Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the great and the near great

My grandmother which would be Samaya's great,great grandmother lived to over a hundred years old because the Grim Reaper was too scared to come near her until then and I suspect he brought henchmen to give him courage. As a teenager she was a nanny for the children of a Russian general. Soon after that she crossed the ocean to the New World, married had a eight children, made bootleg whiskey in her bathtub and mostly did as she pleased. My favorite picture of her is bending down to pet her cowering German Shepherd with her massive shoulders blocking out the sun. My grandfather was the first to build on the end of South Chestnut St. A man bought the property next to her house and wanted to build a house, but the problem was my family had the only water needed to build a foundation. He made a deal with my grandmother to pay for the water after the foundation was built. The foundation did get built but something went wrong and it collapsed. He came to my Grandmother with his tale of woe saying that he had to start over. She said ok but pay me for the water you have already used. He said "Mary, you don't understand. My foundation crumbled. I'm not paying you." She answered. "Are you sure you won't pay me?" He said yes. She grabbed a sledge hammer and demolished the man's car. A policeman came to investigate and heard their story. He said. "Sounds like your even" and then he left. The man, resigned to defeat, paid her and then said he was going to start another foundation. She said "Fine, but now you have to pay in advance."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

DC goes to D.C. or Goliath beats David-cont.

I never saw the Satin Statue again-just as well as I could never afford a cummerbund(Dunkin Donuts sells them now) much less a tuxedo. The big day came and we sat up front almost in touching distance to the nine justices if they were not lined up on an elevated platform peering down at us like we were a lab experiment gone wrong. The procedure is brutal on lawyers who each give an oral presentation for one hour dressed in elegant old world morning coats in front of nine lions who have not had meat in a week. No sooner do they open their mouths when they get verbally assaulted and I do mean assaulted-especially the lawyer for the State of N.Y. The J's don't say please or thank you or give the poor lawyer a chance to think. They were brutal in the way they took apart N.Y."s case and found N.Y. totally unjust in how they treated my mother's rights to obtain a license. They treated my Vinnie C. much more kindly but still peppered him with question. I would have bet the farm that she won, but months later we found out she lost 8 to 1 on a technicality. The only J that was on her side was the legendary Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer who argued the Brown vs The board of Ed. of Topeka, Kansas in the early 1950's and won!-much to the shock of the uncivilized world. He represented the NAACP. I can still picture him seated on the extreme left looking old and tired and probably tired of a world that so easily squashed the dreams that grow from freedom. But mother was unsquashable and began a new highly successful career in Maine. I believe that those last twenty years of her life in glorious Maine were happiest of her life. Anyway, when a guest comes on our radio show I like to think the free for all questioning is preparing them for the Supreme Court.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DC goes to D.C. or Goliath beats David

Anyway after spending a fortune fighting the state of New York and the State of New York my mother (Goliath) gets to the highest court in the New York (David) and wins! To this day if you Google Dr. Mary Tomanio you will likely find some obscure legal reference to Tomanio vs the State of New York. The family relaxes until some months later we are informed that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the State of New York's appeal. (I know what you are thinking. What does this have to do with the radio show?). It cost a lot of money to take a case to the Supreme Court, but again my mother shouts out 'Justice" and Dr. Mary, her son Ronnie and her lawyer Vincent fly to D.C. and settle into a posh hotel with granite floors and star-filled chandeliers. I remember the incredible food and going to the Smithsonian Museum and seeing the most elegant, gorgeous Chineese woman imaginable. I wanted to propose marriage but she was walking down the magnificent sparkling main lobby with a silver haired tuxedo clad patrician. I tell myself that he probably was arrested the following day for malfeasance in office and is still in prison. The next night I was sitting in a cozy restaurant lounge too keyed up to sleep with the big court day looming in the morning. I was taking a sleeping pill in the form of a large cheeseburger when in walks the elegant Chinese woman even more breathtaking in person and what does she do but sit down in the table next to me. Just me, her and a bowl of beer nuts with an occasional diamond earring between us. She began talking with me and I sensed the loneliness of a work of art that lives on a display pedestal. She goes to take a few nuts and I caution her to watch out for the nuts that sparkle. We talked about the longing of the soul and Baha'i philosophy until she finally disappeared into the marble blackness of Washington. (I know, what does this have to do with a radio show?) I will finish in the morning if I can. I need to go dream about satin statues covered in flowers.

A DC goes to D.C.

