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    Jack Little and Watergate

    The young man on the left in this newspaper clipping is my old boss at the Weiner King, Jack Little. I cannot stress enough that Jack was the best boss in the world, with an incredible work ethic, and I’m positive I’m not alone in that regard.

    Jack got his degree in economics (if my memory serves me correctly) at Wooster College in Ohio, so he was a natural when it came to running a business that only handled cash. His years at the restaurant are legendary.

    Back in the 1970s, I was Jack’s right hand man and many people who were customers remember me from those early days in Flemington, NJ. To me, the Weiner King was the center of the universe, but I recognized that so much more was going on around me, especially in the news.

    In June of 1972, burglars broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel complex in Washington, D.C. For the next two years, that break-in and the Vietnam War were what dominated the television screen. President Nixon and many of his closest advisers obstructed justice, especially Nixon, when he chose to pay off the burglars to keep them quiet. He almost got away with it; almost, that is, until his White House council, John Dean, testified in front of Congress. Right in the thick of the cover-up, he chose to tell the truth, and the rest is history. Nixon resigned in August of 1974.

    What’s Watergate (or better yet, John Dean) have to do with my old boss, Jack? While everyone knew about Watergate, including him, he didn’t get to pay much attention to it because he worked sixteen hours a day, almost every day. He had a small B&W television in the back room that was primarily for sports — the Mets and the Jets — and every so often, we’d put Walter Cronkite on.

    My second nature was, and remains, to saturate my mind with current events. That included Watergate. One afternoon, I asked Jack if he had seen any of the John Dean testimony that was taking place in June of 1973. It spelled doom for the president.

    “No, but my roommate at college was a guy named John Dean.”

    That statement, all of a sudden, piqued my interest and I went on a mission to find out if there was a connection between Watergate and Wooster. Wooster and Watergate.

    But how was I supposed to find out? In those days, we were many years away from the Internet, let alone Google. I had to look the old-fashioned way… by going to Higgins News Agency on Main Street in downtown Flemington. A friendly place, the family had no problem with people browsing through newspapers and magazines. A neighborhood hub, there was no other store like it. I don’t remember how many titles I searched through — Time magazine, the New York Times, the Courier News, the Easton Express — the list could go on and on. One day, I found it.

    The Watergate John Dean was Jack’s college roommate.

    I couldn’t wait to tell him the exciting news. “Jack! That’s the same guy!” I brought proof to show him. “Is this him?”

    He paused to look. “Well, I’ll be darned. Yup, that’s him.” And he went back to work. (Later on, we did talk about it.)

    I guess I could have simply shown him a picture instead of doing all that work, but I needed to do research, just to prove it. Of course, I never doubted Jack from the beginning, but it’s part of my makeup. It’s part of my work ethic… the one Jack Little taught me.

    Blacking Out? Or Seeing Red?

    I stopped drinking alcohol a long time ago. As a matter of fact, I quit smoking eleven years ago this month, and alcohol, soon after. Mine was due to health reasons or I’d still have an occasional beer and shot of tequila. With lemon, not lime. No salt.

    It was never a problem getting hold of a bottle of rot gut, like Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill or Ripple, when I wasn’t quite of legal age. When I was old enough, I graduated to better quality stuff.

    One thing I never, ever did… I never blacked out. Oh, I might have fallen asleep a few times, but there’s a big difference. Right now, if any of my old friends were to insist they saw me blacked out, I’d get pretty upset, and I’d fire back.

    How dare you say that about me when you were so drunk you didn’t even know what you were doing. I mean, get real. Who do you think I was drinking with? Sober witnesses?

    When I sat in the courtroom, there were scumbags out to destroy my reputation. There’s always people like that. What do you call them?

    “Knechel was snoring in the courtroom again. The deputies had to throw his drunk ass out.”

    “People complained about his smell. He reeked of alcohol.”

    You know, there were a few idiots who believed what was written about me because those trolls said ‘they were there in the courtroom.’ But maybe they weren’t. It certainly wasn’t the truth.

    Until I hardened myself, it hurt. I learned that there were always going to be people who believe only what they want, and I had to put up a wall and ignore them and their incessant badgering. I focused on my writing, and if you disagreed with it, that’s what was worth discussing!



    Chefs Not Included

    I don’t understand what’s going on in the marketing world of restaurants. Times have really, really changed. I mean, back in the days when I was in that field - Weiner King in Flemington, NJ, to be precise, we bought our vegetables from Williams Brothers Produce in town. You know, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and the like. You ordered a hot dog with onions or a burger with tomatoes, we slapped it on the bun, and not one single customer ever asked us where any of it came from. Of course, New Jersey was known to grow the best tomatoes in the Solanum lycopersicum universe, and I recall New York City delis bragging that they served “Fresh Jersey Tomatoes,” plucked from directly across the Hudson River. My guess is that those NYC restaurants were the first to come close to using the newfangled term: Locally Sourced.

    “Locally Sourced” seems to be in vogue these days, as if it somehow makes the food we eat better, but that’s not necessarily true. Yes, one could readily surmise that the more local it is, the fresher it is, but it doesn’t make it tastier. One of the problems is that produce is seasonal. During winter months, the sign in that NY deli offering fresh Jersey tomatoes would have to be tucked away because they don’t grow that time of year. Not there. Florida has good tomatoes, but they don’t hold a candle to New Jersey’s. It’s the rich soil that makes the difference. Regardless, off-season produce would have to come from other parts of the country or }])SHUDDER([{ the world, jetted in daily. Or the restaurant would have to stop serving salads; salads as they should be according to Panera. Unless they grow hydroponic produce, but I’m not going to go there. You’d think they have gardens out back.

    New Jersey is not known as the onion capital of the northeast. Granted, it’s not called the Garden State for no reason, but I vividly remember the days when Jack Little, my boss, practically filled the back room with bag-after-bag of Vidalia onions, one of the best in the world. Vidalia is exclusive to the state of Georgia. Jack hoarded them because they were (and still are) the gold standard, and they have a long shelf life. Meats, on the other hand, are altogether different. I question them. What difference does it make where it comes from when the locally sourced steak you’re eating is aged beef anyway? Some states aren’t cattle producers. Should that mean that restaurants in those states shouldn’t serve what’s not “Locally Gathered,” another term du jour?

