Monday, May 19, 2003

TR blog.

Headline in the Chicago Tribune this morning: “Saudis Arrest 4 in Bomb Probe.” The Sun-Times had something similar. It made me wonder how you would say, “Round up the usual suspects” in Arabic.

Speaking of which, just south of the Flatiron Building in New York last week, Gail and I came across a fellow selling “Most Wanted Iraqis” playing cards, or whatever they’re called. The item was too intriguing, and the price fairly low, so I bought a pack. I suppose the pack I have is a copy of the cards meant for American, British and Australian soldiers, since they’re in English.

Fun facts: Three of the four aces are Saddam himself and the fruit of his loins, Uday and Qusay. The ace of diamonds, however, is one Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikkriti, whose title is given as “Presidential Secretary.” He’s a Tikkriti, of course, but so probably are half the pack, so I wonder why the presidential secretary rates so high. Perhaps it’s because he knows where the bodies are buried — quite literally.

Also, for 13 of the cards there are no pictures, just a head-and-shoulders silhouette. Camera shy, perhaps. Probably top men at the Ministry of Love.

The man selling the cards, a stumpy fellow in his 50s, wanted to know if I wanted to buy more than one pack. “Why don’t you get two?” he asked. “You can give one as a gift.”

“Maybe. Do you have any North Korean cards?”


So much for my little joke. I bought only one pack. On 20th Street just off Broadway is the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS. I figured we could drop in there, catch a cab back to the hotel for our bags, then another to LaGuardia; and so we did. It turns out that this brownstone, which is actually brown, is a re-creation of the original Roosevelt manse. But even so it’s about 80 years old, and not a bad job. The rooms contain a mix of period (1860s) furniture and pieces that belonged to the family.

But I liked the two rooms of displays better. Plenty of photos of young and then not-so-young TR, reproductions and some originals of entertaining editorial cartoons featuring him, and assorted memorabilia. Among the items on display are a uniform from the time of TR’s expedition to Cuba, several mounted animal heads and a full-sized stuffed lion done in by the 26th president, and his exercise bicycle, counter-ergonomic-looking sort of contraption.

I could have spent more time there, and even Gail seemed interested, but soon we had to go. The return flight to Chicago was almost full, resulting in the usual complications, especially with cramming things in the overhead bins, but we made it back. Any return flight you can walk away from is a good return flight.


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