April 6, 2006

N. Szajnberg, MD Copyright 2020

I arrived in SF in 1995, taking a position at the Family Mosaic, a modestly paid position, which I had recommended to one of my residents in Wisconsin: he forsook the SF job for big bucks in Arizona. Having talked-up the excitement of working in an innovative program for 200 children in the African-American Bayview and the Hispanic Mission neighborhoods, having started working on the 30-year study with Hank Massie, and having been tempted by him over several weekend visits including walks along the Berkeley marina, dinner at Chez Panisse, even a month-long summer in his house with my two daughters, I took the job. Dr. D., now dead (of his own hand), maneuvered the half-time position with the Family Mosaic, into a position at UCSF, the other half-time to be the only child psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry’s new multimillion dollar HMO contract, a poisonous position that I fulfilled, fortunately, for only a year. Dr D. was proud that he got a city psychiatrist appointed to a joint job at UCSF. I learned later how big a victory this may have been for him: an SF local, DR. D. had been rejected by UCSF for residency; and I was the first City child psychiatrist to have passed the National Boards. I learned shortly that I was barely tolerated by the Chairman of Psychiatry, was child psychiatric window-dressing for the HMO contract (instructed not to tell pediatricians I was here, for fear that they would send patients) and learned more about the deeply perverse nature of this Department.

But that was the future. The beginning was modest. To find housing on this academic salary, I asked the University’s help. Not too helpful, they wait-listed me for a faculty rentable apt. and referred me to a private SRO on Fourth Ave. I began life in SF a few steps away from Golden Gate Park homelessness, in a house converted for single-room-only transient visiting junior faculty, and later, students, with shared kitchen and baths. I had the former dining room, a rather grand setting off the kitchen. While house rules were no cooking after 10 p.m., with visiting faculty from Brazil, Argentina, this was often honored in the breach, and in one instance with an enthusiastic invitation to join the cooking and dining festivities approaching midnight.

I had books to store, three mahogany bookcases. The latter, I tucked into my closet-sized office at the family mosaic, perhaps the only time “mahogany” had legally entered the neighborhood of the Bayview-Hunter’s point, other than Diana Ross’s song of Billy Holiday. Most of my remaining books were cheek-by-jowled into the glass-fronted built-in pantry of the dining room/bedroom and beneath my bed. I slept literarily for almost a year. Outside my window, the crown of a four-story Aloe nodded at me in the fog-winds off the Ocean, which I could peek at, skimming the house tops. The house on Fourth was several houses down from Parnassus, the Olympic aerie upon which the Medical school was built. Parnassus is about as long as the campus and, prior to the street’s arriving at this center of Olympian thought, the street is more prosaically called Judah, alphabetically between Irving and Kirkham. At the University, the biblical Judah, that lion of a son who leaped upon his daughter-in-law’s loins, becomes the Greek epitome of power, from which gods wrought very human, but powerful havoc and play.

Ten years and a touch later, here is what I left. The most beautiful city in which I have ever lived, set in the most Elysian setting, near Marin’s Redwood forests, near Palo Alto’s desert-like setting, hours from the Sierra Nevadas and Yosemite. An elderly colleague once pronounced solemnly that Yosemite is where he worshiped, as often as he could. In 1995, I arrived to an SRO, moved to a faculty apartment with a direct view into the Dental School Parking lot (a park side view, so to speak). By 1999, worn-out by rentals since 1991, I moved into a one-bedroom home and office on idyllic Sixth Avenue, a dead-end onto the Presidio park, marred only by my backdoor neighbor, who bragged to Ric, our upstairs neighbor, that she had trained her dog to only attack Jews. Ric, a well-mannered Midwesterner found this offensive.

On her back window, facing mine, she hung a sign: “Jews out of Palestine.”

In fall 2003, I left for the loveliest home I have ever owned, on Lake Street, my office facing a Japanese Garden in back, a view framed by French Doors I helped build.

A Monterey Pine, its limbs sculpted in some Japanese windswept tiering, sits center of the garden. The gravel, unrakeable, uncomfortable, I replaced with redwood bark. After rain, fragrances wafted upwards. Bordering the yard, nearest the French Doors, I planted Alyssum for a while, to capture its perfume as I opened the French Doors. (Alyssum I once had planted for my toddler daughters in Connecticut before my then-wife felt she needed some room to think — -so she took mine.)

