Sorry for the hiatus. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the holidays, and taking a little time to do some sustained reading. (A few recommendations here.)
For the last few days, as I’ve been on my walks or bike rides, I’ve been trying to compose something akin to a blog-version of a Christmas card, one of those end-of-year recaps that folks send out around this time of year. It’s a tradition that I really love, though never actually manage to do myself, and I thought it might be a good idea to attempt one here.
The problem is that this year was so fricking crazy that I don’t know where to start. So here are just a few memories that stick out:
Watching oral arguments at the Supreme Court: Since my wife was clerking for Justice Stevens last term, I was lucky enough to attend a few of this biggest cases: Heller, Boumediene, and Medellin. It’s a truly remarkable thing to watch: intellectual combat at its finest with the highest possible stakes. If you’ve never been, arguments are open to the public. You just have to show up very early if it’s a big case. But I have to say, the big cases are the best because they tend to attract the best oral advocates. And when you get two top-tier lawyers, (say Paul Clement and Seth Waxman) it’s like watching a musical duel between Yo Yo Ma and Yitzhak Perlman.
A firehouse in Berlin, New Hampshire. We arrived at 2am on a frigid January night on the John Edwards campaign bus. The air had the thin, spikey quality of New England winter. We were greeted by two dozen Edwards supporters, many of whom had just been laid off from the nearby mill, which had, of course, just shuttered its doors.
Total chaos in a Vegas high school. I had the distinct pleasure of watching the first-ever Nevada Democratic caucus. It didn’t go very smoothly. Aside from the great color I got, I also was able to console my brother, who’d been a field organizer for Obama in Vegas, and whose efforts came up short that day. He’d have his day, though.
Watching Obama’s “A More Perfect Union”speech In my apartment on my laptop, with my dad sitting next to me.
Attending a green jobs conference in Georgia, where Bob Pollin got all his smart green infrastructure ideas.. Hosted by the wonderful ARCA foundation at the Musgrove plantation in St. Simon’s island, we spent three days brainstorming a green jobs agenda. The report that resulted has since become a major inspiration for the Obama stimulus.
My first game at Nationals stadium. Cubs lost, natch.
Co-hosting a book party for Rick Perlstein’s epic, Pulitzer-deserving masterpiece Nixonland at a bar in Brooklyn.
The wonderfulreadings at the Mills and Smith wedding. Our dear friends got married at the Humboldt Park boathouse in Chicago, a truly remarkable testament to what public space can be. Also: they rock.
The Atlanta Car and Bike Show. Big ups to the grassroots.
Orcas and Vancouver Islands Kate and I went there for a postponed honeymoon. An absolutely astoundingly beautiful part of the world. I camped for the first time in my life, and discovered, much to this Bronx-boy’s shock, that I really like it.
Invesco Field. As amazing as the speech and atmospherics were, my most memorable moment during my time in Denver was sharing an elevator ride with Muhammad Ali, Oprah Winfrey and Mary J Blige. When Mary’s entourage tried to push into the crowded elevator, which was already at capacity, a tussle almost ensued, but I yelled out “C’mon now, no more drama!” and things chilled out.(True story.)
Labor day at the RNC. Solidarity for as long as we can get it.
Sarah Palin’s speech in St Paul. Mostly I remember feeling this warm, almost searing, flush of blood to my cheeks when she went after community organizers. I thought I was ill or something, but then it turned out I was just really, really angry.
Election night. We all shall be released.
Switzerland. A week after the election I was a participant in a very lux junket to the Geneva, sponsored by the American-Swiss Foundation. I liked the Swiss, quite a bit, though they were far more reactionary than I’d ever previously realized. Also, my first five star hotel. They really earn that fifth star.
Thanksgiving At my house in the Bronx, where my mother cooks a feast and, along with my dad, provides cheer and hospitality that is simply incomparable.
The Nation Cruise. Another first. The highlight was meeting scores of the magazines readers (some of whom may even read this blog!), who, for much of the year, exist mostly in my mind as abstractions. I was deeply affected and moved by the diversity, integrity and soulfulness of the people I met on the boat. Thanks for being so awesome.
I was raised Roman Catholic, but haven fallen away from the church and religion generally. But if I have a bedrock article of faith, it’s a faith (and it’s just that, not founded in anything other than will and disposition) in our collective responsibility to each other and our ability to create institutions and laws that reflect those commitments so as to move ever closer towards a a more just, humane, and peaceful world. Just as faith in God is most acute and, perhaps, necessary at times of suffering or despair, so, too, is faith in people, most powerful and needed during times of misery and war. And my great pleasure as a reporter, one I cherish and for which I am inordinately grateful, is talking to people, and hearing what they have to say. It can, at times be dispiriting, or disorienting, but it is also fascinating, inspiring and sustaining.
“People,” the late, great Studs Terkel once said, “you just can’t beat ’em.”
Happy New Year.