Stagger Lee, a song about a murder over a dice game and Stetson hat, was the number one song in America this week in 1959. Listening to it, I was reminded of how I won a jury trial by using its lyrics for my closing argument.
The song, recorded by New Orleans native Lloyd Price, told of two men who “gambled late.” One accused the other of cheating and lead to the shooting death of the other.
I represented a client who told me he was shooting dice outside of a Philadelphia bar when he won all the money from a fellow who had gambled late outside the bar.
My guy was arrested within hours of the dice game after the loser reported his money loss to the police, claiming the defendant stole it from him.
I was able to get the police report and it showed there was more than an hour delay from when the alleged crime took place and the actual call to the police. Most crimes are reported immediatley after they had occurred.
The so-called victim testified that he had not reported the incident until getting home and telling his wife that he did not have the money they needed because he was robbed. It wasn’t until his wife insisted he contact authorities about the theft that he called.
The witness denied having lost the cash by shooting dice but admitted under cross-examination to being in the bar, a place he often ferquented. However, he was unable to account for his delay in reporting his story.
I called my client to the witness stand and asked no questions. But I also directed him to roll down a sleeve of his shirt. He slowly rolled down the shirt sleeve exposing a colorful tattoo of two dice – a five and a two which made up the winning roll of a seven.
I then “published” him to the jury by having him stand and walk over to the jury box for the jurors to get a good look at the tattoo.
That tattoo became winner when the jury deliberated and rendered their “Not Guilty” verdict. They disbelieved the victim and accepted my analysis of the incident particularly after I told them the story of “Stagger Lee” and recited a few of the song’s verses.
It was the right thing to do and I was surprised and filled with joy upon leaving the courtroom after the verdict as the judge – James Lineberger, one of my favorite jurists – said to me “Go Stagger Lee, go!”
I tested “positive” for Covid-19.
Having felt sick, I contacted an Urgent Care unit in Conshohocken just outside of Philadelphia. Within minutes, a nurse scheduled an appointment and placed long-stemmed items up both nostrils after confirming my identity with a glance at my drivers’ license and a cell-phone confirmation.
She called me moments later at home announcing the results of the test and I’ve been dealing with it since January 7th 2021.
I had felt sick a day or two earlier and knew it was serious. It got a lot worse and I went to bed with a severe cough and sore throat and tried to sleep.
I was unable to sleep for two or three days after the test. Yeah, two or three days. Breathing became difficult and I drove myself to the emergency room at Einstein Medical Center where I was issued a battery of tests over an eight-hour period.
I couldn’t take the rapid probing and constant surveillance at the hospital. My PTSD kicked in and after a Cat-scan test, I began to rip out all the medical hook-ups to my arm, my wrist and stickers on my chest.
I just wanted to go home . . .
Which I did only to learn two days later that I had nothing severe to worry about from any of the hospital investigations.
My breathing returned to normal. I stopped coughing and was able to sleep and have healthy bowel movements.
I never got a fever or lost my sense of smell or taste as some people with Covid-19 had experienced. I still tire easily and have to catch my breath after going from one room to another. But I feel I am finally getting better and hope to take my butt out of quarantine in the next week or so. I know the virus could stay with me for several months, but I look forward to getting a shot or two by late spring or early summer if the vaccine could help me later.
Until then, I’ll just take it easy and pray that anyone who gets this virus will survive and eventually recover!
Today, I am a Georgia boy once again. And if we try hard enough, all of us could be Georgians!
Over the next several weeks I hope Americans join with me in offering positive intentions to convince the universe to focus and raise up the wonderful State of Georgia.
We need all who can possibly vote in Georgia to march to the poles or to drop their mail-in ballots in favor of the two candidates that would create enough Democrats in the Senate to support President-elect Joe Biden help America heal and grow stronger.
I am confident that the former vice president will follow the dictates of my old alma mater — the Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA — and “accomplish the mission” while “looking out for the welfare” of the men and women he has been elected to lead.
Yes, we should all focus on Georgia and create such a wonderful and spiritually-lifting vibe to win over the senate in the runoff election January 5, 2021.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND
– – – – – – – – – –
John F Kennedy helped the world to focus on another state, a war-torn land, that was split during the what historians call the Cold War. He wrote his own speech stating “We are all Berliners.” Years later, the Berlin Wall came down and the world prospered along with a united and allied Germany.
