Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blowing The Maritime Whistle

I'm sure there are many reasons that create grounds for divorce. I'm also sure it will impossible to track if whistling at another mammal has ever been the reason that a married couple parted ways.

This is one of those stories within a story. The over arching story is about how lying to the Feds is a handy way to ensnare someone into the maw of justice that otherwise might not happen on any other basis.

Think Martha Stewart. Not tried for insider trading, but tried for lying about it. A Colombian drug lord is arrested making a pay phone call in Jackson Heights when he doesn't tell the Federal agents his real name. Apparently, the practice has withstood court challenges that claimed the defendant was being penalized for refusing to self-incriminate. 

All the legalese aside, this story relates to the owner of a whale watch cruise who in the eyes of the Federal agency, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lied to agents and altered evidence regarding her captain who whistled at whales.

Whales apparently enjoy protection from being harassed. I think women are protected from harassment from being whistled and verbally abused by construction workers at work sites if they happen to catch their attention and generate primal maleness that leaves the workers' mouths in abusive forms.

Maritime males are not felt to be any different than construction worker males, but their abuse is of a wholly different definition as it relates to whales. It seems the captain of a whale watch cruise is alleged to have used the boat's whistle to attract whales closer to the boat so that the patrons could get a better look.

And how was the captain outed? The owner of the cruise boat says the now ex-wife of the captain went to the Feds and inquired if there was anything wrong with whistling on a whales.
Turns out there is, and the folks at the NOAA started to look into it.  The cascading effect of their interest has lead to nothing but problems for the cruise ship's owner, and apparently a divorce from a wife who may have known more about the rights of whales than her innocent inquiry might suggest.

I don't know what whales can truly hear, and how loud too loud might be. Through the magic of the Internet I do know William Congreve (1670-1729) wrote a play that contained the lines:

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

Living in that era, I suspect he was at least a passenger on a ship several times.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Some Thoughts on Joseph Alsop

The WSJ theater critic, Terry Teachout, has some thoughts on the play 'The Columnist' in today's paper. Mr. Teachout opens by saying that "nobody remembers Joseph Alsop now."

Not quite true. It is true you have to be buying your pants in the mail, or getting your Social Security checks automatically deposited into your bank account, but there is definitely a cadre of us who do remember Joseph Alsop, and even think about him now and then.

As a fledgling teenager I used to read the Herald Tribune in New York, (I honestly still miss that paper: news, sports and comics.) and used to read everything in it: Walter Lippmann, Joseph Alsop, the comics, the sports, Dick Schaap. I used to wonder who is Joseph Alsop that he appears to be running the country and why do so many people seem to seek his advice?

I knew nothing about his being gay, and likely wouldn't have been able to categorize his views, but I did detect power, or at least someone who gave that impression. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. said he'd rather "own" a senator, than be one. Opinions aren't really the commodity these people deal in: it's influence.

To this day, because of wondering about Alsop, I still wonder what do all the pundits, writers and talking-heads ever really accomplish, other than filling space and time with some utterances that are nearly instantly meaningless. H.L. Mencken was surely right, as pointed out by Mr. Teachout, when he said that of all his words they were nothing more than "journalism pure and simple--dead almost before the ink which printed it was dry." 

To paraphrase something E.L. Doctrow said of 'Catch-22' when Joseph Heller passed away, "they say fiction can't change anything, but it can certainly organize a generation's consciousness."

Perhaps this is what good columnists and commentators do. Otherwise, it's yesterday's paper wrapping today's fish, or a string of commercials, interrupted by blather.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Please Say It Isn't So

It was announced yesterday that over Elizabeth Taylor's dead body Lindsay Lohan was chosen to portray the Academy Award winning actress in a Lifetime made-for-TV biopic.

Lifetime is of course the tear-jerker movie channel, but how they can envision Lindsay Lohan playing the talented, lusty and busty Ms. Taylor might be the biggest miscasting in the history of entertainment. Lifetime is known for soap opera type themes, and Ms. Taylor's  life certainly had those elements. But her story is nowhere near the usual grief-stricken tale of the family whose dog was crushed in their driveway by a tractor-trailer that accidently pulled up to the garage door because of a bad GPS read-out. It was Avenue, not Lane.