The upstairs master bedroom’s view skimmed over tree tops towards the Presidio. This view is crowned by the skewed, elliptical dome of a grand tree, sculpted in its topiary by some mystical hand, the prevailing Ocean breezes, perhaps. On some evenings, the ostinato of the waves on China Beach played beneath the quiet. On particularly foggy nights, the fog horns punctuated the night, like some lonely French Horns in a silent orchestra.

The internal colors in the house I picked painstakingly — hues of blue, including the Lily White of the Living Room and Dining room and master bedroom, to capture one of my daughter’s presence. Its front I tried to paint terra-cotta, but came out a bit pumpkinish: to do double duty — aesthetic and ease of care — I used a high-sheen paint rather than the dull, porousness of terra-cotta. Instead, I got a porcelain pumpkin sheen. I thought of terra-cotta not only for its Northern Italian sense, but also for the house to flower.

I hung window boxes, but the Southern exposure challenged my gardening ability. Geraniums, I learned from Ralph Everett when I was at Cornell, are most robust here. I mixed some magical water-absorbing crystals into the soil to retain water, to be less demanding of my having to slide open the front windows for watering. Upon buying the house, before moving in, I strolled down the Clement Street fair, that lane, always clogged, of Asian shops, fish stores, banks, twofer general stores, and a unique combined

flower-shop-aquarium store. I bought a massive salt-water aquarium, thinking that I would fill it with the more brightly colored fish of the Ocean, bring the Pacific home. It sat empty in my dining room until my move. To fill the void, I placed a sardine can within, a kind of conceptual art/ease-of-care aquarium. Also canned tuna, the can with the winding key on top. A couple “schools of fish.” I would lean next to this my unused carbon-fiber fly rods.

— — -

Ten years later, this is to what I say goodbye.

While I moved to Israel in September, 2006, I had been slipping back to SF periodically with weeks packed with work. October, all of January and finally two weeks in April. But it is the latter that I begin to have time to realize goodbye.

I flew in the night before I was to attend a Berkeley conference on Literature and Psychoanalysis. I had submitted my introduction to my Jacob and Joseph, Father and Son book, not realizing that this conference was to be Lacanian. My house for sale, I did not have time to return to it until Thursday. I felt some remorse that I had to stay elsewhere for two days, and relief that it could be with good friends in Oakland.

The Berkeley experience was very , well…, Berkeley. After sitting through various talks on Lacan (an elusive French psychoanalyst who uses evasive, ambiguous language as a form of sport), I was matched with a British professor, Nick Ray, from Leeds; He spoke about Oedipus and Hamlet; I about Jacob and Joseph; He spoke about the Greek words and I about the Hebrew: we recognized the presence of “foot” words in the myths and their vaginal allusiveness. (Really.) Infant Oedipus, (swollen foot), has his Achilles’ tendons pierced by his father Laius, to prevent his escape when Oedipus is placed to die in the wilderness. Nick says the word for these piercings is “arthros,” which means both “holes,” and “vagina.” (So too, in Hebrew, the word for feminine, nekeva, shares a root with nekev, “hole.”) I think of how vulnerable in Greek legend is this Achilles, this area of the foot that led to the so-named hero’s death. I tell him of Jacob’s name, Yaakov, as “heel-grabber,” this twin brother who so yearned to be first (or was born contending with his brother.) We were a fine match and the audience enjoyed as we compared words and concepts. I thought that the organizer had a drawn, pained look, perhaps because we did not use the Lacanian words jouissance, nor the “phallic female,” nor Lacanian algebraic formulae about the Subject (S )or the Castrated Subject (S barred). Not once.

Afterwards. we emerge into that uniquely bright sun of Berkeley, march past Sproul Hall at noon, where the UC band is performing in anti-uniformed Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts, swaying horns to and fro, the cheerleaders high-stepping before them. The cheerleaders are of various flavors, perhaps thirty percent Asian students, capturing the proportion of Asians on campus. I noticed their gleaming teeth, lips drawn back and recall that a dancer — an ex-wife in fact — once revealed to me the use of Vaseline to keep such a smile gleaming, lips unglued, while perspiring on the stage: a Rockettes-kind of trick. I thought of Paul Ekman’s classifications of social versus false social smiles; of the touch of hostility that the latter can reveal. But these ladies show Berkeley brightness with their grins. A Berkeley faculty member has been trying to ask me a question, whose meaning eludes me: something about the nature of the subject’s subjectivity in the Jacob and Joseph stories, given my accounts. I try to buy time; ask him to rephrase his question, am left feeling that my English is not up-to-snuff to get his drift. Then, as we pass the cheerfulness of these leggy leaders and brassy band, I thank him and the conference organizers for arranging for this fine half-time performance for us. He seems perplexed, surprised, a bit apologetic; had not arranged for this, in fact. Never mind, I assure, as I enjoy it thoroughly.

