Back to the Future

Reading the Times today I got very nostalgic. A trio of stories took me back to places I’ve traveled over the years and characters I’ve met, ironically while reporting for the Times.

I’m just back recently from the Maldives so read with great interest the Magazine’s profile of the country’s new president Mohamed Nasheed and his struggles with preparing his low-lying country for inevitable sea level rise. Or at least it seems inevitable; there are a couple voices in the story that suggest rising seas may not be an assured thing. I first visited the Maldives in 2005, on assignment for the Times, just weeks after tsunami waves killed eight hundred of its residents.

The Maldives

The Maldives

Jeffrey Gettleman’s profile of a Somali pirate leader, set on land rather than sea, is eye opening, especially on the heels of the series we ran last week about a passenger ship making its way up the coast, dodging pirates. The story paints a picture of battling forces within Somalia, debating the propriety of rebels wreaking havoc on the open seas. While pirate leaders continue to argue that over fishing by international fleets and the complete lack of government in Somalia has lead to the need for piracy, they’re having a hard time selling the argument even at home. The best part of the story was that its “hero” had already burned through several hundred thousand dollars in ransom he’d personally collected, claiming, “It’s not like three people split a million bucks. It’s more like 300.”

Closer to home there’s a fun profile of the coming 40th anniversary of Woodstock in the Style section … which prompted me to search and reread the story I wrote for the Times Magazine about Woodstock on its 25th anniversary. What hasn’t changed in the past fifteen years? The original organizers still don’t get along (though one of the original foursome – John Roberts – passed away in 2001). Will they be able to get their collective shit together and host some kind of 40th bash?

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