The news story carried Lindsay's movie credits and Ms. Taylor's. No similarities were noted, unless of course Ms. Lohan's omitted role of Career Defendent on Court TV is considered. But when it is realized that Ms. Taylor easily had her share of judicial proceedings before moving on to the next husband, the miscasting seems to make just a little more sense.

No word yet on who is picked to play Sir Richard Burton, but it is reported Ricky Martin is interested.

God save the Queen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

She's Never Far Away

Economic summits appear to be be over for a while. The Euro crisis is giving way to other stories. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is yesterday's news, right? Wrong.

She is seen here with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at a trade fair in Hanover, Germany. Chancellor Merkel is pointing something out that might be a bit over the Premier's head. Another picture, that appeared in a print edition of the WSJ, shows Angela standing next to Mr. Jiabao, who is seen holding an invention of some kind, with Angela motioning with her left hand that's it's really 'that simple.' The invention looks like a detonator, but we'll assume it was ruled safe.

With France's President Nicolas Sarkozy campaigning in France for re-election, appearances with that head-of-state don't seem to be happening. Nick is now seen more often with his actress, singer wife, Carla-Bruni Sarkozy as he tries to brush back the challengers.

Angela is everywhere. If by baseball's All-Star break she's not seen in a seat behind the Yankee dugout with Mayor Mike, holding a copy of  the book 'Damn Yankees,' I'll eat a Smith-Corona typewriter ribbon, if one can be found.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Small Town USA

It was a fairly big story in a national newspaper for what all would agree is a $30 million question for a small town. In fact, the headline even says '$30 Million Dollar Question Stumps Small Town.'  When you absorb the story, you ponder an even bigger question: how does a town the size of Dixon absorb $30 million in embezzlement and not have the lights go out, never mind who did it.

The small town in the story is Dixon, Illinois, not Tampico, but Tampico enters into it.

The WSJ reported that the municipal finance chief of Dixon, birthplace of Ronald Reagan, was arrested and charged with misappropriating $30 million in town funds since 2006. Rita Caldwell is alleged to have siphoned money off to buy jewelry, maintain her farm for quarter horses, and acquire expensive vehicles, even if they were trucks.

I immediately knew they had gotten something wrong. Nothing to do with Ms. Caldwell, who as most fraudsters are, are often caught when they take a vacation (in her case an extended one, no doubt financed by the town) and someone else starts to wonder about what's now in front of them and why doesn't it make any sense.

No, the WSJ had it wrong that it was Ronald Reagan's birthplace, a fact they presented a correction for the following day. Mr. Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, an even smaller town 30 miles southwest of Dixon. In July 2009 Dixon's population was taken to be be 14,493: Tampico's 725.

And of those 725 people I can count at least several cousins, none of whom I probably ever met, even at this stage of my life.  As noted in a much earlier posting, my mother and her two brothers came from Tampico, with her oldest brother Howard having gone to the same one room school house as the young Ronald. There's a picture of the class and my uncle Howard, who I did meet, is in the center, with Ronnie off to the lower left.  Reagan's family moved to Dixon when he was still quite young, but his start, and earliest education, was in Tampico.

One of the cousin's I've kept in touch with, but never met, is a lifelong Tampico resident, as is the rest of his family. Thus, I've got roots in that rural community that comes up on MapQuest as basically large white spaces with a few lines running through it.

Reagan's start there is what the town is all about. Even to the point that my cousin Don sent me a photo of a mural he painted on the side of a brick building in town showing a presidential Reagan and First Lady Nancy hovering over a picture of the White House. Corny, maybe, but not a bad rendition.

Here in the northeast we might find it hard to imagine a full-fledged town that has only 725 people in it. While that never astounds me, having once been in Tampico in the 1950s, what continues to astound me is my cousin's address: 29965 35 E Street.

The house number exceeds the population. That may not be a $30 million question, but I've always wondered what the house next door, presumably 29963, or 29967 35 E Street, looks like.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's In A Name?

The obituary headline took me a bit by surprise. There were so many names, and hyphenated names in the person's name that I thought a company had passed away. "Maersk
Mc-Kinney Moeller, Dies at 98." Surely the plaque fell off the building where the famous law firm was housed for close to a century?

