Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Life Has Changed....

I used to read Wall St Journal, Barron's, Money, Fortune, read financial books...
Now they just accumulate.
I don't have to write 3 financial columns a week. So I don't have to keep up, I don't have to find story ideas.
I watch more movies. I read more interesting stuff (Elmer Rice's autobiography, Rudolf Bing's 5000 Nights at the Opera, Paul Johnson's Heroes).
My newest shtick is: great singers of the past. I've been teaching a course on the subject--even though I'm just a music lover. But that means I have to keep up--and keep ahead. Someone in my class was a professional musician, had played the bassoon with Voice of Firestone on the radio! So far, I haven't humiliated myself.
The students are older people. Some are desperate for attention, desperate to show how cultured they are.
"Have you ever heard of Rose Raisa?"
"You should be ashamed of yourself!"
From an old biddy.
Raisa mainly sang in Chicago, and has very few recordings available. Had never heard of her.
One woman, after I mentioned Alma Gluck, said that her daughter was the novelist Marcia Davenport.
I mentioned having read that the daughter once came upon her mother listening to herself on records when she was young--and weeping.
I also mentioned that I had once invited the daughter to write for my left-wing magazine, Fact--and she sent back a nasty note--about "grimaces facing left" or some other absurd statement.

But several people told me that they loved the course--loved hearing wonderful singers they had never heard before, like Richard Crooks. Made me happy.

Some generalizations:

Opera singers' careers should be divided in two. When they were young and when they were not-so-young.
They can also be divided into the nice and not so nice. Grace Moore was nice. Nellie Melba wasn't.
Good singers are born with pleasing voices. Why are their voices so pleasing? Dunno. Smooth, effortness. Silvery (lyric) or velvety (dramatic) or in between or both.
Types of voices aren't set in stone--or faches. Caruso could sing bass. Marian Anderson said she told everyone she was a contralto because contraltos were rare. (I've heard her sing Caro Nome from Rigoletto!)
Great singers have to do more than just hit the notes. Ernest Newman said of Nellie Melba that her voice was uninterestingly perfect and perfectly uninteresting,
There are, and have been, so many fine singers! At the library, I see discs recorded by singers I never heard of. And not infrequently I discover a new singer from the past. Today: Kathleen Ferrier. Sounds like Marian Anderson.
My favorite singers: Jussi Bjoerling and Elisabeth Rethberg. Along with Lawrence Tibbett and Lotte Schoene. And lots of others.
There are a great many A- singers, a great many A singers, and even some A+ singers.
Harold Schonberg's list of the 12 best (who sang at the Met for at least 9 years--up to 1983) is a fine list.
It's a shame that so many people are not enjoying the pleasure of listening to older singers like Richard Crooks and Paul Robeson. That's why I've begun teaching courses on older singers.

Memorial High Mini-Reunion

Memorial High Mini-Reunion
May 29, 2008

Four graduates of Memorial High in WNY, NJ, got together for lunch today, in Teaneck, and we reminisced—about students, teachers, and Memorial—but the main subject of conversation was probably…

Alice P. Luckings

Latin teacher extraordinaire

Elegant, classy, kind, considerate.

Alice (’50) actually wrote a panagyric about Miss L., published in a local newspaper, and we learned that someone had actually sent it to Miss L—the kind of letter every teacher dreams of receiving.

Gert (’32) remembered Miss L. when she had dark hair! Others (Helene ’46) remembered her with grey hair. She was one of those teachers who seemed to like everyone—even me (Warren ’52), at my most obnoxious.
I was told, a while back, that she died not long ago, at age 99.

Other teachers mentioned: Miss O’Connor, Miss Griscom, Max Cohen, Roz Socol (in an old-age home), Miss Hubert, Miss Godfrey, Miss Halfpenny, Geo Delamater, Miss Bader, Mr. Roop, Mr. Krause, Mr. Sotong. Also mention of Ruth Horowitz, the extraordinary woman who taught at PS 6. Principals Borneman, Richmond (Richman?).

