Post #414 Delayed Exigency                  

It was the universally, venerated sage, Yogi Berra, best known for his wise and cogent declarations, who said, “New York City is too crowded; that’s why nobody goes there.” The eloquent savant also declared,” We’re lost, but we are making good time.” It is the wisdom of the latter expression, which is relevant to the theme, and intent of this note.

In the second statement, the speaker admits that the traveling parties are lost, but seeks to soften the dread of being lost, with an irrelevant announcement concerning speed. The statement is humorous, because the speaker seeks to mitigate the bad news, with a positive, but absolutely irrelevant, fact. [The latter declaration, as well as all of the wisdom of the inimitable Yogi Berra, we understand, has been permanently preserved and duly enshrined, for the edification of future generations].

However, the principle of the complete lack of impact, of an attempted rationalization of a problematic situation, by the recital of an unrelated, positive one, is the intended theme of this writing. Our concerning problem is the existential threat posed by climate change, or “global warming,” the dire effects of which, are not, at all affected, by its successful acceptance by rational human beings, nor its irrational denial.

This note, however, is specifically intended for the earthlings, who believe in the findings, by virtually, all reputable scientists, as to climate change, and its significant exacerbation by human lifestyles. We refuse to deal with the purported “issue,” as to whether harmful climate change exists, or not. It would be a manifest waste of very precious time, to expect that the disbelievers will be cured of their lichen-type recalcitrance, in sufficient time for the prevention of further damage to the planet. It is our present belief, that far too much energy and valuable time, has, already been dedicated, to the fruitless purpose, of attempting to convince non-believers of global warming; it amounts to scientific evangelism without a useful goal. Like Yogi’s, useless and irrelevant, rationalization of “making good time,” mere debate does absolutely nothing, to ameliorate the damage caused by global warming nor, as in Yogi’s case, the problem of being lost.

The objective facts are, that there is an almost 100% consensus, among climate scientists and professional meteorologists, that there exists an ominous and existential threat to our planet, by man- made climate change (added to the small amount of naturally occurring warming.) The English, Royal Society of Science,  The American Geophysical Union, the Joint Science Academy, The Integrated Panel on Climate Change, The American Meteorological Society, The American Association of Science, and upwards of 95% of accredited climate scientists agree, with the assessment, that the progressive problem of global warming, and its dire effects, have been in existence, for the past 50 years, and that the same is due to greenhouse gases and other contaminants, such as methane and other gases, all, caused by human activity.

In light of the above, it boggles the mind, that so much human effort is being wasted, trying to convince the deniers of the proven condition. The latter are either, ignorant, have been swayed by irrational religious dogma, or have an interest in profit making, which, sociopathically, overrides their personal morality. While one is foolishly wasting precious time, trying to convince the ignorant, or cynical, our one and only planetary home is being steadily and mercilessly, damaged and deteriorated.

It is reported that the natural temperature of the earth has increased 1.8 degrees in the last 20 years, with serious ramifications, some of which are permanent, that the greenhouse gases, plus methane and other harmful gases have greatly increased, in our planet’s atmosphere, that there is a loss of sea ice, permafrost and significant losses to the earth’s glaciers, a general sea level rise, the loss of seashores, major deaths of irreplaceable flora and fauna, temperature anomalies, stronger and more frequent storms, and flooding, while, in other areas, death-causing draughts. Further, it has been shown that temperature anomalies, themselves, further exacerbate global warming, that average temperatures on earth have been increasing at unnatural rates, that oceans, in addition to melt and rising, are experiencing a general and unnatural increase in acidity. The overwhelming consensus of scientists, affirmatively believe, that human activity is responsible for no less than, 97% to 98% of climate change. It does not matter, whether or not your next-door neighbor, or Uncle Max, or even the Grinch himself, Donald J. Trump, actually believes the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists. Like the irrelevant, vaunted speed or travel time, of Yogi Berra, he is still lost, and our only planetary home, is  being degraded, nevertheless.

We must all insist that our political leaders and representatives, cease engaging in empirically, meaningless, debate, and begin to take the necessary ameliorative steps, at once, before our still verdant, life sustaining, Earth, is eventually degraded, to the extent and state, of a sterile, moon-like rock, whose sole virtue, and utility, is its lifeless, reflective property.

-p.

