September 12, 2011

" Heart of a Soldier " Opera, About Rick Rescorla, Opens

Let me speak of Risk Rescorla.

Born in 1939 in the village of Hayle, Cornwall, England. Among his earliest memories were those of US troops preparing for the D-Day invasion.

A natural leader of men, he chose the life of a soldier. He joined the British Army and served in Cyprus, then in present day Zambia, Africa.

He later emigrated to the USA. As soon as he could, he enlisted in the US Army. He quickly became an officer, and as a young lieutenant, was a patrol leader in some of the nastiest fighting in a very nasty war.

Rescorla was known for great personal courage in the battle of Ia Drang. In the highlands of Vietnam, he raised the spirits of his men by singing Cornish and Welsh songs. He had great compassion for his men, for the wounded and the dying.

That's a young Lt. Rescorla on the cover We Were Soldiers Once, and Young. The co-author of the book called Rescorla "the best platoon leader I ever saw"

Rick Rescorla, Vietnam, 1965

Fast forward.

An older Rick Rescorla is the head of security at Morgan Stanley. In Two World Trade Center, some floors below where I worked.

Rescorla warned the building management in 1991 that the building was vulnerable to a truck bomb that might be planted in the unsecured basement parking garage. They didn't listen. In 1993, the building was hit with a truck bomb in the basement parking garage.

Later, Rescorla, on the advice of his great Army friend Dan Hill, is led to believe that the building remained a terror target, and that the next time the attack would come from the air. He asks his employer to move to a low rise building. They refuse. The lease won't expire until 2005.

Rescorla does the best he can. He puts Morgan Stanley employees through up to four full scale evacuation drills every year, where they had to walk down up to 70 flights of stairs in an organized, floor by floor fashion. The stockbrokers hated the hassle. This type of frequent, full scale drill is completely unheard of in NYC.

When the plane hit the nearby One World Trade Center, building management announced that Two World Trade Center was secure, that they everyone should stay put. Rescorla ignored these instructions, and instead ordered a full scale evacuation. More than 2000 Morgan Stanley employees marched down the stairs, two by two, first one floor, then the next, then the next.

When the plane hit Two WTC, he kept his charges as calm as he could. " Today is a proud day to be an American," he said over his megaphone. As he had done in Ia Drang, he sang to his people to keep them calm - " God Bless America ". And his much beloved songs from back home. " The White Rose " and " Men of Harlech"

Men of Harlech, stop your dreaming
Can't you see their spearpoints gleaming
See their warrior pennants streaming
To this battle field

Men of Harlech stand ye steady
It can not be ever said ye
For the battle were not ready
Welshmen never yield

He got nearly every one of his 2700 men and women out. Except himself, his security team and one or two others. Afraid that someone had been left behind, he went back up. His body was never found.

I first read of Rescorla in this article in the New Yorker which I couldn't recommend highly enough.

There are many other articles about Rescorla, many quotes from his US Army comrades and from his Morgan Stanley co workers which back up everything said here, and more.

Today, we are on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the attacks, of the day when Rescorla got his people to safety.

Saturday, in San Francicso, Heart of A Soldier, a newly commissioned opera, will open. It's about Rescorla.

And about courage, duty, of the love and loyalty for soldiers for one another, these and other themes could make for a great story. I hope that the San Francisco Opera pulls it off.

From the hills rebounding
Let this war cry sounding
Summon all at Cambria's call
The mighty foe surrounding

Men of Harlech on to glory
This will every be your story
Keep these burning words before ye
Welshmen will not yield

August 29, 2011

Bay Ridge Bike Path, After the Storm

Bay Ridge Bike Path, 530pm today. Strong, glorious winds, and waves a bit stronger than normal.

Right after I took this, the path was reclaimed by the usual bikers, runners, and rollerbladers.


R train ran normal today at 6am.

July 02, 2011

Illegal Key Food Sign on Third Avenue!

You gotta be kidding!

Here, an advertising sign extends all the way over the Third Avenue sidewalk and is attached to a city light pole.

I believe that breaks at least two city ordinances - since you can't hang advertising banners all the way across the sidewalk, and you can't use city poles for your advertising.

I like the 69th St. Key Food - I shopped there today - but this sign must go, now!!