Of course this wasn't the case, but it was another case of realizing a somewhat familiar name actually belonged to someone who signed checks.  Ferdinand Porsche, Clarence Frank Birdseye II, people's names that have became part of the vocabulary. Anytime spent near a major port and the name Maersk could be seen everywhere, on ships, and containerized cargo, on trucks, anywhere where something was shipped and received.

And here's the best part, Maersk was the guy's first name, a Danish shipping magnate who ran a company started by his grandfather in 1904, the year my old high school was built. It's still standing as well.

Maersk apparently didn't go into the sunset after a longtime away from the company. He still came to work daily, even after resigning as chairman in 2003, and was at the company's board annual board meeting last Thursday.

He had a tradition of giving everyone in the world-wide company a piece of Danish pastry on July 13, his birthday. But perhaps counter to the adage that a rising tide lifts all ships, his passing was seen as good news on the financial front, as Maersk's shares rose 1.2%, retreating from a 5% gain earlier in the day.

Apparently, investors are hoping for a change in strategy that might produce more profits and less pastry. His youngest daughter, 63 year-old Ane Maersk Mc-Kinney Uggla is expected to take over as the chairman of the foundation that holds the majority of the shares of the company.

Ms. Uggla's name is even longer than his. The fate of Danish pastry tradition is not known, but if she lives as long as her father, in all great statistical likelihood I won't get to read her name in an obituary.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Aqueduct, Keeneland, Oaklawn Park

Win or lose, a day at the races is usually great fun, especially when a table of long-time friends who once worked for the same company get together and apply their very individual handicapping techniques to picking winners. On any occasion, any one technique usually produces some winners, and sometimes modest profits. Luckily for them, this quartet will never be confused with the one from the HBO series 'Luck.' Homes to go to that hold soap and razor blades are what they're about.

One of the individuals is a colorful character in the literal sense. His usual approach to the black and white print in the Daily Racing Form is to attack it with a variety of colored Sharpies, leaving the pages brightly hued with graphic analysis that somewhat resembles the USA Today weather map, or Tom Carvell's Cookie Puss ice cream cake. If no winners are picked, then we at least usually know if it might rain in Ohio.

This is the same person who believes numbers predict events, and that horses that share his surname, Bonilla, will win with the frequency of a champion. On this last theory this person has been proved right on more than one occasion when a horse named Bonilla would win at Mountaineer Park with such regularity and high odds that it was easy to buy the college textbooks for his two sons.

Perhaps this person is granted their good fortune because they observe the religious rituals of Lent, and annually abstain from making wagers. Once Lent and the Resurrection are finished, it's back to the window.

They also will have nothing to do with any horse that has the word 'Devil' in their name, or the Spanish translation of the word. And not just in the competing horse's name, but in their ancestry as well. This means their sire and grand-sire, along with the dam and dam's sire. The Daily Racing Form provides the ancestry information for each horse running.
A full card of 10 races was presented at Aqueduct race track on Saturday. Unacknowledged by Einstein is the theory that there is no faster time spent on earth than that in a bar, or that at the racetrack.  And since this quartet doesn't partake at a bar, time whooshes by at the trackside dining table.
After five and a half hours of trenchant analysis, color charts, and watching races, fatigue can set in. The modern racetrack offers simulcasting of races from all over the United States. On this particular Saturday the program literally lists horses from six United States tracks other than Aqueduct, and one from South America, the Hipodromo Chile, in Chile.

The quartet's tastes don't take to these perpetual action possibilities, but when there are two top-notch Kentucky Derby prep races from two different tracks, then attention will be paid. These happened to be the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland, and the Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn Park, both the 11th races on the respective cards.

But waiting even a few extra minutes for these to be held can light a fire of action agitation under some people.  Thus, color chart Bonilla took to assessing the field for the 10th race at Oaklawn Park, giving the 1-7 the exacta green light, Nehro and Yawanna Twist. A wager was made.

The televisions at the dinning tables positively stink at Aqueduct. They are so old and outdated it's a wonder they are in color and aren't confined to 'I Love Lucy Reruns.' If NYRA wants to goose the on-track experience they should get some new LED flat panel sets, or give everyone an iPad.

