Category Archives: Essay Categories

A Tribeca Palimpsest from Days Gone By

New York’s City Hall has stood, majestic, since the start of the War of 1812, its design by Green-Wood resident John McComb, Jr.,  little changed save an Alabama limestone cladding added in the mid-1950s over the original buff sandstone rear facade and the front of Massachusetts marble.  McComb’s name is seldom recognized today, his only other surviving creations in Manhattan being Gracie […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Found Objects, Lost New York |


FLOURISH Since my teenage years I’ve been an early and baroque music devotee, attending sacred music at New York’s many churches  I’ve thrilled to organ recitals in St. John the Divine’s vast sanctuary where the pipes envelope one with overwhelming sounds, inhaled Monteverdi and Rameau and Scarlatti and Schutz with the incense at Smokey Mary’s […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Personal Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , |

Wasted Lives and Broken Dreams

The whistle wailed my sleep away in the upper berth as the Crescent hurtled towards New Orleans, rolling back the night along its storied route. Into the dim night I peered from the ribbon windows. Deserted main streets stared back at me. Track-side once meant promise: out of town visitors and commercial travelers alike, poured […]

Also posted in New Orleans |

The Way of All Flesh

There he is that “gallus old codger” (thank you, Damon Runyon), front and center at his daughter’s wedding, circa 1934.  Shortly before his death, Edward West “Daddy” Browning made a fool of himself one last time as he escorted Dorothy “Sunshine” Browning out of the church doors with her new husband Clarence Hood, a laundry […]

Also posted in Call Me Daddy: Essays |

True Color

It was springtime, 1978, and my girlfriend and I were living in sin.  At least we’d kashered our little flesh pot by pledging troths.  Now it was time to pick the place for the wedding simkhe.  We’d already had fair warning: my late father-in-law had come from Germany as a young adult in 1926.  His […]

Also posted in Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

Peaches Makes the Rounds

“Peaches’ Act Postponed” blares the large-type headline in a New York daily from late march, 1928.  Not long separated from her Daddy Browning in one of the most spectacular and widely-publicized marital spats of the Roaring Twenties, 17-year old Peaches was “at it” again with another man much older than she.  Nary a penny came […]

Also posted in Call Me Daddy: Essays |


Itka’s sun-tanned left fore-arm stretched out limply from her hospital smock when I visited a few months ago, the five numbers tatooed by the Nazi SS shocking me with their blue clarity as nothing else can.  She was in a rehab center near Philadelphia after falling down the stairs in her Northeast rowhouse.  Thank G-d she wasn’t hurt worse, but still […]

Also posted in Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

Sol Goldberg and A Sow’s Ear in The Bowery Boogie !

Also posted in Found Objects, Press, Sol Goldberg biography, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

Until You Do Not Know, Part II: Ad Lo Yada, Ha’kheylek ha’sheyni

AD D’LO YADA – PART 2 Alone, down a darkened block in Brooklyn’s Borough Park I sauntered past midnight, a few weeks ago, unafraid.  Street crime within the eruv, the religious boundaries of this ultra-orthodox nabe, is very low.  To boot, I never feel anxious because I know well the local tongue.  Speaking to myself in Yiddish […]

Also posted in Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

Cry Uncle

I grew up in a violent world.  Boys do that, everywhere, like it or not.  But I had a particular problem growing up a lonely Jewish kid in the late 1950s and early 1960s in a working-class section of an East Tennessee town.  My closest relatives lived 750 miles north.  Summers down south were languorous, […]

Also posted in Personal Politics |