Sunday, June 16, 2024

Father's Day Reflections on a Private Man

 My father was a self-made man. A successful businessman on two continents. A community leader. A private man. 


My siblings and I can fill in lots of Kopel Forseter’s history for those first three attributes. But too much of his personal history from the first 28 years of his life in Europe remains cloaked in his privacy. 


What we know of his youth until age 16 in his birth town of Ottynia, a shtetl in Galicia in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, is sketchy. Depending on the consequences of war, Ottynia changed hands. When he was born in 1911 or 1912 (records of his birth year are obscure), Kopel Fuersetzer entered the Austro-Hungarian empire. After World War I, the Ukrainian National Republic and subsequently Poland acquired Ottynia. At the outbreak of World War II, the Soviet Union seized the town, only to be supplanted by Nazi Germany in 1941. After the Soviets regained control by war’s end, Ottynia became part of present day Ukraine. 


Before 1939, the Dniester River town of Ottynia counted some 1,000 Jews among its 4,000 inhabitants. Few remained alive after the war. Of Kopel’s immediate family, only a younger brother, Willy, survived. 



(Circa 1936, l to r, Kopel, mother Lina, brother Max, father Moses, brother Willy)


We assume Kopel grew up in a middle class household. His father, Moses, after whom I am named, sold livestock. Kopel often said he received just a sixth grade education in Ottynia, often slogging the apocryphal uphill path (both ways!) to school and back. Yet, he had an agile mind, excelled in math and history, and, had he been born here, could have become a successful lawyer. 


My brother, sister and I know little about his life in Ottynia, about relations between Jews and gentiles, about family holiday traditions. He never talked about such matters, even when Bernie and I interviewed him and Willy when they were in their 70’s. 


Kopel left Ottynia when he was 16. From southeastern Poland he went northwest, to Danzig (now Gdansk) on the Baltic Sea. He became a traveling salesman at various times selling dry goods and stationery on the installment plan to keep him in constant contact with customers. 


He related few details about his 12 years in Danzig, his address, about how he and his friends socialized, how he met Dora, his first love who emigrated to Australia with her parents when he went to America in early 1939, descriptions of his voyage that entailed disembarking near London and traveling to Liverpool to board a ship to New York, and, most tellingly, nothing about antisemitism in the so-called Free City of Danzig which from 1933 on was governed by Nazis. As related by Wikipedia, “In 1938 … an official policy of repression against Jews; Jewish businesses were seized and handed over to Gentile Danzigers, Jews were forbidden to attend theaters, cinemas, public baths and swimming pools, or stay in hotels within the city, and, with the approval of the city’s senate, barred from the medical, legal and notary professions.”


Kopel left Danzig barely two months after the city experienced its version of Kristallnacht on November 12-14, 1938.  


Kopel never expressed any interest in returning to Danzig or Ottynia, nor was he interested in applying for reparations. 


His reticence to talk about life in Ottynia and Danzig was paradoxical considering he was a great story-teller, captivating business associates and family with life-lessons culled from his Old World experiences. Among the only stories I recall is his years’-long disdain while in Danzig for potatoes, given that spuds were often the only food his mother served during winter. It was only after a waitress in Danzig implored him to try the house specialty potatoes that he resumed their consumption. Meat, chicken, or fish with potatoes. With bread. That was his diet. No vegetables.


I inhabit many of his traits, some good, some not so. I snore loudly. I dream a lot. I love watching Westerns. I don’t like it when people tell me what to do. I like to be in charge. Like my father, I enjoyed minimal staff turnover.


Like members of the Greatest Generation who kept silent about their military service during World War II (Kopel served for eight months in the army before receiving a medical discharge in August 1943), my father kept to himself so many details of the life his children would have loved to know. 


Father’s Day is just not as complete as I, we, would have liked.  


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Musings on Cheesecake, Wedding Attire, AI Broadcasts

Shavuot, the Jewish festival celebrated seven weeks plus one day following Passover, the traditional time God is said to have presented the Ten Commandments and Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai, began Tuesday night. It’s been customary, at least among Ashkenazi Jews, to commemorate the holiday by eating dairy products, most pleasurably, cheesecake.


As to why, I refer you to an article in The Forward (https://forward.com/culture/548302/why-we-eat-cheese-on-shavuot-jewish-recipe-for-cheesecake/). 


