Thursday, May 26, 2011


     In America, our sacred cow is our "courageous, noble, selfless young men and women in uniform."  We have been indoctrinated to support our troops blindly, passionately, stupidly, and self-destructively. It has become our national religion. Stray from it, and you'll have hell to pay. 
    And now, as of May 2014, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is launching a $70 million program to study how electrodes implanted in our troops' brains might improve their moods and their ability to tolerate traumatic events, and allay their anxiety about what they're doing. The new program will fund development of high-tech implanted devices able to both monitor and electrically stimulate specific brain circuits, according to a May 27, 2014 NPR story. Does that sound like a good thing to you? How can anyone object to more efficient killing machines?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homelessness is Where My Heart Is



    Home, they say, is where the heart is.
    But my heart resides, instead, with the homeless.
    It’s been 35 years since my last interlude of homelessness. I’m still haunted by it, and I think there’s a part of me that will never recover.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Magnificence of Massimo, 1921-2013

"Massimo" means the utmost, the ultimate -- and he was.

    Massimo Costanzo, my beloved Joe's father, was a man of majesty, modesty and physicality, whose priorities were to care for others and to relish the bountiful world that his God had created.
    Massimo died on Friday at age 91. His wife Rita, the light of his life, died nearly two years ago, and he really never recovered (
    When I met him and his wife, more than 30 years ago, I was immediately struck by his aura of ease and  warmth, solidity and gentle humor. Just before he offered me a shot of whiskey, to celebrate our new friendship, he gave me a hearty embrace. Then he kissed my hand. 
    No one had ever kissed my hand before. It was a surprisingly beautiful gesture, and there would be many more of them in the ensuing years.

Darling Rita, Farewell

     Joe's mother died in her sleep Thursday night after an extended period of ill health.
     I met Rita Costanzo and her husband Massimo about 30 years ago. They emigrated to Salt lake City from Italy aboard the Andrea Doria in the early 1950s. 
    They were from a very poor, isolated village in Calabria, Southern Italy. They bravely came to America with nothing except for a determination to make a good life for themselves and their four children.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beyonce: Put Those Knees Together, Please

    Hey Girl: You’re getting a very great honor tonight at the Billboard extravaganza. The Millennium Award -- that is so cool!
   You really, really deserve it. Kind of.
    Your fellow singing sensation, Shakira, recorded a tune a while back called “Hips Don’t Lie.”
    Your hips do.
    Your hips say you are a hypersexualized slut.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Operation Alzheimer's: The next civil-rights struggle

Somebody's mother.

   (5/20/13)  It is not unreasonable to regard American history as an ongoing series of battles for equality, respect and acceptance. African-Americans, immigrants, women, veterans, the disabled and the LGBT community have had to advocate heroically on behalf of themselves, decade after decade. and their progress has been agonizingly slow. We who are in the majority should have had enough integrity and compassion to take the lead in demanding fair treatment for these oppressed groups (don't we have any sense of responsibility, humanity or moral outrage?). We should have embraced and celebrated their differences, instead of forcing them to cry out, "I am a human being!"
    But now, we in the majority really must act: We must give a voice to the millions of Alzheimer's patients who suffer silently in the darkest corners of our collective lives, cruelly stripped of their personhood. We are all they've got, and we're failing miserably. We must wage a War of Interdependence. Shall we overcome?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

IMF guy should suffer in the cellblocks like everyone else

    For 18 months, I  served as the Inmate Advocate at the notorious House of Detention for Men on Rikers Island in New York. If I were still there, I would vehemently object to putting former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in protective custody. He is being given outrageously special consideration because he is a rich white guy.
    The rationale for shielding "the world's top banker" from the realities of prison life, according to corrections officials, is that he might be harmed if he is placed in general population.
    Everybody in general population "might be harmed." They’re all being harmed! Why should he be any different?  Here is a man who has been graced with extreme wealth and privilege since he was born. So what do we do with him? We give him more privilege.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shockingly cavalier: Scientists charge a-head with their brain bedazzlers

The latest from Copenhagen. So scary, it'll curl your hair. No thank you!
    (5/17/2014) The mad scientists of the world seem obsessed with shooting electricity into our brains to see what strange and/or fabulous results they can trigger, hoping -- of course -- to become billionaires in the process.
    It is literally mind-boggling to read about all of their varied approaches -- including implanting electrodes directly into the brain -- in order, theoretically, to treat virtually every affliction known to man. (
Let's just open up that skull and screw a few things into your brain, OK?
If it doesn't work (and it probably won't) the electrodes can't be removed.
    The newest and silliest of these Grand Inventions was unveiled this past week in Copenhagen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Magic Moment

It took me by surprise.
     (May 2014)  I am coming to realize that I am in the midst of a Magic Moment: A tipping point between youth and old age. I am still young in so many ways -- in how I feel and behave, and in my tastes, energies and attitudes. By most measures, though, I will soon be a senior citizen. I am stunned by this. Every time I think about it, I am stunned all over again.
    In a couple of weeks, I will be 65 years old. This moment is magic because I have all the considerable benefits of age, but I am not yet impaired by it. I am enjoying a "sweet spot" -- an interlude in which I have the best of both worlds. I am ever-mindful that it can't last. My sense of triumph, and even joy, will probably seem like naive hubris before long.  Most of us go downhill as elderliness creeps in and takes over, and I can already sense that I will not be one of those lucky ones who remains vigorous, sharp and competent into my later years. I'm getting arthritis everywhere, although so far I'm able brazenly to ignore the pain, push right through it, and do everything I always have. Ha, ha, you bastard! I do seem to be falling down for no reason, but I just laugh (after lying there for a while) and theorize that my bruises and sore muscles will upstage the arthritis. Ha, ha, again, you bastard! I can sense the specter of Alzheimer's leering inside my head. I leer back. Because right now, in many respects, I am the best I've ever been.

