At Almost Seventy-Nine, Research Goes On —   wrote about myself in the Ladder because I believe you sometimes have a need to buck the system, I call it Seek And Discover (SAD not SAT) and I suffer from curiosity which started me on my lowly voyage.  I wish to share that encouragement for those out there who might need a little push during these trying times… 

I was from a middle class family blessed with hard working parents, and lots of cousins who were education wise financially able..   But it was not in my cards nor DNA to follow in their footsteps,  I made my own path and had no choice.  I had to earn and pay my way.

And it shows obstacles are merely simple things like numbers you come across in a workout. You push through… at 78 + outliving most of my tribe, including beating a recent heart attack, walking into and out of the hospital, something worked well but age regardless is catching up.  The Golden Years for some are when you transfer most of your gold to the Doctors, Insurance plans and your children. 

I am down to my last wish… I am the last of my generation still alive… relatively no family, fortunately lots of friends and acquaintances,  and if I see nothing before I leave this world,  the  demise  of  Donald T-RUMP would make me happy.  One man has caused the death of  our core values destroying a political democracy and replacing it with lies and it is failing.

And a good life is all I’m asking…   basically the return of the good to our people and hanging for those who attempted to destroy it.  Harsh? No, essential yes, or we will self destruct.  Just spend time studying how Hitler did it and when he was done 60 million people were dead.  Had a bullet at the Beer Hall killed Hitler, 60 million people might still be alive, we are faced with the same thing with Donald T-RUMP, some call him Hitlers clone.

I’m Just A Kid From Brooklyn  —  
In the beginning there was light, somewhat… finding the switch helped, paying the Con Edison Electric bill made it happen and in 1943 in Crown Heights Brooklyn I arrived on scene.
I became a reader, the start
…  no TV, No Internet,  just the convenient Brooklyn Public library at 1044 Eastern Parkway, at Schenectady Ave.  It was my escape from a middle class life.  It took me all over the world and into the sciences.  And with the aid of two librarians, I self taught a better education than I received from the school system. 

I was a typical Brooklyn wise guy!  I occasionally speak the Kings English, preferring Brooklyn based meta-phonetic syllabication aka Street English, Brooklynise, Slang and that explains my poor writing skills.  I’m really not a writer…I am a story teller from Brooklyn, who tells it as it is… And good or bad because I could read almost a year and half ahead of other kids my age, I had to create my world and write my own play…  I attended city primary schools, a disastrously lame public high school and a city college, learning, but I still consider myself self taught.  

Two of my high school teachers called me names and would have strangled me if the law allowed, and I felt the same towards them, but I stood my ground,  I was convinced of my righteousness and proved it.  College was better because we were left to our own devices and allowed to think.

George W. Wingate High School — Was a critical point in my life as I discovered many of those in control and power are totally screwed up,  true to this day especially, haven’t a clue and couldn’t run a free water store in the Gobi desert.  

Sounds basically similar to our government.  It was our Government!   Today George W. Wingate High School is a defunct comprehensive dead High School in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Wingate neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York City.  

It opened in 1956, closed down in June 2006.  Poor academic performance and years of some severe dangerous problems like stabbings and racial disparity, poor staff, and incompetence.  Wingate was an experiment in race relations.  I begged the staff to transfer me to Erasmus Hall, one of the best in the nation, they declined. the experiment failed.

Survival Training  —  I majored in survival through detention and cutting classes, I relished it.  Most of what was being discussed in classes was inaccurate, nor relative to things current,  nor scientifically correct.  And I had my books to read, which were advanced for my classes. I was learning in detention more than in the class.  And in a dream I earned in my mind a detention chair with my name on it. I skipped classes so much, it was rumored the truancy police carried a mug shot of me in their wallets with a bounty on my head. 