    I don’t know, nor do I care. I have no problem with fare coming from local sources or from far away, like Kobi beef. I’m more inclined to support all farmers, preferably American, not just ones down the street. Like everyone else, I want it to be fresh and tasty, but I’m not going to give one place a higher standing because it’s locally sourced, which is, to me, superfluous fluff – the marketing phase we’re going through right now. You want to know what else is superfluous fluff?

    Do you remember the days when Subway referred to their employees as Sandwich Artists? I got the biggest kick out of it because I was a genuine artist; the kind that made a living at it. Real art. Artists create art, and a sandwich is simply something you eat, not art. (Cake decorators are artists.) Today, restaurants claim that they serve you HANDCRAFTED SANDWICHES and meals. What the hay? Are robots now making sandwiches? No, and anyone can slice a locally gathered tomato. Anyone can chop a locally gathered onion. For as long as I can remember, I could slap mustard on bread. What’s so handcrafted about that? It’s just a simple sandwich! Calling this type of worker an artist is demeaning to me. It’s used to make it seem as if your sandwich was gently created from scratch in a backroom somewhere, fresh bread just brought out of the oven, where food artisans fastidiously design your meal while listening to New Age music. It’s pure Zen. Have you ever been in a restaurant kitchen in the middle of a huge lunch rush? The only thing that’s artistic about it is their use of colorful language.

    Anyway, what’s next? Just like everything else, we are equal, right? That means we are all artists. There’s no difference between Van Gogh and the Reuben you were just served. It means that the person working on my car… Well, let me just say this and you decide whether it’s ridiculous or not:

    “I went to a locally sourced mechanic, where he handcrafted new front brakes on my artisanal automobile. My mechanic is a repair artist!”

    Does it sound… Well, it is ridiculous, and that’s precisely my point. It’s food for thought written by a genuine lexicon artist.


    The man who struck out...

    This is a story about Charles Franklin Glazner

    Way back when, over thirty years ago, I made the rounds when it came to watering holes. I had an old friend, Wayne Trout, who said on many occasions, “If you stay inside your triangle, you’ll never get in trouble.” What he meant by that was simple. Your home and two bars made up the triangle. If you ventured outside of it, your risk of getting pulled over increased. While I quit drinking years ago, I did my best to follow Wayne’s rule.

    One of the establishments in my triangle was the Tap Room at Dubsdread Golf Course, a city owned 18-hole facility located in College Park, a very nice suburb of Orlando. The Tap Room was always a friendly place to drink and I had the occasion to eat a delicious lunch there a few weeks ago. It brought back many memories of when it was one of my old haunts; my old drinking friends, and one person in particular… Charlie Glazner, who passed away in 1989 at the grand old age of 95.

    For years, two framed pictures hung on a wall above the bar. They were pictures of Charlie from many years past, in uniform, and they were no longer there. No one knew what I was talking about when I asked employees, including the owner, Steve Gunter, truly a really nice and helpful guy. No wonder the restaurant is such a huge success.

    Charlie was a grand old fellow and we had many wonderful conversations over the years. One time, he lamented about how disappointed he was; that his mind was still so sharp, but his body was wearing out. (I do recall driving on Interstate 4 through downtown Orlando one afternoon when a car came whizzing by. It was him, and I was speeding. He must have been 90 at the time. And doing 90.)

    Charlie had been a professional golfer. That was his second career. The city of Orlando gave him a lifetime membership to Dubsdread. I don’t know if he got the key to the city, but he could play golf any time he wanted. Free. And if you had a 9:00 o’clock tee time, you’d have to wait if he wanted to play. Without a doubt, he still had that swing.

    Those two pictures on the wall were from the 1920s, when he was a right-handed pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. He last pitched on September 24, 1924. Charlie had 266 career strikeouts, and there’s one more important fact that intrigued me.

    In all of my 65 years, I’ve met some interesting sports figures, including Arnold Raymond Cream, otherwise known as Jersey Joe Walcott when he was the NJ state boxing commissioner. A consummate gentleman, he beat Joe Louis in a title fight. I used to pal around with Davey Johnson back in the day, and even tried on his 1986 World Series ring. Nick Buoniconti, part of the Miami Dolphins perfect season, was as down to earth as they get. I could name more, like golfers and NBA players, but why gloat? This is about one man, a living legend when I knew him.

    In the 1920s, Charlie was known as Whitey Glazner. One day, I walked up to him and asked, “Charlie? In all my years of knowing you, I never shook your hand. Can we do that?”

    “Why, Dave? We’ve known each other for many years. Why do you want to shake my hand?”

    “Because I want to shake the hand that struck out Babe Ruth.”

    All these years later, his handshake still means a lot to me.



    Traumatic fact du jour

    Those beautiful ruby slippers Dorothy wore in the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz? I hate to burst the Good Witch’s bubble, but those slippers weren’t made of rubies at all.

    I doubt many of you have read L. Frank Baum’s book. Had you, you’d know that the slippers were made of silver. They were made of rubies in the movie to take advantage of the wonderful marvels of the new technology of the time, Technicolor.



    Get rid of the name Oscar*

    I never cared about award shows and this weekend welcomes the grandperson** of them all, the Oscars. Whoopee! People are people and we all sit on the Jane the same way (is it fair to only call it the masculine John? If yes, then I’m calling it what it is: blatant discrimination against people named John.)

    So, why do these shows exist? After all, if the country truly is trending toward equality and democratic socialism/communism, why are there ceremonies handing out manly looking statues with a masculine name?

    Equality means that Jennifer Lawrence is no different from the person who was the Employee of the Month, now serving your salad, right? You can enjoy a salad as much as a movie. Which one is more satisfying? Which one costs more? Why does a “star” make more money than a fast food server when equality also means sharing the wealth? No more Employee of the Month, either. Everyone is the same.

