It’s amazing how things get chiseled into our memories. All of us who were of school-age or older can recite what they observed and did during the last ten days of that particular month. No points awarded for that.
However, I have fairly vivid memories of two other Fridays within that month.

Friday, 11/1/1963:  On the other side of the world, South Vietnamese President Diem was being overthrown in a coup orchestrated by his generals, a coup whose inevitability was fully understood and  ignored by his American allies. Even though I was only fourteen years old at the time, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was still not grasping the importance of what was going on in Southeast Asia, and I certainly had no concept of what it meant for my generation and our nation. My friends, their brothers, their uncles had not yet begun dying there.
On the other hand, the early 1960s conflict seemed like something out of TERRY AND THE PIRATES or STEVE CANYON…there was even a real-life “Dragon Lady” (Madam Nhu, Diem’s sister-in-law). What could these things ever have to do with my world?
A steady rain  was falling as I trudged up Featherbed Lane at the end of my trip home from school on that day. My feet were killing me because my shoes were too small and the backs of both feet were being shredded as I walked up the hill. ThIs might have been one of the first pairs of shoes which I shopped for on my own.

Friday, 11/8/1963 or 11/15/1963, I stayed late at school to attend a meeting of the Biology Club and was lucky to be part of a small group of eager young people who were able to chat with Dr. Roman Visniac, famed micro-biologist and photographer. He was a fascinating man, and some of us who were present learned an awful lot that day. I probably wasn’t one of the fortunate few…..I was starting to realize that I was out of my league and would likely never be a professional in any of the human sciences.

Both of these Fridays were as nothing compared to the horror of Friday, 11/22/1963 and the days which followed. I’d always viewed President Eisenhower as if he were ancient. On the other hand,  John Fitzgerald Kennedy was young, vibrant and energetic… excited me to see this young man and his beautiful young wife occupy the White House along with their little children. The country was becoming something which my generation could proudly and logically “possess.”
But the voice of Dr. Taffel coming out of the speaker in my biology classroom had signaled that I would now face a world in which it was unlikely that I would ever be a doctor or a dentist, one in which my (our) hero was suddenly and inexplicably gone for good.

Oh yeah: both of my scarred feet heeled nicely, and the shoemaker
(remember them?) on University Avenue stretched those shoes for me.
And life went on…..


27 years ago today, August 1, 1986, I was awakening for the fourth day in a row in a hospital in Newark, NJ, paying the price for not having listened to my body some seven months earlier.

Seven months earlier, I was on my way to work, aboard a NJT (New Jersey Transit) train heading for Newark where my commuting friends and I would catch a PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) train into NYC. Somewhere between Metropark and Elizabeth, I felt a jolt, and my (sitting) body torqued to one side. Aware of a faint tingling, I was still able to stand up as the train coasted into Newark for our transfer to the PATH train.

Was I concerned? Yes, but…….
I’m a man, men are born to live forever, to suck it up, to tough it out, to never go to the doctor unless we’re bleeding to death. Surely my 37 year old body had either been sitting awkwardly or had suffered something like a pinched nerve.
And, I successfully rode the PATH train into the World Trade Center,
then walking the six blocks to my office. The tingling had faded a bit, but wasn’t all gone, although it did disappear by the late afternoon.

Skip ahead to 7/28/86: Seven  months of normalcy had followed the previous December’s event. Once again, I’m on NJT, on the way to work.
It’s a beautiful Monday morning.  My ex-wife, my sons and I had spent Saturday and Sunday visiting her father and attending the annual family reunion of her late mother’s family. The boys played with many people, Eric (then 9 years old) and I tossed the baseball around with anyone else who had a glove, while Steve (then four years old) played on the swings and other playground apparatus.
An American dream of a summer’s Saturday.

