Post # 419        QUOTIDIAN FRIENDSHIPS (Redux)

The word, “friendship,” to us, denotes a relationship of mutual affection, between people, more intense than the status of friendly associates. It is inclusive of the mutual benefits of. assurance as to ego support, regular assurance of self-identity as well as physical support, the ability to exchange and understand, confidential or intimate thoughts, sincere empathy and a ready willingness to render assistance.

The assertion that man is a social animal, has been empirically demonstrated, over the millennia of his existence, and should require no supporting argument. While it is true that cooperative association with others is no longer required for survival purposes, as in the case of Early Man (defense, food, safety, joint enterprise), the existence of the relationship of friendship, is a proven, vital factor, in the healthy, social and emotional life of contemporary humankind.

There are traditionally, recognized categories of friends, “old friends” (ex., from a foreign country, from childhood, from college, from the “old neighborhood,” “both dating since childhood”), new friends,”(ex., new neighbors, newly joined organization or house of worship, new neighborhood, new co-workers or colleagues and newly introduced people. “Good friends,” or “Close friends” are subcategories of “friend” in which the relationship is virtually familial, in intimacy; these are usually, but not always, identified in the old friend category. It would generally appear, in any event, that a life which does not include friends is a lonely, insular and unfulfilling one.

We would propose an additional category of “friend,” (the main subject of this note), which is, in essence, a composite the benefits of old and new friends, which we have chosen to recognize as “quotidian.”  Such relationships are too often, undervalued, and wrongfully denied the deserved category “of good friend,” for reasons which we will treat in the next, succeeding, paragraph. These include, regular fellow commuters, babysitters, young mothers, with baby carriages who daily accompany other such young mothers, to the park, your regular dog walker (if applicable), the regular members of your carpool, your regular barber or beautician, your mailman and supermarket clerk (if the latter two have been performing regular services for you, consistently, for no less than one year.

It is inarguable, that the role which a “good friend” plays in one’s personal life, is the definitive factor in the awarding of such exemplary status. While we treasure our traditionally designated, “friends”, and acknowledge the vital role they play in the fulfillment of our life, yet, how often do we see them? The “quotidian friend” is seen and interacted with, conceivably, every day. The function the latter play in our lives, may be properly designated, by some, as small in nature; but it is a regularly expected or desired one. We believe that the salient features of this daily relationship are its emotional and psychological benefits. They serve as an assurance to us, of our assumed reality and our unchanged identity and consistently furnish, to us, an assurance of continued normalcy. Their daily regularity, consistent exchange of greetings, their well- wishing, their sincere inquiry as to family health, all play an important (and often overlooked and much undervalued) role in our lives. The regular performance of their expected routines, offer assurances of stability and normalcy, wherever, and whenever, needed.

Some years ago, we would travel, on a regular five- day basis, by from the suburbs, to Manhattan, by Long Island Road. As it happens, we would, habitually, sit in the same railroad car.  We observed, on a daily basis, the regular conduct of a card game, between a man we recognized as a neighbor, with the same, identical commuter. We understand that these two commuters, have, similarly, done the same for decades. There was always, little said between them, other than what was required by their game. It is our understanding that they knew each other’s first name, but little else. We noticed the relaxed and satisfied looks on their faces, as they cheerfully, commuted together, with cards in their hands. Although, little was ever spoken between the two, based upon their mutual trust and dedication to their, long-term, mutual relationship, we consider them qualified for the status of,  “good, quotidian friends”.



Post #418 (poesie) TWILIGHT SONATA*

Once more, the diurnal dark descends,
Upon a hushed, expectant woodland.
Mild zephyrs dance the highest branch,
In semblance, to some lofty maestro,
Cueing the players now, to re- commence,
The quotidian rendition, of the eventide music.
Ss-Scratch-sounding insects, impart the treble
Sonorous bull frogs, the true basso- profundo
Woodwind sharps, blown thru the thickets,
In polyphonic tandem, with the forest serenade.

