Deliverance

burt reynolds house
Flowers in remembrance of the late Burt Reynolds, at his house in Florida yesterday. RIP Burt. My wife took this pic on her way back from tennis in Tequesta.

Jets 48, Lions 17.

What an epic Monday Night Football game to start our season!

Long suffering NY Jets like my wife and I have been waiting since Ed Koch was Mayor of New York for the second coming of Joe Namath.

Last night’s game — an inspiring rout of the Lions that was undiminished by memories of Bella Abzug and the weird intonations in the play-by-play announcing of ESPN’s Beth Mowins — might turn out to be a hint of awesomeness to come.

But if life goes on, so does morte.

deliverance
Two banjos who shall duel no more

Smokey died this weekend; he lived for many years in the town adjacent to where we seethe.

burt reynolds
A week later, the gate to Gator’s house looked like this

Burt Reynolds was a football player before he became an actor, and many have stopped by his house in the last few days to leave flowers.

I liked him, as did most people, and was quite influenced by the movie Deliverance, back in the day.

burt reynolds
A personal tribute to Burt, posted on the gate of his house in Florida — simple, but eloquent — after Gator moved on to meet Diana and the rest of his pack

But life does go on.

It’s less than a week now before we decamp for Tavira, Portugal.

This coming Sunday, the Jets play the Fins; it’ll be a home game for the Jets, but since Miami is in-market for us, we’ll get to watch Gang Green for the second time in a week!

Then, no NFL for a month straight.

Cold turkey just as the season is getting started.

How are we going to survive in Portugal without Sam there to give us hope that Life has a meaning?

Well, for one thing, I’m truly intrigued by the history of the Moorish conquest and rule of the Iberian peninsula.

I look forward to reading about it in some depth while in Portugal.

I never fully realized till recently the parallels between the Reconquista and the concerted efforts since 9-11 — the grim anniversary of which is today — to marginalize Muslims in Europe and America .

We’ve all been to this rodeo before, as it turns out.

That aside, we hope to meet up a week from tomorrow with a few American expats who live in or near Tavira.

We’ve made plans to meet at the Casa Simao.

Frankly, I’m rather intrigued by the “Wild Boar” stew that’s on the menu, so we might have to go back on a Thursday, even though my wife has said she’s not particularly, er, game for that entree.

So… deliverance.

What is it?

Is it something as small (or big, depending or your perspective) as deciding to leave the country in order not to be subjected to any more Trumpian crapola?

Or is there more to it than straight-up detrumpification?

headspace

I know.

I’ll go for the easy solution to a problem that has bedeviled humanity since the dawn of Time.

I’m going to download Head Space, which Sam Darnold uses to chill before a game.

I often have blinders on because I’m usually trapped by a suffocating obsession with myself.

I need to meditate, man, on the meaning of it all — and the relative insignificance of moi in the big picture of things.

Modesty.

Monkish robes.

Sandals.

Saffron.

A quiet manner that bespeaks vast reserves of inner strength.

Headspace will virtually deliver it all.

I just hope I’ll have enough time in between taking selfies and achieving enlightened inner peace to actually notice what’s going on in the Algarve.

vans sneakers
I have to buy these because Sam wears them too

After all, isn’t that sort of thing that real writers do?

That is to say, watch everyone carefully, like a mongoose circling the cobra, and being skillfull enough to succinctly capture the telling detail.

Deliverance is being free from everything except that which is absolutely necessary.

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Death of a City

Me, in the data lake, searching for answers – Illo by PC Mag

Back online, after a few weeks of radio silence on this channel.

I have been busy with my tech project, and writing here. Behind the scenes, I have been rolling up my sleeves and get down and dirty at the command shell level with MySQL.  Without going into detail, I have an idea that I am pursuing, mainly because it interests me.

To that end, I have become a complete data animal — the way I once was when I worked downtown.

This is my world now

We’ll see how it works out.  I will be writing about that sort of thing in that other blog, so if you are interested, that’s the place to go. I’m also back on Twitter.

Speaking of writing, the Gouna trip (see numerous posts dating from September ’17 to April of this year) was not for naught in that regard.  I did end up writing a rather meditative piece just before I left Egypt. I submitted it to Mizna, where it is now being considered for the Winter issue.

