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Monday, January 11, 2010


Tom had been a fixture on Court Street since we moved here from Wyckoff Street in 2002. He never smoked or drank as far as I could tell. He loved the Yankees and if there was a game on he knew the score. I asked Tom once what his story was. He told me: "Well, Mark, the guy who had this spot before me left. So I took it over." That was my last attempt at a serious conversation about who he was and where he came from, or how he came to be the guy just standing outside the deli, but most days Tom was always there with a smile and a thumbs up. A usual exchange would be like this: "How you doin' Tom?"... "Hello Mark, not bad for a Wednesday," followed by a fist bump and a comment on the weather, the Yankees or the news on the street. Tom was the one who described for us in detail what happened the night of the fire in 240 Court. He was not homeless though I don't know where he lived. He was not destitute, though he never refused a sandwich from Louie at SAM'S, or a couple of bucks from me. He helped us with our groceries, he watched the meter for our cars, he opened the door on the deli entrance, he stood out there most evenings from around five to midnight everyday, rain, shine, hazy, hot, humid, or bitter, freezing cold. He was part of this hood. Some of my favorite exchanges with him were when I would pass by and others were talking with him about this or that as he stood or sat on that blue metal box. People loved him. He had big, kind eyes and a wide grin spread from under a wiry mustache. When I noted his absence shortly after Christmas I felt something was amiss. Then we saw the memorial and heard from Brenda across the street at Ruben's Liquor store where he often bought his lottery tickets, that Tom had stomach cancer and passed away. So, just to repeat:

We Love You Tom, you will be missed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year

Christmas in Virginia with Jeff and Sue, Sea and Dom was a respite from the stone and steel of New York City. The only gunshots we heard were from duck hunters in Williamsburg. It was good to feel the muddy earth underfoot in Palmyra.

Meadowood was a particularly moving experience as Sea and Dom are nearing completion of the "Studio" for the creation of art and all that entails. We are reflecting on the decade. The start of it found me adrift in a sea of humanity with no compass. I had met Jennifer and we began our way out of the madness together, meeting many fellow travelers along the way, people who are near and dear to us today, yet mostly unknown to us ten years ago. Those of you who are our oldest friends have witnessed the collective changes. We have grown, our wisdom deepened, our understanding expanded, our compassion realized in ways we could only imagine. We made a commitment to each other and to ourselves, and to you our friends and family, to make a difference in the world for the good of all. This effort is an attempt to balance a world seemingly so one-sided with evil. May whatever God you pray to bless you and help us heal the sick, enrich the poor, and find the forsaken. Happy 2010.

"To the Stuff in the Studio"

Is a curiously versatile

Meaning not only
The physical exertion required
To put something together,
Like a peppery arugula salad
With quartered tomato and shaved

Or take something apart,
Like an old pine car shed,

Or to move something from
one place to another
Like a cairn of sandstone, or a mountain, or an old chair
Across town
But also

The final product of that labor

Here to fore eternal
Versions of unique visions
Of nature's life and
Immense beauty, her
Hallowed mystery
Rendered for all
To share

Places where this
Takes shape are sacred

And the people who
Perform it

Holy, holy, holy.