DEBATE | Baldwin and Buckley, 1965

Waiting for Mrs. F. to get home last night, I had a drink and watched Martin Scorsese’s “Public Speaking,” a documentary on noted New York wit Fran Lebowitz.

Another Morris County native, Lebowitz shares her introduction to the American intellectual conversation with Scorcese — speeches by the author James Baldwin. Scorsese then cuts to the seminal 1965 debate between Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge.

Baldwin and Buckley undertake the question, “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?”

Baldwin’s answer to the question, which he described as hideously loaded, is one of the great speeches of the civil rights era. And Buckley, of course, is Buckley in all his erudite glory.

It is, naturally, a remarkable debate. Baldwin and Buckley are simply joys to listen to. It’s also a bit sad, as such a debate would probably not be possible in today’s America.

Here’s a clip of Baldwin’s performance:

The library at Berkeley has digitized the entire debate.

ESSAY | My Sept. 11

I wrote the following thinking I’d submit it to The Hill News, but I ultimately decided against it. My readers here may enjoy it:

By Ed Forbes ’02

St. Lawrence is not really fully in gear, in my experience, until noon and as news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon broke, much of the campus was just waking up.

News organizations were still adjusting to the Internet and I recall most students following the story via television reports. My roommate, Matt Lavin ’02, and I were living in a suite with Tim Furnary ’03 and Leif Skodnick ’02. All of us were on The Hill News and I was the editor.

Lavin was watching “Today” when Matt Lauer broke away from an interview and footage of the Trade Center appeared at 8:51 a.m. I was in the shower and he shouted in that a prop plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Of course, it wasn’t a prop plane, it was American Airlines Flight 11. By 9:03, when United Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, it was clear what was happening.

We immediately tried calling Carl Juers ’99, a good friend who was working as a trader for CIBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Juers was based in the World Financial Center and so, too, was Skodnick’s father, Joel. Telecom infrastructure was swamped.

On campus, word of the attacks spread by word-of-mouth. Few Laurentians had cell phones in 2001 and, if they did, they didn’t work anyway. Students in 8:30 classes emerged from academic buildings to a landscape of rumor, hyperbole and fear.

Just as classes changed, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. I had left our room and had gone up to the Noble Center to see if any murmurings about canceling classes had been heard form Vilas. Craig Harris, a member of the Student Life staff, and I watched footage from Washington. Not long afterward, Lavin and I went to the President’s Office to see how St. Lawrence would handle the attacks. Classes went on; the University was to gather for a vigil at 8 p.m.

Counseling staff set up a center for students to grieve. At noon, the Bacheller Memorial Chime rang 12 times to honor the victims. The Rev. Kathleen Buckley, just arrived as University Chaplain, led her new flock through the evening service of compassion.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, after having established that both Juers and Mr. Skodnick were safe — both had fled northward from Ground Zero and Juers had witnessed Flight 175’s impact and the horrific scene of bodies falling from both towers, we set about publishing The Hill News for Sept. 14.

Lavin wrote a main story that detailed the University’s reactions. We carried a two-page photo essay comprised of images taken our imcomparable photo editor Dustin Williamson ’02. Every member of the Editorial Board wrote his own editorial or column, which we published on pages 2 and 3. The big get, as it were, was an interview I did with Juers, who relayed his horrific experience. Further inside, we ran a list of alums who had reported themselves as safe in both Washington and New York.

We would know for sure that five Laurentians — Robert J. “Bobby” Coll, Catherine Gorayeb, Christopher Morrison, Michel A. “Mike” Pelletier and Richard H. “Richie” Stewart Jr. — until after the paper went to bed.

Steve Knight ’12, editor of The Hill News today, asked me earlier this week if I worried then or now about a ROTC ad that appeared in the Sept. 21, 2002 issue of the paper. At the time, The Hill News supported itself significantly on advertising revenue and ROTC was likely under contract before the attacks. Even so, “United We Stand” were the watchwords that week and really for the rest of the semester. Every student organization, it seemed, was doing something patriotic. American flags were everywhere. There was seemingly a genuine unity — among students, at least.

When my parents, northern New Jersey residents, came to campus at the end of the month for Parents’ Weekend, they were shell-shocked. Canton hadn’t received the full barrage of coverage that the metropolitan market had and my understanding of how badly the attacks had altered so many communities became instantly clearer.

As the fall wore on, my class made plans to erect a monument to the Laurentian victims of the attacks. Our foray into Afghanistan grew into a real war. Our coverage of these events was certainly green at times and maudlin at others. The opinion pages, in particular, grew crowded with debate about the war and American foreign policy.

When the spring semester opened, that debate continued in earnest. The government department sponsored a February panel that examined the media’s coverage of the attacks and the American response. Fred Exoo, John Collins and Karl Schonberg all shared memorable perspectives. Student sentiment against the war on terror began to grow and fully blossomed in the 2002-2003 year.

Vigorous conversation about the attacks and the American response went on to define a decade and a generation. Some Laurentians were called to national service while others gave themselves to activism. We should be glad of both.

