Archive for the breaking news Category

Al Qaeda Goes to College: First Book Review

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, Gay Literature, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on February 21, 2009 by castagnera

February 21, 2009

Book Review Highlight Al-Qaeda Goes to College

AlqaedaOn Jan. 23, 2009, Adjunct Prof Blog announced  that James Ottavio Castagnera, a well known lawyer and professor at Rider University, just wrote an exciting new book entitled “Al-Qaeda Goes To College.” Professor Castagnera was kind enough to provide me with an advance copy and I could not put it down. 
The book starts off by detailing how Professor Castagnera world began to change on 9-11. It then goes on to discuss the Anthrax scare that occurred at the Hamlton New Jersey Post Office, just a few miles a way from Rider University.    
The book’s research is excellent and it is full of detailed footnotes that others will undoubtedly find helpful.  Professor Castagnera central thesis, however, is on the impact  9-11 had on higher education. He views 9-11 as a double edge sword. On the one hand universities lost their innocence at great cost (increased governmental regulations, security costs etc.), but on the other hand universities also got a windfall because now they offer more programs and research on national security. Professor Castagnera believes that American universities have met the challenge of 9-11 and we are better off because of it. He compares 9-11 to WWII and states that America became a super power because of WWII.

The book goes on and covers such topics as universities’ roles in training counter-terrorism experts, particularly anthropologists working in Iraq and Afghanistan; bio-terrorism research on campuses; inflammatory critiques by the likes of Ward Churchill; the conspiracy theories advocated by some academics regarding 9/11; lawsuits against universities by terror victims trying to get settlements from countries like Iran by seizing archaeological artifacts in American universities; accused Islamists teaching at American colleges, like Sami al-Arian at USF.

This book not only presents well researched factual information, but it also contains legal analysis. For example with respect to the discharge of Professor Ward Churchill, Professor Castagnera outlines the First Amendment rights of public employees and in particular academic freedom. 

To my knowledge, this is the first book on how 9-11 has changed the world of higher education.  This book will be available around April 30th and you can pre-order it now from the above link. You will be glad that you did.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


Read a sample chapter from my newest book, “Al Qaeda Goes to College”

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, Gay Literature, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on February 10, 2009 by castagnera

My new book is now available

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on January 6, 2009 by castagnera

Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (Conclusion)

Posted in AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, arrest, art, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, films, Gay Literature, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, internet, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, literature, media, medicine, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, novels, pennsylvania, Politics, pornography, professors, random, relationships, religion, science, shooting, technology, Terrorism, Uncategorized, universities, Violence, VTU, war on terror, world affairs, writing on December 19, 2008 by castagnera

Chapter Thirteen
     “I don’t know, Ned.  It’s not like he knows Led Zepplin or

somebody like that.”  My best friend, Chris Natoli, sat on his‘’=[1]0*†(†(∞

towel with his back against a big maple tree on the west side of

the Hilltop pool.  “I just don’t think I could handle being around

a guy like that.”
     “Well, I’m really not around him all that much,” I explained,

sipping my blueberry Italian water ice.  “He doesn’t come into

Berger’s office every day.  Half the time I’m stuck by myself in a

back room with a typewriter typing up stuff that Berger claims that

lazy secretary of his doesn’t have time to get to.”
     Chris distractedly picked with his right forefinger at a zit

on his large, round belly.  Sometimes he seemed more like Archie’s

son than I did, except for his jet black hair and a deep tan I

couldn’t have achieved even if I had been able to spend the summer

working in Wildwood.
     “Yeh,” he said, “but aren’t you afraid of catching HIV from

     “Listen, Chris,” I replied, now idly inspecting my own stomach

for any sign of a new pimple. “If there’s one thing I am getting

out of this summer job, it’s a first year of medical school.  When

I’m not up in New Hope serving as an indentured servant to Ms.

Florence ‘God©Almighty’ Kaiserman, Pop’s got me down at the

Philadelphia Free Library or at Jefferson University xeroxing every

article on HIV and AIDS I can lay my hands on.  Then I have to read

them, write a synopsis and file them.”
    While a part of my conscious mind was explaining all this to

Chris, another part was taking note of the chest hairs he had begun

to sprout.  Where he had a nice crop of pubic hair coming up and‘’>[1]0*†(†(∞

curling out of the center of his well©tanned chest, I had three

nasty looking zits in varied stages of rise and decline occupying

that favored location on mine.  I flicked at the nastiest of the

trio with a vengeful finger nail.
   “Believe me,” I continued, “somebody or other has investigated

every conceivable aspect of HIV infection.  There’s a study that

finds that HIV can’t be transmitted from person to person by

drinking out of the same communion chalice at a church service.

Another study claims that cookies baked by an advanced AIDS patient

in a hospital where eaten by the doctors there with none of them

picking up the virus.”
    “Well,” Chris replied, taking a Snickers bar from his beach bag

and tearing off the wrapper in one neat motion the way an

experienced hunter might skin his quarry, “I still don’t know if

I’d take the chance of being around that guy.  Why all the articles

     “Arch says we have to convince the judge that if Dennie is

given his old job back through a court order, there’s absolutely no

chance he could transmit HIV through the food to the restaurant’s

customers.  We have some pretty good experts lined up who are going

to say that too,” I added.
   Chris chomped off about half the Snickers bar and mumbled around

the wad of chocolate in his mouth, “If you say so.”
    Chewing reflectively he added,”Hey, maybe I shouldn’t be

hanging around you.”‘Ä%?0*†(†(∞

‘å     I was still sufficiently sensitive about the subject to get a

panicky look on my face and drop my water ice, which landed upside

down on a dusty bare patch in the lawn.
    Chris laughed and a few flecks of the chocolate coating from

the Snickers popped out of his mouth and onto his ample belly.
    “Hey, man,” he mumbled,”chill out.  It was just a joke.”  And

as if to prove it, he handed me the surviving half of the Snickers.

“Here…want a bite?”


‘åChapter Fourteen
     That voice… shrill, capable of penetrating not only plaster

walls and solid oak doors, but the eardrums, brains and other vital

organs of the persons taking futile refuge behind those walls and

doors.  In this case, as usual, the refugee was me.
     I bent lower over the latest JAMA (that is, Journal of the

American Medical Association) article on AIDS as a health threat in

the restaurant industry.  I focused on the technical jargon and

hoped Mrs. Kaiserman might think I’d gone off for an early lunch.

But no…
    “Ned!”  Louder this time, if that was possible.  “I need you.”
     During the four or five weeks I’d been working in the Law

Offices of Lawrence Fishbine Berger, he and Mrs. Kaiserman

apparently had concluded there was not enough work on the Lustig

case to keep me fully occupied.  Or perhaps Larry was just

determined to get his money’s worth, since he had agreed at the

fateful picnic to pick up half my paycheck.  Whatever the reason,

my time was now about equally divided between helping get √
√Lustig v.

ƒ ready for its August trial date and serving as Mrs.

Kaiserman’s gopher.  Though I found Mrs, K. pretty grating on my

young nerves, I had to admit I enjoyed the opportunities her little

tasks gave me to get out and about on balmy summer days when

otherwise I’d be in my closet/office peering at small print.

‘å     I turned off the desk lamp, pushed back the hardwood chair

that played proxy to a proper desk chair, stood up and stretched.

I had been hunched over my labor for almost two hours, since I had

arrived at around nine in morning.  My leisurely reaction to Mrs.

Kaiserman’s clarion call resulted in a third howl of “Ned!  Are you

back there?”
     Opening my door I responded in a tone that I hoped masked the

irritation Mrs. K. always aroused in me, “Right here.  I’m on my

way, Mrs. K.”  Unfortunately, I think the rhyme resulted in a sing™song tone that sounded a note of sarcasm.
    “I’m on my way, Mrs. K,” the fifty©something secretary mimicked

back at me.  “You’d be on your way to a job bagging fries at

MacDonald’s, if it were up to me, young man.  This office requires

a proper law clerk, not a high school kid who happens to be an

attorney’s son.
    “That’s what Larry promised me.  But he’s so cheap… look what

I get.” 
     I could feel my ears turning red, as they always did when the

Kaiser©cow went off on one of these tirades.  I had complained to

Archie about her the first time it happened.  He had been

sympathetic and promised to speak to Berger about it.  But nothing

changed, and Pop had been pretty vague and evasive, when I tried to

pin him down about just what, if anything, he’d said to his co™counsel about my latest tormentor.
     Given that my most of my pay was deferred until the case’s

end, I was ready to react.‘’B[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     My mouth was open and the words about to leap out, which would

have brought circumstances to the crisis stage, when the front door

swung open and in strutted Dennis.  His expression suggested he was

preoccupied at the instant he entered the reception area where Mrs.

K.’s formidable hundred and eighty pound hulk blocked anyone who

hoped to sail back to her master’s large, rather opulent rear

office.  But as soon as he saw me, Lustig’s expression changed.  He

flashed his puckish smile and I swear his violet eyes flashed.
     “Ned, how √
ƒ you?” he inquired brightly.  Then, tilting his

head slightly to the left, he pronounced a perfunctory “Mrs. K.”

upon the grand dame of Larry Berger©land, whose scowl shifted

seamlessly from me to him.
    The anger drained from my face, as I seemed to involuntarily

absorb some of his good humor, a reflex I had come to recognize in

myself with a certain sense of surprise each time it was repeated.
    “Hey, Denny.  I’m okay, man.”
    “Great.  So how about an early lunch?” he asked.  “that is,” he

added, cocking his head in Mrs. K.’s direction again, “if the

mistress of the establishment has no objection.”
    The Kaiser©cow’s look would have killed if it could.  Her

normal lack of friendliness was enhanced in Lustig’s case by her

unvarnished disapproval of gays. 
    “Ned was just leaving with a package I have to get over to

Wellington Realty before noon,” she carped.
    “Fine.  He can drop it off and then we can can grab a bite at

the Sunflower.  It’s only half a block away.”  Denny picked up the‘’C[1]0*†(†(∞

large brown envelope and headed quickly out the door with it. I

backed my way toward the door, shrugging to Mrs. K. as I went.
Her face was crinkled up like a lunch bag that had been used more

than once and she was silently mouthing words in Denny’s direction.

I was no lip reader but hte words seemed to be ones that my parents

strictly forbade me to even think of using.
     The small of my back rammed into the door knob.  I reached

behind me with my right hand, turned the knob and did a smart

little about©face out the door and bounded down the three brick

steps onto the sidewalk, where a leering Denny stood waiting with

Mrs. K.’s package tucked under his left arm.
     “Somehow, over the months that I’ve been coming here, I’ve

gotten the distinct impression that that old cow doesn’t approve of

the gay lifestyle,” Denny observed in that droll way he had with

his eyes twinkling mischievously.
     “In the weeks that √
ƒ been coming here, I’ve formed the

distinct impression that the Kaiser©cow does not approve of anyone

younger than she is, smarter than she is, happier than she is, or

richer then she is,” I retorted, falling into step with Denny on

the uneven slate sidewalks.  “In short, she doesn’t much like

anybody who ever has a reason to come into her reception room.”
    Denny laughed out loud.  “Kaiser©cow… I like that, Ned.”
     We walked briskly down the streets of New Hope chatting

happily.  But once again, waiting for a traffic light to change, I

caught a glimpse of Denny’s expression when he was unaware that I

was looking at him.  I saw the same anxiety peep out from behind‘’D[1]0*†(†(∞

the lighthearted facade as I had detected when he first came

through the door of Berger’s offices a few minutes earlier.


