Author Archives: Ben

Channeling Henry Roth

AUTHOR’S  NOTE:  The factual details of Henry Roth’s life are taken from Steven Kellman’s masterful biography of Roth (Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth; W.W. Norton & Co., New York: 2005) as well as the four volumes of Roth’s autobiographical novel “Mercy of a Rude Stream” and his posthumously published last such novel, “Shifting Landscape.”  My […]

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William Braude’s Paduana 18….

Every morning this gorgeous paduana starts off my day and keeps me going.  Try it out and be blessed…  

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It was June 1st, 1971: still 18 years old, I’d signed a lease with no guarantors for a four room tenement apartment at 505 West 122nd Street, complete with mice and roaches just off heroin-ridden Amsterdam Avenue. Dormitory life was not for me at Columbia College, where I’d matriculated almost two years before. I had […]

Posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Lost New York, Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes | 2 Comments

Making Moxie from Misery With a Pit Stop in Between

Here at the northeast corner of 36th Street and 7th Avenue, the massive structure at 485 Seventh Avenue is undergoing yet another transformation, and a sorry one at that.  The entablatured M (see below) memorializes a benevolent history, one that slowly deteriorated after War II, and then sank into the swamps of capitalistic greed and […]

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Among the Stones

My friend Russell shares my taste for all things historical, but he’s a hard man to visit, in the recent past working two jobs to pay the rent.  Notwithstanding the pressures of his life, his brain remains as big and always open as a barn door. A complicated relationship he has, with memory and honor, […]

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A SAD GOODBYE [First published in The New Partisan 2006]

After a years-long adieu, the last major food exchange in lower Manhattan disappeared. some 11 years ago.  The Fulton Fish Market is no more, moved lock, stock and barrel to a barren industrial park in the East Bronx. A site that nourished our souls for generations has vanished. The loss in incalculable.   No longer […]

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Visits with my younger daughter who lives in France are fewer than I would prefer: once or, if I am lucky, twice a year. We plan our time together when I arrive serendipitously, choosing local sites, repairing things in her house side-by-side, doing laundry, cooking together and enjoying a normal and pleasant adult relationship. But […]

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Picking a Beautiful Bronx Mansion’s Lock

[Acknowledgement: The author graciously acknowledges being introduced to the Keil Mansion described below by Frances Stern, some many years ago.] On a chilly November morning I knocked on the door of 381 East 165th Street in the Bronx, a short walk from the busy, modern stretch of the Bronx Judicial Center complex on 161st Street, […]

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On the Wings of Angels

During the weeks after my mother’s passing on December 4, 2016, I was particularly comforted by the invitation of my friend Abe, the bal koreh (official Torah reader) at Park Avenue Synagogue on 87th Street and Madison Avenue, to attend Shabbes (Sabbath) services and recite the mourner’s kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead that […]

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A Widow’s Mite: Virginia Penny and the Struggle for Equal Employment and Pay for Women in the USA in the Late 19th Century

Well-known social reformers of many a stripe are interred in Green-Wood Cemetery.  Single Taxer Henry George, anti-slavery leader Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, (known in his time as The Great Divine for his oratory and inspirational skills), and Henry Bergh, founder of the ASPCA and The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children […]

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