Guilty of Innocence #prosechallenge

I await the sound of the bell to toll daily. Each day another inmate on death row is sent to their ultimate judgment – guilty or wrongly accused – it doesn’t matter. In the end, after the switch is pulled – the ultimate judge in the ultimate world will reveal the ultimate verdict.
We all say we are innocent here – we are the ultimate salesmen. We plead to our lawyers, to our friends and family our innocence. We keep a straight face, find the tears to cry and our voices go raspy as an added effect. We lose weight because we truly cannot keep down the food we force feed ourselves. We look gaunt, we are unshaven and our hair is gone. Our eyes have no more life in them because there is no life when you have a death sentence thrust at you.
The bell tolls…that’s old Jackie Robinson; that’s what they call him here. In actuality he was white and for a while was the only white man on the row. So some murderer called him that, saying that he has broken the barrier for the white man to finally get whats coming to them.
He was a piece of shit murderer Jackie was. He admitted it to me, said he would kill those kids again if he had the chance. No contrition, no fear of what awaited him – he blamed the mother of those kids for everything – that’s why he watches as the blood rushed out of her and left her like a busted balloon in the bed where just an hour earlier she was fucking around with his brother. His brother was on the floor, head busted from the baseball bat they once played baseball with; in a pool of blood.
The kids came home from school and he fed them the cyanide that killed them each one at a time; then he slit their throats for good measure.
His wife he kept tied up and forced to watch as one by one their lives were taken away. He sliced her jugular and then watched and watched.
He laughed as he told the story to me…I acted calm and collected.
Tonight, the sound of the bell is justified and I hope his victims watch as he burns in a forever swirl of fire.
Tomorrow, the bell will toll for me. I took the blame for my woman when she drowned our baby in the bathtub. She was upset about something and when she sliced her wrists as our Allissa floated away I had no other choice but to take the blame.
I confessed to the crime – I failed them somehow.
I thought I could make her happy and create a life for us…but I failed; so I take the blame for her.
I am to blame; I await the bell to toll in my name, I have discarded with any clergy or final meals; I want to be sent to the ultimate judge, the ultimate world and to be free from the sentence of an eternal pain.

Bob Dylan (Soundtracks from my Life)


“Bringing it all back Home” was the first album I was permitted to listen to on my own. Not for any reason other than I had scratched the Sgt. Pepper record previously and was prohibited from putting any records on by myself. So I was allowed to press the “Automatic” button on the turntable and listen to whatever was on there. When no one was home I would go into my brother’s room, turn on the receiver, press the automatic button for the arm to move towards the left and then to rest its needle onto the vinyl.

I would go to lay down with the album cover on my stomach and listen, over and over again him telling stories about everything and everyone around him.
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” As an 8 or 9 year old hearing those words caused me to smile. I thought they were funny. As a 12 year old hearing those words told me what I needed to know in life; don’t take other peoples words as the truth; you go check yourself, live it and feel it. That is how I have tried (failed many times) to live my life. So many times I should have listened to the “weatherman” but I needed to do things my way and got caught in the storm with no shelters in sight. For several weeks I would listen to Side 1; beginning with Johnny in the Basement and ending with Columbus sailing into town. Great songs and I know them all by heart, but to me, what lay waiting on the other side of the record would be life transforming. 

One day I had the nerve to switch sides and put the album on side 2. My life changed…
“Mr. Tambourine man.” I closed my eyes and listened to him and I was mesmerized;

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow…

My brain was on fire and I listened to the song once again, then I let it move ahead to the next song…“Gates of Eden” ends with these lyrics which seduce me with dreams of my own.

At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what’s true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden

The next song shifted my soul and I am not exaggerating here; I was an 8 or 9 year old kid at the time and the words took me away. The singing and the guitar playing felt as if he was directing it straight to me. I was too young to comprehend the actual meaning of the words; but there was something planted in my brain. I was around 14 years that life is not easy; that life and people are shaped by people who have something to sell or an agenda they want to see realized. Each verse can be broken down as a sentence in the bible; each verse sung by a young man basically saying he is who he is, defines the unhappiness around him – all based on disguises and fears of discovery. Just look at this one verse from, “Its alright Ma (I’m only bleedin) 

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you
You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

“Its all over now, Baby Blue.”

Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you
Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you
The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore
Strike another match, go start anew
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue

Perhaps he is saying that the world is such a mess its better off to just blow it up and start again somewhere else. Or possibly its one mans quest to just leave home and the memories behind. The beauty of the lyrics across his entire career; they cannot be defined as black and white.

A snow day somewhere around 1980; I am at home nursing my broken heart with hot chocolate and Yodels when my brother tells me to listen to an album. He puts it on and then leaves me alone in his room, closing the door. 
Once again, my reality shifted and my heart was on fire. From the opening guitar and then his voice, “Early one morning the sun was shining…” The album takes you through the different relationships in the the narrator’s lifetimes. From the first song, “Tangled up in Blue” where he basically tells the story of love, love lost and the never ending search for new love. This whole album could have been a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald or even Shakespeare – no boundaries of time periods. Love has no boundaries and time has no business holding loves hand in any way.

In this verse he uses a car as a metaphor for love that has broken down, leaving the two passengers on a road somewhere; one walking East the other walking towards the North West. Read the lyrics below; each word is robust and bursting with emotion.

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin’ away
I heard her say over my shoulder
“We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue

The poetry and the blood poured on the tracks of this album are cathartic for the listener and perhaps for the artist. Think of the titles, “Simple Twist of Fate.”  The title alone can inspire tomes. 

People tell me it’s a sin
To know and feel too much within
I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring
She was born in spring, but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate

Followed by, “You’re a Big Girl Now” where the artist paints a picture of lost love with black paint dripping with red spots from his rawest emotions.  
I’m going out of my mind, oh, oh
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we’ve been apart. 

“Idiot Wind,” is definitely the centerpiece of this album which was initially recorded acoustically and then re-recorded. There are bootlegs of the original recording called, “Blood on the Tapes,” which has the songs played acoustically, alternative lyrics and tempos.

The original “Idiot Wind,” is a stark recounting of the love and trust that was lost. The words are painful in a toned down manner which cuts to the core. The released version is more of a angrier emotional outburst while the original is more of a introspective remorseful tone.To me they each, the released version and the acoustic version, are expressed in the swings of emotion that occur when love is lost. 

I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I’m finally free
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me
You’ll never know the hurt I suffered nor the pain I rise above
And I’ll never know the same about you, your holiness or your kind of love
And it makes me feel so sorry. 

The next song on the collection, “You’re gonna make me Lonesome when you Go,” recedes back to the relationship towards the end but one all lovers can relate to, especially the closing words.

Yer gonna have to leave me now, I know
But I’ll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass, in the ones I love
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go

Meet Me In The Morning is the first song on side 2 – I never fell in love with that song which takes away the perfection of the album (to myself) as released. I prefer the alternate version which was on the original collection of songs, “Call Letter Blues,” which contain the telling words

Well, children cry for mother
I tell them, “Mother took a trip”
Well, I walk on pins and needles
I hope my tongue don’t slip

Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts One of my favorite Dylan songs tells the story of a group of people, all disenchanted with whom they have turned out to be. The Jack of Hearts, Lily, Rosemary and Big Jim. There were Jack of Hearts boys breaking through the wall of the bank, the drunk judge who was sober, the backstage manager and the crowds of people. I always loved this line – so many ways to define it. 

Lily washed her face, took her dress off and buried it away
“Has your luck run out?” she laughed at him, “Well, I guess you must
have known it would someday
Be careful not to touch the wall, there’s a brand-new coat of paint
I’m glad to see you’re still alive, you’re lookin’ like a saint”
Down the hallway footsteps were comin’ for the Jack of Hearts

If You See Her, Say Hello is the hangover from the pain of separation. There is a sense of pain and regret but it is tempered with the hope against hope that they will meet again.

 Sundown, yellow moon, I replay the past
I know every scene by heart, they all went by so fast
If she’s passin’ back this way, I’m not that hard to find
Tell her she can look me up if she’s got the time 

Shelter From The Storm Sometimes you need to wander far away in order to find your way back home. You end up running and searching for the Shelter from the Storm only to open your eyes and see that the shelter is within reach the whole time.

I’ve heard newborn babies wailin’ like a mournin’ dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love
Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm” 

The album ends with Buckets Of Rain buckets of tears; the misery of new found love or is the misery of love lost? The album ends with these lines of acceptance.

Life is sad
Life is a bust
All ya can do is do what you must
You do what you must do and ya do it well
I’ll do it for you, honey baby
Can’t you tell?

His most recent collection of original material, an album called, “Tempest,” was released in 2012. Since then he has released two collections of songs from the Sinatra genre which he has done a Dylanesque job with. 

In the “Early Roman Kings,” from “Tempest” he sings, 

If you see me comin’
And you’re standing there
Wave your handkerchief
In the air
I ain’t dead yet
My bell still rings
I keep my fingers crossed
Like them early Roman kings

“Tempest” where he tells the story of the Titanic through the eyes of several passengers. This song is just as great and well written as anything he has written in his career. My favorite line humanizes one of the men who gives up his seat on a lifeboat after laughing to himself that he never learned to swim.

Jim Dandy smiled
He never learned to swim
Saw the little crippled child
And he gave his seat to him
He saw the starlight shining
Streaming from the East
Death was on the rampage
But his heart was now at peace.

     Today, October 13, 2016 Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Any person who doubts whether a musician can be awarded such a prize should sit down and read his book of lyrics which will be released in November. Bob Dylan Lyrics 1961-2012. No writer has touched and changed the world the way Mr. Dylan has. There are generations who will still be listening and deciphering his lyrics forever – Shakespearean for sure. Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan, Jack Frost, The Jester and Lucky Wilbury; among his other names has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Roll on Bob, roll on.  As he sang for his contemporary John Lennon. 

Shine your light
Movin’ on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John


Tales from the F Train Chapter 3 The Levirate Marriage

Tamar was late.

She was in her apartment on east 2nd and avenue S and she was running to make an appointment in the city at 1030. It was already 845 and time was moving too quickly. She grabbed her pocketbook, cell phone and threw on her winter coat.  Apparently there was a chance of a snowstorm today so she also pulled on her boots in place of her shoes.

The door slammed behind her; she locked the top lock and ran down the two flights of stairs to the street.

Outside it was cold and overcast; the public school across the street was just starting it’s day as was the Yeshiva around the corner. She saw the kids walking to school and she thought about Er. She stopped, collected her mind and threw on her headphones to distract her from thinking about him.

On her phone came a Billy Joel song called, “Get it Right the first time,” she smiled and clicked “next song” button. The phone was on random so the next song was up to chance. Of course the song that came on was her wedding song with asshole. She pulled out the headphone jack and pushed it into her pocket book. At the same time picking her metro card from her purse.

Tamar ran up the stairs of the Avenue S entrance to the F train. No matter how often she exercised, these stairs always left her out of breath. She swiped her metro card and walked through the full height turnstile, up the stairs to the platform.

Tamar was born and raised in the small enclave of the Sephardic community in Brooklyn where people were overly obsessed with perception. She attended a yeshiva high school and found herself breaking the rules with a wink and a smile, one by one. She had smoked in the boys room (Yes the boys room) and had lost her virginity in the backseat of a strangers car. She had a drinking alcohol phase and had tried pot once or twice but was not impressed. Using her looks and her charm – she was able to complete the four years and secure her diploma.  

After she graduated high school she went to study abroad in Florence, Italy for the semester. Her parents were supportive or maybe just ambivalent. They weren’t the most “hands on” parents and that had helped her get away with all the crap she pulled off in High School. Which is not to be confused with uncaring. Her parents loved her but were too busy while she was growing up to be as attentive to her as most first borns require.

Tamar was far from stupid – she was as intelligent as she was reckless. The social worker in Italy said her intelligence is what spurred the behavior. It Italy she cleaned up her act and stopped drinking and smoking. She was labeled a “Nerd” by her friends; but she didn’t care. She liked who she was and had somehow matured years in the three months she was away.

She returned to Brooklyn and her family and friends were amazed at her transformation; a Seattle “Grunge Girl” when she had left home; she returned a lady with a self confidence that bordered on arrogance.

Tamar possessed a splendor that was not simple to define. She had olive skin, high cheekbones, a small nose and thick lips; topped by slight curled jet black hair and dark brown eyes. Her shape was athletically toned, a classical hourglass who would cause inspire lascivious thoughts among the women and men who would see her walk pass.  

The train began to roll into the station; making sounds she imagined a thousand hammers working simultaneously would make. A man with blond hair and prescription glasses all dressed in dark green was singing a song about “Jesus,” as he was picking up trash from the platform. She caught a glimpse of an acquaintance of hers named Wanda; usually she would have went to sit next to her – but today was not that sort of day.

As the train departed the station she saw that snow had begun to fall from the sky;  she could see a dusting on the grass below and on the rooftops. She always loved when it would snow; it made her feel like a child again – hoping there would be no school and she would spend the day in her pajamas drinking hot chocolate with her mother. Even if that rarely occurred; the feeling of wanting a snow day never ceased. She wanted a time out from reality instead of spending days and nights in a cycle of misery and regret which is where this “Snowy day” found her.

She closed her eyes and thought about the song that had come on randomly earlier. “It had to be you,” was the song they had danced to at the wedding. She tried to convince herself at that time that she felt they were as one. Once she kissed him, she could still feel his lips against hers; cold blooded and dispassionate. It was then she felt a pain inside of her as if a hypnotic spell had been cast and now it had run it’s course. She whispered that she needed to go to the bathroom.

Avenue N station and the commuters were all gathering to run into the train as soon as the doors opened.

She remembered running into the bridal suite and sitting across the heart shaped mirror crying. Kelly came in the room and asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t know – I feel like this is all wrong.”

“What is?”

“Er and me; why are we getting married?”

“You got married two hours ago; it could be you are just having an anxiety attack. Let me get you a drink.”

She didn’t want a drink, there was something inside of her telling her something was wrong. She went back onto the dance floor and played the role of the happy bride – she would enjoy the wedding and ignore the anxiety.

Ditmas Avenue Several Hasidim walk on the train and stand across from her. One of them looks familiar but the truth is, she doesn’t know any Hasidim. So she blows it off. Closing her eyes as the train descends underground she recalls the next afternoon and the phone call she received from her father.

“Where are you honey?” Her father asked her.

“I am in the city at the hotel, why what’s going on?”

“Is Er with you?”

“He is in the bathroom right now. What’s going on?”

“I need you to not ask any questions and act as if we are talking about the wedding. I need you to stay relaxed and I need you to tell Er that you want to go for a walk alone, make a up a reason but please, stay cool. I am on my way to the city now; there is a Starbucks on 58th between 3rd Avenue and Lex. I will be there in a ½ hour.”

“Daddy, what’s the problem? Why can’t Er know or come or what’s going on?”

“Please just do as I say and I will speak to you when I pick you up.”

She knew there was something wrong at the wedding and now it seemed to be confirmed. She put whatever valuables she had in her pocket book; threw on her coat and walked to the bathroom door.

“Honey, I am going for a little walk, I want to get some air.”

“I will come with you.” Er responded defensively.

“Do you mind if I walk alone? I need clear my head and enjoy the moment. The stress is slowly melting away; we can meet in a couple of hours? Please understand.”

He looked at her and she felt that he knew she knew something. But in truth it was only a hunch and she was still in the dark about what her father was alluding to.

“OK, I’ll go to the gym, take a shower and then we can meet for lunch?”

“Yes, yes, just feeling a little overwhelmed.” With that she opened the door and left the room.

Seventh Avenue

Her father had picked her up and told her what he had found out.

“There are questions about his identity – we are almost certain he is not who he says he is.”

“If there are questions about his identity, how do you know he is not who he says he is?”

“You know Frankie M, right?”

“Of course the guy that comes to watch the Met’s games?”

“Right, what you don’t know is that he works for Homeland Security.”

“OK and?”

“At the wedding he took a picture of Er and sent it to his office to have them see if they could match him up. There was something in Er’s demeanor that brought out a suspicion. He also gave Er a glass of water and then took it as a DNA sample.” He was silent.

“Dad, what are you telling me?”

“Right now there are around 20 homeland security officers in the hotel where you just were. They are or have already, taken him into custody.”

“I don’t understand.”

“He is a wanted terrorist. He is not Jewish, he is Muslim and he is a big player in ISIS.”

“You mean to tell…You are saying that…Oh my god I am going to get sick.” They pulled over and she opened the door and threw up on the curb. Her father was standing by her now and holding a bottle of water. She was crying hysterically.

“I am sorry…” He began to cry and knew there was nothing he could say or do to make her feel better and that’s what hurt the most.

His phone rang; he stepped away.

“Yeah.” Sniffling then. “What? How could he get away? You better have security sent to our home, right away. I am on my way home – I will be there in 20 minutes.”

“Tamar, we need to leave and now.”

“What happened?”

“Er left the room and evaded the officers. They don’t know where he is.”

“Track his phone.”

“I am sure they know to do that.” He responded and then called Frankie.

“Did you try and track his cell phone?”

“Ok great.” He pressed end and said to Tamar. “He left his phone in the hotel room.”

“He was going to the gym, he said. Did they check there? How do they know for certain that he is…” She was in a state of shock as they drove away. He made his way down Broadway towards the Battery Tunnel. She closed her eyes and began to cry.

“Dad, I am so sorry…” Crying, “I had no idea…”

“Of course you didn’t; he is a professional con artist – he evaded immigration and must have some connections somewhere because he was able to get the marriage license.”

“That’s why he wanted to stay in the country – he couldn’t leave.”

“What do you mean?”

“I wanted to go to on a honeymoon in the Caribbean or Mexico; just somewhere the weather is almost guaranteed. He said he wanted to rent a winnebago and drive across country.”

“OK, well for right now try and relax somehow.”

“Are you kidding? I have been through a web of bullshit for the past 6 months – I fell in love with freaking Osama Bin Laden and married him. How could I have been such a dumb asshole? What the hell? I knew it – I knew there was something wrong at the wedding.”

“What do you mean?”

“Out of nowhere I got this bad feeling inside of me as we were dancing. I felt sick.”

“That’s when you ran into the bridal suite?”

“Yes – Kelly came in and told me it was just nerves or anxiety; made sense. It’s as if I was under some sort of spell and suddenly it stopped and I found myself married to a stranger.”

Her father’s phone rang.

4th Avenue

“Ok that was Frank they have a position on Er, he will keep me updated. In the meantime there will be around the clock security on us and you in particular.”

She looked out the window; the snow was really coming down hard now; there was snow all around. She knew that the Statue of Liberty was across the river but this morning, the snow seemed to have erased it from view. Which was just as well.  She felt a pang of pain inside of her and shrugged it off as nerves. She was late and knew that it had something to do with the pain inside of her.  

Er had proposed to her right outside of Lady Liberty.

“They say that the Lady in green holds the torch to signify that liberty will light up the way for the people. It is why I stand here and I ask for your hand in marriage; for your torch will light up the way to paradise.”

When she remembers those words she cringes and wishes it was all an actual nightmare and not a nightmarish reality.

Bergen Street

When Er was surrounded by homeland security he acted the only way a coward could. He set off the vest he was wearing – suicide vest they call it. They should call it the coward’s vest because only a coward would kill innocent people while taking his own life. The explosion tore him into pieces and set him on his path to Islamic paradise. Thankfully; the vest only detonated a small explosion and only Er was killed. What a religion – she thought. No one knew other than her family and Homeland security that Er was a terrorist and had died due to him blowing himself up. The newspapers spoke about an explosion that had killed an innocent man while he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The explosion, they reported, was caused by a gas leak.


Jay Street Metrotech

Six months later and Tamar met David; an Ashkenazi (European descent) Jew with light hair and green eyes. Prior to the first date Frank had a full background check done on him and he was cleared. So, despite it being a “Blind date,” it was anything but from her end. Now it was one year since they had met and she was just permitting herself to be happy.

Broadway Lafayette

Now, as David is in Las Vegas for a industry show – she is willing the train to go faster even though she is right on time. She doesn’t know what the future is with her and David. He is the opposite of Er and she knows it. He works hard and is transparent about everything he feels, does and sees. Her parents love him as do her siblings. They never cared much for Er and still accepted him as her groom. This time around her father was not taking any chances. Also his family lived in the area and she had gone to the same school as his sister.  

“I like this guy, he is a good person.” Her father said.

“How do you know?” Tamar responded.

“He is real, you can sense that he is confident in himself and has no impulse to lie about anything. Plus, you know I had him checked out twice.”

That was her father’s way of telling her that she must love again, she must move forward. She wonder how much, if anything, he knew about her past two weeks.

34th Street Herald Square

She thought about the days, weeks and months after her wedding night and felt a sigh of relief. She had dodged a bullet with Er. Homeland Security had found out that Er was part of a massive cell located in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights area. She didn’t know the details only that the cell was gone and apparently, so was any danger to her or her family.

Somewhere between 34th street and 42nd street

The train had stopped moving now, caught somewhere between 34th street and 42nd street. People moaned, sighed and cursed under their breath when the announcement was made that the train ahead of them on the tracks; an M train; had issues and was waiting to be pulled out of the station. “It should be less than 10 minutes – we apologize for the inconvenience.”

She looked around the train and spied an Asian lady pulling kernels off a corn on the cob. One by one, quicker that most people would eat popcorn out of a bag; she would pull one off and then stuff it in her mouth.

A very white man began. Indiscreetly, cutting his nails as he sat against the window with full view of the passengers. The sound irritated everyone and the flying pieces of finger nails sealed the deal for one man to tell him to stop. He kept on clipping and flinging and the man stood up and warned him once again.

“Stop cutting your nails or I will kick the living shit out of you.” The man was over 6 feet tall and was wearing an army winter coat.

The very white man looked up at him, took off his left sneaker, pulled off his sock and proceeded to cut his toe nails. The tall man threw a punch at the self-pedicurist and the man went flying onto the floor. His nail clipper flew out of his hand and right into an old lady’s lap. She slapped it off of her lap and she screamed. The train moved and the tall man fell on top of the self-pedicurist; the train stopped abruptly.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the inconvenience but they seem to be having trouble removing the disabled train from the station. We will keep you informed. Thank you for your understanding.”

“Who the hell is understanding? I need to get to work.” suddenly the doors from the next car opened and in came walking a mexican mariachi band. Singing in unison a song;

Míra que el día que de mí te enamores

Yo voy a ser feliz y con puro amor

Te protegeré y será un honor

Dedicarme a tí, éso quiera Dios.

When they saw the men on the floor they simultaneously stopped, turned around and walked to the next car. As they left a tall skinny black man wearing a bow tie, a stetson and horn rimmed glasses came in with a too huge to be normal smile. A book in his hand he began to read; And remember, the time that we are living in is the end of the world we have known and the coming in of the world of Allah — the world of peace and security.

A man stood up and told the guy to, “Get the fuck off this train or I will personally take that bowtie and strangle you with it.”

The man stood and looked at him saying defiantly; “But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads; Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron.

With those words he turned and walked out the same way the Mexicans had come in. The two men on the floor stood up and went back to sitting at their seats without a word being exchanged.

She laughed to herself and thought about the Muslims and tried to remind herself that there are good people who are Muslims. Just as there are people in all religions who can be bad and good – it’s same across the board.

She thought about Er and how he had convinced her about the story of his life. Maybe she convinced herself it was true; in any case she should have known better. According to him this is how the fairytale went.

Er was born in Syria in 1990 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Damascus. When they were finally given the approval to leave the country, they went to Paris since his mother had family there.

He grew up living in a small town Dinan, in the Brittany Region in France. They lived in an apartment not far from the Theater of the Jacobins on Rue Carnot; he told her. She was romanced by the sound of his description of the small town. He promised her he would bring her there to meet his parents, who were too sick to travel. He had siblings who had moved to different spots across Europe and he had lost touch with them.   

She thought about the state of mind that must have kept her in denial about any misgivings she had about him. How can anyone lose touch with their siblings in this moment in time? Social media and inexpensive ways to communicate across the world and still he had lost touch? She didn’t question it. When no one from his side of the family showed up for the wedding her father just shrugged and said with a laugh, “Less expensive this way.”

After the wedding and the explosion – she was able to annul the marriage so no sitting shiva or restraints on who and when she could marry based on Jewish religion. Not that she was running to get married again so soon. Not that it was so easy to accept any religion after that episode.

