needed at the other job – shuttling oranges from refrigerator-sized cardboard boxes into bags that held 15-20 oranges, large and small.
I realized right away how much I enjoyed the teamwork – how individuals made room for each other, how they solved problems like getting oranges out of the bottom of the crates (tipping them and getting down on our knees, scooping with our forearms.)
Later I tried bagging the oranges, chatting with new friends like Deirdre Deignan, an official from the Times plant, and Andy Gutterman, the executive director from HR/Human Relations, and other volunteers, about sports and past jobs. We worked at a fairly intense pace, with a sense of purpose.
By late afternoon, most people had to go back to produce and deliver the next day’s Times. The City Harvest supervisors read off our output – 10,000 pounds of dry food, 7,000 pounds of oranges, eight and a half tons of food for dozens of eligible New York families with incomes under $60,000. week later, I look forward to spring when the NYT will do it again.
I urge anybody not to wait as long as I did to volunteer a few hours, somewhere. For information, please see:
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.