Friday, December 30, 2022

Christmas Gifts

Did you get any good Christmas or Hanukkah gifts?

I like to dress nice so I have a dozen shirts with French cuffs. French cuffs add style and panache to any outfit.

When you have such shirts, you need cufflinks. I have a few but can always use more. So I asked for and got some this year. Best of all, my new cufflinks have a fun story behind them.

Here's a picture and here's the story. In the old days car-makers in Detroit painted cars by hand on metal racks. Enamel paint dripped onto the racks and got baked solid when the car-paint cured. The process was repeated hundreds of times with different colors so racks ended up having layers of baked paint. Usually they were thrown out but some smart workers saw potential -- they kept the paint-residue and sold it to jewelers. The baked paint was then ground and polished to create jewelry like these cufflinks. Cool, huh?

What did you get this year?

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


Grief whiplashes you back-and-forth unexpectedly. These past two weeks I've been sad, ecstatic, weepy, laughing, depressed and happy, sometimes all in the same day. Waves and waves of emotion.

All you can do is keep on surfin.' Right? :)

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas

My brother Richard and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Credit for the cute outfits and cardboard fireplace go to my parents, Big Ralph & Barbara Jo. May all three rest in peace.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Old Photo

Sixty years ago my family attended Christmas parties at the police department where my dad worked. They were fun affairs with presents for kids, drinks for adults and an appearance by Santa Claus. I just found this picture; it shows my father holding my brother Richard (bottom right-hand corner). 

I'm in the picture, too; can you spot me?

Thursday, December 22, 2022


The greatest soccer player in history is Pelé, a phenomenon who led Brazil to victory in three World Cups (1958, 1962, 1970). Now 82 and suffering from incurable cancer, Pelé is on death's door; bad news is imminent.

I had the implausible good fortune to meet Pelé in person and watch him play. Back in the 1970s Pelé was the star of a new U.S. soccer league team called the Cosmos. Lacking a dedicated stadium the team played on Hofstra University's football field. My uncle, who was then a jock at Hofstra, pulled some strings and got me a job as a stadium usher for Cosmos games. The pay was nothing but I was able to watch and meet the greatest player in soccer history.

Pelé handled the ball like a cartoon character: he made it move and do things that seemed impossible. Not a large man Pelé had supernatural skill. And personally he was a sweetheart: eager to please fans, willing to endure long lines of admirers wanting autographs and pictures, a real mensch as we say in New York. It was a honor to share space with him. I hope his last days are comfortable.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

My Father

My father passed away today. He was 92 years old.

My dad had a long, eventful life. Born in Germany in 1930 he survived WWII bombing as a child and came to America after the war. He joined the U.S. Army, fought in Korea and became a U.S. citizen. In the 1950s he met my mom, got married and had two kids. He lived the American dream.

My father had a 30-year career as a policeman and retired as Chief of Police in Lloyd Harbor, NY. Then he and my mom moved to Florida in 1985 and enjoyed retirement in comfort. My father had much to be grateful for. The above picture was taken of my parents during their glory days; they're sitting in my backyard enjoying a visit in the 1980s.

I've learned that losing our parents is hard at any age. It's as true now as it was 30 years ago when my mom died. The gut-punch hurts.

There will be a memorial service in New York after the holidays. If you have a parent who's alive, appreciate and hug them while you can.


Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh Lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Oh, when the drums begin to bang
Oh, when the drums begin to bang
Oh Lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Oh, when the stars fall from the sky
Oh, when the stars fall from the sky
Oh Lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Oh, when the moon turns red with blood
Oh, when the moon turns red with blood
Oh Lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call
Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call
Oh Lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Oh, when the horsemen begin to ride
Oh, when the horsemen begin to ride
Oh Lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Oh, brother Charles you are my friend
Oh, brother Charles you are my friend
Yea, you gonna be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh Lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.

Here is a link to a rousing performance by Louie Armstrong & His All Stars, including female singer Jewel Brown -- Song Link -- and a few more photos of my dad.

This last picture is my dad with his great-grandchild, the daughter (Ella) of the son (J.T.) of his son (my brother Richard).

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

"The Girl Can't Help It" (1956)

Do you want to have a weird but fun experience?

There are times, like the 1950s and 1960s, when culture shifts dramatically. New views, reflected in cinematic entertainment, replace older ones. Sometimes, and this is rare, both new and old approaches confusingly appear in the same movie. Here's a perfect example.

"The Girl Can't Help It" was made in 1956. It was intended as light comedy, establishing Jayne Mansfield as a "sexpot" (a term they used back then). Much of the movie is a dumb running-joke depicting how Jayne's body has such an ultra-feminine shape that it renders men speechless. The view accurately reflects early-Fifties culture on gender.

During the making of the movie, however, producers felt the film needed something more to appeal to young people -- so they added wildly discordant scenes of nascent rock-n-roll. Amazing musical performances were added by emerging rock stars like Little Richard, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and The Platters. About a third of the movie are fabulous concerts by young musicians who would go on to later rock stardom. (This is the new clashing with the old.) These scenes alone are reason to watch the movie.

