9/11 – Twenty Years Later

There are several points in US history that are “fixed points,” dates and events which become so embedded in the minds and hearts of the people that they become part of our universal consciousness, whether or not we experienced them ourselves. July 4, 1776, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. December 7, 1941, the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, “The Day That Will Live in Infamy.” November 22, 1963, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And September 11, 2001, known simply as 9/11, when foreign nationals who had trained here in America, who bypassed airline “security,” hijacked four American jetliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a field in Pennsylvania. The entire world stopped. On that day 2,983 Americans died, including 343 Firemen, 60 police officers, and 8 medical personnel – not counting the people who died from breathing in all the toxins released from the burning rubble. If you remember the day, you remember exactly where you were when you heard about it. People stayed glued to their TVs for days, hoping beyond hope that someone had survived the horror. So many people knew someone, or had ties to someone, who died that day. A friend of mine at Morgan Stanley by chance happened to be sent to a meeting at a different office that morning. Every one of his coworkers died. My husband’s cousin was just blocks away on her way to work when it hit, and wound up having to evacuate her apartment.

This year is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a somber day for reflection. An entire generation has now grown up in a post-9/11 world, knowing the date as something only in a history book, no emotional ties to the day at all. Millions of New Yorkers are new to the city, with no experience of the unity the catastrophe created. Perhaps this is the most important memorial yet. 

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum at 180 Greenwich St. in New York City will be holding a ceremony for the families of the victims on that day. There will be six moments of silence, one for each of the tragedies that happened. Churches are encouraged to toll bells. The ceremony is private, but the museum will be open to the public from 1 pm until midnight. At sundown, the annual tribute in lights will commence. 

9/11 is a day that is going to be with us for a very long time, whether you remember it or not, whether you had any connection to it or not, whether you care about it or not. It’s still hanging over us, a Damoclean Sword we cannot take our eyes from. 

To honor the date, Cheshire Public Library invites you to share your 9/11 memories through our 9/11 Reflections project. As we approach the anniversary date, we are compiling the stories of local residents – where they were, what they remember, how they were affected that day. You can click on the link here, or pick up a paper form at the library. Select stories and photos will be displayed on our website on September 10. The deadline for submissions is September 3.

Be considerate about the date, even if you feel it doesn’t affect you. Hold that moment of silence, if not for the past, but for the future, that we – or anyone else – won’t have to suffer such an attack again. 

To learn more, check out some of these books and films:

Inside 9/11

Fahrenheit 9/11

In Memoriam: NYC 9/11/01

Zero Dark Thirty

The Only Plane in the Sky

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11

The 11th Day

The Looming Tower

Kill Bin Laden

A Nation Challenged

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope – book review

No matter what you read lately, whether it’s political, economic, or even comedy relief, the concept of a national divide keeps popping up. It seems there is nothing that we’re not crabby about – which song got the Grammy, whether poodles are better than dalmatians, whether corn counts as a vegetable or a starch. Umpteen books have been written on the divide of “liberal” vs. “conservative,” urban vs. rural, prosperity vs. lazy poor, criminal drug abuser vs. victim of Big Pharma, and into that mix Nicholas Kristof throws out an excellent one, called Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.

Kristof grew up in rural Yamhill, Oregon, a White, conservative town of 1100 people. More than a quarter of the kids he went to school with died of drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents caused by drugs or alcohol. Why did he make it out in one piece, while his friends died slowly of alcoholism, often homeless most of their lives? Why did families lose 3, 4, 5 kids to drugs and alcohol? Why did some do fine?

To keep it real, Kristof explores people in similar situations in places like South Dakota, Oklahoma, New York City, Baltimore, and more, bastions of poverty and drugs in the U.S. What he finds is the same issues, handled differently – humanely – makes a world of difference. In places like Oklahoma, the entire penal code is stacked against poor people. Indigent and need a free legal defender? You are then arrested for being indigent, and fined for your arrest. Now you’re in debt to the state. So you are sent to prison for being a debtor – even if it’s only ONE dollar! Now you have more fines added. People are released from prison – private, for-profit prisons, of course – with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from a mere $25 parking ticket. Can’t make the payments on your fines? Back to jail, and more fines. It’s a gerbil wheel of punishing the poor – even though intervention programs can save $10 of tax money for every dollar spent.