If you’ve opened the link you might have noticed the headline referred to “how to make a killer cheesecake.” 


 “Killer cheesecake?” I wonder, was it merely referring to how tasty a recipe for cheesecake was, or did it allude to the deadly-artery-clogging implications of eating too much cheesecake? 


Just kidding, of course, but I wonder if the headline writer was aware of the double entendre? 



Cool Wedding Dressing: Apparently, suggesting— strongly suggesting—to guests what they should wear to one’s wedding is a trend of increasing intensity, as evidenced by this New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/08/style/wedding-dress-codes-mood-board.html?smid=url-share).


Gilda’s comment when she forwarded the article to me was, “Some people need to get a life!” No argument there, but I must acknowledge that the wedding of our son Dan to Allison half a month shy of 18 years ago, was an early harbinger of nuptial styling.


For their July 2 wedding on the outdoor grounds of Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, NY, Dan and Allison ordained that suits, sports jackets and especially ties were more than optional—they were to be left home. Anyone daring to wear a tie might go home with it shorn in two. Even Allison’s dad and I walked down the aisle sans cravat.


Perhaps the most jubilant attendees during the wedding which took place in 95 degrees temperature and near 95% humidity, were the catering staff. Their uniform that day was dark pants and a black T-shirt. 



Artificial Intelligence? I think my cable company (Optimum, in case you’re wondering) is transmitting AI broadcasts. That’s my explanation as to why the voice often does not sync up with the lips on too many shows I watch, especially newscasts.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Experiences From Front Row Seating

I passed up an opportunity to sit in the first row of the Helen Hayes Theater Thursday night to see Jessica Lange, Jim Parsons and Celia Keenan-Bolger in “Mother Play.”


Gilda had to exchange our normal Second Stage tickets. We were given the first seats off the aisle in rows A and B. I suggested Gilda might prefer sitting in Row A to thwart the possibility my head might obscure some of her view. At play’s end she gave the production and her seat rave reviews. 


Last time I sat in the first row for a Broadway show was back in the summer of 1968. On a day off from counseloring at Camp Columbia in Elizaville, NY, a group of us drove to Manhattan and bought discount tickets to Tom Stoppard’s smash hit  “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” 


I don’t normally remember specifics about where I have sat for Broadway shows but what transpired that day has stayed with me for more than five decades. 


During one of their conversations about Hamlet, either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern—I could never distinguish between the two lithe actors—edged too close to the lip of the stage and … fell into my lap! I quickly and eagerly helped him regain his stage presence. 


I’ve had several other notable front row experiences. On another day off from summer camp, this time to see Peter, Paul and Mary at SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center), my front row seat enabled me to make eye contact with Dick Kniss, the trio’s long-time bass player positioned several yards behind them. Eye contact developed into nonverbal communication which ended dramatically when our “dialogue” caused Kniss to miss by a beat his cue to accompany the singers (another apology—I cannot remember the name of the song). 


A Third Apology: I cannot say during which performance at Playwrights Horizons I was unintentionally spat upon by actor Peter Friedman. Sorry, but from 2009 through 2017 Friedman was in five plays we saw at the Off-Broadway theater company. All I remember is him standing at the edge of stage left and articulating his soliloquy so boldly that I was repeatedly showered in my front row seat. I could have used an umbrella. 


Speaking of an umbrella, that protective device provided me momentary fame at the conclusion of “The Thin Place,” another Playwrights Horizon production in December 2019. A play about telepathy ended with the lead actor facing me as I sat to the extreme right of the stage. 


She wanted to demonstrate anyone could experience telepathy. She took a pad and marker pen out of a table drawer, wrote down a word, held it to her chest and implored me to concentrate on this unknown word that she would be trying to transmit to me. 


She asked what I had heard in my head, just behind my forehead. I replied, too softly at first for her, let alone for the audience, to hear. Louder, I said, “Umbrella.” Turning the pad toward the audience she revealed what she had written—Umbrella. The audience gasped. The stage went dark. The audience clapped.


Audience members approached me to ask, Did I really receive a telepathic message? Had I been primed by the theater staff prior to the performance to say umbrella? Was I an actor planted in the audience?