Post # 413  THE DEFENSE OF AN ABUSED PRONOUN*

In the Court of Public Opinion, we now rise, in ardent defense of the pronoun, “they.” This much maligned, highly utilitarian, pronoun, whose services are mandatorily required in all spoken interaction, to designate specific plural subjects, [ of he, she, it] has unjustly suffered condemnation and great loss of respect, brought about, by abusive misapplication, by less than articulate, or by deceptive people. Our principal defense, rests upon the equitable legal argument that the accused pronoun has, at all times, been truthful, accurate and immeasurably utilitarian, when properly employed. The wrongdoing, as will be demonstrated to this wise and just, dispenser of justice, is solely, that of its unaffiliated misusers. Furthermore, as will be proven to this Court, the results of any and all false inferences, or, indeed, misrepresentations, are those of the miscreant speakers, themselves; outside of the knowledge and control of this honorable and indispensable pronoun, which morally, stands, dutifully and loyally, available, at all times, for proper and appropriate service.

We would, respectfully request this Court, to take judicial notice, that the unjust and wrongful use of the innocent pronoun, “they,” [ as will be specified, below] is a practice, generally, which was undertaken, long before the present convening of this formal tribunal. However, such use, generally known, and unjustly permitted, has materially increased of late, on an intolerable and repulsive basis. We ascribe its etiology to the nation’s prevalent lack of interest, and significant rejection, of its belief in the development of positive self-esteem and confident judgment, through academic and educational pursuits. The avoidance of self-advancement and increased knowledge, on the part of too many, has resulted in a general lack of personal confidence, and mature perspective. This has empirically led to confusion and equivocation, the needy reliance upon others, groupthink and deindividuation. This lack of confidence, inevitably, results in the acceptance of reductive inaccuracy, from others, and is the underlying cause for poor choices, ranging from the election of an unsuitable President, to the unsure need for the making of mundane decisions.

Your Honor, all too often, regarding responses to questions, posed by such insecure individuals, (as explained, above) to the miscreant responder, the innocent and unfortunate accused, word, “they,” has been wrongfully, used in the lazy, ignorant, often false, answers. Examples, “Is this coat stylish?” Answer (probably uninformed or commercially interested) “That’s what “they” are wearing.” “Is this the best fabric choice?” “That’s what “they” are all buying.” “Is that a good restaurant?” “That’s where “they” are all going.” “Is that the proper and moral thing to do?” Answer, “That is what “they” are all doing,” etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

If more need be said, regarding the wrongful use, of this blameless word, the intended utility of the same, is designed to make specific reference to clearly identified people or groups, or to mutually identified objects. The subject misuse of the pronoun, relates to a non-specific, nebulous, but, purportedly  infallible, source of information.

The above are merely a few, randomly chosen, hypothetical illustrations, of stereotypical questions and answers. Clearly, the non- specific, objectionable, and casual responses, whether the motive be laziness, ignorance, intent to falsely appear to be knowledgeable, or actual fraud are, in any case, the disgraceful acts of the responders, alone. Accordingly, it is respectfully submitted, that, in view of the demonstrated proof, that  our client, the pronoun, “they,” is an eternally, innocent accomplice, your decision should result in an exoneration of any conceivable culpability.

We rest our case.

-p.

* The subject of “they,” as currently used for the purpose of avoidance of gender reference, is not relevant to this writing.

 

Post # 412  LINGUA FRANCAE BROOKLYNESIS

In compliance with additional reader request, we will again dip into the vague, murky reservoir of long term memory, to recall and relate, certain further observations, on the folkways and newly resettled life, of the Ashkenazi Brooklyn Immigrant, during the 1940’s and 50’s. We have previously published four mini-essays on various aspects of that American, Immigrant sub-culture, “A Long Time Ago, In Brooklyn,” “Losing Our Marbles,” “Ancient History,” and, “More Ancient History, Extinction.” In this present, informal, post we would attempt to describe the warm and extremely colorful subject, of their interactive relationships.

We comprehend the Latin term, “lingua franca,” to signify a crafted language, understood between speakers, whose own native languages are different.  In the East New York section of Brooklyn, during the relevant period, Ashkenazi Jews, emigrated from many different Countries, notably, Russia, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Although native languages were different, variant Yiddish, as a previously known, lingua franca, was electively used as a primary language. We choose to describe Yiddish, as an Eastern European language, comprised of approximately, 70% Low German, 10% prayer book Hebrew and 20% of the language of the particular country, you emigrated (escaped) from. Accordingly, the spoken Yiddish of all immigrants, was not entirely, uniform.