‘åChapter Fifteen
      At lunch, sitting at a tiny corner table in the Sunflower, a

little cafe owned and run by a couple of Denny’s gay friends, I was

again struck by the ethereal sort of violet shade of his eyes, as

I had been a number of times before.  This time I was relaxed

enough with him to say so.
    “The same as Elizabeth Taylor,” he replied, looking me straight

in my eyes and giving me the full effect.
     “What do you mean?” I asked, not getting his point.
     “Liz Taylor and I wear the same shade of contacts,” he told

      “Those are contacts, Den? I never guessed.”
      “Ned, darling, nobody has lavender eyes,” Denny responded.
Then noticing Lawrence, the older of the Sunflower’s two owners

approaching to refill our Cokes, he added, “Except perhaps Larry

     Looking up at Lawrence, who reached for my glass and poured

Coke and ice from his pitcher, Denny added, “Do you have lavender

eyes, sweetheart?”
     “If you cared anything about me at all,” Lawrence retorted,

pouring Coke into Denny’s empty glass and ©©© purposely, I think ©™© letting it splash onto Denny’s half©eaten BLT sandwich, “you’d

know I have dishy green eyes.”
     Denny smirked as Lawrence moved on to another table requiring

refills.  “The man’s mad for me,” said Denny when Lawrence was out

of eavesdropping distance.  “He also knows I can ‘’F[1]0*†(†(∞

‘åout©cook, out©manage, and out©everything©else that slut Henry he

lives with.  He’d bounce Henry out on his ear and have me move in

in  a minute if I’d let him.”
    I had no idea what to reply to that.  So I took an extra©big

bite of my Phillie cheesesteak and stared at my fries.
    After lunch, which Denny insisted on paying for (he always

seemed to have plenty of cash, though so far as I knew he hadn’t

worked since the Freemans had fired him last December), he

suggested a walk down along the Delaware River.  I protested that

Mrs. K. would be watching what time I returned.
    “What’s the Kaiser©cow … God, I √
ƒ that name, Ned,” he

replied, putting his arm around my shoulder, ” what’s the K©cow

going to do?  Fire you?  I think not.
    “No,” he added, steering me toward the little park that runs

down to the river bank, “I think her office, powerful though it may

be, lacks that level of authority.  Let us commune with nature

    We wound up seated beneath a large silver maple growing near

the water’s edge.  I leaned back against the southwestern side of

the trunk and let the sun caress my face.  I closed my eyes and

might have drifted off to sleep had not a sweet, smoky odor entered

my nostrils at that moment.  I turned my head slightly to the left

and squinting against the bright sunlight, saw with my left eye

Denny sucking hard on a small, hand©rolled cigarette he held with

the thumb and forefinger of his right hand.‘Ä%G0*†(†(∞

‘å     I sat bolt upright.  Naturally I knew what it was.  Certain

guys, who frequented certain restrooms at the high school, smoked

the occasional joint in there.  I honestly had never touched the

stuff myself.  In fact it scared me a little bit.
     Denny held his breath a few seconds, then exhaled loudly.  He

noticed me watching him intently.
     “A hit, Ned?” he inquired, holding the marijuana cigarette out

to me.
     “No, I don’t think so, Den,” I responded.
     “What’s the matter? Afraid you’ll contract the dreaded

disease?” he asked.  His voice had a little bit of menace in it I

thought, just the least edge on it, like a challenge.
    “I don’t do drugs, Denny,” I aliterated a little nervously.
    “You’re not telling me the magic weed is unknown at… where is

it you go to school?”
    “Haverford High,” I responded.
    “Ah, yes… Haverford,” he said.  “Goat crossing… did you

know that’s what it means?”
    I didn’t say anything.  I just stared at the joint that seemed

to be billowing its pungent white smoke in my direction.
Denny moved his hand a little closer to my face.  Still I didn’t

reach out and take the joint from him.
    A second later he pulled it back.  “Okay, sweety. suit

yourself.”  He took another long drag on the joint and held the

smoke in much longer than before.  When he exhaled almost no smoke

came out of his mouth at all.‘’H[1]0*†(†(∞

‘åô     He turned to me and the mischief usually in his eyes had been

replaced by a kind of meanness I had never seen them reflect

    “Well, little darling,” he said, almost with a snarl, “You

needn’t worry about catching the dreaded affliction from yours

    “Denny, I didn’t…” I stammered.
    “Because I’ve never had the dreaded plague.”
    “What?” I responded in an embarassingly high©pitched voice.

“What do you mean?”
    “I’m not HIV positive, you little asshole,” he said in a nasty

little whisper that passed through me like a winter chill even

though the day was hot and humid.
     I didn’t need Denny’s arm around my shoulder to guide me back

to the office.  I followed him like a whipped puppy.  The mix of

emotions was almost overwhelming.  Because of Dennis Lustig I had

come to terms with Archie’s alternate plan for how I spent my

summer.  Denny was a victim that had been wronged.  Like my Dad, I

had come to believe I was working to right that wrong.  In between

assignments as Mrs. K.’s gopher I was serving the side of justice.
     Denny also ©©© perhaps somewhat paradoxically ©©© had come to

represent forbidden fruit.  “Alternative lifestyle” is the buzz

phrase today.  I’m not sure I had ever heard it back then from

anyone except Denny.
     He claimed to know Lou Reed and had even “walked on the

wildside” , as the infamous lyricist had put it in one of his most‘’I[1]0*†(†(∞

popular songs.  Such a world seems exciting, enticing, even to a

teenage male who is already pretty clear on his own ‘straight’

sexual orientation.  Now I wondered if all this ‘wild side’ stuff

was also so much fantasy talk from the lips which had just revealed

their devastating secret.
     Denny elaborated on his revelation as we took a winding and

indirect path in the general direction of the Berger Law Offices.
     “The first test did come back HIV positive, Nedster,” he

stated, most of the earlier meanness gone from his voice now.

“That’s when I flipped out and spilled my guts to the Freeman…

and got my sweet gay butt fired in the process.”
     I stumbled on the uneven bricks of a historically restored

stretch of New Hope’s sidewalks.  Regaining my balance, I smiled an

uneasy, crooked little smile at my companion.
     “I didn’t go back for a retest until after I had already

signed on with the AIDS Law Project,” he continued, “and they had

hired your dad and Larry to represent me.  I was so psyched out…

I was sure the next test would be the same. 
     “See this queen I had a thing with for a  awhile… well, I

knew he had it.  So I just naturally figured I must have it, too.”
     I idley kicked a brick chip lying on the walkway.
     “When my doctor finally bullied me into getting retested, the

test came back negative.”
      Denny suddenly stopped and turned to face me.  I was
still staring at the ground and nearly bumped into him.‘Ä%J0*†(†(∞

‘åHe put his hands on my shoulders and stared into my eyes.  I

suppressed the urge to shrug his hands off me and brush past him

and run back to my closet office and lock the door.  I stood there

numbly staring back into the ‘Liz Taylor’ eyes, now intensely

    “Ned, can you imagine in your wildest young dreams how I felt?

I felt like freakin’ Lazarus, called from the tomb by Christ

    “Ned, lad, the kid here is not a religious man.  God knows, the

churchmen have little use for the likes of me.  But you may

believe, young Ned, that I felt reborn that day.”
    He released my shoulders, turned and resumed walking.
I followed along behind, more confused and emotionally distraught

than ever.
    “The doctor demanded we get a third test.  This time I was a

nervous wreck, but eager to oblige.  The result was another

negative.  I was going to live!”
    Denny’s arms went up, his hands palms open, over his head in a

gesture of.. what?  Elation?  Redemption?
     For a half block we walked in silence.  Then Denny sat down on

a bench in front of an antique store, one of the dozens that line

the streets of New Hope.  He gestured for me to sit beside him.
    He placed a hand on my knee.  Again I fought back the urge to

pull away.
     “Ned,” he said, again all ‘Mr. Sincerity’, “I need your help.”

‘åChapter Sixteen
        Dennis Lustig’s remarkable revelation occurred on a

Wednesday.  The rest of my week was utter emotional turmoil.  I did

Mrs. K.’s bidding without protest, as if I was her personal robot

or zombie.  At home I kept to myself as much as possible.  I hardly

touched the Lustig file, which anyway was about as well organized

as a high school kid working pretty much unsupervised could make

      On Friday afternoon, Archie, who hadn’t been in New Hope all

that week, drove up to collect me and the file and take us both

home for the weekend.  He and Larry Berger had decided that Pop

would attend and defend Denny’s deposition, which was scheduled for

Monday morning at ten o’clock in the opposing lawyer’s conference

room.  Lustig would be placed under oath and asked as many

questions as the opposition cared to ask.  And this was precisely

why Denny had chosen his moment on Wednesday to reveal his

devastating secret to me.  The guy who claimed to cruise on the

wild side of Greenwich Village with the likes of Lou Reed wanted

his sixteen©year©old ‘buddy’ to break the news to his father before

the day of the deposition.
     I chose our drive home to Havertown as the moment to break the

big news to my old man. In 1984 Archie owned a 1978 Cadelac that

was about half a block long and guzzled gas at a ferocious rate.

“A big man needs a big car,” he would shrug when Mom, writing a

check for his gasoline credit card at the end of the month would

berate him about the expense.  The car was a sort of white and‘’L[1]0*†(†(∞

pocked here and there with rust spots, caused mostly by road salt

in the winter time, and usually referred to as “body cancer.”
     The whole family referred to Archie’s Caddy as “White Fang”,

the name of the friendly bear on the Soupy Sales Show, which at

that time Arch still liked to watch as re©runs on one of the cable

channels.  Riding in White Fang was like sitting in a living room

chair that was floating on a cloud.  Even six years old, rusting

out and boasting more than ninety©thousand miles, the Fang was a

smooth©riding chariot.
     Ordinarily, after my week of alternately slaving in my closet™office and tramping all over New Hope with Mrs. K.’s shrill

instructions reverberating in my ears, I’d lean back and snooze

while Pop played his “oldies” tapes  and got me safely home for a

weekend of reviving my tan at the swim club.  But this Friday

afternoon I sat bolt upright, watching like a sentinel for the

right opening to break my news.
     Since that time back in January, when I decked Big Bill Hall,

wound up in the hospital myself, and ended the day crying on the

old man’s shoulder, a sort of silent bond had existed between me

and my Dad.  Or maybe it’s more accurate to say a barrier between

us, built during my early teen years, had been knocked down.

Whatever had happened that day had felt really nice ever since; but

while it had made communication between Archie and me a lot

friendlier, it hadn’t made communication much more frequent.  We

still seldom had long or animated conversations.  And so this‘Ä%M0*†(†(∞

particularly ticklish one started off slowly.  We were well out of

New Hope and headed for I©95 when I started it off.
     “Dad,” I began, “you know I’ve gotten pretty friendly with

Denny this summer, don’t you?”
     “Sure, Ned,” Pop replied, not taking his eyes off the winding

two©lane highway he was navigating amidst fairly heavy Friday

afternoon rush©hour traffic.  “I think that’s a good thing.

Denny’s very bright, and I want you to grow up without prejudice

against people who are different from you.  I want you to evaluate

them one by one.  I thought you’d see the same good qualities I saw

the first time I met with Denny.”
     I looked sideways at Archie.  He had a contented look on his

face.  I suddenly realized I was about to crumble an illusion as

large as the one I had been harboring until Wednesday afternoon.
     “I thought it was a good thing too.”  I chose my words

carefully, a boy crossing a freezing cold stream on slippery rocks,

any one of which could tip and dump me in an instant. “…at

    Archie shifted his head slightly to the right, keeping his left

eye on the road ahead.  A better lawyer than he knew, his

attorney’s antennae sensed trouble.
     Why √
ƒ was so nervous I’m uncertain.  I had done nothing wrong

that I knew.  But somehow I felt guilty by association.  I had been

bedazzled by Lustig’s apparent panache and his colorful
stories.  If I had not tasted forbidden fruit, I had enjoyed the

titilation that comes to a teenager from being around someone‘’N[1]0*†(†(∞

dangerous… someone who lived an alternative lifestyle without

shame or apology…someone who carried a fatal disease without

showing fear or regret.  Calling Mrs. K. the Kaiser©cow was a

reflection of the attitude I affected when Denny was around.  The

double shock of first being confronted with the temptation to try

marijuana, followed almost immediately with Lustig’s revelation of

what I had come to call in my mind “the Big Lie,” had brought

painfully home to me how I had, as the Bible says, sinned in my

heart.  Consequently, I felt a shared guilt, made only heavier on

my shoulders by the very delay in telling my Dad that this guilt by

association had engendered.
      “Dad, Denny came by the office on Wednesday and we had lunch

together.  Then we took a walk down to that park along the river.