No, on all counts. Just before I was ready to say a different word, I heard a faint but distinct metallic voice say, “Umbrella.” I quickly processed my role, though to be sure I at first whispered “umbrella,” hoping the actress could read my lips. With her encouragement I repeated aloud the last word of the play.


No one else had heard the transmission, not even Gilda seated next to me. The theater must have targeted a narrowcast to my seat alone. I couldn’t prove it but it was the only rational explanation. After all, I was familiar with narrowcasting systems retailers have sometimes used to direct messages to workers or shoppers in specific locations so as not to alert or bother customers or staff throughout a store. Messages such as a special sale for those currently in the housewares department. Or staff should clean up a spill in aisle eight. 


Live theater and concerts, especially if you’re in the front row, can provide bold and unexpected experiences. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

I’m Just Saying … Opinions to Consider

I’m just saying …


… if politics is the art of compromise, then today’s Republicans are not engaged in politics; 


…if I knew half the stars in the commercials I see on television I might enjoy the ads more; 


…if star troopers are supposed to be elite soldiers, how come they keep missing when shooting at Luke, Hans and their successors?; 


… if the House of Representatives continues to be dysfunctional, President Biden should evoke President Harry S. Truman and run an aggressive campaign against the “do-nothing” Congress. Of course, that assumes Biden can channel the “Give ‘em Hell, Harry” spirit of 1948; 


… if you thought there was any chance Donald Trump would be a witness in his own defense in the Stormy-Daniels-sex-scandal-falsifying-business-records trial you are not just deeply disappointed, you are extremely naive; 


… if you want an explanation as to why millennials blame Israel and not Hamas, and why anti-semitism and neo-Naziism are flourishing, ascribe some of the reason to a change in cultural touchstones. Unlike Baby Boomers and the following cohort, the next two generations were not subjected to a treatise through film on the evils of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Indeed, during the millenials’ formative years Germany and Japan were not our enemies but rather our strong partners in democracy and economic success. They were replaced as enemies by space aliens or post apocalyptic tyrants.  Israel, during its first 25 years, was the underdog. Newer generations have only known Israel as a fierce and successful warrior and master over millions of Palestinians. There is no context for Israel’s struggle to survive and the repeated refusal by Palestinians to accept a two-state solution;


… if recognizing a Palestinian state, as Spain, Ireland and Norway espouse, is desired, then greater understanding of the Middle East is required. It would be a symbolic gesture, meaningless until Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad the Palestinian Authority and other Islamic entities accept Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. A non negotiable condition for any Palestinian state is recognition of Israel in secure boundaries. In 1948 Israel accepted partition of the British mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Arab states and their people rejected Israel, have done so repeatedly over the ensuing decades and subsequently have lost wars and territory. The path to peace in Gaza requires Hamas to renounce violence against Israel and Jews. Will it recognize Israel’s right to exist? How would any such promises be monitored and enforced? Remember, the Taliban promised to be more tolerant toward women once it reclaimed governance of Afghanistan. How’s that working out? Not as promised. Why would anyone expect Hamas to be any more compliant with terms of a cease fire when it was Hamas that violated the ceasefire on October 7? Why would anyone expect Hamas to be any more democratic, have any more acceptance of democratic values than it has been since ousting Fatah in an election in Gaza 18 years ago, the only election it has sanctioned? Hamas has been awash in money from Qatar and its own businesses around the world. What makes anyone expect Hamas to use its funds to enhance the lives of Gaza residents when it has failed to do so in the past, diverting its monies into tunnel construction and rocket making? 


… those voters who say they have abandoned President Biden because of his handling of the Israeli-Gaza war surely should not expect Donald Trump would be more even-handed and sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Trump has denounced Biden for withholding arms shipments to Israel. And those who believe Trump would stop the flow of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees across our southern border, they do not realize that even with all the mayhem Trump would bring to America and its border, the U.S. still is better than other countries, thus the desire by the desperate to risk all to come here. 









Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This Time of Year, Typical Day in Omaha

The siren wail lasted a few minutes. In Omaha, Nebraska, residents know what it means. Gilda and I surmised it meant “tornado watch.” A confirming alert pulsated through her iPhone.


The skies, which a few moments before had been bright and blue, turned grey and foreboding. Rain came down. Hard. But for just a few minutes. Then the sun reappeared.


