December 2016.Three splendid meals in the Highlands –
Biota & Bundanoon Guest House … plus a Chinese connection.
At the risk of being accused of spruiking I bring this to
the attention of friends and relations at the same time as wishing all a happy
and restful holiday period ahead.
Biota in Bowral
is almost my ‘local’.The formal
restaurant is beyond my normal budget so I usually eat in their front-of-house
tapas bar where a new menu is most impressive, now including some full meal
choices.The onion rings were the best I
have ever eaten.Top-notch ‘chips’ are
really baked potatoes with creamy sauce.Dory roe with home-made crisps (generous serving of both); fried chicken
wedges and pickles. All simply scrumptious. Other dishes included pasta, raw
king fish, leeks, kale and a cheese Mac with chips.“Somm” Ben Shephard knows his wines, local
and exotic (prices modest to mostest).He also does bespoke non-alcoholic beverages using botanicals.Chef James Viles continues to win prizes for
innovative food and exotic produce, some home grown on the premises and
nearby.The $64 question: can
vegetarians eat caviar?
Another noted Highlands chef Eon Waugh, late of Josh’s Café
and the Exeter Studio Restaurant has now taken over the dining room at the Bundanoon Guest House.And their first week has been a busy one with
many of his signature dishes in evidence – as well as some new ones.Double cooked gruyere soufflé, butter chicken
curry, mandarin duck and pate all exemplary.Even the bread and butter are special.A delayed alcohol licence might be considered a benefit (so ring to see
if you can bring your own). And enjoy in
moderation (or excess but rarely).
The Hong Kong
Restaurant in Moss Vale is producing authentic Cantonese cuisine seven days
per week and is great value.Try their
pork mince and green beans; roast duck and sour vegetables; black bean chilli
beef; fried dumplings … all excellent to my taste.
Kind regards, Andrew Byrne .. Burradoo via Redfern
Our second visit to Honolulu, Oahu, has been supplemented by a
side trip to the ‘big island’ of Hawaii where everything is indeed BIG!But more about that later.
STAR-WARS COMES TO WAIKIKI BEACH! On arrival at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel our first of many ‘gob-smack’
vistas was not in any of the guide books.Floating off Waikiki Beach and well out to sea was an enormous pillared
structure topped by a giant white ‘golf ball’.We had to do a double take to make sure we were not seeing things or suffering
vapours or jet lag ... but numerous photographs and a Google search soon
determined that this was a part of the star wars defense system for
America, originated under Ronald Reagan in 1983.Within and below the spherical colossus is
some of the world's most advanced radar and computer technology whose aim is to
rapidly detect the speed and trajectory of an approaching intercontinental
missile and then predict the exact re-entry location so it can be intercepted
and vaporised.As the concept was carried
through, and over two billion dollars spent on the recycled Norwegian oil
platform … yet the concept has been plagued by problems and the machine is
under repair here in Hawaii more often than being deployed near or facing
Russia, North Korea or other potentially hostile parties.A local air hostess told me that she sees it
in the Pearl Harbor area frequently.As
it was on the horizon from our hotel room window one estimate is that it would
have been 11km away.
Star wars radar afloat off Waikiki Beach
UNIQUE VANTAGE FOR WATCHING THE STARS - ASTRONOMY MISCELLANY
During our trip there were numerous 'firsts' for me including
seeing my own sign of the zodiac, Capricorn.Even from country Australia the Sea Goat is very hard to see, yet in the
tropics at this time of year the constellation is high in the sky as a distinct
triangle of multiple stars. Likewise,
adjacent Pisces and Aquarius are hard to see, neither having even one prominent
star.At least Virgo has Spica, a bright
sentinel star, while most of the other stars of The Maiden are very dim.Our star gazing was a part of a guided sunset
tour to the summit of Mauna Kea where the famous Keck Telescope is located,
along with numerous other observatories.Happily for our better viewing it was near new moon which is therefore the
first of the month in Jewish. Islamic and other lunar calendars and purely
coincidentally this year the New Year for both Semitic religions as well!). While the North Polar Star and 'Little dipper' were new to me, I was able to point out a few southern constellations for our Northern colleagues (German, Dutch and Portuguese). These included Pisces Austranis and the Eye of the Fish (Fomalhaut) along with Grus the crane.