In is important to understand, that these European immigrants, earnestly desired to adjust to, and be part of, their newly adopted homeland, principally, by learning to speak its English language. Unfortunately, as a practical matter, such desired facility was historically, to be reserved, for their future generations, born and raised in America. As a result, they spoke an interim language, we have chosen, to call, in classically, elegant Latin, “Lingua Franca Brooklynesis.”  In fact, their language was an inelegant, oral pastiche, a varied, multi-ingredient, “stew,” which was prepared with various available ingredients, including, broken English, regular and nuanced Yiddish, and, when needed, vocabulary, from their respective Nation of origin.

As time went on, such inelegant, linguistic “stew,” became a regularly spoken and understood “patois,” which, in modern times, has been, derisively, dubbed, “Yinglish.” In the relevant neighborhoods, there seemed to develop, a species of linguistic hierarchy; the highest, a speaker of acceptable English, rather than Yiddish, next in class, those that spoke proper Yiddish, instead of the newly concocted “Yinglish,” and in the lowest linguistic rank, the speakers of what has been termed, “Yinglish.”  To this day, it is quite possible to find, at least one such immigrant, who will admiringly, and no doubt, erroneously, say of another, “He speaks a well “English.”

Immigrant attempts to speak English, in retrospect, often have a risible quality to them. However, critical reaction in fairness, should be tempered with an understanding of their sincerely felt desire, to become a legitimate part of American life, for themselves and progeny. Accordingly, it is with due respect and appropriate deference, that we would offer some representative samples, of their valiant attempts, to do so, in their best, “lingua franca Brooklynesis.”

First, as may be needed, a brief explanatory note on the subject of the nuanced features, included in the content and style of “Yinglish.” Ashkenazi Immigrants of all ages, social position and, generally, Country of origin, spoke Yiddish (with some differences as to pronunciation, or the inclusion of words from their diverse countries). Attempts to speak in English, demonstrated various permutations and combinations of, the use of legitimate Yiddish vocabulary, the populist misuse of Yiddish vocabulary, the accepted use and the misuse of English words (or foreign words), or a composition of those variants; at times, even attempted Yiddish translations of an English expressions, were used for clarity or emphasis. Brooklyn Ashkenazi Immigrants, most often, evinced a composite, and truly exotic conglomerate of all of the foregoing, (Brooklyn Yinglish”). We offer a few examples:

  • “Close der vinder.”[ Legitimate English word, [close] legitimate Yiddish word (“the”) and a corruption of an English word, (window), The Yiddish word for window is ”fenster.”]
  • “Spill me in a glass water”. [ wrong use of English word, should be “pour,” use of “me” is not necessary, and humorously suggestive,] “of” [is omitted before water.] The English request should be, [“Please give me a glass of water.]
  • “Close (Open) the light,” [turn off, turn out] the light.
  • “A cup tea, a cup coffee, a glass milk”, etc. [all need the word, “of”]
  • “It’s good to be between people” [among people]
  • “No question about” [ there is no question about it]
  • “Vos (what) is der (the) vedders”? [What is todays weather?]
  • “Alles [Yiddish for “all] vet [will be] ousepressen” [ pressed out] [improper use of the English saying,” Everything will work out; be ironed out]
  • An”accountan”, a “plumeber”, a” lendler”, a “”paintner [ an accountant, plumber, landlord, painter.],

These few selected illustrations we hope, will somewhat suffice, to inform the reader, as to the valiant attempts and the consummate failure, of the subject immigrant group, to speak in the desired American manner and style, that they so ardently sought. Add to the mix, the numerous variations in tone, articulation, style and tempo, of their, respective, diverse language of origin, and the nature of their veritable, Herculean challenge, in learning to speak the American language, as native Americans do, may be duly appreciated.

All social interactions, of whatever purpose or consequence, with members of the subject ethnic group, would, predictably end, with the receipt of a ubiquitous benediction. Accordingly, in keeping with the genre of this writing, and our personal interest in the subject, we will conclude the same, with a thank you for your interest, and more in the groove, “You should only have good luck and good health, and also your children.”

-p.

 Post # 412   A “MEDIEVAL” SAGA

Our saga’s valiant, metaphoric hero, was born by the political creativity, of a small group of optimistic and exceptionally gifted, idealists, identified in the “ancient lore” of American History, as “The Founders.” These foresighted and elegant Colonials, sought to bravely launch a bold, historically radical, experiment in the creation of a unique State, that would eschew the traditional social and political injustices, eternally manifest in European History. Their bold and creative project, our Democratic Republic, declared that, “All men are created equal,” thereby eliminating the injustices of privileged birth, and, importantly, promulgated an authoritative Constitution, assuring basic rights to the citizenry, and defining the legal relationship of the Federal Government, and the constituent States.

