Fall Cleanup

I’m trying to remember spring cleanup, but with the way the weather was this past summer, it was hard to separate the two seasons.  Regardless, with the onset of colder weather prompting a change in Sofie’s wardrobe, and dogs being more inside now (with attendant vacuuming), it is definitely time to clean house.  Definitely before the season gets away from us, and the onslaught of presents at Christmas.

A lot of mental housecleaning, too.  Maybe not enough for a full column, but still worthy of pondering.

If the goal of the Bridge Street Parking plan was not to make money, but to discourage parking, it did.  If the goal was to discourage Lighthouse Beach attendance, it clearly did not.  If the goal of charging admission at beaches is to recover costs associated with maintenance (i.e. life guards, beach patrols, etc.), then there seems to be an amazing disconnect – revenue is down at Harding’s Beach because people want to go to Lighthouse Beach.

Harding’s is remote.  Lighthouse is close to town.  Harding’s has plenty of parking, and charges.  Lighthouse has limited parking, but has some Rube Goldberg system for out-of-town beach goers.  To maintain Harding’s takes a beach rake and life guards.  To maintain Lighthouse it is going to take $100,000 for a very involved beach patrol system.  And I, like many, many other people, would rather go to Lighthouse Beach even if not allowed to swim, than go to Harding’s and be able to.

So why not try to recover the cost of maintaining this very popular destination through parking fees?

* * *


There was a strong chord of dissonance sounded recently with rejoicing that the U.S. did not win the Olympic bid for 2016.  I say “the U.S.” because Chicago is, still, part of the United States.  I don’t care whose hometown it is, or what kind of political feather this would be in someone’s cap.

This is the Olympics, and the United States not only has every right to be considered equally – it is against our nature as Americans not to compete when given the chance.  But worse, by rooting against the bid, Americans were rooting against home field advantage for our athletes.  Never mind that our Olympic teams will now have to travel to another continent to compete, with their attending families – American families – having to bear the costs of overseas travel.

It’s about our athletes.  Anyone bother to ask them what they wanted before running down our Olympic bid?

* * *

Whenever Afghanistan jumps into the public consciousness again, I’m reminded of Rina Amiri.  During the winter I wrote my novel “The Bostoner,” I was up in Cambridge and Rina was one of my roommates.  She had been a member of the Afghan royal family that was forced to flee in the ‘70s, and had eventually grown up in the Bay area.  I recall a few conversations with this Kennedy School scholar about the then-new movement coming out of Pakistan – the Taliban – and her feeling she might never return there.  And I recall her idealism, on United Nations Day, asking me to support the United States, under Bill Clinton, refusing to pay the full dues in light of clear patterns of waste and corruption.

 It was probably a few short months after the U.S. invasion eight years ago that she did indeed return to help with the formation of the fledgling Afghan government and to especially work on women’s issues.  She’s written in the Boston Globe and been on NPR since then, which is always a kick for me to encounter.  And now, with the President seriously considering how to proceed in the region, I see she is now Senior Advisor to the U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

This has always personalized Afghanistan to me.  When you share a kitchen with someone, it makes it hard to accept that they cannot return to their country, under penalty of death.  You then take some pride that the intervention of your country allowed them to return safely to theirs, to work for the welfare of their brutalized countrymen and women.  More recently, however, a feeling of shame rises when we in this country, especially those who so value human rights, seem to willing to abandon a whole nation because a determined – but small – and violent faction is giving us the equivalent of a bloody nose.

It should not come as news to anyone claiming a broader international perspective that the work of the world is not done in a season or two.  There is no shame in abandoning governments we have previously allied with, but what of their people we asked to believe in America?

Are our ideals so malleable?  Are we so fickle?  Are we, in the final analysis, just tourists with tanks?

Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle.


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