Tuesday, December 31, 2013


They can't be relived---only recalled. And that is a process which cries out for the power to second guess, to change a direction here and there, to re-evaluate and wonder "what if" over and over. Some are exhilarating, others frustrating and provoking anguish. Life cannot be free of mistakes for we would thereby forfeit the most accurate tool for learning and attempting to avoid.

In the December of your years, with free time more abundant than ever, the opportunity to reflect and reminisce is there for the taking and exploration should be embraced--not feared. For at this point in your game, there is nothing to lose and different degrees of satisfaction to be gained. Imagine watching a movie of your life. There is no delete button and the temptation to fast forward should be ignored. You sit in judgement of yourself.

Almost always, you will, in summary fashion, become aware of something that is not there, and the presence of its absence is everywhere. Malicious intent was and is foreign to your DNA.

When you retroactively recognize a mistake, it was, more often than not, predicated on inadvertence or poor --even reckless--decision making--but not an intent to harm others. No one can claim his life to have been error free, for this is inconsistent with the power of choice, and only vindictive people claim the right to throw the first stone.

When I sat as a member of the Judiciary, many individuals came before me, having been convicted of or having confessed to the commission of a crime. My task was to promulgate an appropriate sentence. A heavy burden, indeed. I would review aspect of the case, including, but not limited to, the defendant's background. Especially in cases where I did not deem him to be a danger to society, I was never afraid to exercise compassion where I felt it was warranted. Often, strictly supervised conditions of probation were opted for in lieu of incarceration. My life's experiences had taught me the virtues of compassion and never once did I run from it for fear of being criticized or second guessed. This I deemed to be its own brand of the courage to do the right thing.

Thus, when you evaluate yourself, fear not to have compassion for yourself, as you would have it for others.

Lessons of life are never without attending circumstances which bring with them the payment of dues commensurate with the particular misstep.

Giving yourself a break breaks no law.

Count the good things you've done in your life. Guaranteed, you'll need more than ten fingers.

Life's funny that way.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


April 30, 1952, on "Ted Williams Day,"before 24,767 at Fenway Park, the "Kid" plays his final game before going to Korea as a Marine fighter pilot. In his last-at-bat, Williams hits a game-winning, two-run homer against Detroit's Dizzy Trout to give the Red Sox a 5-3 win.

There was another machination in play that day which caused quite a tradition-shattering event on the Harvard milieu. It involved me, then a junior at the college and bursting with the "everything  is another chapter in the magical book of life" proclivity, which has has shaped and molded me for my entire life, for better or worse. But what a way to live---tackling every challenge as a romantic adventure which cannot spawn a loser, even if things go a bit awry. My rose colored glasses, you see, are quite permanent. Viva la venture!

The idea hit me the night before--a romantic, challenging adventure from which, once conceived, there was no turning back. The lure of the risk was intoxicating and therefore irresistible. The instant my brain began its incubation, I was hooked and seat belts were fastened.

The trigger for this foray into madness was a remark made by a classmate, the involuntary commitment of whom became my life's ambition which , as I look back on things, was accomplished with the haste necessary to afford my sadistic glands complete satisfaction.

One balmy day, as I was walking in the Haavaad Yaad, (having already paaked my caar)---this bobo, a math major doomed to crash and burn, announced to one and all that the odds of Ted Williams hitting a home run in this farewell game were 20 to 1. What this cast -member of Deliverance, one pump short of being born an ape, failed to realize was that these hefty odds applied to each time Williams came to the plate----not for all of his game at-bats. This crucial distinction  passed right through me, laxative style. In any event, I, probably attempting to prove the superiority of my intelligence over that of Willie Sutton---(ask your grandparents, my chilluns), spread the word throughout the student world that I would immediately accept bets of $20 and lay 20 to 1 odds against the Splendid Splinter hitting a homer in any of his trips to the plate.

The student body, already half-nuts, ran to their stashes (not pot, you fool, but cash--although probably to both) and a long line began to form at the entrance to Dudley Hall, the Commuters' Center, home to all the poor students who couldn't afford to live at one of the Houses on campus. No bitching here, because, to me, hanging with these Townies enriched my "college education" ten fold. These were the guys who had gotten the message and been around the block a few times. Solids.

At game time , I had collected $300, creating an exposure of $6000 which was not embraced by my investment portfolio. I could only pray that Teddy Ballgame would not hit a home run, and decided to watch the game from my family apartment where I would not be embarrassed by using a pacifier to control my hysteria.

The first three times at the plate, Williams smacked solid hits but no home runs. One more at-bat to go. My hands were glued, clench-style, to the arms of my chair as the Thumper came to the plat for the last time in the game. What happened next has, over the years and despite several shock treatments whose purpose was to permanently erase painful memories, never lost any of its horror and terror of specific recall. Williams blasted the ball out of the park and it was last spotted floating aimlessly in the atmosphere by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. I owed 6 grand.

As soon as the ball left the park, my phone began ringing. All I could hear was screaming, joyful yelling and people wanting to know when I was going to pay up. What was I to do? Headlines like "Killed By Classmates" kept imploding across my brain. This was serious shit, Man! The bettors were out for blood. Gotta get outta town, Tonto, and fast! I put my head in my hands and searched for an escape route. And then, a plan for survival began to formulate and I realized that desperation could spawn the seeds of salvation.

I called my friend, Nick.

Nick was the left tackle on the Harvard football team. But he was more than that. He was a brute---275 pounds of muscle and a unique brain that brimmed with love for me. He would always be in attendance  when I would frequently do stand-up shows in the Dudley Hall common room, laughing at every joke. And he had been one of the $20 bettors in my retarded Williams debacle.

I explained everything to him including a just-hatched scheme in which he was to be the prime mover. He listened intently, especially when I acknowledged the validity of his bet. He was to get $400 post haste. He agreed to save my life  for the duration of which I agreed to worship the ground he walked on.

As I emerged from the subway at Harvard Square the next morning, my fellow commuters who now comprised a swelling manhunt, began bellowing victory chants as they escorted me on the short walk to the commuters' center. They brought me into the dining hall and hoisted me onto a table, all united in their screaming demands for money. When I saw Nick standing next to the table, I re-believed in a higher power. I addressed the throng in quivering voice, feeling like Spartacus looking up and trying to ascertain whether the Emperor's thumb was up or down.

"I want you all to know that I took your bets with a complete understanding of my potential liability. But, as I watched the game on TV, it seemed to me that Dizzy Trout had served up a nothing-on-it hitter's pitch to Williams. He grooved it for him to hit it out of the park. And so, to be fair, I contacted Dizzy Trout and laid it on him. Not only did he admit it but, in an effort to let the truth be known, he provided me with a letter admitting what he had done. (I was holding a paper in my trembling right hand.) The fair thing to do, therefore, is to return your bet money to you."

At this point, an ugly, negative roar began to emanate and steadily grow. I looked around. There was no way I could make a run for it, so I continued.

"This will all be handled by Nick, here. Any questions, take them up with him."

The ugly roar committed suicide. I jumped from the table and Nick, with whom I was beginning to fall in love, shielded me with his hulk as he just about carried me to safety in his arms. Rescued from the heathen savages!

It took several weeks for the uproar to die down with many days spent almost exclusively in the company of Nick, to whom I decided to give an extra $100. Is my soul not permeated with kindness and good will?

The whole deal eventually was forgotten (forgiven?) and, at the very least, everybody was refunded his original bet. No winners but no losers either. When my contemporaries reminisce about it today, they laugh when they remember, for those were "college days" when the world seemed tamable and our hearts were young and gay.

I sometime wish, for an instant, that I could revisit that period when we didn't appreciate how lucky we were. But that would be against the natural order of things, for who I am today is the result of my life's experiences, some good--some less than good. It's part of the molding process. We are what we've gone through, and now, in the September of my years, I look back and remember.

And when I do, I always sport a smile.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Once upon a time, in 1976 to be exact, I had opened my new law ofice, and, in celebration, threw a  party in the Presidential Suite of the Sheraton Boston hotel. I was very proud and invited the world---and it came. The place was packed and smacked of that sometime elusive spark when everything goes right and the joint goes electrical. Trust me, it was one of those nights.

Booze and food and plenty of it--that was the key. I instructed the hotel captain that I never wanted to see an empty platter on the food table. "Keep it coming until the last guest leaves", was my order of the night. Shrimps, lobster, filet mignon and a never-ending flood of Chinese food. People who were there still remember and rave. Even now, as I write, my pulse quickens and palms get sweaty. You can't guarantee this atmosphere in advance, it just has to happen and, on this night, it did.

A little background:

I had met and hit it off with Paul Burke. Paul was a very successful movie and T.V. star. Among his hits were Naked City and Twelve O'Clock High. He starred in Valley Of The Dolls and the first production of The Thomas Crown Affair. He was stunningly handsome---I mean gorgeous---and he dug the grape, a denominator which sealed our friendship firmly and forever.

On one occasion, he asked me to fly to L.A. and represent him at a lawyers' meeting involving his agent. I took the earliest flight from Boston, enjoyed the first-class tickets which he had provided, and looked for him as I deplaned. No Paul. I decided to take the escalator up to the main terminal and as I was half way up when I saw him. He was coming down the "moving stairs" and we were about to pass each other. Passengers were gushing in adoration for he was blessed with that type of persona. He saw me and, putting one hand on the railing, vaulted into my side of traffic. What a move! Clark Kent would have been put to shame. He was magnificent.