Mellifluous strains of the classic Sonata,
Nightly played, by the verdant woodland.

Leonard N. Shapiro (Sept. 2019)

Post # 417 WHAT’S (WHO’S) IN A NAME

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare (17th Century) Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene2. “A rose, is a rose, is a rose.” Gertrude Stein (1933).

As a brief respite from the frustrating news of the day, we have elected to power up the time machine, for another sojourn to the 1940’s-50’s world, of the Eastern European Immigrant, recently settled in an exotic, unfamiliar venue, the East New York section of Brooklyn, N.Y. ( U.S.A.) Previous like visits, have dealt with their limited degree of success, in prematurely, trying and failing, to Americanize; such grand and unobtainable goal, being realizable, as a practical matter, no earlier than the next generation. Our writings, on the subject, note the endless number of mandatory adjustments, and the plethora of concerns, relevant to this multi-cultural, international polyglot of humanity; transplanted, at long last, to safety, but nevertheless, retaining, ( eternally, their plight), the feelings of strangers, in a foreign land.

Mercifully, there were no pogroms in the new country, but, there were, trolley cars, traffic lights, elevated trains, automobiles, movie theaters, telephones, unfamiliar foods, and most significantly, an unfamiliar language. As observed, in prior essays, language difficulties as between emigrants from varied national backgrounds, led to the necessity to use Yiddish, as a lingua franca, and at times, usein a nuanced style, which has recently, been acceptedly recognized, in the somewhat popular term, “Yinglish.”

In this transient setting, we are selecting for discussion, one of the most problematic phenomena, the byzantine complications involved in the naming of a newly born child. It might, somewhat further understanding, to be made aware (or, in some cases, reminded) of the folkways, expectations and cultural traditions, attendant upon baby naming, which, in the case of European-Jewish Immigrants, evince a great many eras of ethnic replication.

Many of our readers may be aware of the ethnically, traditional practice, of naming a newborn, after a revered, deceased relative. The practice, while consistent and expected, is not, to our knowledge, founded upon religious law, but is followed, so to speak, “religiously.” Jews, worldwide, never fully accepted in their country of birth or residence, ( for example, Russia), had more than one name; perhaps an official Russian name, but as well a Biblical Hebrew, or a Yiddish name. In the company of other Jews, the Yiddish name, and language, would customarily be employed. A further complicating factor, was the common use of the Yiddish name, as well, in an informal, diminutive, or endearing form. Thus, Igor, born in Russia, might have the Yiddish, Biblical name, David, (“Duvid, in Yiddish) the diminutive of which might be “Duvidl.” The daughter, Rachel, “Ruchel”, in Yiddish,” the diminutive of which might be (phon.) “Rucchalleh.” Her Russian name might have officially, been Sonya. The brother might have the Russian name, Boris, his Yiddish name, “Berel”, the diminutive, “Beralleh”.  It would appear uncomplicated, in the chosen illustrative, cases, to name the American born progeny of such deceased, forebears, “David”,” Rachel” and “Barry,” but things, unfortunately, were too complex for such simple resolution.

To make matters dicier, many members of this ethnic persuasion, bore middle names, which might have been selected, in honor of other deceased relatives, who were not chosen to be memorialized in their first name. In a great many cases, as a further challenge to the uninitiated, the most familiar reference, in casual conversation, was often to the diminutive form, of that middle name.

Now, let us steel our resolve, for the truly Herculean task, of attempting to import, this byzantine, naming tradition, to the New World, specifically, to the subject, 1940’s-50’s Brooklyn, New York. [Please fasten seat belts for the bumpy ride.].

We have observed the impatient desire of this immigrant group, to assimilate and (while maintaining their own religious traditions and beliefs) become fully a part of the American mainstream. Accordingly, their newly born, American children, were given American first names, or in the case of the rare, ambitious desire to aspire to phonetic heights, a British first name. In rare cases, the original, foreign first name, was retained, such as “Dora”, or “Boris,”, if they were seen as unremarkable, in the new culture.