This faculty member finally finds an answer I give suitable. He must part; class preparation, can’t join us for lunch. I look forward to lunch with Nick Ray, but injudiciously invite a hanger-on woman from the audience to join us for lunch, as she had not had time to ask her questions of us at the conference. My imprudence. Although she apologizes several times for not knowing enough about either Bible nor Nick Ray’s LaPlanche, she takes over. Nick and I, famished, pressed for time to return within the hour, are prepared to sit anywhere in any pub or dive where empty chairs are to be found. She, vetoing the fine salad bar (salads too big), Indian Naan shop (too-greasy), agrees to the pub, (I think past Moe’s). But not inside, she insists — too noisy. Out back, short of tables, she asks to wait. I venture among the Birkenstocked waitresses and pierced waiters to find an innovative way we can be seated — perhaps at the table where now lean several bikes. No, can’t move the bikes. Ms. Obtrusive reluctantly agrees to sit inside, as I find a table near the door. She listens a bit, then veers us to some political encomium, trying to elicit from Nick Ray how backward, colonialist, Undsoweiter are we Americans and Bushites.

Nick is drawn into this. I toss a question or two to him about Greek, before I excuse myself, uneaten salad in hand, to head back and chair the next panel.

This is peopled by an after lunch crowd who listen to a woman and a man who spoke about dismemberment and disfigurement of women in Melville’s novels and Campion’s movies. I note that all the questions afterwards are from men. I ask if any woman has anything to say. Silence. As if there tongues had been cut out, I think. One speaker dwells on the narcissistic men of Tennessee William’s plays. At least no physical dismemberment here. The day before, a flamboyant speaker reveled in how queer all of Melville’s work was, how clueless are the straights of the world. For years, I had thought that Moby Dick was all about cetaceans, a very whaley subject and found it dull. Then, Bettelheim said I could read it as a voyage through adolescence — it begins “Call me Ishmael.” that son ejected to wander, possibly die, by his father. This ishmael, in black mood, following funeral processions, engaging in drunken brawls, knows that he must set out to sea. Now, I come to Berkeley to learn that I had had it all wrong.

Enlightenment at the queerest moments one can find at Berkeley.

I leave early to sign house sale papers on Thursday. But, too tempted, I leave a bundle of dough at Cody’s bookstore and a bit more at Moe’s. Moe’s, postered with photos of the original cigar-smoking second hand bookseller, has my favorite moleskin books on reduced price, even one quadrille ruled. I load up.

Before heading for the underground car lot, I buy a cigar at the smoke shop across the street from campus,a hole-in-the wall with glass, crystal-meth pipes of multiple colors, rolling papers, unlabeled smokes. But I am able to find some decent cigars. I ask about good pipe tobacco, am given an odd look and directed to a modest collection of some lonely, dusty sacs of tobacco in the back. I pass.

In the parking garage, where the day before I was unable to exit as I had only a $20 bill and the sign says, “No $20 bills, no credit cards,” I am now armed with smaller bills. But I am not prepared for the bike-dismounted rent-a-cop blocking my car and speaking into his walkie-talkie. Thoughts run through my head: on my January visit to Berkeley, again to give an unpaid talk, I had been given a free parking pass, taped it on my motorcycle and at the parking attendant’s urging parked inside the garage, as he thought that outside, someone would snag my pass. Four hours later, I found a parking ticket on my motorcycle, and my parking pass. Seems I had parked the motorcycle in a car space. I never found the motorcycle parking area. The matronly, gray-haired veteran secretary for IPSR — my hosts — who had taken ashine to me, had offered to send me some of her poetry, took theticket, glanced at it, dialed the campus police, muttering “Fuck ‘em,”before someone answered. Fixed the ticket. This was a second pass atunlawfulness on my part on this January in Berkeley. As my dear friend Paul Ekman and I were wandering the streets skirting campus, talking and cafe-hopping for several hours, we were stopped by a police man who told us that we were caught in the crosswalk as thelight turned from yellow to red. This is a $130 fine in Berkeley — each. Paul demurred, apologized, admitted that we wereabsent-minded professors, and the burly Berkeley cop rolled up his window and let us pass. This is a serious business: Paul’s wife isDean of the grad. school; her secretary got hit-up for 130 samolians in a crosswalk. A costly business, giving unpaid talks at this center of Free Speech.