I believe the same highly focused intention can help America accomplish a similar Herculean task and provide the votes to win this war against the virus, the failing economy and the negativity of the past several years.
Yes, today we are all Georgians and will be united for the good of all the people. I spent six months in the state training for the battlefield in Vietnam and then three more weeks to learn how to jump out of an airplane to accomplish that mission. I revere the state and feel enlightened by the words of Ray Charles “All roads lead back to you” Georgia!
And let’s not forget what the book “The Alchemist” shared with us all: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.“
The Universe smiled upon us and granted the Georgia blessing for all America!
Holidays ain’t what they used to be when you were a kid. Particularly, if you ended up in the military and spent some of your formative years in a war zone like the Vietnam War.
I could not celebrate Thanksgiving Day this year. It was the 50th anniversary of a comrade of mine named Victor Lee Ellinger, a first lieutenant who was shot and killed by an enemy sniper just three days before the holiday. (See Cost of War.)
I’ll never forget the anguish I felt and the inability to properly mourn him. The holiday lost all of its meaning years later when I looked back and recalled the events of his death. There were three junior officers in our company. Victor was by far the best and I’ll never forget how the other lieutenant and I ate our Thanksgiving dinner in a rear encampment away from the “bush” just three days after the shooting. It seemed there was little if anything be thankful for that day in 1970.
Christmas was also bad that year. I had been relieved of my command right before the holiday. As an officer, I had ordered mortar rounds to be fired upon a river bank where I was leading my platoon and suspected the enemy was waiting to ambush us. The rounds fell a long way off the target and I kept ordering the sergeant shooting the armament several clicks away to “step down” to get the mortar rounds closer to the VietCong.
After three or four attempts the last round struck us and five of my platoon members — called “grunts” — were wounded and eventually medevac’d out. An investigation was conducted about the so-called “friendly fire” episode and I was held responsible for the mishap and relieved of my duties.
I’ll never forget lying on the cot in a tent in a rear base camp and feeling lower then dirt that Christmas morning. Yes, lower than dirt. At least dirt could provide something useful such as transforming food to grow from soil. Me? I felt I wasn’t good enough for anything that holy day of days.
I was given a new command and made good (See Mutiny). And was given the honor of a 21-gun salatue by my platton upon leaving Vietnam some six months later.
Let’s not forget my birthday which is celebrated today. My 21st birthday was a most forgettable one. I was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, as a training officer in boot camp. We had an IG inspection the next day and I remember inspecting the barracks the night of one’s most celebrated days and feeling so very alone in the army.
You see, I was a commissioned officer. I could not fraternize with the troops or the drill sergeants. I hardly ever visited the officers club and never hung out with any other lieutenants. I was alone that day and since then I have never wanted to mark my birthday as anything special.
So, bear with some of the veterans you know during these days of festivities and joyful outpourings. Some of us have been marked by trauma and experience events a little differently and all we need is a single person to try to understand that . . . Thanks for bearing witness this holiday period.
I got hacked.
Some sombitch broke into my Internet connection and must have sent dozens of messages to who knows how many people I have gotten to know through Facebook and possibly Messenger.
I awoke to this criminal tresppass early this morning by glancing at my I-phone at 4 am just to see if a new president had been announced. I saw six contacts from people I used to work with at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. They all told me I was hacked.
Prior to that, I had got messages through Messenger asking if I had sent the receivers a video of some sorts. I tried to open the video displayed but it was to no avail. Among the contacts was the spouse of a fellow I served with in the Vietnam War and my old union boss for whom I worked as an organizer for The Newspaper Guild.
I felt violated, intruded upon and kicked in the gut.
This had happened before but I didn’t have some many friends and associates contact me as a result of this invasion. It hurt man. Really hurt.
I changed my Facebook password after being unable to log in yesterday. A week earlier, I was informed by a representative of McAfeeTotal Security that hundreds of my computer thingamajings were either closed or damaged somehow. I had them sweep my computer to repair the damage. The hacking must have occurred as a result of the culprit’s actions.
My old laptop computer had stopped working last week. I then turned to a refurbished one I had gotten more than a year earlier when the glass on my old laptop got cracked. A heavy object fell onto it from the back seat of my car when I was driving to a writer’s workshop. But I continued to work with the cracked glass until it completely died last week.
