Monthly Archives: August 2016

$3.99 a bag?

 

I took a long walk this morning. A beautiful summer day.

On the way home, I stopped at a Stop & Shop supermarket.

I was about to buy two bags of Wise Ridgies potato chips. I did not look at the price.

I put them on a scanner at checkout and the price popped up on the screen: $3.99 per bag.

A price of $3.99 for a bag of chips?

I left the bags on the counter and left the store without buying them.

This got me to thinking about inflation and how outrageous it is. I seem to notice it most with the prices of little items.

I know it’s a topic about which there’s really nothing to say. Everyone already knows about it and experiences it continually.

But …

I was discussing the same thing with a friend the other day.

My friend was telling me that he has been feeling pressure recently to earn money because his spouse wants to purchase an expensive car.

I wrote thusly in an email him:

A “sinkhole.”

But, you know what? It seems like no one nowadays has enough $$$.

I’ve given up trying to keep track of or control expenses.

Breakfast in a diner in Manhattan is over $20 and a can of soda or a small bottle of juice usually costs two bucks and sometimes more. A medium sized coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts is over two dollars.

A hot dog from a street vendor in Manhattan costs three dollars.

T-shirts in New York City department stores are priced at thirty dollars each. (My wife often manages to buy them cheaper on sale.)

The newsstand price of the Sunday New York Times is five dollars.

It got me thinking about various comparisons between now and then. For example, I recently went with a friend on a two week trip to Spain. The hotel prices were cheap by US standards, usually around $150 a night.

But I recall when my parents took me to New York City for a trip that I have never forgotten in 1953. We stayed in the Edison Hotel in Times Square. (It is still there.) A room for the three of us was four dollars a night.

 

— Roger W. Smith

      August 7, 2016

 

Roger W. Smith, “war horses, Andy Williams, Leonard Bernstein”

 

Yesterday was a stressful day for me. I bought a desktop computer, a “lemon,” and wanted to return it. I had to lug it back and forth to the computer store in a big box using public transit.

After much aggravation, I got my money back. It wasn’t easy.

On my way home in the evening, being hungry and tired, I had dinner at a Thai restaurant in my neighborhood.

There was a CD on of all-time favorite songs. The singer, I am certain, was Andy Williams. He did a great job, really did the songs justice. He sang them simply and clearly, with just the right amount of emotion, songs like “Canadian Sunset,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “Never on Sunday,” and “The Exodus Song.”

I was enjoying the music greatly and thinking to myself, gosh, I really like some of those war horses! I guess everyone does.

Maybe I was just emotionally exhausted from a stressful day and anything would have soothed me.

One of the songs that he sang was “Maria” from West Side Story. It moved me and I was thinking about a brief discussion I had had re Bernstein a week or two ago at a restaurant in Manhattan with a friend, an emeritus professor of English who, like me, is a music lover.

I was prompted to write my friend a follow up email this morning:

You know, I have never made up my mind about Bernstein.

I never liked him as a conductor. As a composer, he was nowhere near to being a Gershwin, as you pointed out.

He wasn’t great. Yet, take West Side Story. Some of the music really does get to me and always has. Yet, at other times the whole thing seems corny and trite and the music itself a little too clever, a bit too _____ (what?).

I don’t know.

Bernstein had — I think the best way to put it is — a touch of genius.

I think he should have devoted his life just to composing.

 

— Roger W. Smith

     August 5, 2016

early morning light, Queens, NYC

 

 

photographs by Roger W. Smith

 

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I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a great photographer (my niece Alison B. Smith is), but I love — am fascinated by — the quality of light on a summer morning, whether it’s in the city or the country.

Today, I made a point of going for a walk very early to see if I could catch the early morning light.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

       August 4, 2016

 

 

 

 

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My Manhattan

 

 

Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately and
admirable to me than my mast-hemmed Manhatta

 

Walt Whitman

 

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photographs by Roger W. Smith