Why was Memorial such a good school? One guess: Teachers were hired during the Depression, when even bright, well-educated people had a hard time finding jobs. Or, as Will Rogers said, a lot of people who don’t say ain’t ain’t eating.

We’ve decided to have more meetings of Memorial grads—and bring our yearbooks next time!

We need a name. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I've given up on ESL.
My first student disappeared. My second student disappeared (with my Spanish dictionary). After maybe two visits each.
My last student, whom I liked, who was intelligent and nice, and whom I tutored maybe seven or eight times, stood me up twice. The second time, I threw in the towel.
I have to get up early. Drive in rush hour. Around 20 minutes. Make sure I'm on time. Prepare a lesson.
I even bought an expensive Learn Spanish book for her.

I know, poor people are in a chronic state of emergency.
But...I'm busy as it is. I don't get paid for this. I'm helping only one person. And she should have called. And...
the library, which sponsors ESL, should have made it clear to the students: They must not stand up volunteers.

Anyway, my old friend Roy had loved teaching foreigners English. But he was luckier than I was.

Someday I may rejoin ESL. At a closer place.
And I'll let any students know: DON'T STAND ME UP OR ELSE.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

5000 Nights at the Opera

What a fun book! Sir Rudolf Bing's memoirs. (General manager of the Met during the 1970s.)
Bing was autocratic, clever, catty (actually, venomous), witty (and damned proud of it), out to settle scores. Angry if someone didn't answer his letter! A bit nuts. Occasionally shocking. But he certainly helped the Met by making it more financially efficient, bringing in star singers. Best of all, he brought in the first black singers, starting with Marian Anderson in Ballo in Maschera.

He has been criticized for being pro-foreign singers and anti-American singers. Apparently he confessed--that, he said, was his biggest mistake, favoring Italian singers because, he thought, Americans preferred them. Beverly Sills called him an ass--I assume because he never invited her to sing a major role at the Met. Well, Beverly was a wonderful person but her singing voice was not first-rate. As Puccini complained about Ferrar, Beverly strained. And her voice was not naturally attractive or distinctive. I've been listening (by coincidence) to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and her voice can be THRILLING. (What Bing wrote about Schwarzkopf was shocking.)

I'll post some delicious excerpts from the book shortly.

Good News!

Remember my complaining about Bank of America because it cashed a$500 check I had made out to that crook Trevor Gutman--after I put in a stop order?

Well, the bank has credited me with $500! And for the $30 I paid to stop the check!

More to come.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Why I Changed Physicians

I had been seeing Jeff Chung at Medical Multispecialty Association in Fair Lawn. Good, caring, young doctor.
Then I got a phone call. Dr. Chung had left the practice. Which of the other doctors did I want to see? I chose Jeffrey R. Lefkowitz--after being given 2 or 3 names. I don't know him from Adam.

I wasn't told why Dr. Chung had left the practice, or where he had gone. I was just ordered to make a choice.

It occurred to me: The last time I had visited Dr. Chung he had told me to have a scan made of my left calf--I had pain there, after playing tennis, and it might be a blood clot. Have it as soon as possible, he said.
So I went to the desk, and the nurse said: You have to have the scan made here. The earliest date: A month and a half from now. So I set a date. She was clearly annoyed at me for trying to come up with an earlier date.

Actually, I made a mistake: I thought the appointment was in 2 weeks, not much later. So much for having the scan done quickly! No recommendation that I go elsewhere, even though Dr. C. wanted it done quickly. But the pain went away, indicating that it was, as Dr. C. suspected, just a muscle problem, and I canceled the appointment.

I also remembered that Dr. C. changed a medication for me--lowering the dosage. But his staff ordered the same medication--and CVS wouldn't switch it, saying it was the doctor's office's mistake. So I had to pay for the wrong medication. (Only $5.) Staff also ordered the prescription from the wrong CVS, causing me to make two trips.

