Looking For Serenity

It’s light out though the sun has yet to pop through the horizon. The nuthatches and chickadees greet me as they visit the two birdfeeders a few feet from one of the kitchen windows. There are a few cardinals feeding on the ground underneath the feeders, their speech a reproach: tch, tch, tch.

Running The Resource Room at PS 30

There was no way I was qualified to take over the position of Bilingual Resource Room teacher. I had no training in special education. None. However, I was sick of my incompetent ESL supervisor, Mrs. P., and so when my principal, Mrs. R, had a falling out with the Resource Room teacher, Mrs. A, and […]

Stacking Cardboard At Budmar

The rumor was that Budmar was a contraction of Bud and Mary, which were the first names of the original owners. The cardboard mill was in an ancient factory building in Bloomfield New Jersey. It might have had flying buttresses and gargoyles on its exterior walls. My friends Alan and Stefan had gotten summer jobs […]

Angels Of The Bicycle Rider

Although it comes late in life, when because of surgery and old age I am no longer a contender, I have discovered an infallible technique for attracting women: falling off my bicycle. Yesterday morning, around ten o’clock, I stopped at my bicycle store because the chain was coming off the small cluster of my three […]

P.S. 30 Chronicles

P.S. 30 was an elementary school in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. It included grades Pre-K to 5. Mott Haven was one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Bronx. Rates of Tuberculosis, AIDS, Hepatitis, and Asthma were among the highest in the nation. Author Jonathan Kozol visited P.S. 30 frequently and wrote about […]


Her name was Cocoa. She spelled it like the beverage, not Jane Goodall’s gorilla. She looked Ethiopian with her cafe con leche complexion, high cheekbones, and yellowish brown eyes—most of the women at the party were Ethiopian. However, Cocoa was from Senegal. She had the poise and the figure of a young woman in her early 20s. He was stunned to discover she was seventeen—the same age as the high school seniors to whom he taught biology.


About 20 years ago, I was teaching a third grade class at PS 30X in the Bronx. The school was located in a very poor neighborhood in the Bronx called Mott Haven. Among my students was a beautiful little girl named S. She had been in my friend Jennifer’s class in 2nd grade, and I […]


Elizabeth is an unattractive city in the armpit of northern New Jersey. Some important neighboring cities are Newark, with which it shares a seaport; Linden, with which it shares a refinery; Bayonne, with which it shares a bridge; and Staten Island, with which it shares an inferiority complex and an existential despair. In the 1960s […]

Terrible Jobs, Part 1: Washing Oxygen Tents

In 1962, I needed an after-school job. I had turned 17 and wanted my own car, something my family could not afford to buy for me. Alas, I had few marketable skills and no experience except for delivering newspapers and selling greeting cards. I was unimpressive physically, and the warehouse supervisors doubted I had the […]

The Existentialism Of Bicycling

The 15th Edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica informs us that according to existentialism, “… man is not a detached observer of the world, but ‘in the world.’ He exists in a special sense in which entities like stones and trees do not; he is open to the world and to the objects in it. Their […]


On Thursday, February 14th— Valentine’s Day, about three weeks after my article, “El Úndecimo Mandamiento” appeared in The Anderson Valley Advertiser, Samantha called. It was the first time I’d spoken to her in 18 years. Someone had told her about the article, probably my friend Richard, and she had several complaints and criticisms: — She […]