Bonnie and Clyde’s death car


Glenn Gould – Mozart, Piano Sonata No.11In A K.333








My mother’s role in overthrowing the legally-elected government of Guatemala

One year after Mother and I returned to Miami Beach, Florida from Simon Kreindler’s bar mitzvah in Guatemala, President Dwight David Eisenhower (“Ike”) directed the CIA to overthrow the legally elected government of Guatemala. Mother immediately took credit for this success.

What follows are the facts as described in Pulitzer Prize winning David Halberstam’s book The Fifties. Readers may be entitled to skepticism about my mother’s claim since her name and the use of her profession–she was a Hebrew school teacher–is not mentioned in Halberstam’s account of what the CIA had code-named Operation Success:


“The coup began on June 18 [1953] and was acted out by a ragtag army that seemed ill prepared to conquer. In fact, the liberator, Castillo Armas, moved a few miles across the border from Honduras and then did not budge. One of the CIA’s main responsibilities was to keep American journalists out of the area lest they find out how pathetic Castillio Armas’ army really was. Two of the three airplanes from the liberation air force were soon out of action, one of them down after its American pilot failed to pay attention to his gas gauge and had to crash-land. The CIA air force was puny and extremely primitive, in one case a CIA pilot leaned out of the cabin of the aged plane to lob hand grenades on military installations below. Against the forces of any developed country, the invading forces would have quickly collapsed. But Guatemala’s institutions were so weak that [Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, the legally elected President of Guatemala ] was largely paralyzed and could not even get his (equally puny) air force into the air. Nevertheless, three days after the coup it appeared likely to collapse. The CIA people on location had to demand more planes–without which they would certainly fail.

“A meeting was called in the White House to deal with the request. Henry Holland, a State Department official who opposed the coup, showed up lugging three tomes on international law. But in the end, Ike decided to go with [CIA Director] Allen Dulles’ request for additional fighter bombers. ‘Mr. President,’ Dulles said with a grin on the way out. ‘When I  saw Henry walk into your office with those three big law looks under this arm, I knew he’d lost his case already.’

“Two new airplanes were assigned on June 23, and that reinforcement, marginal though it was, helped turn the tide. Day after day, as the old-fashioned planes made their runs over Guatemala City, the powerless residents watched in fear. Arbenz’s army neither joined the rebels nor fought them, and almost no one was killed….

“The key to the victory was the CIA’s radio station, based out side the country. The Agency had jammed the government station and deftly created  fictional war over the airwaves, one in which the government troops faltered and refused to fight and in which the liberation troops  were relentlessly moving toward Guatemala City. If anyone was a hero of the coup, it was David Atlee Phillips, a former actor, recruited by the Agency for his good looks and his ability to speak Spanish. The broadcast became all the more important because the real war barely took place. The night of June 27th, the radio claimed that two huge columns of Castillo Armas’ soldiers were almost on on top of Guatemala City and the final battle was about to take place. Arbenz promptly resigned.

“[U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Jack] Peurifoy loved it all. He spent the coup running around Guatemala City, brandishing his pistol and demonstrating his courage and fearlessness to the handful of foreign journalists in the city. (Peurifoy had little reason to be afraid since he knew what was happening at all times and where the bombing would take place.) ‘People are complaining that I was 45 minutes off schedule.’ he boasted after it was all over….

“For a brief time it appeared that Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz, the army chief of staff and transition leader, might succeed Arbenz. He promised Peurifoy that he would outlaw the Communist party and exile all its leaders, but after Diaz gave his first speech, the Americans decided that he was insufficiently anti-Communist…John Doherty, one of the CIA men, was deputized to tell Diaz he was stepping down.”


For more complete details on the CIA’s Guatemala coup and fascinating accounts of the CIA Iranian coup, read The Fifties by David Halberstam, a book worth reading in its entirety [the section on Elvis Presley’s career is especially good].









What is the meaning of this?

