Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Out With the Bad, In With the Good?

Out With the Bad, In With the Good?

For those of us who remember eagerly waiting for Santa’s visit down the chimney, we must also remember one all-important question – have we been naughty or nice?

Of course, in my youth, that question was not at the top of my mind. My house didn’t have a fireplace and I knew the chimney went straight to the furnace, so I was always afraid for Santa. As I got older, though, I became less concerned with Santa burning to a crisp, as long as his elves put my bike near the tree.

But, for those who had less creepy Christmas memories, were you, indeed, naughty or nice?

I ask this because it seems like it is becoming harder and harder to find “nice” in these heady days of the Great Recession. The partisanship in Congress, the political gridlock, the increasingly slanted news, the Red State-Blue State crap and, especially, the blatant elitism, religious prejudice and outright racism toward a certain head of state makes it hard to believe there are still nice things in the world.

In fact, I think we may have temporarily solved our dependence on foreign oil because I imagine a lot of people will be heating their homes with all the coal they should be getting in their stockings.

Anyway, the real reason for my rambling is that I began to wonder if we shouldn’t write so much about the bad things and try to focus more on the good things.

I got the idea from my trip to and from Boston on Amtrak.

On the way up to Boston, I was able to take some spectacular video of the Blue Ridge Valley at dawn. I posted it on FaceBook and got some wonderful comments. I thought the early morning views of the hills and farms more than made up for the dilapidated buildings and boarded up row houses that greeted the train’s entry into Baltimore.

(For the record, the passage through Mystic, Connecticut is just as nice).

On the return trip, however, we left Penn Station on time at 2:15 p.m. That meant we’d be passing through the Blue Ridge Valley at night when you can’t see anything. Bummer. Wanting to take some video of something, I went with the approach to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

Talk about a downer. I thought I was seeing post-war Berlin. Burnt out buildings. Ruins. Boarded up houses. Gang graffiti everywhere. Wrecks of human beings trudging down cold streets.

I actually thought I was in New Jersey until we passed through the North Philadelphia train station. I couldn’t imagine Bruce Springsteen including this part of town on his “Streets of Philadelphia” montage.

I actually thought someone should pass a law requiring cities to at least make the neighborhoods along the tracks at least half-way presentable. Visitors to places like Philly, Baltimore, D.C. and Newark might get the wrong impression (or maybe the right impression) after seeing those kinds of sights.

But, then, I digressed. Weren’t the holidays approaching? Isn’t this the time to wish peace on Earth, good will towards men?

Okay then.

While I may have had conniptions at seeing the war zone-like condition of North Philly, I will, instead, highlight the North Philadelphia Blackhawks, who just won the national Pop Warner football championship in the 120-pound class at Walt Disney World.

The feel-good tone comes from the fact that they didn’t have the money to go. But, Michael A. Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, did the right thing and got local companies and organizations to give money to the people for a change. He got the team’s expenses covered so that the Blackhawks could go. They thanked him by winning it all.

Maybe there's hope for politicians after all.

Happy Holidays.


  1. Greg,
    A politician and a random act of kindness and forethought? I would almost consider it a huge character flaw.

    I guess I do believe in redemption and I hope that one day our political processes can heal so we can talk about things in civil, intelligent words and respect each other and our differences without resorting to name calling. I'm not sure whether or not we've seen the best of times or the worst of times.

    Or maybe Dickens got it right, afterall.

  2. Hey, Greg! You just reminded me... I seem to recall being driven through a bit of Philly once upon a time (around 1991, I think). I do remember thinking where on earth was I! I know who I was with. But that is another story! :)

  3. I'm late with catching up reading and what do I see? Another Jersey slam! Damn that stings.

    But I have to agree with you on the sights one sees when traveling - I think people judge these cities on where most people would never care to live - with a railroad or airport in their backyard.