Monday, January 28, 2013

Use of the Atomic Bomb

For some reason, I have always been fascinated and saddened by our use of the atomic bomb against the Japanese in WWII.  As Americans, we are supposed to be own the moral high ground yet we are the only country to actually use nuclear bombs as weapons of mass destruction. I always wondered whether there a way of either warning Japanese civilians or demonstrating the power of the weapon prior to its use. Were there other military targets that would have lessened the civilian impact? Why was the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki just three day later? Why not give the Japanese a chance to surrender after Hiroshima? 

In May of 1945, a secret Committee of American military, political, industrial and scientific leaders and British representatives (it was termed "interim" until Congress created a bill to more permanently deal with military and peace time use of nuclear energy) was formed to assist Secretary of War Henry Stimson on nuclear policy. Four scientists were added as advisors to the Committee including Professors Enrico Fermi, Arthur Compton, Ernest Lawrence and J. Robert Oppenheimer. During the Committee meeting on May 31, there was a debate regarding the use of atomic bombs against Japan. Most of the discussion concerned a possible technical demonstration of the bomb that may preclude its actual use. 
  • Would a failed demonstration have the opposite effect and somehow steel the Japanese resolve?Could it just make us an International laughing stock? 
  • Would Japanese observers believe what they saw and not think it was trickery of some sort?
  • Could we afford another bomb for demonstrations purposes as we only had enough fissionable material to make a few bombs
  • If they were warned, wouldn't the Japanese utilize all their available aircraft and radar to shoot down the plane carrying the bomb?
  • Would a staged demonstration in the desert have as much psychological impact or the modern term "shock and awe" as a surprise use of the bomb against a Japanese city?
Dr. Arthur Compton later recalled:

At the luncheon following the morning meeting, I was seated at Mr. Stimson's left. In the course of the conversation I asked the Secretary whether it might not be possible to arrange a nonmilitary demonstration of the bomb in such a manner that the Japanese would be so impressed that they would see the uselessness of continuing the war. The Secretary opened this question for general discussion by those at the table. Various possibilities were brought forward. One after the other it seemed necessary that they should be discarded. It was evident that everyone would suspect trickery. If a bomb were exploded in Japan with previous notice, the Japanese air power was still adequate to give serious interference. An atomic bomb was an intricate device, still in the developmental stage. Its operation would be far from routine. If during the final adjustments of the bomb the Japanese defenders should attack, a faulty move might easily result in some kind of failure. Such an end to an advertised demonstration of power would be much worse that if the attempt had not been made. It was now evident that when the time came for the bombs to be used we should have only one of them available, followed afterwards by others at all-too-long intervals. We could not afford the chance that one of them might be a dud. If the test were made on some neutral territory, it was hard to believe that Japan's determined and fanatical military men would be impressed. If such an open test were made first and failed to bring surrender, the chance would be gone to give the shock of surprise that proved so effective. On the contrary, it would make the Japanese ready to interfere with an atomic attack if they could. Though the possibility of a demonstration that would not destroy human lives was attractive, no one could suggest a way in which it could be made so convincing that it would be likely to stop the war.

After luncheon, the Interim Committee went into executive session. Our Scientific Panel was then again invited in. We were asked to prepare a report as to whether we could devise any kind of demonstration that would seem likely to bring the war to an end without using the bomb against a live target.

Ten days later, at Oppenheimer's invitation, Lawrence, Fermi, and I spend a long week end at Los Alamos. We were keenly aware of our responsibility as the scientific advisers to the Interim Committee. Among our colleagues were the scientists who supported Franck in suggesting a nonmilitary demonstration only . We thought of the fighting men who were set for an invasion which would be so very costly in both American and Japanese lives. We were determined to find, if we could, some effective way of demonstrating the power of an atomic bomb without loss of life that would impress Japan's warlords. If only this could be done!

Ernest Lawrence was the last one of our group to give up hope for finding such a solution. The difficulties of making a purely technical demonstration that would carry its impact effectively into Japan's controlling councils were indeed great. We had to count on every possible effort to distort even obvious facts. Experience with the determination of Japan's fight men made it evident that the war would not be stopped unless these men themselves were convinced of its futility.

The summary conclusion in the May 31 Committee report stated :

...that the weapon be used against Japan at the earliest opportunity, that it be used without warning, and that it be used on a dual target, namely, a military installation or war plant surrounded by or adjacent to homes or other buildings most susceptible to damage. 

