The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 6, 1997 · Page 15
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December 6, 1997

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 15

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Saturday, December 6, 1997
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Page 15
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SATURDAY. DECEMBER 6, 1997 15A it Ml THE PALM BEACH POST Mm ft wm pi a mm in,,,.,.. ,,, ittmim Still looking for monsters sitting out on the wing By Barbara Yost In a classic episode of The Twilight Zone, an airline passenger glances out the window of the plane and sees a monster on the wing. Like any good monster, he's big and hairy, and he's trying to dismantle the airplane. The frightened passenger alerts a flight at- . tendant She looks out and sees nothing. In his hysteria, the passenger causes a ruckus that angers the pilot and upsets the other travelers. . When the plane lands, safely, our passenger is relieved but shaken. He looks back and spots , the monster, still camped on the wing. The . camera zooms in to reveal the creature was real, and there is evidence of his foul play. ' . .' . . -,.- f ' . . '- 1 ,,,,,, - - Anyone who flies these days is likely to feel . the presence of a monster. Assurances that fly- . me is safer than driving are little comfort to those who can imagine surviving a rear-end col-' !Americans are Inlying the I hungry skies By Harry Rosenfeld ; It's the holidays, and the travel ain't easy. ; On top of crowded highways, planes and trains, ; there is the added burden of providing yourself I with proper sustenance while under way. 1 America is set up to pump into travelers un-! limited quantities of fat, cholesterol, sugar, salt i and other things that make food taste good, j Nowhere are travelers' choices of available I foods more limited than when they take to the air. Once in the airport, having successfully i passed the hyperintensive electronic screening, ! voyagers can eat only what they can get on the I secure premises and, in too many places, that ! means a large variety of junk foods. I Despite a lot of announcements this year about how much better the food was going to become for air travelers, recent personal experience begs to differ. Super salted bread sticks, pizza, fried chicken and enormous hot dogs are available all over. It's bad enough when travelers choose to ;.i dive into the fried food whirlpool. Worse is that ci the airplane crews resort to the airport feeding "bag because of holiday time pressures. There is little as disturbing as watching f i your pilot, attired in doubled-breasted blue, peak cap and gold braid, chomping on fried Ij onion-enveloped sausages just before he or she 1 takes over the controls of die airplane with S. which you are counting on him or her to bring you safely to your destination. ? What if he or she gets an attack of the stom- ach blahs while up in the rarefied blue? What - happens when massive gas bubbles course " through the pilot's torso? What happens to per-formance, what happens to the ability to main- tain vigilant alertness? Well we may ponder. "' The quality of airport food is becoming an ' even bigger issue because the airlines have been cutting back on what they serve passen-gers on board. According to one report, airlines' spending : on feeding their passengers declined from J' $5.78 per head in 1992 to $4.43 in 1995. Anyone want to bet whether it's gone up since then? v ' Now, no one in his or her right mind looks "' forward to getting a memorable meal on an airplane. Even at $6 a portion, expectations of re- ceiving a delightful meal have to be restrained. Perhaps in the fleshpots of first class there's "' more of a chance; but not really. All you get ' there are the trappings of a good meal, not the substance. It's all the free booze that helps to improve the image of the service. ''I What travelers want on an airplane is a sim- pie meal one that is relatively edible, that '"will quiet the hunger rumblings in the stomach. ' ' That's all; nothing more. t Instead of achieving that modest prospect, 1; airlines are not even serving the tasteless meals people used to joke about. Maybe the air-' : line honchos decided that if their food was being ridiculed, they might as well stop serving it altogether, and maybe save a $1.35 a head. ,.' But, of course, not all airlines actually starve their passengers. Even the most tight-fisted provide a tiny packet of peanuts accompanied -i by a soft drink and booze, if you pay for it. But if you go as far as to ask "May I have a glass of water," in lieu of the carbonated drinks being offered, the response, on a recent trip, incredibly was a simple, direct "No." So there you are, jammed into your seat, unable to obtain tasty and wholesome food in the airport, with no distracting good eating on board to take your mind off it all, chewing gum furiously as if that would help. All in all, it's enough to make you pray for the early appearance of high-speed railways. B Harry Rosenfeld is a columnist for the Albany Times Union. 