My Ears Are Bent

By John Schulian MSNBC, 2001 Not a holiday season arrives that I don’t think of a gray, clammy day long ago on Baltimore’s waterfront and a lost soul who told me about the woman who had given him his only gift in years: a Christmas card. It was just the sort of story...

Auld Lange Syne

By Luc Sante The New York Observer, 1993 If Christmas is designed to bring out the child in everyone, then New Year’s brings out the fool. Sobriety is temporarily fashionable nowadays, so fewer people than usual will wake up this January 1 partly clad, in a strange...

Bochco

By John Schulian The Stacks Reader, April 4, 2018 There were unknowns piled atop unknowns when I began planning to give up my newspaper sports column and light out for Hollywood. Foremost among them was whether Steven Bochco would answer the letter I sent him. He was...

Dad’s Last Visit

By Pat Jordan AARP, November/December, 2006 My father died in the spring of 2005, a year-and-a-half after my mother died, and a week after he visited my wife and me in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 95. She was 97. My niece was with my father when he died in a...

The Great Seduction

By Alex Belth The Classical, February 2014 They came to Ted Williams the way those eight ill-fated adventurers came to Everest, thinking they could scale it, conquer it, reduce it to something mortals could comprehend. John Updike almost made it to the top when he...

Louis

By Nat Hentoff From Jazz Is, 1976 Louis Armstrong, summoned by King Oliver, came up to Chicago in the summer of 1922, Buster Bailey reports that “Louis upset Chicago. All the musicians came to hear Louis. What made Louis upset Chicago so? His execution, for one thing,...

The Impression

By Pete Dexter Inside Sports, December 1980 When I heard Ali had agreed to fight Holmes, the first thought I had was that Ali would be killed. The punch was five years gone, his hand speed had been mediocre over his last half dozen fights, and he’d been getting hit by...

Lenny

By Seymour Krim Nugget, June 1963 We come, with mixed feelings, to the Case of Lenny Bruce. You probably have an opinion—who doesn’t?—but sit still long enough to hear ours. First, so that no matter how finky you finally think our stand is, let it be triple-clear that...

Good Old Sidney

By Alex Belth Bronx Banter, June 15, 2011 My father was an incorrigible name dropper. He called famous actors and directors by their first names, suggesting an intimacy that didn’t always exist. He had met a lot of celebrities when he worked as a unit production...