     “Okay.”   I could sense Archie tensing up.  I saw his hands

tighten on the steering wheel.
     “Something happened that I have to tell you about.”
     Archie jerked the wheel a little, getting the car safely away

from the center line.  His whole body seemed to sag as if a long

sigh had been released.  Then he instantly tensed up again.
     “Well, then what, Ned?”
     “I guess I should tell you everything.  First of all, he lit

up a joint,” I said.  “Uh, do you know what that is, Pop?”
     Archie’s big face relaxed a little and his lips parted in a

sly smile.  “Yeh, Ned.  I’m a child of the sixties, remember?  Yeh,‘Ä%O0*†(†(∞

I know what a joint is.  I really didn’t think people still

bothered with that junk to tell you the truth.”
     Then tense again, smile all gone.  “Hey, you didn’t try that

stuff, did you?”
    “Heck, no, Arch.  I promised you and Mom I wouldn’t.  And I’ve

kept my word.”
     “Well, hey… good.  Great!  So I’ll talk to Lustig.  I’ll

tell him not to do that around my kids.  Okay?”
     I figgited in the soft leather seat as White Fang cruised up

the ramp onto I©95 South.
     “That’s great, Arch,” I said.  “But that’s not what I really

wanted to tell you about.”
     By now Archie must have been wondering what more could be left

to tell.
     “Dad, Denny confessed to me that he’s not HIV positive.”
     Archie’s big melon head snapped to the right even faster and

farther than before.  A big tractor©trailer blasted its horn in
three short, loud bursts, as White Fang drifted into the left lane.

Archie’s head snapped back the other way and this time he had to

pull hard on the wheel to get us back into the right lane.  There

was a sort of miniature rest area ahead with just a picnic table

and a battered green trash barrel.  Archie didn’t say a word as he

maneuvered White Fang off the interstate and brought her to a halt

near the table.  Archie threw open the heavy door, banging it on

the corner of the wooden table.‘Ä%P0*†(†(∞

‘å     Archie lumbered out of the car.  I took the hint and got out

on my side, walked round the back of White Fang and sat down at the

picnic table on the bench opposite the one now occupied by my Dad.
     Archie dragged his big, sweaty right hand down the length of

his face and then clapped his blue, watery eyes on my face.
     “Ned.. son, are you telling me that Dennis Lustig told you he

is not HIV positive?”
     My eyes met his.  “Yeh, Arch, that’s what I’m telling you.  He

told me Wednesday afternoon right after he offered me the

marijuana.  And he told me he wanted me to break it to you and Mr.

Berger before his deposition on Monday.”
     Archie dropped his eyes to the table.  “Why, that little…”
Then he looked back up at me. “Did he say how long he’s known this,

    “Yeh, Pop.  He said he found out when his doctor finally forced

him to go in for a re©test.  He said the first test back in

December actually was positive for HIV.”
     The old man pondered this for a minute or two, idly rubbing

the side of his bulbous nose with two fingers.
     Finally he said, almost as if to himself, “Well, at least

that’s something.  At least he wasn’t lying to us from the

     And then, after another pause and some more rubbing of his

nose, “Come on.  Get back in the car.  We’re heading back to New


‘åChapter seventeen
     “So what brings team McAdoo back to my den at this hour?”

Berger inquired, his feet on the table, cocktail in hand.
     Archie and I had returned to Berger’s office to find the front

door still unlocked at almost 6:00 PM.  We walked in and found

Larry and Mrs. K. having scotch on the rocks together in the

conference room.  (Mrs. Kaiserman, I ought to add, was Berger’s

thrice©divorced aunt, which went a long way toward explaining how

she had held onto her job.  Her willingness to hang around on a

Friday afternoon and provide Larry with company for his tippling

apparently was another.)
      Archie had begun by suggesting that Mrs. K. ought to be

excused.  After first grandly declaring that, “Aunt Flo is privy to

all my secrets,” he agreed after further prompting by Pop to send

her on her way.  She had tossed back the dregs of her drink,
glared at me and my Dad, flashed Larry one of her most insipid

smiles and stomped out.
      “Lock up on your way out, Flo,” Berger had bellowed more

loudly than was necessary, given the modest size of his law

offices.  Archie and I exchanged rueful glances that said we were

both wondering how many Berger and his beloved aunt had shared

since we had left little more than an hour ago.
     As if reading our minds, Berger said, “First and last one,

guys.”  As if to prove the point he drained his glass and placed it

back on the credenza against the wall. 
     Turning back to us,he asked again, “So what’s so important?”‘’R0*†(†(∞

‘åAfter some prefatory remarks by Archie, I told Berger my story.  At

first he was even more incredulous than Pop. 
     “Alright, let’s settle this right now,” he had finally said.

Turning in the swivel chair back toward the credenza, he punched

the “speaker”  button on the phone and dialed Denny Lustig’s home

phone number.  Over the phone’s speaker we could hear the numbers

being dialed and the ringing at the other end.  And then…
    “Hello, sweetheart.  This is adorable Dennis.  I’m off burning

my candle at both ends and so can’t take your call.  But I love

your cute tushy.  So leave a name and number at the tone…”
     Larry and Archie exchanged disgusted looks as Berger lifted

the receiver from its cradle and slammed it down again, which

disconnected the call. 
     “Okay,” he said, leaning toward us across the table.
“Let’s assume Lustig told the lad here the truth.  We have the

deposition coming up on Monday.  How do we handle it?”
      I sat stone still for the next twenty minutes as the

discussion became a debate and raged back and forth across the

cherrywood conference table.  After reviewing the law together and

agreeing that an employer was guilty of handicap discrimination by

treating an employee as if the employee were handicapped, even if

he really wasn’t, Berger contended that the team should tough it

     “Look, Arch, according to what Lustig told your kid,” he

argued, referring to me as if I wasn’t there (and who knows… by

then he may have forgotten I was), “Denny honestly believed he had‘’S[1]0*†(†(∞

AIDS when he told old man Freeman and got himself fired.  It also

appears that he filed his discrimination charge with the human

relations commission in good faith.  And when he signed the

complaint, he apparently still didn’t know that the test was wrong.
    “We’ve got ’em, Arch.  I’m telling you, we got ’em on this.”
    Archie took a minute to reply.  He cleared his throat furiously

and wiped his big hands on his trouser legs.
     “Technically, Larry, you’re right.”
     “Sure I am,” said Berger hastily, a half smile on his lips.
     “But…”, Archie continued.
     “But what?” Beger’s tone signalled he was prepared to turn

     “But it’s just not right,” Archie stated, a little lamely I

thought.  Berger angrily pushed his chair back from the table,
banging the back of it against the credenza.
     After that Berger tried everything ©©© shouting and

intimidation, legal reasoning, even pleading toward the end ©©© but

to Dad’s credit he stuck by his initial, lamely©stated conclusion

that proceeding with the suit was “just not right.”
     Berger never folded either.  Instead it was agreed that Archie

would get hold of Marsha Milhouse at the AIDS Law Project in the

morning and see if she was available for an emergency meeting.

Larry for his part would keep trying to reach Lustig.  At Archie’s

prompting, Berger agreed that, even if Lustig changed his story

when he got hold of him, the emergency  meeting would go forward,

AND with or without the client.‘’T[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     We parted company with Larry Berger at about 7:15.  As we

walked around the side of his house©turned©office, we could see

Berger, still in the conference room, reaching for the crystal

decanter of scotch. 
     On the ride home Archie and I hardly exchanged ten words. 
     “You two guys are pretty late,” Mom had commented when we

finally came home.
     Archie gave her a guilty look.  “Something came up at the last

minute,” was all he said in reply. 
     Mom turned as if to ask a follow up question, but Archie had

already retreated to his office.
     I took the stairs two at a time and made it to my room before

she could interrogate me.


‘åôChapter Eighteen
      Archie spent the first couple hours of his Saturday morning

in his ‘sanctum sanctorum’ making and receiving telephone calls.

When Claire and I got up around ten, Mom was already gone.  We

assumed ©©© correctly ©©© that she was putting in some overtime at

REFA, where the fiscal year, ended July 1, was being closed out by

her department together with a group of outside auditors.  Mom was

always more tense and overworked than usual during this part of the

business cycle.  Whether Archie was able to keep his news from her,

which would have only made her emotional state worse, I didn’t

      I filled Claire in on the situation over bowls of Fruit Loops

at the kitchen table.
      “Holy shit!” she had blurted out, when I came to the clincher

about Lustig not being HIV positive.  Then she clapped her hand

over her mouth and giggled.
     Just about then the old man emerged from his office and padded

in his bedroom slippers, pajamas and robe into the kitchen.
     Claire and I looked up from our cereal, perhaps looking a

little guilty, as people often do when the person they’ve just been

talking about suddenly appears in the doorway.
     Archie looked back at us with tired, sad eyes. 
     “Hi, kids,” he muttered, shuffling past the table and over the

refrigerator.  He opened the frig door and just stood there,
kind of staring at the stuff inside.
     “Pop,” I said.‘’V0*†(†(∞

‘å     He turned quickly, as if startled out of a revery.
     “What, Ned?”  he asked.
     “Did you get your meeting set up?”
     “Oh… yeh… yeh, I did.  We’re meeting in Marsha’s office

downtown at one o’clock.”
     “Yuh, Ned?”
     “I want to come along.”
     “Ned, this is no place for you.  This meeting could get pretty

ugly.  I don’t think anybody will want a kid there.” Archie

considered what he had just said, and added, “No offense, Ned.”
    “None taken, Arch,” I replied.  “But I’m the one Denny chose to

confide in.  I had to take the heat of breaking the news to you and

Mr. Berger.  I think I have a right to be a part of this.”
     Archie seemed to ponder this a moment, the refrigerator door

still standing open, the frig motor humming away, trying to keep

the temperature down where it’s supposed to be.
     “Yeh, Ned.  I think you’ve earned that right,” he finally

pronounced.  “Okay, you can come.”
     I glanced at Claire who just rolled her eyes at me.
Claire wanted no part of this thing and never had.
     As for me, I was swinging wildly between cynicism and naive

idealism.  Working these past four weeks from mid©June to mid©July

on the Lustig case had been both a noble crusade, viewing it with

my Dad’s eyes, and a walk on the wild side, as seen through Denny’s

violet orbs.  Now the case, and by implication my efforts in it,‘’W[1]0*†(†(∞

were neither noble nor romantic… just sordid and cynical.  Yet

riding with Archie in White Fang to our meeting, I could almost

palpably feel the shredded idealism which my Father continued to

wear like a tattered uniform.  Mentally I pulled a bit of that

threadbare cloth over to my side of the front seat and tugged it

across my skinny teenage shoulders.
        We spoke little as White Fang hauled us down West Chester

Pike and Chestnut Street and finally parted with us at the AIDS Law

Project offices, located in an aged four©story office building on

Cherry Street a couple of blocks east of Broad.  On Saturdays the

building was guarded by a lanky, Black rent©a©cop who seemed to

lear at Archie and me when Pop told him where he wanted to go… as

if perhaps he thought Archie was an obese child molester with his

latest conquest. 
     The rickety elevator slowly lurched its way to the fourth

floor and let us off in the Law Project’s reception area.  Another

lean young man, this one White, sat at the reception desk.  I noted

quickly that he was wearing two earings in his right ear, three in

his left.  His blond hair sported an auburn streak front to rear

just left of center.
     He led us back to a conference room, and advised us we were

the first to arrive.  He offered Archie a cup of coffee.  He gave

me a quick appraisal, then said, “We also have cocoa.”
     “No thanks,” I replied, my mind more concerned with where I

ought to sit when the others arrived.  Obviously I wasn’t anything

like an equal at the table, and I figured Denny could speak for‘’X[1]0*†(†(∞

himself now.  There was a battered red©leather chair and an equally

beaten©up end table in the far corner of the rather cramped

conference room.  I said, “Pop, maybe I’ll sit there and reorganize

some of the articles and stuff in the file folders.”
      “Sure, Ned,” Archie responded somewaht absently.  I guess he

was mulling over how he thought the meeting ought to go.
     Five minutes after the receptionist brought Dad his coffee,