Milky Way atop Mauna Kea (from NYT)
Summit Mt Mauna Kea - sacred trail to spot where man meets the Gods. Note most clouds are below us.
NEWEST LAND ON EARTH (SOME CREATED TODAY!) - THE BIG ISLAND IS MADE UP OF FIVE VOLCANOES
This entire island archipelago was formed by under-sea volcanoes,
evidence of which is to be found everywhere.Dotting the landscape are craters new and old, lava beds and flows, lava
tubes, peaks, gulches, ridges and more.Some volcanic features are new and obvious while others are in partial
states of weathering or in advanced decay, like the huge crater walls on the
east of Oahu.Some active regions seem
to have a long constant grade or slope which may go on for many
kilometres.Mauna Loa means ‘long
mountain’ in Polynesian, for the vast slopes it has created.I recall some similarities with the wonderful
Kintamani / Mt Batur volcano in Bali, happily long extinct.The Bali road goes through town after town, each
rising up in altitude until reaching the rim or the giant crater at the top, some
now creating an inland sea of sorts.
Eastern vent of Kilauea which has been erupting since 1983
Lava meets seawater.
Mauna Kea from Saddle Road.
TREES, VENUES AND FESTIVITIES
We have been afforded the luxury of seeing many of the most
dramatic features of these incredible islands in a user-friendly, pain free and
economical fashion.One learns about
volcanoes, lava and telescopes ... yet nothing could have prepared us for many
of the sights, experiences and vistas from this trip.Apart from palms, the islands were tree-less
when Polynesians first arrived over 1000 years ago.Banyan fig trees introduced from India in the
1800s grew in some high rainfall areas to become some of the largest on
earth.Likewise, the Monkey pod tree or
Saman has a unique habitus, being like a giant umbrella with pink spidery
flowers on its high extremities.The
Royal Hawaiian Hotel has grand examples in its gardens which are a focus of
attention for many private and public events in Honolulu since its opening in 1927 (the first was the Moana adjacent, built in 1901).We attended the awards ceremony for the Islands' best
restaurant and 15 entrants provided samplers of their signature
dish.Quite a treat for our
Banyan in downtown Waikiki (INSIDE) and shopping centre!
Monkey pod tree (Saman) in a cemetery north of Hilo.
Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu.
THE THREE MOST PROMINENT VOLCANOES ON THE 'BIG ISLAND'. We have been struck by the number of world records, especially
on the big Island of Hawaii which consists of 5 volcanoes in various states of
activity.Kilauea is the most southerly
mountain.After many years of inactivity
it erupted in 1983 and has been spewing lava, smoke and ash ever since.Even today the central bubbling ‘caldera’ and
surrounding enormous volcanic crater are partly off-limits at certain times,
especially the south side since the prevailing winds are usually from the north
and the fumes contain sulphur and can be very dangerous.The sight of this 3x4km chasm is awesome
indeed, and it is a comfortable 45 minute drive from Hilo.
Making up the bulk of the island are Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa,
both just over 4000m high.The latter
has been estimated to contain 75,000 cubic kilometres and is said to be the
most massive mountain on earth, so much so that it dents our planet’s
mantle.Mauna Kea would be even taller
than Mt Everest if one counts from its base in the Pacific Ocean.Mauna Loa erupted several times in the 20th
century while Mauna Kea has seen no eruptions since ~2400BC, the Egyptian
pyramid age (and maybe no coincidence!).It seemed like a safer bet
to place astronomical observatories on Mauna Kea, at least for the moment.The island is free of heavy industry, there is little
light pollution, it lies near the equator for viewing of both northern and southern
skies ... furthermore, the elevation is usually above the cloud line where the
air is much thinner, making images far clearer than from sea level telescopes.