My English teacher and my Earth Science teacher, were new enemies, and boring. The battle in English was Shakespeare, I questioned the value of Shakespeare, her favorite subject  since as I explained out loud when asked what was he contributing too the class, “ He was quite dead and good riddance,  He talked Funny”.   Off to Detention  — 

The battle in Science was over the Dinosaurs, Man and Creationism.  I somehow cracked, went ballistic when hearing her version, the Biblical Big bang, the Apple and the Snake Bullsh*t.  And Neanderthals ate Dinosaurs,    I humbly mumbled “ THAT'S BULLSH*T”  at 56 decibels, a bit  too loud… Off to Detention.

Detention — And I Was Making Truancy An Art Form — To this day I do not regret what I had to do, to learn,  as I learned first hand on site, live and in living color and became a self-proclaimed reporter creating book reports as evidence of  Al’s Unauthorized Truancy Field Trips To:

The NY Museum of Natural History — The Brooklyn Museam  — The Museam Of Modern Art  —   The Guggenheim  — 
Mecca   —   The HUGE Manhattan Library   —  The weird  Residents of Central Park in Manhattan  — The Bronx Zoo  —  The Prospect Park Zoo  —  Ebbets Field, Home of the Dodgers  — National Parks like the Statue of Liberty  — The Downtown Fish Market, Quite a place  —  Floyd Bennet Naval Air Station  — The Stock Market  —  

MECCA and My learning Center —  My local library located at Eastern parkway and Schenectady Avenue  — Camera stores Tours of  Newspapers, Hospitals, learning all about a myriad of things first hand and on hand  — 

My simple approach with confidence, My Newfound Professional Looking Camera and a fake ID,  Radio Shack Recorder got me into a lot of places  —  I beat the truant officers  —  

Truant Of The Year —  When finally I got called on the carpet, and they were talking expulsion, I was outnumbered, by the Dean, the Principal, One of my Teachers, my Parents, a Student Advisor Witness and just me.  It was about my attitude and my excursions, I demanded to express my self and produced “ My Reports and Findings to the one sided jury of my peers”.  I explained I did not feel the curriculum offered by these two teachers had any substance at all in making of my success in life. 

My Reports, Carefully Preserved, Chronographed, Dated And Timed Presented And Displayed — Large Oaktag exhibits and pictures from Earth science and with my camera,  sketches, maps and time charts to some new poetry and medicine, courtroom sketches etc.  It must have impressed the Dean and Principal.  Actually the Dean applauded my work saying it was college level… the Principal agreed.    

I wanted a transfer… to Erasmus Hall High School —  denied  —   I managed to make two rapid advances (RA’s) skipping grades two and eight because I was skilled in reading, science and math, self taught comprehensive skills way above my classmates graduating two years earlier than others of my age.   See Ya!   Have a Nice Day! 

When asked what I read I told them Gregs Anatomy, many of the contemporary writers of that era, and a host of Science books. I knew more about Dinosaurs to this day than the teacher, but by chance I had made a friend at the local paper… The Post… and I had a report they might not have liked about the school and it’s personnel had I been disciplined.  

Oh, it was about a failing school.  I was learning real fast about  “ How things really  work",  just like our government today.  At sixteen, I could legally travel on my own as long as I told them where  I was going.  But in two months I was out and seeking higher learning.    

Graduating High School, I was younger in a school of higher learning… the good part was as the youngest I was adopted by several of the older girls in my classes  — again a giant step in education — much was not exactly on the curriculum  — 

Master Machinist  -  I’m Good With My Hands  — Metal Shop

Chemistry labs, wood and metal shops were my favorite classes as I was  engaged hands on.  History I got from the libraries, I am quite the WWII buff in military parlance as sooner than later I would become part of it --

I remember the first tools I made at Wingate in the metal shop on my own.  I learned to work with my hands on drill presses, soldering, welding, and basic millwork. I appreciated the knowledge and ingenuity from the shop teacher.  It was the tools I designed that got me the fame I deserved…

Even today,  they still talk of the Jacobs Hubcap Remover, not sold in stores, originally in paint, today in new Midnight Black Powder coat.  