Marsha Milhouse and Larry Berger arrived together.  Berger had a

Dunkin’ Donuts paper coffee cup in his right hand, a briefcase in

his left.  Like Archie he was dressed in an Izod polo shirt and

slacks.  Milhouse also had her briefcase, but no coffee.  She wore

a sweatshirt and jeans, and what looked liked men’s high top

sneakers, the tops hidden by the legs of the jeans.  Her hair was

longer than when we’d first met, unkempt and sort of romantic

looking, like a woman who had spent the morning running through the

Scottish Moors in some old movie.
     Before Archie had a chance to inquire, Milhouse sat down and

said, “I’ve been trying to reach Denny all morning.  I’ve called

everywhere I can think of.  Nobody I talked to… none of his

friends or members of the gay community in New Hope has seen him

since Thursday night, when he apparently left the Forbidden

Fruit… that’s a gay bar in New Hope… in what the owner told me

was a very drunken condition.”
     Milhouse ran her left hand through her tangled mane and looked

from Archie to Berger and back again.  Berger and Archie also

exchanged glances.  Berger being the most vocal lawyer at the‘’Y[1]0*†(†(∞

table, I expected him to chime in, but it was my Dad who spoke

first in response to the AIDS executive’s news.
     “It sounds to me like Denny knows the game is up,” he said in

an even voice, which must have masked keen disappointment.  “And I

have to agree with that.  I say we drop the suit on Monday

    Now it was Milhouse and Berger who exchanged another round of

glances.  Berger repeated what he had said the day before:
     “Like hell!  The Human Relations Act makes it a violation to

treat someone as if he’s disabled.  When Freeman’s fired Denny old

man Freeman thought our boy had HIV.  Denny told him so in good

faith, so there’s no estoppel argument operating here.  Freeman’s

is still on the hook and I say we continue going after them.”
     Archie starred into his coffee.  Milhouse, after apparently

pondering Berger’s point for a brief moment, said, “I agree.  This

is still a significant test case in Pennsylvania.  If we back away

now the whole gay rights movement suffers.  And we set the

development of the law on AIDS discrimination back a year in this

     Berger and Milhouse turned their gazes on Archie, who sipped

his coffee and went through his throat©clearing ritual, before

speaking again.
     “I’m sorry, Larry… Marsha.  But as I see it, no matter how

sincerely Denny believed he was infected when he told the Freemans,

the fact is he’s perfectly healthy now.  He could have cleared up

the mistake months ago if he had just listened to his dcotor and‘’Z[1]0*†(†(∞

been retested right away.  Meanwhile, the defendants have run up

legal fees and suffered negative publicity, possibly loss of

business.  And nobody will believe that this wasn’t a set up if we

change our legal theory now. 
    “I think we could lose this case and wind up being sued for the

other side’s attorney fees,” he concluded.
    Berger curled his upper lip in a show of undisguised contempt.

I noticed from my perch in the corner that his eyes were blood

shot, and wondered how many more scotches he had consumed after we

left New Hope last evening.
     “Archie, boy,” he growled. “This is no time for a loss of

ƒ have valuable attorney time into this case too.  And so

far as what anybody thinks, we’ll be crucified as bad or worse if

we pull out now.  I say damn the torpedoes.”
    Archie’s big, bloodhound eyes looked pleadingly, but I thought

rather hopelessly, at Marsha Milhouse.
     Milhouse raked her hair with her hand again and said,”I have

to go with Larry on this one, Arch.  This is our test case and we

have to stay the course… go the distance, as you boys like to

     Archie recognized he wasn’t going to win this one, at least

not here and now.  So he retreated to a fallback position.

(Somebody once unkindly remarked about my Dad in his later years

that, “Archie’s philosophy is that the best offense is a good

defense.”  There has always been some truth in that.)‘Ä%[0*†(†(∞

‘å     “Okay… I see your point.” At that Berger and Milhouse

flashed quick, triumphant glances at one another.  Arch didn’t

notice because his eyes were glued to his coffee cup. 
     “But before we make a final decision, I think we have to know

were Denny’s head is this morning,” he continued.  “He’s the one

who has to face a deposition Monday morning.”
     “We can postpone,” Berger chimed in, his voice turning into a

low, rumbling smoker’s voice.
     “Regardless,” Archie pressed forward,” We have to find Lustig

and talk to him, as soon as possible.”
     “Why don’t you handle that?” Milhouse said, turning to Berger.
     “I’d love to,” he replied, fishing a cigarette out of a pack

in his shirt pocket. (I had noticed that when Berger wasn’t in a

situation where he could drink, he smoked.  But, as he had once

jokingly remarked, “I never sin with both hands at once.”) “but I

promised the missus we’d drive over to Trenton to see her sister.”
     “Never mind,” said Archie, surprising me, “I’ll run Denny to

ground and talk this through with him.  I’ll call you both tonight

and let you know how I made out.”
     This offer posed a dilemma for Berger and Milhouse.  The one

team member who wanted to drop the suit was offering to deal on

their behalf with the client.  This endangered their case.  On the

other hand Berger didn’t want to spoil his weekend, and Milhouse

wasn’t leaping to the task either.
     “Look, Arch,” Milhouse said, “that’s fine, but we have to be

agreed on our proposed course of action.”‘’\[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     “Right,” echoed Berger, “You’re onboard with us, correct?”
     Archie slowly twirled his coffee cup in his fat fingers.
“Yeh, I’m in,” he said softly.  “Don’t worry about it.  I’ll either

get Denny straightened out for Monday.  Or if he’s too
upset, I’ll see what I can do about a continuance.”
     Milhouse and Berger simultaneously smiled at Archie.  And why

not?  They had what they wanted from the meeting and they didn’t

have to blow the rest of their weekends to get it.


‘åChapter Nineteen

     And so, by mid©afternoon Archie and I were in White Fang,

grinding up Interstate 95 North to New Hope.  Archie had directions

from Marsha Milhouse to Denny Lustig’s apartment, which proved to

be on the third floor of an old, and rather poorly restored,

building that housed an antique shop on the ground floor, even

though it was located away from the main tourist thoroughfares.
     In fact there were few shoppers on this side street and Archie

actually was able to park right in front of the shop.  He told me

as firmly as Archie was ever able to give an order to one of his

kids that he wanted me to stay in the car.  I didn’t argue.  I

watched through White Fang’s right side window as Archie went into

the shop, apparently to confirm that Lustig lived upstairs, then

came out, turned left and went through a small, ornate door with a

leaded glass picture of some saint or other, which I guess had been

removed from a defunct church and used in the ‘restoration’ of the

building.  Before Archie closed the quasi©religious door behind him

I caught a glimpse of a steep set of stairs that obviously led to

the top two floors.
     As five minutes turned to ten and then fifteen, I began to

daydream and then to doze off.  Claire and I usually slept until

around eleven on Saturday mornings, typically having either been

out the evening before at a school event or else having watched a

double feature of rented videos from Movies Unlimited.‘Ä%^0*†(†(∞

‘å     Last night had been no exception.  Despite the Lustig crisis,

when Claire invited me to stay up with her for a pair of horror

flicks (one of the earliest “Nightmare on Elm Street” films plus

something else I’ve since forgotten), I hadn’t refused.  So,

dragging ourselves out of bed early to see what Archie was up to,

Claire and I had missed a couple of those hours of sleep.  As 4:20

PM came up on White Fang’s digital display, my eyelids were

    In fact, a pleasant dream involving a meadow and a beautiful

red dog, an Irish setter I think, had just begun to flow across the

screen behind those eyelids when a thud, followed by a violent,

wrenching shake from White Fang, caused me to snap open my eyes and

jerk up straight in the seat.  I was startled to find myself face

to face with Denny Lustig.
     Only after several long seconds of starring dumbly into

Denny’s eyes, which bore a startled expression which I had never

seen in them before, did all the details begin to organize

themselves and form a coherent pattern in my confused mind: Denny

was sprawled across White Fang’s hood, his neck was twisted in an

unnatural contortion, and blood was trickling from his nose and

mouth.  Most odd of all, one of his eyes was violat, the other a

pale blue.  As my mind at last interpreted the pattern, my mouth

opened in a long scream.



     The rest of that Saturday is a series of blurry, indistinct

and unreliable images, rather like those we all have from our early

childhoods.  You can never be sure whether the images are authentic

memories or pictures your subconscious has conjured from

photographs and verbal descriptions provided by your relatives.
     I see myself wrapped in a blanket.  I hear a paramedic telling

Archie “the boy is suffering from mild shock, but he should be

alright in a little while.” 
     I see Larry Berger and Marsha Milhouse and news people and

police, all swirling around the scene like so many actors trying

with their limited numbers and props to convey the sense of some

battle scene in a Shakespearean play.
     I seem to recall snatches of the ride home, lying on White

Fang’s back seat, the blanket still wrapped around me, occasionally

seeing street lights shining down into my face from above the car

as we drove in the deepening twilight.
     I still can feel Mom’s arms around me, see her undressing me

and almost smell the clean sheets that she pulled all the way up to

my chin.  I recall the wet warmth of a tear landing on my forehead

as she bent down to give me a goodnight kiss.
    I also recall the warm summer darkness that enveloped me,

followed by an even blacker, warmer sleep in which no dreams I can

remember intruded.  I slept for fourteen hours.

‘åô        The next morning… Sunday morning… Denny Lustig’s

suicide was front page news (albeit, below the fold) in the

Philadelphia Inquirer.  Archie was visible in the background of a

photo that showed police and medical personnel gathered around a

body bag lying on a portable gurney in front of the seedy antique

store.  His name was mentioned as one of the deceased’s attorneys,

but he wasn’t quoted.
     On Monday Archie appeared at the opposing attorney’s office at

ten o’clock, the time designated for Denny’s deposition.  The

attorney voiced his supposition that the AIDS Law Project likely

would drop the suit under the circumstances and Archie opined that

most likely it would. 
      I was at home on Monday afternoon.  I had had a bad nightmare

the night before, and didn’t seem to have the energy to do anything

but watch television.  I was seated in Archie’s lazyboy chair in

the living room, watching sitcom re©runs on a local cable channel,

as I had done since getting out of bed that morning, when Dad came

home from the deposition that never was.
     I looked toward the center hall when I heard him come in the

door.  He was about to turn and retreat to the sanctum sanctorum

when he must have felt my eyes on him, turned and caught my gaze.

He came into the living room and sat on mom’s matching lazyboy.  He

didn’t say anything and neither did I.  We just sat there and

watched an episode of the Dick VanDyke show in black and white.‘#a0*†(†(∞

‘åI felt better having the old man close by me; maybe he felt better

too… not just because of the father and son thing, but because we

had been to battle and suffered a hard defeat together.
     An hour later we’d watched the Lucy Show and were well into

“Bewitched”, when the doorbell rang.  To me it was like a distant

train whistle… there but of no significance to me.  Even Archie

only responded after it rang a second time.  He paddled across the

carpet between me and the boob tube and into the front hall.  I

heard him open the door but I paid little attention as he talked to

whomever was there.  I wasn’t paying much attention to Elizabeth

Montgomery’s antics on the TV screen either.  The screen in my

brain kept rerunning the image of Denny Lustig’s face, pressed

against White Fang’s windshield and trickling blood down onto the

windshield wiper.  I was okay so long as I didn’t let that image

move beyond the inside of my skull down into my stomach, where it

kept wanting to go.
     Archie told me later, when I was more myself, that he had had

to call me three times before I turned away from the TV screen and

looked at him.  He was standing in the hallway with two people, a

mand and a woman, who were maybe a little older than he was,

perhaps as old as he is now. 
     “Come over here, son,” he said to me.  “I think you ought to

meet these folks.”
the center hall.
     “Ned, this is Mr. and Mrs. Lustig.”  I must have looked

puzzled, because he added, “Denny’s mom and dad.”‘’b[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å      A man in his mid©fifties, hard and slim… the exact opposite

of Archie… held out his hand and I shook it with my own rather

limp right hand.  Denny’s mother was a little younger looking than

her husband, her hair a rusty red color, her eyes puffy from

crying.  In retrospect I think the look I detected at that instant

in those big, green eyes was one of longing as she saw before her

the son she had had at home with her just a decade or so ago.

Neither grieving parent said anything to me.
     Archie broke the awkward silence, saying, “Let’s go into my

office.”  Then he added, “Ned, you’re welcome to join us.”
     I almost declined, much of me wanting badly to return to the

narcotic effect of the television set.  But I followed the three

adults into Dad’s den not because I cared about the case or Denny

Lustig anymore, but because I found being in my father’s presence

even more comforting than the soothing caress of the flickering

light from the cathode ray tube.
     As in the meeting in the conference room of the AIDS Law

Project, seemingly a century ago on Saturday, I sat in the chair in

the corner farthest from Archie’s desk.  Lustig’s parents sat in

the black walnut captain’s chairs nearer the rolltop desk.