A recommendation memorandum issued by the Scientific Panel to the Interim Committee on July 16, also stated:

...we can propose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use.

But the July 16 recommendation also illustrated the deep divide within the scientific community: 

The opinions of our scientific colleagues on the initial use of these weapons are not unanimous: they range from the proposal of a purely technical demonstration to that of the military application best designed to induce surrender. Those who advocate a purely technical demonstration would wish to outlaw the use of atomic weapons, and have feared that if we use the weapons now our position in future negotiations will be prejudiced. Others emphasize the opportunity of saving American lives by immediate military use, and believe that such use will improve the international prospects, in that they are more concerned with the prevention of war than with the elimination of this specific weapon

Many of the scientists who were working in the Bomb project believed that the use of the Bomb could be a deterrent to future wars not just a way to end the war with Japan. This utopian belief was voiced by Niels Bohr and championed by Robert Oppenheimer. Dr. Compton' explained this view:

We were glad and proud to have had a part in making the power of the atom available for the use of man. What a tragedy it was that this power should become available first in time of war and that it must first be used for human destruction. If, however, it would result in the shortening of the war and the saving of lives--if it would mean bringing us closer to the time when war would be abandoned as a means of setting international disputes--here must be our hope and our basis for courage.

This belief was not shared by other scientists including Leo Szilard whose letter in 1939 co-signed by Albert Einstein originally convinced FDR to begin a bomb development effort. They felt that the military use of the bomb against Japan was morally wrong and would lead to an International nuclear arms race. 

Unfortunately, neither Bohr or Szilard were proven correct. The bomb did not end all future wars. As to the hope that not using the bomb would lead to International cooperation? Morality and altruism did not win the day. An arms race was inevitable. 

The Soviets would already knew about the Manhattan Project when Stalin was told by President Truman about the successful Trinity bomb test of July 16 at the Potsdam conference on July 26. They had multiple spies within the Manhattan Project itself. It was later revealed that Klaus Fuchs, a scientist with the British contingent at Los Alamos, and David Greenglass, an engineer and brother-in-law to Julius Rosenberg had fed atomic secrets and documents to Soviet agents. In the 1990s, with the declassification of Soviet intelligence materials, which showed the extent and the type of the information obtained by the Soviets from US sources, a heated debate ensued in Russia and abroad as to the relative importance of espionage, as opposed to the Soviet scientists' own efforts, in the making of the Soviet bomb. The vast majority of scholars agree that whereas the Soviet atomic project was first and foremost a product of local expertise and scientific talent, it is clear that espionage efforts contributed to the project in various ways and most certainly shortened the time needed to develop Soviet atomic bombs. 

In addition to the actual use of the bomb, I was always troubled by the targeting of cities and the concommitant large civilian casualties. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizeable garrison.

On May 10-11,1945 a committee of Los Alamos leaders led by General Leslie Groves met to discuss targeting of the atomic bombs against Japan. Possible targets were based on the following qualifications:

(1) they be important targets in a large urban area of more than three miles in diameter, (2) they be capable of being damaged effectively by a blast, and (3) they are unlikely to be attacked by next August. 

Hiroshima was listed as a high potential target along with Kyoto, the former capital of Japan (Note: Nagasaki eventually replaced Kyoto on the list. I can only imagine the death and devastation if the bomb was dropped on a city with a population of 1 million people) :

Hiroshima - This is an important army depot and port of embarkation in the middle of an urban industrial area. It is a good radar target and it is such a size that a large part of the city could be extensively damaged. There are adjacent hills which are likely to produce a focussing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage. Due to rivers it is not a good incendiary target. 

The report specifially mentioned the psychological impact of using the bomb on these locations:

It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance. Two aspects of this are (1) obtaining the greatest psychological effect against Japan and (2) making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released.

Unfortunately cities with large civilian targets had to be considered as primary targets. Earlier conventional air attacks initially targeted key industrial facilities. From March 1945, they were frequently directed against urban areas mainly because Japanese authorities dispersed the industrial equipment and machinery throughout the nearby cities to limit the effects of the bombings. The line between military and civilian, residential, and industrial was often non-existent.

