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A Dream Come True

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Acadia National Park

I’ve admitted my affection for the New York Times’ weekly “Vows” feature in its Sunday Styles section. How can one not love each of the short tales of true romance? I prefer the ones about ordinary people to the ones about sons and daughters of the rich and famous. And I don’t enjoy reading happily about two commoners, only to discover halfway through that one is the grandson of a prominent Wall Street banker or granddaughter of a Hollywood power broker, with assorted famous colleagues in attendance at the wedding. Commoner or aristrocrat, though, the bride and groom’s tale is always told with such style, a style so memorably parodied in the mock Vows column of Claire Messud’s novel The Emperor’s Children.

Yesterday, I was going through the NYT Weddings/Celebrations section online to make sure I hadn’t missed any of the columns (or the equally wonderful weekly videos) while we were away, only to stumble inadvertently on today’s tale. I prefer not to read Vows online, waiting to open the Sunday paper. But when I saw the name “Rockefeller”, I couldn’t resist. I just had to know what Rockefeller it was. (No problem this time, of course, deciding if the bride was a commoner, or getting tricked when I thought she wasn’t. If Ariana Rockefeller is getting married on Mount Desert Island in Maine, you know she’s a real Rockefeller.)

Ariana, as it turns out, is David Rockefeller’s granddaughter, John’s great-great-granddaughter. She grew up spending summers on Mount Desert Island.* I don’t want to spoil your own enjoyment of today’s Vows installment, so I won’t say much more. Suffice to say, it’s not easy when a local boy falls in love with a Rockefeller.

Two more points. I couldn’t stop myself from breaking out in laughter when I read this line: “Days of swimming in the ocean followed nights of stargazing in each other’s arms.” I mean, really. And check out the accompanying slideshow. Are those Nantucket reds Ariana’s father is wearing as he escorts her at the wedding? I need them for sure. (See my recent comments on Nantucket red here and here. I bought the shorts, but not the trousers. Or the yarmulke.)

*In case you don’t know, the island was home to many of the wealthy a century plus ago. The website of Acadia National Park tells the story well.

For a select handful of Americans, the 1880s and the “Gay Nineties” meant affluence on a scale without precedent. Mount Desert, still remote from the cities of the East, became a retreat for prominent people of the times. The Rockefellers, Morgans, Fords, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, and Astors, chose to spend their summers here. Not content with the simple lodgings then available, these families transformed the landscape of Mount Desert Island with elegant estates, euphemistically called “cottages.” Luxury, refinement, and ostentatious gatherings replaced buckboard rides, picnics, and day-long hikes of an earlier era. For over 40 years, the wealthy held sway at Mount Desert, but the Great Depression and World War II marked the end of such extravagance. The final blow came in 1947 when a fire of monumental proportions consumed many of the great estates.

Though the affluent of the turn of the century came here to frolic, they had much to do with preserving the landscape that we know today. It was from this social strata that George B. Dorr, a tireless spokesman for conservation, devoted 43 years of his life, energy, and family fortune to preserving the Acadian landscape. In 1901, disturbed by the growing development of the Bar Harbor area and the dangers he foresaw in the newly invented gasoline powered portable sawmill, George Dorr and others established the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations. The corporation, whose sole purpose was to preserve land for the perpetual use of the public, acquired 6,000 acres by 1913. Dorr offered the land to the federal government, and in 1916, President Wilson announced the creation of Sieur de Monts National Monument. Dorr continued to acquire property and renewed his efforts to obtain full national park status for his beloved preserve. In 1919, President Wilson signed the act establishing Lafayette National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi. Dorr, whose labors constituted “the greatest of one-man shows in the history of land conservation,” became the first park superintendent.

Categories: Journalism, Writing

Sara Smile

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Thanks to a piece yesterday on NPR, I am now aware of Daryl Hall’s free monthly web show, Live From Daryl’s House. And I wasn’t even listening to NPR yesterday morning, so I’m all the more lucky. I just happened to open the NPR app (it’s really good!) on my iPad and start scrolling through their recent music pieces. There it was, a story about Daryl Hall, the newest one.