    Archie positioned himself in his leatherette desk chair with

the squeaky wheels.  Dad had not met the Lustigs before.  To my

knowledge Denny had never mentioned his family, though I now

suspect that his parents were the source of his ever©ready supply‘’c[1]0*†(†(∞

of cash, since he had never even sought another job while his case

was pending.  The Lustigs had come from Iowa to reclaim their boy

and take him back home.
     The Lustigs declined Archie’s offer of a cup of coffee or a

cold drink.  They explained that they had met with Milhouse, who

had told them a few more facts than they had already gleaned from

the newspaper accounts and a rather perfunctory telephone

conversation with Larry Berger.
     “But you were there,” Mrs. Lustig finally said.  “You were in

the room, when Dennis…”  Her voice trailed off and she looked

blankly, sadly at the worn Oriental throw rug under Archie’s chair.
     Mr. Lustig reached across and took his wife’s right hand in

his big, knarled left one.  He looked Archie hard in the eyes, the

way a tough farmer might look at a prospective opponent in a a bar

and grill on a Saturday night.
     “Mr. McAdoo, we want to know what happened in that room that

resulted in our boy going out his bedroom window.”  The statement

carried overtones of both a challenge and a threat.  I wondered

if Mr. Lustig thought my Dad had thrown his client out the window.

     Archie must have drawn the same inferences from the bereaved

father’s tone, because he replied, “Mr. Lustig… Mrs. Lustig, I

wish I could tell you what caused your son to jump out that open‘Ä%d0*†(†(∞

window.  I wish to God I had anticipated it and been able to stop

him.”  He paused and cleared his throat.
    “I’ve reviewed the moments before it happened maybe a hundred

times by now in my mind.  I can see myself seated in the straight™backed chair near the door, Denny across the room, sitting in the

cracked leather chair he had positioned by the window.  There was

a little table there, where he had a tape player, some tapes, a few

books and newspapers.  I imagine he sat there at night, read,

listened to music, and caught the night breezes through the

window.”  Another short pause.
    “It was a comfortable looking corner and he seemed at ease in

it.  We all have a special spot in our home, where we feel safest

and most comfortable, I think.”  Archie gestured loosely with both

arms.  “My family calls this my sanctum sanctorum.”
He gave a sort of embarrassed smile. 
    “That spot seemed to be Denny’s sanctum sanctorum.  He seemed

completely at ease in it.  He went over with me how he had kept

putting off the second HIV test until, by the time he found out he

was alright, we were already deeply into the case.  His voice was

thick with a sense of irony, even anger.  He said he had become a

symbol in the gay community.  ‘I finally was somebody.’
He repeated that a couple of times.  But, honestly, I didn’t detect

anything like real despair.  At times he even shook his head and

     Archie’s third pause in his sorrowful narrative seemed

intended to let his guests speak up.  But Mrs. Lustig just‘’e[1]0*†(†(∞

continued to stare blankly at the carpet, while her husbands hard

gaze never left my father’s face.
     The pause was just becoming uncomforatbly protracted when he

resumed, “Denny was just sitting there, shaking his head slowly and

laughing softly.  I was trying to think of the right thing to say.

Before I could come up with anything, he looked straight at me.”

Archie now returned Mr. Lustig’s gaze directly.  “Pretty much the

way you’re looking at me now.  He said,’Seven months ago I was just

the night manager of a tacky family restaurant.  Then I became some

of the things I’ve always wanted to be:  a symbol, a martyr, a

cause.  For a little while I wasn’t just a strange little man with

strange desires.  I was somebody.  I counted.  The fact that I was

going to die in the end really didn’t take away from how good that

felt.  When you’ve been treated like a freak… a queer… all your

life, dying can seem like a small price for that kind of rush.’
    “He kept staring at me, watching to see if I had gotten his

point, I guess.  Then he just calmly stood up and turned to the

window.  I don’t know what I thought.  But I guess it just seemed

he was going to open it wider or something.  In fact, he did open

hesitating, he dove out head first.”
     As Archie said his last sentence, Mrs. Lustig burst into tears

and covered as much of her face as she could with her left hand.

Mr. Lustig finally released Archie from his hard stare.  He fumbled

in his back pocket and pulled out a white handerchief, which he

forced into his wife’s right hand.  ‘Ä%f0*†(†(∞

‘å     It took a few minutes for Mrs. Lustig to regain a semblance of

compsure.  Archie said to me, “Ned, go get a couple glasses of ice

     I hopped up from my perch and headed for the door.  As I

scooted through, I heard him call after, “Make that three, Ned.”
     When I returned from the kitchen with three glasses of ice

water, emotions had subsided some, and everybody seemed grateful

for the refreshment.  I reclaimed my corner spot.
     Finally, after several long pulls at his glass of water,

Denny’s dad said,”Mr. McAdoo, I guess I owe you an apology.  I have

to admit I’m not real crazy about lawyers.  And I was thinking that

maybe something you said or did had… well, you know, had pushed

our boy over the brink.”
     Now his eyes were aimed at Archie’s old rug and not at the old

man’s sweating, embarassed©looking face.
    “There’s no need for that, Mr. Lustig,” Dad said.  One of

Archie’s failings as a lawyer (but one of his strengths as a human

being, I believe) is that he never closes in and takes advantage of

an opponent’s admission of weakness.  He is ever the gentleman in

a world populated by predators.  “I couldn’t be more sorry about

your son’s death.  I believe… I’ve always believed he was a fine

young man.”
    Mr. Lustig looked up from the rug.  “He was a fairy, Mr.

McAdoo.”  His look and his voice suddenly lost its edge and

softened.  “But he was our son and he deserved better than he got.”

A new sort of sadness entered those hard blue eyes.  “From me, and‘’g[1]0*†(†(∞

from this mean world.  He didn’t deserve to end up how he did,

sprawled on a car hood on the front page of a newspaper.  He didn’t

deserve that, Mr. McAdoo.”
    “No, sir,” said Archie, “No, he didn’t.”
    Then he added, “If there’s anything I can do…”
    Mrs. Lustig looked up and for the first time proved that her

gaze could be as mezmerizing and as willful as her husbands.
    “There is, Mr. McAdoo,” she stated firmly.
    “What’s that, ma’am,” asked Archie innocently.
     “You can continue Dennis’s lawsuit,” she told him.

      Archie’s decision to push forward with the Lustig case

encountered nothing but negative reactions.  Larry Berger guffawed

and told my Dad he was “even dumber than I thought you were.”

Marsha Milhouse went balistic, screaming at Archie that he was

“ruininng Action AIDS’ plan to lay a sound foundation of legal‘’h[1]0*†(†(∞

precedents from which we can wipe out discrimination against gays

generally.”  The Freemans’ attorney, Ernest Oakes, promised Pop to

“pursue my clients’ legal fees against you personally once we’ve

gotten this worthless case dismissed.”  Denny’s suicide, followed

by the pathetic appeal of his parents, had turned the members of

the late, great Lustig litigation team on their heads.  Now it was

my Dad who was intent on going forward, while the other two wanted

nothing but to jump ship as neatly and quickly as possible.
     But the biggest blast of this maelstrom of criticism came …

probably predictably … from Mom.  From the time Archie had first

announced his commitment to Denny Lustig’s ’cause’ back in January

down to Denny’s suicide on July 17th, she had kept her peace, and

the relative peace of our household as well.  To her great credit,

I believe in retrospect, she also refrained from telling her spouse

“I told you so,” after Denny’s dramatic death left me temporarily

in a state of semi©withdrawal. 
     Now she was wildly angry and upset, as only a wife and mother,

who believes she is fighting a hopeless battle for her home and

family can be.  At least two loud and ugly arguments, which Claire

and I could hear through closed bedroom doors, and perhaps others

that could have occurred while we were at the swim club (where I

was determined, and now permitted, to spend what was left of my

summer vacation), were followed by a long stretch of Mom’s silent

     Claire, Chris Natali, and I compared notes at poolside, and

unanimously conlcuded that Mom was totally in the right.‘’i[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     “Man,” Chris observed, shaking his deeply©tanned head, topped

by a profusion of big black curls that probably hadn’t been

threatened by a barber since the summer had started, “Douesn’t your

Dad mind that half the known universe hates him by now?”
     I lay with my head on my beach bag, the sun in my face, eyes

closed behind silver©lensed sunglasses.  “I’m not sure I even know

him anymore, Chris, ” I replied.  “At first the case seemed to

bring us closer.  He was really understanding when I got into

trouble for that fight last term. 
    “And it even was kind of fun working for him this summer

until…”  My voice trailed off as an ugly, unwanted snapshot

intruded for the ten thousandth time upon the warm glow that I

liked to maintain as the exclusive image behind my eyelids.
    “None of us really feels like we know him anymore,” Claire

chimed in, completing my thought for me.  “He’s ,like, obscessed,

I guess.”  Claire, who to her chagrin freckles rather than tans,

adjusted the top of her swim suit above her budding breasts.
“Mom told him he needs psychiatric help.  But I don’t think she

really means it.”
     Chris bit thoughtfully into a granola bar and brushed the

resulting shower of crumbs from his stomach, which, like his hair,

had grown over the summer, but was beautifully tanned.
     “Lots of people are going nuts these days,” he observed after

swallowing the bite of his bar. “That Lustig must have been crazy.

Maybe he affected your Dad.”‘Ä%j0*†(†(∞

‘å      “My father is not infected,” retorted Claire, swatting Chris

with her folded towel and knocking the rest of the granola bar out

of the startled boy’s hand.  He picked it off the grass and

carefully inspected it for dirt particles, replying a little

testily,  “I said affected, not infected, Claire.”
     Claire seemed a little embarassed.  “Sorry, Chris.  Guess I’m

a little touchy about this.  It’s such a drag having everybody you

know think your father is either a loony or a secret gay or

,like… I don’t know.
     “And it’s no fun being at home anymore either,” she added.
Suddenly she was crying.  “Oh, Ned, why did Dad ever have to get

mixed up in this mess?  Why’d he have to mix us up in it?”
     I pulled off my sunglasses and tossed them onto the grass.  I

pulled Claire to my warm, bare chest.  I hugged her hard and tears

filled my eyes too.
     Chris must have felt out of place in all this McAdoo emotion.

He studied his big belly, carefully surveying its expanse for

errant granola crumbs.  “Maybe I’ll go grab a shower, now,” he

said, ambling to his feet and trudging off toward the bathhouses.
     Claire and I looked at each other and wiped away one another’s

tears with gentle fingetips. 
     “Thanks, Ned,” Claire said in a horse, choked little voice,

“I’ve really been needing a hug like that from somebody in this

screwy family.”
     “Yeh, me too,” I responded.‘Ä%k0*†(†(∞

‘å      “Hey, are you two okay?” came a voice from above and behind

Claire.  I held a hand above my forehead to block out the sun.  I

saw it was the head lifeguard, Sally Spacich.
      I smiled back ay her, my tears creating a rainbow in the

corners of my eyes that made Spacich seem as if she was standing in

a spectrum of colors.
     “Yeh,” I said, “Yeh, Sally, I guess we’re just fine.  Thanks.”


     What happened after that in the case of Lustig v. Freeman’s

Dairy Bar and Restaurant I must report as pure hearsay, since I

stayed as far away from the case and my father as I could.  That

was how Mom very vocally wanted it.  And, frankly, it’s how I

wanted it, too.  Stage two of Mom’s response to Archie’s decision

to go the case alone ©©© the silent treatment ©©© gradually thawed

to the point where in early August she and Pop were communicating‘’l[1]0*†(†(∞

at a reasonably civilized, albeit rather formal, level.  Dinner

table conversations were not exactly animated or dynamic.  Claire

and I kept pretty quiet, too, behaving a little like gold miners in

the scene from some old movie in which a box of nitroglycerin has

just been brought down into the tunnel where they’re working.
     Most days my main haunt was the swim club, although once or

twice a week the dark cloud of depression would blot the sun and

then I’d take refuge at our electronic hearth, watching one sit©com

after another and eating a lot of junk food.  Fortunately for my

boyish figure, the swimming offset the empty calories.  Gradually

my body was developing the deep tan I had hoped to get at the

Jersey shore.  And just as gradually but surely, the sun and the

swimming burned and scrubbed at the scar on my psychy.  Just three

weeks Denny’s fatal dive onto White Fang’s  hood I could get

through a 24©hour period without imagining his sad, dead eyes, one

Liz Taylor’s and the other his own, more than a dozen times or so.

