Prospect Park Carousel and Lorin Duckman

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So, several years ago when I was still a person and not an object of scorn and derision. I lived in a wonderful neighborhood in Brooklyn, Prospect Lefferts Gardens in our dream house. We lost it and more when I was removed.

The brownstone sat on Maple Street near Prospect Park, Olmsted’s gem. The park offered a zoo, with animals who needed more modern environs, a carosel, which didn’t work, and the Vale of Cashmere, an area featured in a Barbara Streisand movie. Sharon ran with the Prospect Park Track Club. I rode my bike. We were volunteers.

The neighborhood was rough then. A group of Alleged Revolutionaries held drills on rooftops. We had a car service to and from the subway. No place to buy much of anything except for a cold beer. It was the scene of the Crown Heights Riots. And one of the best ethnic mixes you could ever imagine.

In the Park, Tucker Thomas and Dicki Graff were our friends. Tucker got people to care about the place.┬áDicki wrote a book on the park. She’s dead.

Dicki, Sharon and I, and a few other people from the Central Park Conservancy, fixed up the Vale of Cashmere. Sharon and I were married there on July 10, 1983 or 1984, I cannot remember, by Justice Archie Garfinkel, a wonderful man and lover of justice. He’s dead, too.

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As members of the Prospect Park Alliance, we worked on work crews, cleaning debris and rehabbing failed buildings, tunnels and water routes. We organized for “You gotta have Park” when people didn’t give a damn. And, we raised money to restore two horses on the carousel.

I was on trial in the SDNY in the case of USA v Anthony Gaggi, et, al. It was a case that involved some organized crime figures and some wonderful lawyers. It lasted 18 months and most of the charges were sustained. Rudy was the US Atty at the time. I represented a lesser man whose conviction was ultimately reversed.

During the trial, I solicited money from the lawyers and defendants and families and whomever I could find around court to restore horses on the carousel. People thought I was nuts, raising money for wooden horses in a drug riddled part of the park. But I told them it would build community and bring safety to a desolate part of one of the brightest jewels in the world. Raising enough, I got the honor of naming two horses. I named one. Sharon named the other.

Sharon named hers, “Woodstock Nation.” It was an homage to all of us who grew up in the age of acquarius. She went to Woodstock.

Me. I named mine the 6th Amendment. Now, I don’t have the park, my house, any friends and I don’t practice law. But I hope some kids or people enjoyed riding on our horses. It could be the last good thing I ever did.

 

Tom Hayden Wrote the Port Huron Statement, Dead

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Tom Hayden died. He stood up against injustice. A hero for our time. I am 69. He stood trial as a patriot. So did I.

Judge Hoffman who presided over the trial, unfairly, made me want to be a judge. In fact it was the only thing I ever wanted to be badly enough. He died as a disgraced judge. So will I.

We were both accused and found to be biased and unfair. Mine, they said, led to the deaths of two people, one of whom I set bail on who killed the complaining witness in an auto dealership owned by Rudy Giuliani’s best friend. Julius, a law partner of Mayor Daley, presided over the most unfair trial in history, one held right after the 1968 Democratic Convention, sentenced the defendants, including Hayden to the maximum term, bound and gagged a defendant, and held the two defense lawyers, Kunstler and Weinglass, in contempt. His work was overturned on appeal. Mine ended in Albany in July 8, 1998.

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Lebowski suggested that a reason it took so long for him to finish college is his participation in the drafting of the Port Huron Statement. Not sure the allegation is true. He deserves a Pinocchio.

Donald Trump Takes The Finger

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So Trumpsky gives this subliminal message that everything is OK while he trashes President Obama, Secretary Clinton, women, Mexicans, disabled, injured service people, Judges, political leaders and everyone other than Melania, his kids and his possessions.

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So, here is my subliminal message to him and anyone dumb enough to either believe he will do anything but help himself or don’t like Hillary.

Sheriff Joe Must Lose, Too

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Imagine what Trumpsky would do to the Criminal Justice system with friends like Sheriff Joe and Rudy Kazooti.

Defeat Joe and judges could do justice again, not being afraid of how he would ruin their judicial careers. No more tent city prisons with unsafe and unhealthy sanitary conditions. No more racial profiling. People free to drive the streets and live in Nevada.

Sheriff Joe has been charged in a Federal complaint with contempt of court for profiling latinos. Trumpsky’s Justice Department would dismiss the complaint and probably increase Joe’s budget.

Wolfgang Suschitzky, Dead at 104

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How prophetic of Wolfie! Great eye and great mind. Named his brand of photography “documentary.” Now it’s in the common lexicon.

I look at his work and say we have the same Jewish photographer gene. I share it with him, Arbus, Bernstein, Myerwitz, Model, Annie, Wegee, and all the great ones. All these photographers were witnesses and there cameras documented what they saw to enable them later on to see it.

As voyeurs interested in the human race, they saw the ordinary and the unusual. Sometimes to mock. Sometimes to inform. But mostly to do social good, introducing us to those whom we might not know and whom we might not hold in as high respect as they are worth. Their images made the subjects part of our family, maybe not close enough to invite for dinner, but close enough to not be afraid of our differences.

Just sad I didn’t become a photographer first, before becoming a lawyer and a judge. So, I have to conclude that there must be some other more dominant gene in my system.

Tacos in Boynton Beach

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We need more taco stands in Boynton Beach. I would open one, earning money to supplement my social security and meagre pension, but I don’t know how to make a taco.

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I am also trying to remember the last time I ate a taco. Unfortunately, there aren’t stands on every corner. Lyons Road, the main road next to my community, features a hot dog truck that sells a variety of sausages. I don’t believe that non-kosher franks are healthy. Are tacos?

Barbara Grau, Dead Too Soon

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Barbara Grau died a few weeks ago. I photographed her last year for the official Temple Anshei Shalom’s President’s Wall. She had just gotten over her latest chemo/poisoning. We talked as we shot. She said she was satisfied with what she had done with her life. More importantly, she thanked me for making her feel beautiful again.

Anita Perlmutter, Dead at Almost 99

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So, I was going to shoot older members of Temple Anshei Shalom, people who no longer could make it to pray, but were instrumental in the building of the congregation. No much of an interest from anyone.

I pursued Anita for a couple of months. She was ill. She didn’t feel well. She had a therapy appointment. Her hairdresser was away. Then I got my chance.

We talked. She liked my new camera, telling me her husband had a Leica. We shot for five minutes after she finished breakfast. She couldn’t decide if she wanted to sleep or do the crossword puzzle.

I asked her how it felt to be 99? “You can be too old,” she said.

Two weeks later, she died. Two days short of her 99th birthday.