Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Actually, it is not so new as it is old. What am I talking about? The fact that there seems to be a gradual surge of mixing Italian food with American foods, as to become indistinguishable between Italian an American food. This I think is great. But that cultural renaissance does not stop there, no with the trend of Asian fusion, it now ties into Italian/Asian fusion, a wonderful blend of ideas that is making strides.

Italian foods like Asian, is so full of options, and wonderful flavors like no other cultural foods on Earth. That is why they are all so popular in this country, and why you see many Italian restaurants overseas, outside of the Italian border.

Mexican also has a trend heading in this direction of fusion blends, and can easily be adopted with Italian or Asian foods. You must admit, taking the best culinary traditions and marrying them is just what America is all about. I married an Irishman, am happy to this very day, I’m sure many of you have married other ethnicities and thrive in your lives. We as the younger Americanized generation realize they are all good people and that we are now more educated and mixed in with other nationalities, and what a great gift we are giving our children.

The French claim to cooking is that they learned from the Italians, mostly the northern Italians. When the French occupied Italy way back in the 1700 and 1800’s they learned the local ways of cooking, and since there is no ‘real’ Italian cooking per se, it is regional and adapts to what ingredients are on hand. This is Italian style cooking, taking what you have in your pantry and “Throwing something together”.

But being Italian I love to eat, I love the old dishes as well as the new, I want to experience everything, that is the artist, writer and Italian in me.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016



The crucible of Italian/American families was how dedicated you were to the clan. Italian people are clannish, not only for family, but for Paesanos and anyone Italian in American. They hung together and fought for ech other, when joy came they surrounded themselves with good food and music, and when pain, suffering and death visited, they rallied as one.

When the great boxer Primo Canara fought, when Rocky Marciano and Rocky Graziano fought, all the Italian Americans came out in support, he was ‘one of us’, uno di noi.  The importance that Italian immigrants and their children succeeded beyond the everyday jobs of street sweeping, household help and hard labor meant they were being assimilated into the main stream of American life, which meant acceptance by ‘Il Medican’!

They patronized their own, the new and young doctors, lawyers and businesses that had an Italian name were where they went. Pride in the fact these children of American immigrants were defying the norm, saying to America: we can be just as American as you can! Art, design and writing suddenly had a new level to measure itself, Italian/Americans were making a statement, in English! To this day, when I see a doctor or lawyer, a politician, jurist or professor, I remember those days of discrimination and a rush of pride takes over.

My dad loved baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Carl Furillo was his favorite Dodger but, so was Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto. This was pride in our nationality.

We as an immigrant population were suspected, feared and discriminated against. One of the biggest discriminators or racists was Teddy Roosevelt, the President of the United States of America, yet we respected his office! Our problem was we were not all fair skinned, all blond, we didn’t have the ‘Made in America’ signature. And of course worst of all: we didn’t speak English, we were still foreigners.

My relatives were fugitives in the Fascist state of Italy, hiding in the hills and fighting the government. When grandma and grandpa came to America, they came with a purpose, to make a better life, and to raise a family in pure freedom, with no needing to resort to arms.

But if you broke down the Italian/American, and looked into his/her daily life, what you would see is America, being reborn. Teachers, doctors and airline pilots, mathematicians, professors and clergy, politics and the media were slowly being assimilated into the mainstream of American culture. Children taught their parents to speak and read English, to write and to express their opinions without fear. That so many of the Italian speaking parents demanding that their children speak to them only in English to learn the language.

Grandma loved Caruso, Valentino and La Guardia, because they were Making a statement to America, that they were successful and could be as good as the Irish, German and Pole, as intelligent as the All-American that prided himself in being born on these shores.

Today we have come a long way, Grandpa and Grandma laid the foundation for the generations to come to be part of the American experience. They could look back with pride that their sacrifice and the ignorance of others made their children and grandchildren stronger, perhaps so strong that we became part of the very fiber that America has always taken pride in.

When I think back now, of how they came to a place that didn’t speak their language, didn’t appreciate their talents, didn’t know what quality to family and national pride they instilled, and their courage: I want to cry over the fact.

I am proud of America, I am proud because it afforded my forefathers the opportunity to prove themselves and their heritage, that today has been adopted in so many ways into the American fabric.

Thank you: grandma and grandpa, and thank you all the grandmas and grandpas who came to America, you were perhaps the real “Greatest Generation!”

Monday, February 08, 2016


Growing up in the 1950’s with an Italian grandmother who taught my Italian/American mother how to cook, was the greatest thing to happen to me before I had my own family.