I needed to go to the supermarket a mile and a half away. Gilda checked her iPhone for weather alerts. All clear. I headed off. Halfway there it started sprinkling. Again the skies darkened. My head swiveled between looking at the road and scanning the grey skies for any signs of a funnel. By the time I reached the supermarket it was a full scale downpour. 


I had taken a jacket but not a hat, so I perched a shopping bag atop my head as I walked the 20 yards to the store entrance. A bald man leaving the supermarket teased he had no need to worry about wetting his hair. 


After quickly filling my shopping list I was all set to flee back to my car, but the cashier advised it was best to wait out the storm. So I hung out in the vestibule near the automatic doors. A woman was waiting for her husband to join her after parking the car. They had encountered small pellets of hail during their ride. 


A few minutes later the rain subsided to a soft drizzle. On the way back to Ellie’s house puddles, BIG puddles, hugging roadside curbs displayed the intensity of the storm. It had overwhelmed the storm drain system’s ability to absorb the water. My pathway was flat. No danger of driving into a puddle of unknown depth. While I was coping with the rain and possibility of a twister, Gilda sought safety in the basement of Ellie’s home.


As I write this, the sun is shining once again. The forecast for the rest of the afternoon is for winds in excess of 20 miles per hour. Last night winds were equally as strong. Rain, perhaps even hail, pelted the windows, siding and roof. Phone alerts advised moving away from windows. Areas of Omaha received more than five inches of rain. 


I have no regrets missing an actual tornado. I’m more than content beingthisclosetotheexperience.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Pedal Blocks Killed My Malibu Moment

I’ve driven many cars since I obtained my license 57 years ago, some I’ve owned or leased, most I rented during business and pleasure trips across the United States, Canada and Europe. 


But never a Malibu. I most likely will never drive a Malibu as General Motors announced Wednesday it is dropping the model from its Chevrolet lineup (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/09/style/chevy-malibu-culture-cool.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare). 


Not that I didn’t walk into a Chevy showroom in early 1982 with every intention of buying a Malibu. Our second child had been born weeks earlier. Gilda needed a car she would be more comfortable driving than the blue Buick LeSabre my father had “gifted” to us a year or two before. He made us give him Bertha, a red with black vinyl top 1969 Buick Skylark Gilda had learned to drive on. He wanted our Skylark for one of his workers, Lucy, as his months-old car was too new to just give away to a non family member. To Gilda the LeSabre was a boat. Used to driving a Buick Electra 225 or a Cadillac DeVille, my father thought the LeSabre was too small. 


On a Saturday afternoon we entered the Chevy showroom looking for a Malibu. Gilda sat down in the driver’s seat, adjusted it and proclaimed it “undriveable.”


Why? Because no matter how far forward my 5 foot 2 inch wife set the bench seat—yes, the Malibu had a bench seat, not bucket seats—she was not able to touch the accelerator or brake pedal. 


Not wanting to lose a commission the salesman speedily suggested blocks could be fastened to the pedals to make them accessible. Gilda’s scornful laugh still reverberates in my ear. 


As Gilda wasn’t going to grow any taller we reasoned we needed to find a car company with experience serving the vertically-challenged. We drove to the nearest Datsun dealership in the midst of its rebranding to Nissan. 


Gilda hopped behind the wheel of a Nissan Sentra hatchback and became an unofficial apostle for the Japanese carmaker’s marketing sensibility in producing cars for short drivers. She credits GM’s shortsightedness about meeting the needs of female drivers as a major reason for the decline in its market share. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Careful Donald, Your Claim of Presidential Immunity Could Backfire on You

It has been postulated by Donald Trump’s legal team that a president has absolute immunity for any “official act,” even so far as ordering the assassination of individuals. If the Supreme Court affirms that theory, what would prevent Joe Biden from ordering the elimination of someone he and constitutional scholars believe is a real and current threat to our democratic republic—Donald Trump?


Far-fetched? To be sure. But plausible? You betcha, if the Supremes rule there is no mountain too high that a president cannot scale in pursuit of defending our country. 


Would Biden do it? Convinced as he is that a Trump return to the presidency would be catastrophic for the nation and liberal democracies the world over, he just might reach the conclusion that Trump is expendable. 


Trump, himself, might reach the same conclusion, so he might stay sequestered in Mar-a-Lago through the election and beyond to January 20 inauguration day. Even with Secret Service protection Trump might feel safer in his Florida bunker than in public where Biden’s assassination team would have easier access to a kill. 