Plus there's another reason: the movie is justly credited with being the catalyst for formation of the greatest music group of all time (The Beatles). Teenage Paul McCartney was entranced by the performances of his idols in the movie and learned how to imitate them. When Paul met teenage John Lennon, Lennon was hugely impressed by Paul's imitation and both of them became obsessed with the movie when released in Britain in 1957. The rest is history.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Best of the Year

It's the end of the year already. How did that happen? 

I thought it'd be fun (and possibly helpful to you) to list my favorite things of 2022. Most are new but some are recent discoveries of old stuff. I recommend all of them. Here goes:

- Best TV: "The Peripheral" (Prime) (Sci-fi drama adapted from William Gibson novel with themes that resonate today)

- Best Food TV: "Somebody Feed Phil" (Sweet man travels and makes friends while eating dinner)

- Best Foreign TV: "Borgen" (Best political drama of all time, returning after long hiatus with an exceptional story)

- Best Book: "Sacred Nature" by Karen Armstrong (eye-opening look at how ancient civilizations regarded nature, with important lessons for us today)

- Best Artistic Performance Witnessed Live: Opera singer Golda Schultz (performing with NY Philharmonic)

- Best Sports Witnessed Live: New Jersey Devils (Hockey; palpable excitement and a magical season)

- Best New Game Obsession: Wordle (NY Times)

- Best Film Noir: "In A Lonely Place" (Humphrey Bogart, 1950)

- Best Action Film: "Alita: Battle Angel" (Rosa Salazar, 2019)

- Best Lesbian Romance: "Portrait Of A Lady On Fire" (2019)

- Best L.I. Pizza: Taglio (Mineola) (Roman-style fermented dough; orgasmic)

- Best L.I. Seafood: Catch Oyster Bar (Patchogue) (fresh, expertly prepared seafood)

- Best L.I. Fine Dining: Sandbar (Cold Spring Harbor) (perfect blend of exquisite cuisine and friendly atmosphere)

- Best L.I. Spice Store: Sayville N Spice (Sayville)

- Best Hot Sauce: The General's Hot Sauce (Dead Red) (Medium-hot red cayenne sauce)

- Best New Motorcycle: Janus Halcyon 450 (retro-style with modern tech)

- Best Personal Addition: My new garage (room for four motorcycles and my 2021 Miata)

- Best Personal Experience: Opportunity to have private dinner with artistic genius Lino Tagliapietra

- Best History: Reading about the lives of Abstract Expressionist artists

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


Well, it's started...

I've been riding my Janus to break it in but hadn't parked the bike anywhere. Today I did -- and within minutes a crowd surrounded the bike. A few people drove past, turned around and returned to get a closer look. Geez!

The uniform reaction is: "Holy shit! What is that?!"

As the only kid on the block with one of these handmade beauties I need to brush up on my public speaking skills. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

First Ride

Janus Halcyon 450: Got my new bike registered and on the road. Took it for a first ride today. Wow!

I discovered three remarkable things. (1) Gas-mileage: I'm getting 65 mpg which is about average for this bike. 65!! This gives the small gas-tank (2.1 gal.) a range of over 100 miles which is amply adequate for around-town rides. (2) The bike is so light! I feel like I can lift it up with two hands. Only 350 lbs. (3) Ride: peppy and nimble. Unlike bigger motorcycles this bike handles easily and can squeeze into a shoe-box. Will wait until after break-in to explore high speeds.

When you own multiple vehicles you want each to deliver a different experience. This one does; it's nothing like my other bikes. Great choice.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

New Motorcycle!

My new motorcycle has finally arrived!

You may recall I ordered this bike back in March. It took a long time because the motorcycle was hand-made by a small company in Indiana (Janus Motorcycles). The company builds only 100 bikes a year and there's a waiting-list to get this new model (Halycon 450). There's high demand for these bikes despite their high price and rarity. I'm probably the only kid on Long Island to own one.

I love the bike's retro-style which harkens back beyond the usual 1950s to an earlier time. Its closest inspiration is the famous Brough Superior SS100, a British bike made in 1924. None of those old machines are in rideable condition today and the Janus has new technology. I have the best of both worlds -- vintage style with the safety of modern tech.

I also love that I was able to customize the bike to suit my individual preferences. For instance, the bike has a number-plate on the front fender which I customized with a message of personal significance. The plate reads "RH-104" which are my initials and the house-number of my childhood home. I fondly recall that house and its number is etched in my memory since, when I was a toddler, my mother forced me to repeat it endlessly in case I got lost. Thus, this is MY motorcycle, personalized in a pleasant way. 

See ya on the road!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

My Birthday

Sixty-five years, passed in an eye-blink. Still hanging on to my wide-eyed enthusiasm for life's adventures.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

New Camera!

Good friends pay attention and support your passions. 

One of my closest friends, Emma, just gave me an old film camera that belonged to her father. Made in 1977 the Minolta XG-A is a 35mm SLR with detachable lenses.

