Hero on the R Train

 I passed a distinguished older gentleman on the subway today, wearing three military decorations on his lapel. my daughter Ella and I took the open seats behind him, while I worked up the nerve to speak with him.

I’m at an age where I find my heroes quickly disappearing — those who braved the Second World War, those who took mankind to the moon, and those who braved the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. I knew if I did not speak to this man, it would gnaw at me for years.

“Excuse me sir, may I ask you about your medals?”

He nodded.

“Where are these medals from?”

“From a war,” he said. He did not speak English well.

“May I take your photograph?”

He made an open handed gesture, as if to say, “But of course.”

I thanked him, and when I got home, I tried to identify the medals on his chest. I believe them to be:

Krzyż Walecznych Krzyż Armii
Warszawski Krzyż
The Polish
Cross of Valor
The Polish
Home Army Cross
The Warsaw
Uprising Cross

Today, I met a hero of the Polish resistance.

Posted in Brooklyn, NYC, Personalities, Uncategorized

Absolute Joy in Carroll Gardens

“Working together with Paul to sell our co-op in Brooklyn was an absolute joy.  He alleviated much of the stress that is usually involved in such a daunting task and in such a saturated market.  From day one he made us feel very comfortable with his calm demeanor and willingness to collaborate on ideas.  And his meticulous attention to detail was proven with every step. If you want to make selling your home as painless as possible, look no further.”
–Craig and Kristina
Posted in Carroll Gardens, Testimonials, Uncategorized

The Santa Suit

santasuitI packed a gym bag with a few items I’d need—an old pair of wire-framed glasses, a pillow, a belt. Offered an office for a dressing room, I changed into the baggy red suit, careful to fold and stow my personal items, to leave no trace behind. I dropped my gym bag to the bottom of the Santa sack and covered it with the gift-wrapped packages I was given for the children.

Varsha knocked and cracked the door open, “You ready?” she asked.

I found my reflection in the glass of a framed diploma on the wall. Thumbs up.

The door swung open. I shook a band of sleigh bells wrapped around my fingers. “Ooh, ho, ho,” I belted out. “Oooh, ho, ho, ho…”

I tasted stale coffee on my teeth and smelled the dry-cleaned crispness of the strap-on facial hair. My breath labored through the mustache and beard, while the sounds of the hallway seemed muffled and far away. Through the tunnel vision of wig and stocking cap, I spied my chair at the head of the hall.

I felt like a spaceman—elated and vulnerable—an astronaut in his flight suit lugging a life-support satchel down a preflight hallway. Every fold of clothing had to operate properly—every zipper remain zipped, every patch of Velcro anchor neatly upon its mating patch. Any flaw in the suit—a tear at a seam, a lazy waistband, an exposed stomach pillow, would result in incalculable damage.

The children filed in, class by class, sitting on the floor in front of me.

I wasn’t ready.

I don’t think there was a way to prepare for the children—the adoration—the way they looked at me as something unknown and possibly wonderful.

I thought it would be different, that I would feel confident, more in control. I thought the Santa suit would carry an air of authority, to stand above others in judgment of their virtues—to weigh the behaviors of the naughty and the nice.

Now, I’m in charge. Now, I’m the fat man in the red suit. Now, I’m the boss… but there is none of that.

When the eyes fell upon me, I forgot about the naughty. All I saw was the hope and the wonder. I looked around the room to find it in everyone, the children, the teachers, the parents and grandparents standing in the back. It was the only thing worth looking for. It was the only thing worth finding.

God help the man who has never worn a Santa suit.


Posted in Uncategorized

Most Gorgeous Libraries in NYC

…full article

Posted in New York Public Library, NYC

New York Transit Museum – 40 Years

20161012_201728I love the new subway poster celebrating the 40th anniversary of the New York Transit Museum. It reminds me of the old illustrations and schematics during the closing credits of Speed Racer.

Posted in Uncategorized

New York Public Library’s Secret Apartments

…full article

Posted in New York Public Library, NYC

Banksy on Smith Street

Three years ago, I saw an original Banksy on Smith Street… That’s Brooklyn for you, a living, breathing work of art.

October 10, 2013

Posted in Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Uncategorized

Halloween in Prospect Park

Posted in Brooklyn, Prospect Park

Hamilton’s America

Man, oh man… am I looking forward to this:

Posted in Uncategorized

Prospect Park Carousel Free on Thursdays

Posted in Brooklyn, Park Slope, Prospect Park, Uncategorized