The train began to move and finally pulled into 42nd Street station.

42nd Street

She quickly got off the train and found her way to the Doctors office. She went to the receptionist and signed her name on the welcome pad.

“Hello, Tamar? I see you made this appointment yesterday?”

“Yes, I spoke with the Doctor on the phone and he told me to come in.”

“What’s the problem?”

“I am late.” She responded.

“No you are on time, actually.” Tamar looked at her and the receptionist tapped her head and said, “I am sorry, this is a Obstetrician’s office I should be able… Ok have a seat and the Doctor will see you shortly.”

She sat down and she wondered how stupid she must have been to allow herself to go to a bar by herself. Not just any bar but a rooftop bar in a hotel. They called it “The Dream” hotel – to her it was a fucking nightmare. She was hit on by several men and women; she was not interested in the women and the men were kind of sleezy. She stayed to herself, pretending to read something on her phone. But as the drinks kept coming her way she slowly stopped looking at her phone and went to sit on one of the couches against the wall. When the tall, dark and handsome man made her laugh once or twice she was taken in. That was all she could remember. Frank filled her in on the details the next day.

“Apparently he was the brother of Er, his name Onan.” He was following you for a couple of days; we have yet to determine why.”  But this is what they knew; she had thrown up and he had thrown her out of his room. Somehow she found her way to the bathroom downstairs and called the phone number Frank had given her in case of anything. He answered on the first ring and within minutes there were men and black cars swarming the hotel.

They took her to a hospital, took a urine sample from her and saw that it contained Rohypnol, a date rape drug. She could not remember what had happened; whether it was a nightmare or a reality. It was all very vague – sort of like when you wake up from a dream and you try and remember what happened only the harder you try the more you forget.

She woke up several hours later and she was back in her apartment in Brooklyn. She had a terrible headache and felt body aches – but could not recall what had happened or even how she had gotten home.

It was three weeks later that she realized that she had not gotten her period on time and in fact was two weeks late. She could not stop crying and wondering if this was in fact, Onan’s doing and not David’s.

Her and David had been sexually active and he had slept over her place on several occasions. He wanted to marry her but she was scared to even think about it. It was three weeks before that she had found herself spiraling in a depression and had even told David she needed to be alone for a couple of days. It was three weeks since she found herself on the floor in the lobby bathroom which meant she could be two weeks along.

42nd Street

She stood on the platform and waited for the train to arrive. There was a lot of people waiting for the train, possibly because of the snow outside and the forecast for up to 14 inches by tonight. There were some high school kids laughing and talking loudly. Three girls and two boys – each wearing some sort of uniform under their coats. The three girls were typical cute and flirtatious teen girls while the two boys were typical clumsy teen boys. The F train came in through the tunnel and the outside of it was still wet from the snow outside. She was feeling a sense of sadness and a sense of anger.

“Where was God during all of this?” She thought to herself. “Weren’t you supposed to watch over me.” She said, in her mind as she stood on the train as it pulled towards 34th Street.

34th Street

A large amount of people left the train and she secured herself a window seat and continued her conversation.

“I know I wasn’t the best of teenagers but I never hurt anyone.” She felt her eyes welling up. “You put my naivete on display by allowing me to marry that fucking terrorist. You couldn’t warn me or spell it out to me not to marry him?” She put her face in her hands and realized there were so many signs that she didn’t see…why couldn’t something had happened to warn her? Something tangible? Something that would have woke her up from whatever stupor she was in.

23rd Street

A lot of people came on the train now and not many left. It was packed and she was happy she had seat and was not facing people. A black lady was eating out of a bag something that smelled really strong. A white older man was picking his nose as if he was searching for the holy grail. The black lady kept giving him looks that could kill and he just kept on searching. Another lady, was plucking the hair from her chin, one by one. Two asian women were screaming to each other God knows what and a group of high school kids were horsing around by the front of the car.


Tamar was still taking in the scene when she spied a poster at the Broadway station, “If you see something, say something.” She whispered, “Fuck you” as the train slowly departed towards Brooklyn.

Smith/9th Street

The snow that had fallen and that continued to fall, made the surroundings look like some sort of fairytale land. Her phone beeped with a message; it was her mother. A second message; David. She smiled. The message said that he had landed in Philadelphia because of the snow; he would be taking a train to New York and should be there by four or five. “Do you want to grab some dinner?”

She responded, “Yes.”

She responded to her mother, “All is well; nothing to worry about. On my way home – call you then.”

7th Avenue

A group of school kids laughing and obviously dismissed early because of the snow; came on the train. They were still young enough to be respectful to the adults on the train but still be playful with each other. She asked them if school was out.

“Yeah, they let us leave at 12. I love it when it snows like this.” She was a 13 or 14 year old Hispanic girl and was adorable. Right behind her was a lady with a newborn child in her arms sitting down. She covered her baby and herself over her chest and fed her baby. She winced once or twice and laughed when Tamar noticed.

“He bites sometimes. Even without teeth it can hurt a little.”

“How old is he?”

“Two months old; I had to bring him to the Doctor; he had a little fever last night. I didn’t want to drive so this is the next best thing.” She winced and smiled.

“What’s his name?”


“Beautiful name.”

“Thank you.”

18th Avenue

The lady smiled and said goodbye, still holding the baby. Tamar smiled back at her and wondered why she looked so familiar.

She looked out the window across the Brooklyn roads, Washington Cemetery and then Friends Field. Snow having fallen and continuing to fall made this place look so magical. She couldn’t wait to get off the train and just walk in the snow; to feel the snow as it fell on her lips.

Kings Highway

She walked off the train and the man who was singing songs and cleaning earlier that morning, was still there. Khaki clothing and 1970’s glasses. He was singing, “Walking in a winter wonderland,” while telling people to be careful walking outside. It felt as if this morning was a year ago or perhaps a different lifetime. She had left her apartment in a hurry and now was walking slowly, enjoying the snow blowing on her face.

She was stunning with the snow as a background; like a painting from a thousand winters ago; pure beauty no static, no noise; simply Tamar.

Her phone rang, it was Frank.

“We are clear Frank; the Doctor said I am not pregnant and that being late can be attributed to my nerves. Plus, I wasn’t raped, at least not in the literal sense.” She thanked him and he apologized to her for the dirt in the world.

“Why do you think they chose me, Frank?”

“Have you heard of a levirate marriage?”

“No, what is that?”

“When a man is married and dies before he is able to have children; if he has a brother he is obligated to marry his brother’s widow and to procreate with her.”


“Since Er had a brother also involved with this stupidity they used him as a backup should something happen to Er.”

“Why me though?”

“We don’t know. I take responsibility for this and I will get to the bottom of it; in the meantime I am sorry.”

“I don’t blame you. But let me know what or if you find anything out I should know.”

“Keep my number; someone is always watching over you.”

The snow had hidden all the trash, all the stains and all potholes from view. She decided to keep on walking.

He was silent for a couple of seconds and then said, “Thank you, Tamar.”

“Thank you Frank; I hope to only see you during Met’s games and celebrations.”

“Amen to that, kiddo.”

She walked passed her apartment and kept walking. She walked to Ocean Parkway and took in the scene. All white; no static, no noise. She didn’t know what life had in store for her; she didn’t know if she was still a target for Islamic extremists or if God was ignoring her or punishing her for some reason. She had no ideas, no answers and no premonitions. She knew she needed to take life one day at a time. She had no idea how to do that.

She was walking across the street when she slipped and fell on the pavement. She stood up, felt stupid and laughed at herself.

“OK, time to go home,” she said to herself with an embarrassed smile. “One step at a time,” She thought. “In order to avoid falling again I need to take it one step at a time.” It was then she realized that a message had been sent to her. In order for her to avoid falling again, she needed to take life one step at a time. “Baby steps; as long as I keep moving I will always be one step closer to whatever my destination.”

The snow was falling, some kids were playing and a car was driving slowly up Avenue S. If you looked straight up you could see each snowflake joined by billions of others which together created a dark sky. There was a dog barking, a child laughing and a young lady was walking gingerly towards her home, one step at a time.

walking in a snowstorm

Devil Dogs, TV and Pumpkin Pie

Autumn mornings such as today; 60 degrees, light rain falling and an overall tired Friday feeling to it. Baseball has 3 regular season games left to play and the Met’s seem on the cusp of making it to the one game playoff for the wildcard.


I am a very sentimental person and I have been blessed with a childhood that brings back memories that I refuse to let go. So an old picture, a song on the radio or even the aroma of anything – can stimulate my memory and the visions within me of a time past begin to appear as if projected from right behind me.

Growing up in a house with 3 brothers and 1 sister, all of us with a passionate persona (ok, a really short temper) was memorable because each moment was filled with emotions. Emotions of love, solidarity to one another and an underlying competition of sorts in the kitchen, for the TV (we had one and there were 7 channels) and in our rooms. “Lower your radio!” I can hear over the static sounds of WNEW rock station or Bob Murphy calling the game for the Met’s.

I remember when my mom would come back from the supermarket I would run to get the Yodels, Ring Dings, Devil Dogs or Yankee Doodles. I would take one for right then and then hide one easily to be found and the other in a hiding spot I wont even reveal to you now. (Its my yodel I can hide if I want to!)

My mother is a prime example of what a mother should be and is. She can drive you crazy because she is a worrier – but she can calm you down and give you hope when you feel like all hope is gone. She is a fighter, a singer, a baker and a master chef. She is a mother, an adviser, a friend and a doctor all rolled into one.

My father was an icon, We didn’t realize it growing up, although I used to follow him and sit with him listening to the stories he would tell us. To me he was always a giant at barely five feet tall. His eyes and his smile can make me feel loved unconditionally no matter what the situation was.


There was Friday night when I was less than 8 years old – we would watch the Partridge Family, Brady Bunch and The Odd Couple. We would all gather around the big zenith tv which was broken and watch from the black and white TV a quarter of the size of the TV it sat upon and watch.

carolburnettshow05m 21-all-in-the-family-w529-h529 oddcouple02m

A couple of years later I remember the Saturday night TV lineup – it was Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, All in the Family, Alice and then Carol Burnett – wow! I remember those Saturday nights because my pop would make english muffin pizza and then I would go with him to buy the “Night Owl” edition of the Sunday Daily News.

As the weather began to cool and November would roll on in; I would find Entenmann’s Pumpkin Pie – no one can make it better.

These are the uglier days of Autumn; October is promising to be much nicer and more colorful than September has been.

(To be Continued)


Elton John (Soundtracks from my Life)




Elton John and Bernie Taupin

Perhaps more than any other singer songwriter Elton John has been the soundtrack of my life.

I remember driving with my mother in our old 1966 Chevrolet Impala to pick up my father from work. “Daniel” would come on the radio and we would sing and appreciate the melodies, the music and the words. It always brought a sense of sadness when he sung, “Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won’t heal? Your eyes have died, but you see more than I.” Even as a 7 or 8 year old kid I empathized with those “scars that wont heal.”


“Your Song” is, to me, one of the perfect songs written across all musical genres. Its a simple love song with an opening piano that basically introduced him to the world and became “his song,” forever.

Elton John Your Song Through the Years

He owned the 1970’s; the decade where I went from being 4 years old to 14. Any time you turned on the radio his songs would be on one station or simultaneously on multiple stations.

This is the time when music was not as accessible as it is today. You couldnt google “The new elton john song” and listen to it instantly. (side note: the google founders were born in the same year that Elton release two of his best albums; “Dont Shoot me, I am only the Piano Player” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” his 8th and 9th albums)

I remember changing stations on my radio; from KTU (92.3), WPLJ (95.5), 99x (98.7), to WNEW (102.7). I remember getting so excited whenever I would hear an Elton John song I had never heard before. The first time I heard, “Empty Garden,” the song Elton and Bernie Taupin wrote for John Lennon, was on the same station where I heard that John Lennon had been shot, 102.7. Scott Muni introduced the song and was emotional when it was over.

The first time I saw Elton in concert was at the Palladium in New York City, I believe it was in October 1979. Unbelievably I happened upon a video taken from the concert (not sure if its the one I was at).

Ray Cooper and Elton John performing at the Palladium in New York City on October 23, 1979.

My brother, Carlos, took me to see him and it was mind boggling to see the man who’s music I had listened to, closed my eyes to and fell in love to; alive, live and on stage 4 rows in front of me! I was 13 years old at the time – there were no videos produced for mass distribution or music television stations. Thinking back on it – it reminds me how a person felt in the 1930’s or 40’s going to their first baseball game and being in awe of the colors and the sounds of the game. To put an exclamation point to the night Elton threw roses into the crowd and I caught one – in my memories I can see his gap toothed smile looking at me as if he knew who I was.


In 1980 he played a free concert in Central Park. I could not make it there, unfortunately, but over 100,000 people did.

21 at 33 was the first album I purchased myself. I loved it – it was a return to Bernie and his writing together again, I think there were four songs they collaborated on. The main one being a semi-autobiographical song, “Two rooms, at the end of the world.”

In August of 1982, my mother took me to see Elton at Madison Square Garden. He opened with “Funeral for a friend” wearing a Captain outfit. It was Elton’s first show in New York since the death of John Lennon. Out of nowhere, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, her son with John, came on stage to greet Elton.


I saw him five or six more times in my life – the last time (for now) being in Las Vegas during his Red Piano stay. I found the performance amazing but the video behind him distracting. Some performers need that extra entertainment – Elton just needs himself and the piano.

His albums in the late 70’s to around 1990 were a mixture of terrible to very good. There were albums released and I would go through the radio stations and read through Billboard magazine for any news, updates or pictures.

Here are my “Greatest Hits” from that era – albums in parenthesis

  1. Sartorial Eloquence (21 at 33)
  2. Nobody Wins (the Fox)
  3. Ball and Chain (Jump up!)
  4. Legal Boys (Jump up!)
  5. Empty Garden (Jump up!)
  6. Where have all the Good times gone (Jump up!)
  7. Cold as Christmas (Too Low for Zero)
  8. I’m Still Standing (Too Low for Zero)
  9. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues (Too Low for Zero)
  10. Breaking Hearts (Breaking Hearts)
  11. Burning Buildings (Breaking Hearts)
  12. In Neon (Breaking Hearts)
  13. Sad Songs Say So Much (Breaking Hearts)
  14. Soul Glove (Ice on Fire)
  15. Nikita (Ice on Fire)
  16. I don’t Want to go on with you like that (Reg Strikes Back)
  17. Healing Hands (Sleeping with the Past)
  18. Whispers (Sleeping with the Past)
  19. Club at the End of the Street (Sleeping with the Past)
  20. Sleeping with the Past (Sleeping with the Past)

In 1992 he released his first “Sober” album, “The One.” A great set of songs that were the precursor to his “Lion King” comeback. From then on, Elton was everywhere and back on top of the world.


His songs continue to be the soundtrack of my life; “Something about the way you look tonight” was my wedding song and his “Songs from the West Coast” remains as one of my favorite and most listened to albums.

His “The Captain and the Kid” album was the sequel to “Captain Fantastic” album from 31 years earlier -I loved it and feel it was not given the attention it deserved.

But as time passes he continues to work with Bernie and create beautiful songs that for better or worse still have poignancy in my life. His album, “The Diving Board,” contains beautiful songs reminiscent of the 1970’s albums, “Tumbleweed Connection,” and “Madman Across the Water.” One song in particular struck me as a great Elton and Bernie collaboration – “My Quicksand.” Elton’s piano and his vocals interpret the lyrics perfectly. Especially during this verse.

So don’t you know I’ve been dressed to kill
If you got the tools be careful what you build
When the arrow’s in the bull’s-eye every time
It’s hard assuming that the archer’s blind

His latest album seemed to be a forced “Happy album.” I feel like they tried too hard on it – but there are some gems there and it shows that Elton is still not only standing, but dancing and having a great time while at it.

He recently said he may stop making new albums – I hope that is not the case. I need some Elton to play in the background as I find my way through the second chapter of my life – 50 years on.




Jose Fernandez – This is Not how It was supposed to End


This is not how the story was suppose to unfold.

Jose Fernandez was a teenager fleeing from his homeland with his mother on a boat. When he saw that someone had fallen overboard, he jumped in and pulled her to safety. It was only then he realized it was his mother who had fallen and whom he had saved.

Jose Fernandez; with a love of life, of family and of baseball; lived life with a clear appreciation in everything he did. You could see it when he would be on the diamond; throwing a ball past the best hitters in the game making them each look like amateurs playing against a professional.

A game was supposed to be played at 501 Marlins Way in Miami Florida. Instead the field and the stands are still and there is an eerie silence in the place of the roar of the crowd.

There is something about the relationship between baseball players and their fans. I have been watching baseball my entire life; I have been consumed with the 162 game schedule from the first pitch of the first game of a season until the final out, year after year for too many years.

When watching the games on TV you get to know the baseball players looks and idiosyncrasies; their batting stance, the way they field a ball and throw it; the way a pitcher sets up and delivers his pitch.

What draws in fans is the clockwork of the game which has no set times.

What draws in the fans are the decisions that must be made with each and every pitch.

What draws in the fans are the personalities and talents of each individual player.

There is the green grass and the immaculately clean dirt filled infield. The blue skies and the sound of a fastball hitting the catcher’s mitt followed by the scream of the umpire calling a, “Strike Three!”

The barehanded catch on a perfect bunt to the third baseman, the sound of the ball off the bat followed by sight of the ball sailing over the wall in the outfield just beyond the reach of the leaping outfielder. The the fans scrambling to get to the ball first.

These Major League ball players are human beings playing baseball. They are superhumans on the baseball field wearing uniforms made from polyester. 

We watch them perform superhuman feats on the diamond; first as rookies learning and perfecting their crafts.

Then we watch them in their prime years, we cheer them on and call them by their first names. We call them by their first names because we feel we know them, you see, in baseball we witness the human sides of the superhumans.

We watch closeups of them after a strikeout, frustration and anger at themselves for missing a pitch they could have hit better.

We watch them as they limp away after getting hit on the kneecap with a 100 mile an hour fastball. Wincing in pain but staying on the field because they want to keep on playing.

We see them at their best; as they get a key hit or a homerun to win a game. We watch them as they succeed and they improve and improve until the spring has suddenly turned into a cool autumn evening. 

We see them as they age quickly – the metamorphoses can be fleeting and painful to watch. But we watch them and we still cheer for them because we can remember when they were younger and in their prime.

They aren’t supposed to die in the spring of their lives. They are just not allowed to. Their story is supposed to be predictable and to unfold as great sports stories unfold.

As fans we watch or listen to the majority of the games within a season. We become very attached to the personalities of the team we follow and to the players they play against.

Baseball is played by players who possess a superior talent to hit, throw or catch balls. It is not a requirement for the players to be tall or bulked up as a behemoth. The hard work, determination and grind is what; coupled with a blessed talent and a support system; is what makes the player. One can be blessed with talent; but if they do not work hard at it the talent will slip away.

The infield is in the shape of a diamond. There are three bases and a plate. The goal for the batting team is to stand at the plate, bat in hand while watching the pitcher 60 feet and 6 inches away from them choose the pitch they will throw. 

Jose Fernandez was a pitcher who could tell you what pitch he would throw and still make you look like a fool trying to hit it. He possessed an exuberance and a passion in each step he took that was effervescent and alive.

Jose Fernandez was a pitcher, player and a person who lived each second with a joy and an excitement that was infectious, infuriating to his opponents and exciting for the fans to watch.

It’s a sad ending to a story that should not have ended so soon. Tomorrow the Met’s will come to the park on 501 Marlins Way and play a game against a team minus one hero. The hero who had a future ahead of him that was suddenly taken away.

His death comes way too soon and we wonder if someone who is in charge of who stays and goes might have dropped the ball up there.

This is not how his story was supposed to unfold.


What If? or, Sarah Laughed

What if everything that we were told to believe in is all predicated on a lie?

What if the history we follow, the faith we adhere to all began with a lie, an idea or a dream; but nothing truly based on reality?

Some live life searching for a meaning, searching for answers that may or not be found.

Some fictionalized the answers they want to hear, turn it into a belief system and then others, seeing the same answers simply follow along?

Abraham was a kid; unimpressed with the Idols the people all worshipped; his father, in business selling all sorts of idols for different needs. Idols for livelihood, idols for love, idols for a sunny weekend – anything your heart desires. One day, little Abe, still unimpressed; takes a stick and breaks them all.

His father, freaking out, comes in a sees the mess. “I leave you alone to watch the store for ten minutes and this is what happens? Who did this?”

“I did.”

“Why? How can you destroy the Gods we worship?”

Abes reply? “If they were so powerful, why didn’t they protect themselves or fight back?”

“Oy, I had to raise a philosopher?”

With the sun and the moon both taking their turns in the sky; how can one be more powerful than the other? He was unimpressed with the stars because there were way too many of them to form any one spirit or powerful force. “There must be something omnipotent out there…something that is in charge of the sun, the moon and the stars.”

In love with his wife, though unable to conceive any children – he closed his eyes on a hot day as he waited for some answers outside his tent. In the heat he daydreamed and in the dream came the voice telling him what he needed to hear.
“Yes you will have children and the children you have will be like those stars in the sky – too numerous to count. By next year at this time your wife will have a child.”

Sarah laughed.

“Did she just laugh?” The voice said.

“No, she was laughing at me – you know we have this joke and sometimes it pops up in your head and you can’t help but laugh.”

“Do you remember who you are talking to? I know she laughed just like I knew Cain killed his brother; it was a metaphorical question. Well anyway – I have some bad news as well, we are going to destroy Sodom.”

Abe negotiated with God and went from 50 men being pious to save the city to 10. But even 10 could not be found so a city was destroyed and at the age of 90, Sarah and Abraham had their first child, Isaac.

Was it divine intervention which caused Sarah to conceive or was it divine intervention which caused her not to conceive for the first 90 years of her life?

We all know what happened in Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s. We all know the “miracle” of 1948” returning the Jewish people to their homeland when just three years earlier they were being incinerated by the German efficiency machine.

Was it divine intervention which brought the Jewish people back home? Or was it divine intervention which allowed six million living souls to be destroyed without the world intervening?

Is God as powerful as we want God to be? Or is God as powerful as God can be? Is He limited to a fragment of the population? Is sickness and disease, wealth and poverty, hunger and indulgence, love and solitude all not in His power, His control?

There are so many answers we seek, the ones who dare question the unquestionable. Is God an interventional God?

What if it’s all a lie? What if all the faith we have clung to, that has kept us moving one foot in front of the other, is all based on something that never truly existed?

A father is leaving on a week long holiday with the mother. He tells their six kids to follow a basic set of rules while he is gone. He doesn’t force them or hypnotise them into following the rules or not. He does say the most important rule is to not do anything to each other that you do not want done to you. Simple enough, right? They have the ability to either follow the rules or not; he cannot force them to. A couple of the kids follow out of fear that their father will punish them, a couple break every rule and wreck havoc on the others; while the other two follow the rules out of trust that their father knows what is best for them.

God, as I believe, created a world for us. Gave us laws to follow in order for us to live in an society of equality and respect for others. (Do not do unto others as you would not want done unto yourself. That pretty much says it all). He gave man the freedom of choice – this way man is accountable for all his actions.


We do not know the true answers – there is no tangible proof that God exists in any shape or form. It’s all a feeling which is embedded in the ones who believe possibly because it has been pounded into our thinking over and over again or possibly because the alternative of not believing has no positive aspect.

It’s hard to believe, to truly have faith in a non-tangible power and to follow the laws and the directions handed down. It’s hard, but we have true faith, that in the end there will be a new beginning.  

It’s harder not to have faith and to believe that further on down the road the end will be just that, the end.  

Seats with a View (photo challenge


PHOTO BY– Rob Woodcox
WORDS BY Freddy Zalta

The end of the school year was two minutes away and the boys were transfixed by the second hand on the clock which hung from the wall above the chalkboard in room 202, Mr. Looney’s 7th grade Science class.

The bride and groom were walking through the forest, by the lake where their wedding was to be held two days from now, on a sunday. They had a full orchestra who’s members would be sitting in wooden boxes suspended with a cable from the top of the trees. He pulled her close to him and gently pushed his lips against hers. She didn’t resist. They seemed to be all alone in the area and it being a hot day, both feeling extra excited in more ways than the expected, decided to take a swim.

