Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday Grab Bag: F1 in Montreal; Housing for the Elderly; Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain; shootings in the Port

It's Friday, and this is the first Grab Bag in a very long time.

First up, Montreal and Formula 1. Yes, that's right, the cars and the drivers come to the North American continent this weekend to test their skills on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in that most wonderful French-speaking city on the St. Lawrence. I'm driving up through Vermont to catch the action on Saturday and race-day Sunday. I've got my Daniel Ricciardo hat from my trip to Austin, Texas last year with my dad, but I think for this race, I'll actually be rooting for Seb Vettel. Lewis Hamilton is clearly the most talented driver out there, but like many of my friends, seeing the German auto manufacturer Mercedes dominate is always a little nerve racking. Whenever the Germans dominate anything. Both Vettel and Ricciardo stand a very good chance of winning this race, but the Prancing Horse has its inimitable attraction.

Last night, I had the chance to attend a boisterous and fun event at Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly in Brighton. The place was started in the 1960s by some philanthropists seeking to house old widows being forced out of their homes by urban renewal. It’s since grown and morphed into a campus of buildings with thousands of residents — most of them either Russian or Chinese. The quality of the space is remarkable -- think mid-range hotel -- with lots of activities for all of them, such as dancing, ping pong, exercise and a library. The average annual income of a resident: $11,000. It is such an amazing example of affordable quality housing and community for the elderly. Wait list to get a unit: 8 years. (It's such a good model that Governor Charlie Baker went there to sign the state's housing bond bill.)

The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are sad. That's an obvious statement. Suicides later in life ask an additional question beyond, "why this?" That second question is, "why now?" This is not a false statement: a copy of Hamlet sits on my desk with its most famous of questions in all of English literature: "To be or not to be." But it's other famous lines that draw my attention:

Oh that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter. O God, God,
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't, ah fie, 'tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed.

Finally, in a blazon show of disregard for life, someone fired off multiple rounds in Clement Morgan Park in Cambridge on Wednesday. This is part of a pattern of shootings this year that may represent dangerous posturing in a turf war. Blessedly, no one has been hurt. Yet. It is June. The terrible truth is, this may spin out of control quickly as we get into the hot summer months. There is no obvious strategy for the police to employ in what may become an escalating tragedy of tit for tat.