Category Archives: Episodes

GETTING A BOOK PUBLISHED



Not an easy task, especially when it’s one about classical music. Even if it contains stories drawn from face-to-face meetings with over twenty world class musical figures. I had high hopes submitting the manuscript to several major publishers and agents. Some were very admiring, but none said yes. All said the economics were unfavorable. What to do? The title I had chosen for the book is “Intimate Conversations: Face to Face with Matchless Musicians.” Who ever heard of a person with no musical training writing a book about music? I did have a passion for music, classical especially, had attended hundreds of concerts, and read extensively about the lives of its artists here and departed.

I never lost faith that the book had appeal, both academically and to the public at large. Having time on my hands, I decided to privately publish the book to friends, family, and those many folks, including its subjects, in an edition that would be produced at a level concordant with its text, to include many illustrations, a complete index, informative front matter, and front and back covers which would draw attention. Over many months and at considerable personal expense, this was done. If the reaction of those to whom I sent it is any indication of its ultimate reception, happy will I be! In short, the book is fait accompli. If any publisher accepted the book, it would be exactly the privately published edition, with only minor changes.

Then I was introduced to the relatively new world of hybrid publishing. What is that? t sounds like something done at an arboretum. In the book world it means that the author and publisher combine to produce the book, each sharing in the expense, each sharing in decisions, the author mainly contributing his writing skills, the publisher sharing knowledge of production and marketing required to get the book out to the world. With no agent required, communication is direct, royalties far higher than in the trade publishing world. Sure, both are taking a chance, but each brings their passion for the book to bear. I went in the hybrid direction, thought I had the right one, but they soon proved they were more interested in a sure profit than taking a chance.

Then serendipity came along when a major musician I had met along the way who had read and loved my book advocated on my behalf to a “family” oriented publisher, if you will, who loved it too! I was introduced to my “go to,” with whom I quickly formed a simpatico relationship on both a professional and personal level by a very long LD conversation, and a long e-mail exchange. Soon a contract was signed, now work has commenced, and publication is set for Spring, 2024. How refreshing to work with folks for whom money is only one consideration, not the ONLY consideration. Essentially my reason for writing books is to have them read now and, in the future, believing I have something t say.

Let us not forget my friend Jordan Rich who has recently published his own memoir. He did it on the basis of Amazon’s books on demand plan. So as you listen you will hear about that popular approach. I will tell of my experiences starting with vanity publishing, publishing with a major academic publisher, the University of Nebraska Press, then to hybrid publishing. In fact, we range over many facets of publishing, starting with Jordan telling why it’s like bringing a child into the world, and the connections one makes with people who have read your book. I will tell you about how I became the hero of a young recently immigrated woman whom to this day I’ve never met, who found my book “American Jews and America’s Game” in the NYPL, and used it to learn English and about America.

The most amazing part is how I came to know about it. For that you have to listen to this podcast, which I ended by calling myself a “podcastee,” a word apparently not known in the English language.

People, always People.


MOOKIE BETTS RETURNS



Boston fandom was understandably excited about the return of Mookie Betts to Fenway Park in late August, 2023, almost four years after his untimely and hurtful trade to the LA Dodgers. Did Mookie disappoint on that first visit back? Did Mookie ever disappoint? No and No. Mookie undermined the Red Sox with his batting and fielding at two positions in that memorable series. On this podcast Jordan Rich and I, both baseball fans forever, talk about Mookie the exemplary player and man, and I tell of the game of August 26 which Lois and I attended at the invitation of the Red Sox to their VIP box, where we ate a top drawer spread, and rooted for an unlikely tandem of both Mookie and the Red Sox.

Here is my description of that day, written later that day to a few dozen friends interested in what would unfold:

“To several of my very good friends who are interested in my quest to meet and honor Mookie Betts today:

“It seems communication between the Sox and Dodgers was not great, no program to honor Mookie was set up, and he himself had a tight schedule owing to his disciplined athleticism, and his meetings with a plethora of old friends. I’ll send directly to him at his home in LA the inscribed copy of my memoir, My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park: From Teddy Ballgame to Mookie Betts.