The experimental nation has, in its brief 300 -year history, faced and bravely overcome, so many existential challenges, which we suggest, well qualify it, metaphorically, to heroic, Protagonist status, comparable to those appearing in classic literary sagas such as, “The Odyssey,” “The Labors of Hercules,” and the legends of Old Norse Mythology.  These vintage tales, involve brave and determined Protagonists, beset by numerous, ostensibly undefeatable, challenges, who, nevertheless, by reason of strength, heroic courage and grim determination, attain ultimate victory. Their slaying of mythical monsters, such as, the 9 headed hydra, the Nemean Lion, and various and sundry terrifying creatures, are permanently enshrined, among the various, celebrated feats of the many, divine-like, Protagonists, in classic, legendary reality.

Our elective, metaphorical Protagonist, America, has similarly, and valorously, confronted many seemingly, insurmountable dangers and threats to its successful existence, including the Civil War, the perilous, Reconstruction Period, The War of 1812, The Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, two World Wars, the McCarthy Era, the Assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The resilience, strength and the valor of our citizenry, in the preservation of freedom and the American way of life, from the existential threat of autocratic rule, were, inarguably, legendary, heroic victories, successfully won, by our metaphoric Protagonist, America.

In the case of the traditional, ancient literary Protagonists, cited earlier, the danger, eternally, emanated from external sources, sirens, sea monsters, multi-headed predators, angry gods and the like.  By stark contrast, our Protagonist, is confronted with the grave danger of insidious, internal threats.

The success and continued existence of a democratic nation, is manifestly, dependent upon a literate and informed society, as declared by one of its founders, Thomas Jefferson. Accordingly, Freedom of the Press, among other mandated rights, was protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment. The dissemination of accurate, truthful facts, is a vitally essential ingredient, in any free Nation, which dedicates itself to the principle of “a government for, and by the people.” This, however, is the area presenting the greatest existential peril, at the present time, to our valiant Protagonist.

The optimistic Founders, assumed that the dedicated citizens of the new Nation, would, in good spirit and amicable fashion, constructively debate the issues of the day (of which they would be properly informed, by virtue of the Freedom of the Press) and that the result, of such civic-minded debates, be taken up by the legislature; leading to the stated goal, of a representative government, “by and for, the People. However, antagonistic relationships, unforseeingly developed, concerning differences of opinion, rendering such friendly and constructive debate impossible, as sadly described, in our earlier writing, “The Death of Civic Amity.”

A truly threatening, fearful monster, dangerously challenging our Protagonist-nation, is that unforeseen and utterly antagonistic, diversity, exacerbated by the ominous metastasis of “tribalism.” In the latter complication, certain citizens decided to band together, respectively, in insular, divisive, groups dedicatedly casting identical votes to qualify with a compliant, “groupthink,” and seeing, like groups, but of divergent views, as enemies; in order presumably, to satisfy a perceived need for mutual acceptance. The serious challenge, posed by such divisiveness, was not anticipated by the Founders of our Protagonist, and still persists, as an ever- present, peril to its proper administration. This problematic, phenomenon, has been, in large part, caused and tactically encouraged, by a non-mythical, Orange Ogre who, in fact, evilly, thrives on exacerbated citizen division.

It is the same Orange Monster, who has consistently launched, unmitigated attacks on the press media, as, allegedly publishing falsity, thereby engendering intended confusion, as to the accurate facts, and, for some people, a perilous reliance upon his factual distortions. This dangerous and fearful ogre, known as, “The Trump,” is known for a personal and insatiable lust for power, accumulated riches, and a neurotic hunger for admiration. Like a fire-breathing dragon, he issues forth smokescreens or fog, to hide his reprehensible actions, by repeatedly demeaning democracy’s required source of investigative information, its institutional press, and its other reliable media. The detestable creature seeks, thereby, to avoid critical scrutiny, predictably revelatory, of his gross acts of immoral behavior and complete professional incapability.

By means of his daily, consistent, practice of unashamed mendacity, while thus accusing the traditionally reliable media of falsehood, this sinister threat has succeeded, in putting the very life of our Democratic Republic in mortal peril. A dangerous, existential challenge to our protagonist nation, he has successfully misled his deluded followers, to accept his false, delusional, and often, inconsistent, representations. This is a similar tactic, to his natural inclination to misrepresentation, which misled the uninformed, flat-earth voters who, in large part, installed him in office, in the first place. Many of his distortions, actually, go beyond inaccuracy, and are shamefully, corrupt.