And I had learned to switch off the image, like changing a channel.

I wasn’t over it all, but I was moving in the right direction.  It

felt good.
     In fact, it felt so good, that I tended to avoid my father,

associating him with what felt so bad.  And so what information I

could have picked up about his lonely progress I carefully avoided

obtaining.  For instance, I never even knew about the deposition of

Orville Freeman, the owner of the restaurant where Denny had

worked, until two weeks after it took place.‘Ä%m0*†(†(∞

‘å     The date was August 16th.  Archie told me later that Freeman

and Ernest Oakes arrived filled with arrogance and contempt.  The

old man added that he had anticipated that attitude, since Oakes

had already threatened him over the telephone that he was going

after attorney fees once the case was dismissed.  The mistake Oakes

made, Archie then remarked with a trace of a smirk on his large

lips, was that, being mainly a corporate and real estate lawyer, he

hadn’t really researched employment discrimination law very

closely.  Nor, apparently had he bothered to prepare his client

very thoroughly for what they expected to be a romp around what was

now a case of Dennis Lustig’s estate frivolously trying to pursue

the decedent’s seemingly©defunct cause of action.
     I didn’t bother to ask Archie for the deposition transcript

until after the case was over and I was psychologically ready to be

reconciled with him and with Denny’s ghost.  Even then I wasn’t

really able to fully appreciate the nuances of the proceeding.  I

still keep that deposition transcript today among my growing

collection of memorabilia of what I fancy are now two rather

interesting, and perhaps not insignificant, legal careers.
It’s only about 50 pages long, not a particularly big document of

its kind.  It begins with the witness being sworn by the court

reporter.  The parties are seated around the table with which I was

so familiar in Larry Berger’s offices.  Though Berger had washed

his hands of the case, he wasn’t so much of a turncoat as to deny

Dad the loan of the conference room.‘Ä%n0*†(†(∞

‘å     Next the reporter asks Archie and his opponent whether they

agree to the “usual stipulations.”  These include waiver until

trial of most objections that normally would be brought up before

a judge in a courtroom but which tend only to slow down the

progress of a discovery deposition.  Only the witness, the two

lawyers and the reporter are present, and both attorneys agree to

the usual groundrules.
      Archie then explains to Freemen what he intends to do.
“I’ll be asking you a number of questions, Mr. Freeman.  If at any

time you don’t understand a question, just say so and I’ll be glad

to rephrase it.  If you do answer a question, I’ll assume you

understood it and are answering to the best of your ability.  Is

that fair enough?”
     “Yeh, yeh,” Freeman seems to be grumbling. “Let’s just get on

with it.  Lustig is dead and I still have a restaurant to run.”
    “Alright,” my Dad responds, “Just one more preliminary issue.

Are you under any medication or other drug which might prevent you

from answering to the best of your ability?”
     I can see Orville Freeman turning to his attorney, his face

reddening in annoyance, as the transcript reports him saying,
    “What the hell is this, Ernie? ”
    Oakes replies, “It’s only routine preliminaries, Orv.”
    It was a couple of weeks later than I learned what Orville

Freeman looked like.  Then he was in an apron and chef’s hat.  But

I see him in a tight©fitting seersucker suit or a brown sport coat

and coordinated tan pants that his wife had picked out for him, a‘’o[1]0*†(†(∞

big, red©faced farmboy©made©good… and resentful as he could be of

the lawsuit, and his former night manager, and of my Father.  I see

him turning back to face Pop, the color in his cheeks subsiding to

their normal ruddy complexion, as he regains his control, and with

it his arrogance.  Having seen how ably Pop had defused the anger

in Denny’s dad, another aging farmer, I can visualize how well he

‘worked’ Orv Freeman, patiently but efficiently toward Archie’s own

    “No, Mr. Attorney, I am not under the influence of any drug

which will prevent me from answering your questions.  I’m not under

the influence of any substance at all, except maybe the caffein in

my morning cup of coffee, which I had when I opened my restaurant

at seven this morning.”  The transcript doesn’t reflect a pause,

but I suspect there was one, before he smuggly adds, “It’s your

client, or should I say your late client, who no doubt knew a thing

or two about the influence of drugs.”
     Most attorneys, faced with such a demeanor so early in a

deposition would have requested the witness’s counselor to caution

him about being more cooperative.  But Archie just plodded on,

patiently questioning Freeman about his business and slowly leading

him up to the evening shortly before the previous Christmas, when

Dennis Lustig had called him at home.  At this point the deposition

reads like this:
     Q.  And what did Mr. Lustig tell you when he called you that

     A.  What difference does it make?  It was all a lie anyway.‘’p0*†(†(∞

‘å     Q.  Mr. Freeman, once again I must ask you to answer the

question I ask you and refrain from editorializing.
     BY MR. OAKES:  Orv, please… just answer the question.  The

sooner you do, the faster we’ll be out of here.
     BY MR. McADOO:  Do you need me to repeat the question, Mr.

     A.  No, no.  You asked what Lustig said.  He said he had been

tested for HIV and that he had come up positive.
     Q.  What did you understand that to mean?
     A.  That he had AIDS and he was going to die.  I’m just saying

that it wasn’t true.
     Q.  But at the time of the call, you didn’t know it wasn’t

true, did you?
     A.  With him, I should have known.  Mr. Slick, that’s who he

     Q.  But did you know?
     A.  No, I didn’t.  I believed him.
     Q.  Do you think he knew at that time that it wasn’t true?
     BY MR. OAKES:  Objection to the form of the question.
     BY MR. McADOO:  Well, Mr. Oakes, I’m not sure I see anything

wrong with that question, but since we haven’t agreed to waive

objections to form until trial, I’ll try and rephrase.
     Q.  Mr. Freeman, looking back on that telephone conversation,

do you believe today that Dennis Lustig was deliberately lying to

     A.  How would I know?‘’q0*†(†(∞

‘å     Q.  Well, what was his general condition?  Could you tell that

over the phone?
     A.  He was alright through most of the conversation.
     Q.  You say ‘through most of the conversation.’  Was there any

time when he was not ‘alright’?
     A.  Well, yes.  He seemed to be crying at one point.
     Q.  When was that?
     A.  When he told me about being HIV positive.  But he could

have been faking it.  He considered himself quite the amateur

actor.  But if he was so terrific, why was he managing a

      Q.  Maybe he wasn’t much of an actor at all.  Maybe he was

really upset?
      A.  Yeh, maybe.
      Q.  At any rate, you believed him when he told you he was HIV

      A.  I did.
      Q.  What did you tell him?
      A.  I said if that’s the case, then he should consider

himself on a permanent leave of absence.
      Q.  In other words, you fired him?
      A.  I put him on a leave.
      Q.  But you said it was permanent.
      A.  Well, I knew that once you have AIDS you don’t get over


‘å      Q.  In all honesty, Mr. Freeman, as we sit here man to man

today, did you consider that you had fired Dennis Lustig that

      A.  Okay, Mr. McAdoo, yes I did.
      Q.  Thank you for that honesty, Mr. Freeman,  Now let me ask

you this:  why did you feel you had to fire him?
      A.  Well, I never cared much for the fact that Lustig was

gay.  But, heck, if you insisted all your staff be straight in

southern Bucks County you couldn’t staff a large restaurant like

ours.  But AIDS is another matter.  Who’s going to bring their kids

for ice cream if they know the guy managing the kitchen has an

incurable, fatal disease?  Hanging onto Dennis Lustig would have

been the kiss of death for Freeman’s restaurant.
     Q.  Perhaps I can appreciate your point of view, Mr. Freeman.

But Mr. Lustig had worked for you for some years.  Didn’t you feel

you owed him something?
     A.  Owed him?  The little liar wasn’t even sick.  I’m glad I

dumped him when I did.  I would have fired him for lying anyway.
I believe God intended to punish him one way or the other.



     Within a week of Orville Freeman’s deposition, Archie filed a

motion for summary judgment with the Court of Common Pleas for

Bucks County.  The motion argued that the estate of the plaintiff,

Dennis Lustig, was entitled to win its case against Freeman’s Dairy

Bar and Restaurant because Mr. Freeman had admitted that he had

discriminated against the plaintiff in violation of the

Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.  What Freeman’s lawyer, Ernest

Oakes, apparently hadn’t bothered to learn, and therefore hadn’t

bothered to tell his client, until it was too late, is what Berger

and Milhouse knew back when they still wanted to proceed with the

case just hours before Denny’s death had changed their minds: the

statute made it illegal to treat an employee in a discriminatory‘’t[1]0*†(†(∞

fashion because you believed he had a disability, even if he didn’t

have one.  Archie argued that it really didn’t matter whether his

deceased client had lied or not back in December when he told

Freeman he was HIV positive.
     “The undisputed, material facts are that Mr. Lustig told Mr.

Freeman he had tested HIV positive,” the brief supporting the

motion concluded, “Mr. Freeman believed him, and though the

decedent was at that time perfectly able to perform his position,

the defendant summarily terminated his employment for the sole

reason that the defendant believed the decedent to be suffering

from a disability.”
     And little more than a week after that, on the Saturday of

Labor Day weekend to be precise, yet another visitor appeared at

the Mcdoo front door seeking a word with my Father.  This time the

visitor was Ernest Oakes, who had called ahead to make sure we

weren’t away for the weekend. 
     I was burrowed into my usual Saturday morning nest, one of the

two lazyboys in the living room, watching Looney Toons and munching

a blueberry Poptart.  I paid little attention as Archie ushered the

attorney into his inner sanctum.  I hadn’t met Oakes.  And besides,

I was still consciously withdrawn from anything having to do with

the old man’s legal practice, especially the Lustig case.
     The conversation was a very quiet one.  I heard nothing over

the cartoon voices and the boisterous music coming from the

television.  Even when I got up once to go to the powder room built

under the center hall staircase, which required me to pass within‘’u[1]0*†(†(∞

four feet of the door to Archie’s office, both coming and going, I

didn’t hear any of the conversation occurring on the opposite side.
     About an hour after Oakes had arrived, he and Archie emerged

from the sanctum and Oakes left… without shaking Archie’s hand I

noticed, glancing casually at the two men.  Archie gave me an

ambiguous look.  I thought I detected the ghost of a smile on his

face, or maybe just a bit of a twinkle in his watery blue eyes.  He

seemed to consider saying something as he looked at me.  But then

he turned, went back into his office and closed the door.
     Sunday was spent at the swim club.  Mom, Claire and I were

intent on enjoying the last weekend before the pool closed for the

season.  Mom packed a big picnic basket and cooler of drinks and

icecream bars.  Archie excused himself, saying he had pressing work

that wouldn’t wait.
     Mom looked at him skeptically.  But relations were still very

strained.  So she didn’t try to talk him into coming along.
     Monday morning, Labor Day, I woke with a bittersweet feeling
similar to the one I always had when I both looked forward with

anticipation to the imminent start of a new school year and a

whimsical wish that the summer could last just another week.  The

feeling was more bitter than sweet that summer, as I fought the

usual rush of bad memories that had haunted me since mid©July, and

also that morning fought back a growing anxiety about meeting Big

Bill and his buddies in the middle school halls again.
     All in all, I wandered down to breakfast with no youthful

energy or boyish excitement to share with the rest of my family. ‘’v[1]0*†(†(∞

Claire, however, made up for my gloomy demeanor.  Already dressed

in a new Led Zeplin t©shirt and sexy little shorts, she was excited

about going to the Hershey Amusement Park with her best friend,

Jennifer Gallagher, and her family.  In fact, CLaire had just about

wolfed down a bowl of Fruit Loops when a horn blew in our drive,

and she was on her way.
     As she literally skipped through the center hall, Archie came

down the stairs.  I noticed that, even though it was only eight

o’clock, he too was already all dressed… in a sport coat and tie

no less. 
     “Hey, gorgeous,” he said to Claire, “how about a kiss for the

old man?”
     Claire stopped, turned and gave Archie a kiss on one of his

big, plump cheeks. 
     “Here’s a little something extra.  Buy a nice sweatshirt or

something,” said Archie, handing Claire a folded bill.  “Just do

your old Dad a favor and bring me the newspaper from the driveway

before you go.”
    “Wow, thanks, Dad,” squeeled Claire, jamming the bill into the

tiny back pocket of her tight blue shorts.  She skipped out, picked

up the paper, and gave Arch a peck on his other cheek before

turning and running to the Gallagher’s green Chevy van.  Archie

beamed and waived as he watched the van back out of the drive and

head away down the street.
     He closed the front door and took the paper from under his

left arm.  He looked over the  first page, smiled a satisfied‘’w[1]0*†(†(∞

little smile, then walked slowly into the kitchen, where Mom was

sitting at the table sipping her coffee and thumbing through a

flier from the Manoa Hardware Store. 
     Archie placed the paper in front of Mom, turned and went to

the counter to help himself to a cup of coffee.  His back turned to

Mom, he had the satisfaction of hearing her choke a little on her

next sip of coffee, as her eyes scanned the lower half of the front

page of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
     I walked quickly across the tile floor to stand behind her and

look over her shoulder, as I had peered over Archie’s shoulder at

another newspaper nearly eight months earlier.  “Settlement reached

in case of man fired because he had HIV,” the headline read.  The

subhead said, “Successful plaintiff committed suicide this summer.”
      Archie had done it.  I learned how a little later that same