If your parents grew up in the depression of the 1930’s, then you know what it meant to be innovative and darn right clever with not much. The same was true with food. Many dishes I grew up with did not necessarily come straight from Italy but were the outcome of very little money and few ingredients.

Today, as I write this, it is dreary with snow falling, icy winds and biting cold. This can only mean one thing: PASTA E’ FAGIOL!! Or for those f you less talented in Alto Italia: pasta fazool/fazoola.

Eh, either way I’m gonna cry, I so happy!

“When the stars make you drool just like Pasta Fazool, that’s amore’!”

When I thought of making the dish today, the thought alone warmed me up and set me to thinking of other dishes mom and grandma made. Comfort foods they were and stay with me in my old age.

Pasta e’ Fazool, Egg drop soup, potatoes and eggs, peppers and eggs, a Manesta, beans and macaroni, steak pizziola, escarole and beans, and on and on they go, filled with memories as warm as the soup.

But foolish me, as a young child, I would complain to my mother sometimes if she made something I didn’t think I’d care for, and mom had two things on every menu for such occasions: Take It, or Leave It. I always opted for the first item!

Both Grandma and my mom cooked out of pocket kind of. By that I mean neither one looked at a recipe, instead cooking was an instinct, no pre-measuring, no chopping garlic on a chopping board, just going to the stove, breaking off parsley and letting her rip, or cutting garlic at the pan or pot with a little paring knife and tossing everything in.

When I can home from school or play, I was immediately arrested by the aroma of mom starting a pot of anything, it didn’t matter, I was ready to eat!

Have you tried to order a dish of Pasta e’ Fagioli today? I ask them to wear a mask when they give me the price, then I can claim it on my taxes maybe.

Does anyone remember the little chicken meatballs with the escarole in chicken soup? How about pig feet and knuckles in a great broth?

How sad those days are gone, today I have to pay a hefty price for a simple meal, because it is Italian, and I am a nostalgic creature in love with my heritage and sometimes too lazy to cook it. But not tonight! La vita e’ bella!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


For the first time in my life, I can’t seem to write anything. The whole overwhelming experience is getting a little hard to bear. Where to begin?

Being a parent of a child with disabilities is hard enough. When the child grows into adulthood, and you still bear the burden of the child, it magnifies the conditions and make them more extreme. To watch them suffer is insufferable, unfair and leads down the path of tears sometimes. It is hard. But I can’t cry until everything is in place and I can rest that there is time to cry.

Life is hard when you realize that you are not the person you were 20 years ago, and where did that time go? You can not longer withstand the rigors of dealing with situations that dictate what you do and how you do them, and fear takes over. What will happen to my daughter when we are gone, mamma has the fear and so do I. Will someone care for her, will someone advocate for her safety, well being and will some one give her respect and love?

I am sitting next to her in the hospital, it is 7:01 AM and it is quiet, except for the music that continuously slides out into the air where I can capture it, soft low key piano and flute notes that plays a symphony to my sadness and lonely state of being, an almost funereal cloud cast across my vision.

 Today I am hopeful that the hospital can find Ellen a rehab facility that is acceptable, one that is not neglectful, dirty and lacking in fulfillment to promises made. Where she was prior to her last operation and where she is going with my insistence are two different places. I had a struggle with the surgeon who admitted her under ambulatory surgery. It is a long story and when I have the stomach to reiterate what I said to you, I will, since the events so far are working out in my favor, but let me say this, the staff at St. Charles and AHRC Suffolk are trying their best, they are beautiful people and my daughter’s biggest allies, advocating for her a strongly as possible, and have helped Ellen and her parents immeasurably. Thank God!

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Recently on Facebook, an old friend of mine from High school posted a prayer; Hail Mary. This is a good guy and always has been. In spite of that, he can be a bit bigoted toward immigrants, blacks and Muslins. I see the prayer and I wonder what he is thinking.

We are all bigoted to some extent, and if you deny it, go to the next blog because you are not being honest with yourself. I know from years of indoctrination I have had to overcome some prejudices myself of which I am ashamed of.

One of the reasons I left the church is because in the larger picture of religious bigotry, from the past and even today, and the hypocritical sense I have in attending the services. Praying to a Catholic God, when the protestants have their own, as do Jews and Muslims and many other members of the world.

One of my issues is that we need Jesus to find God. Why? Isn’t God who we should pray to? Is salvation coming from Catholics or Christians only. Are there no Jews in the here after?