The next time I saw him was at my party. I hadn't thought to invite him and to this day don't know how he found out about it---he just appeared---like a Greek God. As we embraced, it became rather obvious that he was one or two (hundred) sheets to the wind, but as an adorable rascal as ever.

I noticed that he had brought a friend who looked vaguely familiar. He was leaning against the wall, completely out of it, just staring straight ahead, saying nothing. He was gaunt, sported a goatee and shades which successfully hid eyes from the world. Who was he? I had seen this face before---but where?

As the evening wore on, with the pace of the revelry steadily increasing, I kept trying to place him and was fascinated by the fact that he hadn't moved from his station against the wall and was mumbling to no one except Paul. And, finally, a possibility hit me.

I owned an impressive record collection. I loved hip vocalists backed by a swinging orchestra. One of my albums was on the Columbia label and its title was "His Heart In His Hands". The face on the cover was the face of my mysterious guest still glued to the wall. It was a jazz vocalist widely respected by musicians who knew what was happening. The album was glorious and it portrayed the face of Bobby Scott. It was him! Or was it? Only one way to find out.

My favorite song on the LP was "If Ever I Would Leave You" from the musical Camelot. I walked up to my guest, extended my arms and sang, "oh no, not in springtime" which were the song's words and, without missing a beat, the stranger-no-more responded, "summer, winter or fall" which were the immediately subsequent lyrics. I screamed, "Bobby Scott!" and he yelled out, "a fan---I've found a fan!"

What a night we had! I was so proud of him as I introduced him to everybody. He ultimately gravitated to the piano and played---and sung--- 'til 3 am. We listened and became his captive, adoring audience.

An indelible memory, impervious to staleness.

It was magic.

It was my party.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I just watched a Barbra Streisand concert and was struck by something very rare these days.

The capacity audience was sitting and listening. Their pleasure was unmistakably evident in the heartfelt smiles beaming from their faces. There was no screaming, no standing, stomping or voicing obscenities. No color lines were observed. It was simply  an admiration society of well mannered people.

Took me back. Nice and emotionally warm vibes

"Didn't We" unexpectedly teared me up a bit. An age giveaway if ever there was one. But felt sentimentally good afterward.

No profanities! Just imagine!

Friday, September 27, 2013


A rope was in desperate need of a drink.

He stumbled into a bar and asked for a beer.

The bartender looked up and asked, "Are you a rope?"

"Yes, I am."

"Well, get the hell out of here! We don't serve ropes!"

Panting for a cold one, the rope soon found another saloon and again, with grace and determination, requested a beer.

"Your'e a rope, aintcha?"

"Well, yes I am but----"

He was suddenly staring at the barrel of a shotgun.
"Disappear and fast! We simply don't cater to no ropes! Never have, never will!"

On the verge of dehydration, the rope entered a third drinking establishment and was immediately confronted by one huge pissed-off server who bellowed out,"Hold everything! Are you a rope?"

Wisdom had taken its toil.

"No. I'm a frayed knot.

A beer was served.

Monday, September 16, 2013


I, the romantic fool, getting more so as with older, just finished watching the season two finale of NEWSROOM.

As the sound of a delicious cover of Pete Townsend's "Let My Love Open The Door" embraced, captured and swept me away, tears began impairing my capacity to see. But my sensory abilities to hear and feel were more than enough to permit the appreciation of genius, which is what Aaron Sorkin is and has.

It's too detailed and dove-tailed for me to try and recap, but take it from me, the last few minutes of this installment was richly overflowing with emotional chords which should strike the heart of everyone who has one.

I'm a Pisces and therefore romantically cuckoo. I'll find love in every tender moment, for it is the oxygen of life. Accordingly, when Sorkin, who made his bones with the West Wing, goes for it, he usually hits a home run. Tonight, it was a grand slam. Biting wit, brilliant social commentary and political dissection all came together in a wind tunnel and rewarded faithful fans with a many splendored thing.

Loose threads were bordered, ambiguity was replaced with optimism and emotional punchlines were perfectly dealt to let you know what is always in the air.

But to the point of this post: I immediately reached for the phone to call my son and reinforce his conviction that I am sentimentally nuts. I blurted out, "Did you just see the Newsroom?" but was cut off  before I could articulate the last word.
"I'll have to call you back," he stammered, "my eyes are full of tears."

My poor son's distance from the tree is indeed short. No DNA is required to ascertain his genes. I adore him. Much thicker than water. Joy of joys.

I'm very grateful. The Lord made room for two of us.

And about the power of love: Believe in it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


It's 4:00 am, on an early Saturday morning. In about 90 minutes, the sun will make its appearance, innocently and without malice, and will bring to an end my favorite time of peaceful solitude. Most of the rest of the world is asleep, affording me the opportunity to ponder my plate, with everyday's problems in the shadowy back rows, much more tolerable and much less menacing than they will be when brought to full light by the center of hustle and bustle powered by the sun.

No surprises here. I'm always grateful for being able, without interruption, to size up my life in its present and foreseeable posture, during those magic hours when I can push away the things that vex and concentrate on dreams with which I am fully familiar and am prepared to embrace and deal with as they become real, which they most surely will. I am permeated with important information which makes me all the more ready to handle things in the uncompromising light of day. It's like charging my batteries without turning off my brain. When I fall asleep, just before dawn, there are no bad dreams to wrestle with, no negative thoughts to diminish the adventure which every new day brings. I have found that an optimistic attitude causes a thorough expedience of positive accomplishments. It's easier to climb a steep hill when my face sports a smile and I whistle as I walk. I find myself accomplishing good things becayse my positive energy of the night before has caught up and united with other vibes of confidence, coming from other people who have also spent a sleepless night in the serenity zone. You see, I are not alone. In a way, I am part of a non-criminal Ponzi scheme which gives and gets playthings from other members of the club. For we are good people who are eager to share our good fortune and ever present stress with others of similar ilk, if only we could find them.

Time to turn it off. Time to hit the hay. I've confronted several existing problems, wrestled with them all, resolved some, narrowed the scope of others and gone as far as I can, at this sitting.

I'm tired in a good way, like after a workout in a gym. My brained is as relaxed as it can ever be, dormant for the moment but always at the ready.

What have I accomplished? A little bit of slightly turbulent peace.

Temporary to be sure, for another day is about to signal its arrival with the sunrise.

And the entire process begins again.

Hey, that's life.

Monday, September 2, 2013


If it bites you, resistance is of no avail. You are hooked.

Such was my inheritance, as I grappled with the challenge of choosing my life's course. My family was steeped in the undeniable lure of showbiz.

My cousin was a self-ordained vocalist. It was tough getting work, so fierce was the competition which necessitated coming up with something new, something that would distinguish him from the mob of talentless wannabees. And he found it. The road to uniqueness. He discovered a vocal modulation progression which few, if any, before him had even dreamed about, let alone attempt to sing it. He would begin a ballad and surge higher and higher with each chord, until he had perfected the highest pitched vocalization known to man. Although musically groundbreaking, it followed the trajectory of a rocket, so that by the song's dramatic finale, he was singing notes which only dogs could hear.

My uncle was a vaudeville contortionist who, constantly striving for greatness, and always trying to make himself more limber, had his backbone removed, and replaced with mercury. And it relaxed him. At room temperature, he stood about five-nine. On hot days, he'd shoot up to six-six. He was doing just fine until that last cold snap. Shriveled to an inch and a half. Dragged away by the cat.

As for me, my work as a stand-up comic was short lived. You see, I was in deep denial of a memory problem. I would begin a joke soundly and with confidence, but then I'd forget the ending.

"Good evening tables and chairs, I was walking down the street one day when a guy comes up to me and asks if I'm looking for trouble. I stared him straight in the eye, flexed every muscle in my body, and said,"-------------(NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING)----------." I just stood there, praying that the ground would open beneath me, allowing a plummet to China.

Desperate to resuscitate my career, I turned to dancing, forgetting or didmissing the fact that, since birth, I had been plagued with plantar fasciitis. The band would play the opening bars: dud-da-da-da-da-DA!, at which point I would extend my right leg out and DOWN (!) on the floor, scream out in pain and collapse, emotionally and physically. That's when I decided to try my hand at Brain Surgery.

"There's no people like show people, they smile when they are low
Even with a turkey that you know will fold, you may be stranded out in the cold
Still you wouldn't change it for a sack of gold, let's go on with the show."

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I'm not nuts. I'm not crazy. I am a rabid romantic. I am a magical thinker. To this day, I believe that I have not yet exhausted the experience of something extraordinary. There's at least one more "big" thing on its way.

Please read my prior post,THE PRICE OF TEA IN CHINA. It was my intent to comment on the state of the economy. But, towards the end, I began to get a bit preachy and mention things like being a good person and kind to each other, because "There's something happening here." Where this came from, what caused me to take this turn in the road, I had no idea. It just happened. And as I edited the post, just prior to pressing "publish", I liked what I saw and stayed away from the delete button. Self-analysis is much too complicated for me. I know a screwball when I see one. Until just now.

For several months, I have taken note of something unusual for me. I realized that when I would look at my clock radio or cable box, the reflected time would be 11:11. Not at every glance, mind you, but enough to play the lottery with various variations of this number. It quickly became apparent this theory was ill-founded. Yet, these sightings would occur with significant increased frequency, to the point where I would see 11:11 at least daily, most recently being a few moments ago. So, I googled it. And waddayano! It seems that I'm not alone.

The number seems to represent something spiritual, something good, something which emits positive vibes. The more I thought about it---and here's where the line between my subconscious and coockoosville becomes a bit bleary---the more I acknowledged my increasing awareness that I was becoming increasingly aware of the notion that something's happening to me---and it's really huge and really good.