We arrived home in central New Jersey in the late afternoon on Sunday, and I went out to mow our 1/2 acre lot, a chore I regularly performed. Some 90% of the way through the job, I felt a discomfort in the center of my chest. I won’t call this a pain, because I don’t remember it as such. It was severe enough to stop me short as I pushed the mower. I sat down at our picnic table, called for Eric, and had him bring me a cold drink of ice water.

Little did I know that this discomfort was being caused by the passage of a clot through my heart. And I had no reason to suspect that there was any connection to the long-ignored event from seven months ago.
Into the house, into the shower, and then dinner. I seemed to be ok, although I could still feel a bit of discomfort in the center of my chest.

After a less than comfortable night’s sleep, I was up at 4:45 AM on Monday to catch the train. The ride was uneventful, but the mad dash to the PATH turnstyles  was not! On a dead run, I went down, as if I’d been shot. Lying on the platform, I was aware that my right foot could feel the left one, but not the other way around. I KNEW that this was a stroke.

Had I heeded the warning of seven months prior or the one from the previous evening, there’s a chance that this could have been diagnosed and prevented.

I DIDN’T LISTEN TO MY BODY, BUT I’M HERE TO ADVISE YOU TO BE SMARTER THAN I WAS. I can’t go back in time and be smarter then, but I can share this wisdom with you.



Finally got my hands on a copy of the August issue of ROLLING STONE, and I’ve got to say that the cover article is an interesting and worthwhile read.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw in my two cents concerning the magazine’s now-infamous cover.

I’ve seen and bought many issues of TIME and/or NEWSWEEK which were adorned with the faces of some of the worst bastards of the twentieth century: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, any number of mass murders, any number of depraved faces….

Last week, looking at this particular cover as CNN brought me my first exposure to the controversy, I must admit that I did not immediately understand the uproar. As the brouhaha escalated, I realized that the good people of Boston, especially those who were crippled or lost family and friends were bound to have very strong feelings.

I tried to conjure up newsmagazine covers of murderers, but failed miserably.
Surely, the scurvy face of Charles Manson must have smiled out from from the newsstand at some point.  Likewise, the handsome face of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald…..I could not recall a similar hue and cry about such covers.

If this same cover had adorned the latest paper issue of TIME, fronting for the exact same article, one which seeks to examine how a seemingly-normal kid becomes a monster, would we be having the same situation… Isn’t ROLLING STONE paying the price for having evolved from a pop culture, contemporary music and style newsprint child of the 1960’s?

Many are arguing that this cover bestows “rock star” status upon Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Isn’t that indicative of their bias against ROLLING STONE?
I doubt that these individuals would have used that same label if this picture were on the cover of TIME.

Find a copy and read the article. It’s worth the time and effort…


Watching some of Anderson Cooper’s interview with the shadowy juror. I’m not impressed with either her words or what I can gauge of her intelligence. She might be sincere, but I think that she makes a case for us to consider a shift to the use of professional jurors.

I happen to be a life-long supporter of our current system. However, listening to the judge and attorneys “negotiate” this case’s instructions to the jurors, I asked myself how regular people, the constituents of a “jury of one’s peers” could understand all that they were being told to do once the door to the deliberation room closes. There are countries which utilize professional jurors. It might be time for us to consider a move in that direction.


36 hours since the Zimmerman jury delivered its verdict, and I’ve just returned from the supermarket. I had pulled my shopping cart into a checkout lane in which there was one younger man ahead of me. A black man.

His many purchases were all on the belt, and a little girl sat in his cart. He had a load of stuff, but the belt was moving quickly.
I jokingly asked him if he was sure that he had everything….he laughed and assured me that he’d forgotten nothing…the little girl looked at me and chuckled.

I smiled back at her, saying  “Hi, sweetheart.”
Her dad, hearing my voice again, told her to say hello to me, which she did, following which I asked her age, and he asked me where I was from. Recognizing that I had again been “betrayed” by my accent, I admitted that I was a Bronx boy.
His face lit up…”Me, too!” he happily exclaimed.
We chatted as we wheeled our carts into the parking lot, realizing that we had both spent our very early years in the same South Bronx neighborhood, although we were a generation apart, he being the age of my eldest son.