Perhaps the refurbished laptop computer already had some junk in it. I wouldn’t know because I am not tech savvy.
In any case, I want to apolgize to anyone who got any hacked messages from me. You can still send me any money if the hacker requested it and you would like to help out this aging disabled veteran who had to overcome being a laballed a hack writer . . .
Just don’t expect any replies or “likes” on your Facebook submission.
I have protested more in the past several months than I had ever exercised that American Constitutional-right in my entire life and feel really good about my actions!
I protested the attempted curtailment of postal services at the Conshohocken Post Office and knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds at the Montgomery County Courthouse in protest of the police killing of George Floyd.
Meanwhile, I took part in a rally against the current president by waving banners of Biden-for-president in West Conshohocken that was created by a Hispanic youth from Norristown who was but 19-years-old.
And, as a former combat infantry platoon leader, I felt honored to have joined forces with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at the courthouse steps in Norristown to protest gun violence a few months ago.
Today is the anniversary of the world’s largest protest ever. It was on October 15, 2011, that global protests were held inspired by the Arab Spring, the Icelandic protests, the Portuguese “Geração à Rasca”, the Spanish “Indignants”, the Greek protests, and the Occupy movement. Global demonstrations were held in more than 950 cities in 82 countries. The protests were launched under the slogan “United for Global Democracy.”
I had taken part in only three protests prior to my most recent activities. I felt it was my duty to speak out and assert my right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution which says the following:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
My first protest occurred in Philadelphia outside the former Inquirer building. I was a union organizer representing The Newspaper Guild and proudly marched in the job action against management.
My next two protests also took place in Philadelphia a block away from Independence Hall as I joined a bunch of Buddhists protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet. I carried signs and smiled and waved at motorists who honked in support while passing us in the rain that poured on both occasions.
I feel that protesting is a form of duty, if you know what I mean. As an issue arises, I believe the universe is providing me a way to show my feelings.
It was most rewarding to join my fellow public defenders outside the county courthouse in support of Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. I also took pride as a veteran to outwardly protest the use of assault rifles in America.
Like I said. It’s a way of doing my duty for God and country. You ought to try it sometime!
First Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was no loser, Mr. Trump.
He was shot and killed by an enemy sniper during the Vietnam War and I forced marched my platoon to come to his aid only to find out we got to him too late to help.
He was no “sucker,” having enlisted the same year that you miraculously developed bone spurs on one of your feet, getting your fifth deferment to keep you out of the military and any chance of being in harm’s way. It was the same year I was drafted and later commissioned to lead a bunch of other young men into battle.
I was livid when I saw the news report of you disparaging the men who were killed in combat. An Atlantic Magazine’s journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, citing multiple anonymous sources who had firsthand knowledge of the conversations, reported Thursday on the comments. They were confirmed later by another reporter and responded to by Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president.
Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was the pride of Staunton, Va., and his remains are interred with his mother and father in a family plot where I laid a wreath, saluted him, yelled at God for taking him away and cried my heart out.
Now I learned that you would not even honor the hundreds of US Marines who gave their lives during “The War to End All Wars” in France. You refused to go to a cemetery near the site of the Battle of Belleau, blaming the rain for the cancellation. But Goldberg said that you rejected the idea because you feared your “hair would become disheveled in the rain,” and because you “did not believe it important to honor American war dead.”
“In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
Goldberg said later in the article that Trump had also referred separately to John McCain, the late senator and war veteran, as a “fucking loser.”
Veterans and the families of veterans will make you pay a price for these cowardly assertions. You, Mr. President are not even worthy enough to tie the laces of their combat boots.
Update: On Veterans Day — 11-11-2020 — it was reported that four out of five military election ballots opened in Allegheny County of my home state of Pennsylvania were votes for President-Elect Joe Biden. And while most military personnel are rather conservative and usually vote Republican, service members did not forget what Trump said, and he paid for his disrespect to the troops.
I want to unmask my true feelings about the Masking of America and how to get people to care enough for one another to be a little more considerate while walking outdoors.
First off, you should always honor social distancing and stay at least six feet away from persons. And you should always wear a mask when entering a business establishment, supermarket or one of my favorite places, a Target store.
