Up In The Crown
This September 11th,
will mark the fifth anniversary of That Day.
And little by little, its negative impact continues to spread
across the land, in ways large and small.
And so, for example, with each new terrorist threat disclosure—
in mind-numbing variations on a theme— the process of
boarding a plane becomes evermore taxing.
First it was the many checkpoints of identity verification.
Then it was the shoes. Now, it’s the confiscation of
a tube of ChapStick®
(…or toothpaste … hair gel … bottled water)
from a carry-on. One dare not imagine what might next be in
If say, some “jihadist” decides to hide an explosive
in a tooth cavity, will we now be subject to a dental examine
before boarding? (“Say, ah!” “Rinse!”)
Or worse, if other hidden crevices in the human anatomy were
to be…well…we’d best not go there.
We can deal with the inconveniences of air travel. If we
must fly without being able to administer to our chapped lips
en route, so be it. We are Americans. We are of hardy stock.
We can live with it. We understand.
What we can’t live with—and far less understandable—
is the decision finalized by Park Service Director Fran Mainella
on August 4th, that the public, permanently, will be disallowed
to ascend the steps inside The Statue of Liberty.
It has been deemed both a fire hazard and security risk.
Though it is obvious, that the former reason has been added
to soften the true concern regarding the latter. In reality,
in the 120 years since the Statue opened (October 28, 1886),
there had never been a fire or hint of one within its tight
passageways (other than perhaps, the metaphoric reference
we will make below).
In effect, this means, that no one will ever again
enjoy the pleasure, aye the emotional rush felt from looking
out at the world through her crown.
Maybe it is because we grew up on The Lower East Side so
close to her at the tip of Manhattan; that we are Statue-of-Liberty-ophiles,
obsessed with its magnificence as a work of art and engineering
marvel; that we are moved by its symbolism of the immigrant
experience (see our website) and the raw power of Emma Lazarus’s
famous poem …but this one hurts!
Not that we’ve been up to the crown more than three
or four times over six decades; the last visit coming some
14 years ago as recorded in our journal:
September 2, 1992
“We beat the traffic and throngs and
were up in the crown before eleven. I carried Dylan (our
son; not yet four years old that day) up the
whole way; some 354 steps.
You could not want a better day weather-wise.
Just perfect in temperature and sun and wind and earth
No big deal? Perhaps. Traversing all those steps was no day
at the beach. And of course, as with all attractions, there
were often long lines.
But from this day forward, no one will ever again be allowed
the chance to experience this small but cherished moment,
as we did that day.
To be sure, the sense of safety we have always enjoyed in
this country, can no longer be assumed in a “post 9/11”
world. But if you shut down access to those distinctly American
touchstones as a tactic in defense of fear, you start to shut
down the valves that pump the heart blood to our way of life.
Not being allowed access to the Statue of Liberty, is directly
counter to all she symbolizes. The irony here, could not be
greater. And we are all diminished for it.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Pluto
(with apologies to Wallace Stevens)
In a world measured in light years
It lasted but a human lifetime:
Deemed planet-worthy in 1930;
From our solar system nixed in 2006
Downgraded to the status of “dwarf planet”
What is to become of its three known moons:
Charon, Hydra and Nix?
Do the sins of the father
Transfer to the sons? Or moons?
Might there now be sober
Of all dwarfs in general?
“Dopey”, demoted, deemed to be lacking
In sufficient levels of human intelligence—
Ergo: Snow White and the Six Dwarfs?
In the interest of political correctness we request
That Dwarf Planets shall heretofore all be addressed
As Sized Challenged Orbital Mass.
(Though SCOM is some circles is accepted).
Size does matter after all.
The Little Enigma That Couldn’t
Nothing is forever.
Even in a universe
Said to be infinite.
Will there be a grace period
This fall on science tests
When grade school kids write
“9” not “8”?
And how do we explain it
To those who hold trust with us?
First Santa Claus. Now science laws?
The planet proceeded the dog
Who first appeared
In the 1930 cartoon The
Chain Gang —
Mickey’s Pluto being named for the planet.
Walt Disney must be turning over
In his Cryonics tank (an urban legend).
Speaking of Cryonics
Some say: “just an icy ball
Not worthy of “planet-hood.”
Then consider Alaska
Frozen in statehood.
Forget for a moment the status of Pluto;
Consider what has become of New Orleans.
In the future when revisionists
Once again reconvene
To redefine what has been rediscovered
Will we on Earth make the cut?