Another major factor in the use of the bomb was averting a full scale invasion of the Japanese mainland. Yes, the loss of life at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was horrific but how many more Japanese and Allied lives would have been lost if the bombs were not used? An invasion was already planned for November 1, 1945 of the southernmost main Japanese island, Kyūshū and a second operation for the capture of the Kantō Plain, near Tokyo on the Japanese island of Honshū scheduled for March 1946.  

Upon hearing of the successful Trinity test of the bomb in New Mexico on July 16, Winston Churchill said:

Up to this moment we had shaped our ideas towards an assault upon the homeland of Japan by terrific air bombing and by the invasion of very large armies. We had contemplated the desperate resistance of the Japanese fighting to the death with Samurai devotion, not only in pitched battles, but in every cave and dug-out. I had in my mind the spectacle of Okinawa island, where many thousands of Japanese, rather than surrender, had drawn up in a line and destroyed themselves by hand-grenades after their leaders had solemnly performed the rite of harakiri . To quell the Japanese resistance man by man and conquer the country yard by yard might well require the loss of a million American lives and half that number of British --or more if we could get them there: for we were resolved to share the agony. Now all this nightmare picture had vanished. In its place was the vision --fair and bright indeed it seemed --of the end of the whole war in one or two violent shocks....

The Japanese were also given both official and unofficial opportunities to surrender prior to the use of the bombs in August 1945.  Strategic bombing in 1945 (including the use of incendiary "fire" bombing) was devastating Japan. By mid July, US Military Intelligence had intercepted and decoded secret messages that suggested key members of the Japanese government were trying to find a way to terminate the war. The actual terms were unimportant so long as the term "unconditional surrender" was not used.

At the Potsdam Conference on July 26, 1945, a declaration was issued by the Allies that listed the terms of Japanese surrender. The declaration called for the immediate and unconditional surrender of all Japanese forces. This ultimatum stated that, if Japan did not surrender, it would face "prompt and utter destruction" although the document did not make any mention of atomic weapons

The Japanese government did not disclose the declaration to the Japanese people. However, the ultimatum was broadcast to the Japanese Home Islands on the radio while leaflets describing it were dropped from American bombers. Although picking up leaflets and listening to foreign radio broadcasts had been banned by the government, the American propaganda efforts were successful in making the key points of the declaration known to most Japanese. As a result, Japanese Prime Minister Suzuki felt compelled to meet the Japanese press, to whom he reiterated his government's commitment to ignore the Allies' demands and fight on. The major stumbling block was the demand for unconditional surrender. The Japanese wanted to keep their Emperor and their form of government. While holding to their absolutist religious and cultural beliefs and without considering the fatal impact on their people, the Japanese government refused and the war continued.

In a letter dated January 12, 1952, President Truman described his understanding of the necessity of using atomic bombs to end World War II. 

I asked General Marshall what it would cost in lives to land on the Tokyo plain and other places in Japan. It was his opinion that such an invasion would cost at a minimum one quarter of a million casualties, and might cost as much as a million, on the American side alone, with an equal number of the enemy. The other military and naval men present agreed. I asked Secretary Stimson which sites in Japan were devoted to war production. He promptly named Hiroshima and Nagasaki, among others. We sent an ultimatum to Japan. It was rejected.

I ordered atomic bombs dropped on the two cities named on the way back from Potsdam...Dropping the bombs ended the war, saved lives, and gave the free nations a chance to face the facts. "

One final item-on August 15,1945 Emperor Hirohito announced that Japan has lost the war in a radio broadcast to his nation. "Moreover, the enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers". 

Amazingly, just one day before the Emperor's announcement, a military coup was attempted by the Staff Office of the Ministry of War of Japan and by many from the Imperial Guard of Japan in order to stop the move to surrender. In my opinion, this dispels the conclusion from the post-war US Strategic Bombing Summary report that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped.

After years of internal debate, my opinion has changed. What I never fully comprehended was that the Manhattan project was not an academic exercise to see if a bomb could be developed. It was a military operation to develop a super-weapon that could affect the outcome of WW II. A weapon that was always intended to be used against our enemies. 

I now believe that the atomic bomb was the right thing to use against Japan. If it did not directly end WW II, it certainly hastened the Japanese government's decision to surrender. By avoiding the invasion of the Japanese mainland, Dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki actually prevented hundreds of thousands of military and civilian causalities that would have resulted from an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Also an arms race with the Russians was inevitable whether we used to the bomb against Japan or not. 

