More than 50 years ago in Totowa, NJ

I’ve always tried to be a good boy. Too quiet, though.

Joining sides with the neighborhood bully, my first best friend threw rocks at me just days before his family moved to Parsippany NJ.

He hit me in the head.

That’s the way little kids say goodbye, and this is the last photo of us together. My sister, in the middle, has never let me down.

A Good Boy

I was taught to be

as quiet as possible.

And so I am.

With one exception:

I scream when I write.

Photos taken in Central Park on March 6, 2021; captions in haiku.

Arthur Samuels would have been 94 last week; to me, he is forever ageless

Arthur Samuels (1926–2020) — Obituary photo

Arthur died peacefully in the arms of Harriet, his loving wife of 55 years, just three months ago.

In my memories of him, I’ve discovered lessons that are more relevant in my life today than when he first tried to teach me how to play the violin.

I met Art (I called him “Art” — which is very meta — although I now realize he was “Arthur” to his family) on a hot August day in 2007 in Tenafly, NJ.

I had replied to an ad placed by a luthier in the Twin-Boro News. A man with an older, slightly…

Views of Manhattan in October 2020

All photos by me.

My poetry may be bad,

but I blame the news.*

Just blowing off some steam…

I love New York, and I have the photos to prove it.

E. B. White’s ‘New York’ is now everywhere

At the close of this summer of discontent, I side with Jerry Seinfeld and Patti Smith, and against James Altucher, on the subject of New York City.

Not that it matters. All four of us are privileged, so New York isn’t really ours.

Also, as E. B. White eloquently noted in the 1949 foreword to his love-letter/essay, “Here Is New York,” the city can’t be written about or “brought down to date” by anything other than opinions and observations offered at the speed of light.

But what if…

What if, in 2020, we have the speed-of-light technology to see into…

Here’s to New York, vanishing yet forever young

That’s my shadow, holding up a cell phone to capture this image at 5:19 p.m. on Sunday, July 19, 2020, on Second Avenue, between 51st and 52nd streets.

It was the first time my wife and I were back together in New York City since the outbreak of the pandemic. We walked around our old haunts on the East Side, without any direction.

Nancy turned to me at one point and said, “It’s odd. I’ve never seen New York look like this.”

“How so?”

“The city looks vulnerable,” she said. “I never thought that would be possible.”

As we approached…

Do you have a suggestion for a book to read before Labor Day?

Looking for my next read

I’ve only read seven books since the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. Eight, if you count watching the movie version of “The Great Gatsby,” a book I usually re-read every Memorial Day weekend.

In the age of COVID-19, reading seems to take extra concentration; meanwhile, my mind frets and wanders.

Watching 1974’s version of “The Great Gatsby” rekindled the memory of driving my daughter to college in DC. …

As I rooted through old boxes to clean out my garage, Neil Young’s song “Vacancy” began to play on Sirius XM.

I lifted my head.

I didn’t recognize the song… surely, it was new. Yet something about it seemed different than recent Neil Young songs.

His voice was immediate and clear, and the opening riff and beat seemed straight from the mid-1970s, reminding me of his first famous band, Buffalo Springfield.

“That’s extraordinary,” I thought, given that Neil is now 74 years old… but not entirely surprising, considering his continued passion. Witness this performance of “Mr. …

St. Patrick’s on Sunday morning.
Click here to hear its bells ring on May 17, 2020.

This past Saturday, I returned to New York City for the first time following a 9-week Quar time absence.

The New York Times had just posted this story: “Where New Yorkers Moved to Escape Coronavirus.” Statistics showed mail-forwarding trends from people who have fled the city.

On Saturday, I was heading in the opposite direction — a quick car trip into Manhattan from my home in New Jersey, to pick up my daughter who needed to be somewhere that evening, returning on Sunday morning.

Most of those who had fled New York had been living in upscale neighborhoods on the…

Bob Varettoni

Posting here about writing, books, tech, family, baseball. More about me at

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