    If there is no longer a difference between genders, especially in California, where the award show is always held, why are there separate Best Actor and Best Actress categories? What is the gender-fluid word for an actor/actress?

    A performer?

    Why not a Best Performer award, no matter what the gender du jour?

    Get rid of biased award shows or make them gender-neutral.


    *My parody

    **Notice I didn’t say granddaddy.



    When I was a boy, I’d sometimes watch my father stand at the bathroom sink doing one of his daily rituals. He’d shave. Back then, he used a natural bristle brush with a wooden handle, shaving soap, and a straight edge razor. To me, with only peach fuzz to claim, shaving was a rite of passage I couldn’t wait for. Only then would I be a real man. Even girls go through some kind of… hmmm… it’s not the same thing, but we all go through periods of pubescence.

    One day, probably when I was around nine-years-old, he let me stand on a stool in front of the bathroom mirror, lather up, and slide his razor across my cheeks to “shave.” Without a blade, of course. For a fleeting moment, I felt older.

    When I was thirteen, maybe fourteen, a lone hair sprouted out of my chin. I woke up one morning and there it was, my very own facial hair. For real. Suddenly, I felt a little bit closer to manhood. I was maturing. It was about a quarter of an inch long and I wasn’t about to lop it off. It was my machismo mark; the leap to future strength and optimum virility. It was there for the world to see! So I let it grow. And grow. All of my relatives saw it and said something. Yes, I was glad they noticed. It grew some more.

    “You must be proud of that lonely hair,” my grandfather once remarked. Darn right I was!

    Fortunately for me, it grew during the summer recess months, so not many of my classmates saw it.


    One morning, I got up, looked in the mirror and the darned thing was at least three inches long with a light curl or two. What was I trying to do? The more I looked at it, the more ridiculous it appeared. The more ridiculous I felt inside.

    “This is stupid looking,” I thought, so I got my father’s old razor out of the medicine cabinet and chopped it off. Gone!

    That morning, I became mature enough to realize how dumb I looked. Just who was I trying to impress besides myself? I knew then that I had made the transition from boyhood to – well, I wasn’t really sure yet because… I was still waiting for my voice to change!



    Back in the 1990s, I dated a woman whose father owned a house right on the ocean, just south of St. Augustine. We used to spend weekends there when we could. Her young daughter would usually invite one of her classmates to come with us and it was always a fun time. We’d leave on Friday after work, grab some grub, and settle in to watch movies rented from Blockbuster. The next day, we’d cross the Bridge of Lions into the oldest city in the country, where we never ran out of things to see and do.

    One particular Saturday, we decided to go to the Lightner Museum. Generally speaking, children don’t want to do that. They want to go to the Castillo de San Marcos National Park, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, or Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Things like that. Nope, not this time. This time we’re going to the museum. Kids need their culture, too, you know.

    There’s not much I remember about our trip to the museum that day except for when we were just about ready to leave. That’s when we stopped at the gift shop. While moseying around, her daughter called me over to the postcard rack; you know, the kind that spins around. Of course, being the adult and all, I tried to ignore her while acknowledging her at the same time.

    “Dave! Dave!” she insisted, “Come here. You need to see this!”

    I hesitated, but finally relented.

    “OK,” I responded. “What are you trying to show me?”

    “A postcard. You’ve got to see it!” Slowly, I shuffled my way over to her. “Look!”

    She thrust the postcard into my hand. Hmmm… I studied and studied it and saw nothing unusual.

    “Look closely. Look at the girl in the back seat. You’ll see it.”

    Suddenly, it hit me and I couldn’t believe what I saw.

    “WOW” I exclaimed. “This is quite a find.”

    Speaking of finds, I was going through my closet last week, looking for suits and jackets to get rid of. I went through the pockets, not knowing if there was anything in them or not. Then, I found this…

    A genuine St. Augustine promotional postcard! It’s so long ago, I don’t remember buying it, but there it was, back in my hands, some 25 years later.


    The Times They Are a-Changin'...

    I have a Sam’s Club membership. There’s a store in Fern Park, not far from where I live, that is closing. I’m saddened by it because I’ve been shopping there for years. It was a great place to buy bulk items like toilet paper, paper towels, cat litter, and salt for the water softener. Of course, their $4.98 rotisserie chickens are legendary, and it was nice to be able to sample food – and buy it! I also liked the prices of some of the OTC meds, vitamins, and supplements. Oh, yes, I’m going to miss it.

    Yesterday, the store was open to get rid of existing stock. Many of the shelves were bare, but I managed to spend $93 with a 25% discount. On Wednesday, it goes to 50%, if anything is left. At some point, it goes to 75%, but I don’t remember which day.

    I spoke to a manager while there, despite it being rather harried. From initial news reports, 63 stores were going to close, including my store. “Were going to close” is the key phrase here, because that’s not really what happened. The Fern Park location abruptly locked its doors on Thursday and some news outlets reported that employees went to work as usual, only to find locked doors. They had no idea what was going on.

    While it’s true that they went to work not knowing anything, the manager, who came from another location to help out, said that, one-by-one, they were ushered inside where they were told what was going on in a meeting. Everyone else – those on different shifts and working different schedules – were called on the phone.

    He said that there are 174 associates working that store and they were given employment options. They could go to the three other Sam’s Club stores to work, or move to area Walmarts. No one, he said, would lose their jobs if they choose to transfer.

    Some of the soon-to-be shuttered stores will turn into distribution centers to accommodate online sales and shipping. He said that the Fern Park location will just vacate. It’s a huge building. 

    The problem with my store came down to saturation. While sales and volume are keys to success, corporate determined that membership had reached its peak. It had no room to grow, and membership is what drives the stores. The store had stagnated, like 62 others around the country.

    Oh well, there’s another one nine or ten miles away. I will give it a try and determine whether it’s worth the annual $45 price tag.

