Columns 2006

Strange Alaska highway lights

There is a scene in one episode of the show “Everybody Loves Raymond” where his brother’s new girlfriend is finding out for the first time just how crazy the family can be.  Ray’s wife comments that she sometimes forgets how weird the family is until a new person comes into their lives and looks at them with horror. She adds, “And now I’m one of them.”

Sometimes I feel that way about being an Alaskan.  I don’t realize how strange some things are here until I hear them described by someone from outside who has arrived in our state recently

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Columns 2005

A new Driver

When I got my learner’s permit, my parents made it clear that they did not believe in paying for driving lessons.  I went to a small Catholic high school that didn’t offer driver’s ed in the curriculum.  And if it wasn’t available for free from the school, then they would just have to be the ones to teach me.

So the first few weeks I had my permit, my dad was my designated driving instructor.  About once a week, after much begging, crying and sulking on my part, which would cause my mother to start getting a migraine, he’d agree

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Columns 2005

Dresing up for the Nutcracker

Along with many other Alaskans, I kicked off the holiday season with turkey and ballet.  But this year, the Nutcracker was even more special than usual because three wonderful young ladies accompanied my friends and me to the ballet.  They were beautiful by any standards you’d like to apply and added to that, they were suffused with the beauty of youth.

When Kate and I first made plans to go to the Nutcracker, we decided on a matinee figuring we’d get away with dressing casual, dining casual and being home soon after dark. Our goal was to be in our

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Columns 2005

Thanksgiving means clams casino

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of this column that I am anything but a holiday person.  I tend to hide from Thanksgiving till New Year’s in the hope that I can escape the worse of the holiday cheer without spoiling it for everyone else.  But I do like Thanksgiving.  It’s the perfect holiday – food without the pressure of gifts.

In my family it always started with clams casino made by my dad with his own special recipe. I won’t give his secret away but I will tell you he didn’t waste any space with breadcrumbs. 

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Columns 2005

Rocky, Rambo, for the love of god, retire!

It’s been quite a roller coaster ride for Italians these past few weeks.  On the plus side, one of our boys, Samuel Alito, got nominated for the Supreme Court.  Italian American mothers all over the country, but especially in the New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania triangle, beamed with pride as they made their Sunday sauce this week.  I know for a fact that some dirt at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Glenside shifted.  I don’t think even my deceased family members could stay still with this news.

Italian immigrants who dreamed of a better world for their children and grandchildren once again had

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Shakespeare alive and well in Alaska

I don’t know why I am still amazed at the vitality of the arts in Anchorage. After all, I was in Barrow when an entire production of the Nutcracker Suite was brought up for Christmas one year.  How can I be surprised that in a state where we can accomplish that, we can sustain a vigorous creative community in our biggest city?

This thought occurs to me as I sit here and review a wonderful night of live theater that I just experienced at Cyrano’s.  It was two plays of Shakespeare – Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew –

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Goodbye, Valerie

I was in nursing school in the late 1960’s in Brooklyn. Part of our training rotation involved going to a huge mental institution called Manhattan State. It was my first up close and personal view of mental illness.

There were three tall buildings on an island in the river reached by bus. Staff members were instantly recognizable by the keys jangling at their waist. Those keys opened not only doors to units full of the mentally ill but they also opened the elevator doors on the top floors where the most uncontrollable patients were housed. This was a safety issue.

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Christmas comes way too early

I hate to have to get mean again but you leave me no choice.  So ad people of the world, take heed, STOP IT!  STOP IT!  STOP IT!  Please, just stop it.

For those of you fortunate enough to not have caught the commercial that caused me to go off the deep end, let me briefly describe it to you and then you decide if it isn’t enough to send most sane people screaming from the room.

A cheery person in winter garb is peering in a store window. Around him snowflakes gently fall and under his arm is a

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Families can shout

My brother’s first girlfriend once told me that it was in my family’s home that she learned that people who love each other can yell and fight and when the yelling and fighting is over, still love each other. She came from a quiet home – something as an Italian I didn’t understand. Apparently in her home you never raised your voice because if you did, the implication was that you would cause an irreparable breech.  In my home, if you didn’t raise you voice it meant you had laryngitis from the last family conversation.

This comes to mind because

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E-mail creates instant office

When I moved down to Anchorage from Barrow, I was determined to succeed in my own business.  I figured I might get bored at times working out of my home office but those few moments of boredom would be more than compensated for by my increased productivity. Not only would I be working for myself – a tremendous incentive to make every moment count in and of itself – but without the distractions afforded by an office community I would have that many more productive hours to give to my business.

What I didn’t figure on was the ability of

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