I can't be more specific except to say that the most descriptive word that comes to mind is "serenity."

Go ahead and laugh but you'll be behind me.

This isn't a magic eraser which takes all of life's negativity off the board, but it seems to make it easier to deal with things and to put on a happy face.

My exploration into all of this shall, for sure, continue. In the meantime, I'll continue to think good things and maybe contribute to the universe in a positive way. I'm trying it and I'm liking it.

Thank goodness for computers, for I can't write any letters. Where I am, I can't possess anything sharp.

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Today, I went to the supermarket.

Not late at night, to hunt down and pick up a good looking frustrated housewife, meandering aimlessly in the banana section with that unmistakeable "my juices are flowing look", but to simply buy those staples necessary for my existence. Diets and Watson Gourmet Light Turkey Breast--one and a half pounds, sliced at #2. So you can readily take note of the fact that, whatever my choices look like to me, they are the not-especially-exotic fare for you swingin' cats.

I add to my cart, four of the most delicious beefsteak tomatoes, fit for a King that's me, complimented still further by two plastic containers of pre-washed romaine. I'm drooling as I live it. The last items added to ths cart are a fresh (soft) loaf of Italian bread, a jar of Mayo and, for desert, freshly baked cranberry muffins and a few small friut tarts----and man --I'm in heaven. Diet Ginger Ale goes well with the delicious t-l-t sandwiches about to be basked in a light bed of the real Mcoy mayo. Seven days a week of this presentment only makes me crazy for more.

Why, you might ask, did I have the turkey sliced at number 2? The answer is simple, you fool. If it's cut at lest than 2, the slices are unmannigable when you try to separate them for sandwich coverage. An old Indian Mafioso taught me that move, the failure to faithfully follow this culinary stroke often resulting in your being put on the 'Kill List" of every Super Market in town. So far, So good. Until you pass through pay register which lets you out. You've blown in the area of 60 clams, which, by the way, you wanted to buy but didn't because they were too much loot.

The moral of the story is that the price of food has gone haywire, even when buying the minimum necessary for survival. And, this portends bad times. You can fell it happening around you. The middle class is on the way out. There'll soon be just the haves and have-nots. These signs are everywhere.

Buy one suit, get three free. (If I bought a suit with two pairs of pants, I'd rip the coat.) The winter hasn't started but you see half-price sales in normally expensive emporiums.

There's something happening here
What it is aint exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Rough times lie ahead.
Be a good person to yourself and your loved ones.

Be good to people, for they shall be your friends who support you as your good deeds which have gone around, begin to come around.

There are so many ways to enjoy life without being super rich.

I ain't hawkin' religion here, I'm selling the notion of being kind to each other. And the price is right.

Powerful forces for good begin just that way.

For, alas, I fear we are a half-step away from another recession.

Friday, August 16, 2013


A less than brilliant friend of mine was waiting impatiently in the waiting room to see a specialist. He had used his influence to avoid a six month down-the-line first available appointment. The nurse, spotting him as a newcomer, approached him to ask a few preliminary questions.

"What's your name, sir?
He bellowed out, "Roger Adams."
She was startled by his thunderous tone.

"Please, sir, you'll have to calm down and speak more softly. This room is full of sick patients waiting to see the doctor. Now, what is the nature of your problem?"
Without in any way lowering his volume, the man screamed,"There's something wrong with my shlong!"

The nurse was beside herself and ran into the doctor's office, face flushed and body trembling.
"Doctor, I've been with you for over twelve years and I've never been so embarrassed. A man out there, when I asked what ailed him, hollered, at the top of his lungs and in front of all those people, that there was something wrong with his shlong!"
The doctor calmed her down and directed her to bring the man in, immediately.

When the man was seated, the doctor, in a scolding manner, said,"Look, Adams--when my nurse asks you what's wrong, tell her anything--your head your back--anything at all, but you don't tell her, in front of other patients, that there's something wrong with your shlong. You tell that to me when we're alone together. Get it? I mean, what are you--nuts?"

Two weeks later, the nurse again noticed Adams in the waiting area, cautiously approached him and whispered," Hello, again, Mister Adams, what ails you, today?"
Adams twisted nervously in his chair and answered, still on the loud side, "Oh, um, (he was awkwardly hesitating) there's something wrong (big pause) with my, ah, elbow."
"And what's wrong with your elbow?" the nurse asked, projecting pure pleasantry.
Whereupon Adams shot back, in screaming tone, "I can't pee through it!"


Poor guy, he was jinxed when it came to picking doctors. Word is that his primary care physician once treated a woman for yellow jaundice over a period of eight months before he found out that she was Asian.


And, finally, yet another acquaintance awoke one morning to find that he could not speak. When he tried, he could only emit a gargling-growling sound. "Argggggggwaa."

 He presented himself to his doctor that afternoon, who, when listening to his voice, asked him to disrobe. and then began to smile
"I see your problem. Your penis is much too long for your body. It is pulling on your groin, which is pulling on your chest, which, in turn, is pulling on your vocal cords/ You'll have to undergo a surgical procedure to rectify the situation."

Six moths later, he saw the doctor on the street and gushed,"Doctor, remember me? I'll always be grateful to you! Just listen to my voice! Not a quiver, not a tremor. You cured me! But, I was wondering. In a ruptured appendics operation or when athletes have bone spurs removed, these  parts are thrown away. In my case, what did you do with the section of my penis that you cut off?"

The doctor blushed, smiled, looked his patient right in the eye and said,"Arggggggggwaa."


As I said to the x-ray technician after swallowing some coins, "Do you see any change in me?"


And remember the difference between God and an orthopedic surgeon. God doesn't think he's an orthopedic surgeon.

Friday, August 9, 2013


The " N" word.

African Americans are right, and have the right, to despise it. It's like "kike" to a Jew or "spic" to an Hispanic.

Some claim that the intent of the utterer determines whether or not it's offensive. I don't buy it. The N word is demeaning and offensive under any circumstance. There's a problem, however.

Recently, I was walking by a community swimming pool. It was a hot summer day and people of various ages and races were happily singing along with a blaring boombox. The music being played was hip-hop and every third or fourth word was the N word, pronounced in full.

It's everywhere in that music genre. Just travel down the pop radio dial. Musical concerts, featuring highly successful artists and outrageous prices, serve as basins in which this word thrives. What gives? How are these diametrically opposed standards of expression reconciled? On the one hand, even saying "N-word" is almost as inflammatory as the full version, while in certain areas of modern entertainment, all races merrily sing along with uber-famous artists who shout out the full version.

A possible answer is the credo that the word belongs to African Americans and they, therefore, have the right to use it or not as they see fit. But doesn't this foster the notion of double standards? Is it O.K. to sing it but not to say it? Is there a difference between the word ending in "er" as opposed to "a"?

I suggest that African Americans, themselves, come together on this and clearly promulgate what's in and what's out----what's offensive and what isn't--and who, if anybody, can say or sing it.

If the boundaries of racial harmony are delineated, I, for one, would be happy to comply.

I am a huge fan of Richard Pryor. When he explained that the experience of his visit to Africa caused him to forswear the use of the word in any form, coming from him, whose every other word had been the "N" word, this was a powerful and meaningful statement which commanded obedience.

How about that principle of conduct, across the board?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


He could have had the world's stage. It was there for the taking. But he blew it.

His case was unwinnable. Too many eyewitnesses describing the murders. The courtroom packed, each day, with relatives of the lost ones. The verdict on these acts was inevitable. Case closed.

But the real issue of the trial was whether Whitey was an informant for the FBI and was rewarded with a promise of immunity for all crimes, including murder. That was the question which has cloaked the feds with the stench of dealing with the devil. Two agents have been ruined by this taint--one now dead, the other convicted and serving the equivalent of a life sentence in disgrace. One ponders the question of whether the FBI was happy or sad when Whitey was captured, opening this dreaded Pandora's box.

The label "rat" is an anathema to a guy like Whitey. In the jargon of his world, that word is the ultimate scarlet letter. The non-cureable cancer. The ultimate sin. All during the trial, whenever this stigma was even hinted at, he would explode at the witness's suggestion of the R word. He was constantly restrained by the judge, providing him with mere frustration instead of satisfaction.

The immunity defense had been denied as a matter of law prior to trial. The issue of informant, however, was still up for grabs. He could have testified, under oath, in his own behalf. Sure, there would have been hundreds of sustained objections and countless admonishments from the judge--he might have even been held in contempt which, in his situation, was a tiger without teeth. He would, nevertheless, have had the opportunity to publicly deny the one thing that seemed to have gotten under his skin.

It would have bolstered the mangled and twisted version of glamour to which he desperately wanted to cling.

Like James Cagney in "White Heat" (ask your parents, young'uns) he would have gone down in a blaze of glory.

One last moment in the sun before the eclipse.

But he blew it.


This week we have had a chilling reminder of how real the al-Qaeda threat remains, when the government issued a worldwide terror alert that has closed U.S. embassies across the world. Reports indicate that a major terrorist attack may be imminent, citing increased "chatter" among senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Who monitors that "chatter"? The National Security Agency.

The NSA's activities must by their nature, remain secret. Given an inbred mistrust in government, fueled by the radical left, little wonder, then,that so many Americans simply don't believe it when Obama officials insist that the NSA is not monitoring the content of their calls and e-mails.

There is no evidence that anyone at the NSA intentionally and improperly searched the records of American citizens. Even Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, has not offered any proof that NSA officials abused the authority given them by Congress and the federal courts.