May 25, 2011

Check Out My Internet Radio!

I'd been hearing about these things for a few years. A couple of weeks ago, I bit the bullet, and bought a Logitech " Squeezebox " internet radio.

This " internet radio " is a radio that doesn't pick up stations the normal way. It picks them up in streams from the internet via an Ethernet physical connection or via your Wi-Fi signal.

With internet radio, you are no longer limited to what is likely a lame selection of local stations. Almost every " over the air " radio station puts their signal on the internet now without charge.

I've played around with internet radio for maybe ten years, via the computer. But the advantage of having a dedicated " internet radio " is that it works even when the computer is off, at any location in the house, with a very good quality audio signal.

I recommend this device - especially if you want to get a get a broader music selection than your crummy local station offers, or someone who wants to follow the news, especially the news from another part of the world.

It's really easy to set up and use - and makes a great present for an older relative who wants to hear the sounds of the " old country "

There are six preset stations. My current selections:

  • RTE One, Dublin
  • BBC LW
  • Deutsche Welle News, Germany
  • WFUV New York
  • KPOA Hawaii
  • WWOZ New Orleans

I recommend this product, which is available on Amazon or at quality stores such as J&R.

May 01, 2011

Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden

They got him.

Nearly ten years ago, my city and my country suffered the worst terrorist attack in world history.

This unspeakable act impacted people from all over America. Even if you were from a small town in say Alabama, miles away from the attacks, it was as though it was your family who had lost somebody. Because you had. This was personal.

Today, US forces have finally delivered justice to the man responsible for the destruction of the building I worked in, as well as the other atrocities done on September 11, 2001.

Let's take a moment to honor those who died nearly ten years ago. And to remember how very grim it was that day.

God bless the US Military, including the Special Forces, and the CIA, FBI, and our brothers from in Britain and many other lands, and all in the Obama and Bush administrations who played any part in bringing Obama to justice this day.

The mills of God grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.

God bless America.

April 01, 2011

R Train Service Cancelled on Nights and Weekends

( Bay Ridge News Service )

The MTA announced a new series of service cuts that are to take effect immediately.

Of special interest to Bay Ridge / Sunset Park residents is that the R train will no longer run between the hours of 10pm - 6am Monday - Friday, and that it will not run at all Saturdays or Sundays.

" We are dealing with an unprecedented financial state of chassis " said Mayor Bloomberg at City Hall. " Someone has to pay the price. They need to suck it up. Besides, my kind of people don't ride that train during those hours "

City Councilman Vincent Gentile, reached at Circles restaurant vowed to restore the service. " Not everyone has a car " he said. " This is so unfair, especially after they reduced the Express Bus service last year "

State Senator Marty Golden was promising to organize a sternly worded petition. " This isn't the end of this " he said to the Home Reporter.

February 20, 2011

" Oh You Pretty Woman " , Willie and the Wheel

I like Willie Nelson, and for a quarter century have been a huge fan of the Western ( Texas ) swing band Asleep At The Wheel

The other night I caught Austin City Limits, the great live music show from Austin, Texas, and caught 'em singing together.

The show was killer, from a joint album called Willie and the Wheel. It's got the boys and the girls, and righteous fiddle players, and even a New Orleans sound which I never heard before from them, and I do believe I will be buying this CD soon.

Sorry I've been AWOL a bit. See you in ten days or so.

January 03, 2011

( Edited - see below ) Incompetent Bloomberg Administration to resume Alternate Parking Tuesday

The City, who along with the corrupt Sanitation Unions, has screwed up the aftermath of last week's snowstorm to a fare-thee-well, is stating on 311 that Alternate Side Parking resumes this Tuesday.

Many parking spaces remain unavailable due to snow. The premature resumption of Alternate Parking will cause unnecessary traffic congestion and frustration tonight and tomorrow. They will make a bad situation worse.

I hate to say it, but it looks as though Bloomberg and his administration doesn't even care anymore

- - -
330pm - The City has decided to suspend Alternate Parking regulations for Tuesday as well. Well they could have made this announcement this morning, but better late than never

- -
There will now be a federal investigation of the illegal union slowdown during and after the snowstorm ( NY Daily News )

Sanitation workers destroyed headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn during a belated cleanup of Bay Parkway ( Sheepshead Bites )