     Mom and I both accepted Archie’s invitation to drive up to

Doylestown with him.  He was scheduled to meet Ernest Oakes at his

law office at ten thirty to sign some documents.  While Archie had

succeeded in onsisting on the right to break the story to the

Inquirer, winning for himself the story in the lower left hand

corner of the day’s front page, a condition had been absolute

secrecy concerning its monetary terms.  To help preserve his

client’s confidentiality conditions, Oakes had insisted that the

settlement check be exchanged for signed releases on the holiday,

when most of the legal district around the courthouse would be

deserted by other attorneys and the usual contingent of journalists

assigned to the courtroom beat.
     Mom and I went window shopping among the antique stores on

main street, while Archie met with Oakes.  Denny’s Dad, who had

flown into Philadelphia Sunday night, had driven out in a rental

car and was already waiting in Oakes’ office, Archie told us later.

Orville Freeman wasn’t present.  Oakes turned over two checks,

representing Archie’s contingent fee and the remainder of the‘’y[1]0*†(†(∞

settlement amount, which went to Mr. Lustig.  Archie said the mood

was subdued, business©like, a little frosty on Oakes’ part.      

  But Oakes did tell Dad something he hadn’t divulged in their

first meeting:  In the politically©wired world of county politics,

where a successful restauranteur is a real player in the coveted

tourist trade, judges who must win periodic reelection to their

posts are mindful of the impact of their decisions upon such

personages as Orville Freeman.  Though a questionable call on the

part of the judge assigned to decide Archie’s summary judgment

motion, that esteemed Bucks County jurist had made an ex parte call

to Oakes, advising him as an old friend and colleague in the county

bar that he not only was likely to lose on the motion, but that he

may have malpracticed in the balance.  Oakes was man enough, and at

least attorney enough, to reveal these facts to my Father, while

Denny’s Dad waited outside Oakes’ office for his turn to sign the

settlement.  Of course, he was also enough of a lawyer not to tell

Archie before he had reached a settlement figure on Saturday, for

fear that Archie or his client might hold out for more.  All the

same, Archie graciously agreed to maintain this confidence together

with those he was formally promising to observe that day.
       Mom and I were walking back toward White Fang when we saw

Archie and Mr. Lustig shake hands on the sidewalk in front of

Oakes’ office door.  I noticed someone peek from behind a vertical

mini©blind in the office’s front window.
     Dad spotted us and waived as Mr. Lustig walked away in the

opposite direction.  The mini©blinds closed again.‘’z[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     Once we were back inside White Fang and moving slowly down the

street, I looked out the back window and saw Ernest Oakes step out

of his office and stare after us down the street.  He seemed to

shake his head, as if in amazement, then turn and head
down the sidewalk in the opposite direction.  As we came to the end

of the block I saw Mr. Lustig getting into his rental car.  He

didn’t look up at us as we passed and Archie didn’t blow the horn

or waive at him.
     Archie was silent until we were outside town and Mom and I

respected his silence.  Then he reached into his coat pocket and

handed Mom the check.  It was folded in half.  As she opened it and

looked at it, he said, “That should cover my hourly rate on the

case, wouldn’t you say?”
     For the second time in just one morning my Dad had managed to

shock my Mother.  He said he couldn’t say how much the total

settlement had been.  But he observed that we could probably make

a pretty good guess if we assumed the usual contingency was a

third, but that the check included a calculation of the costs he

had incurred up front in the case, such as the expense of the

crucial Orville Freeman deposition.  He then swore us to secrecy as

     “Archie,” Mom asked, showing the old boy some signs of

affection for the first time in… how long?  “Shouldn’t we

celebrate?  I mean it’s a holiday.  And then there’s this.”  She

looked really hard at the check again.  She held it in both her

hands, as if it might evaporate if she didn’t hold on tight.‘'{[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     “How about it, Ned?” asked Archie, becoming voluble himself.

     I was leaning over the seat, my own eyes perhaps bugging out

a bit as I studied the check Mom was clutching.  Not a fortune, but

good wages for a job well done.  I felt a weight lift from me.  I

like to think, looking back now, that it was the vindication of my

Dad’s principles, and not the handsome fee, that released me from

under the clouds that had been haunting me for almost two months.
     “Sure, Arch,” I said, calling him affectionately by his first

name, an old habit Claire and I had indulged in almost forever, but

which I had dropped during the weeks of my withdrawal from him and

all he stood for.  “Whatever you say.”
     Archhie seemed to ponder that for a moment.  Then he said,

“You know what?  In all these months, I’ve never actually seen

Freeman’s Dairy Bar.”
     “Archie, you wouldn’t dare!” exclaimed my Mother.  But her

mischievous look told me… and my Father… that she was for it.
     Archie navigated White Fang to Newtown, a village held second

only to New Hope in all Bucks County for its touristy atmosphere.

It was a little past noon by the time we found Freeman’s Dairy Bar

and Restaurant, and the parking lot was pretty full.  White Fang

being the luxury liner she was, Archie had to park her way in the

back of the lot, right beside the dumpster.
     Inside we had to wait in line about ten minutes for a table.

When we were finally seated, the festiveness of the occasion seemed

to demand that we all three skip a nourishing lunch and have

icecream sundays.  Archie ordered one called “Lost Youth” which‘’|[1]0*†(†(∞

featured lots of hot buterscotch topping and what seemed like a

gallon of whipped cream.  Naturally, he had ordered the large.
     Mom made do with a small “Dusty Road” sunday made with frozen

yogurt.  I was Mr. In©Between, getting a medium banana split.
     The sundays arrived in less than ten minutes and Archie was

about to attack the mountain of cream when a shadow fell across the

table.  Looking up from his “Lost Youth”, Archie saw Orville

Freeman staring down at him, wearing a white apron and chef’s cap.

     “Mr. Freeman,” Archie said in a voice that betrayed his

surprise, and perhaps a touch of anxiety.
     “The same,” was all Orville Freeman said in reply, as he bent

over, grasped the base of the silver sunday bowl in his huge right

hand and placed Archie’s “Lost Youth” on his head like a soldier’s

helmet.  Since Pop had ordered the large size, it fit fairly well.

The hot butterscotch held it stickily in place.
    “Excuse me, folks,” he said to Mom and me, taking in both of us

with a quick, friendly smile… the kind he no doubt gave all his

valued customers as he cruised his restaurant, spreading goodwill

and winning back the same.
     He turned and headed back toward his restaurant’s kitchen.

Then turning and giving us another quick, friendly look, he said in

a soft voice that belied his great size, “The sundays are on the

     When the shock wore off, the restaurant began to buzz as

people speculated about what had just happened.  A few obviously‘’}[1]0*†(†(∞

upset seniors got up, demanded their checks, paid and hastily

departed.  A couple of little kids came over and pointed at Pop

until their parents scooped them up and carried them back to their

own tables.
     “I’m calling the police,” said my Mother, who was beet red

from a combination of anger and embarassment.
     Archie reached out with his left hand and gently held her

right arm as she made to get up from the table.  With his own right

hand he gingerly removed the sunday bowl from his head.  Two

waitresses rushed over, their hands full of paper towels and

napkins, both nervously glancing over their shoulders in the

direction of the still swinging kitchen doors, probably wondering

what their boss would do if he caught them aiding the man he had

just coated with ice cream, whipped cream and hot butterscotch

     “We’re not calling the police,” Archie said in a quiet voice.

He was perfectly calm as he took his time in cleaning off as much

of the mess as he could.
     “Wait here and finish your sundays,” he gently commanded as he

went to the men’s room on the other side of the main dining area.

He returned in about ten minutes.  Mom had only poked at her “Dusty

Road.”  I had eaten  all of my split, partly I think in fear that

if I didn’t eat it either Freeman or Archie might put it on my

     When Archie came back his hair was wet but clean, and combed

the way you comb your hair with your fingers when you get out of‘’~[1]0*†(†(∞

the shower at the swim club and realize you don’t have anything

better to use.  He carried his wet jacket over one arm.  His shirt

and tie also looked wet in several spots, as did one pants leg

which he had succeeded in only partially scrubbing of butterscotch

sauce and vanilla icecream.
     He walked with a fair amount of dignity out of the restaurant

as everyone stared after us. 
     “We ought to call the police,” my Mother insisted again, as

Archie steered her toward White Fang with his free hand.
     “No, we shouldn’t,” he assured her.  Normally she would have

disputed his opinion. But today she let him call the shots.  Archie

was downright cheerful as he drove home, the window wide open to

help him dry off.  He explained briefly that Freeman, denied his

day in court by good lawyering tactics, had a lot to get out of his

system.  Archie said he was actually glad to have given him the

    “Let’s just be glad it was an ice cream sunday and not a gun,”

he added, I think only half in jest.
     “I just wish Denny had been there to see it,” he added.  “It’s

the kind of ending he would have really appreciated, I think.”
    Even at sixteen I was smart enough to fight back the urge to

reply, “Maybe he was there in spirit.”  Maybe he was, but I was

never that hoky, not even then.
    So Archie McAdoo had shown them all he was a good lawyer in the

end.  And a good man, who could let the vanquished opponent make

his point, even at Archie’s own expense.  ‘’[1]0*†(†(∞

     There were no really big changes in my Father after that, not

on a day©to©day basis.  But both his attitude and the quality of

his legal practice seemed to change for the better, little by litle

and day by day, from then on.
     As for me, I decided that, though I knew I was choosing a

tough life, I wanted to be an attorney too.  Denny’s ghost lives

with me still, as I’m sure he lives with my Dad.  Each year in a

lawyer’s busy life brings other scars and other ghosts.  You learn

to wear the former with pride, even if gained through your own

stupidity, and you learn to live on friendly terms with the latter.

     Oh, yes, one other thing:  although Archie has continued to

this day to eat as much as ever, he has never eaten so much as a

spoonful of icecream to the best of my knowledge.  As magnanimous

as he was the day Orv Freeman decorated his head, some part of

Archie… the really vulnerable core, I think… can’t bring

himself to enjoy the stuff anymore. 
     Once, a couple of summers later, when the old boy was deeply

embroiled in his well©known tree mold case, he was offered a

lucious©looking chocolate cone at a church picnic.
    “No thank you,” he had unhesitatingly told old Mrs. Shuck, who

was holding out the cone at her booth on the church’s front lawn.
    “What’s the matter, Mr. McAdoo,” she had asked, perhaps a

little surprised that such a large man would turn down such a

scrumptious concoction.  “Don’t you like ice cream.”‘’Ä[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å    “I hate the stuff,” Archie had replied with as much courtousy

as he could manage.


Buy this book and its sequel, “Ned McAdoo and the Molly Maguires,” at

Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (5)

Posted in 1966, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, arrest, art, athletics, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, films, fraternities, Gay Literature, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, internet, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, media, movies, news, novels, Politics, pornography, professors, random, religion, Terrorism, universities, war on terror, writing with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2008 by castagnera

åChapter Eleven
     When I came back downstairs Claire was waiting for me in the

front hall.  I guess she didn’t want to make a solo appearance.  We

walked out to the kitchen, which smelled of baked beans and onions,

through the sun room and out the back door into our yard.
      The six adults were all seated around a big round table that

I recognized as belonging to our neighbor, Charlie Halleck.