The bell rang. The principal of the school spoke on the loudspeaker but no one, least of all the 7th grade boys seated in room 202, paid him any mind. They ran out of class and to their bikes parked by the front entrance. Randy spoke up, “Lets ride in our shorts with no shirts so we can jump right in – first one in gets a free sundae!” They all roared, they were eight in total and they felt like the kings of the world.

As the bride, Sharon, slipped off her summer dress and walked closely to Bobby who was looking away as he pulled off his shirt and lowered his jeans. She threw her arms around him and he fell back onto her, turned around and she put her mouth against his lips.

Randy maneuvered his bike like a pro; pulled up his his handlebar to jump onto the grass from the street – left the bike on the dirt and ran towards the lake, his 7 buddies following him one by one.

Sharon was laying on the grass, beneath the tree as Bobby stood and then lay atop her and thrust himself towards her, mouth to mouth and skin to skin.

Randy came upon the lake and saw Sharon and Bobby; shocked he told his friends to be quiet. Looking around he saw these wooden things suspended in the air.

“Come on boys – I found us some seats with a view!”


Tales from the F Train Chapter Two Jacob

I was waiting for the F train on the Avenue P platform. It was drizzling outside while the sun shone to the east – fighting the clouds for it’s place in the sky. There were the usual morning commuters, school girls in their uniforms, businessmen squinting into their phones and a spattering of other characters.

The Russian girl with the long legs and short skirt no matter the temperature; dirty blond hair, sunglasses and the “Vulcanish” look on her face.

The twenty something year old, unshaven, hair pillow combed was listening to something way too loud on his way overpriced headphones. He was wearing ripped jeans and a tee-shirt with a black spring jacket draped over it.

There two spanish speaking ladies, laughing about something and speaking very quickly. Covering their mouths as they laughed as if it were some sort of infraction to laugh.

An older man, maybe in his 70’s, wearing a stetson gray flannel hat, raincoat and walking with a cane. He looked around and seemed to take in the scene. He then leaned against a bench deciding not to sit down as he noticed the train coming in the distance.

Me? I am wearing jeans and a polo shirt with a hooded sweater over it. I am headed to an office that seems to suck the life out of me and I am dreading it. I feel as if I am wasting my allotted time on this earth. I have bills to pay and a family to support, so, off I go day in and day out; smiling at the warden and pretending the cell is a cubicle and that somehow, something will happen that will exonerate me – nothing ever does.

I stood there wondering how many more days I would be squandering my life away. Feeling as if I had been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to a lifetime in prison. Here I am, fifty years old and on the backend of my life span – the first fifty were good years, mostly. 

The train rolled into the station and each of us ran to make sure we got a seat. The train was still kind of empty because Avenue P was one of the first stops, so I took my usual seat back to the window and facing across the train.

Just as soon as I went to turn on my music, the older man sat down beside me, empty seat between us. I smiled and then turned away. Looking through the artists on my Android I choose Elton John and the album, “Tumbleweed Connection.” The album begins with “Ballad of a well Known Gun,” but since it’s on random, the first song played is , “Talking Old Soldiers.” As the opening chords began the old man sneezed really loud, scaring the shit out of me and making me jump in my seat.

“God bless you.”

He smiled, “Thank you, I hope I didn’t startle you?”

“Hey, who needs coffee, right?” I smiled at him. “How you doing today?” I asked him as I took of my headphones and shut off the music.

“Good now. I was finally released from jail.”

I laughed, thinking he meant something else.

“Why are you laughing? I wasn’t always 94 years old, you know?”

“You aren’t really 94 years old.”

“You aren’t a girl – why would I lie about my age?”

“Well, you look great, you aren’t my type, but you look amazing. Were you really in jail or are you busting my chops?”

“Why would I lie about being in jail? Its not something someone brags about.”

“Its also not something someone shares with a stranger on a train.”

He laughed.

“Why were you in jail?” I asked.

“You have a few minutes?”

Bay Parkway, next stop Avenue I
“As of right now you have a captive audience for the next 40 minutes or so. I would really love to hear about it.”

From Bay Parkway through Lexington Avenue Jacob told me his story.

“In 1945 I had just come back from being stationed at Fort Bragg. I had been released for what they called ‘section 8.’ My first night back at home, we lived at 99 Ryerson Street in Brooklyn, next to the park over there, my first night there I met with my girl. She was happy I was home and expected me to pop the question. I wasn’t ready to ask any questions to anyone. The next night she told me she had met someone while I was away and that he did have a question for her and she was ready to answer him, unless I would ask her first. I laughed, turned and walked away while she cried, ran up to her room and I never saw her again.”

Bergen Street
“Did you love her?” I asked him.

“Love? I was too young or too stupid to love. I was 22, 23 years old.I didn’t have a job and I had just been rejected by an Army who were begging for more soldiers”

“What was the reason for your release?”

“Doesn’t matter.” I didn’t press him.

Jay Street
“I got a job working with a steel plant in Homestead, outside of Pittsburgh. A friend of a friend was friends, you got all that? With one of the union bigs there. When he heard I was section 8 he wanted to help me out so he set us up with jobs. The guy I was with, I forget his name.” He pauses thinking.

East Broadway
“It doesn’t matter what his name was, he couldn’t stand the heat inside the mills and went back to Brooklyn and worked at his father’s place on Bay Parkway. Anyway, I was an assorter helper, which meant I would help check over the tin sheets to make sure they were exactly the specifications ordered by the customer. Cleaning, fixing bent corners, weighing, stacking – it was a lot of work. After a 2 day trial, I was given a job and a union card right away. The job paid  75 cents an hour. That was enough to get me a room and board and to be able to go out here and there.

There was this landlady who was running the place, her husband was an officer in the army and he was somewhere in the Pacific. She was in her late 20’s or early 30’s; she wasn’t Rita Hayworth but she had a wounded beauty about her. She kept me company at night and in return I made her feel loved. When her husband came home I moved out and never saw her again.

Each day after work a group of us would head to Chiodo’s for a beer or two. They had a sandwich there that was called, “The mystery sandwich,” that was mysteriously delicious. There was a lady of the evening who became my friend for free. She would come to my room at night and we would keep each other company.

One day I walked in on one of the union bigs doing something with another man in a bathroom stall. He saw me, his pants were down to his ankles.  I just turned away and went back to the bar paid my tab and went home.”


Delancey Street
The next day during my lunch break, I was sitting smoking a cigarette and draining a Coca-cola when these two thugs come at me.

“Donald wants to speak with you.”

“I am in lunch, can it wait until after work?”

“We don’t ask questions so we have no answers; Donald asks and we do. I suggest you get off your ass and do the same.”

I took that suggestion and followed them through the plant towards his office.


Broadway Lafayette (Almost)
The train stopped right before the station, after around five minutes they made an announcement. There was a sick passenger in the train ahead of us so we will be delayed.

“There was a long hallway between the locker rooms where we changed and cleaned up and the back door exit. As I walked down the hallway I could hear my footsteps echoing and I felt a sense something bad was about to happen.

I heard a lock turn and then a door open. I turned and the two bozos were still trailing me, up ahead it was dark and I couldn’t get a clear look. I slowed down my walk.”

“Keep walking, Mac.”

“It’s Jack, buddy, Jack.”


“Now one of the reasons I was not the most popular person back home or at Fort Bragg was that I had a very bad temper. A big mouth and a temper. I was also very strong so the combinations of big mouth, bad temper and strength – was not so promising.

Up ahead I saw figure walking towards me, he clapped his hands, the guys behind me fell back and it was him and me.”

Broadway Lafayette
Across from me sat two Korean women who were speaking as if they were three hundred yards away from each other. Next to them was a Hasidic man reading a Yiddish newspaper. As soon as the train stopped they each stood up and as soon as the doors opened they were gone.  In their place came a Sikh, a Spanish man and a typical white hipster; beard, 1970’s style glasses and flannel jacket.

“So he asked me, “What did you see last night?” 


“Are you playing games with me, Mac?”

“It’s Jack. If I was playing games with you I wouldn’t be here in a dark hallway with the two goons behind me.”
“They are not behind you now.”
“I didn’t see anything last night, let’s leave it at that.”

“That’s right, because you never saw me last night.”

“Come to think of it, I did see you. You were the man with his pants around his ankles, right?” He walked towards me. I added.

“If you want to erase history it’s going to cost you, Mac.”

“What did you say?” I heard the two goons in back of me again.

“I said, if you want me to lose my memory of what I saw last night. It will cost you.”

He nodded towards the goons.

“Take him and throw him in the blast.”

“Wait, what were we talking about? I forgot.”

“Too late.”

I turned around and punched one of the Mac’s in the stomach and then an uppercut into his face. The other Mac went to take something out of his pocket but I kicked him in the balls and then an upper kick into his face. There was blood all over – I turned to Big Mac and he had a gun in his hand and was pointing it at me.”

14th Street
The majority of people on the train now were ‘garmentos.’ People who worked in the garment district – 34th street through 42nd. You can tell because the men wore Metrosexual clothing, tight fitting and stylish. While the women wore heels and revealing outfits. Two of the men were talking loud as if we all wanted to hear what they had to say; one of them was nodding towards a girl across from them. She put on the annoyed act and looked into her phone as if what was on the screen was of major importance. 

“I heard a door open behind me, big Mac put his gun away and in walked two security guards from the plant.

“What’s going on here?” They asked us when they saw the two little Mac’s on the floor, bloody noses and broken teeth.

“We had a misunderstanding.”  I answered.

“ A misunderstanding? Well, clean it up I don’t need this shit going on in my plant.”

“OK sir you got it.” They both turned and walked out. I jumped on big Mac and held his arm with the gun, pushing his hand in an unnatural position which caused it to break and then the gun went off. The bullet struck him in the groin and he was down, seemingly not breathing. I ran and called security.”


23rd Street
The annoyed woman stood up and walked off the train. Before she walked out she smiled to herself as if satisfied to have drawn their attention. The two men just kept talking, clearly unbothered by the snub. 

“I found the same two security guards. I told them what had occurred and they ran with me. When we walked through the door we found the two little Mac’s waking up and Big Mac in a forever slumber lying in a pool of blood. 

They snapped the cuffs on me and brought me to the Police station down the road. I was thrown into a cell. The next morning I woke up and I spoke to a lawyer who told me to plead guilty.

I told him it was self-defense and he said, “Do you have any witnesses?”

“I said, no.”

“He said, plead guilty and I can work on getting your sentence to under 25 years.”
I told him to kiss my ass and I asked for another lawyer. They sent me this kid who must have just graduated law school.”

34th Street
I stayed on the train, I wanted to hear the rest of the story.

“It didn’t matter that it was self-defense and that the two Little Mac’s corroborated on my story; because they were scared of the unions then and they needed a scapegoat for what happened. Big Mac was high on the totem pole and the last thing they wanted was another strike or walkout. They sent me away to Lewisburg federal prison and made sure the local newspapers made a show of it. “

42nd Street
“Wait a minute – you mean to tell me you have been in jail since 1948 and you are now on a train going to the city so calm?”

“That is what I just spent 40 minutes telling you.  

The train moved ahead with a jump, which caused the man’s cane to fall to the floor. I went to pick it up and give it to him. He smiled at me.

“I knew your father, kid. He was a good man.”

“You know who I am?”

“I could spot a Zalta from a mile away.”

“What’s your last name?” He told me and laughed.

“Did you enjoy the train ride today?” He asked me.

Rockefeller Center

“Yes as a matter of fact. I even missed my stop because I wanted to continue speaking with you.” I answered.

“Good. Now you have a story to write about.” He was smiling.

“You weren’t really in jail, were you?”

“It depends on what you consider jail, kid.”

“Were you incarcerated in a federal prison?”

“No, but I did work at Homestead.”

“In the mills?”

“No, I worked at Chiodo’s; I was a bartender there for a summer.”

“You worked at – so this was all…”

“A story kid; I read your articles in the magazine – I wanted to give you a story to tell.”

“So you knew my father?”

“Yes, I was born in Brooklyn, raised and have lived in Brooklyn for the majority of my life. I was in Europe during the war; I was one of the Americans who liberated the camps – one of the worst things that I ever witnessed in my life. When I came home I proposed to my girlfriend, I asked her the question and she said yes. We are still married.”

“Wow…I don’t know what to say.”

“I knew your father very well. We used to have stores in Nashville at the same time. He would come eat dinner by us on Friday nights. What a gentleman; always with a smile.”

“I feel so stupid and gullible.”

“Don’t feel that way – I was a writer once myself and you did a good thing allowing me to tell you a story.”

Lexington Avenue

I needed to get off before we went into Queens.

“Thank you, sir, for the story. Your one helluva storyteller. I would love to read some of your writings, how can I access them?”

He made a waving hand motion which told me, “forget about it.”

I smiled and said, “I hope to see you again.”

“Be well – keep writing and don’t listen to anyone who says that it cannot be done. Always be curious, not judgmental.

“That what cannot be done?”

“That you cannot turn a dream into a reality. Dreams can and have come true, you know? And don’t forget, keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.”

I left the train and felt as if a weight had been lifted from me. It’s as if I was given permission to continue to keep my hope alive that something could and would happen to make it all worthwhile.

I felt as if I had been given parole from a lifetime sentence and was free.

Maybe it was the story he told, maybe it was the history he lived that ran through his veins that would radiate through his eyes. His way of speaking reminded me of my father and I felt a lightness moving within me as if the sun had beaten the clouds for its place in the sky. 

I never did see that man again and although he told me his name his identity remained a mystery to me.
One day, as I was browsing through Facebook, I saw a picture posted of the man, with a caption which revealed his name. Apparently he had died ten years earlier and was an apparition who told me a story and quoted Walt Whitman he told me to always be looking towards the sunshine and the shadows would fall behind me. 


Walt Whitman was quoted as saying “Always be curious, not judgmental.” as well as “keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.”

Tales from the F-Train Chapter One WANDA


Wanda walked up the stairs to the Manhattan bound side of the elevated platform on Kings Highway and McDonald Avenue, in Brooklyn, New York. There was a light snow falling and you could see Coney Island on one end, the Verrazano Bridge in the middle and the New York City skyline on the other end.

Seeing Coney Island reminded her of going for a drive with her family to buy cotton candy. Once in awhile they would go to Luna Park for the day or the beach before the summer crowds and the freaks without a stage would be littered across the boardwalk and the sand. She smiled as assorted memories came to mind, felt a tinge of yearning for those times.

There were a lot of people on the platform waiting on the train; no one wore smiles, most wore hats and coats and they all were in a monday morning haze.

Wanda smiled, it had been some time since she had commuted early in the morning. She was headed to her first day at her new job after three months of searching for a position. She would be paid much less in her new position but it was better than having no destination, day in day out. Plus it was a couple hundred dollars more than the unemployment she had been collecting, so at least she would be able to have a little extra cash here and there.

She was living with her parents on West Street, a block away from the station. She was 26 years old and had seen her dreams bounce onto the side of the road with one careless evening with Bobby, eight years earlier.

The train came crawling into the station and she was glad. It was cold today and being on this elevated platform made it even colder.

As the train came to a stop there was the sound of a man singing, she turned towards the avenue S side of the station and saw a man picking up garbage from the floor and singing a song about “the Lord” saving the world from the non-believers. She just turned away.

When she told her parents about what had happened they were upset but they were supportive.
“Does Bobby know?”
“Yes, he offered to marry me right away.”
“Is that what you want?” Her father asked her.
“I am so confused right now I cannot think.”
“Come on and let’s sit down. You don’t need to make any decisions right now.”


She watched as the train rolled into the Avenue P station. Slow moving F train – you can sense the impatience from the commuters waiting to get on with the day.

After a while she decided that she did not want to marry Bobby but she did want the baby. They decided that she would go to Israel to spend her pregnancy there with her sister, who lived in Jerusalem with her husband and 2 children.

Bay Parkway passes by and she remembers Bobby’s reaction when she told him.
“I am not ready to make a decision on us, Bobby.”
“What about the baby?” He asked.
“I am going to have the baby, our baby.”
In silence they sat together until one of them started to cry. Until they both held on to each other and whispered, “I love yous.”

18th Avenue – a lot of people getting on the train. Snow coming down harder and sticking on the ground below.

She stuck to her decision to have the kid because it didn’t feel right to simply abort it. She knew so many people who had trouble conceiving or keeping the child full term, she felt there was a reason for her to conceive. Stupidity? Carelessness? Maybe, but she wasn’t the only girl to take the chance but she was the only one of her friends to get knocked up. As far as she knew, at least.

Church Avenue and the train is officially crowded. A Chinese  parent runs in with her kid wearing his spiderman backpack. She runs to have him sit in an open slot – beating an older man to the space by a second. The older man looks at her and nods his head. She looks away and begins giving her child pieces of a cut up apple.

The year went by quicker than she had imagined. She gave birth a week and a half after her due date, August 23rd to a girl whom she named after Bobby’s mother, Hannah. Bobby had flown in a couple of weeks before the delivery to be there for her. When he proposed for a 3rd time she still politely declined. This time with tears and a kiss.

Fourth Avenue and the snow is coming on down hard now. She checks her phone and her email but there are no messages. She texts her mother to see if Hannah had gotten off to school yet. No response right away. Underground again and Carroll Street comes into view. There must be an issue with the G train because there must be a thousand people waiting to get on. They somehow squeeze in a majority of the people waiting and the train moves on. At Jay Street the train lightens the load and then moves on.

When she gave birth she felt as if she was going to die right then and there. She had been given an epidural, but the pain and the pressure was overwhelming. When the baby came out it was as if a grown person had vacated her body – she could not stop crying and when Bobby cut the cord she knew that she needed to as well.

East Broadway, the first stop in Manhattan.

She thought about the night she spoke with her parents and told her that she was moving back to Brooklyn. Her mother surprised her with an idea. She would take care of Hannah while Wanda went back to school and resumed her life.
“I am not going to deny she is my child.”
“You don’t have to – I am saying leave the responsibility to me for a while; finish school, clear your mind and then you can begin making decisions.”
“Mom, she is my responsibility…it was my carelessness that caused all of this.”
Her mother then said something that would change everything.
“Do not label this girl as a mistake. Do not make her feel that her own existence was an error in judgment. Was it Bobby and your own fault that you got pregnant? Yes. Was it Hannah’s fault that she was born? No. That was a decision you made and her existence is a gift, a blessing that you will understand one day. Always make her feel like she is a blessing to you – the world around her will always be causing her to fall – it’s the gravity supplied by the stupidity of the human beings.”

Delancey Street and the train gets a transfusion, more people exit the train than get on, so there is some breathing space. She looks around and sees an older lady caring for a little girl with a backpack on her back. The lady seems to be 160 years old while the little girl is around 6. A man comes on the train speaking out loud.
“My name is Sonny Payne, I am homeless and I am hungry, if you ain’t got it I can understand ‘cause I ain’t got it too. But if you can spare some change, some food or drink or even a smile, it would be appreciated.” As he walked down the train she heard him saying, “Thank you, God bless” several times. When he got to her, she smiled and gave him a dollar bill.
“Thank you, God bless, beautiful lady.”

Eight years had passed by and Hannah was the most beautiful girl in the world. The love that she felt for her was stronger than she could have imagined. She understood her parents now and she apologized to them very frequently for taking their love for granted.
“You are the child, you are supposed to take us for granted and we are supposed to continue to be there for you forever.” Her father had said to her on many occasions.

A lady began to apply makeup, she was sitting across from her. She applies the base, then staring into a handheld circular mirror and dabs concealer onto the imperfections on her skin. She than applies blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow and then lipstick. Purses her lips, stares in the mirror and she is done. It reminded Wanda of an artist she used to watch in Jerusalem, how she made up her face. In Jerusalem the empty canvas became a painting defined through the eyes of the artist. This lady was already beautiful – Wanda wondered if she was aware of this.

“It’s been eight years Wanda, I have shown you I am a responsible father with Hannah, I have been there for you all along. I want to marry you…”  Just last night Bobby had come to drop off Hannah and had plead with Wanda. Wanda smiled at him, rushed her hair from her eyes and put her hand on his face.
“If you love me – give me a little more time.”
She stayed up all night asking herself what it was that kept her from just saying yes; it would solve a lot of issues in their lives. For one thing she wouldn’t have to go to work if she chose not to. Bobby’s family was loaded and they were prepared to pay for the whole wedding, buy them a house and everything. At least that’s what Bobby said. That was her problem. She wanted Bobby to not have to bring up all of the details and even accept any money from his family. But how was that different than her mother helping her with Hannah? Why not get the house, the wedding, the whole fairytale?

West Fourth Street and there is a B train across the platform which causes a large number of people to leave to get on it since the next stop on the B is 34th Street, while the F has 14, 23 and then 34th street. She sits still even though 34th is her stop. She is early, has a seat and is enjoying this time on the train. She laughs when she sees several people get to the B train just in time for the doors to shut in their face. They then turn around and the F-train has already begun to leave.

Her father spoke with her after Bobby left and gave her his advice.
“Do you love him?” He asked.
“Yes, I have always loved him.”
“He has proven himself to be a man and to be devoted to you and Hannah.”
She was silent.
“You need to let him know once and for all how you feel. He hasn’t closed any doors behind him and has been faithful to you all along. He is good person, I like him. But he did not propose to me.”

She laughed and they embraced.
“I am scared.” She whispered into his shoulder as the tears flooded her eyes.
“I know. It’s ok everything will be ok. We love you and Hannah to the moon and back, kiddo.”

23rd Street and she wondered if she was being stubborn about life and the paths it takes. She never planned to be pregnant at 18 years old; she planned to go to college and to major in something. Bobby had been by her side all along; he loved her and she loved him. There was something holding her back from moving on.

She thought about that night often and always with a sense of regret. She remembered her mother’s words to her about Hannah being a blessing and a gift. She was right about that, so why always the feeling of dread or regret? That night…raining outside the car as it was parked almost beneath the Verrazano Bridge. They were fooling around and one thing led to another…his arms around her, the windows all foggy and the smell of teenage passion. His tongue on her and she wanted him inside of her…

34th Street and she stood up as the train slowed down and entered the station. Doors opened and she walked right through. Her phone began to beep with alerts, several at one time now. As she stood on the escalator and read the notices she smiled.
One was from Bobby asking her to meet him for lunch. Another was from her mother with a picture of Hannah in school clothes smiling with the text. “School closing at 11 today in preparation for a snowstorm. Your father is so excited to spend the day with Hannah.”

The third one was from someone which said, “Office is closed today, we’ll see you tomorrow. Should anything change we will contact you. Be safe.”

She walked up the stairs into the street and there must have been several inches of snow on the ground, although it was all gray slush where she stood – you could tell it was piling up.

She texted Bobby that she was heading home. “Why don’t you come by the house later; I want to talk.”

She took a deep breath, took out her metro card and walked down the steps towards the F train to Brooklyn hoping the train would not be delayed. Her phone vibrated.
“OK, good stuff?” He texted.
“Good stuff.” She texted back and walked down the stairs, past the Michael Jackson dancers and a lady with a baby asking for money. She walked down a ramp and then the stairs to the Brooklyn bound side of the station.

An old man was playing guitar with a harmonica around his neck, he was singing a song that sounded familiar but could not place. An announcement from the subway, unclear and garbled as usual. About to ask someone to translate but she was interrupted by the F train rolling into the station.
“Next stop, 23rd street, stand clear of the closing doors please.”

