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An American Life

 My father’s parents came here at the end of the 1900s like so many other immigrants. They came here separately four years apart and came from the same region in Italy, just south of the Amalfi coast. I asked my dad why they had come here, and he relayed that southern Italy was very poor, not the tourist attraction that it is today, and there was little prospect of improvement. My grandparents married here in America, had six kids (my father being the youngest) and bought a house in 1922. My father was born in the house in 1928, and with the exception of two years of military service, and one...

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The Power of Taxation

   The pandemic has produced some negative budgets for state governments, and while the presidential election has produced some hope that they might get bailed-out, states are looking for ways to plug the budget gaps. If you have watched a basketball or hockey game in New York, you can’t get past a timeout without a commercial for a gambling app. Which is interesting because gambling still isn’t legal in New York. But it is in New Jersey. And New York is just salivating at the prospect of adding those taxes to its revenues. Another big item on the agenda is legalizing marijuana. Notwithstanding...

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Milk Dud Mystery!

 In 1928, the Hoffman company of Chicago invented the Milk Dud. It’s called a dud because the chocolate covered caramel ball was supposed to be round, and the resulting misshaped candy was well….a dud! The candy was manufactured by a series of different companies over the years until Hershey finally bought it in 1996. I’m not sure how much milk is actually in a Milk Dud, but there definitely is caramel and chocolate. And, I don’t think Milk Duds are actually good for you. Which is why I love them! The mermaid is not happy about my Milk Dud jones, but hey, there could be worse things. But guess...

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Going Postal

 As we near the year-end holidays, one of the best things in the world is getting Christmas cards! Many people include pictures of their families or trips that they have taken during the year, and it’s a great way to catch up with friends and relatives that you don’t always see. This year is different. The pandemic has robbed so many of any joy this year because there haven’t been any trips and because some families have lost loved ones along the way due to this terrible virus. But I’m still determined to send Christmas cards, and hope to receive some too from others who are as determined to...

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He Was a Friend of Mine

The phrase was the title to a traditional folk song that was recorded by Bob Dylan and later Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. The song laments the death of a friend, and today I lament the death of a very old, dear friend. His nickname was Moose, but Steve Melcer, was by all accounts a gentle giant in a very big body. He was big from an early age and thus earned his nickname, but at one point stopped growing and that also stopped his climb in the athletic world. In Little League and CYO, he was a terror, and in high school (St. Francis Prep) he earned All-City honors in both baseball and basketball....

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Thanksgiving: You’re In, You’re Out

 The Governor recently announced new restrictions, the latest set of actions aimed at harnessing the coronavirus in New York. In addition to the travel restrictions, having negative tests both before and after you come to New York, he has deployed the National Guard at the airports and tunnels. In the past week, he went even further in requiring restaurants and bars with liquor licenses to close up shop by 10 p.m. All this to combat rising infection and hospitalization rates. No one wants to go back to the early days when we were afraid to even go outside. While wearing a mask might not be popular...

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New Paltz & Sleepy Hollow!

 I figured a quick trip upstate before winter settles in and the third wave hits us was the cure-all needed. So, the mermaid and I packed a few bags and hit the highway. She booked an Airbnb just outside of town. My kids have used Airbnb, but I never did, preferring the safety of big hotel chains, but the mermaid picked the perfect location overlooking the Shawangunk ridge and the tower at Mohonk. The one room accommodation had an outdoor hot tub, and it stopped raining just enough for a dip in the soothing waters overlooking the valley and ridge beyond. I ordered a hot tub in July of this year...

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Discover New York

 I have written about the potential decline of New York City recently, with great sadness, I might add. But today I write to tell you that news of NYC’s death has been greatly exaggerated. I have been a tourist in our own home city because the city holds great hidden secrets and no one who lives here really bothers to look for them. If you were on vacation, especially overseas, you might not think twice about booking a tour of the city. But few residents would ever do so in their own city. I have also written in the past about the off-the-grid tour group NYC Discovery Tours. I have found them...

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Just Friends

Even a global pandemic can’t keep friends apart. For over thirty years, a group of friends from Greenpoint where I grew up, made the trek out to Montauk under the guise of a fishing trip. The trip was originally organized by one of New York’s bravest and his brother, and sadly both are no longer with us. But their spirit has guided the remaining friends over the last decade to continue the tradition. So, with masks firmly in place and more Purell than beer this year, the core ventured East. The trip originally included a smaller group of friends but once word got out, many competed for an invitation...

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