And of course, once you have a felony conviction, you can’t get a job. So people turn to selling meth and heroin. And get convicted, and can’t get hired, and get homeless and depressed and turn to drugs…. Over and over and over. Why are Mexicans taking the jobs from under-educated poor white people? Because the Mexicans can be counted on to show up for work, and aren’t drunk or stoned.

Kristof narrows the biggest issues down to two: One is education. Most of the people he knew didn’t graduate, had parents that barely made it to 8th grade, and grandparents who might not have made it to fifth. If you come from a home where there are no books, no magazines, and no expectations of further education, it’s harder to succeed. He explores one family where the mother had a 5th-grade education, and five children by four different fathers. When the first was expelled from kindergarten twice for behavioral issues, she – with a fifth-grade education – decided to home-school her kids (5 under the age of 6). How much of a chance do those kids have?

The second predictor of success was coming from a two-parent home. If you had two parents – and usually two incomes – you had a much greater chance of being successful. Single mothers with a trail of children left those kids in chaos. More than one child entering Yamhill kindergarten was described as “feral.”

Kristof also explores the programs – often started by those who had had enough – that give people just the right boost, whether it’s paying those $1 legal fees and freeing people from prison or getting them a job or housing or a drug treatment program. Such programs are a lifeline for the people involved, and often get them on the track to permanent success. Unfortunately, many of the government programs to do just that have been eliminated in recent years.

The book is easy to read, informative, and does not preach or even really point fingers. It’s careful to present only facts, though the family situations and the culture of violence surrounding them can be maddening. Despite the grim realities, the book ends up on a positive note. This is one to put on your To Be Read list, and check out these other titles in similar vein:


Hillbilly Elegy
The Left Behind
Evicted
White Trash
Dimestore
Dreamland
Chasing the Scream
Detroit
Broke, USA
Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America
Survival Math
Nickel and Dimed

 

What’s up all you cool cats and kittens? Books for those craving more Tiger King!

You, like many others across the world, just finished watching Tiger King. The Netflix docuseries just launched on March 20th, and it’s already taken the world by storm. The series received acclaim from critics, and according to Nielsen ratings, was watched by 34.3 million people over its first ten days of release, ranking as one of Netflix’s most successful releases to date.

The series follows the larger than life character Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, and his sprawling zoo, the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Joe has quite the history, with the law and with other big-cat owners. He twice unsuccessfully ran for public office, first for President of the United States in 2016 as an independent, and then for Governor of Oklahoma in 2018 as a Libertarian. In 2019, Maldonado-Passage was convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse (eight violations of the Lacey Act and nine of the Endangered Species Act) and two counts of murder for hire, for a plot to kill Big Cat Rescue CEO, Carole Baskin. He is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison.

It doesn’t seem like reality until you’re watching it unfold in front of your eyes, and like some terrible fire, you can’t pull your eyes away from the madness. There are no “characters” you can root for, except for the cats. As a true crime lover, I felt myself wanting more after the credits rolled! Instead of digging deeper into the depths of Netflix, I decided to do some digging through the libraries’ digital collections to satisfy my craving for tiger true crime mania.

Due to the fact that the library is closed at this time, we’re recommending books and audiobooks that are accessible through the libraries’ digital services, including RBdigital, Libby, and Overdrive. If you need help accessing these services, help is available on our website, and librarians are available by phone remotely. Call 203-272-2245 and leave a message. Someone will get back to you shortly! 

First up is The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers by Bryan Christy. The book is described as “The Sopranos of Snakes”, focused on the fascinating account of a father and son family business suspected of smuggling reptiles, and the federal agent who tried to take them down. If you’re looking for more animal justice and federal takedowns, then The Lizard King is the perfect fit. The audiobook and ebook are available online through RBdigital.

Next is a little bit more fanciful, but showcases a star tiger, Richard Parker. Life of Pi is a classic, and mixes fantasy and dangerous reality into a beautiful story, in which you can’t quite tell reality from fiction (much like tiger king, is this guy real life?) The story’s back cover states: ” Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. ” The story is an escape from reality all of us could use right now. The audiobook and ebook are available online through RBdigital. 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt is a true crime classic, covering art dealings, murder and mystery, all in the deep south. It includes the same courtroom drama that was brought to life in Tiger King. The book is described as: ” Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction.” Another classic worth checking out from our digital collections, available online as an audiobook through RBdigital, and ebook through Overdrive.