The antiquity of the TV sets, coupled with the glare, make them barely watchable. Thus, when the 10th race from out-of-state was viewed, after Aqueduct's own 10th race, Jose didn't realize, nor did anyone else at the table that he was watching the 10th from Keeneland. Not only that, Jose bet the 10th from Keeneland with his 10th from Oaklawn selections, 1-7.

After five and a half hours, tracks can pretty much seem alike, and Oaklawn and Keeneland on a TV you can't see, are similar. Also, the number 10 is a common number and appears nearly everywhere. So, watching the 10th from Keeneland we're treated to a stirring two horse finish that sees the 1-7 prevail as the exacta, and pays $78.60.

And the 10th from Keeneland is what Jose played, and pleased as punch that his selections ran to the exacta; that Nehro is a great horse, winning the race. I know, because he told me again in the bathroom.

Of course Nehro didn't run in the 10th at Keeneland, he was running in the 10th at Oaklawn, and when it was finished, ran badly.

Racetrack tickets are very precise. They don't pay off on your intentions, they pay off on what the ticket says, and Jose's, despite what's in his mind, is worth $78.60.

This is very good news. Money won is twice as nice as money earned, and money won by accident is better still.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

New York Yankee Pinstripes

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending one of those 'Author Talk' events, this one was held at the Ossining Public Library. More accurately, it was an 'Editor Talk' event, by Rob Fleder discussing his anthology by invitation book 'Damn Yankees,' a collection of 24 pieces from 24 writers about either their personal feelings about the Yankees, or a piece on a Yankee player, or owner.

Mr. Fleder was joined by the interviewer Bob Minzesheimer, of USA Today, who described himself as being raised in Brooklyn and a Dodger fan.  Mr. Minzesheimer was wearing a baseball cap, that quite honestly I couldn't readily identify because it was pushed back a bit on his head, and he was taller than I am.

It was a decent size gathering of folks who did not respond with any happiness or negativity to Mr. Minzesheimer admission of his Brooklyn Dodger fanhood.  Years ago an announcement of being genetically connected to Brooklyn could always be counted on to generate cheers and jeers. Being perhaps the second oldest person in the gathering I got a feeling the good folks of Ossining needed their GPS systems to tell them where Brooklyn was.  Even given that, no app on earth could give you a sense of what those Brooklyn fans were like. 

Ossining is a Westchester suburb famous for being the home of some writers and actors, and a New York state prison population housed in the "Big House" up the river, Sing Sing.  The Metro-North Hudson Division commuter line goes into a tunnel through the prison. How New York State has maintained a prison there for over 100 years, considering what value the land has that overlooks the Hudson River less than one hour from NYC, is surely another story.

Mr. Fleder, in his book's introduction, and his talk, gives a background story as to how the book was conceived.  When it was pointed out the baseball beat reporters seem to be absent from the book you got a sense from Mr. Fleder's answer that he was aiming for writing from more traditional literary sources, authors, vs. reporters, even though certainly, some of the assembled did write for newspapers. The fact that Mike Lupica is left out of the book is an unspoken advantage I think Mr. Fleder has, and that Dick Young is long dead is even better.

Are there still Yankee heroes?  Certainly, and to Mr. Fleder's credit he quite nicely points out that out. Underlines it, actually. Years ago I once read something Leonard Koppett (a NYT baseball writer) wrote in a Sunday magazine section devoted entirely to sports, that every fan has their Golden Age, a ten year period or so when their attention is so strongly focused on a team that it creates ever-lasting, deep-seated memories for them.

A few people in the audience were dressed the same as the zealot who recently killed the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Or, more accurately, they were wearing Yankee caps, as he was. This  proves a valid point: the Yankee reach is worldwide. It makes you wonder if the Yes Network reaches some with Arabic subtitles. It's too bad we can't find out what they might have understood about Phil Rizutto, or currently think about Suzyn Waldman.

Mr. Fleder points out other examples of the ubiquity of the Yankees and their logo. The power of pinstripes is part of the movie and Broadway musical 'Catch Me if You Can.' The Yankees are truly  the most storied franchise in sports history.