The summit is a sacred site for locals and
there is a current dispute about the new 30 metre telescope which hopefully
will be resolved soon (perhaps with the removal or resiting of other
Andrew in front of Kilauea 'caldera'.
A guided tour up Mauna Kea is recommended although private
vehicles are permitted on the access road, as long as they have four wheel drive.At sunset the observatories can be seen to be
opening but they are not open to the general public without prior academic
introductions.The tour starts from
either coastal towns of Kona on the dry west side of the island or Hilo on the
east.The latter boasts amongst the
highest rainfalls in the US at 180 inches yearly.Both towns have regular flights to Honolulu and
occasional flights direct to the West Coast of the United Stages.
The climate changes from humid tropical to arid alpine in
less than 2 hours.The summit is almost completely devoid
of life and is so like a lunar landscape that this is where NASA tests some of
its equipment including the Apollo and Martian rovers.
Hawaii is an incredible foment of our angry earth, much of it still visible and active. On our last full day on the big island we drove to Waimea in the north followed by a loop back across the 'saddle' road between the two enormous mountains
Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.For the first
time near Waimea we had an uninterrupted view of Mauna Kea which is rather rare
as it is usually shrouded in clouds ... and wecould even see several of the observatories right on the pinnacle
we had been standing on ourselves just one day earlier!
Andrew and Allan at 700 year old 'fish pond' on Oahu.
Lava fields, steam vents and 'new' road partially destroyed. This is the newest land on earth.
Land where eastern vent of Kilauea continues to pour lava towards the sea.
In some areas the forest was spared with lava going on each side.
FLOWERS AND GARDENS DOWN TO CRASHING WAVES.
A private botanical garden just north of Hilo afforded a viewing of hundreds of orchids, antheriums, palms, spathophyllums, impatience, ginger flowers and much more besides.
Gecko lizard camouflaged.
RESTAURANT SCENE - AWARDS CEREMONY Some excellent food was sampled on both Oahu and Hawaii islands. We had the privilege of attending the annual "Hale 'aina" awards held in the lush gardens of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. 15 categories of food allowed 15 stalls for restaurants to provide samples of their signature dish for the (paying) guests. We also ate well at our 'local' near our guest house in Hilo: The Moon and Turtle Café/Restaurant. They had a small but adventurous menu including this fried 'akule' fish (a type of mackerel or 'big-eye scad).
Type of local mackerel at Moon and Turtle care in Hilo - highly recommended.
Andrew and Allan at the Azure restaurant, beach-side at Royal Hawaiian.
Crimson snapper with sprouts and snake beans.
Panacotta with basil puree, strawberry, sago and meringue pieces.
See red hot lava on right above Pacific Ocean creating huge steam cloud.
FINALLY A POLYNESIAN OAHU TOUR TO TIE UP LOOSE ENDS - "DONE" TOURS - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
We had the good fortune to be
invited on a Polynesian tour of the island of Oahu.Our host Kawika from Done Tours (pronounced
Dunn Tours) drove us away from Honolulu through a secluded and pristine valley
which unfortunately had become the entry of one of the three cross-island tunnels.What we saw all around us as we emerged on
the other side was the ruined half of a giant crater tens of kilometres across
with craggy high walls above us in the unmistakeable circular shape, albeit
truncated by eons of weathering.
We were given a detailed run-down
on the Polynesian cultures, each unique but all also related from an origin in
Asia more than 2000 years ago.Recent
evidence has disposed of the only alternative theory of South American origins
via Easter Island.Language, myths,
food-stuffs, navigation and many other features connect the Maori, Hawaiian,
Tongan, Fijian, New Caledonian and many other smaller cultures in the
mid-Pacific.We were told about the five
vowels and about a dozen consonants, including the inverted apostrophe in their
phonetics.The Hawaiian language has
made a resurgence in recent decades after being discouraged during most of the
20th century.The ubiquitous
accompaniments of the Polynesian people include the yam, chickens, pigs and
more. Hula dancing is taken very seriously although we leaned that the Ukulele was a Portuguese introduction (and means 'dancing fleas' in Hawaiian!). Debates continue about whether
the original people originated in Taiwan where Aboriginal people still use a language related
to the Polynesian.The alternative
recent theory is of spread from New Guinea through the Solomon Islands and
beyond.DNA evidence is likely to
resolve the issue as has recently been used (with some scepticism) for African
Americans to determine their much more recent origins.