Finally, I realized that the use of the bomb must be viewed through the lens of war.  In many ways, it is very easy to sit back with almost 70 years of hindsight and ask how certain decisions would avoid the loss of life. But what political or military leader when faced with an intractable fanatic enemy would not use a weapon that could immediately end the most devastating war in human history.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The best boy there ever was!

Lucy en repose

Thursday, October 01, 2009


As many of you may know, Seigfreid’s Funeral March was one of my father’s favorite pieces. The music not only mourned the death of a great hero but it also celebrated his life. That is what we are here to do today. To not only mourn the passing of an incredible man and unbelievably great father but to celebrate a hero’s life.

My father is and always will be my hero. He was the unshakeable foundation on which I built my life. He represents everything that I want to be, everything I should be. Hard work, honor, family, unconditional love, passion for life, a constant yearning to improve, to move forward yet remember the past. This is what made him the most uncommon man.

He came to this country alone, a kid who barely spoke English, making a few dollars a week unloading boxcars. He said that one of the primary ways that he learned English was through Baseball. He always told the story about sitting in the bleachers in Yankee Stadium and asking out loud in German as to what was happening during the game and then the crowd turning around and looking at him like he was crazy. He would read the newspapers about his beloved Yankees and learn English and about life in this country.
It was always amazing to me that he actually saw Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig play. He could regale you with stories of Dizzy Dean and his brother Paul- how they were driving along and got separated at a railroad crossing and then did not see each again for years. Or how they refused to pitch to Hank Greenberg because he was Jewish when he came close to breaking Babe Ruth’s record. I think he still has that yellowed photograph from the 1936 World Series that his mother cut out of the newspaper. She drew a huge arrow on the picture of the crowd at Yankee Stadium as she was able to pick his face out of the crowd using a magnifying glass.

Little by little, he was able to bring his family to this country. First his brother Curt, then sister Irene and his mother and finally his brother Justin. He always regretted it terribly that he could not save his remaining brother and sister as they disappeared in the Holocaust.

He met and married my mother and became part of the extended Baum family. Then he was able to start his own family. They adopted my brother, Ken and then finally had me after 10 years of trying. He was an integral part of 2 family businesses. In the butcher business with my Uncle Curt, he would wake up everyday at 4:30 so he could be at the meat market to pick up the best cuts of meat. I remember the smell of meat in all of the cars that we owned as I grew up and the fruit and chocolate graham crackers that he always stashed under the seat. I also remember that he was so exhausted by the end of the day that he would just eat dinner and then fall asleep on the couch. All of my friends from Kew Gardens still recall when their parents would buy meat from my father how he would give all the kids a piece of boloney or salami. Then he became an excellent frozen foods salesman. Years after he retired, when he drove past a group of stores he would still pan his head back and forth looking for sales prospects.

He had an incredible thirst for knowledge and an even more incredible ability to retain that knowledge. He taught himself about the Stock Market during a time when the average man never involved himself as it was too complex. The New York Times was his bible which he could recite on a daily basis.
And then his other lifelong obsessions-Golf and Bridge! He played golf until he was 85 years old. His biggest disappointment after major heart surgery was that he was no longer able to play. He was a self-taught Life Master Bridge player and continued to play until the last few months of his life.
There was the world famous Sunday morning pancakes. The artistry, the care, the artery-hardening milk, butter and cream that went into making those magically thin pancakes. The “Kaddaful Klews”- those huge German dumplings that only he knew how to make. The Passover Seders that went on for hours but seemed like minutes.

His sense of humor. He taught me my first jokes and my wife will tell you that unfortunately I still tell them- over and over again. He took me to my first ballgame, my first concert, my first Opera. He later shook his head in disbelief, wondering where he went wrong when I became a Mets fan and a Jazz lover.
Even his 90’s, he still appreciated a beautiful woman. When an attractive lady passed by, he would say “ You know, that ain’t hay!”

We all know that he was a man with definite opinions and views on life. He was the only man that absolutely knew that even the Pope was Jewish! I remember receiving an excited call from him last year, when there was a rumor going around that John Kerry's maternal grandfather was Jewish.
And always the music! The rich classical music that was the backdrop of his life. When he explained his music to you, you did not just listen to it, you experienced it, you felt it. It was like being part of some Master Class.