As a journalist, Sept. 11 has been a constant. Over the last 10 years, I’ve had a hand in stories about troop deployments, peace vigils, soldiers’ funerals, charity events and tolerance. Even now, we at The Journal News are putting the finishing touches on a special section that includes vignettes about each of the 230 victims who had connections to Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

It’s a story we’ll never stop covering.

TRAILER | “Downton Abbey,” Season 2

Hap tip to Will Briganti, who passed along this trailer for the second season of “Downton Abbey” earlier today.

“Downton,” which you may have seen on PBS earlier this spring, chronicles the fictional family of the Earl of Grantham and was the brainchild of Julian Fellowes, the auteur behind “Gosford Park.” While British audiences will get the second season on Sept. 18, we Yanks have to wait until January.

Take a gander. And, for what it’s worth, the first season is available on iTunes.

UPDATE | Back in the saddle

bathroomWe’re nearing the completion of the renovation of our guest bathroom, one of the many distractions that’s kept me away from regular blogging here.

I’ve been quiet for too long.

It’s been a busy year. I’ve been consumed by our new home, 67 Grandview Drive in Mount Kisco, and by writing a centennial book for Mrs. F’s family business.

With Labor Day passed and the book put to bed, it’s time to blog again. I will confess that I don’t honestly know if I’ll ever be able to keep up with my 2008-2009 pace here. I’ve tried to mimic that sprint on North Toward Home, my Tumblr, but I don’t think it’s comparable as I don’t do much writing there.

Still, there’s lots to discuss. We’re just completing a renovation of the guest bathroom and will be rebuilding our crumbling excuse for a driveway in the next month or so. We’re still drinking, so the cocktail reports will return. I’m still concerned with art, style, literature, ocean liners, “Mad Men,” matchbook, the 1960s and other leisurely pursuits. Reynolds will probably be firing weapons soon, so we’ll have reports about that. I might be able to cajole other contributors like the Brothers Briganti, Leifer and Maxie to take a turn from time to time, too.

And there will always be jazz videos, though YouTube’s embedding codes no longer seem to work in the player queue. I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I hope Sarge Shriver has kept you good company.

FRONT PAGES | The demise of Osama bin Laden

Newspapers (or at least those whose press deadlines weren’t extended to accommodate the news) across the land heralded the news in Monday’s editions that a U.S. Navy SEAL-led strike team killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday in Abottabad, Pakistan.

Reaction to the story led today’s papers as well. Here are galleries of front pages from Monday and today:

And today:

FRONT PAGES | The Royal Wedding

The cover of today’s edition of The Times.

So, as you might have heard, there was a little wedding at Westminster Abbey Friday. Prince William of Wales, newly styled as the Duchess of Cambridge, took Catherine Middleton, a commoner, as his wife.

Here’s a little selection of how today’s newspapers played the story-book wedding:

FRONT PAGES | Mubarak steps down

Quite obviously, I’m a few days late presenting this gallery. Still, I thought our readers might like to make sure we’ve noted the momentous news from Egypt.

Here you are:

FRONT PAGES | Mubarak may step aside

Though the situation in Egypt is considerably less clear than it was last night, major newspapers around the globe led today’s print editions with news that Hosni Mubarak pledged to step aside as president in the fall.

Today, pro-Mubarak demonstrators are trying to engage opponents in Cairo’s streets. We’ll see what happens.

Here’s a gallery of today’s front pages:

WHEELS | 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster

CrosleyHotshotFormer New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster, left, on display in the Coach Barn at Kykuit.

Last fall, as I wrote here, Mrs. F. and I spent a very nice afternoon at Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in Sleepy Hollow. Among the many treasures there are Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive car collection. Displayed alongside the massive midcentury behemoths the governor used while in office is a 1950 Crosley Hotshot roadster.

The car, a charmingly-designed convertible that looks more like a dune-buggy than anything else, was first introduced in 1949. Rockefeller’s is a 1950 model. Time magazine has called the 1,100-pound, 149-inch car one of the worst cars of all time, writing:

What killed the Hotshot was its engine, a dual-overhead cam .75-liter four cylinder, not cast in iron but brazed together from pieces of stamped tin. When these brazed welds let go, as they often did, things quickly got noisy, and hot.

The Hotshot was manufactured until Crosley Motors ceased to be in 1952. The company had been founded in 1939 by Cincinnati industrialist Powel Crosley, who made his fortune manufacturing radios and owned the Cincinnati Reds. With the help of his brother, Lewis, he launched Crosley Motors in 1939. The cars enjoyed some popularity during World War II as they were relatively fuel efficient. After the war’s end, the line expanded to include sedans, wagons, coupes and roadsters. At its peak, in 1948, the company sold nearly 25,000 vehicles manufactured at two plants in Indiana and one in Ohio.

Crosley owners included Omar Bradley, Humphrey Bogart, Pamela Harriman, Gloria Swanson, Frank Lloyd Wright and Rockefeller.

FRONT PAGES | State of the Union, 2011

President Obama’s State of the Union Address, in which he veered his agenda to the center of the American political spectrum, outlined a strategy to solve the employment crisis and called for national unity in the pursuit of better, leaner government and greater innovation and education, made newspaper front pages across the land today. Here’s a gallery:

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