Interview 2

Interview 2 

My reverse interview experience paled next to that of a student who was one class ahead of me at Tufts.

John M. , who wanted to be a surgeon, also aspired to get into to the Massachusetts General Hospital, or MGH training program. At that time, it was well known that Harvard never took anyone from Tufts into their Internal Medicine programs and that even attempting to Intern match at the MGH would be a waste of time. To be accepted in surgery might afford a little more flexibility or lenience but once again would almost be an impossible feat. Harvard simply did not like, and more to the point, did not at all respect Tufts. They were so picky in general that their applicants were even subjected to two rounds of interviews in order to sift out potential riffraff.

John had already stacked the deck by electing several surgical rotations in the Harvard system and by so doing was already somewhat known as a personal entity. He passed his first interview after a grueling set of questions, the last of which was:

  • And so, Mr. M., if you were to be accepted at this prestigious hallowed institution, and then go on to a greater career as a Harvard trained surgeon, tell me then―what would be your greatest ambition and your legacy as a physician?
  • That’s easy. To cure Death

He passed and got a second round interview.

At the second interview, he faced the Chief of Surgery at the hallowed MGH, a person of great talent and reputation and a person not to be trifled with. This doctor occupied a seat at the very pinnacle of the medical food chain. He also occupied a large antique oak desk.

  • Mr. M. I heard from my colleague of your last interview. Very impressive, even to the point of your quick witted and amusing statement of ambition. However, I am looking for something a little less facetious and sarcastic. So in the same vein I will ask you again, if accepted to train in this highly sought after competitive position, what indeed would be the noble ambition that would lead me to believe you are better in every way than anyone else I have interviewed to date.

Facing down the icy stare, John hesitated for only a moment before he replied:

  • I thought that curing death was every physician’s penultimate goal; weather real or in the total realm of the abstract. So, if that answer does not stand pat, my greatest ambition then, if accepted into this elite and privileged program, would one day soon, to be sitting on the opposite side of this desk.

He passed interview 2 and was accepted as an MGH Surgical Intern.


The reason that most of us remain healthy is because 10% of the people get 90% of the diseases.

(John M: Tufts Med 1972)



Reverse Interviews

Reverse Interviews 

Interview 1 

When nearing the end of training a Medical Student takes Part 1 of the National Boards which then qualifies him to enter a lottery known as the Intern Matching Program. You pick a place or a city where you want to train, locate the accredited training programs available in the various hospitals, and then make up a ranked preference list, which goes into a central data bank. Conversely, the teaching hospitals get the lists and decide by rank which applicant they might want to take as an intern, usually based on the medical school he attended. After that the student gets a letter stating he has been accepted for an interview.  No letter. No interview. No job.

Because so many students pick so many hospitals, the overlap leaves those hospitals not quite sure who will pick them at the end of the process. This forces the students to hedge their bets by over-booking interviews, like an airline overselling reserved seats, or the aforesaid Venn diagram of the double negative question. Interview, yes. Guaranteed pick by the candidate, no―and vice versa. Over a short period of time as the match progresses, the spots become progressively filled as increasingly limited spots become available. This is why foreign medical graduates tend to default to the second tier of community hospitals that do not have either good training programs or if they do, the programs are not accredited teaching programs. An ideal match is a Number One with a Number One plus a good interview; notwithstanding the usual politics and nepotism that goes with any such process.

In general, Harvard Hospitals choose Harvard Medical students, and so on and so forth across the country, not only because of effete arrogance but also because of the practical fact that any student applying to a system in which he is already a known entity obviates the risk of that teaching program becoming stuck with a potential loser. It is also the case that a teaching hospital will lean heavily toward a candidate if it has already had a good experience with someone else who trained at the same medical school. I had already decided I wanted to relocate to N.Y. City principally because I wanted easy access to my parent’s summer home for R&R, and so applied to about six major teaching hospitals in Manhattan. I got three interviews in return; Montefiore, Downstate and St. Luke’s Hospital. I received no answers at all from Columbia Presbyterian, New York University and New York Hospital Cornell; not even the courtesy of a polite “no, we don’t want you.”

Montefiore was the only hospital I received an interview with that was the central teaching center at a medical school, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The other three major teaching hospitals did not want to see me at all and the two that did were teaching hospitals closely affiliated with the major players, but not the primary or the elite hub. When I showed up at Montefiore, I knew immediately that I was in trouble. Every one of the twenty or so candidates that were batched for that day wore a Yarmulke, as was just about everyone else in the facility. In the preliminary phase before the one on one interview, we were made to introduce ourselves, then give a thirty-second personal introduction. As the names were called out: Silverman, Bernstein, Schwartz, Jason, Milliman, Saperstein; I knew my first name would hold some truck but that the last one would probably raise a few eyebrows. Being stupidly naïve, I had no clue that the institution was predominantly Jewish along with significant overlays of Jewish Orthodoxy. How was that for proactive thinking? Sign up for Albert Einstein and then be surprised that everyone there is Jewish.

When it was my turn I loudly stated Alan, and then softly mumbled my last name. The group leader shouted: “What? Say that again. Nobody heard you. What’s your last name?” With the cat now out of the bag when I loudly repeated my last name, you could hear a pin drop. This was followed by everyone turning their heads to stare with incredulous wonder at the interloping little guinea goy boy with a bona fide Jewish first name but without the funny little hat.

Passing on to the one on one interviews, I sat with a very pleasant physician who beside the usual queries wanted to know because I had a Jewish first name if my mother was Jewish and was that why I was here. I couldn’t lie, then told him no, to which he responded it really didn’t matter as he escorted me to the cafeteria for lunch. I figured there was no chance in hell I would be picked and that he was just being nice before the inevitable soft-landing rejection. At that point, even if I did think I could make a sincere effort to fit in, my hopes were dashed by the fact that all of the cafeteria food was pareve or kosher, making it so unrecognizable to my ordinary culinary tastes that on the food factor alone I knew I would never make it in this institution.

Imagine my shock then when I was taken aside at the end of the day and told that it was unusual for them to do this, but that if I agreed immediately I would be given an internship at Montefiore. They said I had interviewed well, that a few students from Tufts had passed through their training program from time to time, and that they had been so favorably impressed with their performances this legacy counted for very high marks in their overall assessment. Although I was sincerely flattered, I was leaning toward the jaded paranoid belief that I was going to be their affirmative action token Christian and told them I needed a day or so to think about it. It was chancy, because I had not yet heard back from St. Luke’s Hospital; which I had already decided on as a first choice. However, as luck would have it, within a day or two; I was, in fact, accepted there.

Having ultimately decided to reject the theory of religious relativity I went with the hospital named after the Patron Saint of Physicians and Surgeons. This was despite the institution, in an effort to be more pleasantly generic than hard core Christian, had adopted the venerable Saint’s mascot, a cow, to represent it’s symbolic logo; a little knock-off iconic version of the animal that bore an eerie resemblance to Bon Bel cheese company’s laughing cow: La vache qui rit. Except that this one has angel wings for ears.



Thank you very much. And I hope we passed the audition.

(John Lennon)



Medical Board Exams

Medical Board Exams 

In order to qualify for an internship and be granted a license to practice medicine one must go through a series of National Board Examinations. These tests are given in stages that occur at the end of medical school, the end of internship, and again at the end of residency. If a person wants to on to a subspecialty, there is yet another exam at the end of a fellowship. Unlike the Law Boards, which mirror the infinity of legal time and allows a flunky to have an infinite number of second tries, the Medical Boards only allow three strikes.

For example, John Kennedy Junior finally made the Bar after his seventh try, only to discover that practically applied examinations in aircraft Instrument Landing Systems are much less forgiving on a first-time failure. They do not allow for multiple mulligans. Perhaps this accounts for why parole boards are so lenient when they give convicted felons so many second or third opportunities to get out of jail only to again become offenders .This contrasts with a physician’s opportunity that allows only one chance to get the heart attack diagnosis and therapy or the gall bladder surgery done correctly the first time. Personally speaking, I would not want to deal with any attorney or physician who had to take these tests more than once, because if a person fully applies his or herself to the required study time, the tests are incredibly difficult to fail. This makes it a reflection of personal ethical dedication and pride.