Our guide had lived and
worked on the North Shore of Oahu which is home to the best surf in the world,
yet very little development has occurred.There is one large resort called Turtle Beach at Kahuku and a large
Mormon settlement with school and sports center.High above an ancient seaside town, Waimea Bay
was the last site of Royal human
sacrifices.It was said that King Kamehameha
I used this site for both sacrifice and warning of war on the last major island
which he had not conquered, Kauai.We
were told that one young child was groomed for the purpose and at the right
time to appease the gods a sharp wooden knife to the heart would cause instant
death.In addition, the large
rectangular site would be heaped with fuel and set alight so that the light
could be seen from across the sea and a return fire would indicate the start of
a war (which history tells us Kamehameha never prosecuted, guns traded for sandalwood
and a treaty agreed with the rules with Kauai’s leader's son being held hostage in Oahu).
We were then driven to the
coast to inspect an ancient ‘fish pond’ but this was no ordinary fish
pond.It was indeed serious ancient
aquaculture and probably about 700 years old.To enable flow of tidal water the wall had to be constructed of rounded
river stones and therefore brought from some considerable distance.Similarly, the stones for the large walled
sacrificial space on the top of the mountain were all volcanic rocks brought up
from the seaside by the priests who were the only ones allowed to be involved
in such sensitive work.These were both
huge undertakings, one very utilitarian in the provision of a regular supply of
fish, the other a religious purpose, like the construction of a cathedral in
Europe.I read about the use of these
fish ponds remnants of which are found all over the islands.There is always a balance of fresh water
running in from adjacent streams and tidal sea water and a delicate balance
allows the growth of particular seaweeds for the numerous species of
herbivorous fish popular with Polynesian chefs.
Driving back across the
middle of the island we passed some defunct sugar and pineapple plantations
while macadamias are so common that some locals believe that they are indigenous (they are native to northern Australia).We were told about the enormous numbers of
workers who were brought to work the old plantations, from Philippines, Korea,
Japan and elsewhere so that now there are many mixed race people and hardly any
full blood Polynesians just as full-blood Maoris are hard to find in New Zealand.We met numerous people who had Japanese,
Vietnamese, African American and European mixed with the native Polynesian
stock. And some still speak a Pidgin language developed in the fields.
This was the week of my major medical visits, three Met operas (one we
went back to a second time it was THAT good) as well as having two of my three
wonderful sisters visit the city.This meant
returning to some traditional tourist things like the Staten Island Ferry,
Irish holocaust memorial, WTC site, Frick Museum, Neue Museum, Rockefeller
Center, Macys, Bloomingdales and the ubiquitous “Century 21”.
Roberto Devereux at the Met saw American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sing
Elizabeth I, the third Donizetti queen (after Anne Boleyn and Maria Stuarda
earlier in the season).The performance
sent tingles up the spine, goose-bumps elsewhere and was altogether a return to
the golden age of opera.Sold out
houses, electricity in the air and applause more like at the football than the
opera.It’s on Cinema HD in Australia in
July so Aussie who like that sort of thing should line up.The opera’s finale rivals the ‘mad scene’
from Lucia with Sutherland.And that is
Food in New York can be disappointing, like the coffee.But with a bit of research both can rise to
the best of palates.One sister had
discovered an excellent Italian restaurant called Lupa just off Houston Street
while we went back to old haunts in JoJo’s and Jean Georges (Nougatine, Columbus
Circle).Another staple is Wu Liang Ye across
from the Rockefeller Center in 48th Street – great Sichuan food,
huge helpings and friendly staff (try the pork dumplings, beans and egg plant).
