03/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Continental Crash Highlights Miracle of United Flight 1549


Last night, Thursday, February 12, 2009 I was off making a new friend. I had interviewed Canadian singer Matt Dusk for the Long Beach/Orange County Blade and decided to go down and see him at the Orange County Center for the Performing Arts. We agreed to meet in person before the show, which seemed reasonable as we'd just spoken on the phone for an hour.

Well, he was a delight. Handsome, well spoken, and I could have kissed him (but his fiancée may not have liked it) when I was telling a story and mentioned John McCain and he truly asked who he was. I had to refresh his memory as to the Senator's recent outing. He's not out of touch, it's just Canada, like every other country, was and is really excited about Barack Obama.

His set was a mixture of love songs old and new, channeling Sinatra as easily as singing "Two Shots of Happy" a song written by Bono and Edge for Sinatra, but given to Dusk after Sinatra's passing by Bono. "As Time Goes By" was beautifully arranged and "One for the Road" expertly dramatized through song.

Yes, he was wonderful. The Orange County audience of white (not one person of color in the room of 500, I looked everywhere) season ticket holders who didn't know Dusk, the gay and lesbian people who did, and the women who had flown from Canada just to see this handsome crooner. Lots and lots of women and couples dancing by the stage -- yes, it was a lovely evening.

It was a cold night on Giotron, my Piaggio MP3 500. I got home and couldn't wait to get inside and see my dogs in the warmth and give Angel her insulin shot (diabetic dog, another blog). I entered, and did a double take. I leave one TV on for the dogs on CNN (don't lecture me, I'm solar) Anderson Cooper was on at 11 pm Pacific, What's he doing there? Wait, why is he covering a house fire at this hour?

Then the scroll. Plane crash in Buffalo, NY. All dead. House in flames. Person on the ground missing. 44 passengers and a crew of four. 49 people total.

I sat staring. Such randomness. I was just enjoying the company and fellowship of a room full of people enjoying vintage love songs and a great singer. As I watched...after 7 pm Pacific time I was having a before show drink with Dusk, while the plane was going down. Eight o'clock hour I was enjoying a light Jazz set, laughing, singing, being alive while jet fuel and a natural gas leak caused by the crash fueled an on-scene inferno.

The reality of plane crashes came, well, crashing home and suddenly Sully and his crew from the Miracle in the Hudson seemed even more...lucky, skilled, lucky, miraculous.

Dusk and I spoke of life in the entertainment industry. One reality is flying; so much so that when Mike Wallace semi-retired the main reason he cited was he simply did not want to fly any more, too much work, not very comfortable at times, on and on. Dusk himself is on a five week tour that will involve lots of flying. I'm due to go to San Francisco, New York and Austin in the very near future. Lots of flying.

I know, as do you, that it's the safest form of transportation. As a motorcycle rider I will tell you first hand the road is the most dangerous place you could be when traveling. People drive like idiots most of the time, and now enter Blackberries, iPhones, GPS systems, Satellite Radios, IPods...well, no one pays attention on the road any more.

And that's what makes it so random. Immediately everyone gathers to find out the "whys." The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), other state and federal agencies, medical examiners, a massive effort that will take almost a year to painstakingly recreate the plane and see if the needle in the haystack can, in fact, be found.

But there is no why. There's the mechanical fault, or weather, or confluence of events. But there's no real why, why these people, why this plane this time, why did they crash and the people in the Hudson live? Trying to figure out why will only give one a headache. I've lost my husband to malpractice right in front of me, my mother to COPD in a nursing home right in front of me, and a generation of friends to AIDS right in front of me. There's no whys. Trust me. Don't even try, let it go. Very Buddhist, but true. There might be a physical reason, but don't look beyond that for a justification or reason.

I went to bed grateful for my night. Prior to going I almost postponed for a night so I could rent a car (did I mention the cold?) Instead, I went out and made a new friend and had a great time. I might have just seen that as typical fare for someone in my job.

Instead I savor every single minute of it today as I see the images filling the news cycle.

There have been a lot of people arguing about money in Washington D.C. recently, and even more people in the country, myself included at times, worrying about it. I've watched and as they've thrown about astronomical figures and simply talk of printing more money, it reminds me how little, how insignificant, how worthless, how ridiculous it all is. It means nothing. Because not one billion or 700 billion of that bail out money matters to the families of those on that plane today. If each of them could, they'd give every single dime to see their loved ones again.

Perspective. I don't like the extensive coverage of these crashes and won't watch all day today because we're not going to know anything for months so reporting on the unknown is amusing. But when they are in the news, we may not be able to figure out the why, but we can take meaning from it.

I planned to have fun last night and I did. 48 people planned on getting off a plane in Buffalo. The best laid plans of mice and men oft gang a glee. It's all so random.

There's a lot of talk about what matters in this country right now, what will save us.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 I was reminded sometimes nothing can save us, not a billion dollars, nothing. It gives things today new meaning, a fresh view, because I'm here to see it. And if you're reading this, so are you. Don't squander it.