“To say that Sox President Sam Kennedy and his associates made up for that in a great way is an understatement. Lois and I were invited to park in the players lot, were given a charming guide to the VIP Suite, which on the spacious inside was provided with an array of food and drink that wanted for nothing (lobster, fruits, cookies, ice cream, sushi, dogs, sausages, chicken, and that only starts the list). Stepping outside a grand view of Fenway Park from on high whetted one’s appetite for the game. And what a game it was! It had everything except a fight, and would have had that if Max Muncy had gotten to the ump’s throat. The Red Sox showed quality this day, as did the Dodgers and Mookie, albeit his well stroked drive to the warning track fell short for the final out. I had the best of both worlds, rooting for both the Sox and Mookie. No way to lose. The atmosphere at the park was like a festival, loud, enjoyable, all being happy. It turned out to be a day to remember. Even leaving driving slowly through the crowd I was chatting with fans, police officers, Fenway personnel. I would say baseball is still America’s game, at least the America I want to inhabit. The nonagenarian and octogenarian loved it!”

Not long after that I penned this letter to Mookie:

“Mookie Betts
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Mookie:

“I’m still quivering from the events of August 25-27. Your return to Fenway was sensational, and I was fortunate to attend the terrific Saturday game in the VIP suite with my wife, Lois (we celebrate our 60th in November), at the invitation of Sam Kennedy when the meeting with you I had requested to present this inscribed memoir, My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park: From Teddy Ballgame to Mookie Betts, to you in person, could not be arranged. Had it taken place I would have read the inscription within to you verbatim.

“I have no idea whether you have ever seen it or heard my name. If you look at the last page you will see the letter, I wrote to you and fourteen others sent through Red Sox channels, well before your MVP 2018 season had unfolded. Please look at pages 58-59 to read an account of my prediction for your future written to Ben Cherington, and his same day reply, in August, 2014. Thank God on that occasion the Red Sox retained you. I don’t believe any other observer made such a prediction at that early stage. It was based on my view of your many talents on both sides of the ball, and the home run you stroked on August 25 in Toronto showing the striking force of your swing, nine years to the day before your return last Friday. I recall too the grand slam you hit a few days later in St. Petersburg. See too the picture of you and its caption taken when you ran down Josh Reddick’s drive in the 2017 AL Division Series.

“Along with millions of others in Red Sox Nation, your departure was a sad day. It still hurts. But we applaud, as you heard, your success here and in LA, and we hope your future there includes many more team and personal triumphs. It is wonderful to see you grow from a very young man, to a polished and thoughtful man of the world whom it seems always does ‘the right thing.’

“May God bless your life and those of your loved ones forever, Mookie.
With all good thoughts.”

Larry

Here is the signed and dated inscription for Mookie I wrote in the book:

“Mookie, I’m honored on this day to help the Red Sox celebrate your years of exemplary service as a player and man to the Red Sox and to the millions of fans, including me, in Red Sox Nation. Your play and person thrilled us every day.”
Larry

Thus, Mookie’s return to the city where he made his name was an adventure for him, and surely one for me and for Lois too, an adventure that I think has not ended. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this ongoing story.

People, always people!


WELLFLEET HISTORY TOLD



As an historian, I was intrigued to receive a letter from the Wellfleet Historical Society that they planned to undertake an oral history project, to be converted and bound into text, in the Summer of 2023, to gather its fascinating history. I volunteered my services, one thing led to another, and in July I sat opposite the low key and lovely Robin Burns, one of the Directors of the WHS, receiving my instructions on their protocol on how to proceed. I submitted several names of folks I thought would be vital for the task, several having already refused to be interviewed for whatever reason. A nice challenge!

Let’s start off with the fact that Wellfleet’s history is quite singular. It was inhabited by native people when the Pilgrims first arrived in 1620. Soon white folks took over its site, and over the last four centuries Wellfleet has become famous for whaling, fishing, piracy, many ships foundering off the often-wild Atlantic shore, the natural beauty of its landscape, its flora and fauna, its ubiquitous oysters which are served in fine restaurants all over the world, commerce, tourism, and now as the second home of many noted figures in the arts and professions, including some Nobel Prize winners.