The intentional encouragement of tribal divisiveness, disparagement of the media and all of our democratic institutions, are consistent with a despot, or an autocrat; a political monster, and not a President of the United States. Reports indicate that the divisive, tribal phenomenon, exacerbated by the monster’s disparagement of the media, has metastasized to the point where many (tribal) American citizens, will believe legitimate and accurate news reports, only to the extent, that such information is in accord, with their fixed and inflexibly established, personal opinions.

In this modern day saga, of courage and deliverance, the protagonist, itself, predictably, will not, as usual in such sagas, be the triumphant hero, achieving victorious deliverance. The awful beast will be the mortal victim, of millions of citizens who, performing as legendary heroes, will accomplish the laudable task, of soundly defeating the foul Orange Monster, by means of a divinely inspired, all- conquering sword, known as the Vote.

-p.

Post # 411   GHOSTS OF BROOKLYN PAST (EXTINCTION)

The enthusiastic response to our immediately previous post, “Some More Ancient History,” and the two earlier writings, on the subject of immigrant life, in Brooklyn, during the 40’s and 50’s, has encouraged us to publish this one more, in that genre. In the present writing we attempt to understand and recognize the disappearance, or, put in evolutionary terms, the “extinction,” of certain popular phenomena, that flourished, during that period. Modern empirical research advises that, many mass extinctions have, at times, accelerated the evolution of life on earth; but it is rarely because the new is superior to the old life, as previously thought, but because “extinction events” eliminate the old, and make way for the new.

It appears to us that the United States of America, which had been on a steady, predictable, route to become a great world power, ascended more rapidly to that august description, following the two great wars. Our reading of history reveals to us, that the outcome of the Second World War, proved to be an effective catalyst to the speed of change. The U.S. evolved to the status of a leviathan, industrially and militarily, and the country became aware, of the relevance of international affairs. We would designate the post-war period, an “extinction event,” morphing the Nation, from a previous, local, domestic and national mind-set, to a more sophisticated and worldly awareness, with broad ramifications; inclusive of those affecting the Eastern European, immigrant society, in Brooklyn, in the 1940’s and 50’s (the subject of our previous writings).

We have selected three illustrative events, as recalled, in ascending order of consequence, felt representative of the ubiquitous impact of “societal” extinction, taking place in the chosen years. Please note that we have chosen such events, in the ascending order of their respective historical and societal impact. The extinct phenomena, in order of significance, and impact on society, are “egg creams,” trolley cars and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Following those illustrations, we will offer our observation, concerning the status of the referenced, Eastern European Ashkenazi immigrants, in this newly changed milieu.

We are unaware of the possible existence and prominence, of “egg creams” elsewhere, but they were at the very zenith of fountain soda, in the forties and fifties, for younger residents of Brooklyn. For those who may have forgotten, the period featured separate soda counters, in most candy, drug and ice cream stores. The “soda jerk” (not then used an expletive reference) wearing an immaculate white apron and white, slanted cap, would wipe the stone counter with his cloth and say: “What’s yours?” The young customer would, joyfully, exclaim, “an egg cream please.”

For the benefit of the unsophisticated reader (if any such exists), we would explain that an “egg cream” was not simply a fountain soda, made with chocolate syrup, milk and fountain seltzer. When made properly, it was a masterpiece of the cognoscenti. The artistic soda jerk would first, pump the proper amount of chocolate syrup (most often “Fox’s Ubet,” or occasionally, “Hershey’s,”) in the glass, then add to the syrup, a few ounces of milk. It was, at this point, the singular moment, for the maker of the drink, to prove himself; by slowly adding carbonated water from his fountain spigot, but, ESSENTIALLY, to do so by deflecting the carbonated water off a long spoon, into the milk and chocolate syrup. If done properly, the drink would be appropriately creamy, and qualify as an “egg cream.” Failure could mean a serious decline in of business at the soda counter.

For the young Brooklyn resident, a proper egg cream and two large, salty, pretzel sticks, were, easily, the equivalent of a well shaken, dry martini and Russian caviar. Societal advance, including, the extinction event of the appearance of pizza, on the young stage, cast the egg cream, into the dust bin of archeological inquiry.