Of course the NSA is not spying on Americans; it is spying on al-Qaeda. Those very same NSA analysts who have been demonized in recent weeks as a threat to our civil liberties have just given us advance warning of one of the "most specific and credible threats" since 9/11.

They are not interested in the conversations of law biding American citizens. The only domestic communications they care about are those of al-Qqaeda leaders abroad talking to terrorist operatives deployed here at home. If such conversations are taking place, we need them to find out who that operative is, where he is and what he is planning. They cannot do that without the NSA's metadata program.

The last thing we need, at this time, is the public outcry of misguided libertarians who use the means of outrage to rein in the NSA's surveillance capabilities. That would be the true tragedy.

When this is debated in social circles, don't be afraid to be branded as one who holds Democracy in contempt. The stakes are too high to not advocate for the strongest congressional and court- approved measures to fight terrorists sworn and ready to kill themselves for the glory of killing Americans.

This is a different war, requiring new tactics, specifically designed to thwart the planned strikes against us , at the earliest planning phase, with no foreseeable end in sight.

And if a terrorist transmission is sent to an American citizen, here or abroad, his constitutional rights should be deemed presumptively waived. Collateral technicalities should not abridge the effectuation of the highest level of national protection.

Debate is good, until and unless it override common sense.

Everyone, regardless of which side their views align with, shares one common denominator:

We want to protect ourselves from fanatical terrorists.

Let the professionals pick up the phone.

Our rights and liberties are safe and sound.

As we want to be.


This week we have had a chilling reminder of how real the al-Qaeda threat remains, when the government issued a worldwide terror alert that has closed U.S. embassies across the world. Reports indicate that a major terrorist attack may be imminent, citing increased "chatter" among senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Who monitors that "chatter"? The National Security Agency.

The NSA's activities must by their nature, remain secret. Given an inbred mistrust in government, fueled by the radical left, little wonder, then,that so many Americans simply don't believe it when Obama officials insist that the NSA is not monitoring the content of their calls and e-mails.

There is no evidence that anyone at the NSA intentionally and improperly searched the records of American citizens. Even Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, has not offered any proof that NSA officials abused the authority given them by Congress and the federal courts.

Of course the NSA is not spying on Americans; it is spying on al-Qaeda. Those very same NSA analysts who have been demonized in recent weeks as a threat to our civil liberties have just given us advance warning of one of the "most specific and credible threats" since 9/11.

They are not interested in the conversations of law biding American citizens. The only domestic communications they care about are those of al-Qqaeda leaders abroad talking to terrorist operatives deployed here at home. If such conversations are taking place, we need them to find out who that operative is, where he is and what he is planning. They cannot do that without the NSA's metadata program.

The last thing we need, at this time, is the public outcry of misguided libertarians who use the means of outrage to rein in the NSA's surveillance capabilities. That would be the true tragedy.

When this is debated in social circles, don't be afraid to be branded as one who holds Democracy in contempt. The stakes are too high to not advocate for the strongest congressional and court- approved measures to fight terrorists sworn and ready to kill themselves for the glory of killing Americans.

This is a different war, requiring new tactics, specifically designed to thwart the planned strikes against us , at the earliest planning phase, with no foreseeable end in sight.

And if a terrorist transmission is sent to an American citizen, here or abroad, his constitutional rights should be deemed presumptively waived. Collateral technicalities should not abridge the effectuation of the highest level of national protection.

Debate is good, until and unless it override common sense.

Everyone, regardless of which side their views align with, shares one common denominator:

We want to protect ourselves from fanatical terrorists.

Let the professionals pick up the phone.

Our rights and liberties are safe and sound.

As we want to be.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I plan to apply for a patent on something which I should have learned long ago, but which I have just embraced and come to understand.

Generally speaking, you can always spot the couples in a restaurant who have been many years married. They're not speaking to each other. One or both have shut down their communication channel, which morphs into permanency unless corrected in a timely fashion. But, how do you reach someone who can't hear you?

In truth, complexity is at play here. The notion of understanding has escaped and eluded the relationship which becomes tainted by the dirty hands of the one who has gone off the track and sincerely believes his own stinkin' thinkin'. Whether he knows it or not, he is in dire need of an epiphany. And this, if the relationship is of soulmate status, is where fate comes into play. Happenstance is the unlocking key, the traffic controller of lives and emotions.

The lost partner somehow finds his footing and new frequencies are discovered. He now sees where he looks. He experiences a rude awakening as he enters an aura of understanding that he has been suffering from emotional dyslexia. Right has been left and up has been down. It's time to learn again, and be willing--and wanting--to make things coordinate with reality.

The way back begins, slowly, lest you lose your step. Bumps along the road become solvable because they are no longer invisible. Your automatic speed control kicks in with steady as she goes, things begin to come together and a re-kindling occurs. But the learning lesson becomes indelible.

And when things are finally o.k. again, you begin to understand even more and realize that what you thought was happenstance was really destiny.

And the food becomes secondary to conversation and communication.

And when you do your research, you find that your discovery has already been discovered by another.

Oh, well, there's always enough of a good thing for those who find it.

And you wonder,"Where the hell have I been all this time?"

But, you know where you are now.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Do you get it? Really get it?

I am at an age which brings with it many things, the most important of which is the ability to, at last, look back and realize that your thinking, on a particular and ultra important subject, has been wrong. Very wrong. Sometimes, for the sake of survival, you rearrange things so as to justify a conclusion to which you cling, reality be damned. The consummate  example of putting the cart before the horse, of revising the past so as to make the means justify the end. And your inner stubborness does not allow for a single second thought, lest your self-created safe house, with its false sense of security, ceases to exist. This cement of deceit hardens, the more you cling to it.

But, if you're lucky--if fate gives you enough time and provides you with an awakening intervention, and if you get it when you see it, there's still time. Time to straighten things out in your mistaken mind and take hold of an eraser. You must be receptive to self rearranging which necessitates realizing that you've been clinging to ghosts. And, at the senior stage of life, when perceptions tend to harden intractably, this is not that easy. It requires you to correctively update your optometry and admit that you've been wrong. You're never too old for this type of realization therapy--as long as you're willing to face the true facts.

There's a payoff to all of this which profoundly makes it well worth the effort. You've shifted into reverse, travelled back to the prior fork in the road, only this time, you bear to the right.

Now--assuming I am juxtaposing this sentiment with a personal relationship (I'm a Pisces, remember), I am saying to my soulmate:

"You and I are going on together
Till the time we have is gone together
Watch the evening drawing on together
Growing older, growing closer
Making memories that light the sky
That only time can make
That only love can make
That only we can make
You and I"

Better late than never.

Much, much better.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


The late great George Frazier, stellar and oh-so-unique columnist at the Boston Globe, coined the adjective "duende", that special force or characteristic that makes someone or something irresistibly attractive. "So difficult to define," he wrote, "but when it is there it is unmistakable, inspiring our awe, quickening our memory. To observe someone who has it is to feel icy fingers running up and down our spine."

This aura is alive and well, especially in the world of politics. John F. Kennedy had it, as did Franklin D. Roosevelt (the ultimate father figure), Robert Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower ("he led us to victory"). So did Bill Clinton, which leads me to an inevitable comparison between him and Anthony Weiner, who most decidedly does not. The scandals surrounding both men are strikingly similar, yet one survived while the other is imploding.

Clinton's sexual escapades were not confined to one woman. They culminated with the Monica Lewinsky affair. When confronted with unequivocally damning evidence, he denied the obvious, choosing to parse his words and embarrass a nation. He was impeached by the House of Representatives and his anguished appearance betrayed his attempt at confidence. His wife did not embrace him. She distanced herself but did not divorce him.

Clinton did more than just survive. His popularity is as high today as it ever was. He is on top again, and the reason he was able to so remarkably recover was his face. It's magnetic. I once saw him up close at London's Heathrow airport and must admit that I was quite taken by his star quality. He had the  face easy to like. He had duende.

Weiner's situation, at least allegation wise, is not dissimilar. He sexted to more than one. He steadfastly denied wrongdoing until incontrovertible evidence was uncovered. His wife stands publicly by his side, to her own political detriment. And yet, his political career has plummeted to pieces. He did not mind the gap and has fallen upon the third rail. It's because of his face. It's unlikeable and off-putting. He doesn't have duende.

My readers will undoubtedly scoff at this notion as a ridiculous over-simplification. And well it might be, for I doubt that this post shall challenge the writings of Plato. But take a step back and think on it a bit. It ain't as crazy as it sounds.

Which is probably why I would never have made it in politics.

Hark! I doth mock myself.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Most reasonable people now agree as to how the Zimmerman aquittal verdict should be interpreted. It was predicated on the paucity of prosecutorial evidence in the context of Florida's "no retreat" law on the use of dedly force in self defense. This is as it should be, the rabble-rousung of Rev. Al Sharpton and others, notwithstanding. The prevalence of common sense and reason on this point serves the cause of racial harmony. Consensus of reasonable analysis is an emotionally salving lotion. One factor has, however, received insufficient attention.

The trial was held in Sanford, Florida. That city has an African American population of 40%. The trial jury was composed of six people, all women, five caucasians and one hispanic. Why was there not one African American on that jury?

It is not difficult to understand the defense's motive for desiring such a composition, but intentional exclusion is prohibited by law. Why was the prosecution apparently passive on this point? If the jury pool, from which the jurors were chosen, was similarly devoid of a proportionate share of African Americans, appropriate motions could and should have been made.

