Toilet paper was at a premium so it helped that Florence saved all the napkins from Nedicks. Sometimes there were doors. Other times there wasn't. And it didn't matter that there was a person in there that was talking to the wall or to someone next to the wall we just couldn't see.
Even if we didn't know their name or the name of whoever they were talking to, they were our neighbor. After all, we were all using the same bathroom.
*and now for the joke MAN ONE: Are you a man or a mouse? MAN TWO: Put a piece of cheese down and find out!
Watching a dedicated amateur pianist in an under-heated recital hall in the basement of an institution that somehow has become less important and much less funded that watching over-muscled men bash each other into early dementia and Parkinson while the whole world cheers them on.
Reprinted without permission from the Burlington Free Press: BY SAM HEMINGWAY
Judge Ben Joseph said Monday he has decided to retire after 12 years serving as a jurist in courts in northern Vermont.
“It’s time to move on,” said Joseph, 67. “I’ve lost friends along the way. Life’s a short trolley ride and I want to retire while I still have a fair amount of energy.”
Joseph said he informed Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber, and Administrative Judge Amy Davenport last month of his decision to leave the bench in June. He is currently working in the Grand Isle and Franklin County court circuits.
“It’s a tough job but it’s been very rewarding,” Joseph said. Known for his array of eye-catching hats, Joseph said he looks forward to spending more time working in his vegetable gardener and playing the violin.
The disclosure of his retirement plans comes just as Judge Christina Reiss leaves the Vermont bench to become a federal judge and Judge Howard VanBenthuysen heads off for deployment to Afghanistan as a member of the Vermont National Guard.
Patricia Gabel, a spokeswoman for the Vermont Supreme Court, said late Monday it is unclear when Joseph’s post will be filled.
“We haven’t heard of anything along the lines of the position being filled,” Gabel said. She said the judiciary has been under intense pressure to keep costs down. Under law judges are appointed by the governor with the advise and consent of the Vermont Legislature.
Joseph said he hoped cost reasons would not be used to delay a decision on his replacement.
“The judiciary accounts for 3 percent of the state’s budget,” he said. “The idea that there is fat in the judiciary budget is not supported by the facts.”
Joseph in the past has voiced criticism of proposed plans to close the courts in Grand Isle and Essex counties as a cost-saving measure.
“The fact that we don’t have enough days and enough resources to devote to disputes is really scandalous.” he told lawyers during a Grand Isle court proceeding in October, according to “Save Our Vermont Courts” blog item on the Internet he confirmed was accurate. “This court surely should not be closed down.”
Joseph’s judicial career has included involvement in a number of high-profile cases over the years, including 16 homicides filed at Vermont District Court in Burlington.
Joseph also presided over cases that led to guilty pleas for two suspects accused in a 2005 double murder in Montgomery.
He drew headlines in 2007 when he rejected a plea deal that called for no jail time for a teenager accused of shooting a farmer sitting in his tractor cab during hunting season. The case was later tried —twice — and resulted in a guilty plea on a manslaughter charge and a 1-5 year prison sentence.
Joseph also oversaw the first of a number of clerical sexual abuse trials held at Chittenden Superior Court in Burlington. Twice, lawyers for the state’s Roman Catholic diocese tried unsuccessfully to get Joseph removed as the presiding judge.
Joseph said he is particularly proud of a program he’s nurtured at criminal court in Burlington to have youths charged with drug and alcohol infractions to undergo treatment as a condition of release, prior to resolution of the criminal case that brought them to court.
All their subway ads were for medical experiments seeking human subjects and they had fewer lines than there were primary colors.
And everyone wore the same two styles of boots- professor LL Beanish outdoorsey ankle boots, or snow boots that looked like the Michelin Man's legs.
So what if the subway information guys were really nice and made sure I got the right metro card and went through the right gate. What's nice when you got cars full of style and panache and more ways to get where you're going than there are shades of pink in a paint store?
Ottendorfer Library Greg showed me his kindle. A thin tablet easily held in ones hand or slipped into the side pocket of a shoulder bag, it looked like something Captain Kirk used on the bridge as he explored a dangerous decision.
There were a dozen books in this thin rectangle. Perfect for the many long trips Greg and his wife took around the world. Always something to read without heavy bags or less space for an extra shirt.