Finally, there were the two great sustaining joys in his life- my mother and Dorothy. Can you imagine! Most of us are lucky if we can find one life partner, he found two! I was so blessed to grow up in home with an abundance of love, where both of my parents would do anything for me and for each other. The devotion that he showed to my mother during her several years of illness was the stuff of legends.

And then he met Dorothy. They became so close they were like two halves of the same heartbeat. Dorothy- you were the kindest, most loving companion to him. I really did not think that anyone could match the dedication and love that my father shared with my mother but somehow you matched it. We love you so much. I realized recently that you are not a step mom to me but my second mom.

No matter what fate threw at him, he fought back and incorporated it all into his life experience. Whether it was the Depression or World War II, he fought through it. The Holocaust, he fought through it. Losing my mother and my brother at an early age, he fought through it. Outliving all of his family, he fought through it. All of the physical ailments in the last few years. No matter what, it did not defeat him.
Well Dad, you don’t have to fight anymore, you can now rest.

The last time that we saw him in the hospital, they lightened up on the sedative so we could speak to him for a few minutes. As he opened his eyes, a tear ran down the side of his cheek. Even though he was in pain, I firmly believe that this was a tear of joy as he realized that we were there with him. He knew he was surrounded by love.

Somehow, I always held to this childish notion that my father was indestructible, that he would live forever. I know that every person that ever met him was changed in some way. A stranger, meeting him for the first time, would realize instantly that this was a special person. After all, isn’t that really what makes us immortal-the ability to affect others, to be different, to stand out, to be remembered.
His love and memories surround and sustains us always. As you leave the service today, I will play Seigfreid’s Funeral March in honor of my father. When you hear it now and in the future, think of my father, remember his stories, remember his warmth and love and he truly will live on with us forever.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Very weird seeing the first exhibition game from Citi Field last night. I thought I was watching a road game. First I thought they were in Wrigley Field due to the brick background behind home plate. Then I thought they were in San Francisco or Houston with the asymmetric outfield. Miss the multi-colored tiers of seats as well. All will be forgiven if they win of course.
I guess it's time for my annual Mets prediction. I think the Mets will start slowly and have a better second half of the season. Their starting pitching could be the worst of the contending teams in the National League. As a result, they will make a trade for a pitcher by the trading deadline. They will make the playoffs as the wild card but lose in the second round. Again, they just don't have those three dominant starters that you need in the playoffs.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanks to early morning runs when you don't want to get of bed. Thanks to the cold and dark and lonely runs, the runs when you are too tired or have too many other things on your mind. Thanks to the 20 milers. Thanks to the 5 mile and 10k races. Thanks to the rare runs when you feel like you are 25 again and can run at top speed forever. But most importantly, thanks to those runs with friends where you talk so much you don't realize the miles are slipping by.

Thanks to the NYC Marathon 2008:

Friday, November 14, 2008

A prayer of thanks

 A Prayer of Thanks

Barack atah Illinois, Eloheinu melech ha'olam,
hoo-ray p'ri ha-electoral landslide.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

White House Visitor

One sunny day in 2009 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue , where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, 'I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.'

The Marine looked at the man and said, 'Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.' The old man said, 'Okay' and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, 'I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.' The Marine again told the man, 'Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.' The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying 'I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.'

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, 'Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?'

The old man looked at the Marine and said, 'Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.'

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, 'See you tomorrow sir.'

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The American dream has been fulfilled!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Well now that the Mets have lost again the pain in my stomach and head will subside but the mental anguish continues. Three years of seeing this team fail when it counts. Three years of injuries, excuses, poor cluth hitting and no heart. Other teams find ways to win but the Mets find ways to lose. I am tired of seeing other teams celebrate on our home field. I am tired of seeing the blank look in the face of our players while the visiting team is jubilant. Every time it is a team we should beat but our team makes them look like the '27 Yankees.

Everyone was hoping that the last game at Shea would be memorable. But we all must realize that Shea Stadium has seen more losing than winning, more ineptitude versus great play and more frustration than celebration. Unfortunately, this terrible loss is more representative and encapsulates 45 years at Shea.

Shea was really the first stadium that I frequented. It represented baseball to me. But now it represents failure. Hopefully Citi Field will be dealt a better fate.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. W e plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Under the heading "You can't make this stuff up!". Is this indicative of our American gun culture or what?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Paris is an incredible city. They maintain their history and the Metro is clean and on time. But the joy of seeing our French friends was totally destroyed when I found out that Danny Federici died. If you are not aware, Danny was the organist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band.