1 1 Iision on Mam Street but not falling from a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet over Cleveland. . The FBI has closed its investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800, but we are still left with perceptions of monsters in the sky. If a terrorist did not bring down the ill-fated jumbo jet, what did? Pilot error? Mechanical malfunction? ; As Mary Schiavo, the Transportation Department's outspoken former inspector general, says, this has become every traveler's "worst nightmare." We might dodge a random act of ; violence, but mechanical failures lurk every day, on every flight. We're left to reconcile with our monsters. We can't stop flying. For most leisure and business travelers, trains, boats and buses are impractical. We have to be there "now." Grandma is waiting with a holiday dinner. Sony has your contract be in Tokyo tomorrow. You have to get to Europe to close a deal. We can't go about our business in a persis- : tent state of anxiety. We must trust fate and the -gods that all the bolts are tightened. And sit next to a nun. Relatives of the 228 passengers who died on the New York to Paris flight in July 1996 are wrestling with their own monsters. Most accept the agency's report that no criminal act was involved. But some cling to conspiracy theories. Some believe a military accident brought down the plane and led to a cover-up. Many of the 244 witnesses to the accident will continue to trust their eyes, not their government. Family members will find it hard to accept the mundane explanation of mechanical ; failure, which almost trivializes the tragedy in suggesting something so ordinary took their loved ones' lives, that nuts and bolts could kill. The dismembered wreckage of Flight 800 rests in a New York warehouse. The National Transportation Safety Board will continue to explore the mystery, but for all intents and purposes, most questions will go unanswered. The FBI says it's over. For those who cherished the 228 dead, it will never be over. The 1 dead won't return, whatever the outcome of the investigation. For the rest of us, flight goes on. We pack our bags, stow our fears, breeze through the paranoia detectors. If our knuckles are a little whiter, we learn to look away and read a maga- , zine. We calculate the odds of being struck by lightning or falling out of the sky. Neither is likely to happen. The odds are in our favor. Denial is a highly underrated method of survival. As certainly as airlines serve peanuts, the monsters will always be aboard, riding the wings and feeding on the lump in our throat. They can't be banished. Live with them. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. And monsters on the wing. B Barbara Yost is a columnist for the Arizona Republic. Female imperative in the cockpit By Stan Andersen We boarded our little United 737 with its two fat jet engines to fly back to San Francisco from Seattle, and I thought, "Ho hum, same old workhorse." The plane reminds me of World War II's C-47, a two-engine propeller plane. But I always assume airline pilots are better trained than those I knew in the war. Our 737 pilot surged us nicely off the runway and shortly told us our cruising altitude would be 33,000 feet The pilot's voice was feminine. I asked our stewardess politely if indeed our pilot was a woman. She saia yes, "The captain is a woman,, and so is the first officer." Moreover, she hadn't been a stewardess since the 1970s. She is a flight attendant, as were the other two on the flight. I then asked her, "You mean this flight is entirely in the hands of women?" (That wasn't entirely a sexist inquiry. I nearly said, "You mean this plane's being manned entirely by women?") She gently told me, yes, that five-person flight crew happened to be all female, and proud of it I was time-shocked. Women who flew combat with us in World War II were talismanic images painted on the sides of the airplanes, scantily clothed. There were women's "auxiliary" pilots who flew in a wing of the Air Transport Command, but we'd have ooh-ed, ah-ed and whistled if one of them had shown up to ferry us over the Irish Sea. That's to say my war days left me hopelessly unprepared to be flown even 50 years later in a jet airliner by an all-woman crew. Times change, yeah, but that's a lot. The expatriot writer Henry James, on revisiting his native city 25 years after going away, said that New York in 1900 gave him "a hateful sense of personal antiquity." Shall I call her "the lady captain" and be really antique? She who sat at the yoke of the 737 flew us very smoothly. I gave my compliments to the captain, who stood at the door of the cockpit as I left the United Air lines shuttle. Lots of women pilots handle such flights. On calling United headquarters in Chicago, I learned that about 600 of United's 9,000 pilots are women. So I have to say to the ghost of Mr. James: Henry, go a little easier on yourself. Antiquity's in the mind of the beholder. Go with the flow. That's America for you. Times change even when you think you're defending them. B Stan Andersen is retired chairman of the Department of Humanities at San Francisco State University. He wrote this article for the San Francisco Examiner. j in t'T) News flash: When no clothes are good clothes Grappelli left us without all that jazz By Tom Teepen i