At this point in my life in August 2015, I’m a 70 year old husband, father of two lovely daughters and grandfather of three adorable children. I’m a graduate of Adelphi University, Columbia University School of Social Work and The Gestalt Center for Psychotherapy Training.
I worked for the New York City Human Resources Administration for 32 years, starting as a Caseworker and ending up as the HRA Deputy Director for Fiscal and Program Integrity. During those years, I also ran a small Psychotherapy Practice as an evening job. In line with my work as a Psychotherapist I Co-Founded and Co-directed The Gestalt Therapy Center of Queens, which was a training program for established Psychotherapists who wanted to learn the techniques of Gestalt Psychotherapy.
After I retired from HRA I worked for three non profit, social service organizations. I created and ran three programs for maintaining former, severe psychiatric patients with addiction problems, in halfway houses in the community. I also established and directed three Intensive Case Management Programs and a Housing program for people who were HIV+.
I was forced to retire at age 60 when I developed Congestive Heart Failure and five years later I was blessed to receive a heart transplant which I wrote about here.
My interests are in the mythology that we live by, society, history, politics and the human condition.
How Did I Get Here?
About six years ago, I was invited by Jonathan Turley, the prominent legal scholar, to write for his blog and did so for three years. In the end I wound up leaving his blog over some internal disagreements and we parted amicably, with Jonathan wishing me well and urging me to start my own site. He allowed me to publish two final posts as a means of my farewell to our readers and I did so in Bittersweet: Life and Loss and with a companion piece Don’t Hurt Little People. It is a mark of Professor Turley’s honor that to this day all of the work that I did on his blog remains as part of his archives and his history, as these links show. My leaving Jon’s site engendered some discontent among certain of my colleague writers. One in particular was the person in whose defense I first took in dispute with Jon. That person had overstepped his authority in Jon’s name and was rebuked for it by the proprietor of the blog. I came to that person’s defense, because I considered him to be a close friend, although we had never met, nor talked on the phone. This is an example of the false assumptions we make sometimes in our internet grounded world and to that fault I plead guilty.
Within days my “friend” had set up a new blog and invited me and some of the other Turley writers to join him. He presented the enterprise as a “family” and that we would all be equals, even though the site was registered in his name. He promulgated a “set of rules” to manage the blog, claiming this would be an improvement over the way Jonathan ran his site. Not only did many of the writers from Jon’s site allow their names to be put on the masthead as Author/Editors, but many regular commenters from Jon’s blog started commenting with us. The most important writer to join us from Turley was Elaine Magliaro.
Between Elaine and I, we accounted for more than 90% of that new blogs content, until this July 2015. The proprietor of the new blog was constantly presenting personal excuses of why he wasn’t contributing much, as were the other authors he put on his masthead. From my perspective, all was going well even if I was beginning to notice certain quirks about the new blogs proprietor. However, just as Marc Antony proclaimed in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, that “Brutus is an honorable man”, I ignored the various telltale signs that our new proprietor was not quite the “family” member he had proclaimed himself to be. The blogger Dredd, who had followed us from Jonathan Turley’s site, initially made many contributions by commenting on the new blog. That was until our proprietor, who disagreed with some of Dredd’s opinions, found some pretext to ban Dredd. I wound up supporting my “friend”, although I found his reasoning for the banning quite fuzzy.
One of the most prolific commenters that followed us over from Turley was “Tony C”. Tony was brilliant, a prolific commenter and certainly added much to the new blog. He was in fact the top commenter for a while, until he had the temerity to argue with the proprietor and then “Tony C” was chased away from the site, because of demeaning threats by the proprietor, the ubiquitously styled “Editor In Chief” (EOC). The rules of the blog were increasingly interpreted by the EOC to his favor and not as we all first understood them. The crowing about his status and his “ownership” of the site became more and more evident. The fact that it was Elaine and I doing all the work and “carrying” the blog, in the absence of any major contributions by the other writers, seemed to go unrecognized by the so-called Editor-In-Chief. To be honest that was fine with me. I had a place to write and so was doing my own thing. People were being “banned” or threatened with “banning”, but I was too caught up in the many hours per day I put into writing for the site, that I ignored it, to my shame.
Things, however, came to a head in June of 2014 when our most prolific commenter and most ardent follower, Blouise, was threatened with “banning” over what was at best an innocuous comment. I had to speak up and I did, threatening to leave if she stopped commenting at the site. That seemed to clear things up until I wrote a post about the mythology of the South. All hell broke loose, as the 3 author/editors who lived in the South and one other whose presence at the site was rather dubious, took issue with me and then with Elaine, who had written other posts agreeing with me. Two of the authors directly criticized not only Elaine, but also her writing and her contributions to the blog. I defended her publicly on the blog and I defended her in the many “E” mails that were sent between the principals. One of our contributors seemed to have smoothed things over, only to have the EOC’s mentor, call Elaine’s defense of her position, “passive aggressive”. I admittedly exploded and the EOC’s response was to threaten to ban me. I felt I had no choice but to quit given the EOC’s threat and within ten minutes found that not only were my privileges revoked, but that every contribution I made to that blog, more than 350 posts over 18 months, were deleted from the history of the blog. That was almost exactly 33% of all of the posts on the blog. Elaine followed me in quitting, but neither her name, nor her posts were removed, because had that been done perhaps 90% of that blogs history would disappear into nothingness.
By using a site known as the “Wayback Machine” I’ve been able to retrieve only about 2/3rds of my posts, the rest seem to have been destroyed. Contrasting the EOC’s position towards me, versus that of Jon Turley, all he has proven is that his actions were the result of vicious anger towards me and his egocentricity.
The experience taught me two specific lessons. The first is that the friendships created on line are not the same thing as the friendships forged by personal contact. While good feelings and compatibility of temperament can sometimes be achieved online, one must always be cautious about those you know only from their words of flattery drawing you into their orbit.
The other thing is a lesson that I keep learning over and again, even after a long lifetime of varied experiences. Friendship is a fragile entity that evolves over time, sometimes with painful, unforeseen consequences. In the constant renegotiation of friendship we need to pay attention more to out gut feelings towards someone, rather than to our projections of who that friend is.