In other news, I have decided not to move to Portugal, which currently is in flames. Maybe down the road, but not now.

Tomorrow, I leave for New York City, where I spent most of my life.  I’ll be staying at the Marrakesh at 10025 on Broadway, and putting up pics while there.

Manhattan — the authentic, pre Giuliani grifter version — is still so in my blood still, it isn’t even funny. Real bagels, at last, not to mention full sour pickles!

There are still vestigial remnants of what it once was, so the trip should be a gas, even though much of what I loved about the city is almost gone, replaced now by obscenities such as this.

On a more positive note, here’s an article written by Andre Aciman (of more recent Call Me By Your Name fame) over 20 years ago.  In it, this fellow Egyptian (yes, Alexandrine and Jewish, but still miya fil miya Egyptian!) describes in elegant detail Straus Park, which is right next to where I lived then, and also two short blocks away from where my wife and I will be staying this time around.

Tomorrow, after checking in, I’l be sitting at 7PM maybe at the Abbey Pub, where I once regularly drank to excess, but survived it, and have a burger while watching my beloved Jets. Nah, can’t stand the Columbia grad students who now come down to frequent it. I’m sure the Broadway Dive will be showing the game; only two blocks away from the hotel.

So, already what a trip, right from the get go!  Sam Darnold! We Jets fans want him on that wall.  We need him on that wall!  (If you’re a  long-suffering Jets fans, you will know exactly what I am referring to.  If not, don’t worry about it.)

And on Saturday, we will be going to Ludlow Street, down at the tip of Manhattan, to attend the Metrograph Film Festival.

This is the sort of thing that my mind craves, and what I have missed most about living for 17 years in the wretched old people hell hole known as Florida.

I’ll leave you with a wonderfully-written, long read about the Big Apple that came out in this month’s Harper’s.

It articulates exactly how I feel about the place, by someone who began living there in the mid 70s, just as I did.  Actually I moved there two years before him, so was exposed to even more of the grunge that was the LES and the Village, in the day in the days when NY was full of  New Yorkers.