But even with this new ease, Greg shook his heads. "I love the smell of books."
However tempting lighter bags and more reading material sounded, I wondered what would become of my favorite corners in the world, away from problems and burdens, comforted in silence, welcomed into new worlds.
Painting by Myron Heise (section) Grew up in a cold water flat in the back of a candy store in Brooklyn, maybe Greenpoint. Self-educated, she put universities to shame and thwarted the New York Times crossword puzzle every day of the week. Believed in a world based on social justice and married for love, a man who the eve of his daughter's birth put on a tuxedo because that's how important such an event was.
When she became a widow she took over the newspaper stand in Times Square that was her husband's who had inherited the business from his father. That's her in the right hand corner wearing the red sleeveless shirt. Myron Heise, an artist and one of her employees at the stand painted it.
We knew her as the hippest mother on the Lower East Side. She had style, was filled with verve, wore great earrings and she traveled to Italy, a place I knew composers of the 1600's once lived, but not a place I knew living people visited. At least not the people in our neighborhood.
This cold Sunday, her loving family, her adoring neighbors, her loyal friends, her fellow travelers, the community she built through a ferocious dedication to learn, understand and connect gathered at her house. And with a reminder to not use the word "hopefully" her life was honored. ***
Tis a Fearful Thing
It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing to love, hope, dream:
to be, And! to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
and a holy thing,
a holy thing to love.
For your life has lived in me, your laugh once lifted me, your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
'Tis a human thing, love, a holy thing, to love what death has touched.
It was 1996 when we sprawled across my bed and pondered how to keep our feet moving toward our destiny. Our hopes were young. She said a writing group but one that's about everything in our lives. I said every three weeks because two were too short and four too long.
Other than the times there was a death in the family (2) or a tough break-up (more than 2, less than 5), we met in person or on the phone every three weeks and in several hours old goals got discussed and new goals got made. Before we knew it, fourteen years had past and the old twists and turns from ferocious effort and breathtaking kismet had brought wild dreams into startling realities.
Perhaps to the outside world, we changed or stayed the same. But to us, we just became ourselves more and more and more. Sand in an oyster we are now pearls.
How the past new years eves were spent I have no idea. There were no celebrations in our home, no watching our parents dress up for some party and no loud horns blowing at midnight. In our neighborhood, new years was celebrated in the fall and the only horn that blew was the shofar at sunset announcing the new year had begun and the fast of the Day of Atonement could be broken.
Then came high school in another neighborhood with kids from other neighborhoods. It was very exciting. Especially when one classmate announced that her brother who went to another school in still another neighborhood which had even more kids from even more neighborhoods was going to invite his friends and she could invite her friends and it would be a real co-ed new years eve party.
Then it got even better. The brother and sister lived right by Central Park and there was going to be a rock band playing so we would even go dancing. Boys, dancing, new years eve. This all added up to one thing. Kissing.
Other than my insistence that Florence kiss me or my kissing my father good-bye in the morning, kissing-kissing was non-existent in my corner of the Lower East Side. However, Didi, a classmate who was also invited to the party had kissed. She dragged me into the girls bathroom of the 6th Avenue Horn and Hardart.
"Ok! If he [imaginary love of my life boy] goes like this..." and she tilted her head inches away from mine..."then you go like this..." and I tilted my head the other way.
"Now, if he goes like this..." and she moved straight into my face..."Then you tilt like this..."
We practiced. Tilting one way and then the other always stopping inches away from one another. I was 13 years old. I was ready.
The parents were welcoming but the only thing that mattered were the boys. It began to rain as we headed to Central Park. I don't remember anything about the music except that it called all of us to dance and dance and dance in tons of puddles and the cute boy with the sweet smile was great to dance with.
What happened after that belongs to the fog that embraced me for years before and years after, surrounding any event that was overwhelming and too upsetting to me. But some vague details remain. There were some negotiations with the other boys and girls to allow cute boy and me kiss in the bedroom the boys were suppose to sleep in. And that first kiss and the couple we got in after were dazzling and breathtaking and I felt things I had never felt before and was really really enjoying myself when a tall lean and very angry parental figure appeared.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.