Sunday, December 31, 2006

End of 2006: Don't Even Kiss It Goodbye

A cooper's hawk was wheeling above Pine Tree Park this morning when I walked the dogs. It would take three or four long wing flaps, gliding between each one, and then shoot along the face of a wind shear, wings extended, tail straight out, or it would catch a thermal and wheel around the cloudless sky. Seeing a raptor riding thermals always lifts my spirits. I can't rightly say why. It's not something I analyze, although I suspect that it is a glimpse into the sublime. A jolt of excitement accompanies each sighting, as if I were seeing a bird soar and glide through the sky for the first time, yet, paradoxically, it is also the thrill one gets on coming across an old friend at an unexpected time and place. Beyond that, the bird's mastery overawes me. Here is a performance artist of the first rank, literally creating in air a work of enduring beauty--endures, that is, as pure essence, in the mind of the beholder.

I'm a fatalist who believes omens exist only to be misread, but I'd rather see a hawk, especially a relatively rare one, on the cusp of the new year than not because I feel in my bones that 2007 will be better than 2006. It's been a wretched year to be sure, defined on the personal level by my fractured femur on Palm Sunday, attendant surgery and recovery--physical and mental--while also adapting, or not, to the vagaries of Parkinson's Disease. Late summer blew in metaphorically but not literally--we were spared hurricanes this year--bearing the word that a developer planned to plop an 128,000 square foot architectural monstrosity on a parking lot a block from our house. The old anarcho-syndicalist in me merged with the homeowner intent on protecting his primary investment to sound the alarm and organize the resistance, including a blog where readers who want to learn more can do so. In keeping with the nature of the blog as a sounding board for the neighborhood, I let anyone on who requests it. with occasionally curious results that show why editors were invented--self-invented probably. That said, I think of the Save Mid-Beach blog as an electronic wall set aside for graffiti and public announcements, in other words to let people sound off.

At year's end, an impasse exists. The neighborhood and city have told the developer that he must make substantive changes to his seven story design--that's a three-story parking garage surrounded by 7 three-story townhouses, with at latest count 35 condos in 4 stories perched atop, along with a pool---the whole resembling a mutant, top-heavy ferry boat. I'm not even going to count the broken air conditioner or the woeful state of health insurance or the scores of other subcrises that defined the year, I'm sure some people have prospered, and I say, Bravo! But nearly everyone I know is ready to push this one out the door.

Looming over everything, of course, like a toxic cloud befouling every aspect of our lives, is the horror of Iraq. I won't repeat my previous posts except to reiterate that the Bushies have stained the name and spirit of this country, have in their endorsement of torture brought the United States fully into the league of rogue states, and the Senate and House of Representatives are fully complicit, especially the Senate, for the members there could have filibustered the torture bill but did not. Barack Obama was one of those Senators who showed anything but courage. Anyone who believes that he is a different kind of politician, should recall that on the signal issue facing him in his Senate career to date, an issue requiring moral fortitude and political courage, Obama, like all of his colleagues, was AWOL. He voted against, to be sure, but he lacked the basic humanity to stand up in that chamber and say, 'This bill is so vile that it must not pass.' Senate Democrats now have no excuse for not working night and day to repeal that abomination and bring the Bushies to justice. I won't hold my breath. This country can't even pass universal health care for its own citizens, after all.

But the turn of the year provides at least the illusion of a new beginning, and that's enough to say good riddance '06.

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