Part of the protocol was myself being interviewed. Soon Wellfleet resident, Beth Whitman’s slender form emerged from the foliage surrounding my house. My own 44-year history in Wellfleet was ably brought out by the well prepared and pleasant Beth.

The three who had refused were husband and wife artists, Jack Coughlin and Joan Hopkins Coughlin, owners of the Golden Cod Gallery for over fifty years, and each a highly respected and broadly appreciated artist whose works were always sought and sold. Another was Richard Rosenthal, the Wellfleet Police Chief for twenty years from 1990 to 2010. The fourth was the landscaper for me and many others, Jeremy Young, who was willing, once he could find time from his dual role as the Director of the long-established Holden Inn.

Acting upon my belief that everyone has a story to tell, and that with the correct approach, they will tell it, I approached my old friends, Joan and Jack, now, like me, facing old age.

Slowly they accepted my entreaties. Joan, whose ancestors were an important part of Wellfleet history over the last few centuries, spoke of them, her childhood in Jamaica, and her colorful and upbeat art, in her mild and warm manner.

Jack, famous here and in Europe, and shown in museums like the Met and MOMA in NYC, and galleries in DC, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, as well as several on the continent, answered my queries forthrightly. I sought to underscore a life which was devoted to his art exclusively from before he could walk, until now, when at 92, he is challenged to walk.

Jeremy like Jack, knew what he wanted to do from early on, starting his own business at 15, a business thriving today in his mid-thirties, with multiple employees, and a sterling reputation.

Chief Richard Rosenthal’s amazing story leaves one in awe as he unfolds it, shining a light on Wellfleet and NYC police history, Rich’s many books, his masterful photography, the vagaries of human nature, friendship, sincerity, forgiveness, and whatever else you might derive from this account of a man I describe as “Renaissance.”

A Summer I will never forget!

People, always people.


PRODUCING YOUR OWN BOOK



As said, I had some time when getting a trade publisher proved problematical. Then illustrator and friend, Holly Sullo, advised me that as the owner of the copyright to “Intimate Conversations,” I could publish that book privately without undercutting my chances of obtaining a publisher later because there was no agent, and no middleman. I had not been aware of that. Why not do that?

So, I set my sails, and embarked on what became an odyssey, one which proved by turns to be joyful, nasty, difficult, tortuous, creative, educational, and collaborative. Over the months I learned how a book is produced and comes to life. As you can imagine, when I finally held in my hands for the first time the printed book created by me and my ‘friends,” I felt great pride and accomplishment. An odyssey is described as “searching” for something. Indeed, I had searched, and had realized the culmination of those deep and personal conversations with twenty-one world class musicians.

Along the way the added experience had polished my writing style. Like how to start and end chapters, how to present the subject in the best way to tell of the depth of that person, when and where to switch to the third person to inject necessary and interesting background. I became fully confident in my own style, which Jordan describes as a “stream of consciousness,” It is true that I write in one feel swoop, trying to reach the reader by using ordinary vernacular in a mind catching way, usually only requiring the first draft copy-edited by myself after some thought to reach final form. Lucky am I to never have writer’s block using this approach in which the words flow once I start.

Who were my friends? Well, my longtime legal assistant, Cathy Jenness, transcribed all those interviews. Without them there is no book. My longtime formatter and collaborator, Susan Worst, to whom the book is dedicated, aided me every step of the way. Holly Sullo converted my idea for the front and back covers into reality, and created a logo of the hydra-headed monster known as Larry Ruttman, if you will. Susan and Holly have continued to help me on my memoir, “A Life Lived Backwards,” as you will hear. The indexer I chose went beyond my expectations to the point where the comprehensive index added a new dimension to the book, making it useful in the halls of academia wherever. Noted Professor of Music, John Graziano, added a Foreword that spoke of the permanence the book would attain. The permissions required for many of the striking full-page illustrations in the book were generously obtained from their creators without fee solely on the promise to provide each with a copy of the book. The final touches to the book were accomplished in the most intense twelve-day period of my life with Janice Tsai, a Harvard trained collaborator serendipitously brought to my attention, with whom I exchanged hundreds of e-mails over that short period as we combined intro the wee hours to copy edit and put the final touches on the book before printing. Janice assisted me in solving the enigma of the elusive last chapter to be completed!