My first real camera was also a Minolta. I got it as a teenager and played with it for years. I learned how to develop and print film in a darkroom. It's been a half-century since I shot 35mm film and I'm excited to return to that format.

The camera from Emma is shown above; here's a photograph I took back in the 1970s of my first car (fish-eye lens).

Friday, October 28, 2022

Old Age

When I was a kid, I wondered about a distant, magical year (2000) when the century I was born in would turn over to a new one. It seemed momentous.

I calculated how old I'd be when this event would occur and the answer shocked me -- 43. That sounded so old! Well, 43 came and went. Two decades have passed since and next week I have another big birthday (65). Good grief, as Charlie Brown used to utter.

The bright side is I'm still active: riding motorcycles, hiking mountains, chasing dreams. Darkness appears, though, as some of your parts start to go. Our bodies wear out in our sixties no matter how well we live. Worse, you discover the warranty has expired.

My attitude now is live each day to the fullest. We're not promised tomorrow. Squeeze the opportunity and extract the most juice you can.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Famous Art

The artwork I purchased last month is featured in today's New York Times with a positive review of the artist. My piece is pictured in the review (purple hummingbirds).

Take a look -- here

Thursday, October 13, 2022

We Interrupt Our Normal Programming...

with this special announcement. I have COVID.

Yup, the coronavirus is still here. We pretended it went away but it hasn't. Someone gave it to me over the weekend and now I'm suffering. Vaxxed and boosted I'm protected against worst illness but it's still very bad. Severe headache pain over several days and 80% loss of vision in both eyes. One eye's sight has returned but the other is still only 50%. Scary stuff.

I'm old enough to qualify for the best antiviral medicine (Paxlovid) and it's supposed to speed up the recovery. Don't know when I'll be back to normal. In the meantime here are some photographs I took for you to enjoy.

Stay healthy.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Our view of history is colored by what happened later and that can distort an event's original significance. For example, if I ask you a simple, important question -- what was the most popular rock band in 1970? -- I'm sure you'll get it wrong

Many of you will guess The Beatles but they broke up and passed the mantle of number one to then-number two band. This second band is overlooked for several reasons. First, it was popular for only 2-3 years, then broke up and never re-united. Its individual members lacked the charisma of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, et al. and never reached the same height again. Plus they hate each other. Prior to their amazing period of popularity, the band worked in obscurity for ten years and perfected its craft; it was ready to become number one when the opportunity arose. 

The band is Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR soared to the top of the charts in 1969-71; they even played at Woodstock. CCR broke up in 1971. Before then the band produced a string of great hits, some of which you recognize in covers by others (e.g., "Proud Mary" [Tina Turner]). Among their huge hits were "Bad Moon Rising," "Travelin' Band," "Midnight Special," "Susie Q" and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine."

If you want to look back a half-century in music, check out CCR. Several compilations of their greatest hits were made and are worth listening to.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Pop Quiz

I used an old camera and 110-roll film to take a picture (shown below). What is it?

Is it a cosmic view of a space galaxy? Some scene in nature perhaps? An abstract painting by a famous artist?

Almost unrecognizable, the image shows leaves floating on water at a lake. (Belmont Lake State Park, to be specific). I pointed my camera downward at the edge of the lake, mesmerized by the leaves' bright colors and their fortuitous array. 

Nature did the design here; I merely spotted it.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Country Fair

When you're in rural country, you do rural country things. Today I went to the 145th annual Deerfield Fair which centers on farm animals (sheep, goats, horses) and tractors.

I headed straight for the goats because they're my totem-animal. I don't know why; I just gravitate toward them. Here are some pictures. The horses were also impressive. No interest in the tractors. :)

White Mountains

My plan for yesterday was smart -- go hiking (Flume Gorge) and then relax with a brewery tour and beer-tasting (Woodstock Inn Brewery). I couldn't have done these things in reverse. :)

I've hiked virtually every trail on Long Island and, honestly, they're Little League compared to majestic NH mountains. Created a million years ago by glaciers, these immense peaks are impressive in numerous ways. Just being near them transforms you, causing us to reflect on our place in the world.

Friday, September 30, 2022

New Hampshire

I'm warming to New Hampshire. It's a beautiful place with big mountains, small towns and medium-sized people. :)

On my way to the White Mountains I stopped in Keene, NH today. It has a notable attraction. Politicians say “the run to the White House runs through Lindy's Diner.” The diner, built in 1961, is popular among candidates for U.S. President. New Hampshire holds the first national primary and Lindy's is the central landmark here. Everyone from George H.W. Bush to Biden has eaten breakfast at Lindy’s. I figured I'd give it a try.

Meh. Food is ordinary. If you want really good food in a rural diner, go to Gracie's Luncheonette in Leeds, NY (an hour south of Albany). I'm glad I saw Lindy's for its history but won't return for a meal.

Now on to some mountains!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Old Photography

I love the images you can get from film and old cameras. They're impossible to duplicate with digital equipment.

These were taken last month. It takes three weeks to get film negatives developed and scanned.