Some of our readers may remember the venerable, and truly romantic era, of the clickedy-clanky Brooklyn Trolley System. The trolleys were a large, railroad car, or bus size, electrically run, surface transit, which rode on railway-type tracks, on designated streets or avenues. The Brooklyn trolley was an classic, deriving its source of electricity, by way of metal connections, attached to its roof, which, through a small, wheel-like device, maintained permanent attachment, affording a reliable, constant, electrical current. Sometimes, blue sparks flew from this connecting link, but the especially noticeable feature of the trolley car, was the sound produced by its wheels running along the steel tracks, which varied at times, between a rolling sound and a squeal; all turns predictably produced squealing, and the auditory discomfort of screeching. The trolley had two entrances for riders, and, like the busses of today, made stops at regular places, to pick up and discharge passengers. It was not uncommon to see young boys with roller skates foolishly holding on to a trolley for a thrilling ride, which too often, resulted in injury.

The ringing of bells, the clanking of the trolley and occasionally, the buzzing of its connection with the overhead electrical cables, were common sounds to the Brooklyn resident. There was a trolley depot, of sorts, at Church Avenue, in Flatbush, but, we understand, that there also were official depots. A unique feature of the trolley car, was an identical engine at front and back, so the operator had only to slip his hand held, hooked handle (there were no steering wheels on trolleys), out of the one side, and shift to the other side to reverse direction. There was no necessity for a railroad “roundhouse,” to move a train engine to a new track. The trolley disappeared due to the extinction event of the development of other methods of commutation. There are visible “fossils” of old trolley tracks, for elective study, on some Brooklyn avenues.

Inarguably, the most profound and memorable extinction, was the removal of the Brooklyn Dodgers to the West Coast, in 1957. For those who are too young to remember, the home of that National League, professional baseball team at Ebbets Field, was, to residents of New York, particularly, Brooklyn, a National Shrine, which was not only a source of pride and tradition, but a vital appendage to their personal identity. The Dodgers had, for generations, existed as an ostensible source of pride, comparable, in its passionate intensity, to ardent patriotism; Ebbets field was the Holy Cathedral, and the Brooklyn Dodgers, the clergy.

Not only schoolboys, but every resident of Brooklyn knew the names of all the players, the manager and the name of the selected starting pitcher, for the day’s game. The standing of the team and its potential to win enough games to play in the World Series, was the topic of conversation for practically everyone, from the recently arrived immigrant, to the stereotypical New Yorker. In Brooklyn, on any day the team was playing, one could hear the sound of numerous radios, including, loud car radios, tuned in to the familiar voices of the celebrated sportscasters, for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in excitedly, announcing the day’s game.

It was the Brooklyn Dodgers who were the first team, to their credit, to admit a black baseball player, named Jackie Robinson. Robinson, as a black baseball player, was booed, by bigoted members of the spectators, at an away game; all tuned in, responsible Americans, applauded, the laudable action of the Dodger shortstop, “Pee Wee” Reese, who, responsive to the boo’s, affectionately, hugged Robinson. There exists a great deal of traditional Dodger lore, often factual, like the latter episode, and the team truly approached legendary status. We, and the other youngsters, of the modest Brooklyn neighborhood, would, generously, be given free stadium tickets, to Ebbets Field and Yankee Stadium, through a program, ”The Happy Felton Knot- Hole Gang,” to attend and observe (from the furthest bleachers)  Dodger and Yankee Games.

In many ways, the Brooklyn Dodgers, became all America’s team. We can still recall a movie, which, took place in the theater of war, in Japan. The pass- word permitting a soldier to cross into America’s line, was the correct response to a question concerning the Brooklyn Dodgers, (like the Biblical pronunciation of “shibboleth”) as the determinant of friend or foe. In the remembered film, the party seeking entry into the allied lines was asked, by a sergeant with a southern accent, “Who plays center field for the Brooklyn Dodgers?” In the movie, the soldier was confidently given permission to cross the line, (and not, alternatively, shot) due to his correct response, “Duke Snider.”

The unhappy, extinction event, occurred in the year, 1957, when the owners of the Dodgers were offered sufficient financial inducement, to cause them to move the Dodger franchise, permanently, from the venerable, Ebbets Field Stadium, to California’s Los Angeles Stadium.  There are many, especially in Brooklyn, New York, who may still be in mourning.

There is a responsibly required, melodramatic, addendum to this tale of extinction and permanent disappearance. The number of Eastern European Immigrants, who risked all, for the privilege of suffering many weeks, or months of discomfort, in frightening voyages to America, many crossing the Ocean in steerage conditions, are presently, few in number. Old age and sickness was their apparent recompense, for their danger and the generosity of their many sacrifices. The quest, in truth, however, of such immigrant parents, was for the acquisition, by their children, to be born in America, of a good education and a better life than theirs had been. During a child’s homework or study time, immigrant parents, very respectfully, remained virtually silent, in order not to disturb their child’s studies. Every such parent granted “religious” homage to   education, regardless of the extent of their own literacy. Good grades at school were celebrated; lower grades would be a matter of disappointed, concern.