But you don’t necessarily need to wear it when exercising by walking on the street, pushing a baby carriage, or attending to your dog outside in suburban areas like the town I live in , Conshohocken, PA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t address whether people should wear face coverings while exercising outdoors; it only specifies what people should do when they come into contact with others. For the time being, whether or not you choose to wear a face cover when you’re outside is at your own discretion.
Unlike going to the supermarket where it might be harder to keep six feet of distance in narrow aisles, “people generally do not need face coverings while walking in their neighborhoods and practicing social distancing,” said Judith Lightfoot, DO, chief of infectious disease at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey.
In rural and suburban neighborhoods where the foot traffic is light and people honor social-distancing guidelines, some people choose to walk without face coverings. You may feel comfortable doing this because you’re outside in fresh air, and you aren’t coming within six feet of anyone else in your travels.
Now for my real gripe. Everywhere you look in America, it seems, there are discarded gloves and masks in streets and parking lots, left behind by people who couldn’t be bothered to find a nearby trash bin.
I counted seven masks on a walk a few weeks ago and I called the borough government to complain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember exactly where each discarded piece of crap was located except for the local library where kids usually play. It was removed within hours. The next day I carried a plastic rubber type of glove my son gave me and I picked up ten masks and got rid of ‘em properly.
In New England, someone abandoned their gloves in a cart at Costco, leaving an employee to fish them out and sanitize the cart before it could be used again.
It got so bad in New York City, that Ryan McKenzie, a restauranteur who lives in Manhattan, began cleaning it up. “I couldn’t believe what I saw so I went to the store and bought a grabber and for the last two hours in three square blocks of the East Village, this is what I found,” he told HuffPost. “It’s abhorrent and needs to be brought to people’s attention.”
In the wake of complaints, local authorities are reminding folks of the penalties of littering.
After receiving so many reports of gloves and masks left behind in Parsippany, New Jersey, the local police department issued a warning on Facebook: “Clean up and properly dispose of your used gloves and wipes. If you do not, you can be charged and fined up to $500.”
In Yorktown, New York, the current fine of $500 for littering will be doubled to $1,000 for the first violation for anyone caught improperly discarding face masks and gloves.
Let’s hope our fellow Americans can pick up after themselves before a discarded mask or a glove cause the virus to spread to you or me.
What’s it like to be young and wanna go out on a date nowadays?
I mean, there just ain’t a good place to go, no good place to meet someone, no good activity that will allow two mostly young people to get together and see if they can make some sparks to fly. Continue reading
The Fourth of July is upon us and I wanted to share some independent facts that many Americans may not have learned in history books or in their classrooms.*
The Declaration of Independence was first printed in a German-speaking newspaper and not an English one. The Colony of Pennsylvania had a large German population and when people of what became the Keystone State voted on which language to use, German lost by only one vote. Continue reading
As a veteran of several military bases, I would vote to change the names of all the facilities named for generals who fought for the Confederate army during our nation’s Civil War.
I offer such action with a heavy heart because of the link I still have with the facilities that helped to create the soldier I had become and the lessons learned in the US Army. Continue reading
While I am still able to recall in some details highlights of my early life before true adulthood I decided to write them down for future generations and others who may want to commiserate with my adventures and misadventures. Continue reading
I voted at home today and I can’t wait to put the written ballot in the slot opening at my local Post Office. Continue reading
I meditated this morning and realized there were few if any sounds coming from the street outside my home. Traffic usually provides noise from cars and trucks as motorists make their way along the suburban road in Conshohocken, PA, some 14 miles outside of Philadelphia. Continue reading
An American hero has fallen to the Coronavirus and the world may never see the likes of him ever again.
Ninety-eight-year-old George Shenkle, a card-carrying member of the “Greatest Generation” took part in the invasion of Normandy more than 75 years ago, freeing our universe from the evil of the Nazis. He served as a paratrooper with three combat jumps – including both D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge — and got a purple heart in return for the wounds he received after hitting the ground and running into enemy fire and explosions. Continue reading
Today is Vietnam Veterans Day and the Year of 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of my deployment in the war zone. I was a 21-year-old second lieutenant placed in charge of a platoon of some 25 men, many of them still in their teenage years and drafted like I had been. Continue reading
The Universe smiled upon me and relieved the stress I created when deciding to get my taxes done without paying an arm and a leg for help.
Stress . . .