Somewhere in Time – Brooklyn

     There is a distinct aroma which pulsates through these blocks filled with mansions from another time and place. A cocktail of homemade cooking, trees and assorted flowers. A stray dog walks across the street, sounds of horse shoes hitting cobblestone, some whispers from people unseen and the sound of children playing somewhere in the distance.  
      Ghosts abound – couples walking hand in hand in their Sunday finest. Soldiers home for the weekend catch their girls jumping into their arms. While the curtain in the window upstairs is untied.
     There was a reservoir once upon a time, right over there just across from the park. In the park a statue of Teddy Roosevelt stands upright and proud.           Surrounding him are benches occupied by lovers – from the past and from today. An old man sits by himself, transistor radio, newspaper and pen in hand. He is listening to a baseball game from a long time ago.
     A poet sits alone on the grass and begins to write a letter to a lover he has yet to love.
I dream of you and I can taste you when I close my eyes. Your soft skin, your lips and the aroma that your body releases cures me, your wet skin intoxicates me and the sound of your voice as you surrender to my love is what saves me.
   There was a full moon, clear dark blue sky with flashes of lights, shooting stars and time passing by. There was a lonely man in the window upstairs, I caught a glimpse of him just before the curtain fell. He wasn’t alone, there was a shadow behind him, a silhouette of a woman, perhaps his wife or lover? He seemed lonely nevertheless.
      A young man walks alone, cigarette in his left hand, hat in his right. He has a satchel across his chest and he is coming home. Why does home seem so foreign? Why has nothing changed all the time he was in hell? Tommy, Ferreli, Grossman – all gone in front of his face. Exchanging jibes one second and blown to pieces the next. Why does this tree still stand? Why are there people laughing and going about their lives as if there is peace on earth? Where is the outrage? He turns around and heads back to the train station. He can’t go back home again.
 There was a full moon, clouds were forming, white cotton balls against a dark blue sky. On the other side of town there is ranch house with a wrap around porch. On the porch there is a lady sitting on a chair waiting for something, someone to come on home. In the distance the young man stops walking, takes a deep breath and walks on.
 There were crickets, cicadas and an assortment of instruments being played. Whispers continued in the dark, voices from the past, lost like old photographs casting memories into the wind. One can hear them in the silence, through the tall grass and the cobblestoned streets – echoes through the mansions lost in time – the trees standing tall, roots strong, branches pointed towards the heavens.
Brooklyn, like a mistress, waiting for her paramour, lost in time. Like a man with nowhere to go, a road without end and a sky without a moon. The lady on the porch suddenly sees a form in motion heading in her direction. She smiles, stands and embraces him. Home. Some prayers do come true…in shades of colors we never could have guessed.


A little of something for everyone – this ends on a positive note but there is no ending in sight.

Freddy as an infant



We all have fears or regrets that can overwhelm us; slow down our impulses, speed up our breathing and cause our heart to beat wildly; sounding like a horse galloping through the silent midnight streets.

We each have our “quicksand” which can quickly envelop us in an embrace that can suck the life out of us. A tornado within us that keeps us from turning around and doing what it takes to keep on moving ahead one step at a time.

Although the events of our past is what keeps us running, we cannot hold on to those events with too much intensity lest it break us rather than teach us.

I look at my children and I cannot come to terms with the fact that they are grown up and no longer feel the need to snuggle beside me to feel secure. No longer want to sit on my lap and throw their arms around me as they slowly fall asleep. Or jump into my arms when I come home at the end of a day. Those jumps, those smiles and that unconditional belief that I was superman – offset the reality that underneath the costume I felt more like Willy Loman or Howard Beale.

The clock swears it hasn’t sped up the pace; but it lies. The proof is in the clarity of our memories from 30, 40 years earlier. The games, the songs, the loves and the friendships – just as if they happened a week go or just yesterday.
The marks on the steps where I would play stoop ball or the way a wiffle ball would roll down from the roof jumping up from the drains or the feeling I felt when it never did come down and we needed to scrounge around for 35 cents or miss out on playing again that day.

When I hear Sgt Pepper I always anticipate the skip right when they sing “It was 20 years ago today, today, today, today…or on Elton John’s greatest hits album, “Bennie and the Jet’s” kept repeating “Bennie, Bennie, Bennie” with no “Jets” forthcoming unless I would stomp on the floor.

I look in the mirror and I still see the 18-year-old staring back at me. Maybe instead of acne there are some wrinkles and in place of dried Tenax, there is some gray hair I see.I still see some good looks there.  It’s when I see a photograph of myself that I am traumatized by the image. Who is that old man and when did he get so big?

I have become a cliché – lost maps and compasses which once led me to places I had never seen or been, now frighten me and inspire me to want to go home and hide. My life is made up of metaphors which I use to try and encapsulate life’s impossible questions which have no tangible answers.

Love is all we need, OK I get it and it’s fine, but love can also fog up our vision and force us to do things, in hindsight, we can never truly justify. Or was that lust? How many times have those two amazing, exhilarating emotions betrayed us by causing us to change courses in our lives?

Friends scatter but you are OK with it because you need to find your own way.  Feelings of being lost and wanting to be found – fade away when the sun is shining. Empty bedrooms in cold apartments leave you with an impulse to run. But you find yourself caught in a war within  – a struggle between your own visions and the visions that reality thrusts at you. All you ever needed was the one…but who is that?

The reflection in the mirror will reveal itself when you are ready and able to see that it is not her, him or them that can define you – it is you, you are the only one. It’s alright Ma, I can make it.

We are all in this carnival, musicians playing accordions and drummers walking upright with pretend aplomb.
We are all in this Circus walking a high wire act for the world to see while pushing away the impulse to look down.
We are all up on the screen, a member of the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges, using our zaniness to get through the craziness of the scene. Mirroring ourselves and questioning whether the image is really you or some impostor?

You were so sure you would change the world, make Atlas Shrug, but we all know about the best laid plans of Mice and Men. We all know the other side of paradise is just a blinking light and nothing is as sweet as the moment right before you realize your dreams. Just as the Old man and his Marlin dealing with the sharks – we all try to avoid the bridges that are falling down but sometimes we have no choice but to walk on the burning coals.

The Hotel New Hampshire, the beauty of the south through the eyes of the son of Santini. Painted visions of beauty, the words echoed the joy of life with smatterings of darkness and the pain that life can bestow upon even a man in full.

The girls at the social masquerades they misled you into dark and mysterious hallways and rooms – “Please let me hold your hand,” hypnotized by their arousing raspy tone, You follow, you have no choice. You once swore no surrender somewhere in the night, but you give in as you are lead to where the streets have no name.

She breaks you, over and over again, killing you softly with her song – yet with each word she sings to you there is a sense of healing; just as a scab grows upon your chest to cover up an open wound so it can heal inside. Then there is silence and you cannot find your way.

You hear the song at the most unexpected moment; just when you thought you were over her Sam plays the song. But you cannot shoot the piano man, you cannot outlaw the song – you see her from across the lake…Judy Jones…in a winter dream…There was a fish jumping and a star shining and the lights around the lake were gleaming…

The piano man plays in the garden, singing songs while we sing along, always in the mood for a melody and the need to feel alright. Songs from summers past…

Time is on my side, you croon “Why try and change me now?” You find yourself searching for the answers but Dylan said those answers are blowin’ in the wind and with each floating leaf, each discarded paper you find yourself grasping for to no avail.

Unshaven and in need of a haircut you apply for a review of the past year for hopes you can start again or at least get some explanation for the call out at home  – but the folks in Chelsea don’t answer the phone when it comes in from the field. Is there anyone even in that bunker?

You are handed the script and you read the lines, your heart just isn’t in it. You recite the lines and you play the part; you want to ad-lib and put some of yourself into it but it’s not to be.

You spend the nights practicing the night moves, alone you see a pretty girl with kaleidoscope eyes and two brave strangers find some kind of comfort while hiding out in the cornfields or in the back seat of a 60 Chevy.

You throw the cabbie 20 dollars and he stashes the bill in his shirt, the radio plays a song about burning down the mission and you wonder, is the mission what you were supposed to carry out? Or is the mission the place you were supposed to protect? Like a madman across the water you stand upon the diving board and search for a beacon in the night.

Stars in their multitude light up the sky, just like a sentinel or a parent keeping watch in the night.

“I’ll always love you,” is sung but you know that on the surface, this much is true, but where is the power behind those words? Those words can always comfort a lonely soul, can always get you to third base – it’s home plate that eludes you while she tells you she needs to know right now if “I’ll always love you” are sincere or is it just being used as a key to the locked entrance way to Paradise.

Still the singer asks, “when I want sincerity, tell me, where else can I turn?”

You sing the words to imagine, but you know it’s just a dream sung by a dreamer and that dream is over. It was always a tug of war between the reality of evil against the reality of the good – in this world we rationalize that the evil never win, but once they kill they have created a void that no freedom towers or amount of money can ever fill.

We are writers, artists, creators of universes trying to describe emotions in words, pictures or tunes. We are the red-headed step-child sleeping late always giving in at night to the seductiveness of sleep and dreams. Trying to succeed in a world where you are confined, forced to conform and to blend into the background is like trying to fit an elephant into a mole’s burrow.

After a while we begin to implode; first comes the sadness, then the restlessness, the loneliness, the anxiety of wanting to run while chained to a fence. As we try to adapt to the burrows in which we live – like the scarecrow in an abandoned farm – we slowly succumb to the bites, the sun and the rain. We wither away eventually becoming one with the wind and scattered across the fields.

We were created for something more and the fact that at 50 you find yourself lost, at a loss and losing – can be a debilitating feeling. You have the girl of your dreams and your children by your side – but you want to have so that you can give. The burrow has no hidden treasure, no answers in the sky beyond the rainbow or below it.

The pain of betrayal will never fully disappear, but it’s the pain of being mislabeled that hurts the most. Doubting yourself in the middle of the night, “Am I who they think I am or am I who I have always envisioned myself to be?” In the clarity of the morning light you know exactly who you are and you smile for even doubting yourself.

Twenty seven years, almost, of being a father has taught you the truth about the role – you can never be right or wrong; all you can do is love them and let them know it. The pride I feel when I see each one of them individually is overwhelming. Yet the images of them as younger children remains etched in my mind and the reality that they are now older and independent hatches a sense of time out of mind.

It’s the Story of a life; a man’s dreams have all come true in shiny bright colors. Could I have imagined the way she looks at me or the love that they pour o’er me? The scar runs down my chest it’s proof of survival of maybe not the fittest.

God has given me the answers to some questions; but there are so many more yet to be revealed. Why the fire? Why the rains? Why the sicknesses and why the pains? Why do the evil survive while the good mostly die young? Why do you sustain the ones who kill in Your name?

Baseball, rock n roll, a good Italian meal, Friday nights and holiday gatherings. Thanksgiving, egg nog and pumpkin pie. Lighting the candles, wearing a mask and eating the unleavened bread – all to commemorate our survival. We thank Him. But we ask for more because life can be difficult especially for the ones who care the most.

There are many conflicts inside of us black sheep – a feeling of wanting more out of this world while wanting to just graze in the field. There are voices inside of us screaming for equality and respect.
Voices inside of us wanting to describe the sun setting over the lake in late July with the temperature still in the 90’s.
Voices inside of us wanting to describe with only a whisper the shouting voices which surround you and guide you.
Voices inside of us wanting to express the love you feel for the ones who have stood by you.
Voices inside of you screaming, standing on a table and asking “What is my purpose?”

Fifty years of love, family, the crews of the USS Enterprise, New York Met’s and Rock n Roll, movies and television, popcorn and couch potatoes, rotary dial and smarter phones with live streams from Mars.

Fifty years of typewriters. Computers and laptops.

Fifty years of conflicting emotions of loneliness and claustrophobic episodes.

Fifty years of faith in God, twenty years of Emunah.

Fifty years with my parents, crazy brothers and sisters.

Fifty years surrounded by the love we have shared.

Here is a toast to another fifty years filled with the best of celebrations for all of us to share, dreams to come to life and to finally exhale. Two chairs on the sand facing the ocean, holding hands and laughing while forever surrounded by love.

By Freddy S. Zalta

Freddy at 49 and 363 days

Nothing is Impossible

A story about my family’s business – forty year anniversary

July 13, 1976

It was the Bicentennial summer of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, The Israeli rescue of 100 hijacked passengers in Entebbe, The Son of Sam claimed his first victim on July 29th, Rocky One was released, a test-tube baby was conceived, a Peace agreement signed between Egypt and Israel and there was a newspaper strike in New York City.

Carrie, The Omen and Network were in the theaters; “Your Arms are Too Short to Box with God”, “Godspell” and “Fiddler on the Roof” were playing on Broadway. On the radio songs with names like, “Silly Love Songs”, “Don’t go Breaking my Heart” and “50 Ways to Leave your Lover,” were filling the airwaves.

There was a strip of retail stores on Kings Highway in Brooklyn, New York between Mcdonald and Ocean Avenues. There was “Jerry’s Auction Outlet,” “John’s Pizza,” “Joe’s Variety,” and “Robert Hall.” on South side and across the way, “Brooklyn Savings Bank” I don’t recall what was adjacent to the bank.

On Kings Highway between east 2nd street and east 3rd there were assorted Middle Eastern grocery stores, a fruit store, a hardware store and a diner. Across the way was “Decorative Dinette,” “Lou’s Delicatessen,” “Elite Photography studio” and “Metropolitan Life Insurance.” In between the insurance and the photographer studio was a “Dungaree” store that had recently closed down. It was sometime in 1975 that my father and my Uncle Nat moved into that location and thus began the birth of “Whiz Travel.”

There were other locations prior to this one; Avenue U and West Street and Ave S and east 7th. There were other names prior to Whiz Travel. There was “Emek Tours,” “Zalta Travel,” and inexplicably, “Kings Bay Travel.”

But the name Whiz Travel stuck. By 1976 it was my father and mother who were running the business. They would be there from early in the morning until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. At the time they were unable to write their own tickets, instead they would purchase the tickets from a 3rd party or direct from the airlines. It was no way to grow a business.  My father wanted to be able to print his own tickets but needed to raise a specific amount of money to do so. He approached several people who doubted that he could succeed in a business such as travel in a location suited more for groceries or clothing than a “full service travel agency.” In the end there were two or three people who ‘bought into’ the business and were made minor partners. This gave them the ability to attend “Familiarization trips” to different locales around the world and to travel at discounted rates. This was the beginning of the future – the first ticket written was called the “Golden ticket.” I didn’t understand that because it was a ticket from New York to Washington DC for $99.00.


In those days all you needed to do was write the origin, destination, date and the form of payment. There were little stickers which were used to change the tickets by passengers and ticket agents. Those were legendary and invaluable. In those days the travelers were advised to “Go straight to the gate.” Each ticket needed to be accounted for by being put in a report to be sent to the Airlines reporting corporation each Tuesday without fail. That was my mother’s job and still is to this day. Each Tuesday you would hear her asking “where is ticket 7728 222 332?” or something to that effect. It was usually on my brother Maurice’s desk hidden somewhere beneath the rubble of paper and God knows what. Or on my father’s desk under a two day old cup of coffee stuck to the ticket which left its permanent circular mark.

The doubters still question the viability of the business. He would wave them away and say, “With God’s help, hard and honest business ethic, we will find a way.” He was never one to be told something was not doable. Between the presence of my mother by his side and his unyielding faith, he was emboldened to succeed.

Daily bus trips to Washington D.C., overnights to Niagara Falls and Philadelphia helped raise capital for the business but it wasn’t until he took a trip to Acapulco when the tide turned.

In Acapulco he made a contact at a hotel called, “The Condesa Del Mar.” He also made contacts at Eastern Airlines for a discounted group rate.

“How are you going to get that many people to come, Sam?”

“Don’t worry about how, that’s my job.”


Back in Brooklyn he began the push. At that time the yeshiva’s had their winter recess at the same time the public school system did, from the days before Christmas until the Monday after New Year’s Day. In those days the majority of the community were retailers and the days leading up to Christmas were crazy. As were the days following Christmas. So a trip during intersession wasn’t a yearly trip to be taken for granted, it was a luxury reserved only for the wealthy.

“Acapulco! Money back guaranteed!” A sign was made and placed in the window. People came and my father promised them 10 days of perfect weather and a perfect vacation. My mother was livid, my brothers were speechless; my father? “Don’t worry.”

Within three years the vacations were moved to the end of January and my father had arranged for free upgrades at the Acapulco Plaza to a junior suite and reserved the whole Eastern Airlines flight on Thursday returning ten days later on Sunday.

My first trip alone with my friends was to Acapulco and it was there I had my first slow dance in a club across the street from the Plaza. I won’t mention her name because it probably meant nothing to her – but to me it’s a lifetime highlight. As I would walk anywhere in Acapulco people would run over to me and say how great my mother and father were. I would nod and say, “They really are amazing.”

Throughout the next 35 years or so the business changed; we were one of the first travel agencies to have an automated system (i.e. computers) in place. It was my father’s insistence to keep up with technology which thrust us into the 80’s, 90’s and the 21st century.

Two of my brothers and I worked in the agency alongside my parents. There were times we were so close to killing each other – there were times when we could not stop laughing. Looking back on it now, how amazing was it for us all to work together? Three brothers and our parents? My brother Marcos was the lawyer of the family so he had no desire to work with us. My brother Maurice moved to Israel in 1996 and I left the business in 2002. Charlie remains there and has kept the ship running smoothly over stormy waters throughout the years.

Looking back on those times working together, it’s easy to romanticize the past. We were young, we had jobs because our parents set us up with the family business.

Now 40 years later, my father passed away a year ago, although his presence is still felt in the smile of my son Saul. My mother still does the weekly reports and argues with everyone to be more organized while my brother, Sari and my son, Saul work with the lessons taught by my parents. The business is still a very important one for the traveler. A full service travel agent is always one phone call away for help when the flights have all been delayed or cancelled.

Through the door of 518 Kings Highway have walked men who were on front pages of newspapers, working men who survived the unimaginable and continued their survival tactics as working class heroes, homeless kids who came in for a quarter but were given a free lunch at the Deli courtesy of my pop. Jewish immigrants with not a word of english were told, “Go to see Sam Zalta, he will help get you settled.” Through the door at 518 Kings Highway walks an amazing woman who empowered the man by her side for 56 years. Their children and grandchildren all walk in with pride and wherever they travel all they need to say is Whiz Travel and an instant smile is hatched. You can’t buy a good name with money – a good name, hard work with integrity – that’s the golden ticket.

Forty years. These days terror seems to always be one step behind us; The Son of Sam is still alive yet behind bars, Rocky Seven was just released last year and technology has produced clones and printed vital human organs on 3D printers. The Peace agreement signed between Egypt and Israel still exists and New York City is still the center of the universe.

Paul Mccartney, Elton John and Paul Simon all released new music this year and are still touring around the world to sold out crowds. But these days the world is smaller, we can have a video conversation with someone around and out of this world instantly. An airplane, powered by Solar energy just flew around the world with no fuel at all. Like my father used to say, “It’s an amazing world, so much beauty, so much excitement.” Then watching as his grandchildren would crowd the apartment on a Friday night he would shout, “Rachel, can you buy this with money?” She would smile and take it all in. Nothing is impossible.


In a little over 4 weeks I will be turning 50 years of age.

Freddy Zalta 1966
I didn’t think this would hit me as it did, but its been weighing on my mind now for the past couple of months.
Its not that I feel old, hell I felt old at 12. Its just that I can hear the faint sounds of the second hand clicking. I am on the second lap around the track and I am feeling the strain.

Life is hard.
There are so many amazing scenes which propel us through the shitty parts of life’s scenes, but there is this fear that I have possibly ‘jumped the shark’ and I am no longer relevant in a world filled with giants and castles; the princesses look at me, the old Jester telling the same tired jokes and the same old routines, turn and look away. My queen sees me as a possible error in judgment and when I look in the mirror I can understand why.

Fifty years since I was born and I wonder if I have left a footprint. I have dreamed of success in businesses throughout the years and have come up short. I have sworn everlasting love only to be discarded. Too many whispers into my soul about the dreams that still have a pulse and I wonder if its ever going to come in its time.

The answers to life? They are simple to define but not as simple to enact. Darkness weighs the mind down and exhausts me until I only feel like disappearing into a dark room to camouflage myself against whatever it is that ails me.

Nike says, “Just do it,” while Nancy Reagan has said, “Just say no.” Just subliminal messages with red lights and green lights – but the traffic is thick ahead.

I have my children, the loves of my life, I sometimes advise them to live life to the fullest. Imploring them that there is no need for alcohol to use to acquire the courage to act or to use as an excuse for the acts. The power is inside of you – you must have faith in yourself before you can truly leap and fly.

Love is truly the only answer to life. There is an astronomical definition to this one word. Infinite amounts of emotional definitions, physical actions and empowerment. You can only truly experience this love, this most powerful tool in the universe, once you learn to love yourself for the true person you are.

The true person you are is the core, how you perceive yourself to be, what you enjoy and what you do not, changes from moment to moment. Life, death and time tarnish or polish the dreams, the hopes and the desires we possess. Passion is the fun part – in bed, on the playing field or in work; in arts and in the house. Passion is an extension of love – passion is the all encompassing ultimate enjoyment of anything, everything and more.

Drink it in, breath it in and absorb it all; take the road you choose not the one on google maps or in old books written by others who have experienced life much differently and in worlds you will never visit or see to be able to comprehend.

A man living in the apartment next to you for your whole life, born the same day as you and attended the same schools you have; you are still two different people who’s view is distorted by unseen forces.

We are all unique despite the fact that we are each identical is so many ways. We all feel, see, sense, smell and define everything differently. We breath the same air, yet each breath enters our bodies and have different meanings for each.

The man answer to life’s biggest questions? Love, that’s it. Everything in life stems from love. Loving yourself, loving what you do and loving others. We complicate life – but its really about love, passionate intoxicating love. At fifty I can say that “The story of my life,” has been her. I have been blessed with the love of so many but there is only one who rises above them all.

(To be continued)

A Typical Summer Morning on the Long Branch boardwalk.

There is an old man sitting alone on a bench. His skin is transparent; veins and age appear to be the main identifiers. He is wearing white shorts, topped by a light sweatshirt, no socks and flipflops. In his right hand is a pen and in his left hand, resting upon his lap is the crossword puzzle from today’s New York Times. He sits in that spot each morning and watches as the ladies run or walk on by. Multi tasking; finishing the puzzle, enjoying the sights and sipping at his very large coffee.

To the left of him is the snack bar with Judith and Elvira, two coeds trying to earn a few bucks and have fun at the same time. Judith is from the Bronx and Elvira is from Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. They became quick friends once they met in orientation and have become inseparable since. Both have long hair, light brown skin and brown eyes.

The boardwalk is an adobe color and it stretches two and half miles along the Jersey Shore. The white sands and the sparkling blue water in the distance, sail boats and surfers, volleyball games and the sunrise Yoga class. It’s all happening here at 7 o’clock in the morning.

Dogs run ahead of their walkers, smelling the flowers, the hydrant and each other. The aroma is saltwater that you can taste on your lips.

A young lady walks on the beach below and she is dressed up in an evening dress. She is walking barefoot, carrying her heels in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She makes her way up the stairs, greets the man doing his crossword with a smile and walks upon the grass towards the apartment complex across the way. Her dress is down to her feet and is a off white with a revealing cleavage of its which reveals a stunning view showcasing God’s good work.

Two women walk on by, arms swinging, clad in Orthodox Jewish modest clothing, speaking quietly, quickly, their words in rhythm with their speed.

A shirtless man, who seems to be in his 70’s is running and glistening in the heat. The temperature is already 80 or so and the high is said to be around a hundred and one. He is wearing white Adidas shorts and sneakers. He has a gold tooth and a cross on a chain around his neck. A tattoo of an anchor is on his left arm with the word, “Home” spelled beneath the anchor.

Seagulls are flying around in dizzying motions, a man walks with his metal detector searching in vain for some treasure in the sand; while the seagulls stick their beaks into the same sand searching for their own treasures.


In the distance, Pier Village is waking and the sun spreads its orange glow all around like a broken yoke; two ladies walk across the street clutching their Rook Cold Brew, they are laughing.

The sun, rising still, is bringing on the heat quickly – the adobe flavored boardwalk is neutral to the heat. The old man drops his pen as a big breasted woman bounces on by. Right behind her is an old lady pushing her walker she gives the old man a dirty face and says, “You are not a kid anymore Herbie.”
“One can only hope Bethany, one can only dream.”

Blue skies above, sun shining to the east and wonderful sounds of summer all around. The nurses from the hospital, on a break or done for the night, stand up against the rail conversing, trading stories and bonding.

A golden retriever is running on the beach below, his owner tossing a tennis ball back and forth. The waves are hardly waving but there is a light breeze blowing some white clouds this way from the West. Back on the boardwalk, the man with the metal detector bends down and pulls something out of the sand. He smiles and puts it in his pocket.

The two ladies are still laughing and the old man has finished his crossword puzzle. Bethany is talking to her past as she finds herself a bench to sit on. The golden retriever finds his way towards her and sits beside her. While the young lady, in her home now, lets the dress fall off of her and falls into her bed.

Just a typical summer morning on the Long Branch Boardwalk.


