Guess I picked the wrong month to brag about not being a snowbird, to revel in staying home in New York, with the glory of the seasons, which would include winter.
I was so proud of having all that culture and entertainment a few miles to the west. We have tickets to Symphony Space to see the film of the Bennett play from the National Theatre.
It’s around 10 degrees outside.
I don’t think we’re getting out of our driveway.
# # #
(My little riff on snowbirding the other day)
We read in the Times the other day that Florida is supplanting New York as the third most populous state.
I can exclusively reveal here that I am not joining the exodus. We tried snowbirding in Florida 20 years ago, and it didn’t take. My wife made a splendid discovery of a low-slung condo in Boca Raton with a gorgeous view of the blue-green ocean, on the theory that it was halfway between the Yankee spring camp in Fort Lauderdale and the Mets’ camp in that wasteland of Port St. Lucie.
I would get up in the morning, take a delightful jog and then have breakfast and read the paper and take a shower and notice it was 10 o’clock in the morning, and what the hell was I going to do with the rest of the day? I never did figure it out.
Maybe we were too young. Fifty. We found concerts in Miami and an Indian restaurant in Coral Gables and strong coffee on Calle Ocho and a Thai restaurant in Boca.
One night in a restaurant my son-in-law pointed out a well-known gangster, warily sitting with a view of the front door. I thought he was in hiding. Most people we met had a murky story – new name, new face, new fingerprints, new spouse. Everybody seemed to come from somewhere else.
Many of the people in our complex were from Ohio, Michigan and Ontario. I found myself hanging out at the guardhouse with a Cuban guard from Miami and an Italian guard from Brooklyn. We told stories and laughed. Sal the handyman had coached Craig Biggio in Little League back on Long Island. We talked baseball.
My wife and I kept the blinds open at night because of the direct view of the ocean. But I would be awakened by the reflection in the mirror of the blinking red lights of ambulances visiting the complex. Ask not for whom the light blinks.
Commuting from work in New York, I began to have vivid dreams of slush and sleet and snow and fog and drizzle. The plane home would emerge from the clouds and screech to a landing at dank gelid LaGuardia and I would go, Yessssss!
So we sold. I still love Florida to visit – the Vietnamese restaurant in Orlando, rice and beans in Ybor City, funky downtown St. Pete, looking for Casey Stengel. But I’m paying the horrendous taxes in New York. It’s home. Everybody needs to know where home is.
I know Florida for its election scandal of 2000 and its unsavory Gov. Scott and the Trayvon Martin tragedy. But I’m not worried if Florida gains a seat in the House and New York loses one.
I turn on the tube and I hear Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who sounds like all the girls in my junior high school in Rego Park, Queens -- and no wonder, she’s originally from Forest Hills -- and Rep. Alan Grayson, who reminds me of classmates at Jamaica High -- and no wonder, Grayson is from Bronx Science. Billy Donovan coaches at Florida. Donna Shalala runs the University of Miami. We are exporting clear-thinking strong personalities just to help our friends in Florida. Some of us are staying behind.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.