The amicable contest, among the group of natural parents, and the child’s (new) grandparents, as to the selection of the newborn’s name, conceivably, was no different than in the case of the non-immigrant situation. Once a side in the debate gained the day, a new problem, of the prevailing immigrant grandparents, ensued, as to which, deceased relative, would be honored, by the replication of his Hebrew or Yiddish name.

The first letter sound, of the Yiddish name, was normally a guide to the choice of the American name, in an agreed upon, lingual metamorphosis. If the selected European forebear was named, “Avrum” the newborn (retaining for life, his Yiddish name “Avrum,”) might be given the new world name, “Allen.” His expected middle name would, also be taken from a deceased relative (perhaps, on the familial side of the other grandparents); who’s foreign name might be “Mischa”, and thereafter, bear the Yiddish middle name, “Michale”, the diminutive name” “Michaleh,” and the American middle name, “Michael.” Within the interactive life of the ethnos, these Yiddish names would be treated, as permanent and official, as the New York Department of Health Birth Certificate, which would legally, list his first two (given) names as “Allen,” and “Michael.”

In the lives and perceived status, of young male members, within the neighborhood group, the most impactful, was his Street Name. This name, arbitrarily selected by the reigning big kid, in the neighborhood, could be benign, critically descriptive, or, actually, cruel. A neighborhood kid’s name was, in most cases, permanently adopted, in the all-important, street genre of the “guys”. It defined his permanent, public persona, often without justice or basis. One was lucky to be awarded a street name, as often was the case, which was harmlessly founded, on his English, or Yiddish name, for example, a Stewart, might be called “Stew,” ”Stewie.”  “Mike” could be harmlessly, called, “Mikey.” However, a hapless, “Richard,” was eternally, and cruelly, called, “Dick,” regardless of how amiable he was.

The permutations and combinations of the use of ( one of) a kid’s names, appeared to be infinite, depending upon the creativity and inclination, of the authoritative “big” guys. A remembered example of a neighborhood boy, having being assigned, by his aspirational, immigrant parents, the British name, “Sherwin,” was awarded and obliged to bear, the meaningless and euphonious, moniker, of “Geenzie.” Some street names, like the latter, were completely meaningless, and bore no attribution to any of his actual names. Thus, we had,  ”Juice”  “Natty,” “Jitty,” ”Fuzz,” “Stymie,” “Otto,” “the Hyme,” as well as, “Stevo,” “Jo-Jo,” and an entire menagerie of, arbitrary and fanciful, denominative references.

A great many street names in time, underwent (non-Darwinian) evolution. The street evolutionary etiology concerning one of the names, listed above, may be enlightening, as to the procedural dynamics, of street name evolution. In the relevant neighborhood, there were, problematically, two boys, named,  “Jerry.” The wise and august neighborhood savants, creatively, and brilliantly, settled upon the distinguishing names, “Little Jerry” and “Big Jerry.” Repeated use over time, led to an edited, compact version, of “LittleJerry” to the creative iteration of the name, “ Jittlelerry;” an unlimited inclination towards further aesthetic creativity, led to the morphing of “Jittlelerry”, finally, to “Jitty.”

The great Elizabethan Bard asked, “What’s in a name?” to which we would promptly, and humbly, reply,” it all depends upon, who you ask.”

We would, respectfully, leave the memorable, Gertrude Stein, to her beloved, multi- repetitive and incomparable roses, without final comment.



Research reveals that the United States is home to more gun owners, than any other Country in the world, that by far, gun owners tend to be male, that, being male is one of the two top predictors for committing acts of public violence, that a gun present in the household, is far more likely to kill a person who lives there, than a burglar or even a serial killer, that tens of thousands die each year because of gun violence, that more than one woman in 16, is killed by a gun, in domestic violence, every 16 hours, that mental illness is responsible for only 4% of interpersonal gun incidents (inclusive of the regularly occurring mass shootings), and so on, ad nauseam. One does not require, the plethora of additional data, regarding the horrific effects of the ownership and use of guns, to comprehend the all too obvious, point, guns and the wholesome existence of human society, like oil and water, do not, at all, mix.

