Florida Times, 2017

A week before Thanksgiving at the Fort Walton Florida airport I was met by my sister-in-law Robin, a retired public health nurse who now sits on the board of a local homeless organization. The Crestview organization is a necessarily modest affair due to the recent cut off of a state grant. Instead of multipurpose homeless […]

Sutro Heights

Adolph Sutro was San Francisco’s mayor from 1895 to 1897. He realized the idiosyncratic weather of the Richmond district, but apparently loved it. After making five million in the Nevada Comstock silver mines making ventilator tunnels, Sutro moved to San Francisco and bought 1,000 acres on the Ocean’s edge. There he planted imported eucalyptus trees […]

October in Spain 2016

The leaves on the trees in Retiro Park in Madrid are turning burnt orange and brown, the umbrellas are in hand. Autumn is here and it is splendid. The number 9 bus goes to the American Embassy, where I’ve been sent to get information about how to apply to stay in Spain longer than the […]


The handicapped woman and the Florida tourist got on the bus in the sleepy Florida Panhandle city of Fort Walton. The one, a dark haired slow-moving woman with a dishabille air, by playing the handicapped card — cane in evidence, small steps, extreme pall — and the other playing the “caretaker” card, got the first […]


In the film “Papa: Hemingway in Cuba” a young Miami reporter, who began life as an orphan, a runaway who idolized Hemingway most of his life and copied his short stories to teach himself to write, gets an invitation to Cuba. He becomes close to Hemingway and his wife Mary — whom Hemingway met when […]

A Workingman’s ‘Dead’

As it does on some days in the Richmond District, the 12:00 o’clock siren is blowing, and it reminds me of the daily siren at noon in the small town I was raised in on Long Island. My grandfather, a hardworking German immigrant who farmed after retirement, would put down his hoe and walk back to his bungalow, where my grandmother had lunch ready.

Letter From Madrid

Spain celebrates Three Kings Day on January 6, with a big procession in the middle of the city. But Spain also celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25, and New Year’s Eve, even has a universal holiday cake to be dutifully carried to family gatherings — a ring-shaped white flour cake called roscon, with candied fruit bits on top. The bakeries of Madrid all displayed it to prove a point: one cannot get through Deep Winter Holidays on cake alone.

Remembering the Future: Dreams

Humans are exploring the moon, checking out Mars, digging deeper into the makeup of the atom, mapping incoming asteroids, yet dreaming, a common, ubiquitous experience, still eludes scientific certainties. In the words of William Dement, a leading sleep researcher, “Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night […]

Easy In Washington Square Park

It’s commonly believed that more than 20,000 people are buried under Washington Square Park, used as a cemetery and home to freed slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Under the Barricades

“Remember the void, Chuck. Remember the void.” Dramatically, the woman held his face in her hands, staring deeply into the void of Chuck’s eyes. “C’mon Chuck, let’s go.” We dragged him away from the woman who said she had found him wandering the Venice beach and took him home “for his own good.” It had […]

The Panhandling Lifestyle

“No kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” This was a 60s saying. And I believe it to be true. But when it comes to street begging, I’m beginning to wonder if giving money to people who sit on the sidewalks with a cup for donations is now such a popular activity that panhandling […]