Jean Georges has been a treat for us every year for 19 years.And they continue to innovate and keep up the
standard as well as being good value for prix-fixe luncheon in the
Nougatine.One often sees people of note
there.We learned that Robert De Niro,
Sting and Bruce Willis had been there in recent days.Jean-Georges Vongeritchten himself was there
on two of the occasions we dined there.
Walking in Central Park is a pleasure at any time of year … but in early
spring with a colour parade of flowers, bulbs and buds one has to be
impressed.And the central fountain was
just re-commissioned for the year, spraying water from its bronze sculpted
centre into the enormous round walled pond surrounding.The cherry trees were just coming into full
bloom by the end of the week, making a marvelous display.
Other matters in brief: Air travel has up sides and down sides … drunk passenger
at JFK causes delay as his luggage is off-loaded (‘happens quite often’, says
hostess) … sick passenger with possible kidney stone … special precautions
about aviation medicine … stethoscope cannot hear, need to do radial pulse
blood pressure measurement … no blood urine test strips available … food
variable … A380 versus 747 outdated … Aussie versus o/s airlines (no
Columbia University student picnic day. Magnificent campus near end of term.
I had an interesting interaction with senior medical colleagues at
Columbia University Drugs and Society Seminar.I spoke on Managed Alcohol Programs (MAP) in which hostels for the
homeless, many of whom are alcoholics, allow or even serve limited amounts of
alcohol each evening.Published evidence
shows dramatic reductions in medical and social consequences when this is
introduced.Most important are lower
mortality and lower overall alcohol consumption.Yet I still had some nay-sayers in the
audience who believe in abstinence like a deity not to be questioned, in spite
of quite solid if still limited evidence of the benefits of MAP in our society
where homelessness is becoming more common.
I also had appointments at Rockefeller University, Beth Israel
and Bellevue Hospitals before my return to Sydney.
We had a great first week in the big apple although not at the pace we
once did.No museums yet although
Christie’s auctions of great masters and antiquities was far better than most
galleries … about 400 lots of unbelievably stunning works (http://www.christies.com/salelanding/index.aspx?intSaleID=25989
) .There were paintings by Fragonard,
Boucher, Corot, Bellini, Gandolfi, El Greco, Daddi, Botticelli, Mantegna,
Rubens, Van Cleve, Vermeyen, Breughel (I and II), Buonisegna, Guardi, Cimaroli
and many, many others whose names are less familiar to me.There was every style of European art
imaginable, portraits, religious art, still life, scientific, landscapes, agricultural
scene, archaeological subjects, etc, etc.I went back three times to gander at the offerings and was even tempted
to make a bid (a futile one, it turned out).
The first evening in town we stopped for a peek in the windows.But we realized that 49th Street
was closed off with pedestrians ushered across the road as a very fancy car was
painstakingly backed out of the showroom across the side-walk.Somebody said it was the original Batmobile but in fact it had been the
launch of Bugatti’s new sports car in partnership with Christie’s.We were told that they are only making 400
models, each costing over 2 million dollars!What are the poor people driving?[I learned that the original 1955 Batmobile
was actually auctioned for 4.6 million dollars and is now in Arizona]
Bugatti’s new model American launch.
The sale was highly successful but all accounts and our painting of
Mount Vesuvius, estimated at $8000 actually sold for $23,000 - I kid you not!!And the beautiful Egyptian hieroglyphic stela
which I would love to own and was estimated at 25k went for $161,000 !!¡¡!!I blame deep Chinese pockets competing with
the rest and pushing prices over the lunar crazy level.I had distantly thought that such a HUGE
auction might see people running out of money before the end.But not so!This IS the Big Apple after all.