I am in complete shock as I had no idea that he was battling cancer for three years. I guess I am not as much as Bruce fanatic as I thought. I did not even know that Danny had stopped touring with the E Street band back in November due to his medical condition.

Danny may not have been one of the most prominent members of the band. He did not have the public face of a Steve Van Zandt or Max Weinberg. He was not a featured player like Roy Bittan or the Big Man, Clarence Clemons. Yet he was a distinctive as anyone. The apochryphal story of how he received his nickname of "Phantom" Dan Federici. His Flemington, New Jersey roots and his long red hair that swished back and forth when he played.

But it was his performance on organ, accordion, calliope and assorted instruments that brought the fun, the bluesiness and the Jersey Shore sound to the E Street band. I will never forget when I saw Bruce at the Acadamy of Music in 1978(?). Danny and Roy Bittan do the most incredible mano a mano organ and piano duel on Kitty's Back. Danny could even make Wild Billy's Circus song a concert favorite!

The older I get the more I realize that I can't hold on forever to the people and events that brought joy into my life. Great memories are fine but they can't stop reality from creeping in. Joy and sadness. Yin and yang. You can't have one without the other.

Phantom Dan- others may play Bruce's music but it will never sound the same. We will miss you!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Pianist Teddy Wilson tells a story about the great Louis Armstrong or Satch as he was called. Seems Satch loved hamburgers. He would go into the same restaurant each day and order a hamburger. The waitress knew he loved hamburgers. One day they ran out of hamburgers and the waitress scratched it off the menu. When Satch came in for lunch, the waitress told him that she just scratched what he liked best. He said, "That's all right baby. Wash your hands and bring me a hamburger."

(thanks to Gil for this!)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bruce at the Garden 10/19/2007

Absolutely awesome show last night. One of the best I have ever seen. Bruce
was in great spirits and the crowd was fantastic. Everyone went nuts
(especially me) when he played Meeting Across the River and Jungeland. Also
I have never heard "Thundercrack" live in concert before. American Land was
fun at the end when he brought up members of the Seeger Sessions band. Here
is a blog report on the concert:

Meeting and Jungleland at MSG on Night 2
Posted by Stan Goldstein October 19, 2007 1:12AM

Thursday's second show at Madison Square Garden was a
special night because of two songs.
The tour debuts of Meeting Across the River (my
favorite Springsteen song) followed by Jungleland.
Five of the eight songs from the Born to Run album
were played.

Show began at 8:26 p.m.

1. Radio Nowhere
2. Night
3. Lonesome Day
4. Gypsy Biker
5. Magic
6. Reason to Believe
Two shhhhhhhushhhes again by Bruce before as the crowd
started getting into the song. Toward the end of the
song Bruce put his harmonica in water and then
splashed it around the stage.

7. Candy's Room
8. She's The One
9. Livin' In The Future
In his rap before the song, Bruce said "The Bill of
Right has to get louder cheers than cheeseburgers!
Damn people!"
Bruce also mentioned how the Statue of Liberty and the
Jets and the Giants are in New Jersey and that the
theme song from New York/New York was sung by a guy
from Jersey.

10. The Promised Land
11. Tougher Than The Rest

12. Meeting Across The River
Just Bruce, Roy Bittan on piano and Garry Tallent
playing the stand-up bass.
Bruce said before playing it:
"I have a special dedication tonight. An old friend
passed away a while back. When I first game to New
York City I met Peter Boyle. I had just put out Born
to Run and Peter told me how much he liked it because
of the failure and redemption on the album. Tonight
would have been his birthday."
Perfectly done. It just doesn't get better than this
at a Springsteen show for me.

13. Jungleland.
What can you say. A perfect song to be played in
Madison Square Garden. The place went nuts. Clarence
sounded great on the sax solo. Bruce gave Clarence a
double tap on the shoulder after he finished playing

After Jungleland Bruce said: "That's for Peter. We
love you!"

14. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch).
Bruce has a lot of fun on this song with Steven.

15. Devil's Arcade
16. The Rising
17. Last To Die
18. Long Walk Home
19. Badlands

Main set over at 10:10 p.m .

Bruce came out for the encores wearing a black T-shirt
that had "New York City" on it.

