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In the Mean/Time

In the Mean/​Time


NEWS & OPINION

Coming, sooner or later: This space will feature remarks on current events.


NEWS & OPINION

About the Author

Autobiographies are never what we want them to be but here's mine all the same.

Portrait of the artist as an old man.

I came into the world at 10:30 p.m., July 29, 1940, after Hitler's armies had conquered France and Poland and had bombed Dover harbor in England. The ambivalent responses of Britain and America to Hitler’s rise to power were the predominant topics of adult conversation as I was growing up during the war. I recall arguments and heated discussions swirling around the character and personalities of FDR, Churchill and Stalin with few conclusions drawn. To my young mind, the world was divided among Communists, Fascists and the wary.
I grew up in Livingston on Staten Island’s north shore, tended to by aunts and babysitters, until I was old enough to command an army of lead soldiers, re-living the perils of war and politics as their details filtered down from the adult world.
My parents were largely absent, although they entertained a lot. I seem to recall that many of my parents' friends during the 1940s were a mix of Big Band aficionados and impeccably tailored ladies and gents who drank way too much and laughed a lot; many of them were in the advertising business. My father owned an outdoor advertising company.
Reading became a childhood passion and my desire to be a writer of some sort followed. My life as a writer was irresistably formed in childhood.
Journalism beckoned after President John F. Kennedy was murdered in 1963. I’d been a volunteer at JFK’s 1960 Manhattan campaign headquarters. The day he died I was a college drop-out working as a temp in a cubicle adjacent to the New York Times’ newsroom. The shock of the assassination faded as I witnessed the people across the hall struggling to draw sense from chaos against a merciless deadline. I was hooked. I eventually started writing for the Staten Island Advance, where I had wonderful teachers. My stories won a few awards.
My beat was New York City, from waterfront to City Hall, from cops and courts to SoHo’s demimonde. I went on to work for the old Herald Tribune, The Village Voice, the East Village Other, Horizon and After Dark magazines. I covered race riots, pro- and anti-war protests, battles over abortion laws and control of the city’s school system. Later I covered Nixon’s post-election transition headquarters at NY’s Pierre Hotel and was not surprised later to find all the President’s men were up their necks in intrigue.
I became a bit of a gadfly, a free lancer without a plan. I started covering pop music for the Village Voice, moved to Nashville to edit Country Music Magazine, came back to New York and joined Billboard magazine, where I became international editor. I left Billboard and starting freelancing again. I became a travel writer. I traveled America and West Africa and wrote about what saw. I scratched out a living mincing words for Microsoft, Fordham Univ., the insurance industry and a Swedish white collar union.

In 1989 Villard Books at Random House published my mystery novel, "Walking After Midnight." Publishers Weekly called it “an auspicious debut." Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edna Buchanan said she “couldn’t put it down." Kirkus said the story “was exciting as an opium haze.” Details gave it a favorable review.
In 1992 I covered the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. I inquired and reported: the world seemed to be divided between tree huggers and corporate interests. Conclusions were drawn but went unheeded. Ambivalence ruled. The world hadn’t changed very much.
A year later The Carnegie Corp. of NY paid me to write a policy paper on global health issues. Unfortunately, cross-border diseases and a rise in drug-resistant bacterial infections don't get as much coverage as civil wars, despotic rule and politics as usual.
I can't complain. I have a wonderful family. I write poetry. My passions are politics and history. I'm a fervent believer in Santayana's comment: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
I’m hoping to start a blog about current events on this site. Time will tell. I'm trying to stay in the game.