It is hitting me more and more lately, particularly since I decided to do my own taxes for the first time in my life and not pay out nearly $300 to have a professional do the work. Continue reading
I exercise daily and try to get enough steps each day to add up to two miles. That’s around 6,250 steps if anyone is counting.
Well, my I-phone is counting ‘em. The steps, that is. And the miles. Continue reading
I once worked in Pennsylvania State Government, meeting and writing a speech for the governor and broadcasting a news story about a new group of buses being introduced to the Keystone State. Continue reading
I was held in contempt by two different judges during my illustrious career as a defense attorney. Continue reading
“It’s snowing!” Phoenyx happily announced to the household as the nine-year-old made her way up to the third floor at 6:58 am this morning. Continue reading
I was so proud of the Secretary of Navy for his resignation in protest of a hideous act to cover up the atrocities of those in the military charged with war crimes. Continue reading
I have taken off the mask and I can now sleep unencumbered once again!
A doctor advised me that I no longer have sleep apnea and don’t need the machine that has forced air into my nostrils over the last several years just to keep me breathing. Continue reading
It’s been 10 years since I wrote my first post for this Contoveros Blog and looking back I feel a little like Ken Burns, the producer of PBS specials on such things as war, music and other all-American things. Continue reading
I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant 50 years ago and looking back I see it as one of the greatest achievements of my life. Also, one of the luckiest ones and I’m so glad to still be around to tell about it.
Yes, by an Act of Congress I was made “An Officer & a Gentleman.” I don’t know where that title came from — Great Britain I guess — but I tried to live up to it’s “ideal” while in the army and when discharged and choosing different career paths in my life. Continue reading
Who’s the most famous person you ever met?
I mean directly or indirectly. And I don’t mean being in an audience with hundreds or thousands of others at a concert or rally. Continue reading
God works in mysterious ways.
Put another way, the Universe will conspire to bring about what you really want and need in life, even though you may not know it when the Divine Intervention takes place.
Or even like it. The intervention that is. And on first blush, it may even seem bad but you realize on reflection it had to have happened for you to progress in life. Continue reading
The headline above could be something we’ll see in the not too distant future but actually occurred more than 200 years ago in the United States of America.
———————– Continue reading
“Groundhog Day” is the movie starring Bill Murray who visits Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is destined to live each day over and over for what seems like eternity. It’s message is one of Karma and reincarnation, particularly when one realizes that the director and co-screen-writer was a practicing Buddhist named Harold Remis. Continue reading
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
I would not have gone to college had it not been for the GI Bill which is marking its 75th anniversary on June 22, 2019.
My father, who was born on a small Greek Island, never went beyond sixth grade. My mother, daughter of Hungarian refugees, was the first in her family to graduate from a high school in New Jersey.
And I had barely made it through Dobbin’s Tech, a trade school, having transferred from a Catholic high school after I got caught playing hooky and ordered to go to summer school for religion. No one – including myself — saw college in my lifetime.
I never realized I had anything in common with Abraham Lincoln until I re-watched a movie about the president’s early life as a trial attorney. Continue reading
I confess. I disobeyed orders when I marched into combat as a young man and I want to finally get it off my chest after all these years. Continue reading
One hundred years ago peace-loving people throughout the world commemorated the “War to End All Wars” by institutionalizing a holiday that morphed into Veterans Day in America.
World War I, as historians have named it, did not end all of the wars and in 20 years the nations of the earth faced the worst world war mankind has ever known. Continue reading
“False in one, false in all.”
That’s the jury instruction I’d request a judge to provide when a witness at a trial said one thing one time and another thing at another time. Also, when one or more witnesses said something different than what the first witness had sworn to tell the truth about while sitting on the witness stand. Continue reading
I will never forget my old wooden desk in grade school and the drills we held in order to protect us from a nuclear blast. The nuns from St. Ludwig’s Catholic School ordered us to get out of our seats and to curl up beneath the desks where we practiced the silence of Benedictine monks. Someone had pulled down the shades over the wide windows of the second-floor room and we sat for long minutes that felt like hours. Continue reading
He doesn’t play with me like he used too. I’d be the first thing he’d grab and put on his head when he went outside and pretend he was Davy Crockett. A coonskin hat was meant for little boys and those wanting to be “king of the wild frontier.” But he has seen me less and less since that white plastic ball entered his life and got him swinging at it. Continue reading
The first car I ever owned was my all-time favorite one.