    As usual, when leaving the store, there’s a person at the exit who checks out your purchase against the receipt. I’ve known this woman for a long time and felt sad for her. I asked her whether she was going to transfer. She said she’s been with the company for thirty years. No, she said. It’s as if she’s being forced out. Blame it on Amazon, I told her. Yes, The Times They Are a-Changin’…


    The Daily Kos



    It’s been two-and-a-half years since I lost my close friend, Doris Willman. June 25, 2015. Not one single day goes by that I don’t think about her. She wrote the following story many years ago and, just before she left, we talked about republishing it that holiday season. It is an honor and privilege to bring you her story once again. I don’t know when it was written, but please enjoy it. She was a very special lady and I’m so proud to have known her…



    By Doris Willman

    [Here is a story I wrote when I was a member of an Amateur Writer’s Club…got 2nd prize, probably because I had all the judges in tears. lol] The Fur Topped Boots


    Christmas was only two weeks away. As I sat by the window watching the snowflakes make their lazy descent to the ground, I was suddenly drawn into my past - to a girl of seven who was waiting for the arrival of Saint Nick. The memories came flooding back. I became that little girl again…

    The snow was falling and I was thinking I could make a snowman if enough snow stayed on the ground. Snowball fights were lots of fun too, but my older brother always chucked his too hard. When I started crying, Mom would make us stop.

    My dog, Patsy, was much more fun than Charlie, chasing and trying to catch the snowballs. When I went sledding, she would chase the sled and try to pull me off. If she succeeded, I would hug her and rub snow on her face.

    I found Mom sitting at the kitchen table looking at the Eaton’s catalogue and writing things on a piece of paper. There was a worried look on her face, almost sad at times, as Christmas drew nearer. I heard her telling Dad that there just wasn’t enough money to go around. I had printed my name beside the fur-topped boots on page 32 and wondered if Mom would notice. She would be even sadder if she knew how much I really wanted those boots.

    Patsy and I went outside to play in the fluffy white snow. I lay down to make an angel. Patsy tried to lick my face so I gave her a big push and she rolled over. She could make a dog angel.

    When Dad came home from work, we went to the hen pen and I gathered eggs while Dad gave them clean water and wheat. I wondered which hen would be our Christmas dinner, and decided it would likely be an old one who didn’t lay eggs any more. As usual, Mom would say, “How can I cook this tough old thing?”, but it was always delicious with stuffing and cranberry jelly.

    On Christmas Eve, I helped Mom put the pretty balls on the tree and decorate the house with red and green crepe paper chains. Some big parcels had arrived in the mail and I knew that they were filled with presents from my auntie Grace. I didn’t dare snoop in them because Mom would get mad at me.

    Dad said, “Santa’s coming down the chimney tonight. You better get busy and write a letter to him.”

    Well I sort of knew who Santa was, but in case I was wrong, I thought I’d better write that letter. The light from the kerosene lamp was poor but I pulled my paper close and wrote: “Dear Santa, bring me anything you want and bring something for my brother and mom and dad. Mom will leave you gingerbread and a cup of water. Love, Sarah” Then I put my letter inside of Dad’s big wool sock and set it by the tree.

    That night, lying on the soft feather tick, I said a prayer to Santa. I didn’t figure God would mind. I asked Santa to try and bring me the black boots with the soft fur, which were on page 32 of the big catalogue, because I hated having cold feet. When I fell asleep, I dreamed of walking in the boots on top of big snow drifts.

    On Christmas morning, Charlie and I raced to get our socks from under the tree. Reaching in, I pulled out a big red apple, a large orange and some nuts, but I loved the barley toys and ribbon candy best of all.

    Next came the present opening. Dad found socks in his, while Mom had some nice smelling powder and a pretty handkerchief. Auntie Grace had given me some tinker toys and a pair of mittens. Charlie was happy when he opened up the plasticene.

    I emptied the tinker toys out of the can and started to put them together.

    Suddenly, Mom said, “Sarah, look. There’s a present still under the tree. You are the smallest, can you crawl under and get it?”

    The present was wrapped in pretty red tissue paper with a big Santa Claus seal stuck to the front.

    “Hey, Mom, it has Sarah printed on it!” I exclaimed.

    “Well, open it up!”

    I tore off the paper and opened the box. Inside were the fur-topped black boots. I took them out and rubbed the fur all over my face. They were as soft as I knew they would be.

    I was so excited, I gave Mom a big hug and kiss, although I didn’t understand why she had tears in her eyes. I kissed Dad and Patsy, and I even kissed Charlie.

    Suddenly, the oven timer sounded and brought me back to the present, but I will always remember that Christmas and the feel of the soft fur atop those little black boots.




    I’m always out looking for a girlfriend and every time I think I’ve found the right one, they get to know me and… and… and…

    Well, it never seems to work out. Maybe, just maybe… my new one will love me for who I am – a soft, cuddly, sensitive, caring, honest and funny, all around good guy. “Funny” being the key word. I can only hope.

    This morning, we were on the phone talking and I was telling her about doing my laundry and how I fold my shirts a certain way before hanging them up in the bedroom closet. You know, the usual routine. She mentioned a few things and one thing led to another.

    I think it’s fair to say that everyone has some sort of quirky behavior, right? Peculiarities and the like, and I’m not talking about the bedroom variety. I mean in everyday life. Growing up, for instance, she knew women who starched and ironed their husbands’ t-shirts and handkerchiefs. Handkerchiefs, for crying out loud! I remember those days. My father always carried one and I thought it was a hideous practice to pull it out of the back pocket of their pants, blow their nose into it, and stuff it back into their pocket for God knows how long. Days and days. Enough of that.

    I mentioned something – and I don’t think I’m alone – that I like to do. I only wear dark cotton socks. No matter what. No whites for me! Nothing wrong with that, I suspect. But I like to iron them. I own a sock iron, bought and paid for on Amazon Prime. It’s the best thing I ever invested my money in. Not only do I iron my socks, I collect them. Most of them are folded on special sock hangars in my closet, bought and paid for on Amazon Prime. They’re easy to iron except for the pleated ones.

    Yes, I own scores and scores of pleated socks. Boy, are they difficult to iron.

    She told me she had to go and hung up. Now, she’s not answering her phone. Do you think she’ll call back?