Stayed tuned for pics…

Death of a City

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The trials of Gounaman

gouna
In America, this is called tresspassing
Almost a week has gone by since moving in to the new villa in El Gouna, Egypt.
It is located on a beautiful lagoon near Abu Tig marina, on the road to the Sheraton Hotel, and the view is stunning. I wish I could describe to you the profound sense of regained place — in a misty-eyed manner of speaking — I feel when I look out to the Red Sea or breathe in the garden-scented air (alas, no Night Jasmine) and revel in the fact that I am again, after so many years, back in my own country at last (even though everyone calls me “Mister”), and will have remained here, by this coming April, for seven amazing but semi grueling months.
But all is not roses.
Here are my impressions/experiences so far, after a week in this new villa, as my wife (who came to visit for a few weeks in late December when I was at the West Golf villa, but is back now in F-L-A) and I decide if we want to return to Gouna in the Fall for an extended period of time:
1) the front door locks had to be changed the day after I moved in.  I almost locked myself out at night because the keys almost did not work.  There is no way the real estate agent did not know how bad this door lock was, and it should have been fixed before I moved in
2) the downstairs bathroom does not work. A plumber came and said he could not fix it because the flushing mechanism inside the toilet is foreign and he does not have spare parts
3) the double glass door to the veranda outside is unusable.  Because of the shoddy carpentry, it is quite dangerous to use this door (the glass tilted back and almost fell off the last time I tried to open it). So now I have to go out by the front of the house to get to the back porch. this double door absolutely needs to be fixed in order not to be a danger to future renters
4) the hot water is often brown or rusty, when you first turn it on, but that goes away after a while. Still I don’t know if this water is clean or not, and I have had stomach problems for three days. I would have someone come and test the water from impurities and bacteria, although the diarrhea I have had for the last three days could be food poisoning from a takeout meal I had at Caleo’s in downtown Gouna
5) there are strange people who keep coming to examine the boat on the dock. this has happened twice already. They did not have the courtesy to ask my permission to come on to the property. In America you would call this trespassing, and people have been shot for less. (see pic)
6) there seems to be a commercial operation going on in the house on the right.  I think it is owned by Orange Concept, and everyday there are many vans and cars that come to that villa at 7am.  Some workers with orange caps leave their bikes there overnight (see pic), then ride the bike to Abu Tig marina, where I think they work on the Ocean Diva catamaran. I do not know if there is a zoning rule in Gouna for commercial vs residential property, but this is definitely a commercial operation in a residential area
7) there are other people who walk in front of the house throughout the day. They are either guests at the Sheraton or workers at that hotel.  So there is not a lot of privacy here, if you sit in the back, and sometime the workers will try to cut through this villa to get to the street.  Again, this is called trespassing in the States, whereas in Gouna it is called ma’alesh
8) I had to pick up quite a bit of garbage and loose cigarette butts in the garden at the back of the property.  I don’t know who left this stuff there, but am confused as to why the gardeners did not pick this garbage up.
9) the plain Gouna TV channel lineup in this villa is quite limited, and the TV in the living room is not hi def. Unfortunately I will not be able to watch the upcoming Real Madrid Champions League games against Juventus on April 3rd and 11th without going to some smoke-filled sports bar
gouna
Orange Concept guy next door
So these are obviously the niggly things.
Apart from the free internet, which allows me to lsisten to All In With Chris Hayes radio on YouTube, other positives are that the villa is much nicer (more light and bigger) than the one in West Golf.  It is also more conveniently located, and quieter at night than the other place (although there is a lot of traffic every day on nearby, busy Ahmed Ragab street, as well as Egyptian guys on occasion talking loudly in Arabic due to the Orange Concept people next door).
But there is a big red flag looming on Friday.  I spent last September through mid December in an apartment in Abu Tig marina by the Duport Club. This crass outfit — with its many noisy functions throughout the week and late into the night made my life absolute hell for almost 3 months, until they shut down in early December due to the cold.
The Duport Club is now gearing up to again make a racket on Friday with its vapidly submoronic stationary bicycle “Spinning Wheels” marathon endurance event.
You can view a previous one here.
This is quite literally going to be a circus like atmosphere, and go on well into the night, not doubt complete with the hateful searchlights they love to trot out for these types of airhead functions.
Duport so far has been quiet during my stay so far in this particular villa.
But if they start up again with their loud and unpleasant shenanigans, because the weather is warmer (which has also brought out the pestering biting flies that make walking such fun at times), and turn every weekend into hell due to my renewed proximity to the marina, I shall not be renting this place in the fall.
Finally, there is a bit of a distasteful back story to this house, which I will not get into here, that is definitely going to be in the mix of the looming decision.
Abu Tig will hopping by the time the Coptic Easter hols roll around on April 8th.  I doubt I shall leave the house that weekend, which may turn out to be the last one I ever spend in Gouna, as what I look for, most of all, in a place is a sense of tranquility.
Luckily I will be missing the upcoming goofy squash Masters tournament on the last week of April, the totally pointless 4×4 desert “rally” on May 10th as well as the desperately hep groovebeat Gouna Sandbox ’18, which is sure to fill the town with drunken foreign hopheads and young Egyptian hipsters acting as if they aren’t actually Egyptian as they bump for  a score.
With Hilton poised to complete the destruction of once pristine Mangroovy Beach, and construction about to commence on the fake hill towering over Abu Tig marina,  this town is about to get way too crowded.
gouna
oops
Just hope not too many will trip over the strips of wood on the primitively constructed bridge ramp that’s just been built in downtown Gouna, a structure that is too low to allow tourist buses to clear, which means that a favorite parking area for the cattle vehicles that bring portly Hurghada sun seeker geezers for a few hours to downtown stores and restaurants is now off-limits. Much to everyone’s relief, no doubt, it will still allow stalky, predatory, fume-spewing, beeping tuc-tucs to wingzing through.
I’m outta here in 24 days.
Soon thereafter, I’ll be back home in Florida, and will see my beautiful wife again after a three-month absence. The NY Jets picks third in the draft this year; Rosen or Mayfield are both ballers, and I will be happy with either one.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be wanting to watch the half-a-century-of-failure Jestonians again this coming season, now that they are about to nab their loooooong awaited franchise QB. Thirty-six days from now, on April 26th, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield will be a Jet. However, as a Jet fan posted on Jets Nation, Coach Bowles only likes vets, like Bridgewater: the older the better. If we draft a stud, I want him to play right up.
Yeah to that!
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