20. Girls in their Summer Clothes
21. Thundercrack
"This was our original showstopper before there was
anybody at the shows to stop," Bruce said. He
mentioned again how he used to play the song at Max's
Kansas City when he was on a bill with Bob Marley and
The Wailers.

22. Born to Run
23. Dancing in The Dark
24. American Land
Five members of the Sessions Band joined the E Street
Band on this song: Lisa Lowell on vocals, Jeremy
Chatzky on bass, Larry Eagle on percussion, Charlie
Giordano at Roy's piano and Greg Liszt on banjo.
Show over at 10:48 p.m.
Great show.

Spotted in the crowd: Howard Stern and his fiancee
Beth Ostrosky, (although they left before "The Rising"
was played); Jack Ford from Cout TV, actor Ed Norton,
Chuck Zito and NBA (Knicks) TV-announcer Mike Breen.

Overall six songs played tonight that weren't played
on Wednesday night.

Bruce Springsteen "Magic"

First there was "Bruce Juice" to brighten up my day, now there is "Magic"
to cast off the gloom of the Mets night.

There is a process that you go through when you approach a new album from
Bruce. It really unfolds like a new relationship. Initially you don't know
what to expect. There are always the erroneous first impressions- Why that
song? What is he trying to say to me? Why doesn't he use Clarence more?
Where are the rockers? You have to peel away and peel away until you get
to know the music, the words, the feelings, the gestalt of the album. Then
it becomes an intimate old friend that you know differently than everyone

Finally, you see Bruce perform the songs live and the relationship changes
again. Your old friend is now stepping out in his/her party clothes. Their
true personality shines through and the relationship escalates to a whole
new level of passion and appreciation. You become aware that Bruce and his
music have changed you forever.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I give up. I have lost the faith. I am tired of getting a lousy night's sleep and walking around with this pit in my stomach. Why do we let our love for our sports teams define us as people? What is this character flaw that somehow I am a winner in life if my team wins? Why do we invest so much time, energy and emotion in our favorite teams.

It is especially perplexing when you consider that failure is the one major constant for all sports. A batter in baseball is considered a star if they are successful and get a hit 30% of the time. The Mets have built their franchise on failure. They began in 1962 as "Lovable Losers" and still hold the Major League record for the most losses in one season. In 45 years, they only have two Championships (of course there are several teams during that same timeframe that did not won any Championships).

There was the loss in game 7 in the NLCS last year when we had a better team than the Cardinals. The ignomy of the loss to the Yankees in the 2000 Subway Series and having to deal with all the Yankee fans. Our only Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver, losing game 6 of the 1973 World Series when we were up 3 games to 2 to the legendary Oakland A's. Mike Scocia's home run against Dwight Gooden in the 1988 playoffs against an inferior Dodgers team.

Maybe the pain is still too acute but this season's failure hurts more than ever. Maybe the cumulative years of disappointment are just too much to ignore anymore. The Mets now own another record of failure-the only team to lose a 7 game lead with only 17 games remaining in the season. The New York Times described it as " a collapse of unprecedented proportions" and a nosedive that that "would be downright humiliating to New York".

But I really should not have been fooled by this team. They had the most 40+ players of any team. The pitchers were either old, coming off injuries, inexperienced rookies or castoffs from other teams. As compared to last year, not one regular had a career season. The most games they won in a row was five while they had three losing streaks of at least five games.

Unfortunately it is time to break up this team. Keep Wright and Reyes and maybe Beltran and then everyone else is expendable. I think Willie deserves another year but he may be put in a Tom Coughlin situation where he has to win while the team is rebuilding. It is definitely time to infuse this tea, with players who are coming into their own not passed their prime.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The e the Soldier

A nun and a soldier

             A soldier ran up to a nun. Out of breath
he asked, "Please, may I hide under your skirt. I'll
explain later." 

             The nun agreed. A moment later two
Military Police ran up and asked, Sister, have you
seen a soldier?" 

             The nun replied, "He went that way." 

             After the MP's ran off, the soldier
crawled out from under her skirt and said, "I can't
thank you enough Sister. You see, I don't want to go
to Iraq " 

             The nun said, "I understand completely." 

             The soldier added, "I hope I'm not rude,
but you have a great pair of legs!" 

             The nun replied, "If you had looked a
little higher, you would have seen a great pair of
balls, I don't want to go to Iraq either."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thanks to Gil for this one:

Have you ever been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking, "Surely I can't look that old?"

