Monday, December 23, 2013


There was a time when New York City had a bunch of newspapers, in the morning, afternoon, early evening and late editions. In the morning we had The Daily News, The Daily Mirror, The Post. Of course there was the New York Times and The Herald Tribune. On Long Island we had the Star Journal and the Long Island Press which was an afternoon paper. Other afternoon papers were The Journal American, The World telegram and Sun. There were ethnic newspapers in Italian, Spanish and Jewish (Yiddish?).

The News had an edition call Night Owl which came out in the early evening a later edition and of course the morning issue. The Daily Mirror came out in the morning and was great for the horse players among us. They had a single frame comic called Joe and Asbestos which were two touts one white and the other black. It had the racing results and the races for the day as did the news. The News and the Mirror had great sport sections with Dan Parker the dean of the Mirror and Jimmy Powers the top News sports columnist. The cost of these papers were a couple of pennies in the 1940's up to a nickel then 15 cents in the 1950's. They carried gossip as well as editorials which were generally conservative. The Post back then was a leftist leaning newspaper and considered by some to favor communism despite the fact that Alexander Hamilton started the paper in 1801. Today it is more conservative that the Conservative party ever thought it would be.

The Times and The Herald Tribune were the serious papers then as they are now. The Trib. is published in France I believe and everyone know The Times as a beacon of Progressive thought which to this day stays away from the gossip and reports and analyzes. The Times and The Tribune didn't have comics but the other papers did and great ones like Dick Tracey, Smiling' Jack, Terry and The Pirates. Price Valiant which appears in The Sunday News today was a feature of the Journal American. I believe the great sports columnist, Jimmy Cannon wrote for The Journal American.

Many of these papers were formed by mergers The Journal American were two papers, The Journal and The American. The World Telegram and Sun were three papers, The World, The Telegram and the Sun. Even though we had radio the Newspapers were the main source of news. all news. With the advent of TV, Cable News Today and instant communication by the time the news gets published it is old news. There is nothing as dead as "old news". Newspapers today are trying to find their place in the world of the Internet and Digital copies so that the digital issues of the papers actually have the news way before it can be published and put out on the street. There may come a time in the not so far future that hard copies of Newspapers will be a thing of the past. We will still have the great reporters, columnists and analyzers of the events as they unfold but not in the form we have become accustomed to.

I sort of miss the days when one would go to the candy store and wait for the Night Owl edition of the Daily News to be delivered so we could see the news in print that we had missed during our workday. The quick look at the track results to see if we won, the report of the day's games and if Brooklyn Dodgers lost again. Then Jimmy Powers column to see what manager was being fired, eventually turn to the front for the hard news and then the Editorial section. Of course The Inquiring Photographer was always looked at. This was a column where six or so were asked a question and they would give a short answer which would appear next to their picture. Hey it was a big deal to get you picture in The Daily News in those days.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Helping The Least Is What A Great Nation Does

I love to solve puzzles. I don't do well with jumbles but I do fairly well with easy crossword puzzles. But the one I do best with is puzzles that come out of the human condition. I guess that is because I am a people watcher. People generally react in certain situations in predictable ways. Yet there is one puzzle I never can solve and that is the one where people in the middle class seem to want to blame the the poor for the maladies of our society while they want to give the ones on the upper echelon of the pecking order a free pass. You have heard it all before and perhaps you have even mouthed these words, "The people on welfare are milking the system. Food stamps is a credit card for those who are not responsible to buy anything they want.".  It seems that those who are saying this seem to think the poor are living high off the hog while we who have three squares and many noshes during the day and are well clothed are being ripped off by our brothers who are the working poor, or single mothers who are homeless, or all the others who are at the bottom rung of our economic pecking order.

There will always be those few who can rip off any system. But they are the few, the masses who are in the welfare system live at levels we wouldn't want to consider livable under any circumstances. I have worked in soup kitchens. I taught at Westchester Community College  in a special program that was geared to those on the dole with the express goal to try and lift them out of the vicious spiral life had taken them. While I must admit my experience is with a very small pool of people it was large enough to let me know that many of the poor had no chance because of the circumstances life had place them in.

First of all there were some who were affected by a medical calamity that had severe financial affects. There were others who found themselves unemployed for a long time because their company went belly up or decided to cut expenses by firing the older employees while they hired younger ones at less cost. There were others who were born in poverty which meant less schooling, and a neighborhood full of temptations to go down the wrong path. These people could have been you or me the only difference is they were beaten down by our society and were finding it very difficult to rise above their circumstances. I ask the question, "Who wouldn't be beaten Down when from birth the rules seemed to be working for the other guy and not me?". Here in New York, we have many thousands of homeless who are forced to live in unsafe shelters that are filthy and dangerous to women and children and the general populace as well. Food stamps, welfare payments, any help whatsoever is necessary and needed. They are our brothers and sisters. Why then is the middle class and the Conservative so ready to cut benefits with the unfounded conclusion that these people are ripping us off by taking advantage of the system? Why aren't we as a nation trying to alleviate the conditions that keep people down? Maybe it is because we fear that someday we may find ourselves in dire need and there will be no-one to take care of us!