We finished this podcast with me mouthing a vulgarism to describe how I was able to meet with all those musicians. You’ll hear it when you listen. Anyway, it finally got me to the hybrid publisher of my dreams.

People always people.


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)



I may have surprised my esteemed collaborator, Jordan Rich, when he opened this podcast with the question,” Where do you think mankind is headed?” I answered, “I think we are headed for the destruction of mankind.” That is a view I have held since the bomb was unleashed on Japan, a view that seems quite contrary to my optimistic and fun-loving persona, but there it is, now reinforced by the plethora of existential threats facing mankind. The latest of those, Artificial Intelligence, dubbed AI for short, may be the one that wipes us out because of its ability to control us, much as the infamous HAL almost succeeded in doing in Stanley Kubrick’s foretelling film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Several of these threats have arisen only lately, others have been around for thousands of years. Here is a partial list: climate change, global warming, nuclear war, pandemics, social media, artificial Intelligence, asteroid impact, alien invasion. As a nonagenarian who has lived through most of the 20th Century, and a significant part of the 21st Century, I have the distinct impression that life was simpler and more secure in the 20th. Ironically, all the discoveries in the past 100 years or so, have considerably reduced our comfort level, and have made life more uncomfortable, if not chaotic. Several are embedded in those threats listed above.

Will AI outrun our ability to control it? That is an open question, but just the question is enough to frighten any thinking person. For example, experts tell us AI can be programmed to do good things, but on its own can convert those directions to do evil things. Sure, those who see profit in AI are all for it. It must be regulated, but will it? Even if it is, it still might destroy us. Those same profit seeking forces are at work in the social media field, as well. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Man has existed on earth for only a tiny fraction of the time earth has existed. As said, there is good reason to believe that an existential threat, or a combination of them, will destroy mankind, leaving the planet once again to the animal kingdom for the millions of years it will continue to exist.

Here is a saving grace. Despite the loss of decency and morality we see now and in recent history, one can still live for the good according to sound values. I say on this program, “I don’t have to change my life.” To make the point, Jordan astutely brought up my friendship with seventeen-year-old Elliot Stolyarov, an amazingly mature senior at Brookline High School who helps me with my work, and with whom a warm friendship has developed.  Can I learn from a teenager? Can he learn from me? Absolutely! Enough to fortify my hope that young people will soon replace many of the dim politicians of today, and use their newfound power and collaborative ideas to turn the atmosphere from noxious to clear.

Jordan referred to my remarks as Larry Intelligence (LI). Way over the top, but thanks Jordan. But I do believe that we have to face up to these threats with a minimum of self-interest and a maximum of self-respect to stay around for a while.

People always people.


MOVIES THEN AND NOW



There is no question that the really good movies hold a mirror up to ourselves, just as do good operas like Mozart’s astounding, “The Marriage of Figaro.” Early on movie production artists realized how big a role music, and all the arts, play in those fascinating movies. Cinema is a very important part of our culture. There is a reason actors become presidents, like Ronald Reagan, senators like Al Franken, and governors, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Granted there are thousands of bad pics that make loads of money. Some good ones do too. Some good ones do not, so those can be watched in peace without people walking over you, talking, and throwing popcorn around. Jordan had the idea we should talk about the movies. Good idea! We both love movies. It turned out we both love many of the same movies. Either we have good taste or we are cheapskates or hermits. Whatever. What fun to talk about them!  So, as you listen, you will hear lots of names and titles, many going back to when the talkies arrived, to the time when the stars were stars. It is like baseball when the World Series gave us the Yankees vs. the Cardinals, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle vs. Dizzy Dean, Stan the Man Musial, and Enos Slaughter, not the no names of 2023. I have a good plan for you to spice up your life. Write down all those names and titles, then see the stars and the pictures. I guaranty you will love it.

HERE WE GO!

Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, “Pride of the Yankees;” “Eight Men Out;” “Bull Durham,” “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner; “The Natural,” Robert Redford.

At this point I offered that baseball is still the national Game, football will go, too violent. Baseball a thinking man’s game. Its players become more famous, like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Shohei Ohtani; “Bang the Drum Slowly;” “A League of their Own.”