My webmaster explained I can create a Featured Post simply by clicking on the category box “Featured Post.” She said, “I am sorry I cannot make it more complicated.” Indeed, she should be.


Simple is not my style as anyone who knows me can verify. The eternal question, Why do I want to feature anything? is rhetorical. There comes a time, comparing the quixotic nature of the post samples on the right side of the site when it becomes clear that it is time for me to come to the point.

There are four points:

1. I had dental surgery today for an hour and a half today on these teeth.


2. I need your help in paying my dentist.

Please click on the donation button to contribute toward saving my teeth.

3. Why should you help me pay my dentist?

a. Because I am in pain and if I cannot pay the dentist I will continue to be in pain.

b. Because there is a social contract that says: If you help me, I will help you. Or, if you prefer, Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

4. How will you benefit if I am no longer in pain?

a. I will add to my list of life objectives Advocacy of the right to be free of dental pain.

b. My other professional life objectives include:

–Safe affordable housing for individuals who are elderly or physically disabled.

–Recognition that current brain research indicates we do not have to become senile as we age; we can become more productive, more vital, more valuable to ourselves and others.

–An understanding that as Baby Boomers, members of the largest population in the history of the United States and indeed the world, we will have to work and have important work to do far past the recognized retirement age.

–A belief in the power of art, music, and the forces of the spirit to give meaning to our lives and advocacy to make that meaning achievable.

–Integrating physical movement into our daily lives.


–A firm desire to be whimsical at a moment’s notice.


Above is a photograph of a pile of papers on my kitchen table. These papers have not yet arrived at my overflowing in-box. Wouldn’t it be preferable if I could stop this site from looking like my kitchen table.


News on virtual reality, disability rights, country music, Mozart, the rodeo, Baudelaire writing about the importance of being drunk all the time

were all in one well-organized place where you could find what you are looking for. A surprise now and then is fun. A surprise all the time is chaos.

–Joel Solkoff

Copyright 2014 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

Appreciation to the Whitney Museum of American Art to reproduce:

Edward SteichenAdvertisement for Coty Lipstick, 1935. Gelatin silver print, 9 15/16 × 7 15/16in. (25.2 × 20.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander  2012.205  On view
© 2014 The Estate of Edward Steichen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York













One must be for ever drunken: that is the sole question of importance.

If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time that bruises your shoulders and bends you to the earth, you must be drunken without cease.

But how?

With wine, with poetry, with virtue, with what you please. But be drunken.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass by a moat, or in the dull loneliness of your chamber, you should waken up, your intoxication already lessened or gone, ask of the wind, of the wave, of the star, of the bird, of the timepiece; ask of all that flees, all that sighs, all that revolves, all that sings, all that speaks, ask of these the hour; and wind and wave and star and bird and timepiece will answer you:

“It is the hour to be drunken! Lest you be the martyred slaves of Time, intoxicate yourselves, be drunken without cease! With wine, with poetry, with virtue, or with what you will.”

Courtesy of Project Gutenberg.


Help me fix my teeth

My mother would add the word please to this request for financial assistance–assistance to save me from false teeth. Both Mother and Father died in Jewish old age homes with their artificial teeth in a glass, unable to express just where their dentures did not fit or what was required to avoid pain. Nor did either of my very talented parents know how to ask for help at critical moments in their lives when help would have resulted in using their talents to assist others or as economists might put it to increase the country’s productivity and wealth.

Please click on the donation button to contribute toward saving my teeth.

How will I use the money?

1. To pay Dr. J (whose full name I will disclose after obtaining her permission) for the work she is scheduled to do on my lower left premolar. Currently, I am in considerable pain. I see her on Monday January 13, 2014 at 1 P.M.

2. To bring my insurance premiums with Delta Dental up to date and pay advance premiums for the next six months while I develop enough income that I am no longer living on my limited monthly Social Security check.