    A lot can be said about the Kate Steinle death and the outcome of the trial of the man who killed her, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the Mexican citizen deported from the United States five times. Clearly, the man was guilty and the jury got it wrong, right? Actually, the answer is never that simple.

    When it comes to presumptions, there are two courts involved. One is the court of public opinion and the other is the kind that takes place inside the confines of a courtroom. The latter is the only one that matters. Having been a part of two major murder trials – Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman – I clearly understand both types of trials and the only court that matters.

    First, I want to make it clear that Zarate’s illegal status was not a factor in the death. If anything, blame the city and state for their sanctuary policies, if so inclined, but not the court or jury. Blame the way the federal government and ICE work. Argue all you want. I see things pragmatically. 

    His prior felony convictions weren’t relevant, either, because none were acts of violence. (If I had three robbery convictions and accidentally killed a pedestrian with my vehicle while drunk, would those convictions matter?) Also, consider Casey Anthony’s prior record. She had NONE until way after little Caylee went missing. The jury was aware of his convictions, though, but was prevented from bringing up any politics related to immigration and gun control during the proceedings.

    In the case of Ms. Anthony, the public was solidly behind a murder conviction from Day 1, yet she was found not guilty by a jury of her peers. With George Zimmerman, the public was split into many factions – whites against blacks, African-Americans against whites (just to be politically correct,) liberals against conservatives, and gun rights that centered around the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Zimmerman was also found not guilty and all that mattered was what went on in the respective courtrooms. Between both trials, I’m certain that I wrote several million words. I tried to explain courtroom drama, decorum, motions, rebuttals, and the interpretation of case law into layman’s terms that made things less complicated to grasp. Everything I wrote was open to discussion (of which there was plenty) and, to many people, justice was not served in either case because the juries came back with those verdicts. What about the Zarate trial? Did the jury get it right or wrong?

    The first thing you might be inclined to think is that it was a stereotypical California jury, filled with “gentle people with flowers in their hair,” especially “for those who come to San Fransisco,” only it couldn’t be further from the truth. Juries are never predictable. Nothing in a trial ever is except the charge(s) filed against the Defendant that are laid out for everyone to read.

    For a moment, let’s go back to the capital murder charge against Casey, which meant she faced the death penalty. While the State argued its case, many legal experts questioned how and why the bar was set so high when so many particulars weren’t established. There was no absolute date of death, for instance, no cause of death, which was mostly based on circumstantial evidence, and no solid motive. Casey was, by all accounts, a loving, doting mother until, BAM! She popped a cork and Caylee was dead. Even the police admitted it. Without going into the details further, I fervently believe a lesser charge would have rendered a guilty verdict of some kind; second-degree murder, manslaughter or, marginally, an aggravated child abuse conviction. The bar is set way high when it’s a death penalty qualified jury.

    And so it was in the Garcia Zarate trial; the Prosecution aimed for the sky. While not a death penalty case, he was charged with first-degree murder. The jury was given the option of convicting him of that, second-degree murder, or involuntary manslaughter. Jurors said no to all three.

    Zarate claimed he found the gun in a bag under a park bench at Pier 14. Grainy video showed several people hovering tightly together before he entered the scene and sat down. He claimed he picked the gun up from under the bench and it accidentally fired three times before tossing it into the bay, where it was recovered by a diver the next day. Whether his account was true or not, it established reasonable doubt. Apparently, the gun had a hair trigger, too, in single-action mode. Was it set in single-action mode at the time of the shooting? Who knows.

    The bullet that struck Steinle skipped off the conrete floor of the pier before striking her in the back, penetrating her aorta. That showed it was not murder of any kind and why the Prosecution focused on it is beyond me. Could the jury have returned with a guilty of involuntary manslaughter verdict? That’s a good question.

    In the California penal code, manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. Involuntary manslaughter means “in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection.”

    What I don’t understand is that Zarate was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. That made it a felony the moment he picked the gun up. That meant it produced a death in an unlawful, without due caution and circumspection, manner. Except for one minor detail the defense was able to cast doubt upon. The gun was wrapped in a cloth. Did this second-grade level person even know he had a gun? Well, the jury did convict him of possessing a firearm by a felon. Go figure. It means he did know he had a gun. Therefore, it should have been an involuntary manslaughter conviction. Except that, sometimes, when prosecutors aim so high a jury focuses on murder charges, they pay less attention to a lesser that lies beneath. Good criminal defense attorneys know how to take advantage of that.



    Ever since the dreaded type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2005, I’ve strived to be careful about the food I eat. Hmmm… not always, because I’ve been known to cheat, but my diet is much better than it used to be – less sugar, less fat, and zero artificial sweeteners.

    One of my long-time favorite treats has been Nabisco Nutter Butter Creme Patties. Those are the wafer ones with a sweet and smooth peanut butter filling. I think I like them more than KitKat bars. Well, just don’t put both of them in front of me and say “Choose one.”

    Sadly, I can no longer enjoy those Nutter Butter treats the way nature never really intended it to be. I mean, before I was diabetic, I could easily sit down and eat the entire package. Not really, but it’s been over twelve years since I could pig out on them. Please don’t feel bad for me because…

    Here’s what I do instead. I take an ice cream cake cone – not an ice cream cake – just the empty cone, and spread natural peanut butter down into it and around the inside with a knife. Not too much. Then, I make another one as I bite into it. It’s almost as satisfying as a Nutter Butter, but it’s tons less sugar and no hydrogenated oils. There’s my tasty dessert.

    Now, I just need to figure out a way to make my own KitKat bars.




    When I worked for an ad agency, way back when, I’d meander up the street to Beefy King the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday was one of their busiest days and I would go to help out any way I could. Interestingly, one of the most popular sandwiches on that particular day was sliced turkey breast. For the life of us, the owner, Roland Smith, and I couldn’t figure out why turkey would be such a big hit the day after. And after eating so much, you’d think people would be full of it. Or you’d think they’d have lots of leftovers to munch on. Why go to a restaurant for more?

    Round-and-round in our heads, Roland and I went back and forth over this perplexing ponderance, trying to understand why people would want turkey. I know we went a couple of years wondering.

