Sunday, March 22, 2009

Two Men Along the Hudson River in New York

My reading is so diversified these days and I surprise myself at times with my observations. Here is an example, a comparative study of two men whose connection is their involvement with the Hudson River.

The Hudson River was most recently in the news when US Airways Flight 1549 was ditched in her but stayed afloat for the rescue of all 150 passengers and five crew members. Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, meaning the Great Mohegan is the Iroquois name for the Hudson River which flows its 315 mile course from the Adirondack Mountains to New York City emptying in the upper bay. Englishman Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutch East India Company explored the river and its uninhabited shores in 1609 naming it Mauritius in honour of Prince Maurice of Nassau. He himself was later honoured when his name was given to the river. European immigrants settled around the river. It inspired the mid 19th century Hudson River School of painting, a group of landscape painters influenced by romanticism and using the Hudson River Valley, and the Catskill, Adirondack and White Mountains as their idyllic inspiration. The river is a premier example of industrial pollution.

Donald Trump was born in 1946 in New York City, the fourth of five children of Fred Trump, a wealthy real estate developer. Go figure! So much of his highly publicized business career has located along the Hudson River. His own offices and Penthouse home look out upon the waters. The Donald, as Ivana, the first of his three wives named him has been in and out of legal bankruptcy throughout his career having filed it three times, yet staying afloat by restructuring the debt by surrendering large percentages of ownership. His is ambitious and aggressive. His name and his moniker is born by the Trump World Tower, Trump Tower, Trump Entertainments Resorts which include (Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, and Trump Marina), to name only a few. He has been earning in the range of 32 to 40 million dollars annually. In 2008 he failed to pay a $40M loan to Deutsche Bank citing the crisis was an Act of God. His most recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed on February 17 2009 on the Trump Entertainment Resorts. But it’s all business. He is on TV and he has written many books and his hair is lousy.

Pete Seeger was born in 1919 in Patterson, New Jersey near the Hudson River. His father, Charlie Louis Seeger Jr was a composer and pioneer ethnomusicologist and his mother, Constance Edson was a classic violinist. Although his parents divorced when he was seven, his stepmother, Ruth Crawford Seeger was one of the most influential female composers of the 20th century. In 1943 Pete married Toshi-Aline Ohta, a folk musician to whom he has been married ever since. Seeger himself became a key personality and contributor to the American folk music revival during the 50’s and 60’s. He wrote such memorables as “Where have all the flowers gone?” and “If I had a Hammer” and “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Countless other artists and musical groups have recorded these songs after Seeger made them famous. Seeger himself became famous for his anti Vietnam War activism and then later the environment and what has become his legacy, the efforts at Hudson River recovery. He also wrote “That Lonesome Valley” in 1969 to highlight the polluted Hudson River. He founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, built a sailing sloop used to education grade school children. Over time the US Government listened and began legislating and funding the cleanup.

Seeger is financially worth less than Trump but he may leave behind more that is worthwhile for everyone.

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