3. To obtain a crown on my upper left tooth where root canal was performed earlier this year before I went to New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for kidney cancer surgery which saved my life.

4. To follow Dr. J’s plan, developed after extensive x-rays, in accordance with priorities she has already established.

5. To perform necessary dental work over the next two months promptly to avoid having teeth pulled out. Over the past three years, I have had three teeth pulled out–teeth which could have been saved had I acted in a timely way.

6. To act on the recognition that now that I have recovered from major surgery and my life is no longer in danger from cancer, living with my teeth and without dental pain is high on my priority list.

Observation: When I became a paraplegic 20 years ago, I slowly and reluctantly learned that pride literally comes before a fall–that judicious requests for assistance meant that I secured the independence required to support my children and indeed my parents. One of my goals as a parent of two adult daughters is to serve as a role model so Joanna and Amelia understand that asking for help, although often difficult for stubborn individuals as the three of us are, can be praiseworthy.

Words to live by: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” These are the words of the great Rabbi Hillel and are contained in the liturgical book I frequently read as a child as part of my spiritual education.

How these words apply to the imperatives of my life’s work. First, I must work to preserve my teeth. Then, I must work to help preserve the teeth of others. Attached are two links provided by the American Dental Association (ADA) describing the crisis in dental care for children as well as adults.

Here is the link to the ADA’s “barriers” papers. These discuss the obstacles people face in accessing dental care and how they can be overcome:

Here is a link to information on the ADA’s Action for Dental Health campaign:

This is the American Dental Association’s email address to get involved in our national crisis where the poor and middle class are deprived of necessary dental care: [email protected] or visit the ADA site at


Meanwhile, as my dental pain subsides and my teeth are restored to health, will become the place to go to at a time when large numbers of our population, untreated, are swarming to hospital emergency rooms because they do not have dentists. The dental community is invited to use this site to discuss the challenges and solutions as welll as my observations. I have established the category Dental care is a right to make it easy to find information on this critical subject. Until next time, brush, floss, and smile.



Income inequality Huey Long style

Where is Huey Long Now When We Need Him?

Dateline Lycoming, County. Pennsylvania US; March 26, 2019

It is 3 O’Clock in the morning; I suddenly awake here in nowhere Pennsylvania after a restless two hours weeping out of control— weeping out of happiness and relief that tomorrow I will have minor life saving  surgery.

All week long, I have watched the tube as the great governors of this the land I love have proven that here in the midst of the greatest crisis of my 72 year lifetime, the seeming impossible has taken place. In this the hour of our desperate need, we as a nation are coming together regardless of political party, ideology or anything else to face a common invisible enemy in the midst of our dystopian reality. The threat is beyond our imagination.A former head of the CDC predicts at a minimum there will be 100,00 deaths; at a maximum a million deaths. Can you imagine? A million dead children, women and men. Dead.

My sister, my friend, your grandmother, your wretched Aunt Betsy ( whom you wished had dropped dead for the awful things she said at Thanksgiving), dear wonderful Uncle Herb with his silly handlebar mustache who kept the family whole during that dreadful time. Dead.

Slowly, clearly our lack of control appears in the form of heartbreaking photographs on Facebook. Sudden announcements on NBC that a man I never heard of, a sound-man the reporters adored, is no longer with us. Rest In Peace.

For one short moment standing in front of this surprisingly excellent hospital in view of the majestic Appalachians, the most beautiful sky I have seen in the 46 US states where I have lived or visited….

For one brief moment, there is respite here at UPMC Williamsport— time for the nurses, clerks, doctors, technicians in this the moral equivalent of a hurricane—to take the nearly empty hospital ( ubiquitous bottles now filled with hand sanitizer); friendly janitors scrubbing the already scrubbed clean floors.

Who am I? I am a cypher—expendable during this maelstrom that threatens the country and the world as deaths pile up in Italy, in places I have visited or ones I have never known. My hometown, New York,New York so great you say it twice—where I was born, went to college, and yes worked on Madison Avenue ( half a block from the Breakfast at Tiffany’s New York Public Library).