A great many Americans, particularly those of us who live in the large urban areas, find the desire for gun ownership, difficult to assimilate. A knife, for example, can be used for cutting string on gift wrapped packages, for slicing cheese, for cutting fruit, for whittling and many other positive purposes; a gun, on the other hand, can only be used for one purpose, inflicting grievous injury, and death.

Authoritative statistical studies show that owning guns is dangerous, and does not afford desired protection, that the fictional rationale, of “good people, preventing crime by bad people” is a myth, manufactured by the NRA, the lobby group for the gun manufacturers and their sales outlets, among other mendacity, such as, that it protects women and families against violent criminals, and that carrying instruments of death by citizens, is protected and encouraged by the United States Constitution. No other Western or civilized nation, in the entire World, permits the ownership and use of firearms by its civilian population, for any reason, including the spurious rationalizations referred to.

Why is it, then, that The United States of America, purportedly, the avatar, of morality and enlightenment, the only Country disgraced by the atavistic acceptance of itself as a gun culture? What happened to America’s avowed historic dedication to peace, brotherhood and love?

In accordance with our customary, fearless inclination, we will, humbly, render our considered opinion, on this dilemma. The correct answer, while seemingly elusive, is, in our view, demonstrably simple, but far wider in scope, then the specific gun problem. The solution is capitalism’s moral improvement and its acquisition of an unalterable sense of public ethics and responsibility. The Nation needs to re-evaluate its present criteria, so that, the recognition of the good of humanity, exceeds the exotic lure of profits,

We have written, on numerous occasions, on the subject of the unprincipled entrepreneurs in the fuel industry, whose concern regarding the harmful impact of carbon emissions, on the very life of the planet, and its inhabitants, are apparently, subordinate, to its sociopathic greed for profit. Ina past writing, we have, frighteningly, postulated a possible future, in which, our planet was degraded to an unpopulated, inert rock, like the moon. Yet in some neurotic lust for unlimited billions in profit, these despoilers of the Earth, and its surrounding atmosphere, maintain their selfish practice of, knowingly, spewing carbon and methane into the responsive atmosphere.

Financially selfish successful sociopaths, inclusive of the subject gun manufacturers, buy off hungry politicians and perform whatever fraudulent, Machiavellian deeds, they find necessary, to render desired homage, to the gods of profit. These despicable misusers of the free enterprise system, including the gun lobby and the fuel industry, are the prime cause of existential threats to our civilization.

On the larger scale, it is Capitalism’s need for moral improvement, that is the fundamental problem. Other proposed theories on the prevailing problematic issues, such as the gun issue, we would maintain, are relatively, beside the basic point.


Blog # 415          AN OPEN LETTER

Mr. Mal Content *
13 Wistful Vista Blvd.
Philadelphia, Penn., 10001
cc: blog list

Dear Mr. Content,

We are located at the editorial offices of, in the City of New York, and are the publishers of mini-essays (blog posts) transmitted to the general public. We are completely independent, secular, non-political and non-commercial. Our mini- essays, in essence, amount to, considered, personal observations of the mutual relationships (political and social) between the modern American citizen, and his society. The salient and dedicated, theme and purpose, fundamentally, encompasses our nuanced, empirical observation of the present state of progress of mankind, toward the goals of the development of wisdom and mature perspective. We comment on politics, and the political scene only, when it is felt that the Nation’s security or well-being, seems to us, to be in question.

This unusual, “letter” format has been selected, because of its direct and timely delivery, as opposed to our usual, blog post (or, “mini- essay”) to be reviewed at the reader’s leisure time. This correspondence partakes, in large part, of a rarely elected, political theme, for the reason, as above explained, that it appears that the Country’s proper administration is at stake.