It was “surf green” Chevrolet Bel Air made in the year 1957. I paid a whopping $300 for it when my barber offered it to me in 1967. I was working as a printer and had saved up enough money to pay him cash. Continue reading
Patty Ward, a Specialist 4 with a helicopter gunship, was shot down 50 years ago while flying to the aid of US Army soldiers during the Vietnam War. He was one of four men who died when their helicopter was hit and crashed.
Patty was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in connection with helping to rescue other grunts wounded in another battle. His family in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia received the medal posthumously. Continue reading
While editorials from dozens of newspapers throughout the country are expected to be offered about the attacks on the First Amendment on August 16, I figured I’d get my two-cents worth in as a former news reporter. Continue reading
Are there moments in our life when we can see God’s fingerprints or the Will of the Universe directing us along our path? I’m talking about seeing such a Divine event as it is occurring or upon hindsight years later.
That’s the question raised by a group of my friends at the Spiritual Sharing Circle that meets once a month at the Center for Contemporary Mysticism in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Continue reading
Joy filled my soul as I read that the 12 boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand were thinking of entering a monastery in honor of the former Navy Seal that gave his life in an effort to save them. Continue reading
“Here lies Ben Franklin — a printer” is the message gracefully displayed at the gravesite of my favorite Founding Father in the City of Philadelphia. He was ambassador to both England and France as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and contributor to the US Constitution. He was also an inventor, a philosopher and creator of the first library, the first zoo and the first fire company in the New World. Continue reading
The best part of trying a case to a jury was always the last part which is known as the “closing argument.” Continue reading
Padre Pio has a close connection with Philadelphia because of a woman called in a prayer to bring her sick child to see him in 1968 and the blessing he granted that led to her miracle cure just a few weeks before he died. Continue reading
Memorial Day always brings back memories of the Vietnam War and one of the soldiers I served with who I called a friend and a true “comrade-in-arms.” He was Victor Lee Ellinger, a fellow who lived in Staunton, VA. He was shot and killed by an enemy sniper while leading a platoon some 50 miles outside of Saigon. Continue reading
Writing has opened me to a world above and beyond my five senses and I feel like an HG Wells whenever I revisit the past and recall what life was like when I was fortunate enough to stop the world for a few brief moments and write about something. Continue reading
Songs have a way of taking me back to a time of my life that provided milestones for the path leading me to where I am today.
We all have them, those cherished ones that we hold dear. Some of which may cause a tear to flow, a shit-eaten’ grin to form. I recently thought of five of ‘em and simply wanted to share them with “old folks at home” who might also remember them. Continue reading
If it wasn’t for an intervention by an Italian crime boss, I don’t believe I would be here today. Continue reading
The best example of PTSD ever portrayed in a movie was offered by John Goodman in “The Big Lebowski” when the character, a Vietnam veteran, pulls a gun on a fellow bowler and threatens to shoot him for crossing a line and attempting to enter a score in a book. Continue reading
Father Koenig put the gloves on me when I was ten years old and directed me toward the kid who was my same size but some two years older. That kid – Billy McLaughlin – kicked my butt. But I never cried or gave up as I swung wildly at him in efforts to land my own punches. Continue reading
She stared at me as I walked from the courtroom and I felt her hate bore into me. Her whole posture seemed to drip with contempt and what I could only feel at that moment was a curse from her whole being. Continue reading
That was the title of my first job when I was 15 years old. Somebody from the old neighborhood got me hired in downtown Philadelphia and I took the bus to get to work on weekends and after school days.
A steady drip from the faucet of my kitchen made my day today as I shouted “Alleluyah” during one of the worst snow storms of my entire life. Continue reading
The most anxious-filled moments of my life occurred when a jury returned from its deliberation room and awaited the judge to ask for a verdict. Continue reading
I remember . . . cutting the back of my hand while running beneath the boardwalk in Atlantic City. It is the earliest memory I can recall. I couldn’t have been any more than three or four and cannot for the life of me remember anything else I had done at that moment in time. Continue reading
It struck me as I slowly made my way from the floor of the plane and stood in the center of the walkway. There were at least 30 other soldiers on the C-140, a military aircraft that was flying over the field where those of us in jump school would soon be taking our first jump. Continue reading
I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. Who did back in 1968? I was never a gung-ho type of a guy even though I’d go a little berserk when a buddy of mine got attacked by some bully at home or in school. Continue reading
My mother hit me upside the head when she caught me drinking beer in the Big Moose bar up the street from where we lived.