Unimaginable, my city may now be the deadliest city in the world, piles of dead bodies, hospitals overflowing, the wonderful haggard Democratic Governor like the wonderful haggard Republican Governor of Ohio begging pleading for hospital ventilators.

if I were there now, essentially I would already have a reserved seat on the meat wagon, Instead, I am here in this strange loving town of 28,000 that is spending limited preciousness resources on an arrogant 72 year old man without a spleen whose odds of contracting Covid-19 is astonishingly high as are the odds of my dying from the deadly virus. Why bother with me?

After exiting I see a young pregnant woman sitting at the bus stop. We observe the requisite six feet away from each other. For no apparent reason, we begin talking about God.

Her unborn baby is a boy she says due in August. Feeling like Cassandra seeing the future before me while others refuse to believe,  I ask, “Have you considered home birth?” Envisioning the delivery room in this now nearly empty hospital filled with thousand of virus victims, delivery room attendants wearing diseased gowns because the limited sterile supply is exhausted.

The home birth question puzzles her. She is looking to the future with hope. The glow on her face reveals all. “Babies are safely born in a hospital,” I can feel her thinking. “I want my baby to be safe.”

Mayo Clinic On home birth:

Then I start weeping weeping in joy and or relief that soon the surgeon will replace the battery in my pacemaker that keeps my heart alive and in two days at least I will not die of that.

Startled she looks up at me in my electric wheel chair. She asks what is wrong. I say these are tears of joy. I have never had tears of joy before.

We exchange first names. M tells me of the time she cried from happiness. She says, “Joel, if things were different I would come over there and hug you.” I say, still six feet away, I say, “M, if things were different, I would come over there and hug you.”

[ Ed: To be continued.]


“December 1934. Huey Long speaks passionately about income inequality and the wealthy in the United States.” — You Tube

Ever since I was a child, I have had an intense fascination with Huey Long. If you actually watched this brilliant presentation of income inequality less than five minutes in length, then you have seen one of the greatest political speeches of all time.


Wikipedia:Huey Long

“Huey Pierce Long, Jr. (August 30, 1893 – September 10, 1935), nicknamed The Kingfish, was an American politician who served as the40th Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and as a member of the United States Senate from 1932 until his assassination in 1935. A Democrat, he was an outspoken populist who denounced the rich and the banks and called for “Share the Wealth.” As the political boss of the state he commanded wide networks of supporters and was willing to take forceful action. He established the political prominence of the Long political family.”


Wikipedia on the book and movie All The Kings Men

“[Willie Stark’s character [the central character in both book and movie] is often thought to be inspired by the life of Huey P. Long, former governor of Louisiana and that state’s U.S. senator in the mid-1930s. Huey Long was at the zenith of his career when he was assassinated in 1935; just a year earlier, Robert Penn Warren had begun teaching at Louisiana State University.[ Stark, like Long, is shot to death in the state capitol building by a physician. The title of the book possibly came from Long’s motto, [Every Man a King’.”



We do not propose to say that there shall be no rich men. We do not ask to divide the wealth. We only propose that, when one man gets more than he and his children and children’s children can spend or use in their lifetimes, that then we shall say that such person has his share. That means that a few million dollars is the limit to what any one man can own.”

— Huey Long, Share Our Wealth radio address, February 23, 1934




Share The Wealth was a movement begun in February 1934, during the Great Depression, by Huey Long, a governor and later United States Senator fromLouisiana. Huey Long first proposed the plan in a national radio address, which is now referred to as the “Share Our Wealth Speech”.[1]

Long believed that the underlying cause of the Great Depression, (which he called “Mr. Roosevelt’s depression”) was the growing disparity between the rich and everyone else.[2] For most of his political career, he was endeared to the “little man,” which refers to the rural poor.[3] The Share Our Wealth program was going to become the capstone project for Long’s populist agenda.