Most of those heavily-accented, poor, and somewhat displaced, Yiddish immigrants, by now, have passed away, from old age or sickness. There was no external extinction event for them, other than old age and failing health. We came to understand, that the successful last lap, of their troubled voyages to the United States, was to be travelled by their intended American children, in becoming well- educated, and living the good American life. Those of us, who understood, knew that their responsible duty, in loving appreciation for such brave and self-sacrificial generosity, was never to let our gratitude and love for our parents, and this great nation become extinct.

-p.

Post # 410  SOME MORE ANCIENT HISTORY

To be perfectly frank, we prefer to publish on subjects, concerning man’s persona and advancement, his pursuit of wisdom and mature prospective, on morality especially, in these equivocal times, on the impact of scientific development on human society, on lifestyles, traditional and contemporary, and current events, which may be revelatory of positive human aspiration, and as well, his dark side.

However, we have received some requests, from some our followers, for additional posting on the subject of our earlier years, in ethnic (Eastern European) Brooklyn. This is in essence, truly ancient history. To date, in our more than 400 mini-essays, we have published only three on that truly venerable subject: “ A LONG TIME AGO, IN BROOKLYN,” # 399, concerning immigrant life, during World War II, “PIGMENTED SPEECH, # 394, an observation that the American-English lexicon(compared to Yiddish) contains a dearth of “feeling words,” requiring that colors be used as a substitute, and “LOSING OUR MARBLES,” on the role of marbles, as an essential ingredient, in the interactive life of very young Brooklyn boys.

In an attempt to please our followers, we will, for the moment, return to the overcrowded, hot tenement life, the street food venders (ex, “Mom’s Kosher Knishes), the sellers of hot baked potatoes, and the venders of hot “arbis (cooked chickpeas, or garbanzos). In this time capsule, we also return to the remaining horse-drawn wagons, fruit and vegetables, (invariably Italian), used clothes for sale or purchase (predictably Jewish) and knife and scissor sharpening. Additionally, to the ancient wagons that delivered large blocks of ice, for the pre-refrigerator, ice boxes; the “ice man” would perform the Herculean task, of seizing each large ice block between his pincers, and deposit it on a worn out towel on his shoulder, and climb the tenement stairs to reach each of his customers, with that prodigious, cold weight, and install the ice blocks, in identical manner, in each customer’s ice box, in the building; there were a great number of multiple level apartment houses, in the neighborhood. His horse would wait, peacefully, at each building. Horses also waited, peacefully for the deliveries of milk, seltzer or other products delivered in the buildings. Heavy trucks, with chutes, would empty coal into barrels, held still by coal deliverers, and then rolled over to an open window to the basement of apartment houses (tenements) and emptied down the chute, placed strategically for the receipt of the coal, from each discharged barrel, until every building’s order was delivered. The janitor of each building, then would laboriously, shovel the coal to a designated area.

Most of the produce shopping, however, was done at avenues, or streets, populated by pushcarts. Purchases of other foods, as desired, were generally located at, or near that street. The atmosphere was deliciously redolent of pickles and “schmaltz”, (fat) pickled herrings, each, sold from separate large wooden barrels, by sellers, who, consistently, bore the aroma applicable to their respective inventories. The retail food stores, even during the war, were reasonably well stocked with cheeses, appetizing fishes, fresh bread, and ground coffees.

These were basic, but delicious foods. We had a working agreement with a young friend, who was the sibling in his large family, unluckily designated to do food shopping. We would perform the favor of accompanying him (then, “walking him”) and received as agreed consideration for such service, a large, green, sour pickle. We would walk him, on such missions, even when it rained, and discovered that the taste of sour dill pickles markedly improved with rain.

When we were old enough to graduate from marbles, we played softball, basketball and handball, in the City Park. We would play until exhaustion, relaxing against the park fence, with a cold bottle of Mission Orange Soda, in, perhaps, a somewhat less elegant replication, of high societal attendance at “apres- ski.”

We have a poignant memory, of, dutifully, skipping our customary pastimes, like ball playing, to engage in the wartime citizen program, to collect cans and other metals, needed for the war effort; on one occasion, we went to the nearby grassy lots to trap lightening bugs, as requested, for a military naval experimental program. No one, young or old, refused requests, related to America’s war effort.