So...a doctor I met recently recommended his own physician, who lives near me. Affiliated with Hackensack H., although I would have preferred Valley. But I made an appointment with him and shall cancel the appolintment with Dr. Lefkowitz.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ollie North Mythology

Someone sent me the usual garbage--about how Oliver North, years ago, warned Congress about Osama bin Laden--and how Sen. Gore was stupidly skeptical.

My smart friend Lenore--an authority on hoaxes--noted that the message was more suitable for Ollie Hardy than Ollie North, referring me to websites dealing with this particular hoax.

Hoaxes and Urban Legends: The Oliver North / Osama bin Ladin / Al Gore hoax Oliver North Warns About Bin Laden Rumor Mohammed Atta Released

She also noted that

1. Al Gore wasn't even ON that committee!
2. The terrorist North said he feared was Abu Nidel.
3. The bus bomber and the hijacker are two different men with the same name, Mohammed Atta. The U.S. jailed the first guy for three years, then extradited him to Israel for prosecution, and they convicted him. He was still in prison when the other guy was living here and learning to fly a plane.


So, here is what I wrote:

Snopes says this is 100% True!!!

Ollie North was testifying before Congress in 1971—

He warned the legislators of a terrible man named Osama bin Laden, saying that Congress should be mindful of the threat of highjacked airplanes—especially in the fall—and he passionately urged them to buy a stock called Microsoft--

“That’s nonsense!” said one powerful legislator. “How could you know all that?” He laughed and laughed at such silliness.

Do you know who that legislator was?


P.S. FDR also claimed that he invented the Internet.

Snopes verifies the absolute accuracy of this account.


Comments I received: FDR was dead before North testified!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

McCain's Middle Name

I just got via e-mail one of those vile Karlrovian attacks on Barack Obama--mentioning his middle name, Hussein. A sure tip-off that this would be a disgustingly unfair e-mail.

Well, two can play at this game.

McCain's middle name?

John Shit-for-Brains McCain.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Someone sent me a copy of the article about me in Wikipedia--and I discovered that someone had added some unflattering comments about me. The article said that I was working on a book, but resigned "unprofessionally." Actually, the editor I was working with was an incompetent--and he was driving me crazy with the changes he kept wanting. I guess he was trying to impress his superiors by all the "work" he had to do on my manuscript. It was he who made the changes to my bio, obviously. I could retaliate but won't. Someone incompetent has enough problems in life.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Visit to an A&T Phone Outlet

None of the salespeople seemed to want to notice me. And this was a big store in the Garden State Plaza in NJ.
One glanced at me, said he'd be right back, then disappeared.
I went over to a booth with other salespeople.

Was I being ignored because I was shlockily dressed? Old? Overweight? Or is this the way they treat all customers--except the young and good-looking?

I was returning an AT&T phone I had gotten in the mail. Maybe it wasn't defective, but the instructions left me baffled. Because engineers wrote them? Because someone in India wrote them? I swear, I didn't know how to turn the phone on and off until I called customer service!

I had asked for a simple phone--one that didn't take photos and didn't boil eggs in the morning. "This is the simplest we have," said the AT&T person, Chris, on the phone. And sent me this phone that takes pictures, text-messages and translates Sanscrit into pidgeon English.

Back to GSP AT&T: The salespeople were agreeable to replacing my phone. I asked for a simple one.

"We have only one phone here," said one salesman. Didn't take photos. No flip-top? I asked. No.

I had trouble with the phone, a Nokia, immediately. It locked. You can to press a button in the center, then press * to unlock it.

Jesus! Is that tough! I finally figured out that you have to press the * ever so lightly for it to work. And then it takes me four or tive or six tries.

At 430am I woke up from my sleep and remembered that the salesman had said, "We have only one phone here."