Most of friends know that I co host a radio show that deals with issues of the developmentally disabled community. My co hosts are a friend and client for years who had a stroke as a ten month old. The other co host is a young lady who is legally blind and has a muscle weakness problem. My friend John is even more of a loose cannon then I am and I am used to him and how he changes subjects seemingly mid sentence which takes time to get accustom to. Impulsivity goes with the brain damage territory which means that often we both never know what will emerge from his mouth. Thus our radio interviews have been fast and furious with our poor guests often reeling from the verbal barrage-but it is quite fun and most of the time it works and sometimes it really works. Lately I have been thinking that this current experience with John is similar to another experience ages ago but I just couldn't put my finger on it until a few days ago.
Thirty-five years ago I accompanied my mother, the illustrious Dr. Mary D.C. to Washington D.C. because she had a long running court case that had winded its way through the state of New York's legal system. We thought it was over when she won in the highest New York court only to find out later that a very, very rare event occurred. Her case was accepted by te U.S. Supreme Court. Briefly, the case revolved around simple fairness in licensing chiropractors who at one time were labeled as a dangerous cult by the American Medical Association. These court cases cost a fortune and at one hearing a judge asked my mother knowing it would be simpler and cheaper for her to move to Maine or New Hampshire why she was pursuing this case. My mother rose to her feet in court and with a powerful voice shouted "Justice! I am a Baha'i and we fight for justice!" The judge reacted like he heard the word for the first time. I will finish the story later-need to go to work.

Monday, January 18, 2010


How do you know when you made a good decision? As a young man I ate a small bag of smoked almonds and was terribly ill and to this day that decision goes into the really bad column. I also took a shuttle flight in a tiny airplane the time I accompanied my mother to her her Supreme Court hearing in Washington D.C. (I story I will tell in a few days). I threw up continually and used up everybody's air bag- turned white as Santa Claus's ass and prayed for death. No doubt about that decision being in the bonehead column. Some decisions fool you. For a long time I bemoaned my decision to pursue electronics tech. in college at the urging of long dead uncles who all worked for IBM. I hated school-hated science-hated parking at the base of the Himalayas and the walk up the equivalent of the Mt. Carmel terraces to get to class. I can still crack walnuts with my thigh muscles (a good party trick except I don't go to parties). Up until a few years ago this decision was firmly in the negative decision making category, but I have just finished a book with two friends that took over a decade and I gradually noticed that the part of my mind that thinks in long logical patterns was formed in calculus class and physic's labs. So that college decision has slowly shifted into the win column. There is a Buddhist parable that relates a persons back and forth evaluation of what constitutes a positive or negative outcome. I can't remember the long tale but the point is profound. A young man damages a knee and is plunged into despair, but war brakes out and he is spared because of his knee-the pendulum continually swings to and fro until you realize just how difficult it is to evaluate what has befallen us in this lifetime and it is why the philosophers tell us that "Only a fool is sure" but I have made several wonderful decisions-becoming a Baha'i, marrying Karen, being a part of a ridiculous process from which emerged Laurel and Julia. I had to this positive list giving permission for my daughter Laurel to marry Sisay. Here is the letter that was read on my behalf at their wedding in Haifa, Israel.

A Letter to my Children
This scroll wound up tightly unfolds its mysterious secrets just like your marriage will
reveal its hidden treasures which are given to you both by the Hidden Treasure, Baha'u'llah.
He is the first among your wedding guests to arrive and His gift was given to you long ago
before your entrance into this world. The marriage of the graceful nobility of Sisay with the dancing compassionate mind of Laurel form overlapping hearts. Pay close attention to the shared area. It is a new land formed like a volcanic island in the middle of the ocean. Don't be afraid of the volcano. From time to time it will erupt in fury with raging heated winds and a deafening sound. Know that the embers will cool. The hazy mist will dissipate. The roar will fade away leaving only the sound of gentle winds caressing a lush green island. It is on this island that you, Sisay and you, Laurel will live forever.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dr. Mary's driving school

This memory came back like an early birthday present giving me a warm laugh during the day. One definition of comedy is a tragedy that happens to someone else and how grateful to my older brother for playing the role of a tragic figure leaving me to eternally enjoy the comedy of this memory.
My mother got it into her head that she could teach my brother-let me correct that. My poor wretched, hopeless, eternally doomed brother allowed my mother to teach him how to drive on one typical summer Saturday morning. Now in most societies and on most planets the person teaching someone how to drive actually sits next to that person in the front seat, but not at Dr. Mary's Driving school. She sat in the back seat in this big old blue boat of a Ford Galaxy holding on for dear life yelling at my brother to be careful and the poor guy had not put the car in drive yet. I was in the front seat of the best show in town. My brother was half crazy with nerves as the car moved ever so slightly down South Chestnut St. I estimate we were moving at about ten miles per hour down a deserted wide avenue when my mother yelled out, "Help! I'm being tossed around like a ball back here!" I don't know what happened after that as I blacked out from laughter. A couple of years later there was was no mention of a driving lesson from the good doctor. I was sent of to Ben's Driving School. Ah the joy of being the younger brother.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Hello my friends out there, who for reasons of maintaining their dignity wish to remain anonymous, I have finished tweaking some old stories namely "Daddy Threw the Bookie Out the Window" and "Grain of Sand". "Daddy" is hopefully funny based on a real incident and then embellished a million percent. "Grain" is serious based on a real person in my distant past. I will be recording stories this winter for my posterior or for posterity. I will have to consult the dictionary. Send email if you want to read either or both.-love to all Planet Earthians