If you spent the whole documentary wishing they’d focus more on the tigers less on the mullets, then The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus could be your fit. Written by Jacques Cousteau, an author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water, the book “weaves gripping stories of his adventures throughout, he and coauthor Susan Schiefelbein address the risks we take with human health, the overfishing and sacking of the world’s oceans, the hazards of nuclear proliferation, and the environmental responsibility of scientists, politicians, and people of faith”. It’s a heartfelt tale which inspires us to do better, and be better for our planet, and the animals we share it with. It’s available online as an audiobook through RBdigital.

“A man is killed for his prized pet fish” Whaaaaaat? That first line hooked me right away on The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story Of Power, Obsession, And The World’s Most Coveted Fish“A tycoon buys a single specimen for $150,000. Meanwhile, a pet detective chases smugglers through the streets of New York. Delving into an outlandish realm of obsession, paranoia, and criminality, The Dragon Behind the Glass tells the story of a fish like none other” This book follows tiger kings footsteps in chasing animal smugglers throughout the globe, all for the very expensive, very lucrative, animal black market. Download the audiobook through RBdigital.

Looking for more? Here are a few more titles available through RBDigital, Overdrive and Libby for your phone, tablet, or computer!

 

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in November

There’s so much going on at CPL this month: two concerts, special programs honoring our veterans, a new Homeschool meetup, the big Fall Book Sale, and so much more!  Check out our Event Calendar for the full roster, here are some highlights:

Play & Learn

Saturday, November 2, 2019, 10:00-11:00am

Our new drop-in play group for children and their caregivers! Explore interactive and sensory activities, encouraging the development of early literacy skills.  We will have lots of movement, songs, and a short storytime during the last 20 minutes of the program. Recommended for ages 2 to 5 years old.  Younger and older siblings are also welcome to attend. No registration required.

College Financial Aid Seminar

Saturday, November 2, 2019, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Jennifer Philips’ seminar, “Simplifying the Financial Aid Process, “ will provide parents and students with tips on securing the best possible financial aid package from the college of their choice. Jennifer will describe the best student loans, grants and scholarships available, explain the critical financial aid forms and deadlines and the various components of a financial aid offer. Registration is required.

United States Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band

Sunday, November 3, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm

Performing classic jazz, blues, and rags with a “New Orleans” flavor. The Dixieland Jazz Band has entertained audiences across America and around the world.  Please join us for a very special concert! No registration required.

Author Talk – Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping Out of Line

Monday, November 4, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Ryan Dostie never imagined herself on the front lines of a war halfway around the world. But then a conversation with an Army recruiter in her high-school cafeteria changes the course of her life. Hired as a linguist, she quickly has to find a space for herself in the testosterone-filled world of the Army barracks, and has been holding her own until the unthinkable happens: she is attacked by a fellow soldier. Join us as the author discusses her powerful book. Registration is required.

Veterans’ Writing Group

Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a short film and a panel discussion with members of the Veterans’ Writing Group. The Russell Library Veterans’ Writing Group has been meeting and writing stories of their incredible experiences for several years, which will be published by En Route Publishing this year. Come get a sneak peak of this fascinating book, and listen to true stories from veterans from all branches of service. Registration is required.

Veterans Day Concert with the Cheshire Community Band

Sunday, November 10, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm

The Cheshire Community Band will perform a variety of selections including historical and patriotic numbers in celebration of Veterans Day. No registration required.

Veterans Day Movie: They Shall Not Grow Old 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm

On the centenary of the end of the First World War, experience the Great War as never before. Using state-of-the-art technology and materials from the BBC and Imperial War Museum, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson allows the story of World War I to be told by the men who were there. Life on the front is explored through the voices of the soldiers, who discuss their feelings about the conflict, the food they ate, the friends they made and their dreams of the future. Registration is required.

Homeschool Meetup (all ages)

Wednesday, November 3, 2019, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Meet other local families who are educating their children and teens at home while sharing tips, ideas, and educational materials. Toys and sensory play will be available for young children and crafts will be provided for older children and teens. Please register each child or teen separately.

Medicare Supplement and Advantage: Q & A

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 1:00 – 3:00pm

Staff from the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging will present this seminar and provide vital information about Medicare, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage.  Their mission is to provide the information and assistance necessary for consumers to understand their rights, receive benefits to which they are entitled and make informed choices about health insurance concerns. Registration is required.

A Night with Georgia O’Keeffe ~ Craft night

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a short film on the life of Georgia O’Keeffe and then create your own work of art in her style. All materials will be provided. Registration is required for this adult (18+)  program.

