Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,  This weekend is the start of the Fourth of July week celebration here in Sea Cliff. I am so looking forward to the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Village Green  and I would very much like to read something that will be in keeping with the day's celebration. Any suggestions?                     Fan of the Fourth

Dear Fan of the Fourth, My friend Bob Haim who is a great student of history  told me about a wonderful book that might be just what you are looking for….FOUNDING BROTHERS by Joseph Ellis. I enjoyed it immensely and I am sure you will too. The Founding Brothers were the  intellectual and political giants  of the American Revolution.  Ellis takes six events that he sees as defining moments for the new nation. Beginning with the famous Burr/Hamilton duel, he shows the underlying tensions and tenets that bound these men together but also tore them asunder. He describes in exquisite detail the secret  dinner  hosted by Jefferson and attended by Madison and Hamilton that determined Washington, D.C. as the  nation's capital . Benjamin Franklin stars in the chapter entitled "The Silence" in which the question of slavery's place in the new nation is quietly put aside- and Franklin silenced because of his abolitionist views.  The complex relationship of Adams and Jefferson is analyzed in the final chapter  where the two are reunited after years of  brutal hostility  and see each other once again as "brothers."  Highly readable and very informative, this book is a perfect choice for the Fourth of July week.

P.S. So many exciting things are happening over the next few days I am hard pressed to choose which to recommend but….  Thursday, June 28 at 7pm the beloved Sunset Serenade concerts begin and will continue every week through the summer. Sunday, July 1 at 11am is the First Annual Sea Cliff Pet Parade. Bring your pet and yourself to Memorial (Sunset) Park for a march down Sea Cliff Avenue. "Happy Birthday USA" will be celebrated Tuesday, July 3 at 6pm at the Children's Library with cake, song, and treats for all ages. And, of course, on the Fourth of July at 10am on the Village Green-outside the Library- the Reading of the Declaration of Independence with music, toys, drama,  and refreshments!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru, Sea Cliff Beach goes into its full seven day schedule this weekend and I am thrilled. There is no more beautiful place with its blue umbrellas, new pavilion, and sparkling sands-and I plan on spending many a day there reading and enjoying the sights. Do you have an exciting book to get me started?     #1 Fan of Sea Cliff Beach

Dear #1 Fan, I agree- Sea Cliff Beach has never looked better- thanks in no small part to Ann Koppel- Beach Manager Extraordinaire and Mayor Bruce Kennedy with his enthusiastic support of all things Beach!  And, yes, I do have a suggestion for your first beach read of the season: THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone. When Kate Moore and her husband Dexter decide to change the direction of their lives, they choose Luxembourg as their new home. Kate and Dexter both have been living lives of quiet duplicity and desperation. Unbeknownst to her husband and children, Kate has been a CIA operative for the last fifteen years, and Dexter's life too is steeped in mystery.   When the  Moores become part of a community of expats, all their secrets come back to haunt them especially when they are befriended by a rather imposing couple from the States who seem to have secrets of their own and a great deal of interest in  Kate and Dexter.  The book takes us for quick, scenic forays to Paris, the Swiss Alps, Austria, London, and Amsterdam with colorful details of shops, restaurants, and delicious meals abounding. While certainly a spy novel, EXPATS with its many plot twists, clever character development, and insights into the life of Americans abroad, is so much more.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,  I was at the great Red, White and Brass Concert sponsored by the Sea Cliff Civic Association and the Village of Sea Cliff last Sunday in Clifton Park. It was beautiful and while I was chatting with my friends Cee Wheeler  and Dennis Buckley,  someone said the next big Village event is the First Annual  Sea Cliff Bloomsday Walk. I had also heard this mentioned while I was on the Secret Garden Tour the day before.  Do you know any of the details and is there something I can do to prepare myself?                       Bloomsday Bon Vivant

Dear Bloomsday Bon Vivant,  I agree- it was a lovely concert- Phil Como  was the visionary that made it all happen- and yes, there will be a  Sea Cliff Bloomsday celebration this Saturday, June 16 at 8:30am (details are below).  Every  year around the world, Bloomsday is celebrated to commemorate James Joyce's novel ULYSSES which recounts in minute detail the events of June 16, 1904 as experienced by three Dubliners: Stephen Daedalus, Leopold Bloom, and Molly Bloom.  Joyce said " I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if one day the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book." It is not an easy book but certainly not as difficult as many would insist.  My favorite approach is to listen to it being read; Joyce was a talented musician and his prose is truly lyrical.  You can download it from Sea Cliff Library's website or borrow it on CD. Another approach is to follow a simple guide such as THE NEW BLOOMSDAY BOOK by Harry Blamires or ULYSSES AND US by Declan Kieberd.  Of course, Saturday's walk will be very illuminating and not to be missed!

First Annual Sea Cliff Bloomsday Celebration- meet at the Sea Cliff Water Tower aka Martello Tower on Saturday, June 16 at 8:30am for a walk through the pages of James Joyce's ULYSSES. There will be brief readings at each stop along  this Joycean jaunt which will end at Sea Cliff Beach aka Dublin Bay.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,  While jogging through our lovely Village, my  good friend John Kenny came upon a troupe of actors rehearsing at Spooky Park.  The play was Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and John  said it looked like a fine production.  Well, I am very excited  because Julius Caesar has always been a favorite  of mine. That the populace can so easily be swayed by  powerful oratory continues to fascinate me. Can you recommend a book that analyzes this phenomenon?   Piqued by Politics

Dear Piqued, Yes, I too find the politics of persuasion most interesting and I just finished a book that delves into that very topic. It is THE CANDIDATE by Samuel Popkin and  while he broadly addresses crowd manipulation, he focuses on  three presidential candidates: George H.W.Bush Sr., Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton and why all three lost public support.  Popkin  begins by spotlighting candidates who seemed surefire winners at the outset  (Thomas Dewey, Rudy Giuliani, Gary Hart) and then stumbled badly. He contrasts them with Ronald Reagan and his  amazing ability to win  the "hearts and souls" of the electorate. He compares challengers to speedboats that can navigate quickly with little or no waves and incumbents to battleships that must proceed slowly and cautiously but produce huge waves. From incumbents, the public looks for promises fulfilled  while challengers can get by simply with  promises of a rosy future.  For me, the most interesting  chapter  was on the public's seeming inability to vote in its own best interest when confronted with powerful, conflicting rhetoric. A very good primer for the upcoming November election!

Reminder: Sunday, June 10 at 3pm is the Flag Day Concert and Picnic at Clifton Park. This event is sponsored by the Village of Sea Cliff and the Sea Cliff Civic Association. Bring blankets, chairs, and lunch for a great afternoon!