The Share Our Wealth program was controversial. Many also suspected that Huey Long was planning on using the Share Our Wealth Society as a vehicle for mounting a third party challenge to Roosevelt during the 1936 Presidential election. Any Presidential ambitions which Long might have had were cut short when he was shot by an assassin on September 8, 1935, in Baton Rouge; he died two days later on September 10, 1935.[4]

Biographers T. Harry Williams and William Ivy Hair speculated that the Senator had never intended to run for the presidency in 1936. Long planned to form a third party in 1936 that would run a candidate who would probably lose, but also split the Democratic vote.”



Wikipedia on Long biographer T. Harry Williams

Williams used oral history as part of his key source material in the preparation ofHuey Long, having interviewed scores of supporters and opponents of the “Louisiana Kingfish“.[6] On November 2, 1959, Williams presented the presidential address “The Gentleman from Louisiana: Demagogue or Democrat” before the Southern Historical Association. Williams told his fellow historians and their guests that Huey Long’s governorship marked the end of the half-century of Louisiana history since the close of congressional Reconstruction. Before 1928, Louisiana had only 296 miles of concrete roads, 35 miles of asphalt, 5,728 miles of gravel, and three major bridges, none of which crossed the Mississippi River either at New Orleans or Baton Rouge. Trains had to uncouple and ferry across the river. By 1935, when Long wasassassinated, Williams observed that the state had 2,446 miles of concrete roads, 1,308 miles of asphalt, 9,629 miles of gravel, and more than 40 major bridges. He concluded that Long was “a powerful and sometimes ruthless political boss” but not one who fit the definition of a fascist, as often claimed by Long’s detractors.[5]Williams frequently quoted the Long confidant, Harley Bozeman, wrote extensive local history in Winn Parish.


My paternal grandparents Meyer and Jenny Solkoff


Until last year, I rarely cried.

Now I cry with a frequency that startles me discovering its relief not quite sure it is the “manly” thing to do.

As a child, I had a firm grip. When Meyer, whom I always referred to by the Yiddish word Zeyda, meaning grandfather, died, I was five, I remember strongly the overwhelming sense of grief I felt appalled that the tears would not stop falling.

When Bubbie, the Yiddish word for grandmother died 12 years later….[well that is another story, perhaps for another time.]


In retrospect, I know little about either of them except that as the child of a mother who divorced my father when I was three and whose mother in turn divorced my paternal grandfather early in their marriage, Zeyda and Bubbie represented the iconic stable family I wish I had. Throughout my childhood and adolescence the image they projected made me feel safe and secure.


Meyer and Jenny were born in Odessa, then Russia; after the Cold War, now the Ukraine. The first photograph on Wikipedia’s Odessa entry shows the famous Potemkin staircase depicted in Sergei Eisenstein’s brilliant silent film about the 1905 Revolution in the following grisly scene.

At about this time, my grandparents, my father, and his sister fled Odessa escaping the horrors of pogroms taking place simultaneously throughout Russia. My cousin described the details to me as a child during frequent visits my father Isadore had arranged. Isadore wanted me to know just how narrowly our family had escaped slaughter by the state-sponsored Cossacks who killed Jews in the belief that the Jewish people had killed Jesus.

My grandparents were both orphans. Their parents had been killed by an earlier wave of pogroms. Meyer, Jenny, my father, and my Aunt Lil fled to avoid the next wave of Jews being killed–bodies, my cousin described as being stacked up and loaded onto multiple railroad cars.

The following is an account from The New York Times of a 1903 pogrom:

“There was a well laid-out plan for the general massacre of Jews on the day following the Orthodox Easter. The mob was led by priests, and the general cry, ‘Kill the Jews’ was taken up all over the city. The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep….The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babies were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews.”

Jewish victims of a 1905 pogrom

Jewish victims of a 1905 pogrom


Note: To be continued.