So why was there never a good film about Babe Ruth. Why? How can Babe Ruth be duplicated? No way! One of a kind. When he played himself playing cards with his teammates on the train in “Pride of the Yankees,” he was terrific!

“The Wizard of Oz;” “Cinema Paradiso;” Gene Tierney in “Laura;” Orson Wells in the creepy picture, “The Stranger,” playing a Nazi spy posing as an American professor, also featuring the gorgeous Loretta Young. Who saw it? Practically no one. Jordan did, I did. Terrific! How about “M;” a German silent starring scary Peter Lorre, or “Das Boot,” a German four-hour masterwork about brave German submariners in WWII, many of whom loved their country, but not Hitler. How about film noir from then to now in black and white; or in Ingmar Bergman’s classic masterpiece, “The Seventh Seal;” or WWII movies like “Mrs. Miniver with English beauty Greer Garson outsmarting downed German flier, Helmut Dantine, alone in her own house while husband Walter Pidgeon is away at Dunkirk rescuing English soldiers with their backs to the sea. Garson and Pidgeon made eight movies together, including “Madame Curie,” depicting their game changing discovery of the element radium.

The best actor among many of that golden time was Spencer Tracy, a judge for all seasons in “Judgment at Nuremberg,” a dangerous fast gun in black in the Western, “Bad Day at Black Rock,” or a Portuguese fisherman out of Gloucester working and bravely dying in his descent into the depths in “Captains Courageous.” Tracy could play anything. How about the ladies of that era, Barbara Stanwyck, Hedy LaMarr, Ingrid Bergman, and Greta Garbo. Lamarr won fame as an iconic movie star, and, incredibly, induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for technology leading to Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. Some lady, huh! Bergman stunned millions in America when she began an affair with Italian director, Roberto Rossellini, while still married to her first husband; sharp tongued Stanwyck could get the best of any leading man; Greta Garbo famously said, “I want to be alone,” but did manage to bring her stunning and melancholic self and amazing acting talent out of hiding enough to make several great movies, including “Anna Christie,” ‘Grand Hotel,” and “Ninotchka.”

There you have it. A guide to endless hours of enjoyment at the movies, whether in a crowded theater, or at home in front of a big TV, a choice I’ve made in my latter years. Young or old, its all at your fingertips, courtesy of Jordan Rich and Larry Ruttman.

People, always people.


GROWING OLDER



One of the great features of growing older is the fun and interest of being close friends with people of whom we never tire, with whom the conversation always waxes. Such folks inspire us to talk openly, honestly, and helpfully about old age itself. Such a person is my podcast partner, Jordan Rich, who although a generation younger, has a deep understanding of human nature and of my own persona. That and his natural expressiveness give him the power to bring out many of the facets of my nonagenarian life in a fifteen-minute interview. Listen to how masterfully he does this with an ease and humor that aims our talk at the heart. I listened to the recording afterwards and realized Jordan and I had communicated my old age, and his life, as well. The qualities he found in me are in him too, whether it be energy, enthusiasm, optimism, laying back, curiosity, friendship, concentration, advice asked for and given to others, the fun of living, maturing and the growth of self-confidence, liberation, love and marriage – all of that and more is there. But the words are only part of the story. I earnestly invite you to listen to this podcast to feel the warmth between Jordan and me which bring those words to life.

People always people.


THE FRIENDSHIP OF NEIGHBORS AND LONG LIFE



Everybody knows Covid changed the pattern of our lives. So too have the crevices now cracking the political landscape of our country. Neighbors used to be friends, adults mixing with kids, young and old mixing with each other. Does that closeness still exist as it did before? Has that difference had an effect on our lives? Perhaps stats cannot answer those questions as well as one’s own experiences. Here are a few of mine.

