Monthly Archives: November 2021


How could I know my life changed direction the day my longtime and esteemed legal assistant, Cathy Jenness, came into my office and asked for a week off. “Sure,” I said, adding, “What for?” Cathy said her husband Mike was leading his gig racing crew to compete in the championships in the Scilly Isles off Land’s End in England. “Wow, sounds exciting,” I said to Cathy. “I wonder if Mike would let me come along.” A day or so later came a “Yes“ from Mike, star lineman at Northeastern, veteran police officer, boat builder with this father, team leader, and all around nice guy. So off I went.

The Scilly Isles are much more about the ocean than the mainland of England. Its folks are English, of course, but a people unto themselves, living on these remote islands. Famous for its gigs, an open narrow and light boat built for speed, requiring six rowers and a coxswain, used in the past from the late 17th Century to guide incoming sailing vessels over the dangerous shoals in the Scillies, or sometimes for the nefarious practice of plundering the cargo of foundered ships. Even worse was the practice of mooncussing, the placing of decoy signal fires to induce a shipwreck, subdue the survivors, and plunder the wreckage. In modern times gigs are more peaceably employed for racing among crews from the Scillies, England, France, the Netherlands, the Faroe Islands, Australia, Bermuda, and America.

The Scillies offer wind, weather, and rough seas enough too charm and excite any adventurer. So adventurous, in fact, that amid the tumult and excitement of the races, positioned on a crowded open observer boat with my heavy camera, accessories, and attire, standing to get a better view, I totally forgot caution, lost my balance, and began falling in the direction of the bottom of the sea, when a strong Dutch athlete caught me in her arms and stayed my fall. Water is life! Water is death! And yet, still adventurous enough for me to capture many more images of the races, stirring enough for me to write about those rapturous days with my new comrades, and to submit my first ever authorial effort to publisher Bob Hicks, who unexpectedly featured it on the front page that year, and again on the front page the following year in his national periodical, “Messing About in Boats”

That year Mike, his crew,  and lucky me ventured to the castle town of Muiden, outside of Amsterdam for another Pilot Gig  Racing Championship round. On that trip, I combined observing and photographing by day the rowers fighting the dangerous and storm swept seas which almost engulfed the women of “Team Saquish,” as Mike styled his team, and enjoying my abode along one of Amsterdam’s famous canals with my charming Dutch husband and wife bed and breakfast hosts. The Muiden races ended with a loud, boisterous, but quite friendly tent party of a thousand or more which inspired me to leap on a table and wave the Stars and Stripes aloft, and in Amsterdam with attending a rock concert with my host.

My life had changed. I had become a writer, another adventure which ultimately led to my writing my memoir which I came to realize was written not only to share my unexpected path into old age, but to give “….meaning to my life. That extends life! And it’s something YOU can experience. I think that is the main reason I wrote this memoir,….I’m hoping my life,…. may help you find meaning at any time of life,” as I put it spontaneously in the very first podcast of this series. Indeed, you can set your life down for your own family, friends, and associates.

People, always People.

Greg Spiers – The Best Boy Next Door

I think the title of this podcast could have been, “Greg Spiers – The Best Buy Next Door.” Here’s why. Some years ago I went to Best Buy for expert advice on an item I was considering. Greg was the salesman. Not only was he very pleasant to deal with, but seemed to know cyberspace from endless end to endless end. In our long conversation it turned out like ESP that Greg lived in the house a door or two down the street from my office. Like Rick and Captain Louis Renault in “Casablanca,” that was the start of a beautiful friendship between two guys fifty plus years apart in age, which continues to this day. Not only did the brilliant Greg drag me kicking and screaming into the computer age, and help me on my magnum opus about baseball and Jews. He met my wife, Lois, became like family, and watched over me with advice like, “Hang onto any railing in sight,” as I advanced from my seventies to my nineties. Not that it was one way. Greg sought my advice in his struggle between his low key outward demeanor, and the boiling anger in this highly idiosyncratic person against what he deemed to be the deficiencies in our society to which he would not kowtow. His views can be seen on his Facebook page. For example, Greg refused to do an unpaid internship to win an advanced degree which would have positioned him well to get a highly paid position in the field of cybernetics in biology. His objection was not money oriented, but because of his belief that the intern system took advantage of students. His posture today, fifteen or so years after we met, remains essentially the same. Somewhere along the line he met Carrie Schepker, then an aspiring doctor, now a respected one, who is headed for a starry career. Another example of ESP! Greg and Carrie have formed a warm and seemingly permanent bond in their years together, and prefer now to remain unmarried and without children, against the wishes of close family on both sides. Carrie, as warm as she is capable, as loyal as she is sure of her own mind, has become our dear friend too. Our friendship is a give and take between two very informed millennials and two very informed seniors which is of benefit to each twosome in expanding their respective consciousnesses of trends in societies today. Millennials will soon take over responsibility for administering the world with their very different and very welcome views on how people might get along better. I guess the moral of this story is that if you speak easily and naturally to folks you meet from all walks of life, you may find true friends from any generation who will expand the meaning of your own life.

People,  always people!

