A Masters in Mating Administration

Free market worshippers never miss an opportunity to propose their “trickle-down” economics of unfettered greed as the panacea solution to a complicated problem, viz., preserving the environment, improving education, providing healthcare, ending poverty. Now, though, they’re heading boldly where no debunked economic theory has gone before: proposing their brand of “entrepreneurialism” as the solution to the declining marriage rate.   Read more

The Second (Last) Supper

I like to cook, but I wouldn’t know the difference between a bearnaise and a béchamel. And the only things I strain are stock, pasta and kidney stones. Read more

A Good, Down Dog

It’s fairly well-known that I’ll go to almost any length to avoid the medical system. I strengthened a knee rather than have a severed ACL repaired. I found a natural solution to the chronic diverticulitis that my then doctor wanted to have operated on. I drink enough water every day to start growing gills, all to avoid a recurrence of a passing kidney stone. Read more

A Consultant’s Consultant

It’s a wonderful time to be alive, what with all the pollsters and statisticians and retired this-and-that’s turned “talking head” experts, all these consultant-types surrounding us with their  non-stop, very expert advice. In the olden days, when I was building a company, a consultant was someone who, months later, returned a difficult problem unsolved and worse off (and accompanied by a steep bill). Read more

The Unexaggerated Life

The reason some people lie about themselves is obvious. Lance Armstrong about being all-natural. Bernie Madoff about safeguarding your money. Anthony Weiner about the fake hacker responsible for tweet-peddling his sexual wares. Read more

When the Wishes of Others for Us are Granted

I was so heartbroken over having to put down Kobi, my rescued Alaskan malamute mix, that I had to sell my car; though months had passed, it still smelled of him, which made me cry every morning.  My daughters thought I needed another dog.  To get them off my back, I threw down an insurmountable gauntlet: I’d get another dog, but only if it looked exactly like Kobi. Read more

Taking Better Care of His Dog than Society Did of Him

I mentor older boys in the New York City foster care system. These are kids who’ve been in “the system” for a long time and who the system long ago gave up on trying to get them permanent homes or adoption. They usually live in abysmal group homes or with foster families that have no real interest in or connection with them. And they’re all about to “age-out” of the system, which means they’ll soon be on their own which, statistically, means most likely joining the ranks of the homeless. Read more

Faking Until Making

For almost a decade I suffered from an occupational disease that befalls many attorneys: a sincere and intense desire never ever to practice law again. When this infirmity became an overwhelming obsession, and I had a business idea (auditing lawyers’ bills for big corporations), despite twin two year-olds at home, a big mortgage, and about enough savings to last six months, I quit. Read more

Oxycodone: the 21st Century’s Aspirin

I have a friend out here in Montauk who’s the healthiest 77 year-old you can imagine.  Oh, he’s way overweight.  And he’s recently had his prostate shaved, a quarter of one lung removed (to get rid of cancer), and three stents put in. But he bounces back and carries on as if none of this happened. Read more

The Death of Cells, and of Us

At 63, I’ve experienced many bouts of cell-death.  Some, like the nerves in my right ear that the mumps virus killed when I was 6, are irreversible.  Others, like the system in my prostate that sometimes doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, Big Pharma augments, though not without side effects (headache, stuffiness and, mainly, impoverishment: $20 for each 5 mg Cialis). Read more

The Medical System as Entertainment

I’m a reluctant user of the medical system. An annual physical.  One dermatological scan per year.  A colonoscopy every ten.  And that’s it.  The rest I avoid like the plague. Read more

Perennials and People

In my early days of gardening, I planted trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), a rampant grower with beautiful deep orange trumpet flowers that I hoped would survive my horticultural errors.  I planted it on the sunny side of the barn where I could watch it from the kitchen. Read more

The Palace

I answered a New York Review of Books personals ad from a “young writer” who was “in need of a patron for fun and pleasure.”  She turned out to be much younger than I am (her late 20s to my mid 50s), very abused by her family (her mother is a born again Christian psychologist, her father an agoraphobic, alcoholic lawyer), and very creative (a Yale MFA with a novel coming out). Read more

Business Makes Strange Bedfellows

In the 1990s, when I started my last company, services and technology were far less hospitable to starting a start-up than today. Needless to say, there weren’t any “incubators,”meaning places where you could rent a cubicle for cheap and have support services. So you cobbled things together.  Usually, as I did, you worked from home and, to project a corporate image, you hired an answering service located at what seemed to be a business address where you also rented a mailbox. Read more

Mother, the Necessity of Invention

A former Asian girlfriend desperately wanted to get out of her off-the-books, grossly-underpaying job for a Chinese construction company and start her own business. So I jumped in, unsolicited, and designed a chain of take-out stores featuring Char Siu Bao, delicious brioche-type buns baked with scrumptious roast pork inside. The perfect item for a commuter on the go, or a quick snack, the bun is the “holder”; you don’t even need a napkin. Read more

Perennial Peace

I never expected a garden to be a peacemaker.

Anomalously, Posh Westport, CT’s homeless shelter sits on the town’s equivalent of Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue. A former town maintenance garage, it abuts a fancy Japanese restaurant, faces the town green and Westport’s massive town library, and, literally, is a block from Tiffany’s, Patagonia and Restoration Hardware. Read more