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The Sigmund Freud of Barnes Avenue

by 11/11/2023
Neighborhood: Bronx, Washington Heights

I first met Ari Horwitz in front of a pizzeria near the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal in 1978. I wasn’t in the habit of talking to people I didn’t know, but Ari was about my age, mid-20s, and we seemed to have an immediate psychic connection. Ari, it turned out, lived with a roommate […]

Bronx Pinocchios of the Borscht Belt

by 12/10/2022
Neighborhood: Bronx, The Catskills

My home base in the 50s was Wyatt Street, essentially, a one-block middle class Jewish enclave in the East Bronx. Theirs was a few miles away, on Fox Street in the South Bronx, then a tough area of mostly poor Jews, Italians, Blacks and Puerto Ricans.  Our paths were unlikely to have ever crossed, except […]

Sexual Frustration at the NYPD Police Academy

by 06/27/2021
Neighborhood: Co-op City

Most people see the “Police Academy” movies and laugh. I went through the real Police Academy, and felt nothing but pain. In May, 1975, CETA, a long-defunct government jobs program, announced that it was hiring people who had some college education.  It was the middle of a recession, and I remember standing on a long, […]

Yankee Stadium’s Special Dirt

by 05/30/2021
Neighborhood: Bronx

In 1992 our middle school band was chosen to perform at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day. Not the national anthem, just a few songs from our repertoire. The performance was slotted for about two and a half hours before game time. When we arrived there was hardly anyone in the stands. We lined up in […]

Crotona Park

by 03/14/2021
Neighborhood: East Bronx, West Bronx

Blanche, my mother, was past thirty, an old maid by the standards of the mid-twentieth century. She finally picked herself up and hauled herself off to a lefty resort in the Catskills, the kind of place where people were more likely to play Twenty Questions than tennis. There she met my father, Harold, who was […]

THE Supremes and Me

by 09/19/2020
Neighborhood: Bronx, Brooklyn, Washington DC

Ordinarily, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Supreme Court. I practiced law for forty years, reluctantly. But the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death tonight has me very agitated.  Ruth was a tough old bird, a borough girl. Like her sisters on the Court, Sonia and Elena. All three are borough […]

Happy Father’s Day

by 06/15/2019
Neighborhood: Bronx, New Jersey

The phone call came on a steamy summer morning, while I was stuck in traffic on the Central Park transverse, the Met’s Temple of Dendur off to my right. A nurse from my father’s hospital equivocated her way through the call. He had been in failing health. “Where are you now?” she finally asked, with […]

Paradise Lost in the East Bronx: Starlight Park

by 07/14/2018
Neighborhood: East Bronx

Of all the places in New York City during the 40’s, “paradise” could be found in the East Bronx. Adjoining the Bronx River, when it was clean and frisky, a magical park with a huge pool in the round, surrounded by beach sand. In a world where basketball was king, here was a lovely but […]

An Unsentimental Education

by 12/09/2014
Neighborhood: Bronx

In a school full of hard cases, Theresa Fulife was the hardest. She looked like the oldest kid in the eighth grade because at 16 she was. Her scarred, nearly six-foot muscular frame looked like it had been tattooed by a drunken sailor. Her face resembled the pitted surface of some foreign planet. Her hair […]

First Steps

by 07/18/2014
Neighborhood: Bronx

“Mommy—Don’t go to work,” said my two-year-old daughter said, who’d just started speaking in sentences. As I put on my jacket, she began to cry. I kissed her cheek, and said, “I’ll be home later.” The babysitter fed her, and I closed the door. I heard her sobbing as I charged down the hallway. I […]

Playing Hide and Seek in the Bronx

by 04/25/2013
Neighborhood: Bronx

Decades ago, when my brother was about ten and I around fourteen, he began to spend an extraordinary amount of time in his room. We lived in an apartment in a sketchy neighborhood in the Bronx. There were muggings, petty and not so petty thefts, and a few cases of violent crimes. Still, we played […]

Bronx Swans

by 02/17/2002
Neighborhood: All Over, Bronx

The John Kieran Trail in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx is cut through sturdy black locust and black cherry trees, their crowns bending the day’s sunlight. As it veers towards the water, the trail mixes with wet mossy woods with willow branches hanging over the path like Rapunzel’s hair, patches of skunk cabbage and […]