I was 16 years old at the time and sipping a Ballantine beer with a friend from Dobbins Technical High School. Someone must have ratted me out as my good friend Joe Walsh and I — both young white guys — drank in the African American bar in a section of Philadelphia called Brewerytown. Continue reading
I was born out of wedlock.
That kind of makes me a bastard.
Some have called me that and I guess they knew more about my life than I ever did. Continue reading
Laughter. It’s good to hear in most of life situations. It can be contagious and cause people to drop their serious attitudes and see a more lighter side of things.
You need it. particularly when times get tough. And if you hang out with the type of people who laugh a lot, you might even hear some gallows humor. You’ll find it among soldiers, cops and nurses as well as ditch diggers, new priests and first-aid workers. Continue reading
I took a leave of absence from my work as a newspaper reporter to serve as a union organizer for The Newspaper Guild years ago. I had helped to negotiate several contracts at the Pottstown Mercury, and only took the job when I was overlooked for being made a copy-editor at the paper. Continue reading
John Facenda was Philadelphia’s favorite newscaster when I was growing up. He was suave and debonair, kind of like a Cary Grant with a voice that captured your immediate attention whether it be about shenanigans going on in city government or sports actions through NFL replays. Continue reading
I display the pewter plaque prominently at my front door so that anyone leaving my house can see what has meant to me more than any awards I hang in my Feng Shui home. Continue reading
“Wicked cool” is what I thought I’d be when I was 17 and was about to attend a Greek Orthodox wedding for one of my cousins in Queens, NY. I refused to wear a tie to go along with my suit. Instead, I put on “love beads.” You know, the ones that hippies were wearing in 1960s. I was a hippie wannabe. I wanted to protest the institutional requirement to look one way when I wanted to express myself another way. That is, to be in love with everyone and to share that love with all for whom I was going to come into contact with. Continue reading
Flying from the ground on up has been a persistent dream of mine and I wonder if I was some sort of bird in a previous life.
Don’t laugh. I believe in reincarnation and there is something about the company of birds I really like. Whenever I saw a bird I feel it is a good omen. Continue reading
“It was the third of June, another sleepy . . . day . . .”
With that phrase starting one of most memorable country songs in the 196os, I began my life as a man, a soldier and a leader of an infantry platoon in the Vietnam War. Continue reading
I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.
For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em. Continue reading
A fellow I worked with got a luke-warm endorsement for a man running to be the next district attorney of Philadelphia and I believe it will go a long way in ensuring justice is served in my old home town. Continue reading
I heard the word “Satsang” yesterday and it reminded me of a journey I started a half a lifetime ago when I had hit rock bottom and sought answers to the meaning of life.
Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.” According to sources from India, Truth is what is real, what truly exists. Continue reading
One of my playgrounds when I was growing up was the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the Fairmount section of the City of Brotherly Love. Continue reading
Today we have the Dollar Store but when I was growing up we kids enjoyed theold Five and Dime Store. Continue reading
Thích Nhất Hạnh looked at me from the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and I understood what it was like for a person to feel all the suffering the world is experiencing.
I had attended a five-day silent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York with some thousand others who meditated morning, noon and night. Someone would ring a bell as you walked through the monastery grounds and just like clock-work, everyone would stop what they were doing and rest in the present moment. Continue reading
I’d like to buy peace for the world even for just one day. To see Muslims hug Jews and Protestants smiling and shake hands with Catholics would be a wonderful site.
Have Greeks and Albanians forgive and forget what the Turks might have done. Let the Irish march this St. Patrick’s Day with British royalty in the streets of New York. Continue reading
“Use me” I cried out to the Universe when visualizing myself spread out on a cross while meditating with a small group in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Continue reading
I shed twelve pounds in less than six weeks.
Can you believe it? I did it by visualizing myself getting into a shirt I haven’t worn since I put extra weight on. It’s part of a course I took entitled “Tap Into Your Genius” and is based on the teachings of a Dr. Joe Dispenza. Continue reading
I slept through the night last night.