There were hundreds of phones being sold! They were all over the place!
Was this a problem phone they had palmed off on me?
I wouldn't be surprised.

Some salesmen seem to play a game: Stick it to the customer.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Goldwater Lawsuit

A teacher is writing a book about the suit that Barry Goldwater brought against Fact magazine, Ralph Ginzsburg (publisher), and me (former managing editor). Ginzburg had gone to jail for publishing EROS.

Questions for Warren Boroson

1. Describe the year between the end of EROS and the first publication of Vol. 1 No. 1 of Fact. What was the purpose for the new publication? Why did you decide to stay on the staff?

I stayed on—out of sympathy and support for Mr. G. No employees, as I recall, left.

Fact’s premise was that the American media didn’t publish stories that might offend advertisers or other powerful institutions. “The voice of the press is no longer the voice of the people.” We’d publish important, timely articles that might offend certain institutions. Such as an article I wrote about the Reader’s Digest showing that it had in the past been anti-Semitic and anti-black and almost fascistic in its views. And that it wasn’t a “digest” but a disgustingly partisan publication. Unfair and unbalanced.
We also published Arnold Toynbee, Mary Hemingway, Ben Spock, Irwin Shaw, and other well-known people.

2. What do you think was the purpose for the Goldwater issue? What was the response on its publication? Do you know how many issues sold, and if it increased circulation of the magazine once it was published.

I had mentioned to Mr. G. that I had seen references in leading magazines (Newsweek & Time) to Goldwater’s nervous breakdowns. We should do an article on what a nervous breakdown is and whether it might impair someone’s ability to serve as President. We should interview a few psychiatrists, I suggested. “Why not poll every psychiatrist in the country?” he answered. And so he did!
I don’t know the response. The American Medical Association was mad, though!

3. What was your opinion of Goldwater before you wrote the article?

I thought he was out of his mind. Perfectly willing to risk nuclear war with the Soviet Union. In one of his books, he advocates going to the brink of war with the Soviets time after time—because the Soviets are not so devoted to the ideals we hold dear and they will always back down. I thought he was suicidal.

4. How soon after publication did you and Ralph hear from Goldwater’s people/lawyers?

At least a year.

5. Did you think the issue and articles in it were libelous on publication?

Our lawyers approved it. Goldwater’s lawyer argued that we published conflicting views, so we couldn’t have believed them all. A silly argument.
Anyway, we thought that as a public official he could not sue and win.

But Mr. G merged several psychiatrists’ responses together—edited them heavily—he came from the marketing field, not from the journalistic field. He wasn’t a scholar. Rosemary and I were unhappy—Rosemary Latimore, our researcher.