On the other side of the coin we have the situation where the middle class and Conservative see nothing wrong in business making as much profit as they can despite the fact that much of the profits are on the backs of their workers who are getting wages that are at the poverty level. Bernie Madoff while spending the rest of his life in prison lived high, very high off the hog because the very rich wanted to get richer by investing with him. The greed shown by the majority of his investors drove them to invest without questioning as long as they made a lot of money. This is what a lot of the very rich do. They have more money than they could ever need and they want more. Many accumulate greater wealth by doing things that can be likened to Madoff except they make sure that the laws protect them. For example, business like fracking which can pollute our environment, or drilling for oil without the proper safeguards, are pursued for big profits by spending money influencing and supporting politicians that are either too ignorant of the scientific evidence, or are just too selfish and greedy, continue to prosper despite the fact that these pursuits injure our environment greatly. Many of us see these injustices and wink at them with the thought that if the elite are doing this it must be alright. Perhaps this attitude is the result of our selfish, greedy thoughts of acquiring great wealth ourselves.

So the puzzle remains unsolvable in my mind especially when I hear that we are supposed to be a Christian nation. If we were truly a Christian nation then we would make sure the very weakest of our brothers and sisters would be taken care of, always. If we were truly a Christian nation the spreading of the wealth wouldn't seem to be so foreign. Read the "Acts of The Apostles" where it describes the very first Christian community. The description is of a Socialist form of economics where every one shared and no-one was left  needing. I am not suggesting our nation turn to Socialism. I am saying if we are truly Christian then we should have the real desire to help the least fortunate and stop bashing them.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Prince of Peace Still Reigns

As he watched the snow fall gently to the earth covering all in it's blanket of white his thoughts were about the people he was reading about that had a profound affect on the world and it's surroundings.  He lived through the turbulent times of the last half of the twentieth century and it seemed that those who took the roads of violence and pain slipped into the past to be examined by historians but those who remained were those who chose peace, love forgiveness and healing were the only ones who remained in the hearts and actions of those who live.

The Catholic Church certainly did not distinguish itself and was beset by scandals about pedophilia and those who tried to cover it up. Yet the one who had the most profound affect on the Church by "Opening Up The Windows" and letting out the old ways and letting in the new is Pope John XXIII. A common man who never forgot his roots which were with the people. He used to sneak out of the Vatican to visit prisoners. He laughed. He prayed. He wanted social justice. Pope Francis, the current Pope, comes from the poorer sections of the world and just goes about his business of loving people not judging them. If it is true he spent some time as a bouncer than it could very well explain his understanding of what drives certain people most of whom live outside the confines of those that live within the walls of the church. These Popes wanted reconciliation through love and understanding nothing that would be forced on anyone.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi
  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader and freedom fighter of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific Mahatma —applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa,—is now used worldwide. He is also called Bapu in India.
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Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
  • Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
  • · Text under CC-BY-SA license

These two guys accomplished the impossible through peaceful means and they are giants of our civilization. Mandela after being imprisoned for 27 years never held the bitter pangs of revenge instead he forgave, he spread love and even invited his former prison guards to sit on a place of honor at the inauguration of his Presidency.

He thought that even though these men were religious leaders, leaders for social justice and freedom another person has shown what grace and forgiveness means to a successful life.  Joe Torre grew up in Brooklyn. His father was an abusive man who mistreated his mother. The family had tough times until the children grew to be men and stop the abuse. Joe Torre and his brother Frank became major league ballplayers with good but not hall of fame careers. Joe Torre went on to become a manager with his most successful tenure with the New York Yankees. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by acclamation.  Some say he was the most important manager of the New York Yankees ever. The most repeated slogan from those who played for him, wrote about him, all said it was the grace in which he treated everyone that was his biggest asset. He treated all with respect even those he had strong disagreements with. He brought a feeling of trust and a form of peace that calmed athletes that were always hyped up by their competitive nature and he had respect for all even those on the opposing teams. He has established The Safe At Home Foundation which offers assistance for abused women. He remembers his upbringing and has not forgotten those who still experience abuse.

The snow was letting up a bit. He couldn't help but experience a feeling of peace as he viewed the beauty of the newly fallen snow. He also couldn't help but feel so thankful that those who understood the sermon on the mount, perhaps never even knowing about it, have lived it to its powerful conclusion. Greatness lives in the era of peace and love eternally, while hate and violence eventually dissipates.