Over the course of the interview with NPR guest host Robert Smith, Hall talked about how he brings guest artists to his house in “upstate” New York to play with him and his friends; the influence on him of Smokey Robinson; the portion of episode 9 in which he plays Sara Smile with acoustic guitarist-singer-songwriter Monte Montgomery; and the loss of his best friend, music producer, and fellow musician T-Bone Wolk (the long time bassist for Hall & Oates).

As a decades-long closet Hall & Oates fan, and fan in particular of Sara Smile, I could hardly wait to watch episode 9 of Live From Daryl’s House. Sara Smile is the next-to-last song they play. Part of the background to this choice of song is that Monte Montgomery (I hadn’t realized this) has developed a reputation for his own version of the song, as he and Daryl discuss. It’s easy to find on youtube and I’m embedding it below.

The excerpt of episode 9 containing the Sara Smile segment is also available on youtube; you can see it at the top of this post. I’ve watched it a couple of times now, and when I do, I can’t take my eyes off the guy between Montgomery and Hall. He is, of course, the late T-Bone Wolk, singing background vocals and doing a masterly job of complementing Montgomery on guitar. There’s a good appreciation of him here, written just after he died at the end of February.

I have my work cut out for me trying to catch up on past episodes. My first priority is episode 22, with Smokey Robinson. By chance, driving home Friday, I had on some soul station on XM satellite radio and they played The Tracks of my Tears. Smokey is such a genius; I paid special attention in a lame attempt to make sense of that genius. A further coincidence: Hall & Oates are playing right here on Wednesday night! Not Seattle, but a bit south at the Puyallup Fair, which essentially functions as the annual state fair for western Washington. Should I come out of my Hall & Oates closet and attend? We’ll need to decide fast. The best tickets are already gone.

Categories: Music

Farrar-Cavendish

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment

The photo above says it all. There’s local boy Tyler Farrar winning the final stage of the Vuelta a España today over Mark Cavendish (in green, to the left of the photo). I’ve written many times in my Tour de France posts about Cavendish, the awesome Manx rider who has dominated the sprint stages of the Tour de France over the last three years. Farrar may be his closest challenger. Farrar won two stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia, but was injured early in the Tour de France. He regained his strength near the end, but couldn’t beat Cavendish. In the Vuelta, Cavendish and his team won the opening time trial, and Cavendish won three late stages, thereby securing the overall points jersey, but as you see, Farrar won today’s ride into Madrid, having already won one of the early stages.

Farrar is 26 years old, Cavendish 25. Their rivalry will be worth watching over the next few years. I wish them both good health so they can compete at their best.

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Note: It’s not really my goal to be too obscure. As a bit of a primer, let me explain that there are three “grand tour” races in cycling each year, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España. Each lasts three weeks, with daily stages taking a variety of forms — long races with several mountains climbed along the way, long but relatively flat races with the top sprinters able to stay near the lead and then fight it out for the stage victory, individual time trials, team time trials. Sprinting specialists such as Cavendish and Farrar try only to survive the mountain stages so they don’t have to drop out of the tour and are thus able to compete for victory in the flat sprint stages. By surviving, they are also able to compete for the title of best sprinter of the tour, which is based on acquiring the most points for high finishes (and high standing on intermediate positions of flat stages) each day.

Also, my calling Cavendish a Manx rider refers to the fact that he is from the Isle of Man.

Categories: Cycling

boringoldwhiteman

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Two days ago, Joel asked me why I chose “org” as the suffix for my blog URL — ronsview.org — when I started it two years ago. Why not ronsview.com? I said I viewed “com” as suitable for commercial companies. He countered that I’m not an organization. Well, yes, that’s true, I admitted. Maybe I should have chosen “net”. I don’t know that there really is an appropriate choice. Maybe “ro”, the suffix for Romania, since it’s the start of the blog name.

Joel next questioned my choice of blog name altogether. His proposal: boringoldwhiteman.com. I have decided to create a poll allowing you, my readers, to tell me which name you prefer. In fact, I have created the poll. I just can’t figure out how to embed it in this post or have it show on my blog’s front page. I’m working on it. If it ever shows up, feel free to vote. See below.

One more thing. I’ve grabbed the URL ronsview.net and linked it to ronsview.org. If you can’t remember my URL and type “net” instead of “org”, you’ll still be taken to my blog.

Categories: Blog, Family