You too can have a career in “ Hubcap Restoration” for only $39.95.  Make it back on your first job even if you only got the front ones!   Our exclusive rear view mirror (not found on any of the competition) means you can get rid of paying your lookout and make more money for yourself.  

With twin handles it allowed faster retrieval with either hand.  The mirror makes sure there are no onlookers behind you who might get hit with a flying hubcap or steal your work.

It comes complete with instructions for both domestic and foreign hubcaps.  And we’ll send you my new book “ Guide to the Great Bail Bondsmen of America” with a signed autograph by Joey Fonzini (who graduated early from San Quentin). 

SIDEBAR:   I diversify, I love my America, Aviation, Food, Photography, our Soldiers, and what I have learned from those opportunities that were granted me or I just took advantage on my own —  Or even created an advantage  —  

You can do anything if you accept, not deny the tough challenges and do your best  —   Stay the course, solicit help when needed, keep a positive attitude, never give up  —   The end result is that it will make you a winner  —  

At my age today I am again in a war with circumstance, health and my favorite joke is don’t believe the bullsh*t about the golden years, it’s a lie.  The golden years are the years you give all your gold to the doctors.   

Higher Education — I Had To Do It On My Own  —  Age wise, I was a square peg in a round hole — I also had to get a job,  working part time in the culinary world from busboy to the head breakfast line chef…  I paid my way working weekends as a Wedding Photographer, working from a Wedding Mill in The Bronx.  School and work, school and work

Culinary Didn’t Pay Much Till I Became The Number Two But Wedding Photography did.   Over 450 weddings during almost sixty years with camera and with my crews.  I am still alive though some of the weddings got very testy, like Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Cro-Magnon and Mrs Neanderthal,  Drunks, Morons, Past Lovers, Heart attacks and a baby being born.  

I Flew As Owner And Pilot In Command — My aircraft, Pipers and Cessnas, and  serviced them, had a few good scares, and flew planes for thirty-three plus  years and discovered that a boat is a hole in the ocean you pour money into … but owning an airplane proves the sky is bigger than the ocean.

My Military Training, I Like Weapons  —   I am certified Qualified as a certified Range Officer / Instructor in IPSC Competition… and competed three guns, Rifle, Shotgun, the .45 Pistol and competed in State championships… never a first, facing supported and sponsored teams,  but not on the bottom either.  I was happy with my scores, you don’t need a bullseye to stop someone.

This shot taken at MacDill AFB was for the trials of the shorty M-16, new scope and rails, front vertical grip, laser,  adjustable short stock, new barrel designed lands… I voted yes, this was a great adaptation and upgrade. I believe it was Knights Armory made the prototypes.  They would not let me take it home… I had dark hair then before 911, this was in the nineties. Almost twenty-five years ago, I was handsome then.

Worked With Sales And Business Training —  Performed lots Of Corporate Descriptive Element Work… Almost becoming a hatchet man realizing corporate ebb and flow, promotions and money are not always fair and the importance of good leadership which many do not understand and actually harm good organizations…

I Designed And Built My Own Products  —  Manufactured in house and sold my own products for the Photography industry… The Black Box has been around for almost forty plus years, I still have customers I help… And at the same time stayed in the game  — 

Worked Journalism, Commercial, Wedding and Corporate Photography… went digital… And my favorite thing is mentoring  children, many from far away lands and… the kids 8-9 grade are incredible and even with minor language difficulties, you got to love them, they want to learn so bad but I have to help knowing it was two ladies who helped me.

 I Am A Foodie By Choice  -  My mother was a wonderful creative chef who never used a cook book.  I asked her once what she thought  and she showed me a spoon, “ You taste it, and it will tell you what it needs”.  In the top pen pocket of my chefs jacket there is a spoon bent correctly for no drip on a key retriever and a thermometer.  