Hard to take seriously, at first, a policeman in spandex biking shorts, short sleeves and wearing a helmet, even though his clothes are of faux gabardine police Navy blue. But, he will be taken seriously. I ask if I am being given a ticket.

A ticket? He’s getting me towed. Registration tag was due on March 12th (my birthday) and it is now the 23rd. I can pick up my car at the pound after paying all fees, towing costs and ticket.

I feel myself pale. I tell him that I am to be in SF to sign for my house sale in one hour; that I had just come to Berkeley to give a lecture gratis. I hold my single cellophane- wrapped Macanuda Café cigar, thinking how much this smoke is going to cost me.

He mutters, “Tough.” Hesitates as he fiddles with his computerized ticket do-dad. Tells me he will give me a break; only a parking ticket today, but he wonders out loud as if to warn me,

“How will you drive your car with the outdated registration?”

I express gratitude. He fiddles more; goes into his bike pack for another computer. Gets irritated. Tells me that I am really lucky today: neither computer is working. I ask if he can just write me a paper ticket. This irritates him further; the University won’t let him do that anymore. I breathe with relief. Watch him mount his two-wheeled steed. The exit from the underground lot is a steep semicircular ramp. I watch him, Chaplinesque, wearing Spandex biking shorts, pumping his way up the ramp, trying, perhaps to look tough, poised, yet, appearing wounded from the rear.

— — — — — — -

Sunday night, a true SF experience. After visiting friends in San Mateo, I was to join a colleague and friend and his family in SF. Michael was born in the States, then some years in Germany (from 11 to after medical school), before he headed back here. His wife, E. is from Asia. M., 3 1/2 is fluent in English, an Asian tongue and German, and attended a Spanish-speaking preschool. Her sister, T., has a Hebrew a moniker suggested by me. But, Michael calls to tell me that E. and the kids have spent the day out and aren’t yet back. He asks me to bike from his house near 30th to the Castro to eat at Samovar. His house is in the Glenn Park neighborhood, at the brow of the hill overlooking Noe and Castro Valley. His backyard is a steep climb. He dreams someday of terracing it; building an extension from the back of the house for the grand piano; French doors will open, so that his daughters can entertain guests sitting in the yard.

He is a dreamer, who works at his dreams; like some topiarist, he takes what grows naturally, sculpts his dreams into them.

He is precisely prepared. He has the bikes, lights, helmets and fluorescent vests at the ready and we descend to the Valley. Michael, a preserver of things, had ridden his old ten-speed, welding parts back on as they weakened. Now, he has a folding bike ordered by internet. The folding bike makes him persona grata on all buses and trains: legally, he tells me, upfolded, his bike and he cannot be refused. Generous, he lets me mount his new wheels and I follow him as he flies ahead. I, having cracked my bike helmet a few months back on a slick in Ra’anana, ride the brakes. He stops along the way to remind me to mail the letter I had already forgotten about. We course past his daughter’s new school; he rides her to school twice weekly on the back of his bike. We meet friends along the way, obliging as to stop and banter in German. We are at Samovar; his friend, “Snooky,” is sitting outside, fingerless gloves, muffler, drinking tea. A long, barely-gathered and graying pony tale pokes out the back end of his Kangol, or rather, the front end, as he wears hat ass-forwards like old hip-hop artists did, you should see the label en face. A few moments later, I notice that near “Snooky” is a young lady, sitting at the other side of the table. Michael, not seeing the chick, starts telling “Snooky” that a lovely lady works with him and is “Snooky” interested in meeting her. This being San Francisco, “Snooky” belatedly lets his date introduce herself, then turns to Michael to say that he is interested. No one bats an eye. Michael tells me later that “Snooky” is a renaissance man, possibly a Renaissance man: speaks many tongues; works as a mole for P.G. & E., diggin’ and huntin’ beneath our feet to cast light on our lives.

