December 7th, 2004

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Brief Power Outage

Woke up at 2 AM to discover that the power was out in our building. Checked our "test" clock to find power had gone out at 1:35 AM or so. Called NSTAR to be told that they were working to fix the problem.

Power restored 2:07 AM.

Good night.
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This Day in History, 1993

As long as I'm up...

We all know what December 7th commemorates. (At least, I hope you do..."a date which will live in infamy," as President Roosevelt said.)

Howevever, other events took place on this day as well. And I remember this one because I was living in New York City at the time...

Long Island Rail Road Shooting

Colin Ferguson opens fire on a Long Island Railroad commuter train from New York City, killing 6 and injuring 19. Other train passengers stopped the perpetrator by tackling and holding him down.

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A few interesting follow-ups from that incident:

1. Ferguson was clearly not playing with a full deck, as evidenced by his behavior as his own lawyer. I remember a lot of people asking the psychiatrist who interviewed Ferguson how he could possibly have declared Ferguson sane. His reasonable reply was that he never said Ferguson was sane; he said that Ferguson was competent to stand trial, meaning that he did possess a clear understanding of right and wrong.

2. Long Island nurse Carolyn McCarthy lost her husband Dennis in the shooting, and her son Kevin was partially paralyzed by a shot to the head. McCarthy ended up running for Congress as a gun control activist. She continues to represent New York's Fourth Congressional District, and just won her fifth term.

3. While Ferguson was on trial and in jail, somehow or other he ended up calling NYU Law School, where my younger brother was a student at the time, and was connected to him. Still not sure how or why that happened.
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Pete Hamill Reading

Tonight, gnomi and I went to hear writer Pete Hamill speak at Brookline Booksmith. Hamill is a native New Yorker whose current book, DOWNTOWN, is a history and memoir of Manhattan. He has served as editor-in-chief of both the Daily News and New York Post, and is in many ways a quintessential New Yorker.

I first met Hamill on January 30, 2003, when he signed his novel FOREVER. At the time, I had emailed him to ask if he remembered my father, because Dad and he had worked at the Dialy News at one point during the same time. Hamill asked me to bring photos to the reading, and when I showed them to him, he said, "Yes! I remember this guy."

Tonight, Hamill remembered our first meeting. I was very moved.

His talk was hilarious. He told the story of A.T. Stewart, the guy who invented the department store and how his remains were stolen for ransom, and the widow refused to pay because, as she told her lawyer, "My husband's already dead!" He also said the following two things, transcribed by gnomi:

On how fast the city changes:
"You come back and find your favorite coffee shop has become a Starbucks -- a member of the Axis of Evil, with Victoria's Secret and The Gap."

On listening to a Chinese immigrant playing an Eastern tune on an unfamiliar string instrument -- Hamill eventually realized that the musician was playing the blues for all the immigrants in the history of New York City:
"I wanted to give him a hug. I gave him a dollar...which in New York is like a hug."