Category Archives: Essay Categories

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 |

That Gallus Old Codger

Here he is, “that gallus old codger,” as Damon Runyon would write some ten months later: 52-year old Daddy Browning at the time of his engagement to 15-year old Frances “Peaches” Heenan.  Look at the evil mug on the chap !  And what are those bandages and scars on Peaches’ face, neck and arms? It’s March […]

Also posted in Call Me Daddy: Essays |

A deed, now done…

My Skype screen glowed and there he was, his 66-year old voice as clear as a bell, a bald head with a kind face beaming at me.  Bob Newmark looks a bit like a kind-faced Kojak, or perhaps Yul Brynner in his prime.  Once again my friend Roger Joslyn, genealogist extroardinaire, plucked an arrow from […]

Also posted in Found Objects |


Driving east on a mid-town street in the mid-1980s, my acquaintance Andy W. spotted a bronze plaque in a pile of demolition debris.  Intrigued by the shiny item, he stopped and rescued this memorial plaque, dumped on the street at the start of renovation of a former union headquarters of the millinery trade. How in heaven’s name could […]

Also posted in Found Objects |

Batya in the Heart of Darkness

The title of Joseph Conrad’s novel has always intrigued me, though I’ve never cracked a page. I understand the scenes to be strange and frightful; you never know what’s coming next. New York City is a jungle, too, of cultures and races, living at each other’s edges, and so it is at Bedford and Nostrand, […]

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

More on Peaches and Daddy

Peaches Browning may have failed in her bid for wealth when her suit for divorce, a property settlement, and alimony against Daddy Browning failed in March, 1926, but all was not lost. Her fame was nationwide now, and her teenage dreams of a stage career on solid ground. Caroline Heenan, Peaches’ mother, who had encouraged […]

Also posted in Call Me Daddy: Essays |

A Sow’s Ear…

“You can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse” goes the popular refrain. I beg to differ, though. Sometimes one may. Browsing among the vast piles of bric-a-brac in a Chelsea flea market right before Hannukah, a tiny leather change purse caught my eye. Sifting through piles of dust-covered junk, golden lettering on the […]

Also posted in Current Projects, Faves, Found Objects, Sol Goldberg biography |

A Con Grows in Brooklyn

A CON GROWS IN BROOKLYN… Brooklyn, March of 1961: The Cold War shivered America, the perils of internationalism evident all about. Camelot’s reign in the Kennedy White House had just begun, though, and Jackie’s hiring of French chef Rene Verdon to reign over America’s presidential kitchen heralded a new day in what had been a […]

Also posted in Lost New York |

An Indecent Encounter

Behind the coffee counter, Hyapatia seemed pained when I asked for my usual two pounds of Soho Blend. It took but a moment to find out why. Just as I mouthed “percoloator grind, please,” her tormentor reappeared. “Eks-kyewz ME !,” a lacquered young East Sider spewed. I blanched in shock as I wiped myself off. […]

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