I use those Culinary lessons today creating good food for my friends and patients with Stem-Cell Cancer Multiple Myeloma transplants.  Super saturated easy to digest soups and entrees using their likes and dislike and camouflaging good stuff hidden in the food,  like Kale which is very healthy but bitter.   Simple one ounce of kale to each three ounces of pea soup, the sweet carrots,  raisins, corn and other veggies blend to mush and added to the soup, lots of  beef or chicken stock or bouillon for flavor  and they loved it. 

After stem cell transplantation they are totally depleted underweight and those new stem cells need nourishment fast, not TV diners. 2000 calories a day instead of a 400 calorie TV diner - tough love at dinner!  the soup was loaded and potent.  served with rice or over noodles.

Being A Critic Is Threatening    Foodie skills later in life working with the paper covering stories with the Restaurant Police was eye-opening. We are totally a tourist state and eating out is very popular.  “ We have more chains, lots of corporate bullsh*t  that we call corpo-guano”,  and really bad food by franchise than any other state.  Thats if they don’t screw it up in the micro-wave  —  
COVID hit restaurants hard, very hard, some will not return, some should not return    Most fast food is fried and thats the killer, FAST drop the “ S” and you got FAT food… I bring this to the surface every chance I get and I am quite well hated for my commentary  —    Critics are hated because they tell the truth and if you saw what I have seen you might eat in more often. The axiom is laziness and obesity.  has a few tips and lists  you might want to read… Of places you thought were safe and are not. I take no prisoners on my food site.  Just like here…  

PHOTOGRAPHY —Divine Guidance, Finders Keeper  —  I have for better than sixty-four years being, creating, owning, designing, and manufacturing, doing my own Photography via partnership in a retail  camera store, lab owner, photojournalist and a writer.  It started for me when someone left a paper bag left sitting on a park bench in the Zoo area in NYCs Central Park.  

was fourteen, a junior, and was naturally, playing hooky from school.  I grabbed the bag after eyeing it for an hour.  With no one claiming it, I stood on top of the park bench and yelled the sacred words “ Finders keepers”.  Escaping the park, by back trails,  I had mischievously become the owner of an AIRES IIIL 35 millimeter Rangefinder Camera, the first of the Japanese clones of a Leica.  

It took nice pictures of the Dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History in NYC, the Statue of Liberty and other sites when I played hooky and got caught.  My school passes and a real looking camera saved my butt. 

The camera showing that I was doing something to help my education got me off easier.  Today after being involved in several photo operations:   I designed  manufactured and sold much of my own gear for forty plus years like battery packs, “ THE BLACK BOX” .  

I repaired and designed  flash cables, brackets and product shooting tables. I designed and built the S2D slide to digital machines that translate Kodachrome and Ektachrome into digital images suitable for use on TV ’s Computers and cellphones…

The most important thing I picked up because I am inquisitive, was learning to use the five “ W” points of light in journalism.  Who, When, What, Where, and Why, they open doors…  you ask the questions,  to get answers, which were the most important thing in my world, I researched everything, still do,  and made my own decisions.  I just call it being independently nosy and secure only with truth.  I am a hunter of those who lie in the food, the political arena and the greatest lie of all, the theology business. I was on a path…

The Good Years  —  The  Playboy Club  —  

Being the local photographer for the Playboy Club in St. Petersburg Florida had it's benefits.  

I got a chance to meet and work with David Chan who was their Art Director and Head Photographer that year. 

Mr. Hefner was selling franchises at that time and who would ever believe the Playboy Organization would ever franchise a club in St. Petersburg.  It's remotely part of the Bible Belt though closest to the Bible Socks would be a better description. 

Why socks because many of the so called speakers with GOD were the dirtiest cooks in the region.  Socks, close to the dirt and ground. Religion with a fair dose of crooks and pedophiles, with  contributions from The Catholics vs. The Southern Baptists. Right out in the open.  The president of the Southern Baptist Organization went to jail for two twice for stealing and they forgave him and took him back and he did it again.