When I sit through a Mass, it is beautiful to some and to some it is just a ritual, filled with the same rite and I call it rite by rote. A mindless exercise in mouthing off words and really not speaking to God so much as speaking to Jesus, who is the intermediary, side tracking my connection to God. You go through the steps of genuflecting, kneeling, and sitting, with pre-ordained responses to get through the exercise.

Some people say their religion gets them through their day or special ordeal. I applaud them for their faith, it is good to believe in something or someone, but there is much more than just that. Who do we help along the way? Who has a bind of some kind, a sickness or pain that we are ignoring right now? Have we shared a word of encouragement, a cup of water, a piece of bread? Can we hide from those things that we as humans need to do? And I talk about myself as well as everyone else. There really isn’t any reason why a child has to starve.

There are people in this world who give up their life of comfort and perform herculean tasks as Human Beings for their brothers and sisters across the globe, foregoing their own safety and comfort to minister to those who desperately need it.

Theirs is a ministry to attend, theirs is where the true acts of loving God are evident.

I wish people would keep their religion to themselves, not build up their sense of holiness by publishing prayers and ignoring or screwing people when they feel like it.

Truth is hard to find, and like death, hard to accept.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Life can be strange sometimes. We hide from the truth and pretend that all that is bad will go away, that the immediate is temporary and not cause for real alarm. Recently I’ve had a string of bad times that won’t immediately go away! As you may know: my daughter Ellen with DD is currently in the hospital waiting for an operation that will occur on this coming Monday morning to insert a rod in her right lower leg. Meanwhile she sits in her rehab bed waiting for the time to pass.

Yesterday I went to St. Catherine Sienna Hospital and Medical Center to test my carotid arteries, got home and received a call from my cardiologist that there is an abnormality in them both and I have an immediate appointment on Tuesday afternoon! He will tell me he is planning his vacation schedule for early spring and will need the money, so he will operate on them. (He’s taking two weeks so both carotid arteries need surgery. Nice man, happy to help.)

Meanwhile my best friend who I love like a brother called me to tell me his new born granddaughter is having trouble breathing and is hooked up to a respirator. I can’t wait for tomorrow it gets to be more fun with each passing day!

I’ve been eating my way back to my old self, so today at 6:30AM it was off to the gym for a brief workout on the tread mill down by the old Burger King where they have morning specials for breakfast and tempting walk over opportunities to do bad things to my cholesterol, which for some insane reason I don’t want to do. It is a dark period in my life, I love those breakfast sandwiches with the greasy fries that if placed on a napkin will cause you to get a fresh one.

The name of the rehab center is Lakeview Rehab Center, promising a great view of the lake as one gazes out of their rehab room.

Our 'Lake' view. I think they meant 'Lack' view

Coming to the rehab center everyday, I have been bringing my drab lunch, which includes grain bread, mustard and cheese, (I want the cardiologist and the corona to work extra hard) and discovered that there is a deli right across the street!

So, what next? I don’t know and as my wife has been saying lately: “I don’t care!” So there.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Since we now have switched my daughter Ellen to a nursing home, it means a new set of rules and new routes to take but the same hours spent. These are long hard hours when you sit in a room all day to comfort someone who does not understand what is happening. In a week’s time she has switched from one bed to another to still another, and Monday, another yet. Then she goes for pre-op and they will insert a rod in her leg so she can walk again.

On top of all this is the board of directors, which I preside over, and need to stay in touch with. Reading, going to meetings and being aggressive in doing the right things so the board’s trust in me is validated. I work as hard as I can for the board because they are the foundation of my daughter’s happiness, as are the staff that work there.

Then there is the issue of testing at another hospital for myself, with my carotid arteries, both, that are clogging up and if I don’t do something for them I will have a stroke and hopefully die.

So last evening, after spending the day with Ellen, I came home to 6 messages, all about Ellen and the needs of the various homes and institutions wanting to talk to me. One top of that I had to switch locations for the carotid scans and deal with the insurance company in arranging that, along with my cardiologist and the new hospital medical center where this will all come down. It is getting to be the one of the many dark periods I can recall all my life, but this time affecting me directly.

So what do I want? Just a little normalcy, something to settle my crazy world and give me a sense of comfort. I keep thinking of my little La Principessa and really wanting to see her again, but right now that won’t happen, so instead I’m doing little things to try to do that. For instance: making the bed in the morning, I take meticulous care to make it look perfect, perfect alignment, folds symmetrical to the bed and things like folding my gym clothes and getting back to that routine, which I miss.

I haven’t really done any cooking or drawing, because I have no time. All this because my child was born with three strikes against her and couldn’t handle her last walk. But you know, I will continue to do for her as much as I can, screw everything else.