Excusing ourselves, Michael prepares the bikes for bondage: he has chains and locks, loops and cables. As we are in the Castro, our bikes should feel acculturated, chained to each other and a bike stand. A system he has that will foil thieves. He removes all the removables: lights and such. One of my bikes was stolen in front of the Jewish Community Center in the early afternoon. I know — I watched the security videotape with the police, who simply shrugged. The diligent security guard gave chase to this repeat hooded offender; watched the fellow pause at the red light to put on my stolen helmet, he shouldn’t bong his noggin should he fall while escaping.

Food in SF, in the Bay Area, is an aesthetic. Care is given. Attention must be and is paid. I recall at Chez Panisse, the salad chef, a young Asian woman, smiling blissfully as she mixed each bowl of salad bare-handed; paused to pick out a leaf; tasted it for proper dressing; proceeded to mix. I enjoyed watching her. She found sensuality in this teak bowl. She did the sensual eating scene from Tom Jones, the teak substituting for the guy, an Onanic feat with the lips and fingers.

Samovar is influenced by this. It is a tea joint. When I ask if they know of Red and White teas, south of Market, a tea emporium that sells its teas in bamboo containers, they sniff “No.” Michael orders a banto box; I, fish, tea. As we eat, cheek by jowl at Samovar, Michael tells me that the brother of a mutual friend died last month, a young professor “out East,” at X. College. Of his own hand (in Hebrew, suicide is “lost himself”) apparently, on the verge of a promotion, on the verge of marriage, but, like Dante poised at the Fourth Circle of Hell, more than on the verge of despair. In pain, Michael explains, he was. The girl at the next table asks, “Do you mean Dr. V.?” She had been an under grad there; he, her teacher. We talk about V. (whom I never met, but whose sister I knew well), reminiscences are traded. The next table girl now works for Pixar. She asks about us. Perhaps takes us for a couple out, in the Castro, after all.

As we talk, Michael, backed up to the window, does not see his wife approach, wave. I excuse myself; tell them that I must see a lovely woman. Michael doesn’t bat an eyelash; only realizes later I am talking with E. The girls asleep in the car, she cannot join us.

Afterwards, all the more somber, yet, feeling close, we hop on our wheels and thread our way along the sheers of hillsides to Michael’s house. Riding the sheers of SF’s forty two hills is a kind of uphill reverse slalom I learned over the years. My test to buy a new bike was to ride it up to Nob HIll twice. To the Grace Cathedral, where George Schultz, former Secretary of State, attends; it is dressed with copies of the Ghiberti bronze doors, the Gates of Paradise; the originals in Firenze at the Duomo for years had been stored away to prevent further air pollution erosion. In foggy SF could you see the biblical figures emerge from the metal, as if trying to come back to life, speak to you. On the lower mid-margin, 15th Century Ghiberti carved his self portrait emerging, peering at his work. In the Cathedral and in the courtyard, a Mandela is on the floor; my eldest, Sonia enjoyed slowly entering and exiting; Lily, the younger, did this full-tilt. Across the street from the cathedral doors, a neat playground, usually populated with children from Chinatown, down the hill’s brow; also a copy of a Venetian fountain, generally surrounded by people resting, lunching, reading. Catty-corner from the park is the Mark Hotel where Hitchcock filmed scenes from Vertigo; at the vertiginous top, on Tuesdays, at the Top of the Mark, they teach swing dancing to live band, drink fine martinis. At Grace, astride bike, facing Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, after a climb, I rested. Learned about sheers here. Lily would tease that I would grow buns of steel along SF’s forty-two hills.