Required study time is another issue altogether, as for example in order to pass Internal Medicine, I devoted one entire year to reading and re-reading the 2000 page text of anything and everything that can go wrong with a person― how to recognize it― then how to treat it. The same process applied itself to the Cardiology Boards that were more difficult because the studying had to be done at night after my regular workday was over.

The only good aspect of “studying for the Boards” was that it made for convenient alibis to avoid mandatory attendance at boring or undesirable social events and family gatherings―or for good excuses to break up with a girlfriend.

  • I can’t see you anymore. I have to study.
  • OK. I get it. You have another girlfriend, you cowardly shit-heel. Why don’t you just say so?
  • No. You don’t understand. I really do have to study.
  • What, you don’t want me anymore and you’re throwing me over for a book? I always thought you were just a closet queer anyway.

Fostering a perpetual feeling of being in school, endless studying also went a long way to ensure the continued delay of gratification that goes with medical training and helped to postpone having to face up to the horrifying prospect of one day having to grow up. For example, even though I was paid a salary as a house officer, it was still not equivalent to having a real job, as well as the fact that because of how long it took to be trained, I was not able to go into private practice or be fully responsible for my own professional actions until I was thirty years old. Any colleague who had become a schoolteacher, a police or fireman or any other litany of civil service jobs, including a career in the military was already halfway to a pension before I had even opened up shop.

The entire Board process was also thankfully made easier before I had to endure them by eliminating the grueling experience of having to take oral exams. The terrifying prospect was dealing with either a pleasant and forgiving proctor, or as some people I knew, having had to deal with an unpleasantly unforgiving oral inquisitor the likes of Dr. Iber. (prior post). In fact, it was because of the imbalance in personalities―combined with the excessively subjective and personal bias inherent in oral exams―that the system eventually abandoned this torture and reverted to multiple-choice tests.

Under the oral exam system, some professorial proctors who equally qualified as bastards, were blackballing truly qualified individuals for no good reason other than effete arrogant spite. The interviewer at Harvard who nailed his window shut would have qualified as being one of these pigs. On my part, I had no doubt that with my luck, that if orals were still being given, I would have drawn this old Tarot nemesis to be my proctor; The Black Card Iber: Death.

While Board exams do in truth test a broad knowledge base, they are also really a test of being able to understand double negatives, as well as being able to reason by a process of exclusion or exception. The best way to take them is to burn through them quickly and to answer every sure question, then go back and boil down any unknown answer to at least two choices. This improves the odds of the guess to a 50:50 chance of being correct. The worst thing to do is to waste time fretting over choices and to leave questions blank. Blank answers always ensure complete failure.

Why these tests are structured as such is beyond me, except for my roommate’s theory that they were designed to weed out foreign graduates who were not facile with the English language. He referred to this as “The Turban Factor,” which he qualified by reiterating the fact that not only did the exams test knowledge, but equally as important they tested the ability of any given person to be able to speak English, to understand English, to understand logic, and to do it quickly enough to get through all the questions in the time allotted to take the test. Somewhat contrarily I argued that the process was more the case of queries being posed by erudite academic pudits who then sit back and chuckle to themselves at their innate ability to create inverse logic or literary Venn diagrams.

For example, why does the question always read:

  • All the following are false except.

Is it not easier to understand:

  • Among the following there is only one true statement. So, pick it.

In addition, all the choices then will probably contain true double negatives, meaning that each statement is false, except for the false double negative, which is the true answer, such that by the end of the ordeal the only thing ringing as absolute truth is a splitting frontal headache. It’s like the scene in The Princess Bride when Vizzini plays the double negative inverse logic game with Westley over the goblet of Iocaine poisoned wine, then gets completely confused by his own perverse reasoning―only to then succeed in poisoning himself.

Real life does not operate on the principle of double negatives unless one fully understands vernacular such as “I don’t got none” as really meaning that a person really does not have some.This person, making a statement as to the absence of having none, really does have some, although he stupidly does not know what he really meant and therefore validating my roommate’s theory that this functional illiterate would not pass the double negative Boards.

Test result:

  • He would not make for no good of a doctor anyway.

It is also not true that a person with no cough, no sputum production, no fever and no infiltrate on a chest X-Ray in fact does have pneumonia.

See what I mean? Yes…or no?



The King of the Congo

The King of the Congo 

As I got older, I became an animal rights advocate. My reasoning was a concern that human overpopulation was causing so much loss of natural habitats that many of nature’s wild creatures were being squeezed onto pathways that could only lead to extinction. I also had to make up for all the rotten things I has done as a child. This included shooting birds or mice with a B-B gun, making frogs into race car drivers and setting them on fire, sending Bumble bees on sub-orbital rocket rides, stoning dozens of Blue Claw or Horseshoe crabs to death and in general disrespecting most of nature. I don’t know when my attitude changed, but I eventually came to believe in preservation of the environment, coupled with a feeling that the only way to accomplish this would be to advocate for human zero population growth.

Being one of those people who has even gone overboard the other way, when I find them in my house, I will set spiders, bees and beetles free; much to the chagrin of my wife who prefers to handle issues like this more expediently with a fly swatter. She shows little or no interest at all when I chide her about the teachings of Buddha who said that all life is sacred.

We had this argument.

  • There is nothing sacred about a wasp, an ant, or a spider.
  • Then what about an Angel fish?

For certain areas of the planet it is already too late, but there is still a chance to save large tracts of nature in both the Amazon as well as in Africa. Two common African practices that are a horrifying waste of animal life are killing elephants or rhinos for the sole purpose of respectively harvesting their ivory tusks and their horns. It is sickening to see photographs of tusk-less or hornless carcasses left behind to rot after these trophies are removed. Ivory has value in the music industry or as jewelry, but even piano keys can now be made from more durable synthetic material. I have also seen women wearing ivory pins who should worry more about their elephantine weights than what they stick on their blouses to offset their dowdy or dumpy appearances. Despite the silk gown and the exotic baubles, they still look like the sow’s ear.

I also knew that rhino horns, like the lore about Grizzly Bear gallbladders, are taken because they are then ground into powder and sold as an aphrodisiac to reverse erectile dysfunction in human males. The primitive two step equation becomes: Horny animal = Horny man; which may sound logical enough; except for the non-sequester that the male rhino uses his horn to root around for food; not for diddling rhino pussy.

When Viagra came on the market, I contacted the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company to suggest that they could do a great deal to save the Rhino. The plan would be to grind their pills into powder with the same color and consistency as powdered horns― then supply it in bulk to African or Chinese apothecaries who could dispense it in naturopathic bags or pouches. In saturating the market, this would not only bring continuity to the culture and preserve whatever rituals might be involved but would also bring an end to the senseless slaughter of this magnificent primitive beast. I did receive a polite response from the company’s Medical Director that he would send my suggestion up the corporate ladder; but that was the last I ever heard from them. Years later, the decimation and near annihilation of the rhinoceros remains unchecked and the White Rhino is now extinct.

At one point I considered stockpiling the drug, going to Africa, and then distributing it as a wandering crusading merchant of human sexual satisfaction and savior of African wildlife. The fantasy went as far as becoming a great white witch doctor or medicine man; then made ruler of the tribe after saving the virility of all men both young and old alike. Placed on a throne, then fanned, fed by Nubians and having all the women I could possibly desire put at my disposal; I would be a veritable third world Hugh Heffner: Priapus 1st, House of Pfizer, his most revered and majestic: King of Eros.

I suppose the CEO of Pfizer did not like the idea because at $18 per erection, Viagra has made an enormous contribution to the corporate financial bottom line. A more likely explanation is that either he never got my letter; or if he did, dismissed it as only one more example of senseless ranting from yet another one of far too many misguided tree-hugging fools.

One day when the drug patent finally expires, the generic version will cost pennies a pill. The Rhinoceros, however, will always be proprietary; and when its patent expires, so does a species that will only then exist in photos or on a taxidermy display.