The Rocket’s Red Glare

Elie Weisel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
We the People MUST demand Change.
We the People of the United States of America must protest our leaders inadequate responses to the merciless slaughter being carried out by the Islamic Extremists
Throughout the world there are wars being fought. In the past it was the United States of America who would lead the fight for human rights and coalitions who would combat the evil doers in the world.
As the fireworks explode tonight in the sky, spreading bright colors and stars across the country – there is work to be done around the world.
We, the people, of the United States of America, must demand that our leadership take a stand against the Islamic Extremists who are quickly destroying freedom, lives and causing mass destruction and extreme imprisonment. Ordinary people are being slaughtered for the simple reason that they do not follow the Islamic religion.
We need a president who will make it a point to define the problem, gather the nations who demand freedom, demand liberty and believe in justice being served to the murderers, the terrorists and the evil doers. Right now, July 3, 2016, the enemy is easily defined as the Muslim Extremists.
If we continue to stand aside and only wear special colors, change our profile pictures on social media or simply nod our heads in disgust…what good are we?
Its time we do something that will make, the people of the United States of America, stand tall once again.


Through the dirty streets polluted with humidity, aromas of leftovers spilling from plastic bags, seven day cologne and cheap perfumes, I walk.

I walk as the streets below me are crumbling, the skies above me are thundering and the elevated platform in the distance is rumbling while the voices inside of me are troubling.

Can you understand my question, Sir?
Have you ever understood who I am?
Can you please look into my eyes, Miss?
Can you please take my hand?

I am lost, I am lost, there are thieves encircling me as I try to find my way home.
There are schemers, crooks and morally bankrupt folk who thank the Lord and then pickpocket the poor, the deaf and the blind.

Can you understand this world, Sir?
Can you explain it just a bit?
Can you please hold me in your arms, Miss?
Can you please give me a taste of your kiss?

Its a lonely world and I cant find my way back home.
Its a dark alley in a moonless night.
There are strangers, angry mobs and close friends, who’s greeting will break into a fight.
There are the folks who stay home who understand that its cold outside even if its warm.
Can you please translate the experiences I have had?
Can you please transcribe the words that were spoken?
Please set me free from this solitude and surround me with hearts that have been broken. I can, I can set them free…
I can, I can set you free…

Words of protestations and rationalizations – we were given permission to protect ourselves.
Bullets fly…the end.

Can you please explain why you need such a terrible weapon?
Can you please explain what you plan to do with that gun?
The gun is cocked, the revolver is filled with pellets of gunpowder and explosion. A piece of lead can destroy a world. Is that what you want done?

Its a violent world we live in, when men must compensate for their inadequate manhood by the size of their guns.
Its a dark ending coming to us soon when an angry man shoots and kills just for fun.
There is the notoriety afterwards – pictures and biographies abound.
But its the fame that ensures that once again we will hear the sounds of bullets taking away one world at a time.
Can you please take the guns and leave?
Words are twisted to help define what you want them to say.
Stay away, stay away…


A Walk Through Time

He walked eastward towards the building where he once lived. The sun was at his back and there were storm clouds gathering. The humidity was outrageous, the stench on the Brooklyn streets was putrid and the people walking among him were clearly not concerned with personal hygiene. He scratched the scar on his chest and took a deep breath; checked his messages and there were only social network alerts.

June something in the year 2016; twitter alerts filled with murders and destruction; so much progress in technology yet so much regress in humanity. He turned off his phone.

The clouds were forming, congregating above him and he could feel a cool breeze blowing.

As he walked, he felt a change coming over him and his surroundings. He noticed a change in the way people were dressed and the cars on the streets. Walking along Kings Highway he turned around and looked twice at the corner of East 4th and Kings Highway. Something felt strange, something was missing. He blinked, if only for a moment.

He opened his eyes and he felt a lightness to him, a sense of being able to physically do anything. He went to touch his chest but his scar was gone, perhaps life had been a dream? Sitting up he saw the Carvel on the corner of east 3rd street and King’s Highway; he saw cars parked in the lot and a line circling around to east 3rd. His friends were there, they were just as he remembered them from high school; 17 years old, lean and laughing. He spied Stacey and he couldn’t believe his eyes, she was exactly how she was before that shithead husband of his turned her life upside down.

She was smiling, that magical smile and then she let out a half laugh, she turned around as if looking for someone and then looked down at her feet. She was with her crew, seven girls who were like sisters. One minute great friends, the next minute each talking bad about the other – but always an underlying devotion to each other.

He was across the street on the other side of Kings Highway, right outside the “Hot Bagels” store when he heard his name being called in what sounded like a whisper. He turned to look but the sound and the source were gone.

Across the street, Stacey was looking his way and motioned him to cross the street. He crossed and jogged towards her and her smile was like a magnet to his soul…pulling him closer…

“Hi.” She said with that magnetic smile.

“Hi.” He wanted to kiss her, he wanted to throw his arms around her and carry her away. But something held him back.

“You look amazing, I am so happy to see you this way, Stace.” He said.

“Thanks – you ok?” She asked him.

“No, definitely not, I have no idea how I got here or if this is real or not. But I don’t care, you just, you look so refreshing.”

“Did you drink something?”

“No, I mean, a bad cup of coffee but, no. I don’t think so.” He looked around and he realized that all the old businesses were there. Nat’s Diner was on the corner, there was the Chinese restaurant, “Ying’s Garden,” “Sol’s Hardware” – there was old man Sol himself! He was speaking with Sam from the Dinette Store – they were both so young and alive. Zaki, who ran the grocery store across the way, was there speaking to…

“Oh my God, dad.” He was so young yet he had only remembered him always being old…here he was around 72 years old and he was solid. He wanted to go speak with his father…to try and understand things he never took the time to…

“How could I walk up to him? And Sam, just like a second father to me during those years…
How was this happening?”

He didn’t want to find out; but he did want to explore this time knowing what he knew as a 49 year old in this body of an 17 year old. He was skinny and he had crazy hair. He also had money in my pocket.

“Hey Stace, want to get some ice cream?”

“Not now, maybe later?” She winked at him and he thought, “oh yeah, the wink.”

“Definitely.” He answered, “I’ll be right back I am going to see my mom for a minute.” He said. He walked across East 3rd and past  Metropolitan Life Insurance building that was there in place of Duane Reade, as he got closer to Whiz Travel, his family’s business, he began to shake and sweat. He thought to himself.

“That was my pop crossing and walking towards me now with his smile.” He looked through the window and saw his beautiful mother on the phone, writing something down. His two brothers were there working and as he got closer; I thought about Lou’s Deli, how he wanted to get a hot dog there; to see Ruth and Lou behind the counter while Buddy walked around and managed the place. As he got closer to his father he heard his name being called.

Just as quickly it was all gone. He lay in bed and put all his energy into standing up.

“It felt so real…the people, the sights, the sounds of my past. The youth that we all possessed – life pulsating yet taken for granted as life and time often are.”

He lay back down and he thought about Stacey and how her life ended way too soon, a smile extinguished leaving a world colder and harder.  He thought about Sam and his faith and his strength. He thought about his parents and remembered just why he considered them his heroes.  

He pulled on his jeans and a shirt; walked outside; the scar on his chest was still there; he felt a sense of regret for the time he had let slip away. For decisions he had made that if he could, he would go back and think them over once again. Even with the knowledge that everything will fall into place somehow – that knowledge seemed to abandon him sporadically throughout the day and night.

When is a dream just a dream? Do dreams end when one wakes up or are those nightmares that disturb us from dreaming?

A walk through time – it wasn’t always easy back then but in retrospect it feels as if so much has been taken away from us that we tend to romanticize the past in order to make us feel safe from the present. So we go on holding on to just a small dose of nostalgia if only to recall a smile, that once upon a time, made one’s heart skip a beat or two.


Scar Tissue

We live life and its similar to walking along an avenue.
Some streets are crowded whiles others are seemingly deserted. Some streets are filled with restaurants, cafes and taverns. Music playing, people laughing and its forever 70 degrees and clear. A moon spreads its light while the stars pulsate with the rhthym of the gaiety below.
Other streets are filled with ghosts from a past that has long been forgotten. A mom and pop store on the corner of Bleeker and 1st still sells Root Beer Floats and New York Style Egg Creams for 99 cents. The old folk go there for the coffee, cigarettes and the morning newspaper. They walk in silence and at night there is no moon, just some shooting stars.
Other streets have some diners or some picnic areas where the parents take the children and the children play together.

The time passes and we find ourselves tiring with each passing block until each step is laborious and painful.

Still we march on with just a glance behind us every once in a while just to make sure there is nothing getting close to us from behind.
We accumulate a lot of stuff along the way; broken bones, hearts and lives. Soveniers from the time spent walking, maybe a rock or two and some sticks. We count the stars at night and we promise the moon to our lovers only to settle for a drawing or a sweet kiss goodnight.

We walk, we celebrate life, we fall in love and we fall out just as fast. We let each other down – the pedastal can be a dangerous place to stand. We sing songs, we read psalms and we philosphise about life and the Avenues surrounding us.

We jump up, we fall down and we run. We trip, skip and flip sometimes just to change the pace, change our moods or just to cause a breeze to blow.

The earth shakes and the sky screams – tears and ashes as the pain persists. On the avenue we see acts of violence for no reason at all. The tears and the ashes continue to fall.

We dream, we wake up and our dreams are gone in a flash.
We dare to dream while awake and end up being criticized or condemned as lazy.

This avenue is littered with the limbs and shards of glass from broken dreams, broken hearts and voids that can dwarf any sinkhole. The pulsating void felt within our gut, within our heart and in our minds can not be filled with anything but scar tissue. Scar tissue which confirms that events did take place and that life does go on.

We walk along this avenue, this boulevard, this lonesome road; alone, despite any company or loved ones by our side – we will walk to our own beat, sing and dance to our own tunes and jump, skip and hop to ourselves be true.

Soveniers, matchbooks and postcards may fade away – but the experiences we have accumulated along this walk, along this life has become our scar tissue that we will wear in pride and determination.

How do you Like to be Kissed?

     She looked at him and bit her lip. He saw her lip, with her front teeth nibbling it in, what was she thinking?

kiss       She blinked, swiped away her strand of hair that fell across her left eye, bit her lip again as she does when  she is expecting something but unsure of what. He saw her swipe her hair, her rusty brown hair with some specks of grays. He looked into her eyes and made up his mind and asked her.

     “How do you like to be kissed?”

     She smiled, let out a soft quick laugh and bit her lip again, throwing back her hair and then taking his hand.

“Like this…”

     Across from the great bridge of Manhattan there is Brooklyn. There is a promenade that overlooks the great Island, the great buildings seem like plastic toys set up on a table. Lego pieces with windows radiating light making it seem that something is always happening – but its all a secret. Shhh. On the promenade walks Amanda and Ricky. Its their first time alone all night having just come from a party at a mutual friends apartment. They had met on the terrace just above this promenade and had sat together speaking for three hours.

     Amanda had just graduated Brooklyn College and Ricky was four years removed from his final year in organized education, having dropped out as a sophomore. He was working at a jewelry store in Bay Ridge while also getting his real estate license. His bank account said one thousand on a good day – today was not a good day and it whispered 26.53. He had another 7 dollars and 32 cents in his pocket and figured he could buy a cup of coffee for her.

     Amanda was close to her father and chose to live with him rather than her mother. Her three brothers stayed with her while

Memorial Day 2016

The meaning of this day was long ago lost to barbecues, beaches and days off. Days of too many beers, too much sun and driving the car listening to music way too loud.
The lifestyle of the free people of the world is all about that, being free, acting free and taking freedom for granted.
The soldiers of freedom sacrifice their lives, their sanity and their youth to being stationed in mine fields, nests of terrorism and on the front line fighting the angels of death defending freedom.

Defending the free people of the world to take the freedom for granted, to try and understand that we as the once leading country of the free world must, once again, defend the ones who are not permited to live their lives as they choose.

Here in the United States – people always find something to complain about – transgender bathrooms, police targeting blacks, Muslims wanting to build Mosques outside or atop the hallowed ground where innocents were killed by, extreme Muslims. Protests are held – pro and anti different issues across the country.
That is freedom.

Can you imagine not being able to effect change in the world for fear of being killed or being put away forever?

The soldiers of the good countries of the world – they have sacrificed their lives – even if they survive the battles, their lives will never be the same again. Once you have seen war, your brain is reconfigured and one can never have the ability to see life as it once was.

They rush in where everyone fears to tread – they rush in because they have a mission to accomplish. A mission to destroy the evil so the good are able to live their lives in freedom, in peace…

Limbs are lost, organs destroyed, faces ripped apart…but they don’t look back – they stand and they stand proud. No human being has any right to be this courageous. No human being has any right to have the faith in freedom and liberty as they do. No human being has any right to be selfless to the point of losing their lives or limbs.

We should all stand when they walk into a room.
We should all shed a tear when one of them sheds a tear.
Provide a lifetime of security for all who defend the right for people to live free. Who fight to destroy the evil across the shores before they have the chance to, once again, strike freedom with death and destruction.

So, for the ones who have perished, the ones who have been wounded and the ones who have come home. For the families who have mourned, the ones who have received their loved ones back again – gratitude must be expressed.

So enjoy the day. The heroes of freedom have fought for the right for us to live life free from evil.

The First Amendment of the United States bill of rights states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petitition the Government for a redress of grievances.  

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines will do whatever it takes to enforce these freedoms and to open up the worlds for the ones who are imprisoned by evil.

No Apologies

I am a creative person. It is a definite asset when it comes to assorted passions in my life. Being creative in the seduction of life’s roadblocks, detours or final destinations has brought me to unbridled ecstasy, pain and pure feelings of confusion. Confusion, due to the fact that not everyone has the same definition of the sights and sounds I experience.

As a creative person, people can be impatient with me and the decisions I make. For example. love is the ultimate achievement to me – expressing it both emotionally and physically – where creativity can lead one to both the summit and the nadirs of life. You see, creative people think too much, want more than others can offer and often find themselves wondering if they are crazy to have expectations, that, to others seem outlandish or unreasonable.

I walk in strange ways – sometimes I hop and sometimes I will walk on the bricks of a lawn just to change the course of my thinking.

I look at nature in awe and when I try to share those feelings, most people are kind enough to try and join in, but they are never truly awed as I am.

For example, you see, a tree is not just blocks of wood with branches and leaves. A tree, to me, is an expression of life that is sprouting from the ground, fortified by its girth and it’s relentless pursuit to regenerate. It’s main purpose in life is to reproduce. It begins with a seed, which fortified with carbohydrates and protein then turn into a “radicle.” Then, depending on the environment, begin to sprout both below – to access water and other vitamins, and above to receive the sun and it’s nutrients. A tree doesn’t simply show up; trees of all sizes, even redwoods, which grow up to 360 feets high – all begin with a seed. A seed the size of a popcorn kernel or smaller.

So when I see the trees, for example on a side street in Brooklyn, I marvel at the base of it, fortified over and over again by itself. The branches spreading out across the streets and working it’s way towards the sky. Birds singing to each other and feeding off of the lives that exist in the universe of this tree. A living thing that has withstood hurricane winds, snow, rain and sleet storms, way below zero temperatures, above 100 hundred degree sweltering days. Yet, still stands strong and continues in dignity.

That is what I see.

When the sun is setting and like a broken egg yolk, spreads it’s majestic colors across the western sky – I see a sun that has been there forever with a power which can never be duplicated. A sun that no matter what happens in the night – will be rising in the east come the morning.

The moon with it’s lonely place in the sky – keeping watch over us as we sleep – it’s wrinkles and pockmarks emitting a sense of age, of experience. For nothing worth admiring lacks the marks of pain, defeat, love and success.

I see it all in different shapes, forms, colors and definitions. I am, according to many people, “crazy.” That is ok – I’d rather be crazy and to posses the visions I have been blessed with.

In the eyes of strangers I can sense where they have been, what they have seen and what they yearn to be. In their voices I can sense the desperation, the hoarseness from crying, screaming and laughing.

In the sound of music memories and visions pop up and transport me to a place and time, from the past, present or future, where I can come and go as I please.

My love of the beauties of women…The softness of a woman’s lips, skin and the look in her eyes. The intelligence, the varieties of shapes and sizes which individually are accented by the beauty within that woman. One can have blue eyes – but without the spark inside of her lit up, they are simply a faded color. But with the spark within her on fire – browns, greens, blues or whatever colors – can dance with emotions, excitement and unrestrained possibilities.

I am creative, I love people and I love to see the real person. I write about them and I paint each individual with the different persona’s that I see in each person.

I am creative, I love life and I want to bring to light the dreams I have dreamed. I feel special, not in a narcissistic sort of way, but in a way that I am aware that I have been given special powers. Not in a superman sort of way, but the power to engage and to touch. My life has been spent in prisons throughout – from childhood on. The purgatory I find myself in now only leads to the frustrations of a creative mind. My only freedom is the love I have from my family, my friends. Yet…

I want more.

I want it all.

I want to change the world using the power of words, acts of kindness and respect. Silliness and laughter, compassion and empathy, love and peace, truth and the knowledge to understand when love and peace are not possible. Evil must always be defeated.

As I head onto my next destination, the next stop on my journey. I will get stared at, insulted, judged and will be disliked. I truly don’t really care about those judges who misjudge me out of jealousy or self-loathing. My strength is my inner self – my strength is love and the unwavering understanding and trust in my God.

I am who I am, I need more than the casual person.

I love more than the casual person and I yearn for the touch of love.

Still, tomorrow I will keep on looking for a job to pay the bills I have chosen to have. I will use my creativity to succeed to flourish. I will never lose the visions I see and feel, in the sights and sounds of this world.

Salt, Pepper and some Spice Please!

New York City, more than any other city in the world, is a glorious mixture of people with hundreds of different cultures; all thrown together and somehow finding a way, despite the different shades of color, hues and tints; to amass upon the dirty streets, underground universes and high atop the skyscrapers – to produce a tapestry so beautiful, that only the hallowed hands of God could have created it.

I board the F-Train on Avenue P in Brooklyn, New York, heading for Manhattan. The train begins to fill up with the usual suspects and I force myself to look around and absorb what I see.

Its a crowded train I look across and I see a bench with a Hasidic Jew, a Korean woman and a Sikh. To the left of them, a black man listening to music, bopping his head. A Russian woman applying makeup and a heavy man wearing a Yankee hat, Yankee nylon jacket and too tight jeans.

An old man walks on at Carroll Street and holds on to the pole. Simultaneously the black man and the Yankee fan jump up and offer him their seats. In an Irish brogue he says with a smile, “Thank you, but I am getting off on the next stop.”

Further on, as we pull into Delancey Street, the doors open and a Mexican Mariachi band walks into our car and begin to play their sad song. (I think they are sad most of those songs seem like they are). One of them walks with his hat upside down in his hand while singing along with his bandmates.  Coins and some dollar bills are dropped into the hat as he sings his way down the car.
“Gracias Nueva York!”

West Fourth Street and a Muslim family walks on. The man is wearing shorts and a T-shirt that says, “Hillary 2016,” while his wife is all in black with only the hint of her eyes exposed. They are with 3 children, boys, who are dressed in typical clothing. The woman sits silently while the kids all sit close together on one seat. The father is to the side of them and is reading a newspaper.

At the 14th Street station a man wearing only his underwear and squaking like a bird comes on and says “Love!” and then runs out before the doors close. It seems like he is running into each car and exclaiming different one word anthems. “Freedom,” “Dream,” “Live!”

Matthew Silver lives to make people smile

The kids are laughing, the father tells them to be quiet and the mother is silent. Across from them the Hasidic man is laughing with the Yankee fan while the black man says, “only in New York.”

23rd Street Station and the train begins to have a transfusion – a lot of people off and a lot of people back on. A gay couple sit next to eachother holding hands as a giant of a man sits across from them staring into space. A young lady is applying her makeup in a hurry and when the train rolls into 34th Street she is done and out the door.

42nd Street and a man with a missing leg is preaching about “Jesus” and that “Its not to late to repent – to repent, to repent! But if you do not repent …the fires of hell with swallow you.”
The Hasidic man stands up and walks towards the door to be ready to leave once the train rolls into the 47-50th Street Station. The one legged man is still preaching, “Jesus will forgive you, the Jew, the Muslim, the non-believers – but first you must accept him! Repent!” No one gives him any mind or any spare change as the car empties.

Once refugees, now citizens.
Once immigrants, now proud Americans.
No obstructions should be placed around our borders to stop good people from seeking a better life. Our country was founded by refugees, immigrants and expelled members from other countries. Could you imagine who our country would be like if we all had one color, one language and one belief? How boring would that be? Like chicken soup with no flavoring. In order for our society to flourish we must add the pepper, salt and other spices to the broth. We must accept the differences and respect them.

We must keep the evil away from our borders – the ones who cannot accept freedom and live to destroy. But we must be that beacon of light in a world filled with darkness.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!






Bob Dylan’s 75th Year

God gave Robert Zimmerman a gift. The ability to connect, communicate and to express his poetry in ways that even the great poets of the past could not.

There are songwriters, but there is no songwriter with the talent to write, sing and to teach us that the only truth that matters is the truth that you yourself believe in.

Trust yourself to find the path where there is no if and when
Don’t trust me to show you the truth
When the truth may only be ashes and dust
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself (Empire Burlesque – Trust Yourself)

The lyrics to his songs, the poetry mixed with traditional folk, blues, pop, rock; (whatever you want to call it) have influenced the world in ways that no other poet, songwriter has or ever will. No one else could have written the songs the way he did, the way he continues to write them.

And if we never meet again, baby, remember me
How my lone guitar played sweet for you that old-time melody
And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, free
No one else could play that tune, you know it was up to me (Blood on the Tapes – Up to Me)

On stage he has a unique persona. Not everyone carries with them the responsibility to have to choose a set list from his over 50 years of songwriting.
Sometimes on stage he seems like he has to go to the bathroom and the teleprompter is out of wack, so the words to his songs are indecipherable. Its because he is constantly adjusting, editing and retooling his songs. He is not happy with promoting his “Greatest hits” and performing them the same way, night after night. He is an artist who needs to be challenged and challenges himself by recreating some of the greatest songs ever written.

Even after 55 years, he keeps on writing new songs which still have so much to say  – 12, 14 minute songs – which have been cut down from God knows how long. Lyrics which ecapsulate life with all its black and white moments sprinkled with hues of red, green and blue.

The sun is beginning to shine on me
But it’s not like the sun that used to be
The party’s over and there’s less and less to say
I got new eyes
Everything looks far away (Time out of Mind – Highlands)

Bob Dylan can be resting on his laurels – instead he understands that as a man who has been blessed with abilities which have changed the world, it is his responsibility to give back. To keep on touring and to keep on writing; to keep on inspiring.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dylan – Ad 120!




What Made the 80’s Great – Bob Dylan

He released great music – but Biograph began the release of alternative versions of his previously released music and songs that didn’t make the cut on the original release. Those songs that were omitted from the original releases are better songs than any other artist released on their best music compilation. 51 songs were on that collection – my personal favorite is an outake from the “Blood on the Tracks” album called, “Up to Me.” Click here to read lyrics and listen

Infidels was his return to non-gospel music and lyrics not preaching Christianity. The old testament had a major impact on this as well as his ode to Israel’s right to protect itself called, “Neighborhood Bully.”

Empire Burlesque had some very good songs but seemed like he was all over the place – the outakes from the album to be released in the future Bootleg Series 1,2,3.  

Knocked Out Loaded had one song, in my opinion, that made up for a lazy group of songs. “Brownsville Girl” co-written with Sam Shepard and rumored to be adapted into a motion picture. Great song – listen here.


The Pianist

Chapter One

He was born to play the ivory keys. His mother was a classical pianist and when he was an infant crying – she would put him in his playpen and play Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Bach, Beethoven and of course, Mozart. His mother, Bertha, was born in Hungary in 1924. Trained in the National Hungarian Royal Franz Liszt Academy from the age of 10 years old, she was labeled a “prodigy.” At the age of 14, now labeled as a “Jew,” she boarded a Ship to New York City to escape the growing anti-semitism and the pro-Nazi atmosphere.

