New York’s tranquil sunrise may be a misleading image of how things are today.

I don’t, as a rule, like to enter any political discussions in my writespace. Disturbed by the trends toward suppression of ideas and the suspension of critical thinking evident on both the right and left these days, I disagree with just about everyone. It makes sense to remain aloof. Today, however, I am compelled to jot some thoughts about what is happening in New York City because I will be casting my early Primary vote this week, and rank voting could very well obviate my vote. I want to have my say.

We may be on the verge of electing…

The Dangerous Mouth Game

My father was eleven years old when he was summoned to his father’s bedside. “Remember this, my son,” the old man said. “Respect your mouth. Teeth can kill you.”

Grandfather knew whereof he spoke. He promptly died. . . felled by a cluster of abscessed teeth extracted too hastily in the days before Penicillin.

I grew up with that story in my head, reiterated over and over by my ever-grieving dad. By the time I reached old age and the disintegration of my own teeth, I had seen similar results in others. …

Pandemic Ponderings — Collateral Damage

Covid-19 has been kind to me so far. I suffered a bit from the usual wishing to be out in the world with friends, the ordinary desire to be back in the routines, to return to exploring the city I love. Still, no one close to me died, was displaced by unemployment or afflicted with hunger. I managed to teach online, and my income, while diminished by falling enrollment, has been sufficient. I can pay my rent. I can buy food. I am whole. As are my family and closest friends. I am grateful for my great good fortune.


Every night from March through July, as the pandemic raged beneath my seventh floor Harlem apartment, I fantasized returning to Saranac Lake. To block out the incessant wail of the sirens on Amsterdam Avenue, I covered my ears with headphones and watched YouTube videos featuring scenes of Adirondack serenity and longed to be back in the bosom of my home town, far away from dying New York City. I craved the comfort of my childhood fortress.

A fortress the child I was detested.

My family settled in Saranac Lake, a small town in the high peaks region of the Adirondack…

July 29, 2020 Were he alive today, my father would be turning a hundred nine. He has been dead thirty-seven years. I have been fatherless for more than half my life. It’s hard not to think of him today. On the day he died, he was exactly the same age as I am today, and he left so abruptly there was no chance to say good-by. He simply got up one morning and stepped into the stall to take his morning shower. …

Hot Time Summer in the City

At 4 AM on June 23, one young man took a video as another lit the firecracker that, a moment later, he threw at the man sleeping by the corner of the building. The video, released yesterday, shows the man being engulfed in the explosion. (Credit The NY Daily News Yossi Gestetner. )

New York City is under siege.

Every day from late afternoon overnight until early light of morning, fireworks perseverate. There is a ruckus on the street that blankets my apartment in a surround-sound track reminiscent of a badly-balanced war film’s. Small pops of firecrackers, like rounds of pistol fire, precede reverberating blasts from full-fledged explosives, cherry bombs and bottle rockets, whose lights flash on my windows at the edges of the drawn curtains.

That the pyrotechnic products and practices are illegal is indisputable. Yet there is little to no effort by the city to…

The Second Battle of Bull Run, August 28–30, 1862–15,000 Union troops died in two days, and the Confederacy wond a decisive victory. Hiram Terwilliger fought valiantly and (barely) survived.

Memorial Day Musing

Insomnia plagued my childhood. My mother was a refugee from Nazi Europe, who never spoke outright about what had happened back there. Eavesdropping on the muffled conversations she had in clandestine German with her sisters and parents, however, I felt the anguish wrought by the dismal truths they shared. I inferred that some dark force was out there, still looking for us. When I closed my eyes, I pictured evil monsters, and I could not sleep.

In those days, my father was rarely home. He traveled around the country, representing, depending on the year, surgical supply or…

Outside my windows: A dormant Catholic Church and its Tenants: a vacant Parochial and empty Charter School.

These days, my oldest grandchild, age 11, often telephones me from her home in Westchester. We have not seen each other since mid-March, and we are not used to so extended a separation. We normally spend at least a weekend a month together. So, she calls to tell me about her day, to ask for advice choosing the right word to complete a verse of the song she’s writing. Then she asks me to tell her what my day has been like here in the valley of the shadow of COVID-19. Last week, she issued a challenge.

“You should record…

Bad news from the Bronx today. The virus has killed my student’s mother. He’s only seventeen. She must have been young. Horrifying the alacrity with which his world is disemboweled.

No preparation, no goodbyes, no final words of wisdom or instruction. Just here today hi-mom-i’m-home, gone tomorrow, empty house. COVID-19 wins. Mom is dead. She’s been murdered by an invisible assailant, abetted by the country’s evil leadership that refused to enact precautions until it had spread unchecked, until it was too late to prevent the catastrophe that is our Now. I am overcome with impotent rage. …

The main problem with the Public Theatre’s production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, now playing at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, is that its frame is warped. Director Oskar Eustis has set the tale first in New York City then in Washington, D.C., in the time of our current great distress. He has dressed his Julius Caesar as a lean and hungry Trump, who struts and frets his overlong hour upon the stage as a great buffoon. This Caesar plunges stupidly into the senators’ trap, dying ignominiously in a moment closer to commedia dell’arte than tragic drama. His death…

Carla Stockton

Carla Stockton is aging as gracefully as possible in Harlem, NY

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