Accepting

I’ve read countless memoirs and interviewed dozens of people about their journey but none have been as honest, conflicted and raw as Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld.  Her story is marked with countless issues and circumstances that she has had to overcome and her book looks to reconcile them in the context of a culture that likes these stories told in a very particular way.

Her experience in crafting her college essay is particularly telling.…


Bookshop

I love books. Reading them, owning them, sharing them and obviously writing them. The smell of an old book is a reminder of all those who have similarly valued the words born out of another’s mind. The feel of a new book ushers in the anticipated value to be delivered in small doses over the weeks you will spend reading it.

I have always thought of owning a bookstore.…


Connecting

I have always considered myself a luddite – slow to adopt new technology, warning against its potential downside. Yet here I sit, typing on my MacBook Pro, Apple Watch strapped to my wrist as my iPhone plays music through a bluetooth SONOS speaker. All after another evening ended with my ass firmly planted in my couch watching mindless television wirelessly projected onto my wall.

Lamenting our use of technology is not particularly helpful.…


Friends

When I was young, I spent most of my time with friends. As a latchkey kid, I was told to get outside in the morning and wouldn’t return until dinner or after – depending on whether my mom was working that night. As I got older, I hung out with friends after school, after practice or after work – whatever would get me out of my trailer home.…


Break

I could use a break. Perhaps you could too.

Inflation, gas prices, a heat wave, divisive politics, and a pandemic that just won’t go away have made the last few months borderline unbearable.

This is to say nothing of what individual stressors we all might feel.

The summer is by definition supposed to be “a break.” Although that seems to apply more readily to students than the rest of us.…


See

Marcel Proust once wrote, “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…”

He is writing about the role artists play in society in a chapter perhaps appropriately named, The Prisoner.


Fame

Spiderman came to Hastings this week. More specifically, Tom Holland was in my town shooting a new anthology series for Apple TV.  Throngs of kids lined up in a marked off area to catch a glimpse of him. When he finally arrived, clad in period 70’s garb, they screamed.  Calling out his name, filming his every move, clamoring for him to come by and say hello – which to his credit he did.…


Belief

What or who do you believe in?

Beliefs can be a tricky thing. We all have them, in fact hold them dearly. Yet seldom do we explicitly state or share them. More often, beneath the surface, they inform, influence or dictate many of our actions.

Beliefs, according to the Oxford dictionary, can be defined in two ways:
One is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”…


Word

Words matter.  At their best, they evoke common understanding, connection and feeling.  At their worst they mislead, misrepresent and divide.

All words are an abstraction of sorts, a representation of something very real.  On a range of issues, experts too often rely on particularly abstract words that are so open to interpretation one could drive a truck through it.

Metaphors are the opposite, they attach to an idea something we can easily relate to and understand.…


Music

It was a wonderful week of music in my home.

My children fell in love with a new song (“On My Way” by Jennifer Lopez), that went into heavy rotation and led to many sing alongs.

I interviewed Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC for my podcast, who reminded me that “music can do what politics and religion can’t – unite us.”

Finally, I had my first guitar lesson in three years.…


Serve

Two weeks ago I watched a grown man cry and it was extraordinary.  They were neither tears of sadness or joy. I suspect they were tears born out of a deep humility, appreciation for others and a calling to serve.

The man was Colin Powell and the event, which was one of his last public appearances before dying last week, was for the school named in his honor; The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.  …


Subtract

Recently, I had two exchanges with family members that did not go particularly well. Both were spurred on by trying to refute or debate claims fueled by divisive media outlets. Since the election, I have largely tuned out of political shows, but like Michael Corleone says in the Godfather, “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!”

I called one of them the following day and posed this simple question: “Does watching political shows bring you any joy?”…


Lucky

Over the last several months, I’ve been on a good run.  

It started with being asked to give the commencement address at my alma mater. 

Then on Friday, I published my first piece for Esquire.  I’ve always wanted to write for them and this specific topic, “Dads without Dads” is an especially personal reflection timed for Father’s Day.

There is an NPR special report I’m working on examining inequality in education on Long Island that will air at the end of the month.…


Histories

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”  This lyric from the final song in Hamilton, captures not only an important question about our history but also about our present.

There are different versions of our histories – within our families, our institutions, our country and our world.

In many ways, it is less important to reconcile our complicated personal and national histories than it is to at least spend some time examining them.


Questions?

These are hard.

What would you take for yourself, that you know would help someone else more?

What would you give your child, that if you gave to another child instead would dramatically change their life? 

These philosophical questions are ones that we don’t explicitly ask ourselves. They are by design difficult to answer. They pit our egalitarian principles and a belief in a fair world against our most basic desire to provide and protect ourselves and those we love. …


Grandma

In conjunction with Women’s History Month, my 11 year old daughter came home from school with an assignment to write a paper about a female member of her family that was no longer with us.

She chose her great grandmother, whom she never had the chance to meet but shares a middle name.

As part of this assignment she had to interview at least two members of our family who knew Nana using a series of questions supplied by her teacher.…


Abyss

I struggled with figuring out what to write this week. Conflicting instincts pulled me to either express rage at the events at the Capitol last week and look back at all that led up to it or  to move past them and share some thoughts of hope or even beauty.

Stuck in the middle, I remembered this quote from the movie Wall Street. “Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him.…


Wishes

On any given day, approximately 800,000 people in the United States will celebrate their birthday. When we are young, we sit with a birthday cake before us, surrounded by friends and families and we make a wish to blow out the lit candles marking our years. 

In any given year,  many of these wishes bear some semblance to one another despite the diversity of the wish makers. …


Wonderful

While walking my dog in the woods nearby, I stopped to marvel at a giant fallen oak. Uprooted from the ground, it was hard to surmise what had toppled this mammoth tree. I was full of wonder at the extensive roots laid bare for all to examine the many connections severed.  Feelings of both loss and hope filled me as I was reminded that soon that tree would decompose with its nutrients revitalizing the soil that it would soon become part of.…


listen

When I was a young boy, I loved to listen. I would saddle up next to my Mom, eavesdropping on grown up talk, while cigarette smoke filled the air. I would hole away in my room, laying on the top bunk, listening closely to the lyrics of every song on a new album. Late at night, I’d strain to hear the static filled voices of talk radio hosts, broadcasting from AM stations hundreds of miles away, until I eventually drifted off to sleep. …