A criminal defendant is entitled to be tried by a jury of his peers. Should not a victim in a murder case be afforded similar playing-field-levelling protection? There is no case law by which this is mandated, but the reputation of Trayvon Martin was equally on trial with that of George Zimmerman. The trial judge should have made this the subject of judicial scrutiny.

It is impossible to predict what the outcome would have been had the jury been composed of some African Americans, but the result would have been more digestible.

Trayvon Martin was entitled to a jury of his peers.

He didn't get it.

George Zimmerman did.

Friday, July 19, 2013


The next time I hear  "It's God's will", I shall puke on the spot.

When I was a kid, maybe 11 years old, my Dad was stricken with an illness that his doctors couldn't diagnose. He had to stop working and we were literally penniless. He reached out to his brother for help. They sat down in the living room (the parlor) and the scene that played out will forever remain indelibly etched in my brain. My uncle pulled a folded $50 bill from his pocket and handed it to my Dad. He stared at the money in his palm and suddenly began sobbing hysterically. I had never before seen him cry and, as young as I was, it tore me up inside, for his pain was mine. He was such a good guy, why, I asked myself, was this thing happening to him? Where was God?

One year later, he was in the hospital. He kept complaining that he couldn't breathe all the way in. The look on his doctor's face did not bode well. I was an only child and every time the phone would ring in our tiny apartment, my heart would jump to my throat. The vigil was frustrating and endless. My cousin was getting married and I was to be an usher at the wedding. The plan was for me to surprise my Dad at the hospital, resplendent in my debonair white tie and tails. As I was getting dressed, I remember hearing on the radio that General George S. Patton had been in an accident and had died from a blood clot in the brain. I shuddered without knowing why. The phone rang. Panic! It was the hospital advising that my Dad had suffered a blood clot and telling us to come immediately. The next two nights were spent in the waiting room on his floor. I asked the nurse if there was a place for praying. She told me that the hospital chapel was on the street level. My mother was in a wailing mood and I was purely and simply frightened. The first thing I noticed, as I entered the chapel, was a huge cross. Uh, oh! I was Jewish so how could I pray to a cross? I sat on a bench, folded my hands,  first asked God to forgive me and then began to beg Him to not let my father die. But he did, that night, and I couldn't understand why God had let me down. I was twelve tears old.

As a young man, I read a book by a theologian which attempted to address why bad things happen to good people. The author explained how frustrated he would be when asked to intervene with God on behalf of a perilously ill loved one. God doesn't have time to a give every situation on earth his personal attention, he claimed, but faith can sustain you in hard times. The book was a cop-out. He had dodged the question.

The Holocaust. Millions of innocent men, women and children ruthlessly slaughtered by a country whose national policy was to eliminate a religion from the face of the earth. Why didn't God strike Hitler dead?

Maybe the role of luck is vastly underestimated.

I find it difficult not to recognize fate as the ultimate decider of things. That way, the "why" questions are no longer formidable.. They are resolved.

Why, then, when good fortune comes my way, do I instinctively, spontaneously and immediately whisper to myself, "Thank God?"

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Anyone who rejects the theory that life is filled with moutains and valleys is full of crap.

Call it God made tests, forks in the road or challenges of choice, the art of survival comes into play when, for one reason or another, you find yourself in the shithouse, face down.

Obviously, it's easy to deal with the good times--you just enjoy to the max and try to ignore the nagging thorn that it's temporary and won't last forever. Make the best of it--you've obviously earned it because good times don't happen by natural causes. Your confidence soars, your swag becomes more pronounced and you vibe out a certain magnatism which draws others to you. They'll hover over you, eager to see and touch the man who is riding the fast track in fine fashion. These times have a way of erasing doubts and previous misfires because you're a winner and everybody wants to get close in the hope of gaining a rub-off effect. You're a potential benefactor, on top of the world, a Tony Montana, if ever there was one.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and, before you know it, you find yourself in a valley, all the forces in your life having done a one-eighty. The day to day incentives dissipate, the road becomes bumpy to the point of impassibility and everything you reach out for to break your fall splinters on contact. The fawners thin out and disappear, for they only signed on for the good times and never subscribed to the "for better or worse, in good times and bad" commitment. "Fuck 'em" becomes your mantra for survival. The only one you've got to lean on is yourself.

Being alone has certain advantages. You are obliged to answer to no one. Your former admirers become insignificant, rapidly fading to harmless whisperers. In a strange way, it's a relief, being able to differentiate the good from the shallow. And you develop your own tool for survival.

You re-prioritize the things in life that give you pleasure, free of tension,like oases in the desert. You arrange each day's schedule around these previously underestimated roads-to-escape and indulge in them. Watching movies, listening to your favorite music, eating on the cheap at neighborhood haunts where you get to know the regulars. A personalized anti-stress therapeutist. The fancy joints take a step back for awhile, until the next mountain comes around. Your task is to hold on and stay afloat until that day comes. And it surely will, because as an additional part of your weathering the storm, you are pursuing every angle, every opportunity to climb back, out of the rut and back to the level of success where your innate basic talents belong. You have exorcised the pressure of daily stress in favor of relaxing in the comforting knowledge that you have emerged from the rough onto the manicured grass all by yourself, once again reaffirming your personal mettle.

You're stronger now, for instead of giving up, you went into the ocean, you relaxed and simply let the wave take you.

It only works with good people.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Sometimes, 'though very infrequently, readers will lightly scoff at a post on the ground that it's too
'Hollywood-ish", intentionally manufactured to attract readers. Things like that just don't happen, they claim.

I do not publish fiction.
Never have.
Never will.

It's just that I have been a part of emotionally satisfying moments which, because of their very nature, are impossible to forget and are delicious to tell.
This is one such romantic moment.

I was a Junior at Boston Latin School, which enjoyed the reputation of "best public high school in the country" and "a prep school for Harvard". Still does. I, never destined for academic excellence in the purist sense, really dug it.

The most favored sport was basketball. On my greatest day, I was an average player with physical limitations far exceeding my reservoir of talent. But, like so many others of similar ilk, I loved the game and could never play it too much.

In my Freshman and Sophomore years, I was on the Junior Varsity, an accomplishment recognized but not rewarded with a "letter", a prized "L" which was sown onto the school's purple and white coat sweater. That only came with "making the varsity", which was everyone's goal and for which I tried out in my Junior year.

Every day, after practice, we would run to the bulletin board and await the posting of those who had made "the cut" and were, therefore, still alive. The pressure was enormously palpable.

The number of viable candidates would dwindle after each day's scrimmages which were tests to constantly separate the wheat from the chaff. And finally, there was just one practice left, the survivors of which would make the Varsity.

On this particular day, Coach had arranged a scrimmage with Roxbury Memorial High School for a game that would determine who made the team. I was still on that list, right at the bottom, hanging on by the skin of my teeth. The make-or-break game began.

As usual, I was not on the starting team and would be put into the game in its final minutes. And inevitably, that moment arrived.

I, frankly, didn't know what I was doing (per usual) and was playing in my patented limited ability zone, when I found myself at our foul line with my back to our basket. If you analyze that, for a moment, you will quickly conclude that being in that position made no basketball sense whatsoever and just about rendered me more useless than usual. And then, a teammate passed me the ball.

My mind was blank. I entertained neither plan nor purpose. I just stood there, ball in hand, with my back facing our basket and my teammates running wildly around me, screaming for the ball. I was in some never-before-diagnosed state of shock which could very easily have been mistaken for a never-before-recognized confident  look of a plan.

And then I did something which had no reason then and could never be rationally explained, to this day and beyond. I will never know what made me do it. It will forever lack all rhyme or reason.

I, with feigned great poise and assurance, threw the ball over my head. I had no target in mind or even the slightest degree of intent. I just did it--without any premeditation whatsoever. The ultimate blind pass.

There was a silencing gasp heard 'round the gymnasium as the onlookers dealt with the impact of having witnessed an act of insanity.

I turned around to see a teammate receive my pass, in perfect stride, and put in the sweetest lay-up of all time. I then saw the opposition coach glance over at our's with a look of amazement, raised eyebrows and all. Our coach, A cool dude if ever there was one, shrugged and shot back a look that said, "does it all the time".

I made the final cut and played Varsity ball for my last two years of High School.

Only the Gods can probably explain why I did what I did.

As for me, I just filed it under "Fate--Don't--Question."

The biggest reward is reliving it from time to time, as one is prone to do in one's look-back senior years.

Truth be told, I got a million of 'em.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


The fact that the surviving "suspect" in the Boston Marathon attack is an American citizen has resulted in various claims that his rights to Due Process have been, or are about to be, denied.

I am not a fan of political labels. They are painted with too broad a brush for my tastes, and are inconsistent with opinions being tailored to specific facts. It is not a stretch of logic to declare that these complaints have, in the main, come from liberals and intellectuals. The latter term often requires the preface "self professed."

These individuals are well-meaning to the core and are correctly concerned with, and dedicated to , strict adherence to constitutional protections of fairness. But I suggest that there are always exceptions, grounded in appropriateness, which mandate a close examination of the elasticity of a doctrine's applicability.

We are at war with an enemy which has chosen terror as its instrument. No battlefield victories. No hand-to-hand combat. We are instead faced with the ominous specter of the stealth of suicide.

This requires the ultra-complex task of evolving the most effective reactive response.

I am a practical man. When confronted with a theoretical assertion, I say, "give me an example."
Accordingly, here, as I see it, is what we are up against.

Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization, recently broadcast a children's television program in which kids, who appeared to be no older than 10 years, extolled the virtue of suicide attacks and expressed their desire to blow themselves up in order to defeat their foes. The children sang in chorus: "Jihad bestows pride and glory upon you when you become a martyrdom-seeker."
One youngster was seen saying, "The mothers send their sons to victory or to paradise."

It must be realized that extremist Muslims, the Jihadi, stand ready to enthusiastically sacrifice their lives by blowing themselves up for the sole purpose of killing as many Americans as possible, for we are one of their enemies.

Not to ramble, I analyze the situation at hand.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the "alleged" suspect, was captured and immediately hospitalized. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that in such a situation, the advising of Miranda rights may be delayed, for as long as 48 hours, so as to allow federal authorities the opportunity to question the individual about an existing imminent trhreat to public safety. They are not to expand this interrogation to the merits of guilt or innocence without Miranda advice being given. The FBI, properly utilizing this exception, had been questioning Tsarnaev, gathering valuable intelligence vital to the prevention of future suicide attacks, when, to their shock and dismay, a federal magistrate "waltzed" into the hospital room with a public defender, for purposes of arraignment. The attorney promptly advised Tsarnaev of his Miranda rights whereupon he stopped answering questions. The public safety interrogation had lasted only 16 hours before it was prematurely terminated. There was much more to learn and as long as Tsarnaev's answers were voluntary, the questioning should have been allowed to continue.

Let me bite the bullet. The "imminent public safety" exemption should allow interrogation on any aspecct of intelligence that could be obtained from the suspect. Time limits be damned. Even should this information be rulled inadmissable at trial, it would surely be a valuable tool for counter-terrorist operations. Besides, there is a plethora of independent evidence demonstrating Tsarnaev's guilt.

Which side should blink first? The vital need for intelligence or the tecnichal adherence to general constitutional principles?

If a Jihadist was captured in Afganistan, and it was discerned that he was an American citizen dedicated to destroying his country, should he immediately be read his rights and affordered counsel? Laughable, no? And yet, that is what is at play here.

This is a different type of war we're fighting. No other enemy has chosen suicide as its exclusive weapon of choice.

The enemy's means of attack is different. So should be our code of conduct.

No broad strokes. Take it on a case-by-case basis. Anything Tsarnaev had to say would have been solidly couched in public safety considerations. Withholding the advice of Miranda rights was justified under the circumstances and interrogation should not have been curtailed. The Miranda court had not been faced with terrorist activities. The war of the Jihadis is unique in its chosen means of terror. Miranda rules should be modified accordingly. This is a new ball game. A different arena of war. A modification of investigatory tactics is mandated. This will not threaten the constitutional rights of non-terrorist suspects.

Until and unless our Supreme Court declares "enhanced interrogation" (including waterboarding) to be unconstitutional, it should be utilized in our counter-terrorist efforts.

With national security at stake, do what must be done. Respond accordingly to the enemy's means of combat.

Our Founding Fathers, participants in the American Revolution, would not object.

Nor would the victims of 9/11 or the Boston Marathon.

Rules that don't apply can't be broken.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


As part of my never-ending quest for seeking and trumpeting the truth, I have devoted my career to what I deem to be a most noble cause. Indeed, my code of conduct, in the courtroom and society, has always been to sweep away the fogs and shadows, in favor of discovering and exposing veracity.

Consistent with this life's commitment, and to emphasize my senior citizen independence, it is with renewed zeal that I embark on a crucial and salutary mission which, I trust, shall comprise a significantly illustrious chapter in my life. I shall discard and forever abandon misleading camouflage which tends to obscure reality.

I shall expose myself.

It has long been an inside joke in the legal community. The word has spread. I am so well-endowed as to necessitate doubling-up on my underwear. Indeed, the stories are legend with regard to the obsessive distraction of juries as I stood before them in a dire attempt to persuade them to focus on legal pointers rather than my private parts. Especially in the 1960's, when the pants were very tight and left little to the imagination, my impressive anatomy, left unabated, possessed the undeniable yet destructive capacity to obviate the ability to command attention to my words rather than my profile.

Of course, I know what I've got but it was never my intention to flaunt. On this, you can rely.

Accordingly, lest constant denials of outrageous claims rise to the level of absurd pomp and circumstance, or potentially cause a frenzy, I shall forthwith abandon and emerge from the world of clandestinity and embark on a courageous life-style of illumination.

Henceforth, I shall go commando.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I almost got arrested today. The alleged crime was the way I wore my hair.

A cop stopped me on the street and asked if I knew why I had been targeted. When I said, "No", he read me my rights, concluding with the statement that anything I said could be held against me. I, without pause, shot back,"Sharon Stone".

He went on to accuse me of having had a recent haircut which, he explained, was against the law. When a CORI check revealed no prior similar offenses, he let me go with a warning.

The point I make is this: Look at today's prevalent hair style for men. They look as if they have just rolled out of bed. Their hair is all over the place, simultaneously slanting in different directions. Up, down, left, right, followed by a thorough mussing-up lest it appear that a brush or comb had even been considered.

What gives? The closest thing to grooming is the hair streaking straight down toward the forehead, only to suddenly be stopped by a last-second up-swerl. I don't advocate the "wet look" but shouldn't there be some styling involved with the purpose of making you look better?

And on a related subject, who the hell is designing men's clothes? The suit jacket's first button is just below the adam's apple or, alternatively, at "poopick" level (Christians rush to an Old Testament dictionary). What is completely obviated is any kind of a draped look which conceals, or minimizes, the look of paunch. The belt line of the trousers is barely above the genitalia, thereby permanently exposing that part of the shirt between the end of the jacket and the start of the pants. Anyone weighing  over 100 pounds is in trouble.

What's next? Suits made of wood fabric?

No more flies, just swinging doors?

I'm all dressed up with no place to go.

Monday, March 11, 2013


This story is true in infinite detail. The names have been changed to protect me. The "Boss" died in prison, cancer-ridden. He was referred to as "The Teflon Don." He was the head of one of the original five organized crime families and was gifted with so strong a magnetic personality as to be, simultaneously, illustrious and notorious. For me, it was a brief but indelible ride. Come along with me.

I got a call from "Sal", a New York lawyer with whom I had worked on several cases and a solid, trusting friendship had come to exist.

"The Boss wants to see you."

He was the boss of all bosses, a media magnet whose face, powerful yet charming, was, along with his alleged exploits, instantly recognizable by most of this country's population and beyond. Breaking with Mafia tradition, he was a star who truly reveled in ubiquity, with perfectly coiffed hair and a wardrobe that defined haute couture. He was a national figure, handsome and dashing, who was, curiously enough, deemed attractive and worthy of adulation by a significant many who, simply put, found him fascinating. He was being held without bail, having been federally indicted for racketeering. Suffice it to say, every criminal defense attorney would consider representing him to be an indelible badge of honor, but he would be the selector from these many lawyers who were waiving their hands for attention, and he had sent for me, whom he had never met.

Air-shutteling in from  Boston, I arrived at the detention facility on the specified day at 10am. I didn't know what to expect but wanted to impress with confidence and enthusiasm when I met this man who reputedly took instant measure of whomever came before him. Sal had made it known that my summons had become a matter of substantial interest among the New York defense regulars but I had intentionally declined to pepper him with the thousand questions raging within, lest I betray my anxiety, which was substantial. I reminded myself of the cardinal rule to never break eye contact while speaking, for this was taken as a sign of disrespect. I was psyched, for this was truly the major leagues. The goal of every lawyer in my chosen line of work.

When I signed the inmate request form, specifying whom I wished to see, I was thrown a bit off stride. The officer informed me that the Boss would not receive visitors prior to noon, with no exceptions. To the best of my knowledge, there existed no statute, case law or federal regulation which set forth this rule of convenience, but if you think I was about to make this an issue, you're crazier than I am.

I killed two hours and resubmitted my request. A different officer handled it this time. He looked at the Boss's and then at me. I was suddenly someone of importance.
"You his lawyer?"
"Hope to be," I replied as the security screening process was accomplished. I was led into a large room enclosed by chain-link fenced walls and took a seat at a large table.
"He's on his way down," I was told, so I waited. It was 12:20pm when he entered the room. I took in as much as I could, as quickly as I could. He appeared to have just walked out of a Fifth Avenue hair styling salon. Every hair was perfectly in place. No prison pallor for him. Instead, a ruddy tanned complexion. So perfect was the fit that I expected to see a Giorgio Armani label on his orange jump suit.  His white sneakers and socks were spotless. He exuded power, obtained the old fashioned way. He had earned it. 'Twas on the other side of the tracks, to be sure, but it was a surreal facsimile of meeting the President of the Other United States.

I stood and our handshake was longer than ordinary, as his appraisal of me began. His eyes were blue steel and his brain was at maximum sharpness. No matter how early you got up in the morning, it would be too late to even come close to putting one over on the Boss. The game began. He laid it out for me.

"Up 'till now, I've been represented by the same lawyer. He's been with me for a long time. But that's the problem. Everybody thinks of him as a Mob attorney. I want a new face for this trial and that's where you come in. Sal says good things about you. I've asked around and the word from People in Boston is good."

I nodded, controlling my anxiety as best I could. Better to listen than to over-speak. When in doubt, opt for silence every time.

He continued. "Now, here's how I'm gonna do it. You'll enter your appearance for Pete, for starters. That'll give me a few weeks to let my lawyer down easy. I don't want to hurt his feelings or reputation or embarrass him. You'll get to know all the players and, in about a month, you'll switch to being my counsel and my guy will represent Pete."