He’d still be able to campaign. In 2020 during Covid, Biden showed you can win an election from your basement with Internet links. 


If ever there was cause for the Supreme Court to rule intelligently and with unanimity the issue of presidential immunity needs resolution. If we are to be a nation where no one is above the law the taking of an innocent life must not be enshrined as a presidential power. It should not be a right of the presidency.  


We should thank Donald Trump for forcing the Supreme Court to clarify this principle. And if the court doesn’t, Trump should be mocked for his inadvertent willingness to be the first potential victim of presidential impunity. 


(A Scary Coda: Former attorney general Bill Barr confirmed last week that Trump often advocated for the elimination of critics and leakers. Though Barr qualified his remarks by saying Trump eventually got over his hissy killing fits, it is not inconceivable to imagine a Thomas Becket result from overzealous staffers if presidential murder power is condoned by the Supreme Court, particularly if a second Trump administration is staffed by aggressive loyalists rather than by politically savvy and mature officials.)

Monday, April 29, 2024

Protestors: The Enemy Is Not Israel

As a veteran of the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s-1970s, I don’t begrudge college students and other activists demonstrating against Israel’s aggressive response to the October 7 butchery by Hamas of Israelis who were among their nation’s most left wing peace advocates with Palestinians. 


But what exactly are they protesting for? Yes, they want the killing to stop. But with what entity do they want to entrust Gaza and beyond? 


Surely they cannot seriously believe Hamas is an option. The same Hamas that has systematically killed anyone who has vocally and publicly disagreed with it? The same Hamas that denied Gazans sanctuary in its tunnel network from aerial and artillery bombardments, giving shelter just to its terrorist forces? The same Hamas that has killed relief aid workers and taken for itself food and fuel intended for all Gazans? The same Hamas that imbedded itself in hospitals, mosques and schools, insuring that Gazans would be killed by Israel shooting at terrorists? The same Hamas that does not tolerate the LGBTQ+ community? The same Hamas that planned and executed an assault that killed more than 1,200 mostly defenseless civilians and wounded more than 3,300 including the elderly and children as young as less than a year old, that assaulted and raped women, that in violation of international law has taken hostages now held for more than six months? The same Hamas that for nearly 20 years has indiscriminately fired rockets and mortars on civilian Israeli communities without regard to who or how many might be killed or wounded? The same Hamas that has refused to hold elections since 2006?  


I don’t like it but they are within their rights to demonstrate against Israel. Even against American support for Israel. But when, as Palestinians and their fellow protestors in Dearborn, Mich., did a few weeks ago, they chant “Death to America,” that crosses the line. It was offensive and, if determined not to be within free expression protections, should be prosecuted. They are no different than the January 6 Capitol rioters whose objective was the overthrow of our legitimate government. Similarly, cries to kill and to intimidate Jews is not acceptable behavior.


Unfortunately, the protestors lack context and accuracy in their belligerence. Israel is not an apartheid state. It is not practicing genocide against Palestinians. It is not conducting an anti-humanitarian war against Hamas. 


Nowhere else in the Middle East—especially not in Hamas-controlled Gaza—are Palestinians able to protest without fear of retribution. On the other hand, Palestinians who are citizens of Israel are permitted to vote and protest against their elected government. Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has held an election for more than a decade. 


Unlike Hamas, Israel does not restrict the rights of women and LGBTQ+ members. 


Sixty years ago we sought an end to the Vietnam War. North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were not ideal enemies, not without evil actions. But they were not dedicated to America’s destruction. Today, Vietnam is a strong commercial partner with us. Some see it as a bulwark against Chinese regional hegemony. 


Hamas does not recognize Israel’s existence. It is dedicated to Israel’s annihilation and the killing of Jews. Until Hamas and its allies accept Israel’s reality conflict will continue.


The death and injury of thousands of innocents in Gaza is tragic, but not unusual in any conflict. Keep in mind, Israel did not initiate the war with Hamas. It is difficult to not conclude criticism of Israel’s defense of its sovereignty and effort to liberate hostages taken by Hamas is not anti-semitic when critics, especially college/university students, have been largely silent about, among other worldwide hot spots, the horrific treatment by China of its Moslem Uyghur citizens, Assad’s brutal actions in the Syrian civil war, Modi’s plans to strip rights from India’s Moslem population, Myamar’s persecution of its Rohingya minority, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with attacks on civilians and their infrastructure.