1927: A Monologue of Introduction
(excerpted from a musical Broadway
Nights and Radio Days;
August 26, 2006; monologue written and performed by Ron
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. And welcome to the third
annual Follies, as we take you back to those
Broadway Nights and Radio Days.
Yes, take ya’ back to that time in America, when optimism
soared like an eagle. In fact like the Lone Eagle himself—
Charles A. Lindbergh aka “Lucky Lindy” (singing)
Lucky Lindy! Up in the sky
Fair or windy, he's flying high.
Ah yes, he flew solo clear across the Atlantic and landed
in Gay Paree (an aside to the audience) — we
liked the French back then—May 21st, 1927.
Yes, “indeedy” deed. Anything was possible. It
was after all, (drum roll and symbol clash off stage)
“The Roaring Twenties.” (Charleston song starts
up in the background ) —flappers ‘n floosies
and bathtub gin; speakeasies through which a river flowed
of boot-legged liquor, right out of the South Side of Chicago—compliments
of… Public Enemy #1, Alphonse “Scar Face”
America was prosperous and the party was on. And to keep
it humming, we were finding new ways and places and people
to entertain us all.
On the silver screen… Al Jolson was starring in first
“talkie” The Jazz Singer, —(goes
down to one knee doing a Jolson voice impression)
Ah, you ain’t heard nothing yet!
And not far behind— Walt Disney’s first animation
would soon follow: Steamboat Willie! (Pulls out
a plush facsimile of Steamboat Willie from inside jacket pocket).
And Radio, as we will show you later on this evening, was
also moving into a brand new day, in a “variety”
Straight from the campus of Yale, directly to radio station
WABC in New York City, came Rudy Valle, setting young hearts
aswoonin’, romantically crooning, through his magnificent
megaphone (picks up a megaphone and sings through it):
Oh, I’m just a vagabond lover
In search of a sweetheart it seems.
backed by his group, the Connecticut Yankees. It
was in many ways…the beginnings of the music and song,
that was to redefine the fun-loving spirit of the good ‘ole
U.S of A.
You like Jazz? A few newcomers were coming on the scene;
inventing it, right on the spot! You might have heard of these
cool cats: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong? Thomas “Fats”
Waller? “The King of Swing,” himself, Benny Goodman?
(picks up a clarinet a blows a long sour note)
But if you wanted a simple story told through the magic of
song… well that, that my friend, was the birth of the
Broadway Musical, as we have come to know and love it until
this very day.
And tonight…we reprise, one such electrifying
show taken right out of those Broadway Night’s
and Radio Days… a hit which opened on
September 6th 1927 (and speaking of hits…Babe Ruth
had hit three home runs that very afternoon in a doubleheader
against the despised Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park…
but I digress) …anyway, this show would not stop until
it had clocked, 557 performances, closing on January 5, 1929.
Of course by the autumn of that year, the news coming out
of Wall St. would be bad. And for a while, the party would
be over. (sings)
Say don’t you remember, they called
It was Al all the time;
Say don’t you remember, I’m
Buddy can you spare a dime
The work of the Devil himself.
But for tonight…something heavenly…and the news
is all good. “Ladies and gentlemen”, we bring
you: Good News! As performed by
the Cup of Water Players!
New characters had gathered
about the grill
drawn by the promise
of good food and drink;
the scent and sizzle of a work in progress—
the usual suspects were missing.
Chalk it up
to estrangement and churn—
the long drawn out marriages
that have melted like butter;
those we’ve decided to no longer talk to;
others who’ve upped and moved away
for reasons as old as pilgrims.
Still others now lie six feet under.
Chalk it up
to the play of seasons;
the constant hand of change.
Still that one bee wearing
his best yellow jacket
always seems to wind up in the bottom
of a bottle of beer
by end of day.
Someone will notice.
As someone did the year before
and someone before that—
and another still even before that—
and remark about how drunk
that bee must be.
Ironic laughter— the play on words.
Then another will say:
“I can’t believe that the summer is over.”
And someone will mention how delicious the ribs.
“How long did you let them marinate, might I ask?”
Forever my dear. Forever.
Humuhumunukunukuapuaa: A Small
“The humuhumunukunukuapuaa is one of several species
triggerfish. Classified as Rhinecanthus rectangulus,
it is endemic
to the salt water coasts of various central and south
islands. It is often asserted that the Hawaiian name is
one of the
longest words in the English Language and that ‘the
name is longer
than the fish.’”
Free Online Encyclopedia
|“A bill reinstating
the critter, known as humuhumu for short, as the state
fish of Hawaii passed the Legislature on Monday, April
So maybe there is hope for Pluto and for us going up in the
crown again one day, after all.