Pete was a made man, one of five co-defendants in the federal indictment at hand. The Buzz on him had it that he was a shooter. "He could blow your head off and eat spaghetti off your shoulders." Very comforting. Bail had been set for him, he had made it and was on the street. I wondered about the feasibility of a valium enema.

As the conversation continued, the other co-defendants casualy sauntered in, their attorneys followed, and the scene in the room quickly came to resemble an upper echelon meeting of the G------ family. A burly individual nudged me over with the statement, "I have to sit on his right." I shall refer to him as "Capo", for that is exactly what he was. The number two man.

Eventually, the defendants were sitting on one side of the large cell, with the lawyers on the other. Business was to be conducted and the attorneys' conversation was to serve as a cover of what was being said across the way. There came a time when we ran out of talk and temporarily fell silent. The Boss, taking immediate notice of this, raised his right arm and twirled it in a circular motion, instructing us to carry on with the camouflage. After awhile, the groups again intermingled and the Boss bid me farewell.

"Come back next week and we'll nail this thing down." I said I would and I did. I was reasonably pleased with myself in my handling of this first meeting. I had spoken in measured tone, my goal being to appear confident, intelligent and, above all, respectful. A masquerade of maximum anxiety, for I was dealing with the Ruler of the wrong side of the moon. In a way, the antithesis of the President of the United States.

The scene was the same when I returned the following week. Sal, the conduit, was again with me. I was greeted cordially by the Boss who explained that he had not yet informed his present counsel of the  game plan whereby I would, at first, represent Pete and then switch clients, bequeathing upon me the equivalent of the Medal of Honor. But, not to worry. Everything would fall into place.

At one point, he mentioned that a well known lawyer had visited him during the week and, in discussing the Boss' case, had remarked, "You just can't beat a RICO case (the criminal statute in question). Too tough." Adhering to my code of conduct, I played it safe and said nothing.

When things were winding down, I decided to raise the topic ultimately consistent with my personal interests. The fee.

I explained what I believed would be expected of me and the enormous effort which characterized my case preparation. He cut me off with, "Discuss it with Capo. There'll be no problem." We shook hands.

As we were leaving, I motioned Capo and Sal to a corner of the room. Capo heard me out and asked what I had in mind. No time to be timid or bashful. The Boss would be a most difficult taskmaster. I knew what was at stake, time-wise, and I had to be paid accordingly. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

I quoted Capo a fee which, to me, was both reasonable and substantial, and held my breath. One-half to be paid now, before I entered my appearance, the remainder to be paid prior to commencement of trial. Sal did not register surprise. Capo did not hesitate. "O.K. Come back next week. I'll have the first half ready and somebody will drive you back to Boston. No way can you board a plane carrying that much cash."

Bingo! I was in! The biggest sure-to-be-media-followed case in the country. Daily headlines. I was anxious as hell, but not afraid. We shook hands.

I was determined to make a fast and impressive start. I grabbed the other lawyers, informed them that I was on the team and called for a meeting the next day so that I could begin to catch up, discuss strategy, etc. I wanted to assert myself and impress the Boss. It was set up for two p.m. the next day. Don't dip your toe into the pool. Dive in!

Sal insisted to buy me a celabatory lunch and took me to one of those Italian restaurants not included on the tourist trail. This is where the boys would meet to eat. Signed pictures of Sinatra and Dean Martin on the wall, Jerry Vale on the jukebox and waiters who saw all but said nothing. The aroma of authentic Italian cuisine permeated everything. We began to relax and Sal ordered a king's meal. He was thrilled for me. He hoisted a glass of wine and toasted the future. What an adventure this was to be. A magnificent antipasto was placed before us. Life was good.

Then, Pete walked in.

The look on his face did not spread joy to the world. I looked at Sal and it was obvious that his read echoed mine and he was the more knowledgable on matters of this kind. Pete sat down to my right, directly across from Sal. The most accurate description of this unanticipated turn of events is best set forth by the dialogue which transpired.

"So, you're my new counsel, huh?" Pete's tone was not comforting.


And I understand you've called for a meeting of the lawyers for tomorrow."

"Yes, I have. I want to coordinate things as quickly as possible."

Pete's face flushed. Not a good sign. "So, just what is this going to cost me?"

This set off all alarm bells. Capo had given me the impression that the Boss had given him authority to handle the matter of my fee. Indeed, the Boss had specifically said this to me. My brain was a flashing neon sign proclaiming "proceed with caution." Sal's anxiety had increased which had a domino effect on me. Thank the Lord for Sal being with me when I had talked to Capo.

"I discussed this with Capo a few hours ago. He agreed on my total fee, with the first half of $100,000 to be paid next week."

I watched the tide of red slowly rise from Pete's neck into his pissed-off face. My truthful statement had landed in a very bad place.

"That's funny. I just left Capo and he told me that your fee would be 25 grand."

I was in no-man's land. This was not a chess game allotting each player a specified time in which to respond. I was telling the truth and could only hope that this was apparent.

"There must be some misunderstanding, Pete."

His anger was ratcheting to the point where even Sal was shifting uneasily in his chair. As for me, I was about to lose complete control of my bladder. A nice headline: Mafia lawyer pisses himself.

"Are you calling me a liar?"

All bets were off. "Of course not, Pete. I'm just telling you what Capo said."

Pete's face got redder still. "So, are you calling Capo a liar?"

Pete's reputation mandated the ground rule that he was not, ever, to be trifled with. Sal's accurate instinct called for an immediate intervention.  Beads of sweat had formulated on his forehead for he realized that things were on the verge of getting out of control and I was in way over my head.

"Pete, please, let's step outside for a minute." They both left and I, sitting alone, could feel the scrutiny of the waiters' eyes. Having observed the whole thing and being quite familiar with just who Pete was, they must have been making book on my fate.

A solid 45 minutes went by. I hadn't touched the food, only the wine. Hey, this was part of the game, wasn't it? WASN'T IT?

Sal returned. He looked drained. Ordeal wracked. Pete wasn't with him.
"It's o.k. I settled him down. It doesn't take much to get him hot but  I told him I was there when you spoke to Capo. He realizes it was all mixed-up communications. Everything's o.k."

We finished the meal with not quite our initial zest. Calming down takes awhile. Sal drove me to La Guardia and I caught the shuttle back to Boston.

Four days went by and I got a call from Sal. He said that the Boss had decided not to hire me. I had asked for too much money. Nothing personal. I played it cool, suppressing my disappointment. The squabble with Pete must have been the deciding negative factor. And then, I thought of something else.

When the Boss had quoted an attorney's statement that RICO indictments can't be beaten, I had deliberately remained silent. The Boss was a fox. What if that was all a test designed to take my measure? What if he had wanted me to burst forth with, "That's bullshit! There's no such thing as a case that can't be won." The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. In any event, I had flunked.

The trial lasted four months. The Boss was acquitted. The New York media followed its every move. On that, I lost out. On the other hand, I heard that all the lawyers involved had gone through hell and back. The Boss was a strict taskmaster and did not restrain his displeasure at an attorney's perceived misstep.

Oh, well. It was still an indelible experience.

I'm from the old-time school where any excuse was just that.

Wrap it up and move on.

Except that to re-tell it is to re-live it.

Demz were da daze.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


An article appeared in the New York Times on March 1, 2013, dealing with the Holocaust and the German people's knowledge thereof. Its bottom-line result is to belie, once and for all, the defensive response to relative inquiries of "we didn't know."

Researchers have cataloged some 42,500 ghettos and camps throughout Europe, including Germany itself, during Hitler's reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945. These numbers are staggering and much higher than originally thought. One co-researcher said the findings left no doubt in his mind that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time.

"You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps," said Martin Dean, one of the two lead editors on the research project. "They were everywhere."

Being a revisionist or a discriminate rememberer is not peculiar to the German World War II population. Indeed, and unfortunately, many individuals wrap themselves in this protective cocoon when confronted with missteps of the past.

Professionals will tell you that this is a subconscious reaction to confrontation of prior bad acts and that, therefore, such a response is mitigated accordingly.

Hogwash. It is, pure and simple, a cop-out, designed to dodge rather than face the music.

The passage of time does not necessarily erase the hurt of having been the target or victim of misconduct. Circumstances of life have a way of conjuring up opportunities to confront the individual with his inappropriate or unacceptable behavior. More often than not, the perpetrator denies or refuses to remember the past, thus aggravating the damage occasioned thereby.

The result is an emotional stalemate.

It can be argued that to lie is preferable to not remembering, for the latter obviates closure.

Love is about feel and therefore as elusive as it is beautiful.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Drone critics lump them with snipers and condemn both as "death out of nowhere".

Welcome to 21st-century warfare, where the nation is constantly threatened by suicide bombers who would more than fit the same description of surprise attack.

The naysayers offer no alternative as to how to combat terrorists.

This is not World War II, where the Japanese use of kamikaze pilots was a desperate combat tool as the war was winding down. For Islamic terrorists, this type of attack is their weapon of choice. We are not acting, we are reacting to an enemy fanatically sworn to wipe us out. They chose the means of warfare and we are responding in kind.

A person willing to blow himself up in order to kill Americans should not be afforded any immunity by virtue of the technical circumstance of US citizenship. Someone who is planning or has executed an attack on Americans are fair game for drone strikes. Targets are not chosen indiscriminately.

Until and unless convinced otherwise, I have complete faith in my government's ability to distinguish between a threat to our national security and an innocent bystander.