In other respects, New York is New York.It was very cold, even below zero some nights.Always busy and not yet spring time people
still have that stern look, hoping for a break in the weather which came the
next week, along with blossoms, flowers and blue skies.I am still amazed at the animation and
diversity of people in the city.Almost
every subway car has someone who could be in the record books: tall, short,
fat, thin, hairy, ugly, gorgeous, noisy, etc.There are also those who travel one station and sing, recite poetry,
give a life story, etc and then ask for money.
I used to read (and
occasionally write to) Opera-L list-server and found it stimulatingly if
sometimes slightly irritating.Now,
however, I find serious discussion of opera seems subsidiary to goss and floss
which is very disappointing for a once lively forum.We saw two operas at the Met (Butterfly,
Elisir d’Amore) and a NY Philharmonic concert.I could have thirteen pages on the wonderful experiences (including an
elderly man's walker going missing during the intermission at the Met causing
minor pandemonium).One of the most
staggering stage performances I have seen since Sutherland days was happening
yet days went by with nothing on Opera-L.It seemed to have contributors buzzing with the crucial issue of the
hairlines of tenors - as if baritones and mezzos don't matter! – but one might add
that Sondra Radvenovsky rips off her entire hair-piece in the finale of Roberto
Devereux with devastating dramatic effect.But more about that magic opera later. And more later about our second
of three weeks in the city.
More than elsewhere, in New York many
things stay exactly the same year after year … but this time a few things have
After many years of decline, stagnation and
recession finally there are numerous interesting and important building
projects either underway or completed (see some photos below).The new Renzo Piano designed Whitney Museum
just opened and is another added reason to visit the ‘High Line’ garden walk
(see below).The Freedom Tower is now
officially called World Trade Center One … but it remains to be seen if the
name will stick.
For only the second time since 9/11 the
skyline has changed dramatically with the completion of a 96 storey square
white residential building on 57th Street and Park Avenue.It looks very out of place in up-town
shopping region where the only other comparable building was part of the Carnegie
Hall 100 year restoration project on 57th Street and 7th
Avenue.And the apartments are selling
from 7 to 30 million!It even makes
Sydney real estate prices look low!The
building can be readily seen from the air as well as from the roads around JFK
airport and well before the usual Manhattan skyline comes into view.In fact it needed Federal Aviation approval
it is so tall!At 425 metres high and
ignoring the spires, "432 Park Avenue" is taller than the Empire
State Building (380m) or the Freedom Tower (417m).And to my mind it does not have the
architectural merit of many other towers in New York and elsewhere.See photos below and media story about the
An impressive piece of modern architecture is
the new faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on West 59th
Street.The building comprises a huge
stepped atrium and rooftop grass like our Parliament House.These all connect along 59th Street with the
older buildings which front 10th Avenue near the Hudson River.There is also a feeling that the new fits in
with the adjacent buildings, both new and old.
Pecan pies seem like a favourite staple food
in New York and we have done a tasting, preferring the Fairways to the Zabars
this year (last year it was contrary-wise).
One hears Australian accents frequently,
especially at tourist destinations.In
my experience Americans are invariably pleasant, welcoming and inquisitive when
meeting Aussies.I hope we don't blot
our copy book or out-stay our welcome!The
Metropolitan Opera House has put on some wonderful works during April: see http://andrewsopera.blogspot.com.au/
The most common blooming tree in New York
streets is probably the Bradford Pear with masses of fluffy white blossom
currently, portent of the warmer weather which is starting.After the magnolias, forsythia, daffodils and
tulips come the last major spring glory the Japanese Kwanzan pink double cherry
blossom for which Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are rightly famous (see time-lapse
video on: http://www.bbg.org/discover/cherries
half way down their web page).