    Finally, it dawned on us! We figured those L-tryptophan zombies had to work on Thursday. You know, convenience store employees. The wait staff at restaurants that served dinners on turkey day. Theater people. They were shortchanged and didn’t get to eat it. They were just fulfilling their subconcious cravings. Maybe some people ate ham or lasagna instead, yet still missed the traditional meal. They needed their turkey fix. You think?

    Later, I’m headed to Wawa to ask about their seasonal gobbler sub. I’ll bet the turkey farm that it’s a big seller today.





    (I wrote this in 2005 and amended it in 2006. I made minor changes today, but it’s still the same thing.)

    Mr. Robert Higerd was my 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher back in the 60s at East Amwell Township School in Ringoes, NJ. He was good. He was in the National Guard at one time because his favorite saying was, “At ease, disease - there’s a fungus among us.” I think it was an old military phrase.

    At least once a week, we’d sit in his classroom watching old post-WWII black & white films on the noisy projector. Most of them were from the forties and fifties and the sound was always warped and gurgled. It was a lucky day when we got to see one of those newfangled color ones. A lot of them were old government films - you know, the duck and cover variety. The newer ones were usually about some South American country, but we were in the midst of a cold war with Russia then. Civic duties and patriotism were etched into our minds. It was a time when we were proudly taught how great it was to be an American. Communism was evil and Red China did not exist. Nope, it was grayed out on all of the school maps. We knew it existed, but it just wasn’t there and I always questioned which countries had better propaganda, theirs or ours.

    Gee, I miss those days.

    Today, we live in a throwaway world and history changes as rapidly as we replace cell phones. In those days, history books were meant to last a decade. There was no such thing as politically correct and they weren’t rewritten with each change of administrations. When we got new ones, we knew they were going to be handed down for quite a few years to come and to keep them in good shape was part of our daily marching orders.

    One day, Mr. Higerd caught me doing something to one of his prized books in my personal possession and protection.

    “DAVE!!! Did I just see you writing in that book?” Defacing books or anything that’s school property was capital punishment. It was a mandatory trip to the principal’s office and it meant big time trouble. Parents usually got involved. No, this was never a good thing.

    “No, Sir. I was not writing in the book.”

    “I saw you writing in the book.”

    “No, Sir. I was not writing in this book! I was drawing.” Each day, I added a new addition to the following page and I’d been doing it for weeks. No one ever saw me commit this horrendous crime. Why did it have to be him, an ex-military guy, of all people? He was like a drill sergeant in those days, but much nicer.

    He ordered me up to the front of the class with alleged evidence in hand and abruptly snatched the now closed book away. “Knechel! Sit back down now!”

    Walking back to my seat, he rifled through the pages and saw what I had done. Somewhere in that thick book, I drew my character, a hardy stick figure standing motionless. I repeated the same thing for a few more pages, and as time and pages went on, I gradually lifted his legs up and down, moving him slowly and casually forward. At one point he stopped, turned to look at the noise coming from behind him, and with arms flailing, he darted as quickly as he could toward the other end of the page.

    Down came a rumbling boulder, heavily bouncing and rolling toward him. He tried desperately to race away, but the giant rock was coming after him at a higher rate of speed. Finally, it scrunched my poor little guy like a pancake and he was dead. Squoosh. Of course, the boulder kept rolling until it ran off the edge of the paper. The End.

    As he flipped through those pages, watching my cartoon in action, Mr. Higerd started to chuckle. “You know, Dave, this is great.”

    He opened the book for the class to see. “If you can’t see it from back there, come on up and gather around. This is how cartoons were originally drawn. They still are. Action figures that change with each drawing…” and on he went for a while, fanning the pages as he outwardly panned the class, in full education mode.

    On the inside front cover of all school books, there was either a stamp or label pasted in that all students had to sign, date and state their grade at the beginning of the school year. At the end of the year, everyone turned their books in for next year’s use. Like I said, they were new that year. Good old Mr. Higerd told me he was going to follow that book for as long as it remained in circulation and show it to every one of his classes - to explain the history of cartoons. I was honored. Of course, this was long before computers and software, Windows and Macs.

    In the end, he didn’t reprimand me for vandalizing school property, although he readily could have. There was no trip to the principal’s office. Instead, he complimented my handiwork. One of the things I remember most about Robert Higerd is how he brought a lot of life to what he taught. After he saw my talent and appreciated what I had done, I became one of his favorite students. I was, that is, until I ruined one of those newfangled color films about Argentina, but that’s a history lesson for another day.


    Who Was David Kyle?

    There was a science fiction category on Jeopardy! on Friday night. It made me think about my uncle, David Kyle, who was renowned in that field. I did well in the category and knew he’d be proud. That made me think about how much fun we would have if we could sit side-by-side each night, competing against each other while watching the show. (When I was young, we played a lot of chess. He’d almost always win, but I’d surprise him every so often.)

    I miss my Uncle Dave. He was exceptionally intelligent, funny, and a consummate gentleman. He was a veteran of the Air Force; a Lt. Colonel.

    February 14, 2016 - David Kyle’s 97th birthday


    He Gave His Garage Door the Middle Finger

    [This is a reworked story from 2005.]

    I’m not one to laugh at others misfortunes, but… sometimes, life’s experiences are just too painfully funny to pass by.

    I have a friend, Dave, who’s an intelligent, successful businessman. He’s in his late fifties, so he’s been around the block a time or two. One morning, he opened his garage door to take the garbage out by the curb. An early riser, this was around 5:30 in the morning - when your brain is still a little fuzzy and sluggish.

    After he told me the story, I said, “Dave, that’s what you get for being so cheap with yourself.”

    “No, Dave,” he responded, “that’s what I get for procrastinating,” after asking him why he never installed an electric garage door opener. It’s the kind with a handle at the bottom you lift up after unlocking it from the inside.

    Down the driveway he went with his trash bin that fateful morning. After strategically setting it in the perfect spot, he brushed off his hands, walked back up, and grabbed the handle to close the garage door. Only, it didn’t quite work out that way. Yes, he pulled it down, but it didn’t go all the way. Instead of bending down or pushing it shut with his foot, he reached in the crack between the slats and, with powerful manly strength…

    FORCED IT SHUT! Now, remember, these slats are on a track and as they come downward, they fit tightly into each other. They pinch shut.