The pro Palestinian faction demonizes all associated with Israel. According to The New York Times, “Student demands (at Columbia University) include that the university divest from any financial interests connected to Israel and amnesty for all activists for their protest actions.”


So here’s a thought—perhaps those urging a boycott and divestment from Israel should practice boycott and divestment on a personal level. I wonder, just how far these zealots are willing to go? Would they, in fact, be willing to live their lives without the conveniences and health-oriented tools they currently enjoy that originated in Israel?


Here’s a partial list of Israel’s contribution over the last 75 years to raising the world’s standard of living:

  • Israel contributed to the development of Microsoft Windows, Intel computer chips, instant messaging, the cellular telephone including the iPhone
  • USB Flash Drive
  • Waze, the GPS-navigation software app
  • Sabon cosmetics and bath products
  • Wix website-building company
  • Jaffa Oranges
  • SodaStream
  • AHAVA cosmetics
  • Max Brenner chocolates
  • Bamba peanut-butter-flavored snack useful in developing in infants tolerance to peanuts
  • Drip irrigation
  • Epilady 
  • Firewall computer network security system
  • NIR heart stent
  • Voice over Internet Protocol, PC-to-phone software solution
  • PillCam

The list can go on and on (https://www.haaretz.com/haaretz-labels/cutting-edge/2021-04-13/ty-article-labels/israeli-inventions-that-changed-the-world/00000180-8db6-d759-a99f-8ffee51d0000).


By comparison, while the world owes a debt to the Islamic community of 700 to the late 19th century for preserving ancient teachings and giving us the foundation of modern society (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-islamic-inventions-saved-western-civilization-mona-lou-cherkaoui?utm_source=share&utm_medium=guest_desktop&utm_campaign=copy), aside from expanding the crime of airplane hijacking and killing passengers as well as exporting radical Islam, I can find no comparable list of inventions and benefits from Palestinians and other Moslems over the last 75 years. 


Thursday, April 18, 2024

My One Degree of Separation from Star Trek's Sulu

 Eighty-six-year-old George Takei is enjoying another moment in the spotlight (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/06/arts/george-takei-my-lost-freedom.html?smid=url-share).


The venerable, venerated actor and activist is now author of a children’s book (“My Lost Freedom”) based on his experience during World War II as an American citizen of Japanese descent interned in a relocation camp away from their West Coast homes, a dark moment in our nation’s history after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan when our country let fear overwhelm constitutional rights and protections. 


Takei first vaulted onto the public’s consciousness as Lt. Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek,” the sci-fi television series that ran on NBC 1966-1969. Through reruns, films, comic books and trade shows the Star Trek franchise has kept Takei and his comrades from the Starship USS Enterprise in the public eye for more than half a century. 


I never really was a Star Trek groupie. The concept, after all, was a space-age oater, oater being a crossword puzzle word for a moral-based Western entertainment treatment. In my family Westerns dominated our television viewing. The Lone Ranger. Hopalong Cassidy. Sky King. Roy Rogers. Paladin. Cheyenne. Maverick. Wanted Dead or Alive. The Rebel. Sugarfoot. The Rifleman. Wagon Train. Wyatt Earp. Bat Masterson. Tales of Wells Fargo. Last of the Mohicans. And, of course, Gunsmoke and Bonanza. 


We didn’t need to fly into outer space to learn American values of right and wrong. They were imprinted onto our moral code on horseback on the plains of the West. 


George Takei mostly was a curiosity to me until after I took over as editor of Chain Store Age Executive in November 1987. Among the staff I inherited was a Los Angeles-based writer, Brad Altman. 


I cannot recall why, but corporate said I had to trim the editorial staff. For nothing to do with his talent, the axe fell on Brad. I flew to Los Angeles to deliver the news in person. 


A few years later I was jolted by the surprising news that Brad became the partner of George Takei. They married in 2008. They were the first gay couple to receive a marriage license in the City of West Hollywood. Brad changed his last name to Takei in 2013.


He’s my one degree of separation from George Takei (https://people.com/who-is-brad-takei-george-takei-husband-7499307?utm_source=emailshare&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons).