06 February 2015

A St. Barths pastiche


​Is all of St. Barths talking about the latest "gate", i.e., "Conflationgate"? You know, Brian Williams, our favorite anchor, getting caught with his conflations down when he said that in 2003 he was in a helicoptor that got shot down in Iraq.  He and his network repeated the story again and again, and last week he did a big number on his news show about going to a Ranger game with a vet who protected Williams and his news crew after the shoot-down landing. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, and a flight engineer on the helicopter that did get shot down said, on Facebook, something like, "Dude, I was on the helicoptor that was shot down, you were not. You landed in the area an hour later, but your ship never took any fire.") Stars and Stripes picked it up and ran an article exposing the false claim, and Williams apologized on his show, blaming the fog of war for his "conflation". After all, all those helicoptors look alike, right?  Easy to conflate getting shot down with not getting shot down, right?  After all Hillary Clinton, (before her concussion) once conflated departing an aircraft in Bosnia under sniper fire, with departing an aircraft and shaking hands with local children and dignitaries on the tarmac. And "Rev" Al Sharpton once conflated Tawana Brawley being raped and put in a garbage bag with dog poop, with a young girl who made it up, looking for an excuse for not doing her homework.  Conflation, like measles, is catching.  Especially, it seems, for people who work at NBC and its affiliate MSNBC. Maybe they oughta spray the halls there? Truth serum come in aerosol cans?

Back to the first line. The answer: NO. All of St. Barths is not talking about conflation. But they are talking, and the following segment is one the topics of coversation.

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It seems that the local gov, perhaps under instruction from the motherland, has passed a wheelchair-ramp ordinance. Sounds okay, right? Hah.  This island is basically a series of rock cones resulting from volcanic eruptions tens of thousands of years ago, (unless you are Huckabee followers, in which case it was just a couple of thousand years ago), and so, with few exceptions, all buildings are basically clinging via suction cups to the walls of steep hills. The roadways and driveways? Fuhgeddiboudit. Some of them cannot be surmounted by two-wheel drive cars when the road is wet. Being pushed up or down a St. Barths hill or driveway in a wheelchair would life threatening. Absurd.  However ... .

Now, let me confess something.  Many, many years ago, I saw a movie starring the actor Richard Widmark, in which he played the quintessential bad guy.The movie was "Kiss of Death", and Widmark's performance is historic. While the plot line has long since escaped me, and though I have trouble from time to time remembering the names of my grandchildren, there is one scene in that movie that is so chilling it is indelible. I will never forget it, and I insist on sharing it with you.

(tech note: at press time, I have not yet figured out how to get you back to the blog automatically. So after you watch the clip, close out Youtube and go back to the blog, where you pick up where you left off. Apologize for the clutziness. Bear with me, it's worth it, I promise!)

Here is the setting: Widmark is out to get the guy who squealed on him. He visits the rat's home, finds his mother alone there, and she unsuccessfully lies about her son's whereabouts. Watch what happens over the next 1 minute and forty-four seconds:



Now see the connection in my twisted brain to wheelchairs?

Back to the St. Barths wheelchair ordinance and its relationship to the Widmark clip: Flammands beach is a three minute ride from our house, and relatively uncrowded.  Access to the beach is via a short public walkway between two thirty million euro beachfront homes.  For many years, when one reached the beach-end to the walkway, there was a rickety set of super-steep wooden steps to the sand. Doable, but pathetic, given the hype about this super-glam playground for the super-rich. But ahh, this access-way was not for the super-rich, but for the hoi-polloi, the civilians, the locals, i.e., the Londons. 

Relief was to come: Along came the wheelchair ordinance and the government assigned a crack team of engineers and craftmen to design and build an improved staircase, and, more importantly, a wheelchair ramp to the sand.  (Who would want to put a wheelchair on the sand, you ask?  Don't ask.)

So here is what the new construction looks like from the top:



  
Beautiful, huh?  Though you can't see em, there are even lights embedded along the way. Take that richies. Score one for us little people.
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And here is what the wheelchair ramp looks like from the bottom:






Ahh, the ramp is a Widmark design!  

A bientot.

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