While the club was open, life was good. Good food, good entertainment. And almost every night someone of significance popped in. Many great nightclub acts, and the music of the seventies.  The Corporate Playboy crew, and an endless supply of Bunnies. 

My job, catch what I could while being as far in the background as possible.  Also to cull pictures of certain folks who were never there.  Like the preachers and laymen who frequented,  but were never there.

That's because the place was never exactly blessed by the local clergy and thus the politicos that hung out there didn't want the clergy to know where they were sinning. (Ha, what a joke, Lucifer wasn't an only child)  If they only knew several of the brothers of the cloth had their own nights there, all hell could have broken loose.

The club was great and anyone who thinks wrongly of the girls , shame on you, I got to know a few and they were like they use to say,  you wish she was the girl next door.

All of the clubs are closed today to my knowledge, except whatever Mr. Hefner's company holdings were. The franchises died off.  I don't know about the one in England. The one in St. Petersburg went belly up and closed. 

I managed to salvage my last paycheck by running a big, big, tab at the restaurant and bar with dinners for friends and scooted. That was the end. They closed up.  Bankrupt.  I had a 2300 dollar farewell party.


Note: I Have Two Pictures Left From That Entire Time  —  Every other negative and photo got stuffed in a garbage can and burnt.  X-Wives on drugs will do that to you.  Twenty or so years work and pictures went in seconds. I divorced her just as quick.  Five years later, after subjecting myself to dating half the town,  I met my true love Dolly, it was like getting hit with a baseball bat, and she was real, a good person and we were together for thirty-two  years from that day on.  She moved in with me after thirty days, we lived together for eighteen years, and one day, I got up and I asked,  " Can you get off on Thursday afternoon about one o’clock.   She said, " yes whats up?   I said, " I thought we should get married”.  She said, Ok.  —  Sometimes life is good  —  And you damn well knew when it was real  —  And no one else had to approve, it was ordained.

Charitable Exercise —  So the nice lady on the phone asks if I photograph women and children,  at the time I was doing some work for the Playboy Club. I replied "Women yes, children not really".

She replies: "Well you were referred to us by so-and-so". Since so-and-so was a good client of mine, in that case, I said "Drop by the studio and I'll see what you have in mind and perhaps we'll put something together".

At that time shots of women bare backed with children in their arms, sometime called the "Madonna Shot" was getting popular and OK maybe I had to throw one up on the wall.

Now I always had a way with women, the wrong way. But this was love at first sight.  It was her eyes that caught me off guard.

This kid had more brass and confidence than any kid I ever met. Her name was Shana.  I shot and we chatted for two hours and learned Shana's story.

Shana told it to me.  She was diagnosed with MD I believe, and goes to school main stream under a program they were trying at that time. This was a radical idea in those days.  If you look carefully at the bottom picture Shana was to graduate to braces and crutches with a little more work and get out of the chair.

Well, Oh, the pictures?  They were exclusively used for the AD Campaign called "Care, Then Share" for the United Way of Florida in Pinellas County and became part of the billboards and media blitz that went statewide..  Later on, I was to find out that Shana did not have what the Doctors had diagnosed and instead had a treatable condition.  I learned She did very well in school and then I lost track of her.   I know she has a wonderful life.  Meeting her was a blessing for me — 

Journalism and Aviation The Two Dreams Come True  —  And aviation was a big interest, I loved airplanes playing hooky got me to airports and the Naval Air Station at Floyd Bennett Field with its Corsair fighters, Dakotas (DC-3’s) and Catalina Seaplanes.  I worked at the soda stand on weekends and I drew a love of aviation, drew pictures, and shot pics with my new found camera, and it grew.  I bummed rides on the planes there whenever I could and made playing hooky worth it. I was tall and big for my age and got away with it.

Later in my thirties, books I read about aviation came to the forefront of my goals.  I also was earning which coined an expression I wrote.

“ If you think boats are a huge hole in the ocean you pour money into, go take up flying… the sky is a hell of lot bigger”.