Baseball and America’s Survival

On this podcast you will hear how a theatrical event that started out lightheartedly surprisingly turned into something deadly serious, became an adventure, and brought me a bunch of new and talented friends. Actor and playwright, Larry Tish, contacted me one day saying he would like to write a comic play adapted from my book, “American Jews and America’s Game.” Flattering? Yes. I met Larry. Terrific guy. Knew nothing about baseball. So what I told myself was, “I’ll teach him and his partner, Lee Goodwin, enough for the purpose.” I said, “How about a musical? I know a talented composer, Erin Murray, who just graduated Berklee College of Music.” The three took to each other, and ultimately decided to leave me out of the writing. OK, see how it goes. Well, it went well enough to be produced several times in Boston, Maine, New York, and finally at the home of the late philanthropist and arts enthusiast, Ted Cutler. Alas, money was wanting to continue advancing the play, cleverly named, “Jews on First,” by Larry Tish’s daughter, after Abbott and Costello’s famous line, “Who’s on First?” What to do? Larry and Lee bowed out, as it were. Using that title, I bowed in, writing a short history of Jews in America since the late 19th Century through Depression times to the present. I befriended and hired a brilliant young woman, Jillian Offermann, still in college, to gather illustrations to be sequenced and related to the history, a talent she had expertly nurtured since her mid-teens. The result was a montage of several hundred photos perfectly matched to the narrative, but which created copyright and brand liabilities in an age where MLB and all businesses protect their logos, brands, marks, and images zealously. At that time I formed a team with Jill, and Jordan Rich, veteran and popular broadcaster and podcaster, who you hear conversing with me on these podcasts. Just before Covid struck, Rotary invited me to tell them of the project on a Zoom show. The presentation impressed their audience, and their community oriented leader, Joyce Graff, asked if I could do the montage to be followed by my interview of an appropriate person from the front office of the Red Sox, directed by generous Brookline producer, Harvey Bravman. Joyce’s idea was that the interview would be on the issue of inclusiveness and discrimination in America. Joyce knew that I had some friends over there at Fenway Park, but hardly did I think I would be successful in obtaining anyone, let alone my first choice, Assistant Head of Baseball Operations, the articulate and engaging Eddie Romero Jr., born and bred in Puerto Rico. That was before generous and socially perceptive Red Sox President, Sam Kennedy, stepped in and made it all come true. Wow, this is getting serious. Well, there is much more to this story. Along the way key and accomplished people over there at Fenway Park like the aforementioned Sam Kennedy; the astute Chaim Bloom, Head of Baseball Operations; House Counsel, the brilliant Dave Friedman, Esq.; and Adam Grossman, Head of Marketing Operations, helped bring it to fruition. Not only did the story get serious but downright existential, as the subject matter segues from baseball to the survival of democracy. Any American interested in where our country may
be heading will want to hear this podcast.

People, always people!

Why I Wrote a Memoir

I never know exactly what will be discussed before any given podcast unfolds. That is because Jordan Rich poses the questions, and I answer spontaneously. Part Two of my memoir is entitled, “Why I wrote This Memoir: Friendship, Maturation, and Inquisitiveness.” It is a rather academic answer to that question, which I surmised Jordan would follow. He didn’t. So whatever came out, came out differently. Jordan’s comments and questions brought out that writing the memoir was a voyage of discovery in itself. Friends had said to me that I had led an interesting life, that I ought to write a memoir. I didn’t take that too seriously. I’d done a few things, nothing remarkable, I thought. I started it in a rather desultory manner. Then Covid came along. With time on my hands, I thought I’d give it a shot. Lots of my writings are autobiographical, so I strung them together. My capable formatter, Susan Worst, pointedly said, “Larry, this is an anthology, not a memoir.” So lazy Larry got to work in earnest, writing original material plumbing the labyrinthine caverns and crevices of my ninety year old memory. And you know what? I discovered that I had indeed lived an interesting life, albeit interesting mainly because with my limited authorial talent I could bring ordinary incidents to life, giving them meaning for me and others from which to learn. You have already heard about several such instances in previous podcasts. How I communed with the late Miss Marguerite Greenshields, whom I hadn’t seen since she was my Housemaster in high school, for example. A transformative and other worldly experience which I related in that mood! Or recently in the podcast on acting when I found new meaning about acting and life from attending Shakespeare’s poetry more closely. Or when Jordan described me as a Renaissance Man because of my many interests, including education, history, politics, music, baseball, whatever, which caused me to view myself as moving slightly away from my previous view of myself as a dilettante. Not much, but some. Or when the modest Jordan asked if I considered myself a little “edgy?” And hearing myself answer that, “Yes I think so. But I am because I always want to be true to myself. I’m lucky now at this age not to be hurt easily, and unafraid to put myself on the line.” Wise man Jordan then asked whether it was hard for me to write negatives about myself, to which I blurted out, “I have no shame.” These late coming experiences coming as part of writing the memoir, or growing from it, like podcasting, have educated me about my own persona, and equipped me to relate my life meaningfully to others, warts and all. As you will hear me say to Jordan, no one is interested in a memoir by a famous person if the warts are not revealed,  but many will be interested in one by an ordinary person if he or she tells the truth, most especially if the telling is done with reasonable skill. Add to that all the noteworthy people I’ve been fortunate to meet, write about, and befriend, and you have a book which may win some favor. Indeed, friendship, maturation, and inquisitiveness!

People – Always People