There is a special anecdote, which I dare not omit from these selected, early recollections:

As we, the offspring of the heavily accented, Old World Style, immigrant parents, grew older, and experienced American Standard Speech, from teachers, from the radio media, and non-immigrant friends and their parents, our own spoken style and accent, improved and morphed to the American style and intonation. Immigrant parents, naturally, continued to interactively communicate in their familiar, nuanced vocabulary and pronunciation. By the time we reached College age, by virtue of our exposure to the American way of life, we naturally spoke in the American (non- accented) style, and employed proper American vocabulary. The people, with whom we, generally, came in contact, also spoke American Standard Speech. Essentially, the only Eastern- European accents we experienced, were that of our parents, older relatives and their friends. As time went on, should we would note any young person with any nuance of an accent, we would probably, look at them askance and critically.

One day, an elderly European- born neighbor, asked our mother for the following favor. The neighbor was planning to visit a relative in New Jersey, and asked that we look in on her caged bird, and feed him, during her absence. We, of course, agreed. The bird was a small, beautiful, shiny black mynah bird. We went to feed it, one day, completely ignorant of the fact that this species, like the parrot, has the ability, to accurately mimic sounds as well as human speech. Just as we were carefully, filling the little receptacle on the side of the cage, the bird, suddenly and loudly, emitted a rather long torrent of loving Yiddish words, in the precisely accented voice and scratchy tone (as spoken) by her elderly European-immigrant owner. We still remember the shock and surprise, but most especially at the bird’s precise replication of his owner’s elderly, Ashkenazi accent.

-p.

Post # 409       TRANSITIONS

The final week of August has perennially meant palpable melancholy, concerning the ending of Summer, the season of sunshine, warmth, watersports and outdoor activities. The traditionally effective antidote, to this annually occurring emotion, were positive thoughts of the coming Fall Season, with its comfortable coolness, color, and universal renewal of energy. This year, the concluding days of Summer Season, seem not to have occasioned any of the usual, seasonal regret. The excessive and unusual number of fires, the flooding rains, the unusual and intensive storms, the extreme climatic conditions, including unusual heat, the frightening pace of glacial melting, effecting unwanted changes to the ocean and the terrestrial flora and fauna, the declining purity of the air and drinking water, are not productive of any such nostalgic feelings. Compounding these ominous symptoms of existential climate change, are the multiple fires, currently burning in the Brazilian Rainforest, with potentially alarming results, for North America, South America and the very Planet, itself.

A contemporaneous, and not entirely, unrelated transition, to the passage of this unusual Summer, is the decease of billionaire, David Koch.  One can only shake his head, with bewilderment, in recollection of his life, and in contemplation of his dubious legacy. The deceased was a partner in an entity, whose annual profits have been in the billions of dollars, specifically derived, from its far reaching, immoral exploitation, and sale of fossil fuel; despite its recognized, dynamic role, in despoiling our green planet, its air, water, and topography, as well as eons of evolutionary developed, fauna and flora. What can any truthful discussion of his legacy be?

David Koch (and his shamefully, guilty brother), may well be the most prominent, richest, and most successful, of that cohort of entrepreneurs, whom, we have often described as, functionally, valuing excessive profits over the existence of planetary life. In order to be permitted to make and accumulate, their vast treasury of many billions of dollars, the Koch brothers saw fit to buy-off a significant number of U.S. Senators and Representatives, the Presidency, and virtually, the entire Republican Party. The Koch Brothers were only too glad to advantage themselves, of the situational existence, of the huge expense, implicit in running for, and keeping, national political office, and the convenient number of less than idealistic, ambitious politicians.

Koch millions are undeniably responsible, for the operation of the dirty, polluting, coal industry, for fracking, excessive oil drilling, water pollution, deforestation, air pollution by carbon and greenhouse gas, general climate change and lasting insult to the planet. The Koch brothers have in large part, severely desecrated the American Republican Democracy, in order to personally profit, from their intentional despoliation, and the consequent, existential endangerment, of our planet; inclusive of the pollution of the environment. Most selfishly immoral, is their demonstrated cynical and intentional, downplaying of the importance, of the life and health of humanity. With such a toxic and pathological legacy, what can, even a fabricated, eulogy memorialize? We are not principally disposed to celebrate the occurrence of death, although many liberal extremists appear exultant, at the decease of one of the villainous, Koch clan. However, we will, at minimum, candidly declare, that we will not, especially, miss him.

As a direct result of his, (together with other selfish entrepreneurs’), unlimited predilection for profitmaking, and veritable, pathological disregard for human life, as well as the health of our threatened planet, we may never again, be enabled to experience the enjoyment of past, memorable and nostalgically recalled, Summers.

-p.