If America has become a "sniper nation", it is because that is the most effective means to effectuate the justified end of striking the enemy at hand.

And lest we forget, drones obviate putting our attack troops on the ground, in the immediate path of harm's way.

A reasonable jihadist is an oxymoron.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


It's quarter to four and my sleep sensors advise me to pack it in before sunrise. And I will, regretfully, because I've always dug these early morning hours when, in all probability, most of evrybody else is asleep.

It's a peaceful time. The pressure of life isn't off, but it's in the tolerable stage, as if it, too, sometimes needs a break. Except for a heaven-forbid emergency, the phone won't ring and I'm just jellin' and enjoying the solitude. I'm indulging in my favorite mode of relaxation, watching a movie that is so romantic as to mess with my heart or so thrilling that it provides another way to temporarily diminish the weight of troubles. Almost like going to church, so cool it is to reason with yourself.

And the best part is that you've got thirty-six hours to pull yourself together, reset your body and brain clocks so as to make them in sync with the return to everything that comprises the pressure of rejoining society, enabling you to be ready to handle the weight of functioning. And that requires retirement at nine or ten Sunday night so as to replenish the sleep receptors and awake ready to deal with Monday morning.

But what a vacation you gave to yourself. You sat back on the most comfortable chair on the planet, activated the legs support and allowed--no, invited--the magic of movies to give you a shore pass.

And you find yourself remembering things from the past. Quite vividly in HDTV flashbacks which provide the ability to judge yourself, retrospectively, and ask the inevitable question, "Did I do the right thing?" or should I have handled it differently? How did my decisions come to effect my life and the fates of those who were, at one time or another, passing through for various periods of time.

You are your own King Solomon, resolving those issues which were the significant game changers of your story. The fog of emotion has receeded. There's more room to analyze things and it's therefore easier to distinguish the good guys from the not-so-goods. Some flunk your exam while others stand tall, smelling like roses.

You realize that everybody makes their own mistakes. Therefore the key to the code of goodness is the presence or absence of an intent to hurt others. That's the litmus test of life which enables you to differentiate the wheat from the chaff.

People don't change. They get old. Some can adapt by properly rearranging their priorities; by understanding who is bound to you by solid love, as distinguished from the counterfeits.

And if you can identify at least one such person upon whom you can always depend to love you and be there for you, luck has touched your life.

For me, that person is my blood.

My lids are getting heavy now--it's a quarter to five --and I always beat the sun.

Early Sunday mornings are magic time.

An atmosphere for remembering, reviewing, analyzing and turning the hourglass over.

And the beauty of it is that you can reconsider your thoughts and modify or even reverse your decisions.

 For, after all, am I not talking about matters of the heart?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


They are permanent. They do not go away. Forgetting is impossible. You can only learn and avoid.

I was practicing in Tucson, Arizona. The papers were ablaze with the indictment of a man for allegedly murdering his wife. First degree type.

The factual claim was that he shot her with a shotgun in the living room of their home. I was still a  rope-climber, getting known bit by bit, with two homicide trials already on my resume. This one had the unequivocal scent of of a publicity ride, start to finish. I was young, hungry and brave. I was living in a warm place, surrounded by mountains with all aspects of life sounding in romance.

I, a Pisces, wanted the case. Ain't no mountain high enough.

I visited him it the jail on the night of his arrest. He was to appear in court the next day. "Indigent" was the kindest adjective to be attributed. The poor guy was lost, unable to comprehend what was happening to him. He lived on the outskirts of town, at the end of an unpaved road which met the desert. He explained that he had been cleaning his gun when it accidentally discharged, hitting his wife who was sitting across the room. You couldn't exactly get a patent on that one.

I would deal with the facts later. My Billy-The-Kid mentality was focused on the juice which would emanate from being his attorney. He would certainly qualify for a court appointed lawyer, but everyone on that list would be drooling for the case, same as me. The situation called for creativity.

During this initial meeting, it was obvious that he was impressed with me and would be thrilled to have me represent him. Playing to this sentiment, I proposed a scenario for his arraignment the following morning. I instructed him that, when the Judge asked him if he could afford his own counsel, he was to respond, "I'd like you to appoint Gerald Alch to represent me. I want to put my life in his hands."

He did as he was told and I was court-appointed to defend him. You can only imagine the voracious appetite with which the press devoured that one. Front page headlines. The reporters, whom I had befriended as a member of the Tucson Press Club, inwardly chuckled as they fanned the flames of my ambition and desire for maximum public illumination.

This was back in 1962, when Tucson had not yet been transformed by  metropolitanism and the pipeline of societal gossip was fast and furious. The combination of my testosterone and view of life as a challenging adventure made for a perfect storm of exciting ambition. My conscience was clean for, above all, I was determined to go all out, to devote all of my energy and dedication in my client's defense. The paltry sum derived from court-appointed fees was immaterial. I was doing what I loved and what I was damn good at. I have personal knowledge of famous, outstanding attorneys taking cases for little or no money, the lure of daily coverage being so seductive. No conflict here, please understand, for the investment of heart and soul emotion effectuates the lawyers best effort. He wants to win, quite feverishly, which, ultimately, is good for the client. Criminal defense attorneys will most easily understand this insatiable appetite for media coverage. Like the spots of a leopard. Goes with the territory. Juice.

I prepared, covering every aspect.. I went to the scene of the crime and mentally choreographed my client's version as to how the gun was discharged. I spent two full days at the Pima County Courthouse library immersing myself into a case-law review of everything in any way related to the elements of the varying degrees of homicide. An overkill to be sure, but completely consistent with my fanaticism for proper preparation. I had sought this one, recognized the inherent craved-for media attention it would inure and wanted to be ready, for my sake as well as my client's.

The trial commenced to a packed courtroom, which was to be a constant throughout. Tucson was still a relatively small town and this case was, as correctly presumed, an attention grabber. No ambushes took me by surprise. I was scoring my points. Preparation was paying off.

The papers afforded daily coverage and even the legal community was stopping in to catch a glimpse. I have always preached that closing arguments were the moment of truth. The lawyer meeting the challenge of persuading the jury to see things his way. A captive audience. The merchant of endorphins. Lord, was I ready.

SRO. Even wall space was taken. And I went to town.

Bullet notes were ignored. No need. I was soaring. Unplanned phrases presented themselves, straight from heaven. It happens sometimes, like that. And this was the ultimate litigator's high. I ended, as planned, standing behind my client's chair, with my hands on his shoulders, a tangible demonstration of my support.

I looked at the Judge and, with confident determination, proclaimed, "That's all I have, Your Honor."

Silence. I mean not a sound. The moment was frozen. After several seconds, it was the Judge who reset the play button.

"The Court will stand in recess for ten minutes."

Everyone  filed out with nary a sound. I stepped into the lobby, receiving congratulations which I politely dismissed as premature. I was beginning to settle down when the Court Officer advised me that  counsel were wanted in the Judge's lobby. He spoke to me, directly.

"Gerry, I would, at this juncture, be willing to accept a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter and I have reason to believe that the prosecutor will not object."

The D.A.'s face was white, drained of color. He nodded affirmatively.

My mind went into overdrive trying to figure out just what was happening here. Was this the Judge's initiative and, if so, why? Had the D.A. somehow made this suggestion through the clerk?

And now, we come back to me. A kid, really, as I look back at it now. Adventuresome, living life as a movie with a background orchestra permeating every scene. My adrenalin was still roaring from the final argument high. I glanced at my watch. It was noon. There was plenty of time for the prosecutor to give his final argument, the Judge instruct the jury and give it to them with the effect of my closing still in their minds.

Reason was outweighed by the exhilaration of winning, which was so close, I could touch it.

"Let me discuss it with my client, Your Honor, and I'll get right back to you." But my mind was already made up. I was going for it. I wanted an acquittal.

I explained the situation to my client and his response was no surprise.

"What whatever you say, Mr. Alch, what ever you say."

The trial proceeded. The D.A.'s closing was professorial in tone. He used a blackboard and a pointer to present, in lecture form, the elements of the offense charged and how he had successfully met his burden of proof. Nothing dramatic or bombastic, in complete contrast to my presentation. When he finished, the Judge charged the jury but decided that it was too late in the day for them to begin deliberations and Court was adjourned until the following morning.

That night, my thought process was osmotically pulverized. My opponents closing had made sense, analyzing it without emotion. Was the overnight hiatus going to dissipate the effect of my emotional presentation? I began to experience the symptoms of a panic attack, but I indulged in heavy self-therapy and finally sleep got me through the night.

The jury deliberated for seven hours and returned a verdict of murder in the second degree.

To this day, I have not the slightest difficulty in remembering my reaction. "Guilt" doesn't do it justice. My conscience ravaged me. I had to deal with it subjectively and not let on as to my internal chaos. A trial lawyer is always on stage and must conduct himself consistent with his persona being constantly scrutinized. My discussion with my client was very, very difficult. But as I explained it to him, I was explaining it to myself. After all, the parole eligibility date between manslaughter and second degree was not necessarily substantially different, depending on what the sentence would have been on the former, and who can really figure a jury anyway, etc, etc. But it was a long time before I could fully  rationalize what had happened.

It had been a tough call. Had I taken the deal, I would undoubtedly have second guessed myself for letting a not guilty get away. The overnight factor between closings and deliberations will forever be the unknown factor and that uncertainty is indelible.

Till this day, I wonder what if.....

One saving grace: I did what I thought was best for the client and had given it my all.

His factual guilt or innocence had not been in play.

You're supposed to take your best shot and not look back.

Easier said.

You live and learn.