6. Describe the situation in the courtroom. What do you remember about the trial.

• At one point I looked at the jury while I was testifying. A juror was asleep. Another juror looked at him and winked at me.
• At another point…someone told the truth! It was like a bolt of lightning! Someone told the truth! In general, Goldwater lied, we lied.
• I was told by our lead lawyer, Harris Steinberg, that G. and I had to support each other—or we’d go down the drain together. So it was never revealed that I quit the magazine in anger when the article I wrote—which was more sophisticated than what appeared-- wasn’t published. My article was mainly about the findings of the Adorno book, The Authoritarian Personality.
* I didn’t know it at the time, but Goldwater’s lawyer was the fellow who had skewered J. Robert Oppenheimer…..A clever and arrogant and nasty Republican. (See the bookl American Prometheus, about Oppenheimer.)
* Rosemary told me that when Mr. G. testified, he and Goldwater’s lawyer went at each other tooth and claw. And Rosemary, who was a totally admirable person, told me that Mr. G. had acquitted himself with honor. (She died a few years ago.)
* Circumcision. In the main article, the contention was made that Goldwater was doubtful about his masculinity. A cartoon showed him looking at his privates questionably. Harris Steinberg said in court that this simply meant there was doubt about whether he was circumcised or not. A clever interpretation! Surprised even me!
* Steinberg told me that he asked Goldwater, have you ever heard the saying, in your heart you know he’s right? Goldwater smiled and said yes. Then Steinberg said, he learned close to Goldwater and asked, have you also heard, in your head you know he’s nuts? Goldwater, shaken, said no. Steinberg said he had been hoping that Goldwater would slug him!
* At the deposition, I said that Time, US News, and Newsweek had published items mentioning that Goldwater had had 2-3 nervous breakdowns. Goldwater’s lawyer said to me something like: You know that you’re lying, don’t you? I just repeated what I had said.
The next day, during another deposition, Rosemary brought in copies of those magazines—with the quotes! (God bless Rosemary!) Steinberg interrupted the deposition to read them into the record. A Goldwater ally said to Goldwater’s lawyer, soothingly, We didn’t know about that. … Steinberg told me later that Goldwater’s lawyer was clearly depressed to hear those quotes—it took the fight out of him.
* On the witness stand. Goldwater’s lawyer ended his examination by asking me about James Forrestal, who committed suicide while Sec of the Navy, I believe—driven mad by negative press, the lawyer said. That was his last comment to me—and he scored points. But clearly Forrestal was on the brink before any negative press.

*I mentioned in court having spoken to Erik Erikson about Goldwater. The judge said to me, while I was on the witness stand, Do you remember his middle name? I took this to mean: “I think you’re making up that name.” I was startled, and replied very loudly: “HOMBERGER!” Erik Erikson was a noted psychoanalyst, author of Young Man Luther.
7. You mentioned you quit FACT after the article as published. Did you work with Ginzburg after that in any way?
Yes, I wrote articles, freelance, for Avant Garde magazine, which he founded after Fact folded.

9. You mentioned in a previous email that Ginzburg had someone else rework your article in the issue, but this person was not charged in the libel suit. What kind of impact did that have on you?

Mr. G. was friends with David Bar-Illan, the Israeli pianist, who told him that Goldwater was schizophrenic. (Rather meaningless.) Bar-Illan rewrote my article—and I quit. And demanded that my name be taken off the main article. (But it remained on top of an introduction to the survey. Which led to my being included in the suit.)
Bar-Illan later became a fervent right-winger in the Israeli government.

10. This was one of the first times a public official won a libel suit after the New York Times v. Sullivan ruling. Was that discussed during the trial?

I didn’t attend much of the trial—I was working in St. Louis, as the editor of a social-sciences magazine published by Washington University, called Trans-action.
But I doubt that legal issues came up much.

I was very worried during the trial—thinking I might have to work for Barry Goldwater for the rest of my life, in case the jury awarded him millions.

Ralph told me that he and Goldwater’s son encountered each other during the trial—and the son shook his fist at Ralph.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Financial Loss

I obtain speakers for a financial group in Morris County--

Our scheduled speaker for April (Don Phillips) bowed out--at the last minute, I got a substitute (Delos Smith)--who doesn't drive a car, so I agreed to recompense him for his hotel stay, his railroad trip, his taxi--$287

I asked the 30 or so members of the club to pay me $20 each--figuring I'd get 15, for $300--

Alas, I have less than 15--after two requests--so I have to swallow a loss--

I'm not surprised that one member of the group didn't pay--he's an arrogant, nasty little twerp--but I'm surprised at the others--

REVISED ON MAY 20: Wow, 15 people paid, including the fellow who I didn't think would pay! I've made a profit! 15 X 20 = $300, plus #5 (which someone contributed)... I must be too cynical a person.


Bought a new (used) car--instead of a new Prius ($24,000), paid much less for a 2003 Chevy Impala--but saved a lot of money--
very comfortable car--for older people--got it registered today at a Motor Vehicle Bureau--very efficient, courteous people there in Lodi--even forgave me for giving them the wrong number on my license! 376Z instead of 736Z--