The murder rate was quadrupling but we were allowed – sometimes ordered – to take the subway in the bad old days if we were past the age of ten. Oh, those parents. But I guess it was relative. Why worry about your kids meeting a homicidal psychopath or some street toughs when you’re thinking about nuclear war? Those were the days when your kids were in school practicing putting their heads under the desk to prepare for nuclear war because, you know, that was going to keep them safe.

We weren’t really sure what they were, but “fallout shelters” or at least the signs for such things were everywhere. You’d see the yellow and black signs on random apartment buildings or on some door to a windowless basement.  Quick choice: die in a nuclear

It’s a wonderful world – partly because Louis Armstrong inhabited it. The raspy baritone is a musical immortal, of course. I should be able listen to him all day. But I get stuck on “What A Wonderful World.”

It goes back to eighth grade. Which I’ll get to in a second.

Louis sings, “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” And I don’t hear another word. You know what my twisted, stunted mind does? It focuses on those words: I think to myself.

Well, who else is he gonna think to? I

Memory plays tricks on all of us. We forget things so we can move on. We forget some things just so we can deal with them – when they inevitably happen again.

I’m not sure what I’ve forgotten about Hurricane Sandy.  What follows is what I wrote a couple months after.


I headed out of Rockaway in country darkness, depressed.  Emergency lights atop a utility truck flashed giving some light to a side street full of garbage. Piles of it. But, of course, it really wasn’t garbage.  I didn’t need

I spun around thinking someone was calling me. But, nope. It was just one of those people who have earphones in and shouting into a phone mic at their chest. They were all the way across the street. You know how it is, they’ve got to make sure the whole zip code is in on the conversation — because it’s so important. Everybody wants to know about somebody’s haircut or wants to know what happened on Bridezilla last night. Good thing they’re screaming it.

The volume is like the old walkie-talkies

A couple weeks back I documented some of the dangers of being a kid before helicopter parents were invented. Factologist Sean McVeigh could not believe there were such things as glass shampoo bottles. But I was proven right as his research showed Prell shampoo to be the iPhone of its time. Tell ya, if I traveled back in time I’d open an Urgent Care center or maybe a Stitches R Us. 

It was such a big deal when shampoo was finally put in plastic bottles, they made TV commercials about this new

In the old days, you had to be brave. Things were dangerous. I mean, jeez, even shampoo bottles were made of glass.

There was a smoking section on airplanes because you know – the smoke would stay in that section only. Not that any of us ever flew on a plane back then. The usual mode of transportation was the station wagon without seatbelts and a back section where four or five kids could fit just to be bounced off each other. Of course, that wasn’t quite as dangerous as the trunk – which was

Yeah, I’ve got rocks in my head and but now I know what to do with them. 

It’s hurricane season and it’s five years since Sandy and there’s not a new jetty in sight.   The beach is shrinking and plenty of people without rocks in their heads are frustrated, angry and fearful. Rallies are held and elected officials express outrage over the inaction. Same old, same old.

Shortly after Sandy, when the destruction was fresh, the Army Corps of Engineers hurried to do beach replenishment and finish

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