Well... You'll love this one!

I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist. I noticed his DDS diploma, which bore his full name.

Suddenly, I remembered that a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name had been in my high school class some 40-odd years ago. Could he be the same guy that I had a secret crush on, way back then? Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought.

This balding, gray-haired man with the deeply lined face was way too old to have been my classmate. After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan Park High School .

"Yes. Yes, I did. I'm a mustang," he gleamed with pride.

"When did you graduate?" I asked.

He answered, "In 1959. Why do you ask?"

"You were in my class!" I exclaimed.

He looked at me closely. Then, that ugly, old, wrinkled, bald, fat, gray, decrepit son-of-a-bitch asked, "What did you teach?"

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Thanks to Sara for this incredibly funny video

The iRack:
Opening day 2007-as a Mets fan, I am genetically predisposed to be pessimistic. But I am really concerned about the possibilities for the team this year. I believe that there are certain windows of opportunities for certain teams. Last year was supposed to be the year that the Mets won it all. They had the momemtum from the beginning of the year. The timing was perfect in that the Braves were finally in a down period.

Now the Braves are reconstituted and they seem really hungry. The Phillies have some holes on defense and in their bullpen but their lineup is as good as the Mets and their starting pitching is better. The Marlins bullpen is non-existent but they can run those young arms at you and will be pesky at the very least.

The Mets have age at too many positions. The corner outfielders, catcher and second baseman are old and therefore could fall apart precipitously. You can fill holes as the season progresses but not that many!

Well I hope that my negative psychology approach works. Maybe if I bash them enough they will surprise me. Maybe Maine, Perez and Pelfrey will become the foundation of our starting staff for years to come. Maybe the question marks from the right side of the bullpen will pitch like Bradford and Sanchez last year. Maybe Reyes and Wright will finish one-two in the MVP voting. Maybe Pedro will be back and pitch like an Ace again. Just too many maybes!

But as always, LETS GO METS!
Husband and wife are in bed together.
She feels his fingers touch her shoulder.
She: "Oh, that feels good."
His fingers find her breast.
She: "Gee, honey, that feels wonderful."
His fingers move to her leg.
She: "Oh, honey, don't stop."
But he stops.
She: "Why did you stop?"
He: "I found the remote."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Citi Field? It's not Shea Stadium but it could have been worse. Imagine Wal-Mart Park? Too bad Metropolitan Life did not buy the naming rights. Then it could have been called Met Stadium or just "the Met".

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,

But there is no joy in Metsville—mighty Carlos has struck out."

I still can't believe that the Mets season is over. But even more amazing (no pun intended) to me is that I am not more upset. I hope this lack of feeling is not another manifestation of the aging process or just that I am tired of losing.

The passionate sports fan invests so much emotional capital into his or her team. What causes this phenomenon? Is it an escape from the humdrum and anonymity of our daily lives or does it go deeper? Does identifying with a winning team someone make us feel that we are winners? Conversely, does being a fan of a losing team make us feel that we are losers as well? During the baseball season over the last 40 years, my whole demeaner changes based on whether the Mets win or lose. My wife always knows when the Mets lose as I have what she not so affectionately calls "Mets face". Can the fate of a baseball team be a clinical cause of manic-depression? But somehow in the playoffs this year, the passion waned. I found myself changing the channels at critical points in the game. Twice I just TIVO'd the game and only watched when I found out the results the next day. I just couldn't take the emotional hit if I watched them lose. Am I now less of a fan or a just more normal person?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

This is our wonderful new cat Lucy. She chose us when she was vacationing at the Jackson Animal Shelter. She is very loving not only to us but to the Boy. They are terrific friends. They even groom each other! We miss Pushkin but Lucy has become a wonderful addition to the family. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Three Texas surgeons were playing golf together and discussing surgeries they had performed.One of them said, "I'm the best surgeon in Texas. A concert pianist lost 7 fingers in an accident, I reattached them, and 8 months later he performed a private concert for the Queen of England."One of the others said, "That's nothing. A young man lost both arms and legs in an accident, I reattached them, and 2 years later he won a gold medal in field events in the Olympics."The third surgeon said, "You guys are amateurs. Several years ago a cowboy who was high on cocaine and alcohol rode a horse head-on into a train traveling 80 miles an hour. All I had left to work with was the horse's ass and a cowboy hat. Now he's president of the United States.