To me, it’s a big deal for it is something I haven’t done in quite a while. You see, I got prostrate problems. I got diagnosed with it while at the VA hospital and I take medication every night, but no matter what I do, I still have to get up in the idle of the ight and take a pee. Continue reading
I experienced the Presence of God when I was 12 years old but didn’t know it until some fifty years later when I meditated and realized how much the Divine had filled me when I was praying for a girl I had just met on that glorious pre-teenage weekend. Continue reading
Living in the right side of the brain can be uplifting most of the time, but you could face deadly consequences if you try it too much while driving. Continue reading
My mind’s a blank.
I can’t think of anything to write about. I feel lost, adrift, less than human.
That is what happens when you make writing your life’s love. You want to write all of the time and never be too far away from what writing can do for you. Can do to you! Continue reading
“I could have been somebody!”
“I could have been a contender!”
My criminal law professor just died and I cried like a baby this past week. I couldn’t help but look at the photograph taken of him presenting me with a trial advocacy award upon graduation in 1988. The framed picture rests on the mantel of an old wood—burning stove in my dining room. It is one of my prized possessions. Continue reading
I cannot recall the one and only time I saw myself perform on television with my singing group even though it was one of the highlights of my life.
I sang bass for a Doo Wop group in the late 1960s as we appeared on the Super Lou Dance Show. We sang two songs which were recorded by a film crew. Continue reading
Someone from 100 different countries has viewed this site and my flag counter can attest to number of nations represented here.
I started to write a Blog some seven years ago and hooked up with a link that not only counted the number of persons viewing Contoveros, but determined which country that person was from. I placed the flag counter at the top of my Blog so that anyone — including myself — could readily see it on linking into Contoveros.It’s at my home site. (See Flag Counter for the latest count up to this minute. Trinidad is the latest country added to my list!) Continue reading
A Tibetan Singing Bowl rang out just now. It called me back to the peace inside despite the noises of harshness my life has heard played out for me in recent times.
Oh shit. I did something on the computer and I can’t get into my G-mail account. Continue reading
Alexander giggled like a schoolboy as 40 of us met in a service Sunday and quietly tried to meditate for some 30 minutes.
Wait a minute. He is a school boy. Alexander was all of 14 years old yesterday while attending the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia along with his mother. I was sitting next to the youth and about halfway through the gathering, a sound erupted from the other side of the room. It sound like someone adjusting a metal chair on the wooden floor, but to a young mind like that of Alexander, it also sounded like someone farting. Continue reading
I learned to meditate while riding on a train.
I had tried sitting mediation alone and with others, but was successful only once, and I really don’t know what I was doing. I was following a guru – a 15-year-old teacher from India — before I had turned 30 and I mingled with aspirants in an ashram in Philadelphia. I never touched Nirvana or reached the level that others seemed to rise to. Continue reading
I could die really cool when I was a kid.
I’d pretend that I was a soldier on a mission with a rifle in my hands as I made my way through enemy territory. I’d carry a tree limb most of the time and walk through pathways in a jungle we called Fairmount Park. Continue reading
Each day I get down on my knees and tell the Universe how grateful I am for at least three things in my life. Continue reading
I don’t think my son knows enough about me to write a good obituary. And so for 2017, I hope to sit down and look back on my life and offer highlights to appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer if it should still be publishing years from now. Continue reading
Writing opens me to a world within that I usually don’t visit unless I’m asleep or go into a meditative state. I let go of most thoughts except the one that crops up as I focus on a subject or rather it reveals itself to me. Continue reading
A “dead-dog-loser” is the name trial lawyers gave to cases no one expected you to win in court. I had a few of them and always tried my best to get a defendant to plead guilty before making a fool of myself and him by calling his case “ready” for trial. Continue reading
There is a message I receive every time I travel to the IKEA store and visit the “As Is” department. I get a feeling that the Universe is telling me to open myself to the message the Swedish furniture store wants to share with the rest of the world.
Accept life “As Is,” it softly calls out to me. Continue reading
Chocolate was my favorite flavor Tootsie Roll Pop. Cherry was my second. I don’t remember the first time I licked one. I must have gotten the candy at age five or six years old. Continue reading
Want to change the way you see?
Close your eyes. Take three full breaths.
Visualize a loving moment.
Stretch out the feeling.
Extend that feeling to the entire world when you open your eyes.
Do it until you do it!
– a student of Losang Samten. Tibetan Buddhist Monk