Our neighbor in the adjoining house for many years was JoAnne Caulfield née Apgar, (self-styled as Josie), until the divorce between her and her husband, John Caulfield, whom you know from previous podcasts. It took some doing but Lois and I remained friendly with both after their split. JoAnne is a real character. One time she arrived home while her house was being burgled. Lois and I ran to our window to see her chasing the thief, axe in hand. Lucky for him he outran her. JoAnne scoped me out in record time, hanging the appellation “Little Lord” around my neck forever. But there was a lot of love in the name. We shared good times. Like when we went together to Symphony Hall to hear the sainted Italian conductor, Claudio Abbado, conduct an orchestra made up of some of Europe’s most gifted young players. It proved to be one of the best concerts ever, the applause drawing encores until midnight! JoAnne’s uniqueness was accentuated by her dress. Let’s start with one sock never matching another, and a plethora of earrings in each ear. Listen to this podcast to hear the rest of JoAnne’s eye-catching and mind pleasing attire. We often shared Thanksgiving. On one of them, unbeknownst to any of the revealers until years later, she dropped the cooked turkey on the way from her house to ours, scooped it up, and placed it on the table as though nothing had happened. We loved every bite that day. Joanne (and John) are a generation younger than Lois and me. That was irrelevant to our friendship. One could ask if it would have flourished in today’s environment? JoAnne’s other moments were spent in her exacting work as a cardiac catheter nurse at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where I am supposing she wore more traditional garb, although often navigating her way there on a bike in heavy traffic.

Just before Covid struck we invited our other next-door neighbors, the Schmiders, Eric and Angie (née Bair), and their beautiful kids, Hanna and Jules, over for dinner. For starters, after being introduced to me, wild Jules draped himself all over me, then when asked to repeat my name, said, “Lois,” with a devilish grin on his face. As dinner progressed Jules showed a big interest in the key to our antique tall glassware cabinet, Generous Lois ran upstairs and returned with the striking and oversized key her father had mistakenly taken from the famed Hotel Excelsior in Rome, and presented it to Jules. Hanna seemed a bit distressed, so Lois ran upstairs again, and returned with TWO necklaces for Hanna, one of pearls. Hanna and Jules left displaying their presents in a state of euphoria. Soon cards arrived with their colorful drawings and inscriptions saying, “We love you.” Needless to say friendships were sealed that day which remain to this day.

The same warm friendship exists with Patrick (son of JoAnne and John), wife Aileen, nee Lee, and their terrific four-year-old daughter, Olivia, who continue the long Caulfield presence in that house. Patrick rates as the best Dad ever, Aileen as the smartest Mom ever, and both among our greatest friends ever. Aileen named Lois and me as surrogate Grandpappy and Grandmammy to Olivia because of the geographical distance of John and Joanne.

Lois and I often remark how lucky we are to be still living the same life we always have at our advanced ages. How much of that results from these friendships no one can accurately assess, but I’m willing to say those and others we enjoy, account for a significant part!


BOSTON THE HUB OF THE UNIVERSE AND FRIENDSHIP



Quite a claim, but true. Aren’t zillions of folk drawn to this great city by its multiplicity of attractions from the historicity of its appearance to its institutions of education, health care, biotechnology, business, finance, transport, manufacturing, tourism, finance and insurance, and hardly least, its music, not to mention its storied sports franchises, the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins. Plenty of interesting people to befriend.

Like Dr. Christine Cornejo, the young dermatologist who attended me following my surgeries for melanoma. At our first meeting I saw how thoroughly she examined me. We talked afterwards about her medical education and her parents who had immigrated from Bolivia. She spoke of her hopes in her profession. Her sincerity was obvious. We developed a friendship immediately that went well beyond doctor and patient, and replicates itself every time we meet. I wrote about Christine in my memoir as already a great doctor. Every time her name comes up speaking to her associates, they light up about her capabilities.

Have you ever heard of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra? Sounds pretty professional, doesn’t it? Close, but no cigar. It is made up of doctors and other health care professionals who don’t smoke cigars, but play like their brethren players in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Many of them could have become professional musicians, but chose to go with a profession of similar value. Next time you see your doc strike up a personal conversation. I have lots of doctor friends of both sexes with whom I’m on a first name basis, and who offer terrific insights to me on health and matters unrelated to health.