— — — — — — -

The walk from my house to Baker Beach is best taken through the Presidio Forest, the backway, so to speak. The soil has a sandy, unstable quality; how the trees remain rooted mystifies me. Roots will trip you; small gullies lie on the roots’ downhill slope. Few people here; occasional dog walkers. There is a newly built walking path about two thirds down, on faux grayed redwood plastic planks, you wind in angles through newly replanted original shore plants. My street, I guess from the pastel pink house that clings to the hillside above. But, today, the goodbye walk, I take the full rustic route; no planned trails for me. Crossing the road, I remind myself that drivers must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. I don’t fully trust that this will happen; enough tourists take the slalom road that I could be a statistic here; look both ways; pause. Then choose to find my secret path to the Ocean, an untrodden dirt path along the chain link fence, raspberry canes guarding its entrance; low-hanging limbs. Before the bushy entrance, to my left is one house, always appearing empty, which has a long terrace enclosed in storm glass, two oversized lions sitting on haunches, guarding its backside. From beneath the house emerges a waterfall; a Chinese gate, always padlocked, sits above the cataract of water. As I am about to emerge to the beach view, I usually take a breath, prepare myself. The Beach lies Ocean ward from the Golden Gate Bridge, which I can see from below. Here, the water is treacherous; after a winter storm last year, I walked down; the waves still crested at perhaps eight feet; a cement bunker, arching over the effluence from the City’s sewers, had been raked away by the Ocean. Occasionally, suited Boogie-boarders enter the water here. On weekends, towards the east end of the beach, before the Bridge, the nude bathers congregate: most visitors would pay not to see the wrinkled flesh and genital piercings they carry. Today, none. In fact, only a mother, of 60’s dress, barefoot, Indian-type skirt with silver bells, two children under five — one mocha-colored, the other blond, are on the sand. When the rain begins later, they retreat, as do I. Ocean ward, on the rare clear day, you can see the Farralon Islands, where I once visited on a salmon fishing trip, but recall seeing only vaguely through the fog of motion sickness. My hardier fisherman buddies’ — too busy hauling in the catch — admonished me to upchuck by my fishing pole, as this might draw more salmon.

But visible is Seal Rock, its head turned backwards, towards shore, as if in a goodbye gesture as it prepares to launch itself seawards. Home, I know that the clinging sand will join me as I enter the house.

— — — — — — — -

A goodbye party is done last minute by e-mail. This house, now sold, is decorated by the stager. What is inside is foreign to me, save for the analytic Mies van der Rohe couch with its round bolster, and Eames chair in my office. Much kitschy art on the walls; but, in fact, it looks furnished, an improvement over my bachelor decor. While the stager kept my color selections, the entrance hall, painted by me to imitate the Chinoise-orange of a Dagobart Peshce Vienna Werkstatte wallpaper, is converted to vanilla. No mind, the fireplace lit, enter only some dear friends. Michael and family, Shlomi and Linda (who are quietly responsible for helping me aliyah; responsible and helpful in ways that I believe they do not fully know), P. my adopted brother. The Ekmans, the Greenes, the V’s cannot attend. Shlomi tells me that some four years ago, he finally met my old jogging buddy (and tenement neighbor) in Chicago, Peter Friedman. On jogs, I would ask Peter, a poli. sci graduate, to lecture me on sociology. We would pace ourselves, so that he could talk Comte, Weber. He had me listen to Mahler again, but in appreciation. From beneath an almost Peretz-like mustache, I would hear Weber’s articulate critique of Marx, as we padded along Lake Michigan. Peter told Shlomi that I would never make aliyah. When Shlomi saw him last year, he said, “Guess what?” and gave Peter the news.

— — — — — — — — —

Somewhat in retrospect, I see the decade in San Francisco as one of a healing. I try to compliment myself that I had the unconscious sense that I needed this setting to repair within. But, I honestly had no sense of how fully those who befriended me would help me achieve this. While never finding myself wholly a part of the culture(s), it was the friendships that resuscitated me. The physical beauty, the ease of life are here. As I write, I can recall walks in the redwood forests — generally solo — but a quarter hour from my house. The cathedral grove where the U.N. first met in 1945 has a photograph of the gathering.

— — — — — — — —

As I write this, I watch and listen to Leonard Bernstein conduct his Chichester Psalm, number 23. After leaving the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein was commissioned by Chichester Cathedral to write something for them. With his touch of chutzpah, he chose King David’s Psalms. The boy’s solo of “Adonai Ro’i” enters through the angry tumult of the chorus, calms them. When Bernstein first conducted the practice sessions at Chichester, he smoked madly in the Cathedral nave, at first irritating the Bishop for this sacrilege. As the Bishop heard more, he shrugged off the cigarette smoke: for such sublime beauty emerging from Bernstein’s baton, God would forgive.

— — — — — — -

To what I mostly say goodbye is rather, to whom, to dearest friends: Paul and Mary Ann, Marlene and Marshall, Michael and Euna, Shlomi and Linda, Bob and Judy Wallerstein and my adopted brothers, P. and R. San Francisco was a portal of hope for many coming from the Orient; a century later, in the 60’s, it became a haven for youth arriving from the other East, seeking joy, love, peace and often finding little of any of these ultimately. For me, it was a place of exploration, healing and friendship.

Written by

Born in a German Displaced Persons' Camp, I grew up in Rochester and attended the University of Chicago College and Med School.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store