All Jews Suffer When Some Do Wrong

June 15, 2018 Leave a comment

I was 16 years old in 1953 when, on June 19, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for espionage against the United States of America. My family name is Rosenberg and my parents, my brothers and I are all Canadian born. We always lived in Toronto, yet we were under threat because of the Rosenberg spies in the USA.

We had nothing to do with it, of course. The only knowledge we had of it was from news out of the USA on our radios, televisions, and in our newspapers. In spite of our lack of any kind of connection to the spies, we received threats in the mail and on the telephone. “When the Rosenbergs die, you die,” was the message.

I remember two plain-clothes policemen being in our home on that day and a few days afterward, just in case somebody actually attempted something. Nobody did, of course, in gentle Canada and “Toronto the Good” as it was called in those days. I guess it was called that was because of our adherence to Sunday closing laws and the absence of alcoholic beverages except for government owned stores and the need to have a permit to purchase beer, wine and liquor.

My father received an envelope in the mail. It contained a newspaper story about the execution across which the sender had scrawled with red crayon, “Jews, the most hated race on earth.” I already knew about that kind of bigotry of course, because of the aggression I’d experienced in school and on the streets.

I find it especially ridiculous because, although I am of Jewish heritage, I don’t believe or practice any religious rituals. I am certain that there is no God and there is was no son of God. There was no meeting between Moses and God, nor does Mohammad or any other holy figure represent God. To have faith is to have a flawed belief system. Far better to have faith in one’s self to achieve or fail on one’s own.

We make our own mistakes and learn our own lessons. I have been against religious teachings since I was a teenager. Without any help from God, I have been successful and enjoyed good fortune all my life. I am 80, I am healthy and active, and have never prayed for anything, yet much good has come to me. I have often put myself in harm’s way in my quest for adventure, and always escaped harm without any God’s help.

I feel guilt when a Bernie Madoff or Michael Cohen type Jew does wrong. It’s a traditional burden that most men of Jewish heritage carry, even though it’s nonsense. Ugly encounters with anti-Semitic elements make it part of Jewish life.

Advertisements

The People of Your Life Grow Sparse

May 25, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ve decided to write at this moment, while my feelings are in great tumult. Although my life has kept me isolated from my boyhood pals and girls for several decades, I consider them a part of me, as part of the good and bad adventures we sometimes shared, and the stories we shared about them.

The advent of the Internet enabled us to search the world for old acquaintances. I’m in my eighties. I just learned that Bernie died. He was my closest friend from the age of fifteen to thirty. We were even brothers in law in our twenties for many years because we married twin girls. The news of Bernie’s death has shaken me a bit. I’m two months younger than Bernie, and I’m still here.

I read in his obituary details of Bernie’s final years. He suffered. He was supported by friends but cared for by strangers in several homes where they placed him. It breaks my heart to think of him in squalor. He was a fabulous character. He always dressed impeccably in fine garments. He always wore alligator shoes. He was exciting.

I felt the first impact of loss of past friends some years ago. I was told of the death of my long-time steady girlfriend from high school. At the same time I learned that her closest girlfriend, who I had dated once, was also dead. My “steady” had been a music teacher and the other woman had been a doctor. They’ve been dead for many years.

Added to my emotional burden about Bernie was news of another one of the guys. Marty was seen walking with a caregiver because he has dementia. The mutual friend who told me about it said Marty didn’t recognize her.

I have just one brother. There used to be three of us brothers, but our middle brother passed away several years ago.

My one remaining friend is seventy-three, and an active athlete at competitive levels. He participates in vintage formula auto racing, snowboarding, and tennis. I was never an athlete, but I’m able to do heavy work for short durations. I write blogs or stories every day, and usually do some drawings as well.

Why are Howie, Steve, and me  still here, while our flesh and blood and our friends are gone, physically or mentally?

Luck and genes I would guess.

Ice on the cedars

April 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Ice on the cedars; Powerful wind cracks ice off; Trees bow to the wind

I’m sitting in a darkening house, growing cold. Fierce winds driving an ice storm has killed the hydro power again. It was off in the night through to 10:30 this morning. Then on for a couple of hours and now it’s off again.