Getting to our cars, we thanked each other for the pleasant chat, shook hands and drove off.

A very pleasant 15 minutes on a day filled with coast to coast anger.


My old man was born on July 10, 1913, and he’d be exactly 100 years old if he were still with us. He passed away in the early 1990’s, and never really had much of a life. Perhaps his lot was a predetermined one. Perhaps his lack of a happy and fulfilled existence began on a dusty road in Poland or on a concrete sidewalk in The Bronx. To this day, I’m still not sure. Maybe I’ll never have the answer. I’ve finally learned that the reason for how he was  and the effect it had upon me was somewhat less important than finally coming to grips with how he and the rest of us were haunted.

Dad and my maternal grandmother (Fanny) sailed from Belgium in 1921, arriving at Ellis Island after several months at sea. My paternal grandfather had passed through Ellis Island a few years prior. As was quite customary, Wolf Benjamin Feigenbaum had departed their town in Poland to begin his American dream, planning to have his wife and child(ren?)*  join him once he was “established” in the USA.

I’ve documented the arrival of my father and grandmother. After a few years of stumbling and bumbling,  I also documented my grandfather’s earlier arrival in the United States. Census records attest to them living in The Bronx, New York.  My grandfather had taken up the trade of sheet metal worker, although it was likely called “tin smith” at that time. He worked at Fordham Cornice Works…one of his claims to fame was that he was part of the crew which put the roof on DeWitt Clinton High School’s new home in The Bronx.

He had also became a part of a social organization populated by other immigrants from the same town in Poland. Wolf was a stern, good-looking and confident man, so I  never understood how he and my grandmother came to be a couple. She was the opposite of all that he showed the world.
My grandmother settled into being a housewife…that was it for her. I am not aware of her ever working outside of the home, and logic dictates that she never did. Hindsight tells me that she suffered with a psychological demon or two. It still amazes me that she was able to cross the Atlantic Ocean, seven year old son in tow. Dad went through his life suffering from various degrees of manic-depression, bi-polarity, whatever. I’ve long felt that a weak gene came from Grandma’s side of the equation.

Dad went right into attending public, elementary school, made deliveries for a local tailor, and performed any number of other jobs as a young boy. At first, he did fairly well in school. By the time that he was to graduate from DeWitt Clinton High School, he seems to have leveled out as an average student. So, he then worked in grocery stores, stocking shelves in dairy departments with cheeses, juices, and the like.
This work was interrupted by the second world war, during which he served in the Navy.
So, his lifetime of work was one which involved menial work. I doubt that he was fulfilled by these labors. Compounding this lack of fulfillment was the fact that my grandparents had two more sons, both born in the 1920’s. Both of my uncles went on to attend college and work in professional capacities. My dad’s boyhood labors likely enabled my uncles to focus on their schooling to a much greater degree than such a focus had been available for him.
Now, I recognize that this was a fairly common way that families managed themselves: the eldest child often works, enabling younger siblings to enjoy a more lucrative youth and early adulthood.
I recognized that and accepted it, but my mother never could. As a young woman, she lived a couple of blocks away, but our family’s folklore is that my parents first met at a dance. She was born in Manhattan to parents who had emigrated from Austria-Hungary. As a child and young woman, she, her brother and her parents were more impoverished than the Feigenbaum family.

So, my dad went through his life, perhaps embarrassed by his lack of accomplishment, and often reminded of it by his wife’s obvious jealousy of my uncle’s wives. After all, they were reaping benefits denied to her.
Dad, struggling with psychological angst which he was unable to articulate, and carrying with him the memory of a terrible event from his early Polish childhood, eventually succumbed to several full-blown, depression-fueled breakdowns, the last of which presaged his death in a nursing home.