My own favorite example of proof of that is the picture I saw a few years ago, I think in the Wall Street Journal. It was one of those pictures that with its caption stood on its own. It wasn't connected to a an adjoining story.  The scene was a large group of Indonesian women demonstrating against their working conditions. They were striking 'sex workers,' each wearing a yellow Yankee cap with the famous logo.

I really have no idea how that turned out for them, but I didn't see any of them in Ossining the other night.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mike Wallace

Live as long as Mike Wallace, work as long as Mike Wallace, reamain in the public eye as long as Mike Wallace, annoy as many people as Mike Wallace, and when you go at 93 your obituary will land on the front page of the New York Times, albeit below the fold, but at least with a picture of yourself in color.

Aside from the '60 Minutes' work there are two segments of Mike Wallace's life I remember, one I wish I could get my hands on, and one I remember directly.

Somewhere in the ether of the airwaves I remember him interviewing Fiorello La Guardia, the three-term legendary mayor of New York City. Since La Guardia passed away in 1947, and I wasn't yet annoying people myself, my guess is I heard a replay of a radio interview Mike Wallace had done with Fiorello, my guess being after he left office in 1945. Of course, I could be wrong, but while Mr. Wallace perhaps couldn't have interviewed Julius Ceasar, he could easily have interviewed Fiorello La Guardia.

The second instance of a historical Mike Wallace was unearthed when I saw the documentary movie 'On the Bowery,' re-released in 2010 at one of those art house theaters. Reading about the movie I had read that Mike Wallace had interviewed the primary afflicted character in the movie, Ray Salyer, on his nightly show, 'Night Beat,' on April 24, 1957. The show was on Channel 5, from 11 PM to 12 AM. I somewhat remember hearing about the show in general, but certainly didn't stay up for it, even if the TV was back in the living room, freshly back from the TV repair shop where it spent the other half of its life.

After seeing the movie, I made a blog entry and revealed that a digital newspaper search of the very limited TV listings of the era did indeed include "Bowery denizen Ray Salyer" appearing on Mike's show 'Night Beat,' as well as "journalist Carl Rowan."

I wondered then, as I do now, if Mike remembered Mr. Salyer, who despite being offered a $40,000 Hollywood contract after the documentary didn't see any advantage to his new found celebrity status and disappeared back into the alleys, saying, "I just want the Bowery and to be left alone."

Of course, most of us remember something about Mike Wallace.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The War That Never Ends

If I ever gain anything from the occasional read of a British obituary, it's that they are pre-occupied with anyone who has any military connection to World War II.  As time marches on, they will someday have no one left who will have passed away who had any direct link with the war--militarily, or otherwise. The last survivor of the Titanic passed away before the coming 100th anniversary of that ship's sinking, and so it will someday be with World War II. The obituary pages might then shrink, but then I suspect anyone connected with the 1982 war in the Falklands will ascend to heroic status.

But until all this happens, we can take some delight in reading the British take on the passing of those so connected with WWII that they will never let anyone forget their part in it.

Take the recent British obituary @obitsman makes a Twitter referral to. It's for Jean Gerard Leigh, 88, who was the woman whose photography was used in a WWII espionage deception against the Nazis. A 1956 movie was of course made, starring Clifton Webb, titled "The Man Who Never Was." It's the sort of tale the British just can't get enough of.

Mr. Leigh's Telegraph obituary distinguishes itself on several fronts.  It's as much about her as it is about giving the background on how the Nazis were fooled. There's a hint of sex that seems to get dashed, along with some peacetime heroics by her husband in saving Queen Elizabeth from getting clunked in the head with an errant polo ball in 1971. At the time, this apparently was big news. There are no details of the British Clint Eastwood's derring-do that thank God saved the Queen, but apparently it was enough to keep the British tabloids from using the headline: "Crown Gets Crowned in 3rd Chukker."

Ms. Leigh's drinking habits and gardening abilities are mentioned. All round good stuff. She will be missed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's Far Worse Than We Thought

The picture to the right accompanies a story in the Business section of today's NYT that is headlined: "Greece Is in a Face-Off With Its Bond Holders."

