No dopey lawyers about to get stiffed by their seditious client.
No Covid talk.
Four visuals over the electronic transom.
A good day.
With Melbourne in the news, the great tennis photographer Art Seitz downloaded some classics from his vast portfolio. This one touched me -- Harry Hopman, the champion Australian tennis coach and his American wife Lucy. Art had no way of knowing this, but the Hopmans were neighbors back in the 1970s, when he was coaching at the Port Washington Tennis Academy, after his long Davis Cup glory. I was doing a story on him and he suggested a restaurant in town called The Bunkers Inn. My wife and I drove up and down Shore Rd. trying to find it, but then she said: "There it is. La Bonne Cuisine." I quickly learned to hear Australian and we loved his stories about Rocket and Muscles and Emmo and all the lads. He was working with Hy Zausner, the proprietor of the academy, where children took lessons and sometimes you played on the next court to famous players. He was enjoying Long Island, he told us: Why, he had recently attended his first Bar Mitzvah.
After Harry passed in 1985 I used to see Mrs. Hopman at the US Open -- great smile, good memories of their Port Washington days. She passed in 2018, age the age of 98.
Art Seitz: thanks for the memories. man.
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From my friend Ed-the-Soccer-Player came this clip about the Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville, N.C. I am sure Ed noticed in my thoroughly enjoyable time on the NYT Readalong last Sunday, when somebody asked about the de rigueur bookshelves behind me. I gave a quickie tour, including a number of vintage books by the favorite author of my (extended) adolescence, Thomas Wolfe. I have issues with some of his dated portrayals of Blacks....but I owe Wolfe for making me read, and care about the mountain town of Asheville, N.C. (I recently discovered the overlooked segment about his father, as a boy in Pennsylvania, sassing Rebel troops heading south, toward Gettysburg-- a masterpiece, originally excised by Wolfe's editor.)
My man Ed asked if I had ever seen the boarding house Wolfe's mother ran in Asheville -- the emotional heart of "Look Homeward, Angel" -- and now an attraction for Wolfe buffs. The answer is, yes -- not during my Appalachia rambles but on a drive northward toward Louisville for the Derby. I found a motel across the street from the Wolfe home and requested a room overlooking the home -- and that rainy evening I stared down at the home, thinking of all the emotional moments Wolfe described. The next day I took my tour of the home -- and also visited Wolfe's grave nearby. (He died on Sept. 15, 1938 --18 days short of reaching 38, of tuberculosis he most likely caught in the mountain boarding house of his mother. I am well aware that I was born nine-plus months later.) So, Ed, yes, I've been to the Wolfe home.
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In my e-mail, the always-welcome dispatch by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, my classmate at Jamaica High.
Feel free to make your own interpretation. .
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.