“Are You In Your Right Mind?” – A Joyce Saltman Workshop

Monday, November 18, 2019, 1:00 – 2:30pm

Interactive and fun, this lecture will explore individual differences through left-brain/right brain research, in an effort to understand and appreciate these differences in ourselves and others. Joyce Saltman is a professor Emeritus of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and a former Cheshire resident. Her experience in the areas of education, therapy, and comedy has provided an outstanding background for her research on The Therapeutic Value of Laughter. Registration is required.

Fall Book Sale!

Thursday, November 21  – Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bargains galore at the big Fall Book Sale! Browse more than 15,000 books of every possible genre. Stock up on audiobooks and DVDs. You never know what treasures you’ll find. Book sale hours:

  • Wednesday, November 20, 6:30-8:00pm (Preview Night for Friends’ Members only)
  • Thursday, November 21, 9:00am – 8:00pm
  • Friday, November 22, 9:00am – 4:30pm
  • Saturday, November 23, 9:00am – 4:30pm
  • Sunday, November 24, 12:00 – 3:00pm

Mysteries of St. Peter’s Basilica

Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Did you know that St. Peter’s church at the Vatican has hidden geometry pinpointing certain locations? Robert Kerson will discuss this fascinating mystery. Learn details of the current basilica few people are aware of. Registration is required.

Books Over Coffee

Wednesday, November 27, 2019, 12:00 – 1:30pm

On the last Wednesday of every month from 12-1:30p we’ll meet in the Loft to discuss the selected title. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is our November selection. Books are available in print,  audio, & ebook format. You bring your lunch, we’ll provide the coffee and tea. Registration is required.

 

50 Years of Apollo

On July 21, it will be FIFTY years since mankind first walked on the Moon.

Although the Russians – with superior rocket power – managed to get not only the first satellite in space, but the first man in orbit, first woman in orbit, and smash the first man-made object into the moon, it wasn’t until May of 1961 when President John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech, challenging America that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

United for the Cause

Perhaps no other statement since Roosevelt’s “Date which will live in infamy…” speech has done more to stir an entire nation in a single united direction. Congress allotted funding. The infant technology industry ramped up. Mylar was invented. Velcro found a use. Manufacturing learned to miniaturize (in a time of bulky tubes and transistors, when each reel of magnetic computer tape could hold a whopping 184 Kilobytes of memory [for reference, an MP3 recording of the Star Spangled Banner runs around 900 Kb – half your memory]). The entire country surged forward with that dream, no doubt spurred on as an homage to Kennedy following his assassination. TV picked up the dream with serious and non-serious programs like Star Trek, Lost in Space, Dr. Who, and more. Movies gave way to huge spectacles, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and a few thousand campy pulp films. Food wasn’t left out: the need to eat in space gave us the use of TANG, dehydrated ice cream, and Pillsbury Space Food Sticks.

The Final Frontier

The road to the moon was littered with failures – we didn’t even manage to smash a probe onto the moon until 1962. We made it through the Gemini program, only to learn that some things couldn’t be rushed or corners cut when the Apollo 1 crew – Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee – burned to death in an oxygen fire in a test module, because the pressurized doors opened the wrong way. This led to a pause – there was no Apollo 2 or 3, and 4-5-6 were all unmanned. If ever there was a lot of pressure on a crew, Apollo 7 was the first 3-manned crew to blast off Earth, period. Missions 8-10 looped the moon, giving us the famous Earthrise photo.

Apollo 11 pulled it all together. With less computer capability than an Apple watch, the lunar lander settled on the moon,  Armstrong sent out the famous words, “The Eagle has landed,” followed shortly by Armstrong’s historic “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” At the end of an incredibly violent, divisive, depressing decade, the entire world came together for a few brief moments to rejoice.

Fifty years later, we sit back on our Tempur-pedic cushions with our cell phones, tablets, LED lights, and flat-screen TVs, watching through scratch-proof lenses or LASIK-fixed eyes (all outgrowths of the space program),  and marvel at a time when space exploration was our future.

Deniers

How do we know it wasn’t faked? Like everywhere Man goes, we left our garbage behind – landing modules, rovers, flags and plaques – more than 400,000 pounds worth, and though they can’t be seen by any telescope on Earth (you’re talking a 10-foot object from 239,000 miles away), they can by orbital satellites around the Moon.  The path to space is far too complex for a blog post, so grab a good book, watch a good film (join us for a viewing of the documentary Apollo 11 at CPL on July 18), and think on just how different our lives would be if we never tried to reach for the Moon.