Negatively Affected, Almost Impacted

I give up. Give in. Surrender. Capitulate. Take your pick and whatever synonym you choose will be okay by me—as long as it truly is a synonym. To my woe, there is a certain pairing that people think are synonyms, yet they are not. As an English major and an editor for a global financial […]

Whose Beefsteak Is It Anyway?


Where's the Beef? (Photo by Larry Garland)

The New York Times, on Jan. 30, 2008, called “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks” “something of a Rosetta stone among fans of old New York and carnivorous foodies.” That classic piece is a 1939 New Yorker article by Joseph Mitchell. It begins, “The […]

In the Custody of the CIA

I just spent an intensive weekend with the CIA. That’s the Culinary Institute of America, not the Central Intelligence Agency. So, to clarify further, I was in Hyde Park, NY, rather than Langley, VA, and I was happy to be present at the CIA where the food may be grilled but the “guests” are not. […]

Where Does Good Writing Come From?

“Write what you know” has been the mantra of good writing almost forever. But does it stand up to scrutiny? It does not, argues Bret Anthony Johnston within the pages of the current issue of Atlantic Magazine—the Fiction Issue. Writing what you know, he says, is “writing to explain, not to discover,” and it negates […]


Famed writer Grace Paley wrote a wonderful short story called “Mother.” And I do mean short—420 words. Words made exquisite by their eloquence. The thing about eloquence is that it’s so elegant. And elegance means distilled into perfect beauty.

The story starts out this way:

“One day I was listening to the AM radio. I […]

Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Frank Capra, and Annie Sue Dinsmore as Inspiration for Post-911 America

Annie Sue Dinsmore was one of my all-time favorite people. She was a New Accounts Opener at the main office of First Federal Savings and Loan Association. At the start of my tenure there, I was placed under her tutelage. Annie Sue was a doyen of the bank and the community, while I was only […]

Last Night I Dreamed

Last night I dreamed I was at my aunt Dell’s house and she was washing clothes. Such a common thing, this doing the laundry. But when did I start calling it “doing the laundry?” Doing is without depth or emotion and has no life or reverence in it. No, we washed clothes and that rings […]

Kings, Jobs, Jeers, and Jubilation in Brooklyn

Loew’s Kings Theatre opened in 1929 to a Brooklyn screening of “Evangeline” and closed in 1977 with the showing of George C. Scotts’ “Islands in the Stream.” Between those bookend performances, it gave joy and jobs to many locals. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of the ushers—Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, Barbra Streisand? Ben Vereen danced […]

My Barn

With a pole barn, there is no block foundation as with a house. Houses sit on the land like they might decide to get up one day and walk away. Pole barns dig in and hunker down in a way that says they intend to stay. Pole barns start from harvested trees transplanted to a […]

Gray Snow on Sacred Ground

The “toot-toot” of the horn echoes back down the tube to the Jersey side, And announces to the multitude ahead eminent arrival of the PATH Train. Our space explodes from snug darkness to expansive, unbearable brightness. We emerge from the tunnel like an easy delivery into a harsh, new world.

The World Trade […]