The late 20th century, raising such horrors as Jerry Springer as pop icons, can ill afford to lose any of its cultural ornaments, but death has cost it, and us, Stephane Grappelli. j He can't be said to have invented jazz violin in the way that, say, Coleman Hawkins reimagined the tenor saxophone for the then-young idiom. But thanks to an ' I 1 -v. 1 - awesome auraDiury ne was performing until just before his death at 89 last week Mr. Grappelli sustained jazz violin as no other player has or likely ever will. The core of Mr. Grappelli's work is the recordings he made in Paris in the '30s with the Quintet of the Hot will make the news from the Asiafif markets any better. Women oftei( pick up the paper and take it directly' to work with them - defeating the purpose of having it delivered toj their home at 6 in the morning. . P. Women have different outfits foj4 everything. A woman will wear one.; outfit while making out a shopping ; list and change into another outfit to; , go to the supermarket, then put on' another outfit to go out to dinner because she's too tired to cook duv" ner after all that shopping. : " What man ever says, "Oh, we're-going to the supermarket? Fine, let-me change." A man would happily never; change clothes. Never. He'd wear;Q the same pair of shorts until theyU shredded and fell off and then he'd stay naked until his wife went , out (in her "shopping for husband outfit) and bought him a new pair.!, And this is because American';! men have no shame, in great coq-'p trast to what we are seeing in Japaih, now, where the president of a major,' securities company wept in shame,? over the way his firm went straight . down the toilet. By this time next week, you'll be able to get a Lexus for 85 cents, and they'll throw in a Mitj subishi big-screen TV. Look for then ads in the newspaper, which I'll be-happy to pick up for you at 6 in the morning, in my underpants. I v. B . Tony Komheiser is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. , t By Tony Komheiser I was in the car the other day, listening to sports radio.when I heard a couple of guys talking about how they could tell it was getting closer to winter: They felt chilled in the morning when they went out to pick up the newspaper in their underpants. That's how guys walk outside to get the paper. Mostly naked. ("If the paper is right on the step, I'll lean out fully naked," my stylish friend Wil-bon reports.) And why not? Who do you think you're going to run into at 6 in the morning on your front lawn, Greta Van Sustren? To get my paper, I have to walk about 20 feet into the yard. It's my yard, right? So what's it to you what I wear? I'm out there in the pair of ratty boxers I sleep in, with my stomach lapping over the waist band like the beginning of an avalanche. I know what you're thinking: "What if somebody sees you? Won't you be embarrassed?" Absolutely not. Regularly, I'll be out there in my underpants, and I'll spot a neighbor in his drawers collecting his paper. It's such a common thing for guys to be outside in their underpants that we might even have a conversation albeit a brief one. (Brief, get it? Hahaha.) Of course, every once in a while, some stranger will saunter by and I j I - liytS VlUUUiridllCC uauau y a uaas, inv iif 1 rhythm guitars and Mr. Grappelli snaring suio uuucs wiui uic ic-doubtable gypsy jazz guitarist Djan- gp Reinhardt ! World War II scattered the quintet Mr. Reinhardt died in '53, leaving an extensive and indebted progeny. Mr. Grappelli, however, continued to play and to record and to grow, as able as ever to flash across chord c&anges at breakneck tempos, improvising as if there were nothing to it, but as he aged delving with new stare at me like I'm some sort of suburban performance artist And I'll say, "Hey, pal, what are you looking at?" You're lucky I don't go out there buck-naked. (At this point, I'm lucky, too. People reach an age when they should never be naked, not even in the shower; it's too unsightly. I made the mistake of glancing at myself in the bathroom mirror one day three years ago, and I have never taken off all my clothing since.) Women, though even women who appear in Coolio videos would never think of picking up the paper in their underwear. My friend Liz says, "Women can't be seen in their undies because they will be accused of Asking For It. No man in his underpants is ever Asking For It he's just pathetic." When women go out early to pick up the paper, at the very least they're swaddled in robing, hugging their clothing tightly to their bodies, as if they are refugees from a slave-labor nudist colony. They appear to be embarrassed when you see them like this. Unlike men, who will wave at you then grab their crotch. More often, though, women don't go out to get the paper until they are fully dressed and fully made-up, as if a fresh coat of lipstick upui uuo me smoiuer mysienes oi Dauaas. Stephane Grappelli leaves us a treasure of recordings stretching over 60-plus years and in the mind, lingering echoes of finely turned phrases in an epic musical narrative: If you will,Beowulf improbably writ on a hot fiddle. I B Tom Teepenis national correspondent for Cox I

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