Category Archives: Essay Categories

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 […]

Also posted in Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |


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 […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Lost New York, Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

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 […]

Also posted in Lost New York, Uncategorized |

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, […]

Also posted in Lost New York, Uncategorized |

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, […]

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

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 […]

Also posted in Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

The Measure of a Man

The size of a funeral is the measure of a man, and in 1932, Upper West Sider Sol Brill’s departure from this earth was larger than life.  An, honest, dignified, gentle soul was cut down by cancer at age 54, at the height of his career as a movie-theater builder and operator.  Brill’s funeral was […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Lost New York, Sol Brill, Sol Brill, Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

All that remains….

Embarked on another difficult voyage, I thought I finally spied land from afar, in a quest to repatriate to its rightful heir yet another found object, in this case a trove, rescued from the trash, of family pictures and memorabilia.   I’ve searched for Kathy Denton Saville for a good four years, my only clues […]

Also posted in Found Objects, Uncategorized |

The Toast of the Town….

                                  Billy Niblo is quite the man these days, despite being gone since 1878 ! Come hear this blogger speak about Niblo’s fascinating career as New York’s premier tavernkeep and then pleasure garden owner in the early and mid-19th century […]

Also posted in Lost New York, Talks & Events, William Niblo biography |

The Trilogy of Desire…

Most of us know Theodore Dreiser as the author of An American Tragedy, Sister Carrie, and Jennie Gerhardt, but in his lifetime, Dreiser was known for much more. A master story teller and cultural historian, Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire has fallen off the cliff of popular consciousness, relegated to the academic world.  Even more obscure […]

Also posted in Lost New York, Uncategorized |