The caption to the picture reads: "A market in Greece, which analysts say might give in to investors to avoid legal troubles."  Huh? A Greek clergyman buying what might be a sack of cherries in a fruit market that is labeled a hold-out, might come to its senses and give in to avoid legal troubles? Their economy has been held hostage by open air fruit markets? This is bad.

It took me several reads to come to understand what I'm sure the caption meant to say, but what came out rather ambiguously, given my tendency (and maybe that of others) to match the word "market" with the picture.

The clause beginning with "which" refers to the country Greece, possibly giving into investors over bond debt in order to avoid legal troubles. The "market" is just where the old guy is getting some fruit. And paying cash and not charging it.

This is the second such grammatically conundrum I've encountered in as many weeks. Maybe it's me? Daniel Okrent, in his essay appearing in the just released book "Damn Yankees," recounts the story of a 1973 survey filled out by Mickey Mantle that was meant to solicit a recall of "their outstanding event" at Yankee Stadium. This was to gather material to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the stadium.

Mr Okrent admits to owning a photocopy of a form filled out by Mantle on which he wrote: "I got a blow job under the right field bleachers by the Yankee bull pen."

I may not be the only one who has trouble digesting that statement because of grammar.

I'm sure this kind of syntax is called something. "Ambiguous referential antecedent clauses" maybe? I don't know. I invite any alert readers who might he out there to set the world straight and tells us what this is, and how do we keep it from infecting our prose.

Otherwise, reputations are surely at stake.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Some Like It Hot

It occurred to me the other day that there was a decade that was hotter than the 1960s in New York. The 1950s.

This thought hit me as I was browsing through the photos on exhibit at last week's Park Avenue Armory show for the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD). Many black and white photos, mostly from the usual famous fine art photographers: Ansel Adams, Weegee, Berenice Abbot, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, to name only a few. Seventy different dealers in nicely laid-out booths on the armory floor.

In one dealer's booth, not prominently placed on an inside corner wall, was what might be a familiar picture to some of us: Marilyn Monroe standing on a sidewalk subway ventilation grate in a scene from the 1955 movie, 'The Seven Year Itch.'

Marilyn's clothing was of the era--a dress. Marilyn was the era. At least the female movie portion of it. In the scene, she's catching a breeze from a passing subway train below the sidewalk grate. The breeze gently lifts her dress and cools her off, while at the same time heating up the carnal hearts of male viewers in the movie's crew, passersby, and eventually movie viewers.

I don't remember the gallery that had the photo, or the photographer that took it. It wasn't the usual full-front shot that is familiar to many, but was somewhat off to the side of Marilyn's left and slightly behind her. Nothing is lost because of the angle.

Besides an opportunity to show off Marilyn's legs, the point of the scene is to emphasize that it is so hot in the summer in New York City that a girl's got to get cooled off somehow, so standing on top of a subway grate waiting for a train to pass beneath is one way to accomplish getting cooler.

The movie is a comedy, a romantic comedy, I guess, that basically shows that air-conditioning, and the lack of air-conditioning during a New York 1950s summer can lead to adultery. If allowed to. It is hot out there, in there, and it's hard to get cool. It's a decade hotter than the 1960s.

It's a classic movie that takes place in an even then sub-divided New York brownstone, pitting an executive's (Tom Ewell) fantasies against reality.  I've always liked the movie, one because it reminds me of the time a neighbor asked my father if he had ever gotten the Seven Year Itch. I don't remember what my father told the neighbor, and at the time, I didn't understand the question one bit.

Another reason for liking the movie of course is Marilyn Monroe, who is still easy to look at. I can remember several women in the neighborhood who tried their best to copy her look. Sorry Mrs. Trampler, after the first, there is no other.

Marilyn is still missed. I was somewhere in puberty, progressing through being a teenager, when she committed suicide in 1962, and I still haven't gotten over it, despite being told by several that I should.

But certainly the most architectural reason to view the movie is that at the end of the film it gives you one of the few opportunities where you can see the upper level of New York's old Pennsylvania Station, as Tom Ewell races to catch a train to join his vacationing family in Maine, (where of course it is cooler), all the while clumsily carrying a half-wrapped kayak paddle, but with his virtue intact.

I miss the old Penn Station too.