In 1951 she married George Krazinski, and a year later gave birth to Jonathan. While she was pregnant she would be tickling the ivories to relax her nerves and to ease her anxiety. She yearned for her parents to be there with her but they were killed along with another half a million or so Jews. He brothers and sisters had joined her on the voyage but they had settled in different parts of America. She would play Franz Liszt’s  Annees de pelerinage (years of pilgrimage) which would remind her of being back with her family, all together, alive and happy.  She would play Mozart’s piano concertos number 9 through 27 and began to play some American standards especially “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin.

One evening as Bertha and George were cleaning up in the kitchen, they heard the sound of a piano being played. They walked in to find Jonathan playing what sounded like “It had to be you.” The notes were on and off as his fingers either hit too hard or too soft – but the tune was there.

At the age of six he was able to play the full “Rhapsody in Blue” and did so for his family and neighbors. One day a cousin of one of those neighbors was visiting when he saw for himself the prodigy at work.

When he was 10 years old his mother gave birth to the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

He stood by her crib and watched as Rebecca yawned. She was asleep but yawned none the less. She was beautiful. She was wearing pajamas and she was wrapped by a thin blanket. Her skin was light but she had some red patches scattered – nothing major, nothing that would last and certainly nothing that would take away her loveliness. He sat on the rocking chair where his mother would feed her and he just listened to her breathing. He closed his eyes…He woke up when he heard her crying really loud. He stood to see her and at the same time his mother came in and was startled.

“Hi, why are you awake?” She asked him as she picked up baby Rebecca.

“I was just watching over her; mommy she is so beautiful…” He began to sob.

“What’s wrong Johnny? Come here.” She held him with her free arm. “Whats wrong?”

“I just feel as if I love her so much that I am afraid it might hurt me.”

“Oh Johnny that is called love and love can never hurt anyone.”

“I am going to write a piece for her and I am going to call it ‘Rebecca Love.'”

His mother smiled and said, “That sounds wonderful now go to your bed and sleep, you have school tomorrow.”

“Good night Mom, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

This love was multiplied two years later when his mother gave birth to Rita who was just as beautiful as Rebecca.

Chapter Two

On his 16th birthday he met his second cousin Judy, who was 18 and in town from Miami. They had sat together at the dining room table and began to swap information.

She was a freshman at Florida State and was interested in Psychology as a major. She was also very pretty and had that college sexiness that only a college girl can possess.

“I love The Beatles but especially John. He is the heart of the band – Sgt. Pepper is my favorite album ever – I must have listened to it 500 times.”

“That is a great album – I am more of a Dylan fan – “Blonde on Blonde?”

“He’s amazing – a friend of mine said she saw him wandering around somewhere in Upstate New York, just like a regular person. She said ‘Hello’ he just waved and kept walking.”

“That is really groovy – I don’t know what I would say to him. What do you like doing?”

“I love to read poetry and to get high.” She looked at him, touched his hair and said. “Do you want to go for a walk?”

They went walking around the corner, she took out a joint and lit up. She passed it to him but he declined, “I need to keep clean, thank you. I would like to kiss you though.”

She took a step back and said, “We are cousins Jonathan Krazinski. How can even imagine I would want to kiss you?”

Taken aback he didn’t know how to respond, “I was kidding, I was just-” She put her lips against his, softly licking his lip and then smiling with a half-laugh.”

“Is there a place we can go?” She spoke softly into his ear with her arms wrapped around his neck.”

“Yes.” He took her hand and led her to the basement entrance of his house. It was dark and cool down there but no one would be coming down.

After they were spent they cleaned up and made their way outside and back around to the front entrance.

“Where were you guys? We have a special dessert for the birthday boy.” His mother said.

Judy tapped him on his back and whispered, “I thought we already had dessert – I love seconds.”

“But not in front of the family, Judy.” He responded with a sly smile.

It would be two years later when he heard that she had married an accountant who was an orthodox Jew. She apparently had “seen the light” and adapted to the Orthodox lifestyle. But she was his first and often wondered if she remembered that afternoon and the birthday present they shared.

By the age of 18, Jonathan was an award winning composer, performer and conductor. His concertos #1 and #2; written for and inspired by Rebecca and Rita. He was six feet tall, he had brown eyes and light skin. His hair was straight light brown and he had grown it shoulder length. He was a good looking man, talented; oh beyond talented. He could play back any song after hearing it just once. He could write, he could conduct and he had a presence about him whenever he walked into a room, an auditorium, a concert hall or just about anywhere.

But there was always something missing.


Chapter Three

After a performance one night Jonathan was kind of frustrated with himself. He knew he could play the piano better than anyone but why was he so bored on stage? Did the audience sense it and get bored as well? This nagging feeling he felt after each performance – there was something missing.

His father approached him the next evening after they had finished dinner.

“So, whats going on with you? Are you happy with your performances?”

“Yes, of course I am.” He responded defensively.

“As you should be.”

“Thank you Pop. My only problem is that I get bored up there.”

“You need to find your voice, Johnny, it will come in it’s time. You are so young and have accomplished so much yet, you still have so much to give.” He moved a strand of hair that had fallen onto Johnny’s face and then sat back and smiled.

“Why are you smiling like that?”

“Because you are bored.”

“So you are happy I am bored on stage?”

“Well, let me explain. When someone is given all the tools, the talent and the chances to express these gifts they can go in many ways. But the crossroads are what will define you, which road you choose will be your destiny.”

“I don’t understand, is this a ‘Don’t take drugs’ story? Trust me I do not have the desire to ingest any of that crap.”

“No this is not – but the point I am getting at in my clumsy way is; you are bored. So find a way to excite yourself on stage. You don’t have to fit the mold of the stuffy conductors or performers; you can be Johnny as well as Jonathan, but you need to find balance, you need to discover your unique identity within, just as you discovered your musical talents.”

“So, do you have any ideas?”

With that his father let out a laugh, “I have no idea whatsoever and no one does or should. It is your own identity you need to discover and you will be rediscovering it for the rest of your life.”

“So what do I need to do now to get a hint?”

“Kid, just be true to yourself and it will come out. When you go to see a performance of any kind, watch how it is presented by the artist. Take what you like out of it and make it your own. I am sure you will feel foolish at times, feel empowered at other times. But after a while you will develop your own stage persona and you will not only excite yourself but you will ignite the audience.”

In 1970 he was scheduled to perform at the Hollywood Bowl with an eclectic group of performers – all younger than 24 years of age. The main point for the show was to try try and gain enthusiasm for Classical Music; mostly for the younger generation. He was the final act since he was the best known out of the lineup – he wore a tuxedo with his long hair flowing onto the back of his coat.

He walked onto the stage – just him and a grand piano in the great amphitheater where so many legends had performed; Al Jolson, The Beatles, Leonard Bernstein…He walked onto the stage straight towards his piano bench, bowed towards the audience, sat down and began to play a slow version of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Sensing the crowds so-so reaction to it he decided to introduce the next song.

“This song by Sergei Rachmaninov is one that sashays, bounces and reminds me of time passing, of confrontations and then soft kisses…”

He played Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto 2 with an intensity that even surprised him. His fingers dancing across the keys and his mind picturing the music – the two lovers, loving, fighting, kissing, dancing, jumping, aging…and then a soft dance with twirls and a final dip sealed with a soft sensuality that can only be dreamed, can only be hoped for but never quite attained…ending it with that final abrupt plunge. The crowd roared with approval, he stood up and bowed. He sat down and began to speak again.

“My mother was blessed to get out of Europe before the war began. Her love of music and art was always a major part of our lives. She taught me about classical music, the Blues, Jazz, and of course Rock n Roll before it even had a name. She taught me that music has no barriers; music is never bound by race, color or religion. Music is about freedom; this piece by George Gershwin was written in the 1920’s and believe it or not, if you close your eyes and listen, really listen, you will see that it’s all about sex, love, rebellion, dancing and breaking free from, as Mr. Dylan would say, ‘Society’s pliers.’ At least that’s how I feel it and it’s how I play it.” He then broke into “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The crowd loved it and then he ended  with kicking his piano bench behind him and throwing his arms up in victory. He then stood up, bowed and to great applause walked off the stage. It was his finest performance up to that point and it sparked a new interest in Jonathan Krazinski. He had He was inspired, he would later say, from the night before the show.

The night before, a friend of his asked him to go to a show at The Troubadour in Hollywood. There was a piano player from England who was making his debut in the states and apparently it was a big ticket. When he walked in he saw all these famous people he had only heard on the radio or read about. Bob Dylan, Carole King and Neil Diamond, among a lot of others he didn’t recognize. Then this short dude with glasses and long hair took the stage, sat down and began his show. He was a presence on the stage and although his music had been kind of classical and dark on the album he had just come out with – he had added some other songs to the playlist. His name was Elton John and he inspired Jonathan to realize that the piano was not the only instrument that God had given him. He was also blessed with a personality that could light up a room. Until that evening at the Troubadour, he had held it in opting instead for the seriousness of the trade. It was then that he realized what was missing from his performance.

He loved the performance, especially the last song, “Burn Down the Mission.” Although there were other rock n roll pianists there was something about the way Elton played that night. It really made Jonathan realize that he wanted to play rock n roll and add in the blues and jazz. He wanted to mix up the classical music which he loved with some sex and some sweat. But that wasn’t who he was – he was a classical musician and he loved it. He loved to conduct, he loved to perform and he loved the atmosphere.

Chapter Four

Jonathan began what would be an amazing string of success – for the next twenty eight years, from 1971 until late 1999 he was known as “The Entertainer.” He headlined three separate one man shows on Broadway  and then for each he would tour the world with stops across each continent. He was successful beyond his expectations – celebrity had come to him he had not looked for it. He just wanted to be the best at what he loved to do the best and he was.

In 1976 as his star was still rising he was on Broadway performing five times a week to sell out crowds. One night his parents came to see him backstage with a neighbors niece.

“Jonathan, I would like you to meet Sophia, she is Mr. Greens niece; she is a big fan of yours.” Sensing what his parents were doing he was about to be distant and cold to the “Fan,” when he looked at her and saw her green eyes.

“Its beautiful to meet you.” He said, “I mean, it’s great to meet you Sophia.”

“Its an honor Mr. Krazinski, I have been a fan forever. I was at the Hollywood Bowl when you played that amazing set.”

“What were you doing all the way in Los Angeles?”

“I was living with my cousins in Sherman Oaks and going to a USC. I only went for the one semester and then came back when my father had a heart attack.”

“Oh I am sorry.”

“It’s OK he lived but was in the hospital for a month and it was during the winter break so I just stayed home.”

“Two minutes Mr. K!” The stage manager called out.

“You better get to your seats – how about we get something to eat after the show?”

“Sounds great!” George and Bertha simultaneously answered for all of them.

After the show George and Bertha told Sophia they would meet her and Jonathan at the restaurant.

“Hey Sophia, how did you feel about the show?”

“I truly enjoyed it – you really are a natural. When you speak to the audience it’s as if you are speaking to one or two people and each of us feel as if you are speaking to them directly.”

“Well I was speaking to you directly.”

She blushed and then smiled.

“Where are my parents?” He asked.

“They said they would meet us at the restaurant,” she replied, “By the way which restaurant?”

With that he burst out laughing and said, “It seems this is our first date.”

Six months later as he was about to perform the final song of his three month engagement at the Uris Theater in New York when he stepped away from his piano.

“These past three months have been nothing short of exhilarating. I have played here night after night for 3 months and each performance has a special place in my heart. But tonight, as I get ready to leave the stage I know that it’s time I take a break. There is someone in this audience that has added a dimension to my life that was totally unpredictable, at least to myself, that whatever trajectory my life was on its course has been changed. With that in mind I am going to walk back to my piano, my first love of my life and play a song for that person in the audience who has changed my life forever.”

Sophia, watching from the first row was in tears; she loved him and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. Sophia thought back to when she was a little girl and the man she dreamed of meeting and marrying. She could not have dreamed of anyone better than her Piano Man. She watched and tears welled up in her eyes.

“I have often brought up my family when introducing the music I play. n pieces or, not to put mine in the same category, the pieces of music which have inspired me, moved me and somehow helped me identify who I am. My mother is from Hungary and one of her musical inspiration was a composer by the name of Franz Liszt. This piece, entitled ‘Prelude’ is one full of waves of emotional surrender. That’s how I sense it at least. To me, emotional surrender is when we reach a point in our lives where we are at peace within ourselves which in turn leads us to surrender any emotional barriers. this gives us the ability to accept love from another.”



Chapter Five

The wedding took place in a small temple in Brooklyn. He then whisked Mrs. Krazinski on a month long honeymoon which took them to Israel, Cannes and then to Paris.

One night while he was in the studio listening to the previous nights recordings he noticed his right hand began to sort of twitch. He shook it off and assumed it was a muscle spasm. When it began to happen more frequently he decided to go to a Doctor.

“It looks like it’s a nervous condition. I would recommend staying away from using your hands as much as you have been, take some time off from the piano if you can.”

“Do you think I should do anything for it?”

“Let’s try relaxation and see how that goes; come back in two weeks.”

There was a sense of relief when he was told to stay away from the piano. He went home and saw his wife sitting on the sofa and she was crying.

“What is it? Whats wrong?” He sat beside her and feared the worst.

“Nothing is wrong, Daddy.” She smiled with tears falling on her face.

“What? Oh, my…” He held her and kissed her. “I am going to write a song for our child and for their beautiful mother.” He sat at the piano and she sat beside him. He began to play when he felt his fingers aching. He stopped.

“What’s wrong?”

“I need to spend some time away from the keys – the Doctor thinks its overuse.”

“Is that even possible when you have been playing the piano since you were a baby practically?”

“Not sure…”

That night he had a dream…

He was on stage doing a sound check for that evening’s performance. He placed his hands on the keys when the piano door closed abruptly on his hands.

He woke up in a sweat and quickly checked his hands. He was alright, it was just a dream. Two weeks later he went to see his Doctor to update him that the pain and the spasms had continued. These were not frequent enough for any individual to panic but for a pianist it was a good reason to be concerned.

There was a bang and it was over. Just as what is written in the sand is erased when the tide comes in so are the lives of future generations when death comes too soon.

There was no Pianist in actuality. The Pianist was the dream that Bertha had one night in Auschwitz. She had dreamed of having a child who would change the world with their musical compositions. She had dreamed of watching her child light up the world with the songs that they themselves had written or the songs that she loved being played by her child.

Bertha never did board a ship to New York -there was no marriage to George Krazinski. Jonathan Krazinski never played the piano, never saw or listened to Elton John or anyone else. Jonathan Krazinski never played the concert halls or Broadway. He never fell in love or knew the feeling of conceiving a child. He never existed.

He was just one of the billions of children who could have changed the world if they ever were given the chance to live. Can something that was only a fleeting dream actually find its way into existence?

Can a flame that was extinguished still guide us or are we forever searching for the way to another sunrise?

What should have been and what was stolen from existence changes the level of expectancy and causes earthquakes and tsunamis as a show of anger, a show of resistance. Music that would have been played, medicines that could have cured, love that could have overwhelmed any hatred…

Instead there are unwritten symphonies and dark theaters, loneliness instead of companionship, silence where the sounds of a piano should have been echoing throughout the world bringing lovers together to dance and to sing. But the ghosts of what should have existed, what should have been born and what should have been; fill the hallowed air in silence causing a sad empty wind to blow across time and onto the darkness of possibilities which were destroyed.

A piano left unplayed is equivalent to a life unlived – the natural order is disrupted and all is meaningless in this silence.  


Never Too Old! Dare to Dream – Dare to Achieve!


At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.

At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.

At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer.

At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.

At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.

At age 28, Wayne Coyne ( from The Flaming Lips) was a fry cook.

At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.

At age 30, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker.

At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.

Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39, and got her own cooking show at age 51.

Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.

Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 40.

Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career and landed his first movie role at age 42.

Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first major movie role until he was 46.

Morgan Freeman landed his first major movie role at age 52.

Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for Best Director when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.

Grandma Moses didn’t begin her painting career until age 76.

Louise Bourgeois didn’t become a famous artist until she was 78.

Whatever your dream is, it is not too late to achieve it. You aren’t a failure because you haven’t found fame and fortune by the age of 21. Hell, it’s okay if you don’t even know what your dream is yet. Even if you’re flipping burgers, waiting tables or answering phones today, you never know where you’ll end uptomorrow.

Never tell yourself you’re too old to make it.

Never tell yourself you missed your chance.

Never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough.

You can do it. Whatever it is.

#inspiration #inspiring quotes #ambition #goals #life #artist #success

Boycott Baseless Hatred – Boycott Goldenvoice

wp-1460915572251.jpgBoycott Goldenvoice, Boycott Roger Waters and Boycott Baseless Hatred

Goldenvoice, the organizers of the Coachella Music Festival, are in talks to bring Paul Mcartney, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Neil Young among other to a festival at Empire Polo Field site in Indio California, on October 7th through 9th.
the Los Angeles Timesreports that Dylan and the Rolling Stones would be opening the festival on Friday night, Neil Young and McCartney Saturday night. What is perplexing is the inclusion of former Pink Floyd member, Roger Waters.
Roger Waters has been obsessed with condemning and working to hurt Israel since he saw that Israel had put up a “wall” to keep the Palestinians from infiltrating Israel. He seized on this to finally get some post-Pink Floyd recognition and attention. Its sad when a musician has never lived up to the expectations and needs to use hatred as a way to get attention. Waters has no place among the rock-n-roll legends due to perform in Indio. What has he done in comparison?

Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, The Who and then they add, Waters? For which accomplishment? For “The Wall?” Please!

I say all people of good conscience should boycott this festival, Goldenvoice who is organizing this festival and whoever decides to advertise their products there, whoever decides to air the performances and whoever gets to benefit from these performances.

Also – no innovation which originated in Israel should be allowed to be used. I have no time to list the inventions which originated there – nor space on this post…


Flashback Friday – Club Med Cancun

Club Med Cancun December 1993

I was separated from my kids after being asked to leave my home by my wife. I was feeling very down about myself and needed something to cheer me up.
It was on that beach in the picture on the second night of my trip that Jennifer and Cara, two college best friends became my friends and cheered me up. We danced and walked on the beach in the moonlight. When they told me they were leaving the next day I was deflated – only to be given :a reason to believe” when they each took my hand and we said our goodbyes. #flashbackfriday


Elton John’s new single – In the Name of You

The latest Elton John album, “Wonderful Crazy Night” is a surprising bunch of songs written and recorded 46 years after Elton and Bernie Taupin’s first album, “Empty Sky.” To think that these two have been writing songs for a half a century is crazy. The Rolling Stone interview “The Bitch at Peace,” reveals that the Captain and the Kid are still writing, after all those years. 

The Clock on the Walls

Looking at old pictures can stir up too many emotions within this glorious bag of bones!

I am too sentimental – too sensitive to the time we spend going through the motions just to get through one day and then another. Trying to get from one paycheck to another without too many “turn-off” notices.  I spend too much time regretting the time I spend away from my true self and even lament the loss of the identity of that person.  So many of my standards lowered unknowingly or perhaps subconsciously with the inner understanding that I had no true choice – not crashing to the ground but not a soft landing either.

I see pictures of times that have past – strangers, family members or even of myself and I lament the time since. Have I lived it or have I just floated? Have i been the husband and father I always wanted to be?  Have I done my best to reach the top bar or have I lowered that as well so its attainable?

Oh poor me? Well, not all the time – just some passing moments when the seconds clock skips a number or two and I find myself stranded – out of time.

I see the smiles on the old pictures – with smiles and the looks of determination and arrogance in the eyes of the posers. I ask myself where have they gone?  Have they lived their lives as they had felt so strongly and confidently that they would? I know, I sound kind of morbid or depressing – but reality can sometimes cause me to overdose on the truth I try to suppress.

Basic truths that too much time has passed since I say with my love face to face over a candlelit dinner.

Truths that the bills need to be paid but only a supreme juggler could catch them all while looking down at a puzzle finding a way for the pieces to fit to create a full picture of, what? Life? Bank statements?

The truths that time is passing us by and the time for showing gratitude, affection and honor has passed along with the flying seconds hand. People have left us and we are left to wonder just what it was we could have done differently if we had the chance. Can we ever get that chance?

Our patience runs thin and the seconds hand keeps on turning up on that clock on the kitchen wall.

We conceive our dreams, conceive our love, conceive our children and they grow up and turn into walking talking commentary on how badly we live our lives – but we stand there, in pride  and just hope they can improve on what we are, who we are and hope that they never lower the bar too low for their own expectations, their own standards.

Life happens and repeats itself over and over again – at times we silently adjust to the changes and adjustments – some times not so silently. We sometimes find ourselves fighting for the right to be true to who we truly are and know in our heart of hearts – that no one can ever truly understand that true definition.

Our hairs thin out – the muscles slowly turn soft and so many memories once stored in our mind – silently disappear ceasing to exist.

Forgive me for this trip through the tunnel of life and personal seconds of contemplation. Some times  the water surrounding me feels kind of cold and at times I remember that I truly don’t know how to swim and that I have been faking it all along. Will the audience discover that I am an actor who has somehow forgotten his part to play and his lines? Can the audience actually tell that I have been substituting the lines that were written for the ones I could make up on the fly?

Ah well – I am my own writer so I can guess I can flub all I want – as long as I keep the audience and my cast mates entertained I should be allowed to stand here on stage until the lights dim and the curtains meet center stage.

Yup – you see what looking at old pictures can do to me?

The Power of Hatred

History and the Present

In the early 1930s, the mood in Germany was grim. The worldwide economic depression had hit the country especially hard, and millions of people were out of work. Still fresh in the minds of many was Germany’s humiliating defeat fifteen years earlier during World War I, and Germans lacked confidence in their weak government, known as the Weimar Republic.
Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

In the year 2016 the mood in the United States was grim. The Great Recession of 2008 had caused 8.4 millions jobs to be lost, seven million Americans lost their homes and over 200,000 small businesses were forced to close. The American people have lost faith in their government, faith in their employers and that combined with students graduating into a non-employable market has caused the people of the United States to begin pointing fingers and hatred to blossom.

In January 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed as the head of the German government.He based his platform on ridding Germany of all the excess non-Aryan people. Jews, he said  “How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus! … We shall regain our health only be eliminating the Jew.”

In January of 2017 Donald Trump may be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Trump has used a campaign of bullying, racism and mockery to thrust to the top of the polls.

I would not compare Trump to Hitler – simply because I do not consider Trump a mass murderer. I consider him someone who has lived in the elitist society for so long that he has lost all sense of what normal society is. I consider him the basis for the quote, “He was born on third base but acts as if he hit a triple.”

Trump sees something he wants and will do whatever it takes, hurt anyone along the way to get that prize. “The ends justify the means,” is his mantra.


Israel vs. the World 

I cannot tell you that I do not have a fear of the caliphate closing in especially as the world watches and ignores or downplays the atrocities that are being carried out by Muslims worldwide. The bring up the Christian Crusades, Spanish Inquisition and other fun times in the history of the world to seemingly give the Muslims a license to kill as if its part of the maturation of a people.

The same people compare the Jewish refugees of World War two – to the Islamic refugees of today. That is wrong and misguided. Its the Liberals trying to wrestle away any practical suspicion the free world should have against Muslims seeking refuge.

The Muslims are constantly recruiting other Muslims to die in the name of their God and to kill as many non-believers as possible. They hunt down the downtrodden, the poor, the orphan and the widow. The recruit them to join Allah in Paradise by killing all non-believers of their religion.

Despite what liberal Jews may quote from the bible; Judaism rejects all calls for murder – the commandment is Thou Shall not Kill any human being not Thou shall not Kill Jews. We reinforce this by living lives based on improving the world for each and every person regardless of their beliefs.

Since the Jews fought to get back Jerusalem, the city is open for all religions to live in freedom, practice their religion in freedom and are even protected by the Israeli police and army. There are Muslims within the Israeli government.  Six Muslims are in the Knesset as of today. How many Jews are in the whole of countries in Saudi Arabia, Iran or Iraq?

The Mexican Problem

Trump has used hatred and has increased our country’s xenophobia to new levels. He has added to the mix of Muslims to include Mexicans and any refugee seeking asylum.

Maybe we have reasons for the xenophobia that has united the states to propel “The Donald,” to the top.
I believe we have the right and the responsibility to destroy ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. along with our allies around the world. I do not believe we should target all Muslims.

Americans are in financial distress, we have still not recovered from the Great Recession. Jobs are scarce and the jobs that are available are not financially strong enough to help the work force. So, the economy continues to flounder. Which continues to stop expansion and continues to expand the decline of businesses across the board.


