Shelly Isaacs, Cafe Cinématique

Not much good to say about where I live. Lots of ill-mannered New Yorker/New Jerseans who rush everywhere, drive madly and think they know it all. Arts and crafts. Cards. Golf. Restaurants, especially early bird specials. Lots of lines, people who talk about grandkids and coupons.

Not a lot of culture, even though we have several museums, nature walks and a plethora of movie theaters. People who watch MSNBC and CNN talk like they have a seat at the table, never mind the ones who watch Fox who control foreign policy. One day in the gym, three televisions had Fox news on, entertaining people on treadmills and stationary bikes.

But, we do have Shelly and his movies. He introduces movies you might not go to see and leads discussions at their conclusion. Always upbeat and tolerant of dumb comments, he increases awareness of cinematic art.

Now, remember, I am a photographic artist, a cult that people know little about, despite the democratization of cameras and photo making. I constantly strive to see better. Shelly’s incisive comments help me to watch movies more critically, though he’s more reviewer than critic. Going to his movies makes life a little more bearable down here.

Nonsensical Judges

Damn, I would have settled for nonsensical, instead of incompetent and unethical. I might have ended up not being reviled and hated, the subject of scorn and recrimination. I might still be living  in Brooklyn and be part of a community I loved. I could still be relevant. Ah, too bad.

May it never happen to another Judge, regardless of how right wing and conservative they are.

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. Dicki 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.

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?

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.

 

GUSSIE, almost 100

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So, I am walking out of a diner and I see this beautiful woman with her home care worker. I ask if I can take her picture. The home care worker says yes. She tells me the woman’s name is Gussie and she will be 100 in a week.

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I take a picture with the home care attendant.

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Then the daughter appears. I take another picture. The daughter asks me if I will come to the birthday party and take pictures. I say no, I don’t do events, but if you come to my studio, I will make portrait and give you a print at no charge.

I give the daughter my card. I tell her if she sends me an e-mail with an address, I will send her a print and a digital file for no money. Haven’t heard from her. And, don’t know her name.

Maybe it’s the time. She might think I am some kind of nut. Who after all would want to make portraits of old women?