The Nation is at present, engaged in the exigent, historic process, of the selection of a Democratic Presidential Candidate, to oppose President Trump, in the next Presidential election. It is believed by many, that the defeat of this incumbent President, is mandatorily necessary, to the restoration of normalcy of the Nation, and its return to its traditionally, admirable standing,

We closely approach a state of despair, in yet continuing, to hear the term, “Socialist,” used as an expletive, and applied, with negative, critical intention, to Democratic Party Candidates and their programs. Socialism, is neither an epithet, nor is it, in any way, relevant, to the present procedure for the choice of Candidate.

Socialism is an economic-political system (having little in common with “Communism”) in which, all industry and means of production, are completely owned by a Central Government. There is absolutely no Candidate, who, to any degree, whatsoever, believes in the Socialist System. It is unfortunate that Senator Sanders and some others, hold themselves out as, “Democratic Socialists,” to a public, too many of whose members, are reductively ignorant, as to the meaning of the term, and see it as an expletive, perhaps, similar to “Communism.” Not one Candidate, is espousing “Socialism,” which is, in any event, a socio-political theory and neither an accusatory adjective, nor related to Communism.

All of the Democratic Candidates, without exception, unreservedly, believe in Capitalistic, free enterprise.  What Senator Sanders and others are espousing, in fact, is “Compassionate Capitalism;” viz., the free enterprise system, with appropriate, humane protections, and benefits, provided for workers and their families. In the age of Adam Smith, the early philosophical proponent of free enterprise capitalism, (“laissez faire”), when profits, and the “natural law” were the only relevant considerations, workers were uniformly subjected to lives of extreme privation. One has only to read the great reformist novels, of Charles Dickens, to fully appreciate, the unbearable living and working conditions, of the lower class, of that time.

Commencing with the post-depression era, Presidency, of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American workers and their families were, for the first time, justly accorded, needed relief, by way of Federal Government programs, of assistance and protection, (as at present) including, Social Security and Survivors’ Benefits, Disability Benefits, Laws concerning compassionate working hours and reasonable working conditions and many other humane and empathetic protections; which, at the time, many labeled as, ”Socialism,” and ipso facto, evil. The reality is entirely to the contrary; such humane treatment ensures and preserves Capitalism, and the free enterprise system, against the prevalence of other competing economic systems, like Socialism. We submit that, most importantly, it morally and empathically, recognizes the humanity of American workers.

It verges on the intolerable, to observe that there still exists, hordes of ignorant and reductionist American citizens, who’s systemically induced, (ranting) screed, persists, in the assertion of the” charge” of “Socialism,” regarding any governmental program of legislated assistance or service. Such reductive individuals, who lack, even one iota of awareness, or rational perception, are, themselves, undoubtedly, the fortunate recipients of several of the following governmental programs, Social Security, Welfare, Food stamps, Retirement Benefits, Old Age and Survivor’s Insurance, Disability Benefits, Veterans Benefits, Federal Mortgage Loans, Federal Infrastructure, including highways, bridges and tunnels, Federal Flood Control Projects and Assistance, Student Loan Assistance, FEMA Disaster Relief, Unemployment Sickness benefits, FDA Protection of Medicines, Federal Regulations regarding Safety, Research and Disease Control, Purity of Food and Water, Federal Health and Labor Codes, Mortgage Assistance, Public Health Regulations and Service, Agriculture Management, Air Traffic Safety, Efficient Postage System, Currency Control, Banking and Financial Services, and vastly and exhaustively, too many other vital citizen services, to sufficiently recount, not to mention, necessary Military Protection.

We would hope that this letter has been seriously read and considered, and that the recipient-reader, is in accord with the view, that our American government, is not “in the way,” but, rather, is a vitally necessary participant, in the efficient, and as well, the moral and empathic management, of our Capitalistic Democratic Republic.


* [ fictional name and address]

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.



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.


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



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.”


 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.



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.