The Violinist and the Sunset

    Sergiu Luca was shocked and irritated that I had never heard of him. He was a fiery, forceful man who obviously expected to be treated with deference. I wouldn't have complied, except that he both intimidated and intrigued me. In exchange for my good behavior, I was treated to one of the most memorable evenings of my life.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Don't be STUPIDO! These are cheap, easy, "staggering" Alzheimer's antidotes

   ( 3/14/14) Vitamins and spices have a demonstrably greater impact on the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease than the tortured chemical confabulations being put on the market by the pharmaceutical industry, according to scientific literature. Why are we being kept in the dark? Why do you think? 
    A study in the May 2013 issue of  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that a simple, 30-cent daily regimen of Vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid slows the loss of gray matter from 5.2 percent per year to 0.6 percent in those with mild cognitive impairment, a common prelude to Alzheimer's. Nothing produced by Big Pharma has slowed the progression at all.  
     “It’s the first and only disease-modifying treatment that’s worked,” said A. David Smith, professor emeritus of pharmacology at Oxford University in England and senior author of the study. “We have proved the concept that you can modify the disease.” 
    The results were characterized as "staggering" by  the Academy. Has your doctor mentioned this to you?

NO CLASS: Overpaid university presidents show contempt for students

"Summon the limousine forthwith, Reginald."

    According to the Chronicle of Higher Education's annual report on university presidents' compensation, released Monday, the top ten earned between $819,000 and $2.5 million  in 2012.
    I guess this makes them feel very good about themselves. It puts them well into the ranks of  The Top One Percent, along with all the other Masters of the Universe. Way to go! Rake it in! Cover your bed in it and roll around, if you must. High six-figure salaries continue to be the norm in American higher education, despite huge cuts in state funding. The median salary among public college presidents is well over the cutoff point for joining the Top One Percent. I wonder how they feel about the "little people" below.
    Seriously: How can they be so clueless? Why do they think they need or deserve all that money, when hundreds of thousands of young people are priced out of higher education by 10 percent annual increases in tuition, and student loan debt soaring to a trillion dollars?
    What kind of message does the callous, casual greed of their elders send to our children? Where is the compassion? Where is the sense of equity and proportion? Where is the call of duty?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jackie Onassis Powders My Nose

Jackie and Brendan were our heroes that day.

    Last week, the centennial of the spectacular Grand Central Terminal in New York City was celebrated. Nearly 35 years ago, in 1978, I attended an ecstatic Municipal Art Society gathering, after a Supreme Court decision saved the landmark from demolition. My escort was Brendan Gill, who was co-chairman, along with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, of the committee that fought for three years to preserve the beloved structure.
    An aide directed me to the "VIP Powder Room" moments before the event was set to begin. I dashed in, nearly colliding with Mrs. Onassis, who was exiting the only toilet stall in the tiny pink lavatory.
    It was the greatest toilet seat of my life. In my star-struck state, I felt that she had imbued it with a precious warmth, softness and sweetness. It was magic -- what a lady!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What are you searching for? My readers' inadvertent poetry


    (5/10/2014) Maybe I should just lie back and let my readers write my blog. I have been noticing for quite some time that the search terms they use constitute an intriguing, baffling, elegant, twisted poetry. Who are these people? What are they really searching for? Something both profound and mundane, I imagine. 

Wrinkles juicing,
black blondes enchanting,
beautiful knees together.

Diaper sexy femme,
flavory lips with aroma,
Swiss cheese and Metamucil.
Cloud flipping off you prayed.
Pedo porn torrent,
gay hot fuckung kiking vulgaire pig,
jade roller for hemmorhoid.
Solitary confinement,
tears behind mink lashes,
massive nippled male muscle morph,
in Siberia icy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why are "America's Finest" rampant rapists?

An officer and a gentleman - are there any?
    UPDATE:  In a new report to be released on Nov. 4, the Pentagon estimates that 19,000 men and women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2014, an eight percent increase over last year, in spite of all the publicity and promises this issue has elicited. The results are bound to draw attention,according to the Assocaited Press, coming just a year after a 50 percent increase in the reporting of rapes and sexual assaults. , but proponents of keeping jurisdiction over such matters within the military chain of command seem to be in the majority.
     A Defense Department study released in May 2013 estimated that about 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the 2012 fiscal year -- another big jump from previous years -- despite ardent promises of reform by military leaders. (UPDATE: Nov. 7, 2013, Military assaults have risen sharply yet again, according to the New York Times.)  More than 75 percent of women say they have been sexually harassed and intimidated while serving in the military. Defense Department data indicate that an estimated 500,000 troops have experienced sexual trauma while serving. (A new book chronicles the rapes of thousands of French women by American "liberators" in World War II. Our heroes were horny. It's just a part of who they are! Don't judge them!)
    One in five women in uniform says she has been raped by a fellow soldier, although even the Pentagon acknowledges that the number is most certainly higher.  Which begs the question: Where are the "heroes"? Aren't they supposed to be raping the wives and daughters of our enemies?