The subway transport system is a miracle a
century old but still going strong.While invented in London, the slick Manhattan version uses four tracks
for each line, one being express, stopping every 10 to 20 streets and the other
‘via local’ stops every 7 to 10 streets (there are 20 streets to the old
mile).However, the old rolling stock
needs attention and breakdowns are common with doors, lighting and even motors
breaking down at times causing delays.Nonetheless, it means that despite surface traffic, snow and other
impediments, the subway can usually take one from point to point with
efficiency and at modest cost ($2.75 per ride regardless of distance
Australians who have not travelled overseas
may not know that we are one of the few countries where pedestrians walk on the
left.Even in England people tend to
keep to the right.And revolving doors
and escalators usually go in the opposite direction from us.Another unnerving thing is that doors on most
public buildings open outwards in America due to changes in building codes
after a disastrous fire in a Boston nightclub in 1942 killing almost 500
people.Older Sydney-siders may recall
the Rembrandt Hotel fire which also caused a tightening of fire laws.So this is just another thing one has to get
used to when in America – apart from the language (don’t use ‘queue’,
‘fortnight’, 'footpath', ‘bookings’ or ‘zed’).
Manhattan streets (but not avenues) unfold an
extraordinary daily parking ritual to facilitate street cleaning.One side is cleaned on alternate days.The street needs to be clear when the council
sweeper passes by, yet with nowhere else to park and others keen to take any
vacated spaces a ‘parking dance’ goes on.To guard
their proprietary rights, drivers will sit in their cars from a certain time waiting
for the street sweeping machine to come.Then in succession they pull out at 45 degrees, blocking off the street but
permitting the council vehicle to pass behind them, cleaning the gutter
(imperfectly in many cases I have seen).Then in sequence the drivers reverse their cars back into their original space (or they try to).These unique Manhattan provisions are
‘suspended’ on religious and legal holidays, which is also very ‘New
York’! [some religions ban driving on certain days - but don't be surprised - it used to be illegal to hang out washing on Sundays in Australia!]
My medical contacts have taken me to the
origin of methadone treatment at Rockefeller University as well as to the Columbia University
Faculty House on Morningside Park, Bellevue Hospital Opiate Clinic, West Midtown Medical
Group (methadone, buprenorphine and general practice), Drug Policy Alliance,
New School University where I attended the NY State Psychological Society conference on the addictions and harm reduction interventions.I have been in touch with Ethan
Nadelmann, Ernest Drucker, Herbert Kleber, Mary Jeanne Kreek and many other key
players in our field of drug and alcohol treatment, research and policy. Heroin overdose is the major problem in the
US presently, reaching crisis proportion according to some figures.The present stimulant epidemic in Australia
was experienced in the US ten years ago and opinion seems to favour a multifactorial cause for the observed behavioural disturbances.One lesson which has (or has not) been learned is that cracking down on one drug with
legal sanctions often paradoxically causes increased harms, such as by encouraging the
use of other more dangerous drugs (eg. so-called 'synthetic cannabis').
While I am grateful for the welcome I
receive, it is somewhat discomforting to come to a place where profoundly poor
people are not given the most basic of needs and also where there is a
substantial underclass of people who are not citizens (‘illegals’ or economic
refugees).I would feel better if I
could contribute in a meaningful way to help such folk.The exodus across the Mediterranean is equally
shocking, thousands taking great risks while fleeing war-torn Africa and the
Middle East.One feels that the entire
western hemisphere has failed our fellow human beings in the third world.And worse, some actions of our governments
over a century have led to instability due to propping up artificial regimes
favouring the west rather than their own people.Now we have instability in Syria, Iraq,
Afghanistan, Palestine … and American drones just about everywhere with a murky
rationale for their extra-judicial killings (as long as the victims are not
American citizens).I will give a little
more (or a lot more if I am able) to Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Red Cross/Crescent.
From Andrew Byrne ..
Some examples of new buildings going up next to old ones.
31st Street, lower floors complete, upper still covered in orange plastic.
432 Park Street between 57th and 56th Streets.
Amsterdam Avenue long abandoned building project now completed. Next door is the new Lincoln Square Synagogue near 68th Street.
Old Sony Building 56th St and Madison Ave.
New construction on 34th St near Empire State Building and ?Lexington Ave.
Bradford Pears in flower in Broadway
Demonstration on 71st St about inadequate minimum wage in America