*Dad had a younger sister who apparently died in Poland, after being knocked down and suffering a broken leg. Gangrene  was to set in, and she succumbed before my dad and grandmother set sail for NYC.
This event haunted my dad for as long as I could remember. I used to think that he might have been the cause of this accident. Once upon a time I needed to know the truth. It no longer matters to me.  I’ve come to grips with his life.

Rest in Peace Dad.






One of my recent major mistakes has been to register online for this sweepstakes. As a result, I’m bombarded on a daily basis by at least three e-mails which require an exorbitant amount of time to move through.

Some of these e-mails call for me to do nothing more than perform a simple search, while others require number selections for lotto-style games. Still others present a variety of items, magazines, plants, etc, for me to browse through in the hope that I’ll make some kind of a purchase.

Sure, I could just ignore these, delete them in a split-second. But, what if one of these is my ticket to winning five thousand dollars a week for life?

They’ve now begun to send me e-mails to alert me that they’ll soon be sending me additional opportunities via snail mail.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to make this stop!

Maybe I’ll start a support group for others in this situation.

….Care to sign up?





A very good friend of mine, a former colleague, a few years older than I is currently hospitalized with a potentially life-threatening affliction. I spoke with her daughter last night, and was informed that her mother has been administered the last rites. In all my life, this is the very first time that I’ve been told this about a contemporary of mine. It was indeed a sobering experience. Her illness has stopped me in my tracks. When you reach your mid-60’s, these things start happening more and more frequently. I know and understand this intellectually, but the words “last rites” hit me like a sledgehammer while I was out with a bunch of my friends. I spoke with another Catholic friend this morning…she told me that the administration of the rites doesn’t necessarily mean that the end is imminent. For Michele, I hope that she’ll weather this storm.

In the midst of this, an elderly neighbor passed away at 11:00 PM on Thursday. He was 89 years old and had been very ill since I moved here a year and a half ago. It was amazing to watch this old guy fight to prolong his life. When I first arrived here, I was told that he was at death’s door. Yet, I saw him dancing and playing golf before he recently began to lose the struggle again. But, he fought like the Dickens to survive…Fred had been a doctor, an OG/GYN guy who delivered  in excess of six thousand babies. His life story is literally a proof of the circle of life….a VERY BIG CIRCLE!

Many of my Facebook friends are praying for Michele, and I hope that her story’s not yet come full circle…









I remember the very first NFL/ AFL Championship Game, something which this game used to be called.  It was exciting.  Rather, the week leading up to it was exciting. It was something brand new, and that was the biggest part of the excitement. It would be televised on both CBS and NBC…my lord, it doesn’t get bigger than that, and the game was still to be played. The Green Bay Packers went out and did what most people expected them to do. They repeated the schooling of the upstart AFL the following year. But, the third time out, that brash kid from Alabama turned the whole thing around, and our life has never been the same.
Now, we deal with weeks of pre-game huckstering, and the game itself is virtually over-shadowed by the build-up, not the least of which is the anticipation of the commercials.They were once simply very clever and funny. Today, they’re mostly about flesh and beer, not that I really have a problem with either.
But, shouldn’t the game be enough to satisfy at least one of our appetites? I guess not..
A few terrible games have taken place on this Sunday, and we’ve also been treated to some incredibly memorable football moments.
For this grown-up boy, the best thing about the arrival of Super Bowl Sunday is the truth that pitchers and catchers will be reporting in less than two weeks to prepare for the coming of that other game, America’s former past time.
I enjoy football, but I love baseball. It’s a perfect game in its simplicity, in the fact that everyone plays both ways, and one player can’t run with the ball every time, can’t repeatedly take it to the hoop, can’t carry the puck across center ice over and over.

I’ll spend a few hours in The Big Easy tonight, and I’m hoping for a good, competitive game, but I can’t wait to hear someone yell “Play Ball!”