Americans have tired of the Obama non-presidency, the empty ultimatums and the empty promises to our allies. Obama not going to Paris, Obama drawing an invisible (non existent) line in the sand, Obama ignoring the terror around the world, many more examples of the Carteresque presidency can be found by reviewing the past 7 years. Tired of hearing about Obama reversing unemployment when people are no earning nearly as much as they earned in the past.

The Donald? He sees an opportunity – what unites the downtrodden? A scapegoat and an excuse for the situation they find themselves in. His platform has thrived.

“I love the Mexican people … I respect Mexico … but the problem we have is that their leaders are much sharper, smarter and more cunning than our leaders, and they’re killing us at the border,” Trump said. “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.”

The unemployed, the underemployed and the co-workers of the illegals rejoice and consider Trump courageous because he “tells it like it is.”  Echos of hatred and resentment are heard around the country. How long until the mobs begin to attack innocents simply because they are a different race?

Its scary – just as scary as the caliphate closing in on our 50 states. A person being elected to the Oval office using this fascist platform is even scarier. He starts with the Mexicans, goes to the Muslims and then moves on over to the Jews. Will the baseball stadiums become concentration camps to rid our countries of the virus’ brought to the true Americans?

Maybe Trump will become a shell of who he promised to be once he is actually elected. Sort of like Atlantic City, Trump University or the countless other deals that ended up as failures with other people left holding the bag.

He can talk a big and frightening game but based on his business history hopefully it will only be grandstanding. With a little luck, the people who will vote for Trump will be left holding the bag once his new venture falls apart.


The Fainting Boy

Written by Freddy S. Zalta
Illustrations by Sylia Aboudi

Chapter One

It was in Kindergarten when he first felt that overwhelming paralyzing feeling; that poweful kick in the stomach, that heavenly cloudlike atmosphere where its just you and an ethereal presence. A knowledge that there must be a God and a devil. How else can one explain the two competing spirits inside of you. The prayer to be able to express ones feelings and the dreaded sulfuric scented inability to utter an intellible sound.

He was in recess  on his first day of school. He was walking alone by the circle of jumping Seahorses, the floor was tar black and the temperture on this September day seemed to be 250 degrees. He was sweating, he sat down on the yellow seahorse and watched as the other chiildren played on swings, slides or just ran around laughing or crying.

Freddy was 5 years old and he was homesick. He missed being home with his mother and siblings. He wanted to be laying on the livingroom floor watching “Lost in Space” or “The Andy Griffith Show.” He wanted to be in his room and just lay on his bed and listen to his brothers talking about stuff he didn’t really understand.

He was feeling that feeling of missing something, a feeling of sadness that overcame him at times causing him to become reclusive. Later on in life that feeling would be fought off by an overpowering overly gregarious upswing.

As he sat on the seahorse he began to be sucked into that blackhole when all of a sudden he saw a bright light in the person of female classmate. He was unsure what had happened but it was a life changing event which would always propel him through the darkest moment in his life.

There was this girl standing with some other girls across from the circle of seahorses and she was laughing. He walked closer with trepidation unsure what this alien feeling inside of him was.
He felt scared, yet he also felt that excitement inside of him similar to opening the box of a new toy.
He was paralyzed, yet he felt like he could have begun to jump around uncontrollably.
He wanted to get closer to hear what they were laughing about.
He wanted to get closer to try and understand what it was that had awakened something inside of him. He walked towards her slowly sort of in a trance.

Up close she was the most perfect person he had ever seen. She had short blonde hair and there was a headband which created a divide between the straight front and the cruly back. Her skin was freckled softly with a hint of the summer that had just passed. Her smile seemed to be electric. He didn’t understand what he was feeling, there was a tugging feeling, he was mesmerized.

He walked over to the group of girls and looked closer at the girl standing in the middle, her smile disappearing. He had no idea what he was going to say or do; so he rushed in, as he would do many times in his life, where smart people knew not to enter unless a plan was set in place.

“Hi, my name is Freddy.” He spoke directly to her. “What is your name?”
The girls all looked at him and covered their mouths as they laughed.
“My name is Danielle.”

“Freddy? are you ok?” He opened his eyes to find himself on the floor being prodded awake by his teacher.
“Its so hot out here, we shouldn’t have these kids outside. Get me water please.”
Someone put something wet on the back of his neck, another person was fanning him and then someone put a plastic cup of water to his lips.

“Sip it. When you feel you can walk inside, tell me and I will help you.”
“I am ok.” He went to stand up and they went inside to the nurses office where a fan was blowing and a cold plastic cup of orange juice with some stella doro cookies awaited. He drank and ate a pink coated flower cookie.
“Lay down Freddy, rest.”
He lay on a cot in the corner of the room and fell asleep. He heard his mother saying his name and he woke up and began to cry.
“I want to go home.”

They went to the Doctor that afternoon to rule out anything such as a concussion or whatever. The Doctor said he must have overheated and prescribed him to drink water and eat better before going outside again. The sound of his mother saying, “You need to eat if you want to feel better.” Would have an everlasting effect on his psyche and his weight.


Chapter Two

It took Freddy several years to work up the courage to speak to Danielle once again. He had approached his brother for advice, the advice was, “Offer the girl a piece of gum and then start speaking to her.”

After getting this piece of advice, he went to “Jerry’s Auction Outlet” and pick up a pack of Juicy Fruit.
“That’s 25 cents, kid.” He pulled together the change he had in his pocket, 10 pennies, 1 dime and 1 nickle. He looked around the store and saw the packs of baseball cards with the gum inside, Sen-sens, countless candy and chocolates. Behind Jerry there was a picture of President Kennedy, Gil Hodges and an American flag.
“Ok kid what are you waiting for? You got the gum, I got the money – now is when you say ‘thank you’ and walk out.”
“OK thank you.”

He walked up Kings Highway from the Mcdonald Avenue train platform to the Kings Highway movie theater, which at the time was showing, “The Bad News Bears.”  He was meeting some friends there for the 1pm showing and there was always the chance that Danielle would be there too.

There was a red carpet on the first floor of this theater. On the walls were movie posters from years back such as Casablanca, Limelight, and From here to Eternity. There were also advertisements for some upcoming movies – The Omen, Rocky and Silent Movie. There was this counter that ran from one side of the theater to the other; thats where they sold popcorn, candy and soda. It was there that he saw Danielle.

That gregarious energy that was mentioned earlier? Here it came. He began to tell jokes out loud, perhaps too loud. He made his way from one group of friends to the other. He was trying to get her attention but each time he snuck a quick peek she seemed oblivious.

So he ambled over to the group of girls she was standing with and said with a big smile, “How are you guys?” They looked at him and laughed.
“How are you Freddy?” Karen, the girl next to Danielle answered.
“I am alright, doing fine. Hey you guys want some juicy fruit?” It didnt quite come out like he wanted but he had no choice. He would try and talk to her later. As he was walking away Danielle called out to him, “Freddy.” He turned around quickly, perhaps too quickly.

He woke up on the floor of the Kingsway movie theater. Most of the kids had already gone to watch the movie but his best friends Jack and Joey were there.
“Are you ok?” Joey asked me.
“Yes I am ok, what happened?” Freddy asked.
“One second you are spinning like a dreidel and the next second you are sprawled out of the floor.”
“Oh no, Danielle?”
“They all went inside to watch the movie. Is it ok if we go in?”
“Yes its ok. How much did we miss?”
“Less than 3 minutes.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
“No he wont,” The manager of the theater corrected. “Your mother should be here any minute to pick you up. I cant have you getting all the customers sick.”
Same routine – went to the Doctor who said that when he twisted around he must have caused his blood pressure to drop which caused him to faint.

Deep inside Freddy knew it had nothing to do with the twist or the sun. But he shrugged it off and watched “Happy Days” with his family that night – it was forgotten until the next day in school when Danielle approached him.

“Hey Freddy?” Her soft voice caused his heart to beat hard and his mouth to be sealed tight.
He smiled, waved and then leaned against his locker.
“You aren’t going to faint again, are you?” She asked him more out of concern than derision.
“I don’t think so…”
“Well, there is this girl asks boy party next week and I wanted to ask you if you think that Joey would say yes if I asked him?”
“I would say ‘yes.'”
“That’s sweet…but do you think Joey would?”
Freddy knew that Joey would jump at it but he also thought that if he told her that he would say no, maybe she would ask him.
What he said next would become a pattern in his life in every area, every age and would piss him off each time. But that didn’t matter – Freddy knew what to say.
“I think he would definetly say yes.” She broke out in a big smile.
“Thank you Freddy! You are really a nice guy.” She turned and ran away.
“Nice guy? More like an idiot.” He said to himself. That title, “Nice Guy” would be thrust at him again and again. He didn’t know it yet, of course, but it was coming. Again and again.



Free Will and God’s Response

And God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ Genesis Chapter 1 – 6th Day

In the beginning God created the human beings in His image. I tend to hope that doesn’t mean a physical image because other than a few – most humans are ugly. I read the commentaries and went to yeshiva for 12 years so I was taught that it means, in a sense, we were given the ability to think for yourself. We have the capacity to stop and think and make decision based on rational thought.

So God gave us the world. He said, humans will reign supreme over the earth and all the creatures. So, now some several billion years after Eve ignored God and ate the apple from the tree; God is angry.

“I gave you a self-sustaining planet, I watered the earth when it was dry, I dried it when it was wet. Warmed it when it was cold and cooled it down when it was too hot. Seeds turned into trees which yielded fruits. Vegetables sprouted from the dirt of the ground  and I made sure that coffee was somehow discovered. I blessed humans with the ability to invent, discover and create. Sports, medicines and that lethal combination of cheese and tomato sauce.”

“I permitted the aroma to make sweet love to the senses, beautiful views to soothe tired eyes and the appreciation of the sounds of music, laughter and the ability to express yourselves in eloquent words and voices.”

God watched as humans killed his creations. Humans, nature, air and anything they had the power to destroy.

God watched as humans starved to death, while others feasted on bountiful breads and wines. God sat back during the crusades, black plague, slavery, rapes of all ages and pogroms.

God watched, or perhaps shrugged, when the earth shook, killing his creations and the homes that sheltered them. God watched as the rain kept falling and caused the rivers to overflow.

“It’s all about the thirst for power. First they build cities below the sea level; then they spend billions on hotels and attractions, filled with gluttony and sin. Why not spend a fraction of that on the levees to stop the water from overwhelming the barriers? It’s easy to point fingers, unfortunately it’s always the unfortunate who suffer when the powerful reveal their greed.”

“You give a man a million dollars and they still step all over other people and destroy natural beauty for the sole purpose of elevating their name. No regard for the other people. They place their names on the walls of the temples they build to ‘praise’ Me. It’s all a lie; why keep building separate places to praise Me when you can all congregate in one place as one people? I don’t need marble floors and winding stairwells. You spend millions on those ‘houses of worship’, rather, why not use that money to help the less fortunate? If you do that then that is not a house of worship to Me, it becomes a monument for the worshippers, a house of worship for the socially elite. They may have the most beautiful building, yet, because of their selfishly callous inactions, it is morally bankrupt.”

“I give you this world and the freedom to make decisions. I even tried to teach you how to live together by giving you ten simple rules to live by and I get repaid by you all praying to the ‘almighty dollar.’ You throw your parents to the side and then forget that all I asked was for that one day a week to devote in My name and what do you do? Ignore Me. You kill, you steal and you screw around with married people. You place zero importance into what I say unless you feel there is a benefit to you.”

“You throw your pennies to the poor and expect them to come back as dollar bills. You truly believe that the ends justify the means – no sir, never does and never will.”

God watched as the crazy evildoers opened fire on the children, he watched as a bomb fell on Hiroshima and on Nagasaki.  He watched on 9/11, on 12/7 and on the night the glass was broken. He watched as millions died even though prayers were recited faithfully believing that God knew what was best.

“I did know what was best. But the evil acts committed in My name can be invincible and are incomprehensible. Who would believe that a deity would desire such acts of destruction?”

“Progress was made and more could have been achieved. But the human’s desire for power stopped any progress. Illnesses came and destroyed bodies and lives; poverty and homelessness, starvation and disease…maybe if the governments of the world put in more money to heal the sick than to destroy their enemies; answers could have been found, cures could have been developed.”

“Instead they blame Me for the deaths and say, ‘God has a plan.’ There was a plan, free will was supposed to lead to innovation and ideas that would lead  to improvements to the standards of living for each and every person in the world. Instead there are children starving in New York City and in Paris; Syria is being decimated by its own people and the threat of imminent terror has paralyzed the progress of freedom. I created the human body and the humans have slowly destroyed it, one generation to the next.”

“Prayer heals the ill and the needy; action heals them quicker. Instead of sitting and praying; go to help the ones you know who need the help, hand in hand. You shake your hand in the air and express anger at a God who would allow these things to happen over and over. If it really bothers you, then go out and do something, say something. One word can have a larger impact than a hundred dollars.”

“Don’t blame me for the diluted version of the human I created on the sixth day. He was something that Adam, the original henpecked husband. But if you saw what Eve looked like before she ate the apple, then you would get it. But even they had issues; one son killed the other, I threw them all out of Eden and then – well, you know the story.”

Where is God today? There is a major error in the accounting department in heaven. The amount of suffering going on around the world – why can’t He kill the bad guys? Why does a mother of 5 die and Adolf Hitler live to destroy 6 million Jews?

“Where Am I? I am here, there and everywhere. All around the world the humans have taken the meaning of religion and perverted it to meet their own greedy agenda.”

“Power, once you give them a taste of it they can never be satiated. Look back at the Kings in history – David was a peeping Tom before Tom was even born. (That’s another one, Batsheva, in a way you can’t blame David for that one, she was one beauty.)  Then his son Solomon, got married more times than Liz Taylor; he could have gotten laid any time he wanted but he felt it would be more advantageous to marry. I heard one person say it was out of respect to the girls; please, I was there. But who would say anything to him? He was the king. Just like Mel Kaminsky says, ‘It’s good to be king.’ You really have no idea until it’s you with the crown on. These cheerleader girls run to you and leave the quarterback on the sidelines. The best of the world is thrust at you – why should you deny them their sense of charity?”

“But listen, I am getting off topic here. I have given the humans free will. You are free to make any choice you want. You can cross the street without looking or you can look both ways ten times, its your choice. You can help people or you can knock them down the stairs. You can take the easy road or you can stay true to yourself and walk among pebbles and stones. It’s a free world. Maybe it was a mistake giving free will; but I created them in My own image how can I turn them into robots? How can I create a people to just be told to do something and not have a choice in the matter? What good is that?”

“How was I to know that all these maniacs would start to rape, slaughter and enslave? How was I to know they would shout out my name and blow themselves up?”

“What people don’t understand is that the story of Job was an allegory, I never made a bet with the devil. The devil doesn’t exist in reality. The devil is within and around everyone in the world. The devil is the evil inclination that entices humans to eat that proverbial ‘apple.’ Do I have an evil inclination? No I do not, that is not who I am. I am not a human with emotions, I am not a vulcan either – I am a spirit that is omnipotent.”

“They call me a jealous God, I laugh at that one. Again, jealousy is a human response to a fear of losing someone or something. I do not get jealous, I have no fear, I am not human, no offense.”

“I tell you to worship only Me not for my own self; it’s for you to not have multiple gods for every event. Knowing there is one God to pray for rain, sun, money, health, happiness etc. is much simpler than pulling an Elvis and wearing a symbol for each deity.”

“One God, no symbols just faith. Its simple. But no, people have to wear a special hat or shirt to a sporting event, or they wear amulets in the shape of hands, eyes or crystals. A red string and other made up stuff that I strictly forbid for your own good. What happens if you rely on that string, hand or eye and all of a sudden you can’t find it? So I said specifically, “Do not With Me, I am everywhere.

“I hear each prayer, cry and expressions of gratitude; in a temple or in a Arab shouk. Spoken by anyone with a sincere voice – without looking for future rewards. I love people of all religions, colors, etc; you are all my children and whether you like it or not, you are all one family. But I also see the bad intentions and the pretentious prayers; the screaming of My name just before destruction. Those who hurt others to advance their agenda or their personal gain, they have no place in eternity.”

“In closing, you want to make this world a better place? Be less selfish and more selfless, more giving and less talking, more thanking and less asking. I know that the world with free will is complicated. But once you learn to be accountable for your own actions, your own decisions; that is when the world will begin to make more sense. It’s not always a fair place and a lot of stuff happens that you truly have no control over. That is the hardest part for Me. But there is a reason and a plan down the road; you are not capable at this point to understand that completely. But there will come a time.”

“In the meantime, blame me if you must, but once you learn to take responsibility for the decisions you have made in the world, that is when you will reach the next level of understanding. Be careful with the power you are given; the power to write, speak or express yourself. People are not as strong as they may seem. Do not do to others what you would not want done unto yourself. Follow that simple law – it may not stop others from hurting you to advance themselves, but change has to start somewhere.”


The Myths We Follow

The Freedom Mythwp-1453082976269.jpg

We are brought up in a world where the promises of bright futures, long trips abroad and the freedom to live as we please surround us and are repeatedly whispered to us as we sleep, eat and live.

Freedom in all its different shades and colors is the basic right of all living beings. The freedom to taste whatever apple or fruit we chose. Freedom to choose our God’s or to not choose at all, freedom to love whomever we felt a connection to and the freedom to build a home wherever we chose. Freedoms…the denying of freedoms for the billions (trillions?) of souls that have lived since those days when “the snake made me do it,” is tantamount to murder. Without freedom, what is a life?

Slavery has existed in many shapes and forms throughout time. The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years while the Africans were slaves for hundreds of years around the world. The chains of slavery are not confined to the plantations or the Pharoahs. Slavery still exists today all around the world, even in your neighbors backyard. 

Freedom, “just another word for nothing left to lose.” The child is born and placed in a crib where freedom is confined to a two by five cell. They learn to walk and talk. They are then confined to one room at a time and told what to say, when to say and to “be quiet a minute!” 

Finally they are let out of the house into another holding cell where they are taught how to think, how to believe and how to act. They are forced into believing that all roses are red, that all oceans are blue and that the color of money is green. No adjustment to hues and tints are considered a passing grade.

“Sit still, stop talking, this is the answer not that, be like him, be like her, cant you follow the rules?” The attempts to mold the child into an adult that society would hire, most times succeed, although the failures, in retrospect, turn out to be more of a success than the ones who were molded.

Go to college, get married, get a job just dont sit around all day dreaming and wasting your life away.

The Myth of “The One” and Losing it all

Hollywood, above all other mediums, has had the strongest influence on culture. Perfect people living virtually perfect lives. From the begining of literature and into the 21st century there is always that feeling of a void that must be filled with, “the one.”

“The one” who is the soulmate, “we must have loved each other in different lifetimes for our love to be this strong this fast.”
“The one” who can fill up all voids, heal all wounds and complete each dream of a life filled with the treasures of this world.

“The one,” is the biggest myth of all. We are told the stories of “Romeo and Juliet.” Cartoons and fairy tales about the Princess awaiting her Prince to complete her. Snow White cured by the magic kiss; Cinderella and her shoe and even Fay Wray in the grasp of King Kong.

tumblr_msdjykVSZO1suchdko1_400“The One?” Tell that to Zsa Zsa Gabor! She was married 9 times! 

How about the ones who marry and then divorce? Are they done? Is there no other “one?” How about “The Two”?
Or the widow or the widower, is the pursuit of love just settling for a replacement until death do they unite?
Before we can ever find love we must first find “the one.”

I was married at 21 years old and totally in love and convinced that she was “the one.” After the marriage ended in divorce 6 years later I began to wonder if there would be anyone else I would love as much as “the one.” Would I be able to look into another woman’s eyes and see forever again? Would that “forever” be a lie as well?

Finding the One, the real One

A funny thing happened on the way to recovery. I began to go through the stages of growing up. I punished myself, blamed myself and then forgave myself. I sequestered myself into my one bedroom apartment, once again a loss of freedom and enslaved by another.

I walked alone for several years and suddenly I was blessed with meeting the one person in this world that I would forever call, “the one.” The “one” came to me and illuminated the blindness that had imprisoned me throughout my life.

As a child, we are taught to conform. To emulate, parents, teachers, older siblings and friends – they all want you to be who they want you to be. You find yourself in a crowd of lemmings and you are singing that same tune while marching off the cliff. But something inside of you is sad – a feeling of lonliness in a crowd. A feeling of wanting to cry while others are laughing. Wanted to sit while the world is dancing.

You find yourself as an adult, a child in chains in the middle of the town square. A pariah, an enigma a stranger in a strange land. People speaking in languages you cannot understand.

As a man walking alone I found myself in the rain one afternoon. I began to run for shelter when I decided to just continue my stroll. I pictured “Gene Kelly” and I wanted to dance in the puddles that had formed. I didnt physically, but I did in my mind. I smiled and I let out a laugh. Soaked and cold, I found myself back in my apartment with the door slamming shut behind me. A cell door imprisoning me again. I looked into the mirror and I began to sing to myself.
“I’m singin’ in the rain…” I tapped danced although I know for a fact it would not be considered any sort of dance in reality.

I caught my reflection as I walked across the room, undressed and soaked, in need of a towel. I kept seeing that image as I went back to shower and was dressed and eating supper. I felt as if I had seen a ghost, an old friend from my childhood and even the sense of watching my children being born. But the meaning eluded me as I went to sleep that night.

It wasnt until the next evening when I realized who and what I had seen.

All my life I had been the person who everyone wanted me to be. If someone was sad, I would do ludicrous things to make her smile.
But I quickly learned that we can only do so much – the path to happiness needs to be found by the ones who are lacking. You can steer the sad, you can point the lost in the right direction and you can translate words so they can understand…but only they can get to where they need to be.

I came to the apartment the next evening and made myself some ravioli. Called my kids on the phone to tell them goodnight. Went to sit down and collect my thoughts. Out of reflex I began to feel sad, I began to feel alone. Until I realized that, at that moment at least, I was not sad, I did not feel alone.

It seems that the myths that had shaped my life had thrown me into a cellar filled with timed predispositions of emotions. Since I was alone and the house was dark, like an emotional alarm clock I was thrust into these feelings of sadness. So I questioned myself aloud.

“How are you feeling?” I took what my therapist had referred to as an “emotional temperture.” How exactly are you feeling at this moment?
My reflexive reaction was to say and feel, “sad.” But I took a deep breath, and began to feel what I was actually feeling at the moment.

“I am ok. I may not be where I thought I would be at this point in my life, but thats ok.”

The point I am trying to make here, as I trip over words, metaphors and runon sentences…is that we always are with “the one.” Until you discover the actual “one” you cannot truly discover any true emotion, true love.

Some people divert their attention by fooling themselves into believing they are in love because they are actually physically attracted to someone.
Some people take on the role of a savior by falling in love with the others who are disenfranchised and bringing them into their fold. An embrace that will lead to exhaustion once the novelty has run out.
Some people are told who is right and wrong for them and follow that path only to find themselves at impasses or deadend streets.
Some run to the first person who acknowledges them only to realize down the line that she never truly saw you at all.

Some feel a physical connection and cannot contain their passion or desire – that is called “lust” and is always, at first at least, misinterpreted as “love.”

“I can’t stop thinking of you.”
“Everytime I am near you I just want to jump on you.”
Love is when you connect on spiritual levels. When the values of life are compatible. When they are the one you want to sit at a table with and either speak or remain silent. When mutual respect mandates their disagreements and their conversations.
The beauty of love is its unwillingness to be defined by gestures alone. Love has an infinite amount of definitions; with actions, words and understandings. Love is acceptance.

Acceptance, think about that word for a moment. Have you accepted your true self? Have you accepted your strengths and your weaknesses and tried to improve upon them for yourself, not for others?

“The one,” Ladies and gentlemen, “The love of your life, your destiny, the person you will grow old with, share good times and bad times with, ride the crazy roller coaster of life with, and eventually die with. The one is the person you see in the reflection.

I only realized that I could love another person, once I was able to love myself. To love my faults, my strengths, my gifts and my shortcomings. Love, true love, can only exist within yourself. Once that exists you can soar above the clouds, you can look in her eyes and promise forever because she accepts the whole package; warts, smiles, tears and hairy earlobes and all. If she doesn’t? You wouldn’t have continued to see her because your view would not be clouded by Hollywood dreams. By the myths that divert us from finding ourselves.