A Crown of Horns



Have a Mint

Have a Mint

When Michael and I moved out of the Brookline doghouse we found a rental apartment in a rundown tenement in Summerville, just over the town line from Cambridge. Local snobs not living there called it “Slummerville,” and our apartment was a pure monument to that truth. Housing quality diminished in direct proportion to rental pricing as one moved away from the trendy neighborhoods near Harvard and entered the working-class suburbs of Boston. It wasn’t that we wanted to live there. It was because we were on parental budgets that forced us to make do.

The place must have been made for midgets because every room in the apartment was about three fourths what would be considered normal. This included the height of the ceilings, all of which fostered a perpetual sense of claustrophobic containment. It gave new meaning to the terms ‘kitchenette’ or ‘dinette,’ with the entire layout being hardly big enough for one person let alone two. The interior was also so dark that the only plants we could hang in our windows that would remotely stand a chance to survive were mushrooms. Add in no air conditioning and the only way to stay cool was to go half-naked.

When my father saw it for the first and last time on his visit for my medical school graduation he was appalled.

  • I just can’t understand why you had to pick a place like this to live in.

What could I say? I had succeeded in coming in under a budget he had based on a 1941 rental pro forma.

Once again, like Big Funk, our décor was dismal and the furniture third or fourth hand. Then not being exactly the kind of place that fostered a keen desire to design or create a better interior in the first place, it was more like the kind of place that made one abandon all hope. The apartment did nothing to help our social lives either, as it was so embarrassing, we never brought dates home. The exception was the doped up Chinese girl, who was oblivious to her surroundings and barely knew if it was day or night anyway.


Myself and dog lover Bob― over for a visit, a drink and a spliff


The landlord/owners were an elderly Irish couple, Alice and Joe, who no longer had any desire, much less even the physical or mental capacities required to maintain the place. They could barely remember when it was time to collect the rent; or then tried to collect it twice when they forgot they already had. But what difference did it really make in the grand scheme of things? It was our last year of Medical School and there was finally a light at the end of the educational tunnel. Pretty soon we would be independent; starting to make lots of real money and would no longer have to live like lepers in a cold cellar.

We used an old packing trunk for a coffee table, covered it with a paisley print cloth, and in the middle of it had placed a small glass bowl filled with some gallstones that Michael had procured after a surgical case. Apparently, it was one of the worst gall bladder cases on record with the diseased sack containing at least twenty yellow-orange multifaceted perfectly smooth lustrous stones that looked like extra-large driveway pebbles.

In a fit of perverse and bored fun we had attached a little sign on the bowl that read: 

Fine Mint Candy. Have one!



Because of our decadently embarrassing dwelling we rarely if ever had any real guests over anyway and forgot about the inside joke of the gallstone candy dish. The dish had simply blended invisibly into the rest of the sordid background where it had become a fixture. We had so forgotten about it that we were paying virtually no attention to it the night my brother happened to visit, got very drunk, stoned on pot, and then got literally stoned as he began to chomp on the little yellow mints.

He had already consumed about three of them and was chewing on his chalky fourth before we realized it, then told him what they really were. Being four sheets to the wind and nearly in his cups, the only response he could mumble was:

  • God. No wonder these things are chewy and tasteless. I thought maybe you guys left the candy out so long that it got stale.

It wasn’t until the next day when he finally sobered up that the full realization of what he had done hit home, which made him sick and nauseated in retrospect.

  • Shit, I can’t believe you guys let me eat somebody’s gallstones.
  • Better than some other nasty things you can put in your mouth in a state of abject drunken waste, my brother.

Actually, in some primitive native cultures it is believed that if a man consumes pieces of desiccated grizzly bear gall bladders, he can prevent sexual impotency, or if already impotent, reverse the curse. Like some other men I have known, I guess these natives may have thought of their bear enhanced erections as somehow becoming ferocious wild beasts on the prowl for fresh meat.

But trust me―the last thing my brother got from his little debauched snack was a nice big hard on. Toward the end of our lease term, old Joe had a stroke and although we begged Alice to let us help, she refused to even take him to the hospital. He was paralyzed on his left side, aphasic and dribbling down his chin, but Alice said that he had a good life and that the hospital would kill him for sure. So, she put him in a lounge chair, stroked his motionless side several times a day in a fruitless effort to bring it back to life, and after a brief period of time let him die a natural and compassionate death.

Although it is probably true that old Joe would not have survived the hospital anyway, it was more likely that the food Alice attempted to stuff food down his throat every day and that subsequently trickled into his lungs instead of into his gullet was the more probable and proximate cause of his eventual demise: Aspiration pneumonia.


R.I.P. 1973

Old Joe

Killed with kindness




Myself and former rommate Bob/Personal photo
© Photo: Gallstones Deutche Welle
Source:Deutche Welle


























More womanly woes

More Woes

I only had two other relationships of note when I was in medical school. Although neither of the women were virgins, and while not giving me a lethal STD either, they both were potentially lethal for other reasons.

One affair was a brief fling with a Chinese girl who was working as a secretary for a Cardiologist that I met when rotating through his service at the Boston City Hospital. I asked her out for a drink and after one beer she asked to see my room…the bedroom. I should have known then that if the deal seems too cheap, too easy, and too good to be true, there is probably something wrong with it. Caveat emptor. As it turned out, the only virginal orifice she had remaining might have been her left ear.

Things went well for a few months and she was especially good to have around when ordering food in the local Chinatown restaurants. She also took me on a tour of the Chinese gambling parlors and certain other places where a white man would not only fear to tread but would undoubtedly be denied entrée—or worse. What I did not know about her was that she was a hard-core opioid addict, only finding this out one night when I picked her up at her parent’s apartment. When I rang the bell, she opened her front door, then promptly flopped onto the floor in a drug induced coma. Wearing nothing but a negligee and wrapped in a white fur coat, she looked like a semi-conscious fluffy chinchilla. It was a strange way to start a date, except for the fact that because she was already dressed for bed, perhaps that’s where we should have gone first.

We were supposed to go to her friend’s house for a party but ended up driving around in large urban circles looking for the place. While I drove, she occasionally became conscious enough to either give me bogus directions or perseverated repeatedly:

  • I love you. Soon your family and my family will be as one.

Meanwhile I was thinking that “Bless Happy Family” was just an oriental dinner dish listed under column A; and not a lifetime commitment.

Because she wasn’t sober enough to know where we were going, I brought her home to her parents, rang the doorbell, and left her asleep at the front door. When I spoke to her the next day, she couldn’t remembere any details of what had happened, and not even the fact she had proposed to me. Blessed happy relief!

The other thing I did not know about her was that she worked part time in a pornography shop. That was fine. I even enjoyed a private tour of the place and met some of the girls who worked as strippers in the glass faced dollar-a-minute jerk off booths. What was not fine was the fact that she had nearly been stabbed to death in a gang related brawl and that she was in fact the immediate ex-girlfriend of a local Chinese Tong gang leader.

She had made up some completely whacky story about landing a bit part in a Woody Allen movie, then having an accident on the set that explained away the twelve-inch scarred over gash in her abdomen.

  • Tell me again. You were on a movie set. Then a knife flew out of nowhere and landed in your spleen, so they fired you, right?
  • Yes. It was a stunt gone wrong.

For about a minute I was stupid to believe her fantastic prefabrication.

Forget about drug overdosing or contracting VD. That was about as close as I ever wanted to come to meeting her boyfriend, the Mao Ze-Dong of Boston’s combat zone.

  • You round eyed running dog of Yankee Imperialism. You fuck my girlfriend. You die.

The next near-death relationship involved my engagement to a nurse I met when rotating through a surgery elective in Springfield. By this time, I was a twenty-three-year-old who was beginning to think about getting married and settling down. When I met her, she was having an on and off affair with a married surgical resident who she said almost always had anal intercourse with her to avoid the possibility of an embarrassing pregnancy. In fact, he had deflowered her anus before her hymen; a statistic on the very low end of how young women first get laid. Anal sex as birth control was a nice enough way for two lovers to mutually rationalize that perversion, and being no prude myself, I couldn’t have cared less. In fact, it opened exciting new possibilities for deviant sexual experimentations I could try with her.

She was also having an affair with a real estate broker who was twice her age but who had made it clear he had no intention of going further than dating.  I suppose it was a good thing I was not a prude then, and instead of asking whether she was a virgin or not, asked her instead if she had any holes that had not as yet been penetrated— like a nostril or an ear canal. She was not amused.

We started dating. She gave up the affairs. We seemed to get along. But there was only one thing about her I could not get over; which had nothing to do with her recent jaded sexual history. Although she was an extremely pretty girl of Italian descent, she happened to have a mole on her face exactly where my Aunt Roses’ had been, and which drove me crazy with the less than fond memories of forced holiday visits at the Guinea Ponderosa. I asked her to get it removed. She did. Things were good.

What was not good was letting her talk me into getting married after knowing her for only a month or so. Her biological clock was ticking, she was in dead-end relationships, she was on a mission of matrimony and I just happened to be the new missionary. When I called my parents and told them I was engaged the response was predictable. My father was happy, especially when he heard about her heritage; and my mother was less than discreet in voicing her displeasure. At first, I thought it was only because of my father’s elation that she was Italian and that my mother was only being spiteful. However, it was more likely the case that in her eyes no one would be good enough for her son. No one. Not ever.

In retrospect I had either forgotten about the penchant for my mother’s opinions to be co-opted by cognitive bigotry, or more likely the case that I was not even aware then that she had this fatal character flaw in the first place.

She used the usual lines:

  • You’re still in school. You’re too young. You haven’t known her long enough. She’s probably just a gold digger. She’s only looking for a bird’s nest on the ground. You have your entire career ahead of you. And who will support you if she gets pregnant and she can’t work? Not me. Not us.
  • Bird’s nest on the ground, mom? And what do you think we have that’s so rare and valuable? Faberge eggs?

My automatically opinionated mother was an overwhelming intimidator. Also coupled with the fact that if she did not like something or someone, she either never let you forget about it or she treated the subject with both passive as well as with aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, I was still dependent on my parents for room, board and tuition, which made me too afraid to confront the bitch, or if so, would forever have to tiptoe around her ire. That was my excuse. The truth was, I simply had no balls.

In retrospect, however, even if I had showed up with Bridgette Bardot there would have been something wrong with her as well.

  • But mom; she’s beautiful, she’s talented, and she’s rich.
  • She has a funny accent. Dump her.

But two things happened to end the affair. One was the fact that after several months all my fiancé could talk about was the kind of house she wanted, the type of furniture we were going to get, the pile or color of the carpets, how many children she wanted, and where we were going to live; preferably close to her parents. Notwithstanding the fact that her parents probably would have bought us the house or built it in the customary Italian manner in their back yard, I began to see any potential control over my life and future going down a predetermined spousal and in-law drain. I started having cold waves of sweat that seemed to come out of nowhere. The second thing was simply the fact that we ran out of conversation as the differential in our intellects began to overshadow the initial blind passion of our sexual attraction. Being a neophyte physician, I definitively knew that unexplained cold sweats was a non-definitive but still equally poor premonitory sign for something bad in the larger domain of potential illnesses, such as cancer, tuberculosis, or lupus.

As my loan shark friend Chubby used to say:

  • Doc, the sex only lasts for about thirty minutes. Then each day you got to figure out what to do with them for the rest of the twenty-three and a half hours. So, if nothing else, you better really like ‘em, too.

One of my roommates said it better.

If she was a guy; would you always want to hang out with her?

 Falling into a panic at the potential loss of autonomy and intellectual succor, I wanted to call it all off, but was afraid of the repercussions after how far everything had gone. We had the rings, the wedding date, the catering hall and were about to send out the invitations, which had already been printed—at no trivial cost.

Michael came to the rescue. He explained that breaking an engagement was not like irreversible neuronal damage. However, being in a bad marriage might make me feel as though I did have a stroke. He said to tell her it was quits during the car ride back from my parent’s house on Long Island to Massachusetts. that way she would not be able to do anything drastic or foolish and would be captive long enough to talk it out. That was bad advice.

Bolstered by the example of my cousin Laura breaking her engagement several days before her wedding, I told my fiancé I wanted out as we were going 65 miles an hour along Interstate highway 95. I said I only wanted to postpone things, but not being an idiot, she knew immediately what my sorry excuse really implied.  After a few choice four-letter words and other epithets, followed by streaming monolog castigation, she suddenly opened her car door and tried to escape. What a nightmare. That was all I needed; a dead soon to be ex-fiancé splattered against the median barrier, while having to come up with a good alibi to cover up the accident.

  • Oh, officer. She decided it was far better to kill herself than to have to tell me she was breaking our engagement.
  • Sure. I understand. Happens every day out here on this horrible highway of broken dreams. I feel for you.

I quickly pulled onto the shoulder, spent several hours calming her down and made her promise not to jump out when we got underway again. She must have thought better about suicide but spent the rest of the ride alternating dead silences with loud cursing. She also said her father would be royally pissed off about this.

After several months, things calmed down a bit and I called her. She was still bitter, but back with the real-estate agent and biding her time until another potential mate showed up. She ended the conversation with a cryptic comment that I owed my life to her, as her father had seriously considered putting a contract out on me when I dumped her. Apparently in so doing I had shamed and disgraced the entire family. I didn’t know he was mob connected, or I might never have dated her in the first place. Or perhaps I should have gone ahead with the whole thing and had affairs for the rest of my life, like most “made guys” seem to do. Have the family. Ignore the wife and kids. Do whatever the fuck you want, any time you want. And fuck whoever you want to fuck, whenever the fuck you want to fuck them.

But she said she had persuaded her father otherwise about having me put six feet under and that in the long run I was not worth it anyway. That’s not what she really said. What she really told her father was:

  • He’s a worthless piece of shit. He isn’t even worth wasting a bullet on.

I kept the wedding bands in a desk drawer for thirty-seven years until my second wife persuaded me to hock them for cash. You know how women get about any past life, or history, or relationship baggage that comes attached to their new mates. They want it expunged…or in this case, melted down. It was a funny thing too, because before I sold the rings, I tried to put mine on, but it wouldn’t even come close to crossing the appropriate fourth left finger knuckle. Yes, I was a little bit bigger and a little bit fatter and a wee bit more arthritic. But at least I was still alive.


If you play with fire, you are bound to get burned.


Mafia figure,00.jpg


The thing about virgins

The Thing about Virgins 

Because it tends to be a ‘man’s world,’ in most male dominated chauvinistic societies, men have no desire to be virgins themselves, but always seem to want one for a wife. Then they like to boast about it if they have had sex with a woman for her first time.

  • Yep. Popped her cherry all right. She bled like a stuck pig, too.
  • Cool man. You’re lucky. Never had one myself.
  • Yep. Seems like they just don’t make too many of ‘em anymore.
  • You got that one right, my man. It’s a rare vintage indeed.

Virgin worship is nothing new, probably represents little more than a symbolic veneration of something not yet corrupted and is an atavistic theme permeating many primitive or aboriginal societies. Having sex with a virgin also ensures no chance of getting an STD, unless perhaps getting oral herpes from a French kiss.

Veneration of virgins was particularly true in ancient Rome, when six virgins always lived in the temple of the goddess Vesta—hence the derivation of the term ‘Vestal Virgin.’ This goddess represented the sanctity of the hearth as being central to the preservation of home and family. In being one of the oldest of the Roman goddesses (represented by icons rescued from the fires of Troy) she ensured the safety of Rome, but only if these icons were preserved, venerated and carefully tended. Vestal virgins were responsible for keeping the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta as well as for oversight of the sacred icons. They also had the responsibility of baking special breads, mola salsa, or ‘sacred cakes’ made from the first harvest of corn, ultimately then being considered as a food offering for the gods.

Women between the ages of six to ten selected for this duty would commit to a thirty-year tour as temple servants. Any lapse in the vows to keep the sacred fire burning or worse, to maintain their virginity would result in punishments as severe as being buried alive. Their annual ritual of sweeping and cleaning the temple is the derivation of our current cultural idea of “spring cleaning.” How it was determined if they had been deflowered has never been explained, but if I had to pick a different career in medicine, I would be the first in line to sign up for consideration as the Secretary Inspector of Vestal Virgins.

However, Roman social hierarchy was so chauvinistic in structure that the seating chart at the Coliseum, running top to bottom, meaning worst to best, went as follows:

7. Mothers, wives, widows and whores

6. Slaves

5. Husbands

4. Plebeians

3. Wealthy aristocrats

2. Senators

  1. The Emperor, his family and closest friends

Then, in a tent located next to the Emperor, at field level so to speak, resided the Vestal Virgins. (Row 1-A)

Married women, widows, non-virgins and prostitutes were so heavily discounted that a virgin was considered three times as valuable as a woman who had already lost her virginity—or even her husband. Not only was the value of a virgin considerably higher than that of an “already made woman,” but the concept of virgins mating or having mated with various gods was also a theme that consistently runs through many ancient societies.

In Babylon the Chaldean priests selected one virgin female from the entire population to be the human consort of the god, Bel.

In Egypt a virgin slept in the temple of Ammon as his consort.

Egyptian monarchs were also considered to be the offspring of Ammon, such that in a parallel leap of faith, and with a peculiar costumed sex game, the reigning king would assume the personage of Ammon before having intercourse with the queen.

In ancient Greece, Dionysus was annually married to the queen in a symbolic ceremony.

In Peru there was a village where the local Inca Indians married off a virgin, usually about fourteen years old, to a carved image of a god, and after three days of celebration sacrificed her, then subsequently deified her.

North American Algonquians and Hurons married virgins of about six or seven years old to their fishing nets, which were possessed of a “man-spirit,” in order to ensure a plentiful harvest of fish for the ensuing year. This complements the idea that a perfect god could indeed have sex with a mere mortal, but only if that mortal happened to be sexually pure.

There are also numerous anecdotal tales of the offspring of these unions cast in roles of individuals having supernatural or superhuman powers. The most commonly known example of this is the famous Hercules of Greek mythology, a man of supernatural strength who was the issue of a union between the god Zeus and the mortal woman Alcmena. He underwent eventual apotheosis himself but only after the penance of the twelve labors being imposed as a penance for having killed his wife and their two sons.

On a more mundane level, when a Viking king died it would be customary to select a virgin, but not the queen, to be burned along with him as he was sent out to sea on his floating pyre. However, this was only after hoisting her up and trucking her around the compound so that she could “see into heaven.” After this ritual she was gang raped by six Viking warriors allowing them in turn, to see nothing but the aura of sexual bliss. This is certainly one way to rationalize the sanctity of a gangbang, but why the women selected for this ordeal felt honored by it or why the king himself did not have the honor of having her first in the afterlife defies rationalization.

  • Yes. I had sex once with six men all at the same time. Then I died and went to heaven.
  • It was that good, was it?

After the fall of the Roman Empire along with the rise of Christianity, early apostles, followed later by some of the first popes, had to employ clever means to convert the masses of people who had been accustomed to polytheism to the concept of monotheism—while at the same time having to sell them the concept of Jesus being the son of god. It was infinitely easier to do this if the story coincided with the legendary folklore of the Pantheon.

The early Christian church replaced early pagan holidays such as Lupercalia, dedicated to Vesta herself, or Saturnalia a holiday dedicated to Bacchus, with the likes of St. Valentine’s Day and Christmas respectively. The church even borrowed iconography from Egypt such as halos, symbolic of the sun god Rah, and stuck them on the heads of holy figures or angels, a ploy that made the conversion and “buying in” of the general pagan populations that much easier. The Catholics carried forward the concept of Virgin worship and a holy deified offspring endowed with mystical supernatural powers with their contrived invention of Jesus. They cast him as not only being the son of God himself, but also as a person conceived by a supernatural Holy Spirit, usually symbolized by a pure white bird or dove, that miraculously entered Mary and impregnated her. This sounds remarkably like certain pagan legends of mystical conceptions occurring when women are entered by spiritual holy waters.

Then, of course, being the good guy that he was, Joseph stood in to be the stepfather, so that this poor innocent knocked up woman would not be a social pariah— or possibly even stoned to death for her silly indiscretion. Joseph of course taught Jesus to be a skilled carpenter and then faded into historical oblivion. That is the fable. More likely than not, Joseph in fact was the real father. If not, and we could retrieve Jesus’ DNA, perhaps we would be able then to clone God.

Jesus went on to teach morals and ethics, performed such miracles as raising the dead and walking on water, was eventually crucified, resurrected, ascended into heaven, and then called for his mother who was later also assumed into a large cloud. In becoming a celestial floater herself, she was lifted up to be with God and his son; who also happened to be her son, too. Strange though, is it not, that we never hear about God cavorting with Mary after she arrived in heaven. One would think that would be a given.

The story of Jesus however sounds eerily like that of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, who was the son of the god Apollo and the mortal Trikkian princess, Coronis. But shortly after consorting with Apollo, Coronis fell in love with Ichys. Then after a crow informed Apollo about the affair, Apollo sent his sister Artemis to kill her because he thought the baby wasn’t his after all. Her body was burned, which stained the previously pure white feathers of the crow permanently black, while a remorseful Apollo having had second thoughts rescued the baby by performing the first caesarian section. He then handed the boy over to the centaur Chiron.

Chiron, who taught Aesculapius the art of medicine, then raised him to became so skilled that he was able to bring the dead back to life. But because this was a crime against the natural order of things, Zeus destroyed Aesculapius with a thunderbolt, completing his punishment and subsequent resurrection by setting him in the heavens as the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Holder. His rod, entwined by a single snake, and being the original symbol of healing is often mistakenly portrayed as Hermes double snaked caduceus. After his mother’s death, Coronis was also deified and set in the heavens as the constellation Corvus, the crow.

Virgin worship was a theme central to pagan faith, while parthenogenic birth by mortal and virginal women who were impregnated by gods is a theme common to tales reaching far back into human antiquity. Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome was a Vestal Virgin. Her uncle had killed her father, the King of Alba Longa, then usurped his throne. Committing her to chastity was a foil to get her past mesopause, and therefore little likelihood of producing a nephew competitor to the throne he stole. Rhea had a good excuse for getting knocked up, and subsequently avoiding a death sentence. She said the god Mars had raped her in her sleep…and who could dispute or disprove that convenient alibi in 753 BC? There are also numerous ensuing tales of mortal death and resurrection that were simply designed to confirm the lineage of the divinity.

In order to facilitate a pagan world to accept or embrace the words of Jesus, it is likely that the Apostles— or the men who came soon after them—used this legacy of pagan imagery and iconography as a metaphorical vehicle to get people’s attention and to guarantee credibility. It was a subtle method used to rationalize and incorporate older beliefs into newer ones. The concept of Mary being a virgin came centuries later as part of a contrived dogma that the Catholic Church used to force its women into subjugated roles. For example, much like the women of Rome, no ordinary woman who ever had children, or who ever had sexual intercourse for that matter, could ever be held to this unblemished sexual standard. Then as an equally tragic spin-off perverted logic, the church invented the concept of the virgin servile nun, who they dressed up in black and white Taliban burkas, then sequestered them or made them subservient to priests.

As the reign of Roman Empire in Palestine was coming to an end, the corruption, the brutality and the chaos left in its wake sowed the seeds of hope for change and a deliverance from this dark evil culture. The Jews expected a powerful messianic leader with military skills, hoping for a person who would deliver a revolution. They rejected Jesus only because in practical terms, the last thing they needed at that time in their history was a talking head.

Some embraced him for the content of his message. However, others decided he was the messenger better off being shot; especially when he began to mess with moneylenders and Jewish sycophants who had been given positions of political authority by the Romans. Or, perhaps the Romans themselves feared a fomented revolution by the rabble that was listening to Jesus preach of a “new social order” and took it as a serious threat. A new Emperor; surrounded by 12 Apostolic men who became the Governors of the 12 Tribes of Israel; dictating a new religious policy and displacement of Roman rule.

Jesus never claimed divinity. Other people claimed it after he was dead. He also never said that he was a king or even a general. He only claimed to be a messenger delivering God the Father’s reiterations to: love your brother as you love yourself, be charitable, eschew hate, greed, and revenge, and then perhaps give the Ten Commandments a good periodic review about personal compliance. Being misinterpreted as the Son of Man perhaps it would be better to think of Jesus instead as the Sun of Men; a person delivering a bright new message of hope, peace, brotherly love and personal enlightenment at a time of greed, brutality, corruption and oppression of civil liberties. Jesus was probably a decent ordinary mortal man with a vision; perhaps a little more and perhaps a little less…then also not the only man to ever be killed for delivering a message.

Ironically, after he died, Jesus was deified, raised to a higher level and placed on an ethereal throne. Then the 12 Apostles were subsumed into one living mortal, The Pope, who being the only person with direct access to God, is a man surrounded by scores of sycophant Bishops, and like any Ayatollah, then dictates his own interpretation of Christ to billions of mindless lickspittle sheep.

What really defies logic is why Pontius Pilot killed a man who could raise the dead. If Jesus had that power he should have been sent along with the Roman legions as they went off to war. With the quintessential faith healer in tow, Rome might still rule the world.  Alternatively then, why did God the Father allow his only child to be sadistically tortured and nailed to a cross? Most civilized societies and religions frown upon child abuse.



Grow strong, dear boy; healer of the world. Often men shall owe you health and life, and yours shall be the right to win again departed souls, and though you dare this once in heaven’s despite, Zeus’ bolt will thwart that gift a second time. You, now divine, shall be a lifeless corpse, and from a corpse become divine again, and twice you shall renew your destiny.

(Chiron’s daughter Ocyroe and her prophesy to Aesculapius)


1. A Study in Magic and Religion/ Chapter 12. The Marriage of the Gods

Sir James Fraser Macmillan 1922/1963 Touchstone 1996

2. Vesta from Temple of Religio Romana and media shift PBS

3. Marriage of the Gods from The Golden Bough

4. Viking Funerals from The Last Apocolypse by James Reston

5.Asclepius: Wikipedia Theoi Greek Mythology (Quotation)

Vesta Image




Romantic love is an illusion. Most of us discover this truth at the end of a love affair, or else when the sweet emotions of love lead us into marriage and then turn down their flames.
(Thomas Moore) 


After I learned to Scuba, I took reef diving trips to Cozumel almost every year for two decades.

Cozumel is an Island off the Yucatan of eastern Mexico, especially noted for the clarity of its water. This is because the 6000-foot-deep trench that runs between the island and the mainland, serves as a funnel for one of several loop currents running south to north; which then eventually combine to form the Gulf Stream. This constant northbound flow can result in as much as 200-foot visibilities, but also runs fast enough that divers cannot swim against it; thus, forcing them to drift along with the current. This drift diving is a unique style of the sport, in a unique underwater environment, a true gem of nature.

My favorite day trip would be to take a plane ride to the spectacular Mayan ruins at Chichén Itza where one of the sites on the tour of the city is the Cenote. This is a circular sinkhole, formed in the limestone that drops straight down hundreds of feet below its sharp drop-off to a deep inky green-black pool.

Apparently one of the Mayan sacrificial god appeasement ceremonies involved periodically taking one or more vestal virgins to the cenote, drugging them up and heaving them off the edge. It was supposedly a good sign if the virgin sank and never resurfaced, but a very bad sign for the priest who oversaw guarding them if the body floated back up to the top. This meant that the gods were not at all pleased; also implying that perhaps they had been rejected because the priest had breached his vows to keep them pure by personally breaching their hymens as well. If a priest happened to get too many floaters, the citizens of the city would throw him in too, or perhaps cut out his heart, cut off his head or do all three.

This left the priests with several tricks designed to ballast the corpse which included weighing them down with heavy jewelry or making them swallow rocks before the ceremony. Their sedating drugs would add a layer of insurance against the possibility of flailing or flopping around on the surface when the body hit the water, and hopefully then send the weighted, semi-comatose corpse straight down to the bottom.

On one of those dive trips, I encountered a floater of sorts too; one that was directly linked to sexual indiscretions as well. I went to Cozumel with a nurse I was dating. On the plane ride from New York we sat across the aisle from a mixed-race couple that was also going diving. The woman was white, and the man was black. Coincidentally, they also stayed at the same hotel as ours. I attempted idle chat, but they seemed standoffish, shy and reclusive, so I did not push it. I thought they might be that way because in the late 1980s society in general still frowned on inter-racial relationships.

On one of our dive excursions there was great commotion on another one of the boats, along with shouting and hysterical gesticulation from two Mexican dive leaders who were standing over what looked like a limp body in the bottom of one of their small ancillary snorkel boats. Our boat raced to the scene where we witnessed the black man lying on his back in the bottom of the small aluminum hulled boat, in full cardiac arrest. My girlfriend and I jumped into the small tipsy craft, where she began mouth-to-mouth breathing while I pumped on his chest; but to no avail. I could tell that the man had died instantly while snorkeling above his wife or girlfriend, who was tank diving below him.

However, not to be undaunted, the Mexicans raced him to shore where an ambulance was waiting, unfortunately very ill equipped to the point of not even having an ET tube on board. This resulted in one of the paramedics trying to torture the corpse by intubating him with a snorkel. The scene then devolved into a horrific bloody mess as the all too large diameter of the equally all too rigid snorkel severely traumatized the poor man’s larynx as the so called EMT kept trying to unsuccessfully shove it down his trachea. It was only a gory scene of bloody, foamy sputum, saliva and snot being forced from the lungs of a dead blue body.

Later that night, I went to his partner’s room to offer my condolences, only to be brusquely rebuffed by her telling me to “just go away” and leave her alone. She would not even open her hotel room door more than a small crack before shutting me out without further conversation, which made me feel stupidly inadequate. By the next day her room had been vacated and she was gone.

I found out several days later that the reason for her terse rebuke was because the couple was married all right, but each one to someone else. Apparently they had been on a cheating vacation tryst when the man suddenly dropped dead on the surface of the sea; only to leave his counterpart with the embarrassing problem of having to explain it all to her own husband, arranging the transportation of her lover’s corpse back to the States, as well as the clumsy situation that was now forcing her to be a direct liaison to the man’s poor widow as well. This woman instead chose to cover her tracks and go silently into that good night. Perhaps on her next Caribbean vacation, she might want to spend it in the Virgin Islands, in a single room, above water, with her nose in a book. Or by the time she hashes it all out with her husband, she might be single again anyway, and could simply start over.

A similar situation with a happier outcome combined ultimate forgiveness with making the most out of a bad situation. The scenario involved a couple my wife and I met on a cruise who had managed to turn a potentially serious negative into a pluperfect positive.

He was a hard-working building contractor who had grown a multimillion-dollar business from scratch. By the time we met them they also had five adult children. But when the kids were young, he had been sidetracked by having an affair with an unhappily married woman who he met in his bowling league. The ostensible reason for his straying was because his wife, who was busy taking care of their five small children at home, had fallen into the syndrome of: ‘Chronically-being fatigued-all-of-the-time-mommy-lost-interest-in-sex.’

But after figuring out what was happening by the cell phone log, the wife called the woman herself, told her she knew what was going on and then asked her husband to bring the woman home with him so she could watch them screw.

He did.

The three of them then had sex together on a regular basis for several years; until three became a crowd.

After that the tired mommy, yet now rejuvenated and enlightened housewife, made sure that when each of her daughters came of age, that they were indoctrinated in the concept of never sexually neglecting their hard-working husbands.

She told them:

  • As long as he’s bringing home the bacon, give him what he wants, whenever he wants it, however he wants it, and however many times he wants it. It’s easy. You have three holes…so  all you need to do is make sure that at least one of them is always open for business.






I don’t need no doctor

‘Cause I know what’s ailing me

I don’t need no doctor

‘Cause I know what’s ailing me

All I need is my baby

You don’t know I’m in misery

(Humble Pie)

Late in my career I went back to school for a Masters Degree in Medical Management. This was a paranoid backup plan I had worked out if Managed Care would one day put me out of business. At least I would then have the credentials to go into hospital management. Because I still a clinical medical practice to take care of, it was a grueling enterprise that took five years. But if I learned anything at all by this endeavor, it was that all assumptions are: False, Limiting, and Reversible.

It was a lesson I should have already empirically learned on the wards at the VA hospital when I had to take care of a man who had an unusual complication of long-term alcohol abuse in which the cerebellum in the brain becomes affected similar to how it scars the liver in alcoholic cirrhosis. This often-irreversible syndrome requires a great deal of alcohol consumption over decades to affect the brain.

Because the cerebellum controls balance, this man literally had the gait of a drunken sailor or a sea-sick landlubber, which made anyone who saw him, feel compelled to stand by for a catch in case he fell down. He looked like the protagonist in the Monty Python sketch, “The Ministry of Silly Walks.”

After the diagnosis was secured I was assigned to explain his problem. After a very lengthy, diligent explanation about how alcohol had damaged the back part of his brain, which included drawings and visual schematics, he looked up at me when I was finished and said:

  • So, what kind of doctor do you think you are?
  • I’m not really a doctor yet. I’m still a medical student.
  • Well mister, you’ll never make it in this business, so maybe you should think about doing something else.
  • Why do you say that? I’m only interested in helping you understand what’s wrong with you, so you can change your habits. This might prevent further trouble. Some of your balance issues might even improve if you stop drinking. If not, it can only get worse.

Of course, I had assumed he knew what I was talking about and that my carefully studied little lecture had made enough of an impact to inspire a trip down the road to total sobriety. Nothing was further from the truth, because the opposite reaction had  caused him to completely lose any faith, trust, or confidence he might have had.

  • That’s just what I’m saying, pretty boy. You can’t possibly know what you’re talking about. Like I said, I been drinking hard for over thirty years.
  • Correct. That’s the point.
  • Not really. The point is that you can’t be right, because this is the first time in thirty years something like this ever happened to me. So, it can’t be the booze. Now what’s really wrong with me?

What I really wanted to say was:

  • Well, perhaps you can’t ever cure being Irish.

Unbelievably, déjà vu came knocking thirty years later when our next-door neighbor in the Hamptons presented to the hospital with liver failure associated with ascites. This is a condition in which the liver is so scarred it cannot properly function, subsequently causing the abdominal cavity to fill up with clear yellow serous fluid. In being a serious sign that portends a very poor short-term prognosis, it can even make a man or woman look ten months pregnant.

Usually the kidneys shut down next or nearly unstoppable upper G.I. hemorrhaging occurs expressed as continuous vomiting of blood. This is a result of extremely high pressure in the varicose veins located in the lower esophagus that dilate because the liver doesn’t work; causing back-pressure into the spleen; which also enlarges.

His predicament was no surprise, as I would notice him regularly wandering around his yard, starting to drink beer at ten a.m., which he conveniently kept perched in front of him on the home-made shelf provided by his expanded abdominal girth. Meanwhile, his wife, who had smoked her lungs to death, was inside their house attached to an oxygen tank.

As a perfect pair, the couple was a veritable monument to self-inflicted abuse.

When he was hospitalized with cirrhotic liver disease, I saw him briefly when I stopped by his bed for a courtesy call, but was taken aback when he asked me what was wrong. He said his doctor told him he had liver failure. When I reaffirmed that his problem was the result of years of drinking to excess, he dismissively parroted the man at the Boston V.A. by saying it could not possibly be true for the same precise reasons I heard many years before. He said he had consumed beer all day long for well over half a lifetime but this was the first time something like this had ever happened to him; ergo alcohol could not be the problem.

Saying nothing more than “good luck and get better,” I walked away because I had seen that that movie once  and it wasn’t very good the first time around. In this case he wasn’t even Irish. He was just an ignoramus.

Enough said about assumptions.

My mother put it differently whenever I did something that I assumed had seemed like a good idea at the time; but turned out just the opposite.

  • But mom. I thought…
  • Yyou know what thought did, don’t you?
  • No mom, what?
  • A man thought he had to fart.

Anyone who studies medicine comes to know it as a discipline in which two great truths are axiomatic:

A: Never make assumptions.

B: Never, say never.

Especially never assume that a patient knows what you are talking about or understands anything you are saying without soliciting your own personal validated feedback. One must ask at the end of the visit:

  • Did you understand what we discussed and do you have any other questions?

As far as patients are concerned, they believe that too many doctors speak a foreign language, but are often afraid or too intimidated to ask for an understandable translation. They simply nod their heads like dumb jack-asses, or worse, talk through the explanations without listening, then go home to tell family or friends:

  • The doctor didn’t spend any time with me at all. And he didn’t tell me anything either. He’s an incompetent boob.

That is, assuming the doctor really takes the time to speak plainly, or unless the patient has taken it upon himself to become an overnight Internet expert about his own personal health; in which case, the only medical advice he weeds comes form Dr. Google.

So, there it is. Just another one of life’s many negative feed-back loops.


The father is Jim Beam

1960s: The Decade of Assassinations


If America finally died at Kent State, it had been slowly tortured and already beaten in the decade before it finally went down. The 1960s could easily be referred to the decade when the National sport of political assassinations replaced the National pastime of baseball.

Despite the fact of numerous investigations into the assassination of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King and Marilyn Monroe, there will always be doubt as to their elusory links and to who was the responsible party. Official investigative panels must think the American public is naively stupid to believe that in each murder, the gunman was a lone, crazed malcontent who acted out of single-minded hatred; or that Monroe’s association with the Kennedy men was innocent celebrity cameo.

In their careers, the Kennedy brothers had made enough enemies, burned enough bridges, or double-crossed enough powerful men to have been killed six times over. They were also trio of egalitarian, womanizing, arrogant and condescending hypocrites who suffered the deadly sin of Hubris.

Unfortunately for them they may have been innocent in a naïve way because they learned it at home from their crooked bootlegging father, Joe. Once in power two of these brothers were also determined to erase the history of their father’s close ties to organized crime and to create a future legacy of white washed lily pure family history.

I had a patient who was a CIA operative and who was one of the last agents to leave Havana when Castro came into power. He was also on the beach at the Bay of Pigs when John Kennedy failed to bring in the previously promised and desperately necessary ground fire and air support to aid the landing parties. In relating the fact of this betrayal, he told me how frustrating it had been to see the U.S. aircraft carriers and gun-ships sitting off on the horizon as the Cuba Libre troops were mowed down on the beach.

He also stated that there was a highly-placed mole in some U.S. governmental organization that had alerted Castro to the time and place of the assault.To make matters worse, JFK blamed the fiasco entirely on the agency itself and then tried to dismantle it after the fact. This man then subsequently hated John Kennedy with a passion.

Failing an invasion, there is documented evidence that the President’s office may have recruited the CIA to kill Castro in an eventually failed assassination attempt. They wanted him to smoke a poisoned cigar. my patient stated that the idea was patently stupid.

Kennedy was also hated by the mob boss of South Florida, Sam Traffacante, who wanted to get back his confiscated Havana casinos and nightclubs.

Lyndon Johnson had no love either. He was a politically ambitious conniving snake, whose world was caving in because of the Bobby Baker and Billy Sol Estes scandals; and feared being dropped from the 1964 Presidential ticket. His sole ambition in life was to become the U.S. President; so being a heart-beat away would make him a close second; as well as exempt from scrutiny of his own scandalous financial dealings; including the diversion of military contracts to Texas.

Then lurking far in the distant past was the fact that Bobby Kennedy in his early pre-Attorney General career had sidelined an attempt by Aristotle Onasis to gain U.S. seaport access for his oil tankers.

The Kennedy’s connections to organized crime are well outlined in the book “Double Cross” written by the mafia boss Sam Giancana’s nephew. Old father Joe had been a great asset to the criminal world during prohibition because he supplied their stills with vitally needed sugar. He was also able to freely import Scotch under the diplomatic immunity conferred on him by being Ambassador to England for which services he was owed a favor.

Apparently, the favor was called in and delivered when the Presidential election was handed to the Kennedys on a mob promise to father Joe; having been effected by the ever so ethical mayor of Chicago, John Daly, stuffing the ballot boxes in Cook County, Illinois. This was why it was so poetically and justly pathetic to see John Daly Junior adamantly plea the case of election fraud in Florida when George Bush II was elected over Albert Gore.

Payback can often take a long time, but it is always still a real bitch.

Part of the original deal between the mob and the Kennedy boys was that Frank Sinatra would be the mob’s ambassador as well as its liaison to the White House and that certain special favors would periodically be required of the Kennedy Administration for the big assist at the voting booths. Keep in mind that Nixon had won the popular vote in Illinois and that Cook County only reported the next day when the number of necessary electoral votes to win became known.

However, once in power the Kennedys decided to expunge their father’s past. They not only reneged on the deal but then decided to turn around and break the spine of organized crime in America; thus, hoping to bury their sordid past connections forever. They believed their power placed them above the law of the common man and that the sins of their father should no longer be visited upon them.

Among other things, Bobby Kennedy had the mob boss of New Orleans, Carlos Marcello plucked off the street and unofficially ‘deported’ by dropping him into a jungle in South America. After he miraculously made it safely back o civilization, Marcello angrily castigated Bobby for his cowardice and corruptly brazen use of his office to avoid the customary legal channels of deportation.He was also royally pissed off that his family had no clue as to what had happened to him because if he had at least been plopped down in Sicily instead of in Honduras, this would have been an acceptable and more honorable chess move.

The Kennedys then quietly began to snub Sinatra by making it clear directly that his presence was no longer required at the White House. Bobby then went one step further in bringing mob bosses in front of Congress when he launched his campaign to finally eliminate organized crime in America.

He jeeringly and repeatedly derided Sam Giancana in a nationally televised public display where he stated that Mr. Giancana (Gin-cahna, in Boston brogue) was “giggling like a little girl.”

  • Are you giggling Mr. Gin-cahna. Are you giggling? Is that you giggling? I thought only little girls giggled, Mr. Gin-cahna.

Even as the U.S. Attorney General, discretion would have suggested this to be an insane allegorical accusation.

Add to all this the fact that J. Edgar Hoover, who liked to play the horses, especially the trotters, would regularly meet Sam Giancana on a park bench in Washington D.C. to get his periodic list of sure winners. Some historians believe that not only did John Kennedy want to emasculate the CIA, but he also felt J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure and power was too much for one individual to hold. Hoover also despised having to cow tow to Robert Kennedy as Attorney general.

Richard Nixon felt the same way about Hoover when he became President but recanted his call for Hoover to step aside after Hoover showed Nixon his own FBI file.

Finally, does it not seem strange that Marilyn Monroe, who had three-way sex with Giancana and Sinatra at Lake Tahoe, at some other ill-defined point in the process, then became a paramour to both Kennedy brothers? After Sinatra’s snub the mob simply sent in their moll to get whatever information they felt they needed. Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Sam Giancana’s nephew sates that the mob planned J.F.K.’s assassination. Giancana wanted to eliminate Bobby instead, but Marcello said that:

  • When the dog bites you, you don’t cut off the tail. You cut off the head because the head has the teeth. Otherwise the dog can come back and bite you again.

He also had a sign outside his office that stated: “Two people can keep a secret only if one is dead.”

Who knows if the CIA or the FBI or the Free Cubans or any rouge element of the same were also involved. Strong evidence supports the premises that one or all were co-conspirators because the stakes were too high and the cover up was too slick. Then once J.F.K. was gone and Bobby resurfaced to run for President, there was little choice but to finish off the job because if not, then the players would have to face a brand-new snarling, dangerously angry, more viciously powerful, and vengeful dog to boot.

That is, unless you happen to believe that Aristotle Onassis, as he admitted to his mistress Maria Callas, paid radical elements of the Arab terrorist world to kill his old nemesis, Bobby, after which he then took the ultimate trophy bride, Bobby’s now sufficiently post bereavement sister in law, Jackie, whom Bobby was already tired of screwing anyway.

Martin Luther King was in a different bind. He was on the wrong side of the FBI, an organization who believed that he was a communist and felt that a grass roots street revolution could not be tolerated. The Watts riot of 1965 would have paled in comparison with what they feared might happen if King could continue his crusade. Blackmailing King by releasing tapes of him banging his girlfriend in a motel room would not have been enough to derail his accelerating popularity.

Marilyn Monroe also had to go because she either knew too much or her role as a spy became too compromising. Who killed her is anyone’s guess. She had played with everyone’s matches before she finally got burned; or rather had her passionate flames  doused by a barbiturate enema.

But for the Kennedys, no matter how you slice it, when your list of enemies includes the FBI, the CIA, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon, LBJ,  Free Cuban expatriates, and three of the most powerful mob bosses in America it would be very difficult to find a friend, much less even a loyal body guard.

Then, there is the final irony.

After Castro took over Cuba, Santo Trafficante went there in an effort to resurrect one of his gambling casinos. Castro put him in jail. Carlos Marcello sent Jack Ruby to Havana to negotiate Santos release from prison. Castro agreed after the three men then set up a Caribbean heroin drug traffic operation. No. There was no conspiracy to kill Kennedy. It just happens to be a small world.

What I do not really understand however is why there is so much doubt that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was a conspiracy and that the dots were purposefully never connected. Just watch the Zapruder film.

Kennedy takes the first bullet, that going into his back then exits through his trachea and hits John Connelly. Both men react. Kennedy falls slightly forward and to his left while bringing both hands forward with his fists clenched and then up toward his throat. Connelly at the same time turns hard to his right as the bullet goes into his back.

Jacqueline quizzically looks toward JFK and begins to move to assist him, at which time the President’s head is forcefully blown back or sideways by a second shot that coming from the front or the side, rips through his head and blows his brains out the back of his skull. Entry wounds cause a little hole. Not splatter.

This is the point where Mrs. Kennedy panics and tries to crawl out the back of the car.

One can look at mountains of evidence, re-creations, and tedious explanations from both sides of the theory and form opinions either way, but the film is real and the film tells it all. Then there is the testimony of mob hitman James Filer who admitted that he shot Kennedy from the fence behind the grassy knoll.

By adding insult to injury, a mob stooge, Jack Ruby, known to be a soldier employed by Carlos Marcello, then kills Lee Harvey Oswald, a man undoubtedly involved and naively recruited to have been history’s greatest patsy. We are then supposed to swallow the propaganda line that Ruby was so upset about losing his ‘beloved president’ that he simply could not help himself. How perfectly maudlin.

The History Channel airs an astute series on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the final capitulation one commentator states that if it true the murder was covered up at the highest levels of government, then it is also true we do not live in a democracy, but rather the case that we live in a hierarchy.

One does not even have to link this concept to a political assassination. If we actually lived in a democracy, then even an unemployed blue-collar Pittsburgh steelworker or a Detroit autoworker would have an equal chance to be elected President.

Or even worse, perhaps this country was spared the frightening possibility of reverting to governance by monarchy. Think about twenty-four sequential years of a Jack-Bobby-Teddy Presidency, and because the family breeds like Irish Jack rabbits, following this with endless generations of Kennedy political animals running amok in Washington.

This may have been foremost in the mind of one of LBJ’s daughters, who in being far less than jubilant after his Vice-Presidential nomination in 1959, was told by her father that they had not come to the nominating convention to pout. She quipped back that they had not come to the convention to be the Vice President either.

Funny thing then about the death taking place in Dallas, no?






If you really want to hit a moving target, you must triangulate it. Two shots successfully hit from two different directions. The third one hit the pavement.

Final score: Guns two. Brains nothing



Or if you don’t like triangles, perhaps a perfect Pentagon fits the bill.

  • CIA
  • FBI
  • Mafia
  • Cuba Libre
  • Ambitious Vice President. The man who would be king.
Zapruder clips