    In an instant, an excruciating pain shot through the middle finger of his right hand. Instinctively he yanked it back and looked in horror at his hand. The tip of his finger just above the first joint was gone. Crushed. He opened the door with his other hand and pulled out his severed, flattened fingertip. After rushing inside, he carefully put it on ice and raced to the nearest emergency room.

    “There’s nothing we can do. We can’t sew it back on. It’s been crushed,” the doctor told him. Flattened like a pancake with strawberry syrup. Without getting too graphic, the doctor reformed what remained of the end of his finger and closed it up. 18 stitches. He went home, not quite feeling like the whole man he was when he rolled out of bed. I think he took the rest of the day off.

    Today, he pretty much laughs at the experience. “You know, that was about the most stupid thing I’ve ever done. I just wasn’t thinking. I can’t believe I tore the darn thing off.”

    Not that they could have saved it anyway, but it did save the cost of amputation.




    To say that Casey Anthony is mentally ill is an understatement. Aren’t we all to some degree; some more than others? Like me, her parents hold no diplomas in psychology and psychiatry, so none of us are able to make any sort of clinical determinations. We are not doctors, and Casey was declared sane enough to stand trial by qualified medical examiners from both camps - the Prosecution and the Defense.

    In the interview with Crime Watch Daily host Chris Hansen, Cindy Anthony said that Casey often had seizures and blackouts.

    While some may try to substantiate this with testimony from Jesse Grund, her one-time boyfriend, she did have a seizure. In fact, according to his interview transcript with OCSO, he called 911 while she foamed at the mouth and shook uncontrollably. She was transported to a hospital.

    Grund insisted she couldn’t have faked it. “The lips turning that slight shade of blue, the foaming at the mouth, the way her body was uncontrollably shaking, the non-responsiveness — I don’t know how she would have been able to fake all of that…”

    When the hospital test results came back, Grund was told she didn’t have syphilis, she wasn’t pregnant, and she didn’t have epilepsy.

    Grund replied, “She claimed to me that it may have been because she drank too many Red Bulls.”

    In fact, Anthony’s lead attorney, Jose Baez, never told jurors that she suffered from seizures. Period.




    The Night I Screamed on Halloween

    [This is a true story I’ve posted in the past. I think it’s worth repeating every couple of years.]

    A number of years ago, I told my mother about the scariest Halloween I ever experienced. I was with a friend from the neighborhood. She questioned whether she would have let me venture out without her at the tender age of six. Oh, I wasn’t alone, I reminded her. Besides, times were different then. We used to leave our windows open all day and night during hot summer months because air conditioning was a luxury. Screen doors were all that separated us from the outside world. Crime wasn’t something that was ever present in our minds. Heck, we left our doors unlocked. It was a different time…


    It was a chilly autumn night, that Halloween of 1958. It was my first foray out alone. Well, not really alone. I was with Harold, my buddy from school. He met me at my place. We had planned on doing this, by hook or by crook, and no mothers were going to be allowed to come along! We were out to prove we were real men that night, not boys, or so I thought, as we ventured out into the early evening. Be home soon after dark, our mothers instructed.

    There were lots of other children running around dressed in all kinds of costumes, stopping at many of the two story homes in our close knit community. The ones that were spookily decorated were the most inviting. Anyone willing to do all that work on their place would surely be the ones handing out the best candy!

    I remember watching hand-carved candlelit pumpkins flicker with each eerie twist and turn throughout the neighborhood. Skeletons and ghosts hung from trees and porches, swaying back and forth in the cool, gentle breezes, as red and orange leaves softly fell to the ground. We spoke of ghouls and goblins and stayed away from dark alleys and back yards where we weren’t supposed to go anyway, not to mention houses with no lights, because we knew what THAT meant! The monsters inside would grab us by our arms and take us down into their dank, spider-infested dungeons filled with torture devices, where we’d never, ever be seen again. Or… or… or… maybe, lights out simply meant they weren’t home or didn’t want to be bothered. But we weren’t going to take any chances.

    We were on a candy mission. I had a big grocery store shopping bag to fill up. It was brown paper with handles for carrying. There were no ‘plastic or paper?’ options back then. It was paper. Those were the days when milkmen left glass bottles at your doorstep and rabbit ears or rooftop antennas were the best way to watch black & white, round-screen television sets. Color TV? Hahahahaha! We weren’t rich.

    For what seemed like hours, we wandered around the neighborhood. People guessed who we were. “Oh, you’re little Dave, Sam & Dottie’s kid.”

    Harold wanted to finish the night at his house. It was only fair, since we begain our journey at mine, and I had never been there before. His place was across the street, about five houses up. When you’re only six-years-old, that’s quite a distance, and I wasn’t crazy about venturing too far away from my world; a world that wasn’t very big.

    But I was brave and we had candy collection work to do.

    Round and round we went. Back and forth, up and down; to the left and to the right, including places we’d never seen. We visited hundreds of homes, or so it seemed. Thousands, maybe! Eventually, we worked our way to his place. It was dark and I remembered what my mother said. We’d been out long enough, we were getting tired, and both of us had plenty of goodies to last a long time. Of utmost importance, Halloween fell on a school night and we needed our sleep.

    When we arrived, we walked up the sidewalk and climbed the stairs of his front porch. The porch light was off and it was downright sinister. Pure evil was lurking about. I knew it. I just sensed it…

    “Are you sure your mom and dad are home?” I asked. We knocked and, in a snap, the big, dark door swung open. There stood Harold’s father.

    “TRICK OR TREAT!” We screamed in unison.

    “I want to see a trick,” he responded. A trick? I didn’t know what he was talking about. Saying trick or treat meant that I was going to get candy. That’s all I knew. What was this trick thing about? “When you say trick or treat, I can ask you to do a trick first. Then I give you a treat. Where’s your trick?”

