Monday, June 2, 2008

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

In the past few days New York has welcomed the warmth of early summer weather (no matter what the calendar might require) and has also seen yet more deaths arise from falling construction cranes that are supposed to be regulated, inspected, and are required to continue our building boom. Some of you who live outside the States will have read that we are in an undeclared recession and that a real estate bubble may be the latest suspect for this problem.

When new 25-storied, and taller, buildings are erected on the site of demolished shorter buildings, the contractors and financial wizards in charge of the construction do require the presence of towering cranes. These intricate pieces of machinery are delivered to the street where the construction is ongoing, and then erected themselves, bit by bit, until they reach a height beyond that of many nearby buildings. Windy days may tempt danger for construction sites, from falling debris, or from unstable cranes, or from other possibilities.

Our city needs to constantly reinvent itself, to show it is thriving, to climb upward, upward physically and symbolically.

Our city and our country are showing signs of economic weakening. Shortcuts may currently be taking place in the construction industry. The construction industry has connections to the financial and political worlds. It is often difficult to find a reason for a disaster, after the disaster occurs. Meanwhile, the mostly male construction crews are glad to make the money that their very difficult, dangerous jobs pay. Until there is a disaster. Then the story makes a few news cycles and many of us who live in the city try to avoid blocks where we can see cranes teetering above.

Some memories will fade. More old buildings will be demolished, and more new towers will be erected.

Having delivered that less than lovely tribute to late spring in New York, I would like to once again thank all the fellow posters for showing so many beautiful pictures of their spring gardens. Those images are the source of my country dreams.

I would now like to tell a more uplifting tale of how small our world can be.

Many of you are aware that I manage a shop. The advertising campaigns for our company have for some time featured photos of a beautiful model who has lovely long, grey hair. She is also a friendly, multi-talented person, as I have discovered on visits she has made to the shop.

A few weeks ago, I assisted a Swedish customer, who was visiting New York, from her home in France. We have many international visitors. This is one of the charms of being in the shop.
The Swedish lady confided to me that she was a playwright, and that one of her plays was currently being performed in a major Stockholm theatre. But there was more. She told me that one of the characters in her play was actually inspired by our model with the beautiful long, grey hair. In fact, a special "peruke" had been designed for the actress playing the role.

I just found this story so delightful, and promised to mention it to our model when I next saw her.

This past week, I received a square, white envelope bearing a wonderful collection of French stamps. Opening the envelope I found a sweet note from the playwright, and also a copy of the official playbill from her play. The playbill is in Swedish, a language I cannot read or write. The cover of the booklet features a dramatic color picture of the lead actress, with her beautiful long, grey wig.

In a week that was filled with local news that could frighten us all, it was a great pleasure and very reassuring to receive this message from France. We can connect in happy ways, though the news may often try to convince us otherwise.

Pleasant dreams to you all, in or out of your spring gardens.