The Hub has lots of resources. Manny Casseus is another case in point. Manny came to the United States thirty or more years ago speaking only French, the language of his native Haiti. He met here early on the lady who became his wife. She too had immigrated from Haiti. If any couple reminds us that immigration is the “lifeblood” of our society, it is this couple. Manny now heads up his lab at the Beth Israel Hospital. His wife holds a similar position at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. These are two world famous hospitals. One son recently passed the bar. Another son recently earned an advanced degree. Manny and his family have quickly reached a high level in American society. He and they are what I would call a great American family. How do I know all this? Because using the facilities of his lab, and Manny’s talents for my own health care, we quickly became hugging friends sharing stories of our respective lives whenever we met. Manny always smiled, did his job to perfection, and radiated the charm Haitians project. Lucky me to have found such a friend!

Not that all friendships are in Boston or with health professionals. In LA one time I took my seat at the architecturally pioneering Walt Disney Concert Hall to hear conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Always connecting, I spoke to the elegant older lady seated alongside. One thing led to another and it turned out she was an opera star of yesteryear. As you can imagine she filled in the intermissions of the concert with fascinating behind the scenes stories of her career.

Listen and you shall hear some other stuff to hold your interest. Like Jordan asking me how I think my own persona impacts other people. I make the attempt. Then Jordan tells me what he thinks the answer is. He is a very smart man, as you know. I agreed with his take.

Along the way we digressed to talk a bit about the fascinating movie industry. We determined to talk about it and its stars on both sides of the camera in a future podcast. So, you have this one to hear now, and about the movies later.

People, Always People


JORDAN RICH ON FRIENDSHIP



Every once in a while, I like to turn the tables and interview the interviewer on this podcast series. So I did when I interviewed Jordan Rich on depression, and here we are again on friendship, another universal subject. Naturally Shakespeare had it right when he opined in 1 Henry VI that, “Thy friendship makes us fresh, and begets new courage in our breasts.” I would not now be a podcaster had not Jordan said to me I could be a podcaster. So, preparing to do some podcasts with Jordan, I told him I had a “surprise “in store, not to be revealed until we got together so spontaneity would be preserved. As we faced each other to start the show I told Jordan that today I would interview him about friendship, starting with “What is friendship?” Not to spoil your listening, Jordan knocked that one out of the park. So too did he on. “What are the benefits of friendship, including health?” I made the questions tougher as we went along.

I suppose it is fair to drop a few hints to Jordan’s answers and my remarks. He agreed that Arthur Fiedler was a curmudgeon, but unlike many, one with friends. We thought many young loners are the killers who stalk our society. We agreed good friends can be apart for many years and pick up where they left off. In that vein, Jordan jokingly spoke of Sherm Feller, Red Sox PA announcer from 1967 to 1992, who would start off each new season with, “As I was saying….”. Jordan opined that, “There is always room for more friends, quoting homegrown philosopher Yogi Barra’s remark that, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.””

You might ask, ‘Which friends are closer, those in or out of your own family? ‘ Or, ‘Should one tell a friend, or anyone, all one’s secret thoughts?’ Or this universal one, ‘Describe friendship in marriage between husband and wife, and a father and his children?’ Jordan comes from a large family himself, has both children and grandchildren, and lots to say in reply. He says one of the nicest things to do is to read to his seven-year-old granddaughter. I said how much I like relating to kids, and talking to them in their vernacular as people. Jordan agreed, remarking the child then relates better to the elder.

It just may be that you will pick up some neat thoughts about all kinds of friendship listening to this podcast. We got pretty serious talking about race. Jordan says the only thing that matters to him is the character of the person. He tells of the wide mixture of race, ethnic background, language, education, financial status, what have you, among the tenants and staff at the building in Boston where he resides, and how all coexist as one happy family. He wisely opines that no one is entirely free of prejudice, or pre-judging, as he puts it. He says race should not make a difference, but it does. I believe Jordan’s way, with which I wholeheartedly agree, reduces the incidence of racial differences to close to zero.

Perhaps the best answer was Jordan’s last, his description of his long friendship since college and business partnership between himself, a Jew, and Ken Carberry, an Irishman. They split everything 50/50 no matter who brings it in, never have had a real fight. Jordan adds, “I would go to the ends of the earth for Ken.” Wow, what a union!

Jordan and I end by talking of our own ripening friendship. There is that and lots more to hear on this long podcast told seriously and humorously about a facet going back to man’s first days.

People, Always People