When it got uncomfortably cold in the house, we went to Henrik’s house, where he had power and a woodstove. He made us breakfast and I played with Rupert, Henrik’s really lovable Dachshund pup.

Meanwhile there’s the uncomfortable helplessness. The sump pump won’t run. The water pump won’t run. The phone system won’t work without power, but at least we have the cellphone. No Internet of course.

It feels to me like just another day. As you know, shit happens. One deals with things that are one’s responsibility and rides with the things that just happen. Erzsebet has gone to a girlfriend/neighbor that has a woodstove, so I’m peacefully here with you.

I find it strange that most of the village around us had power, but our street does not.

We just got a message from Henrick that Kati’s school went dark now as well, so he had to go get her and take her home. It seems it’s the whole village now. I’ll assume that the power people know about it, and that the power will come on before the ice cream melts.

We’re getting along well. We have the expected aches and pains, especially with the erratic weather. I’ve quit smoking because I acquired a severe sinus problem. I rinse my nose out a couple of times a day, and squirt a tiny mist into each nostril. That only lets me sleep with just one nostril working. The right side seems to have something serious wrong with it.

It’s quite uncomfortable, but all day long, when I’m vertical, I breathe quite comfortably. When I lie down, it blocks up. I can get the one nostril working if I lie on my right side. On the left side, something causes the left nostril to block up too. Sometimes I get up at 2 or 3 in the morning and rinse out my nose. I’m taking it in stride rather than waste time on concern. I figure I’m on borrowed time. Most people my age are dead.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Death of Seduction

April 17, 2018 Leave a comment

I have always enjoyed seducing women. To me, women are forever fabulous, and provide society with real intelligence. I mean ‘real’ in the sense that men are inevitably plagued by the need to mate while women are concerned with living life in a sensible, satisfying way. Men usually need the lure of a gorgeous car or a lovely sailboat.

I liken it to a bird of which I’ve read. Male birds of most any species earn the right to mate with the female they desire by exhibiting superior traits. It might be the enthralling mating song, or colourful puffed breast feathers or an irresistible dance routine. The male of one bird species lacks all of those desirable traits. He meets his mate because of his really cool place.

To attract a female, the ‘plain’ bird gathers colourful props, like bits of red wool, a yellow piece of a potato chip bag or a green button. This bird accumulates as much colourful stuff as it can, and uses it to decorate a small area amid ground foliage. When females see his cool digs, some find that it turns them on, and they fly in for a bit of lustful romance.

In the case of people, recent events require a re-thinking in the minds of men. Rule number one: no touching. Actually, I feel unsure about how a man should behave while earning acceptance by a woman. As with most people, I didn’t realize that harassment was so prevalent, nor do I understand what the offending men do to offend.

In the past, I have introduced myself by name. I’d try to get a conversation going about something of interest to her. I’d learn of her interests through the small talk, and then develop as much sincere interest in her for the rest of the dialogue. Now I would come to the line over which one must not step. How to get close without offending?

I used to mention her characteristic that I liked the most.

“I like your hair,” I’d say, if she had hair that I liked.

“That shade of lipstick is perfect with your complexion,” if it was true.

“You look like an athlete,” I’d say if I felt that way.

Today I’d have to hesitate. Would I offend with, “Can we meet for lunch?”

Sometimes Greenstein Didn’t Lie

April 16, 2018 Leave a comment

I want to make it clear, before I tell the story, that Greenstein is a very good man. He’s eccentric as Hell, and a gentle giant with strong moral values. The only problem with Greenstein is… he’s liar.

He doesn’t lie for any nefarious reasons. It seems like he reads something in a magazine, and when one visits with him, he regales all in his audience with awesome tales of financial adventure, engineering adventure, and medical adventure. It depends what’s in the news, and what he last read.

He sometimes told stories of unique mishaps, like when he was driving a stock car at a race, and his steering came loose. He claimed he went through the guard rail at the end of the straight and into a wall. The car was ruined, and Greenstein needed a metal plate in his head. It might not be true, because that’s Greenstein, but it certainly isn’t harmful to anyone.