Love…Who would have thought you were with me all along?


The Thief of Dignity

There is a little man, stands around 4 foot 10, give or take an inch or so. He walks through the Main Street of the town slowly, staring into the store front windows, stopping for a coffee or a cool bottle of water, depending of course on the weather.
Tonight he is walking slowly with a cane that he doesn’t really need, a derby hat, a light jacket and corduroy pants. He is unshaven for a week or two and has a pair of reading glasses held upon his chest by a chain he found, somewhere.
The temperature is 40 degrees, give or take a degree and there is a slight breeze blowing. The streets are crowded still as it is only 4 O’clock on a weekday, high schoolers, mothers and shop keepers making up the usual suspects along with some local locos from the Church on Pacific.
The little man begins to walk again and crosses the street with no trepidation even though he is crossing against the light. A car stops a foot or so from hitting him; he drops his cane, stares at the driver, turns, picks up his cane and continues across Pacific towards Atlantic.

Its morning now, the town of Dignity is stirring. Across the lake as you enter the town, there is a sign that hangs across Main Street that reads “Welcome to Dignity.” Directly below the drooping welcome is an older lady sitting on the floor, wearing a wraparound blanket. She is well-known in this town as the former wife of a local politician. Pedestrians walk right past her, carrying a disease which causes avoidance of disturbances. Frankie sees the Mayor of Dignity walks past her and throws a quarter or a dime into the upside down hat that sits in front of her. Frankie knows her well, they were once dance partners in a long ago life.

The little man walking past her now and looks at her, nods and says; “Hi Evelyn.”
“Hi Frank.”
He continues to walk and finds himself in front of the coffee shop, sees the Mayor, winces and walks in.

Tom and Agnes were the original owners and were still behind the counter. Straight from East Belfast, their dignity and pride were the main ingredients which made it the best cup of coffee for miles, even after all these years.

The little man ambles into the store and greets the usual. The mayor greets him with a wince.
“Did your patrolling go well last night Frankie?”
“Yes although I had to arrest your mother for soliciting the others in the cemetery, seems like somethings don’t change even after death, huh, Tommy?”
The mayor looks into his coffee and smiles.
“Oh Frankie – Irishing up your coffee still? Or are you pricking your skin like your old man?”
“You would know about pricking wouldn’t you, Mr. Mayor?”
“Here you go Frankie.” Two cups and a bag containing a Danish. Frankie as is his humor asks, “How much do I owe you now?”
“Today? We will charge you 60 cents to mark our 60th anniversary.”
“No, Frankie, its $3.00.”
“Thought so. Put it on my tab, will ya?” With a face tinged with a smile and two spoons of sadness. He walks out, the bell on the door slams against the door signaling his exit.
He walks towards Evelyn and sits beside her. “Here’s your Danish Ev. Lets get out of here Evvie, if we start walking now we can get somewhere else by nightfall.”
“Ya Frankie, several blocks away isn’t far enough.”
“I guess our time to run has come and gone. Time is a thief Ev, it’s a thief of so many of our wants and needs.”
“It’s a thief of Dignity, Frank. Dear old Frankie, we once blamed others for the theft, huh? Then we blamed ourselves for wasting too much time blaming and now, the time has stolen it all.”
“Time is the thief of dignity even the richest man in the world cannot avoid.”
“I am gonna find it again, Evvie, going to find that morsel of pride that I once carried with me. After the war, after the children came along and quickly left this place. It was you and I and here we are again, but the clouds are forming, we should head inside.”
“I am fine here – I don’t smell no breadth of a storm and I can handle the drizzle.”
“Suit yourself.”
She paused, looked deep into his eyes and a million scenes of their memories came flashing by. “Thank you.”
“Oh you don’t have to thank me -”
“Look at me old man, look into my eyes, thank you.”
Frankie tried to avoid looking into her eyes – her blue eyes which had once caused him to slip and slide.  Frankie tried to remember if they had been intimate in their lives or if they were just platonic companions. Sometimes love is like that; better holding hands than locking lips – lips part while hands hold on tight.
“Right back at you Evelyn, you are and have been a lady in my life, a co-star in my biography, a catalyst for this bag of bones and broken dreams.”
“We all have them, dreams of pride and accomplishments but look at us now, the clock has run out and we find ourselves sitting and walking; waiting and searching for the lost morsels we once held so dear.”
“Don’t lose hope, Lady, don’t ever give up hope. As long as there is that light inside of you, never lose hope.”
“Hope? Frankie hope falls and slides away quicker than the wind blows. Your words ring hollow, but I understand they are well-meant; just don’t waste them on me. I am hopeless and a lost cause, my days are numbered, and I am ready to go home.”

There is something very sad when a death occurs. The person who dies is left without a shred of who they spent their lives trying to become. Evelyn was buried with Frankie standing watching the dirt cover her. When they finally put up a stone for her it said, “Evelyn a life in Dignity.”

The little man walks across the grassy, muddy road to drop off a Danish and a cup of coffee, “Hey Evvie, hope you found what you were searching for wherever you are now. Say hello to Rose for me, wont ya? Tell her not a moment goes by when…” He stops himself from breaking down. “All right, she knows, she knows.”

He walks up the path towards the road to the streets of Dignity. Drinks his coffee slowly and can feel the November chill beginning to set in. He sits on a park bench and watches as the town comes alive.

There was a clock in the center of town, it once hung upon the city hall building but had fallen during a winter storm some years back. Instinctively the older folk who were around in those days would look there when wanting to check the time. He looked up there now and could swear he saw the clock telling him it was five of eight. He stood to walk and lost his bearings. He leaned on the bench and for a moment did not know where he was or which role he was playing these days.
“Frankie, are you alright?”
“I am confused.”
“Daddy I want to go home.”
“What? I will take you home son.”
“Frankie? Are you ok?”
“I am fine – have to take him home to his mother now.”
“Who is that?”
“Little Frankie, there.”
“Little Frankie isn’t here, I can call him if you’d like.”
“No, no I am fine. I was dreaming.”
“Let me take you home.”
“No Rose will be worried if she sees you driving me.”
“Rose? OK. Sit down here Frank, let me get you something to drink.”
The young man ran into the Coffee shop and Frankie stands up and walks away.

There is Rose, hanging the laundry to dry in the backyard, as she did so many times before. Rose, with her auburn hair and her green eyes could sense him coming home from a mile away.
Oh Frankie – How I’ve missed you.”
Rosie…” In an embrace they fall to the ground and both feeling clumsy, begin to laugh.
“Frank, Frank? Its Tom, the ambulance is coming to bring you to the hospital. They just want to make sure you are ok. Frankie Jr. and Debra will be there soon.”
Shadows appear and slowly fade away, aromas from distance pasts; fresh-baked bread, springtime flowers and soft perfume.
Colors abound, soft yellows, blues and reds.
Musical sounds of birds singing, winds blowing through the bare branches of the trees and the sounds of rain falling against the pavement.
The sun is setting somewhere and rising somewhere as well. Frankie knows its time to leave but he is stuck and he cannot move.

In World war two, somewhere in a small town in Austria, outside of Czechoslovakia, the little man was a prisoner of war. He had been in the Battle of France and had been defeated. Now he was tied to a bed and being tortured. Here is was again, tied to a bed and being tortured. Photographs of lost loves, family members and memories once forgotten being shown in scenes around his bed.
“They make it seem so real.” He thought to himself.

Frank woke up to the sound of voices, kept his eyes shut so he could hear what they were saying.
“He is suffering from Alzheimer’s and its more advanced than we originally thought.” A woman with a slight New York accent was speaking.
“You originally thought? Didn’t anyone think to call one of his kids to let us know?” A man with a deep voice sounding so familiar.
“I am not going to go into the laws of patient/doctor confidentiality; I can just say that he told us he had no next of kin.”
“Well he does, as you can see, what now?”
He opened his eyes and he saw his mother and father waving him over to join him.
“Come along Little Frankie – hold my hand. We have a surprise for you. We are meeting your sisters and brothers on a trip to Coney Island!”
“Can I buy cotton candy and hot dog and knishes?”
“You can buy whatever -”

“Frank? Frank? Can you hear me?”
“Dad, dad?”
“Come on little Frankie there is the train.”
Tonight the little man walks right under it and stops to stare into the Pizza store. Inside he spies his children with their mother and decides to surprise them. He pulls the door open but there is a thick darkness. A light towards the back guides him and he is calling out their names. A sensation of falling hits him as if he just walked off a cliff.

There is a small town and its located twenty miles or so outside of New York City. The town is called “Dignity” and Frank Wasser lived there his whole life. It was in the last several months of his life that things became dizzy. Memories disappeared and faces turned to stone. When the lights turned out and he found himself landing on a crowded beach in Coney Island. Suddenly all around him were the players who made up the cast of his life. The sun was warm, the sand was white and the waves were clear as the air. He heard a voice and turned to see Rose, his beautiful Rose.

When a person ages and disease takes over, there is a loss of what they once held so dear. We live our lives in the quest of dignity; to acquire it, to wear it well, to keep it and to never let it go. Frank Wasser lived his life a man of Dignity. Until the time had come, in the small town, twenty miles or so from New York City, for the thief to take it all away.


The Clock on the Walls (Originally published 3/7/2012)

Looking at old pictures can stir up too many emotions within this glorious bag of bones!

Common Sense


The second amendment states, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I am not a smart man – I just act like I am. What confuses me about this world we live in is the stubbornness displayed by people who claim to be spiritual or a person of God.

They stand on pulpits and denounce the ones who are their antithesis. They cite verses written thousands of years ago but only if it helps their cause – strengthens their agenda. They stand upon the elevated platform, full holier than thou attire and pump their fists in the air in declaration of what is right and what is wrong.

They cite history as examples, yet fail to learn from histories mistakes. They cite the great speeches orated by the great orators but fail to comprehend the gist of the words. Misquoting or placing the words in contexts miles away from the original inspiration.

Lately the main subject of conversation has been the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution, written and signed in 1787.

Gun lobbyists, hobbyists or people who believe that in order to make this world a safer place people should be given the right to own and carry a firearm.

I don’t really agree with that opinion but I respect their right to have it and to express it. What I find appalling and quite insulting are the politicians and the people who want to do away with any sort of background checks or the continuing sale of weapons that are used for mass killings or more powerful weapons than the normal guns. The RIP bullet which is created to cause even more damage once it hits its target. Why would any normal citizen need that? Why would anyone who had to wait three or five days for the government to run a background check on them complain?

How many people, myself included, have days where they thank God for guns being

In the but if a right was granted during a time of upheaval some 225 years ago. People had land and there was no formal militia at the time that could handle the crime that was prevalent at the time. So they were given the right to carry protection.

These days – the world is, despite what you would think, a much safer place to live than it was in the 1700’s. Each county has a police force which is run by the different branches of the government. Are they the answer for protection? They should be – but like everything else they are human and imperfect. Some have racism in their blood and some want to serve and protect the places they live and the people who live there. Some want the job for the benefits provided while others would throw themselves in front of a bullet shot towards an innocent.

The world is a mess – the scales of justice, the scales of good and evil and the scales of judgment are all broken and out of whack. People are running for their lives from a movie theater, a concert hall, work places and they are having “lockdown drills” in elementary schools.

Airplanes are being brought down and hotels around the world are targets.

There is no understanding of the value of a life.

So why the argument for more guns, stronger guns and more lethal bullets?
Why is running a background check on would be purchasers and carriers of firearms a bad thing?

Personally I don’t believe in carrying a gun. In life each person has their sanity and their insanity – some days the line is too thin to avoid slippage in either direction. Tempers fly easily and I dont want that person carrying a gun or even to have access to one too easily.

My opinion, for whatever its worth, is guns should only be given to people who go through a rigorous psychological evaluation. They should also continue to be monitored closely as time passes.

If there were people in Paris who had guns on them at the concert where the Islamic terrorists killed all those people; I believe there would have been even more casualties. People shooting in every direction, while intoxicated, in the dark or perhaps high on some drug – would only have caused more harm than good.

Armed guards and increased police presence to me is the better way to go. With the police being educated and psychologically evaluated over and over again.

In my opinion, heads need to be examined thoroughly before any hand can hold a gun.

Will the absence of guns end terrorism? No, the destruction of evil is the only way out.
Will the addition of guns end terroris?I don’t believe so. But I am not the smartest person in the world. Just smart enough to know that the majority of human beings should not be allowed to carry firearms. I dont believe that the rights and laws of yesterday, in religion or in constitutions should be held to higher standards. We live in a different time than yesterday – more so hundreds or thousands of years ago. Religions can be easily misinterpreted, mistaught or misunderstood. Those laws, rights and commandments must be looked at again and again; held up above all standards and re-examined.

Isaac and the Old Man


And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him: ‘Abraham’; and he said: ‘Here am I.’
And He said: ‘Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’

Genesis Chapter 22
Abraham walked into his son’s tent.
“What’s going on buddy?”
“Nothing, mom is forcing me to do homework and I truly am not in the mood.”
“You need to listen to her, trust me, you don’t want to get her angry. What subject?”
“How much work can you have – nothing really has happened yet.”
“Why are you here?” Isaac asked, clearly annoyed.
“Oh, I need you to wake up early in the morning. I have spoken with the Lord and he has given me a task to perform.”
“What is it?” Isaac asked.
“You will find out when it’s time to tell you.”
“How long will we be away?”
“I don’t know, a couple of hours?” Abraham answered non-committal.
“What’s early?”
“Around 3 or so.”
“That’s not early, that’s inhumane. Do I have a choice?”
“You don’t really have a choice, I will have you woken at 3 O’clock, so try and go to sleep now.”
With that Abraham walked out. Isaac spoke to himself.
“Shit, I hate going on those ‘tasks,’ they aren’t ‘tasks’ they are some sort of crazy life changing experience. And it’s never just a couple of hours – it’s always days. Then the old man starts to act like he is hearing voices and goes off on his own and leaves me with the donkeys and the servants. Those guys are not the best company to be left overnight with either – I have seen them with the sheep, not a pretty sight.”

The next morning they set out on their walk.
“What are we going to be doing, pop?” Isaac asked.
“We are going to Moriah and we are going to make a sacrifice there.”
“I like that area, can we stop by and check out Aunt Edith?” Aunt Edith had turned into a pillar of salt when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for being really bad people. God told Lot, her husband, no one should turn to look. When someone tells you “Don’t look” the first thing human nature dictates you to do is, look. They called her Edith because she had sinned with salt or something. Maybe she cooked with too much salt. Who knows?

“Don’t call her that – no, we are not going there. Why would you want to see a human being who is now a pillar of salt?”
“I never really met her or even Uncle Lot for that matter.”
“They aren’t your Aunt and Uncle, they are your cousins. Well, Lot is. He is my nephew.”
“Why do you always refer to him as your ‘brother.'”
“It’s complicated and a long story. I’ll get you the book one day.”
“You wrote a book?”
“No, it hasn’t been written yet.”
“So you’re thinking of writing one?”
“No, no, no – listen, its complicated. Can we just walk?”
With that, they walked and walked, and walked until Abraham looked up and saw the place that God had instructed him to go.

“OK boys – you guys stay here with the donkey. Behave and we will be back soon. Isaac, you come with me. Give me the wood, actually, Isaac here carry the wood. I got the fire and the knife.”
“But, pop, where is the animal to sacrifice?”
“Animal? Oh, yeah, God will provide one, son, God will provide.”
They walked up the mountain. It was hot, probably 110 degrees and the sun was extremely oppressive.
“Dad, can we rest somewhere?”
“We are almost there son, almost there.”
They finally reached the top of the mountain. Isaac laid down the wood and lay upon them. He fell into a sleep and Abraham tied him up with the rope.
Isaac woke up.
“What the hell? What are you doing? What are you crazy? Un-tie me! Is this another circumcision? Don’t you think you cut off enough?”
“This is not a circumcision, my son, God has commanded me to sacrifice you as a burnt offering.”
“God has…You’re going to burn me alive??? Pop, I thought I was your favorite – you know you got rid of the Arab kid and his mother – I figured you made the right decision there. Now you are going to burn me alive because you heard a voice calling to you? You ever hear of dementia? You aren’t such a young man anymore – listen to me, pop, those voices were not really voices they were just sounds in your head. Please, un-tie me – let me go.”
“Sit still, I will slice your throat first so you wont feel a thing.”
“Well that’s thoughtful of you, no, I’ll tell mom!”
“Sit still – what?” Abraham looked around and began conversing with himself.
“I should not lay a hand on him? It was a test? A test???” Abraham responded to silence.
“A test? That’s what He calls it, a test?” Isaac screamed out.
“I passed? With flying colors? Oh good. So? What do I get?” Silence.
“You get to keep me alive – not cut this rope off of me, now.” Isaac throwing his legs up and down trying to get loose.
“Ah, look, there is a ram caught in the thicket!” Abraham cut the rope and Isaac quickly stood.
“What’s a thicket?”
“That, that’s a thicket and, help me get the ram so we can sacrifice it.”
“Help you? Are you kidding me? You’re crazy, you’re demented – wait until mommy hears about this.”
Isaac ran down the mountain and out of sight.

Abraham for his part, was spoken to by the angel of God.
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven and said: ‘By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast hearkened to My voice.’

Abraham made it down the mountain.
“Did Isaac come down here?” He asked.
“We saw someone running down the mountain, couldn’t tell who it was. He was screaming some stuff about thickets or something.”
“Don’t pay any attention to that, he ate some strange mushrooms or something. Saddle up the ass and let’s get out of here.”

Isaac ran. He ran until he could barely breathe. It was then he came upon a large structure in the shape of a woman turned around. He licked his finger, touched the woman and tasted her.
“Aunty Edith?”

Isaac was on his way back home several days later and was met by Abraham as he walked.
“I thought you ran away with Aunt Edith.” He said.
“Funny, pop, funny.”
“I know you are angry at me, I can understand that.”
“You’re lucky I don’t press charges or worse, tell mom.”
“I appreciate that, but hear me out, son. When I hear God’s voice I know I am in the presence of an omnipotent force. I knew from when I was a child that all of the idols, the stars or the planets were not the creator of our world. I knew.”
“How did you know?” Isaac asked.
“To be honest? I don’t know. But I knew, I felt it. When I first heard him it wasn’t a sound like when I hear your voice or a thunder. It was all encompassing.”
“But why would he tell you to kill me?” Isaac was confused and in his eyes you could sense the feeling of betrayal.
“He never was going to let it happen, he was just testing me. I was an inch or so from killing -” With that Abraham realized what he came so close to actually doing. “It is called feeling and knowing for a fact, even though there is no concrete evidence of it – that God is watching over you.”
“You mean, having faith.”
“Yeah, but its more than that – having faith is believing – this feeling I am describing has no word for it – it is simply a part of a person such as a limb.”
“OK so what was the ‘prize’ you are getting for actually carrying out his commandment to you to kill your son.”
“Well, it’s not a ‘prize.’ It’s a promise that, me, a man who could not have children for the first century of his life, will be the father of infinite amount of people or as He put it, ‘I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore.'”
“You need to understand it was not an easy decision to make, not something I took lightly. You are my son with my love Sarah. You were the son God promised to your mother and me after being married forever. He told me that I should offer you to him as a sacrifice – I had no choice. But you see? When you listen to the words of God and you live your life as I have – treating people the way I would want to be treated – good things will happen. There were times I thought I would be killed, times I thought your mother would be taken away from me and times I thought I would never have a child. Now, here I am, an ‘old man’ as you called me. With your mother by my side and my son right in front of me. We go through crazy things in life, son, but if you stay true to who you are and you are a good man, things will always work out. But trust me – a lot of bad stuff will happen in your life. Betrayals, injuries, deaths…but, a lot of amazing things will fill it as well. Always remember the promise that God has made to me which extends to you, my son.”
“I am still freaked out pop, not gonna lie.”
“Yeah well, it will fade. At least I didn’t cut your-”
“OK let’s leave it at this. I love you pop.”
“I love you too, son.”

Empty Cup of Coffee (clock on the floor)

There is a distant almost ethereal feeling that overwhelms me. Midnight moons, street corner lamp posts and stray dogs searching for food, searching for a best friend.

An older man sits in his kitchen, staring into his coffee and occasionally twirling his spoon. He is thinking about the clock that must have fallen the night before. When there was a full moon and a cool wind was blowing. The earth shook, the clouds raced by and the moon snuck away ceding to the sunrise.


A clock on the floor, empty cup of coffee and thoughts of ascension. A strange sound from the back of the house reminds me that its getting late for me.

A slamming door, a ringing bell and the sounds of sirens in the distance.
A strand of hair, on my shoulder from another time and place.
She was something special, but it wasn’t meant to last for too long – she used to count the stars on winter nights wearing just her night gown. Bare feet on the grass and fingers pointing to Alpha Centauri, Sirius and Antares among the stars, the star systems and constellations.  She had the best intentions and the best eyes I have ever seen through. When she left it was also with her best intention – a kiss and a hug with tears in her eyes she said, “Thank you.”

I take a sip from my coffee and notice it’s running low – the spoon is out of the cup now, at rest. The clock is back on the wall and it’s a panging reminder that it’s late – out of time, out of coffee…time to move on…


In God’s Name?

These days we see otherworldly actions carried out in the name of God. No way to describe the destructive ways of the Islamic Extremists. Beheadings, rape, slavery, torture, death and death is the easy way out. They scream out their devotion and then they destroy.

Is God within their hearts?
Is God guiding their steps, one by one?
Is my God their God?

They look forward to death and believe rewards will be granted to those believers who will kill and die in the name of their god. Suicide bombers, hijacked planes, kidnapping and decapitation. Death and suffering disguised as religious devotion.

If this is how God’s power is being used we must put God on trial. We must put the Muslim faith on trial and if found guilty of mass destruction and murder, we must sentence them to death as well.

There are extremists throughout the world of God and religion. Some speak too much, some will push and prod while others will kill and maim. Does God value the prayers by the haters, the killers and the destroyers of civilization? Where is God when these people should be wiped off the face of the earth?

God has seemingly been silent – I believe He is somehow involved in each and every event, good or bad – perhaps one day we will find out the true reasons, not the rationalizations given by the ones who pretend to understand. No one knows why death and destruction exist.

As a child I was taught that God is an omnipotent power which cannot be touched, looked upon or clearly understood. God was all about life and love. God made the flowers grow and the stars shine. God said, “Let there be light, and there was, light.”


As I aged and people I loved passed away one by one, sometimes I would wonder why God would allow such a special person to get sick and die? The black plague, the senseless murders and other illnesses which would cause unimaginable pain and destroy any sense of dignity which remained.

Where was He throughout World War 1 and then World War 2? They say God is here there and everywhere – was he in the concentration camps? Was he in the hole dug by Jews, then forced to lay down in and then covered in the same soil left to die a slow and lonely death?

Now as I have aged, I have been told by many that yes He was there. He was there within the hearts and minds of the ones who were there, who died and who suffered. He was the final words on their lips. I know for a fact that the words of God were on the lips of my father when he stopped being physically alive.

I know personally, in my most difficult times in life, He was there. The power of my faith kept me going even when I just wanted to crawl away and hide.

When I was divorced and literally in pain because of my separation from my children, I was alone, but I always felt God was with me. When I first saw my wife 6 years later – I know that God was with me. When I was jobless and felt abandoned, lost in fear and doubt, God was with me and kept me going. When I went through my emergency open heart surgery, a quadruple bypass back in 2013, God was with me and helped me to walk those first steps the next day.

So, God has been there within me throughout my life. Providing me with love, support and the strength to take that next step which seemed so hard to take. I have done so, in the name of God.

There is too much pain and sadness within this world; a world filled with beauty and reasons to be thrilled to be alive. A lake in the fall, scattered leaves floating away; birds flying south and sunrises and sunsets. Magical beauty – yet the Islamic Extremists destroy it all.

It is not the Christian faith, nor the Jewish. No other religion in this point of time, is guilty or suspected of killing, maiming or enslaving in the name of God.

God, as defined by these people, should be put on trial for the devastation caused and being caused each and every minute of the day.

Not all of Islam is on trial; only the Islamic Extremists need to be stopped cold.

Put this god on trial and if convicted of the crimes, give him the death penalty along with all the ones who have carried out the message of death.