    Harold and I gave each other a puzzled look and said, “Huh? Nooooo…???”

    “Well, then, I have a trick for you,” and just like that…

    His top teeth popped out; far, far out of his mouth and quickly slid back in. WHOA!!!!!!!

    I froze dead in my tracks and stared up at him. The glare in his eyes! Then, just like that, he did it again!!!!!!! Those teeth jutted out of his face and wiggled for a second, like they had a mind of their own, before disappearing back inside his mouth.

    “AAAAIIIIEEEEE” I let out a blood curdling scream that must have awakened the dead. Today, anyone within hearing range would have called 911 on that house because of the panic in my voice. I turned to run, but, quickly, Harold’s mother appeared from another room. In a snap, she came out to comfort me.

    “Did you see what he did? He… he… he…”

    “Yes, yes,” she answered, as she wrapped her arms around me. Whatever his name was, she sure did raise her voice at him. She knew exactly what happened. “He shouldn’t have done that.”

    Meanwhile, I could see that the guy was rolling on the floor, laughing like crazy. I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to get away from there fast while she explained what it was. “When people’s teeth go bad, the dentist pulls them out. He gives you new ones so you can chew your food and have a nice smile. They come out of your mouth and you put them back in where your teeth used to be.” 

    Huh? I had no concept whatsoever of false teeth.

    She turned to him and demanded an apology. I was trying to shake off the fright and sort it all out. Why did a grown not have any real teeth? 

    I doubt he ever said I’m sorry. I’m sure he continued to laugh. I’m certain I was still feeling the trauma. She must have known from the look on my face. “I’ll walk you home, Dave.”

    There was no way I was going to walk home alone, trembling — not after that! When I got to my door, she explained the horror story to my mother. Maybe I sensed a “Snicker” or two.


    All my life, I brushed my teeth in the morning and before bed, especially after eating candy bars. I remember telling my mother that I would never set foot in Harold’s house again. As a matter of fact, when I looked up the street toward his place, I shuddered and turned away, yet Harold and I remained friends. He assured me he had no idea.

    Before the following Halloween, we moved to another town and that was the unfortunate end of our friendship. When I was old enough to understand what false teeth were all about, I wondered how the father of a six-year-old boy could have lost his teeth so young. He couldn’t have been more than thirty. Just maybe… he ate too much candy when he was young and didn’t brush, brush, brush his teeth.



    Me Too?

    In late August of 1968, I turned 16. Living in Flemington, NJ, the hottest place around was the Weiner King. I really wanted to get my first job there. No other place was like “The King.” It was the center of the known universe. One Saturday afternoon, a week or so after my birthday - I was “of age” now - my mother drove up to the front, I got out and went inside to ask the owner if he would hire me. He asked a few questions, jotted down my information, and said he’d get back to me if an opening came up. I made sure I was dressed nicely.

    Some time the following week, the phone rang and the rest is history. September, 1968. I remember, on my first day, I wore a tie. Jack Little, the owner, chuckled a bit and told me it wasn’t necessary. What I needed was an apron. Angie Rocco was assigned to train me and I’ll never forget that first day, nor will I ever forget many subsequent days at that job. One stands out in particular, and the news of late has brought it back into the forefront of my mind.

    The Weiner King went through several transformations over the years. The first one was a little shack. When I went to work, it was a much larger building. The old shack had been tossed in the back of the parking lot. From the highway, the dining room was on the left. The right side was the waiting area, the front counter, and the kitchen. There were two entrances that faced sideways. Jack had lost the key and we had to run a heavy-duty chain between the two doors at night to lock up. There were two rugs on the floor, too, for customers to wipe their feet as they entered. At the end of the night, someone would have to take each rug outside and shake out the dust and dirt. On nights that I worked, that would be me because I was the “junior executive assistant manager trainee” at the time.

    As it was with many summer nights, the crew was a core group of three – Jack, Tom Garefino, and me. Tom was a gruff type of guy with a heart of gold. Some people were kind of afraid of him, but I knew better. A retired Army M. Sgt., he was a great man and full of knowledge.

    Late one evening, it was coming up on closing time. Jack never refused a customer as long as those grills were on. Besides, we weren’t closed. The front of the restaurant, where the waiting area was, was made up entirely of glass panes. I stood at the front counter when a red Fiat Spider rolled up. (Dang! We’re never going to close, I thought.) The convertible top was down. Two guys came in and I took their order. When they picked up their food, they sat quietly at a front table. I’d say they were in their thirties. Meanwhile, Jack, Tom, and I started the process of cleaning up – getting ready to close.

    At some point, I picked up one of the rugs and proceeded to shake it outside one of the doors. It was near the Fiat, but far enough away to not get it dirty. One of the two gentlemen came outside, stood next to me, and began asking questions. How old are you? How often do you work? Is that guy your father? What time do you get off? You know, questions like that. Then, BAM! The proposition…

    “I just got out of prison. I’m a professional photographer and I want to take pictures of you. We have a place not too far from here with a studio and small stage. We have lots of wine and we’d like to take nude photographs of you.”

    I was uncomfortable right from the start, but this was WAY too much. I kept turning around and looking at Jack and Tom for help. They were leaning on the front counter paying close attention, smiling at me. I needed help! Anyone in their right mind could see the look of panic in my face. Why didn’t they rush out to help me?

    “No! No! No! I’m not like that. I like girls. I don’t want my picture taken…” And on it went until… until… until… I turned around and THERE HE WAS, the other guy! Outside the door. It was as if he was reading his friend’s lips.

    He knew what had transpired. “Please come with us. We promise we won’t hurt you. We’ll bring you back.”

    “Noooooo!” I firmly responded, opening the door and rushing back inside. “Where were you? I needed your help!”

    This thin, blond, 16-year-old boy was scared poopless.

    There they were, Jack and Tom, getting a big kick out of it. My heart was racing as they snickered away. “Don’t worry, Dave, we were right here. We weren’t going to let those guys do anything to you. We were watching and would have been over this counter and out the door in a flash.”

    That was reassuring, but, fortunately, I was smart. I resisted. I had help. What would have happened had I been alone?