I made up my mind and became a pilot. It was a simple action, the library had the books,  I researched aircraft for sale, bought and paid for my first real airplane, a Piper Lycoming powered 140.  Now I need an instructor. 

Photo right…Thats little bird…  I owned Cessna’s and Pipers as a Pilot In Command for 32 years… this is little bird my first, self taught, in the books at first, with my instructor, I soloed in five hours, aced the exams at the same time, no school, self taught, and had my first license at 40 hours, the legal minimum needed in under 90 days.  They got bigger and more expensive. Training got tougher and well worth it… Then middle age set in…

Quest…Training, Training, Training… Its All About Training
Now, thousands of  hours later, It was my life’s dream,  sheer enjoyment shattered occasionally by bouts of sheer terror…blown tires, rough idles, failed parts, a million things involving weather, through advanced weather training courtesy of Chanute air Force Base, and U of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, aircraft engine and airframe maintenance and emergency procedures training.

Eventually it caught up to me with three real people on board returning from Key-West and a fire trailing caused by a failing Marvel Schebler Aircraft Carburetor, basically a sinking carburetor float, impossible to detect and notice except for the windscreen going dark. fuel running wild, 

Luckily I was preparing to land about ten-twelve miles from my location, and then the fire and the Gods were with me… altitude and airspeed…  3000 feet in altitude, leaking gas, smoke and I followed the drill rehearsed hundred of times.

Pilots know the drill, FLY the airplane, shut the fuel system down before the fuel system enveloped the aircraft,  maintain airspeed, DECLARE radio PAN - MAYDAY  no engine,  I declared an emergency to a closer tower Albert Whitted’s tower,  requested runway six, was immediately cleared, and lined up for a left downwind entry, tower cleared all aircraft,  and I dead sticked a book perfect short field landing into Albert Whitted airport.  Training,  I had fifty times practiced this same maneuver ( My alternate was a water landing).  

The building at the end of the displaced runway 6,  part of the University claimed I left wheel marks on their roof,  but I think they were kidding me…  I had no option and cut it close, the student pilots in the pattern and on the ground heard the call,  got a free demonstration of a no engine short field approach at just over stall speeds, and applauded.

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I can talk about it today how a little twenty dollar plastic float created 3500 dollars worth of firewall fire forward damage (three maybe four times that amount today) and the paint had extensive fire damage.  I can brag about that landing today, it  was my best short field landing, and made the first turnoff after said displaced runway right in front of the fire cart.  I received the foam bath… Today that simple carburetor overhaul is 800-1000 dollars alone.  

Many aircraft had Chrysler alternators same as the car models but with a substantial amount of resins and very careful assembly, for temp variation and diode protection.   They run 400-500 rebuilt using $17.00 dollars worth of diodes.  But you gotta know where to put the resin… money won’t save your butt, training does...

In aviation you are only as good as your repetitive training and your thought process, otherwise they call you a statistic.  Pressing on to be better is critical in aviation.  Like life…I had in my mind the best instructor in the beginning, I’ll never forget my first instructor, Joe Dineen and I believed in the culture of his training.  I have in hundreds,  maybe thousands of hours heard his voice three significant times.  

Pilots joke about it, but I am a believer now…during an emergency, you hear your instructor telling you what to do, the mind and solid training makes your response automatic and to this day if asked I will tell you I heard his voice and performed, lived and will swear to it

Going to other crashes, and offering flight services to the GADO office was to some a lesson in harsh reality but it gets your head on right, you see what mistakes do, unprepared consequences, dumb actions and gore… 

No-one in their right mind as a pilot let three check-ride pilots go anywhere. with you to these crash sites.   I have a wall full of commendations and proficiency awards on my office wall.    

But if you use the training seriously to this day I heard him coaching me in my mind going through the process and getting it perfect.  After a couple thousand hours and 68 years old, making my last trip as a co.  I retired from flying but still look up in the sky overtime I hear an aircraft, I miss it…my heart went south selling the plane.


©  Copyright   01/12/2022