Another brush with enlightenment


A few Saturdays ago I bicycled from home on Manhattan’s well-publicised Upper West Side across the 59th Street Bridge (the one people in Queens call the Queensboro Bridge,) along the southern edge of Long Island City, through Woodside and up 37th Avenue into Jackson Heights’ dynamic Indian/Bangladeshi community.  Carnegie Hall sponsors a series of Neighborhood Concerts, free musical events held throughout the boroughs, featuring extraordinary musicians from essentially everywhere.  Samita Sinha, a multilingual (Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, English…) singer, accompanied by congas, tablas and keyboard was to perform at the Jackson Heights branch of the Queens Public Library.  Never having heard or heard of her, I was ready.

The library’s meeting room was filled to capacity.  At 3:15, a polite 15 minutes after the posted starting time the City Council member responsible for funding the event spoke briefly as did representatives of both the library and the concert series.  Ms. Sinha lives 3 blocks from the library, she told us when she took the stage.  She was at home and wanted us to feel the same way.  Hmm…Queens quaint, I thought.

Others, however, took her words more seriously.  Two women, appearing to be in their 80’s, sat behind me.  Their pre-program conversation had been no more to me than undistinguished sounds in the general and appropriate din.  Things became different, however, when the music started and they showed no inclination to stop.  Both were hard of hearing and eager to let everyone know that.  One flipped loudly through the newspaper insert for a local market.  The other developed a catch phrase, “I don’t like this music!” and repeated it with metronome-like regularity.  Thus provoked and eager to establish silence, I turned to them and glared wordlessly for a beat before returning my attention to the stage.  As I turned  back and before I could congratulate myself on silencing them, I heard one say to the other, “What’s he looking at?”  to which the other responded, “I don’t like this music!”

Their page-flipping and conversation continued as did my anger.  Being a good Manhattanite and respecter of performers and,  Hey, dammit!   I’m a registered senior citizen and don’t appreciate anyone in my age demographic misrepresenting the rest of us!  I fell to grimacing and twitching, silently selecting and rehearsing the devastating comments I’d make to them when the current tune ended.  Pissed was hardly the word for it.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.  The man sitting next to me, a man in his perhaps 40’s, looking like he might be from the Subcontinent, turned in my direction and smiled.  Clearly he was hearing all I was hearing, clearly he was aware of my feelings–yeah, like I’m trying to disguise them– yet he smiled.   And get this, it was a real smile.  No irony, no sympathy, no meaning.  Just a smile.   He smiled and, just so,  my hostility vanished!  As if that weren’t enough, I was then somehow  propelled through an instant of embarrassment–me demanding that two old friends at a neighborhood event in their neighborhood in their library act as I  wanted them to act–puleeze!–and just as quickly  back to the wonder of the music with all of  the foregoing forgotten.

Midway through the music the women stood and grumbled their way out of the room.  Another smile from the man to my left.  I smiled back–just a smile, no more than that.

Life lessons, I suspect, abound in Jackson Heights.


Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 9:47 pm  Comments (6)  

Something Different


It started a little more than a week ago with this, Bobbie reading AARP Magazine.  Quickly it progressed to this:

—– Original Message —–
From: “Richard Goldberg” <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 9:58:33 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Something different

This is not to notify you of a blog posting.  Rather it is an invitation to you to participate in writing a blog entry.

Here’s the challenge: Write your autobiography in 6 words–no more or less.

Send them to me by reply email.  I’ll collect them and publish them in the blog–without comment.  If you want to be posted anonymously, say so and I will do so.  Otherwise I’ll identify you as you choose to be known.

This is not a contest.  It’s just something to think about for a minute and then do.  You’ve got a week to reply.  Deadline is June 30th.

Here are two that have already been submitted:

“Kim, Dave, Mike
Tom, Richard, Nurse.”
“Last chapter yet to be written.”

I look forward to reading yours.


Here are your replies roughly in the order received.  Thank you.


Don’t move
That’s it
Got it!

“emerged, awake, soon asleep, no matter”
(just) mark

–anon please

Alix  always wanted to be beautiful.
–Alix Lorance

a happy being being happy being
–Christy Wang

Family, children, grandchildren, relatives, students, friends.
–Dorothy Quirk

I arrived, I saw, I parented!
–George Kaplan

Blessed with family, children, loves.  grateful

“Life lessons for irreversible mistakes? Fair.”                                                                     –Jack Beaton


My life story line is introspective.
–Karen Kaminski

Married (twice), skiing musically with kids.
–Jim Kimenker

pretty good thus far: still breathing.
–David Mintz

Fifty years, nothing more than this.
–Anonymously please

friend, father, teacher, musician, recovering addict.
–Terry McGovern

Watching for glimpses of the sun.
–Nadia Huntley

“without: sight, scent, sound, touch, -hollow.”
–You may sign my moniker to the above—DW

I came, I putzed, I left.
–Fred Rosenberg


“Will the fortune teller be right”
–Mary Smith

“never say you are too old.”
–David Straite

“I am always at the beginning…”
–Sheldon Blitstein: Quoting the Buddha on his 80th birthday

work hard & keep going
–Norm Cagin

wife, mother, sister, daughter, student, love
–Connie Kaminski

amazing, underachieving, grateful, adventurous, and everchanging!!
–Luis Rosa

Born, educated, drugged, friend, jailed, recovery.
–Juan Dones

Born. Grew. Aged. Not dead. Yet.
–Bill Kinloch

Miracles continue to happen to me.
–Evelyn Tirado

i don’t know where i will be in the future?
–Eman Evans

Six word autobiography: too arbitrary, short.
–John Craig

Woman, Wife, Musician, Cyclist, Humanist, Friend.
–Joan Harper


Married. Happy father. To be continued.
–Ezra Beaton

bill’s smile seen on dead raccoon!
–Bill Miller

Kim, David, Mike, Tom, Richard, Nurse.
–Bobbie Goldberg

Wow! It really isn’t  about me.

Mostly learning experience at times enlightening.
–Olga Stebeleva

creative chaos broadcasts green heart’s smile

Me, Mom, Dad, Deb, David, Bill
—And —-
I am, I am, I am
–Denise Connors

person, soldier, engineer, husband, father, grandfather
–Ron Kaminski

Always learning, sometimes growing, rarely satisfied.                                  –Wayne Wright

Sometime confused and wet, but happy!          — Dan Monahan

Once Sierra Leone refugee living happily!           –Yandouba Monahan

Always learning, sometimes growing, rarely satisfied.  Kim Calcasola

Still loosing hair and gaining weight.        –Jim McAslan

I came, I saw, I conquered.          –Lew Brown


Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 8:50 am  Comments (3)