Greenstein was such a sweet guy, we never challenged his stories. Even when he told us he was part of a team that is going to raise a treasure ship off the bottom of the ocean, we acted impressed, and he was happy.

On another occasion, he told us he had a contract to do some underwater welding on a landmark installation that stands on iron stilts offshore on a lake. Again, no reason to argue, ‘cause that’s Greenstein.

He said he had opened a bank in the Cayman Islands, and it’s doing great. It was always like that with Greenstein, but he was a good friend and totally trustworthy. He told us he’d built a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his back yard. It’s possible, I guess.

I was visiting a speed shop for some parts. The guy saw my Jewish-sounding name, and asked if I knew Greenstein, as I was in a speed shop he used. I said I knew him, and the guy began to regale me with a story about when he saw Greenstein go through a guard rail and needed a metal plate in his head. So… it seems Greenstein sometimes tells weird but interesting stories that are true.

I opened the Daily Star one day, and took out the second section. There on the front page, second section, was a half- page photo of Greenstein with his old-fashioned, hard-hat diving rig over a caption that read, “Underwater welder to shore up Ontario Place”.

I visited Greenstein one summer afternoon. We went out to his back yard, where he was growing beans. Right there in his back yard, an older model Harley-Davidson motorcycle sat on a jack, and construction was obviously just completed. There was an ample crop of beans, as well.

In the end, I guess it could be true that he raised a treasure ship from the bottom of the ocean, but I doubt it. He could have a bank in the Cayman Islands, but I doubt it. However, his welding story was in the newspaper, and the motorcycle is right there in his yard.

A Dearth of Mensch

April 10, 2018 Leave a comment

If you’re a woman of gentle nature and living a wholesome life, you might be seeking a special, exclusive partner. Women who fit that basic description are up against a tough situation. Although women of this type are desirable, and men would love to partner up with such women, it doesn’t happen happily as often as it should.

The main thing that diminishes the number of happy unions between gentle women and men who desire them is the dearth of mensch. The scarcity of good, kind, decent and honourable men is a potential problem for women of that same kind. Many women are not attracted to cowboys, high rollers and tattoos on bodies rippling with muscles.

Most any woman is attractive to a man of some type, but many men are unattractive to women of taste and quality. I don’t mean divas, or wealthy women. I mean good, honest, intelligent women. A man in a flashy car with a tattooed elbow out the window will be compellingly attractive to some women, but a woman with much self-esteem might find that image dated, or even comical.

The situation is such that for some women, a good man is hard to find. For other women, a hard man is good to find.

Everyday Black

April 3, 2018 Leave a comment

It happened again today, while I was writing this blog. A white police officer shot and killed a black man. Two cops had the guy on the ground and the cop’s gun was virtually pushed into the guy’s body. They didn’t have to shoot him because they had him flat on the ground, but there was a gun in his pocket. If they’d turned him over onto his belly, they could have cuffed him. I read that the cops weren’t charged with anything. What the hell is going on in the USA? It’s as if killing a black person doesn’t matter. It was like that in the old south when blacks were property, and could be treated any way the owner wanted.

I find it difficult to understand how average black citizens can go out of their homes and go to the market or to their jobs. They might be legally killed by a police officer at any moment for any reason. A black guy has to be courageous to just go to his job or eat a sausage from a street vendor. He could be shot by police for dripping mustard on the sidewalk. If I was black, I think I’d be in hiding most of the time.

There is a difference between black people and white people that goes beyond colour. Whatever the differences are, they should not lead to fear or animosity. It’s true that there are dangerous street gangs, and not all gangs are black. White street gangs are every bit as aggressive and intimidating as are black gangs. There are probably mixed race gangs too, so let’s call it all more or less even.

I am encouraged by growing trends on television where mixed race families are depicted. Most frequently the family is in a wholesome environment. A white father and his mixed-race daughter go together for ice cream. A white mother plays with her 3 mixed race children in a well-groomed back yard. These images should help black citizens understand white citizens and white citizens understand black citizens. Unity will grow through time.

Categories: Uncategorized