Knowing old man Halleck, I’d have bet anything he wouldn’t have

loaned it to dad if he had known what kinds of people would be

eating at it.  Off to the right a teeange boy and girl were playing

a lethargic game of badminton across the net that Arch must have

hastily put up earlier in the day.
     As Claire and I walked across the lawn to the table, I felt a

sudden rush of anxiety.  I recognized Dad’s co©counsel, Lawrence

Fishbine Berger, because Archie had done some real estate work with

him in the past.  And I recognized Dorothy Berger, his wife, who

had been to dinner at our house a couple of years ago.  By process

of elimination the third, and youngest, male at the table had to be

Dennis J. Lustig.
     My first impression of Denny Lustig was that he had to be

related to the actor Tom Cruise, who had just burst upon the movie

scene with a sexy little comedy called “Risky Business.”  Cruise

had played a teen who, left alone at home for the weekend, turned

his house into a brothel for two days.  Naturally, Mom had objected

to my seeing it, but I had managed to catch it at the Lawrence Park

Shopping Center on a Saturday afternoon anyway.‘’3[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     Every girl I knew, who had managed to see the picture despite

her parents’ protests, was in love with Cruise, and for that reason

every guy who, like me, had slipped in to see it, hated him.  And

Lustig was just about as good looking as the famous young actor.
     Lustig looked particularly appealing, placed as he was between

Archie and Larry Berger.  If ever there was a Laurel and Hardy of

the law, my Dad and his sometime co©counsel were that duo.  As big

and round and fat as the old man was (and pretty much still is,

despite the ice cream aversion), Berger was as thin and stooped and

stringy.  If Lustig was the Tom Cruise of the case, Berger was the

Walter Matthau.  But I’m probably getting you confused with all my

movie allusions.  Suffice it to say that, if and when they ever

entered a Bucks County courtroom, the client ©©© even though he was

under an HIV death sentence ©©© was going to look dazzling in

contrast to his two attorneys.
    As Claire and I came into the backyard from the sun room we had

let the screen door slam behind us.  Everybody at the table had

looked up at once, and Archie lumbered to his feet, knocking his

molded plastic lawn chair over behind him.  He looked beleaguered

and the blue barbeque apron he wore was smeared with drying red

sauce and sundry other, unidentifiable food products.
    “Hey, kids, glad you finally made it,” he said in what I

recognized as phony©jovial tones.  The stress Archie was enduring

was hidden just below a very thin layer of congeniality.

    “Ned… Claire… I’m sure you remember Mr. and Mrs. Berger.”‘’40*†(†(∞

‘å     “Hi.”
Claire and I smiled insincere, forced little smiles at the Bergers.

Mr. Berger, slumped back in his molded plastic chair… one of a

dozen Dad had purchased en masse from an end©of©summer sidewalk

sale at the Manoa Shopping Center last August and then left stacked

in the backyard all winter to turn from white to a cruddy©looking

shade of gray… lethargically waved the hand that wasn’t holding

his scotch on the rocks. “Hi, kids.  Great to see you two again.”

Yeh, sure.
    Mrs. Berger, by contrast, leaned forward so that her cleavage

became clearly visible to my pubescent stare.  Two very thin

shoulder straps, which seemed to be little more than bits of twine,

held up her dress, which barely contained her ample bosum.  She

flashed a big smile at us, revealing a mouthful of braces.  By 1985

middle©aged orthodontic work had become all the rage and Mrs. B.

obviously was right on the cutting edge of the trend.  Her big

smile compressed her eyes down to two slits and some of her

heavily©applied sky©blue eyeshadow cracked and flaked.
    “Oh, my, you two have gotten so big.  Claire you’re quite the

woman.  Your father reminded me before you got her that you’re

almost Gwenny’s age.”
    Turning round in her chair, so that I now got to study her

bare, freckled right shoulder and back, she shouted as if her

daughter were two or three backyards away.  “Gwenny, get over here‘Ä%50*†(†(∞

and meet the McAdoo children.  You too, Justin.  Put those racquets

down and come here.” 
    The Berger offspring appeared to be no more enthusiastic about

this close encounter of the teenage kind than Claire and I were.

But we went through the motions of shaking hands and getting

acquainted.  Then Archie, still standing uneasily throughout this

ritual completed the introductions.
   “Claire… Ned, this is Mr. Lustig.”
    Claire smiled at Dennis Lustig.  Being a girl she could get

away with not shaking his hand.  But I was a boy,,, a young man…

of 16.   I leaned across the table and proffered my limp right hand

to Mr. HIV himself.  Lustig practically leaped to his feet and took

my flaccid paw in his own strong right hand and pumped it

enthusiastically.  My arm undulated like a length of linguine.
     “Ned!  What a pleasure.  Your father tells me you’re now part

of the Lustig litigation team,” he bubbled.  “If you’re anything

like your heroic father, I’m just thrilled to welcome you onboard

our Starship Enterprise.”
     I found it disconcerting the way he stared right into my eyes,

his own a mix of mischievousness and a probing quality, as if over

time he had developed the habit of trying to ascertain what the

people he met really thought about him.  The other disturbing

quality about his eyes was their color… a sort of violet that

seemed at once beautiful in a feminine way and quite unnatural.‘#60*†(†(∞

‘å    “Uh, yuh… I’m pleased to meet you too.”  But of course quite

the opposite was true, and I knew Lustig could see that in my eyes

and feel it in my ‘dead fish’ handshake.
     I pulled back my hand and suppressed the urge to wipe the palm

on my pants leg.  Lustig’s eyes held onto mine for another long

second or two, the obvious amusement in them very disconcerting to

     “And this,” my Dad chimed back in, “is Marsha Milhouse, the

executive director of the Pennsylvania AIDS Law Project, which is

co©counseling Dennie’s case with us.”
     For the first time I noticed the woman sitting to Archie’s

left at the picnic table.  Her hair was brown and cut almost

boyishly short.  Her face was round and full, her body a bit

chunky, maybe even muscular… for a woman, that is.  She smiled,

stood up and shook my hand far more firmly than even Lustig hand

done.  (And his handshake had been pretty firm for a f… I stopped

myself from thinking that word.  That word was for Big Will Hadden

and his fascist father, not for Archie McAdoo’s son.)
     Milhouse also held out her hand to Claire, who took it and

shook it awkwardly.
     “Ned,” said Milhouse, turning her attention back to me and

still standing up, “your father tells me that you’ll be helping

prepare our case for trial this summer.”
     “Uh, yeh, right,” I said somewhat uncertainly. ‘#70*†(†(∞

‘å     “”That’s right, Marsh,” Archie added.  “As Denny so aptly put

it, young Ned, my son and heir, is officially a part of the crew of

the Starship Enterprise.”
     With that, the old man bent over, hoisted his bottle of

Budweiser from the table and toasted me with it. 
     “Welcome aboard, lad,” said Larry Berger, taking a long pull

at his glass of scotch.
     “Here, here,” said ‘Marsh’ Milhouse, picking up her own beer

bottle and taking a swig from it.
     Lustig and Mrs. Berger each picked up some kind of a foamy

pink drink that they had in front of them, gave a little toast in

my direction and took little sips that left flecks of pink foam on

their upper lips.
    Licking off the foam, Lustig added, “I adore your dacquerys,

    I noted furtively out of the corner of my left eye that Mom,

who had remained silent through this whole get©acquainted ritual,

didn’t pick up her drink… a Diet Coke, if I knew my Mother… to

toast my being beamed onboard the Lustig spaceship.  Whatever

planet I was bound for with my Dad and his “team”, Mom was not

making the voyage either in person or in spirit.
     By the time the little ritual was completed the Berger kids

had managed to finish their badminton game and swagger over to the

picnic table.  Archie and Mrs. Berger handled the introductions

among us kids.  ‘Ä%80*†(†(∞

‘å     “The food won’t be ready for another half hour,” added Archie.

“Why don’t the four of you go listen to some tapes in the family

room and get to know each other better?  I’ll give you a shout when

the chow is coming off the grill.”
     The four of us looked at each other a little uncertainly and

shrugged in acceptance of Dad’s suggestion.
     As we turned to head inside, Lustig was on his feet, the eyes

still sparkling their violet mischief.  “I love music,” he

proclaimed.  “Does anybody mind if I tag along?”


‘åôChapter Twelve
     The first few minutes down in the family room were a little

awkward.  The room was pleasantly cool, the old couch and chairs

the most comfortable furniture in the whole house.  Dennis Lustig

had refilled his dacquery glass before leaving the backyard.  The

rest of us got cans of soda from the refrigerator at the foot of

the basement stairs.  The awkwardness began to fade from the room

as we discovered that we all shared a liking for Lou Reed.
     I put the tape on the stereo and soon Lou was half singing,

half speaking, “take a walk on the wild side.”  When Reed reached

the line in the song that says, “he shaved his legs and then he was

a she… take a walk on the wild side,” Lustig, who was sitting

alone in a chair diagonally to the left of the couch where Jasaon

Berger and I were sprawled, looked at us with those weird but

appealing eyes of his and said,
   “He’s gay, you know.”
   There was a moment of awkward silence and surprise. 
   Finally, a second before all the earlier awkwardness could fall

on us like a wet blanket, I responded.
    “Who?  the guy in the song?  Obviously.”  I tried to sound

     “Well, sure, him too,” replied Lustig.  “I meant Lou Reed.”
     Jason apparently had recovered from his initial surprise,

shared I’m sure by all four of us kids, that Dennis Lustig would be

so up front about a subject that was still pretty much taboo in

‘burbs the likes of Havertown.‘’:[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     “How can you possibly know that?” Larry’s rather pudgy son and

heir asked in a challenging tone of voice. ” I never heard that he

     Lustig flashed Berger the Younger a condescending smirk. 
“Trust me, my dear,” he almost purred, “I make it my business to

know the queens who are making their marks.”
     This deliberate gender switching had a titillating effect on

me, though it clearly made Jason uncomfortable and more defensive.

Claire and Gwen were flipping through Claire’s albums and tapes,

close by one of the stereo’s two speakers.  If they had heard this

dialog they never let on.
     “So √
ƒ do you know?” Jason pressed, crossing his legs and

holding his Diet Coke can with both hands in his lap.
     “How do I know?” Lustig replied in even, velvet tones.  “Well,

young Jason,” he continued after a delicate sip of his daquery,

“first, I would be quite certain of it ©©© even if I didn’t know

Lou personally ©©© merely by his voice, his clothes, his lyrics,

his phrasing… Dear God, it all says, ‘I’m queer as a three dollar

bill and proud of it, darlings.'”
     Of course, it was the parenthetical that had hooked us.
     “You know Lou Reed?” Jason and I seemed to ask simultaneously.

Our duet caught the girls’ attention, and all eyes turned to Dennis

Lustig, who seemed to bask in our gazes as if they were eight

spotlights turned on him.  For the first time I discovered how much

Dad’s pro bono client loved the limelight.

‘åô     For the next ten minutes, Lustig held his little audience in

the palm of his hand, as he described the gay scene in New York and

in New Hope, Pennsylvania.  He told us about the weird behavior and

kinky clothes that were part of “Cruising” in Greenwich Village,

which Al Pacino had dramatized in a scandalous film none of us had

been permitted by our parents to see (although Jason chimed in with

a slightly aggressive assertion that he and a friend had managed to

slip in to see it at a local mall multiplex theater).
     Lou Reed liked to perform in a black t©shirt and a leather,

billed cap that evoked Marlon Brando and motorcycle gangs.  Pacino

had been pictured on the movie posters in such a leather jacket and

cap, the jacket decorated with chains.  I now could picture Dennis

Lustig doffing his restaurant manager’s blue blazer and striped tie

and exchanging them for Reed’s black t©shirt and Pacino’s black cap

and shiny leather motrocycle jacket.  I saw him jingling in his

chains around my mental image of Greenwich Village.  
     Denny… we were all to call him Denny… had a knack for

making eye contact and of speaking in a hypnotic, conspiratorial

purr that kept even a teen’s short attention span in his firm

grasp.  The sense of being given a glimpse of not an “R” but, yes,

an “X” rated movie, and a documentary at that, insured our rapt

attention as he painted verbal images of cowboy bars and wild

parties.  Weaving through all the images were Lou Reed, “queer as

a three dollar bill,” and Denny himself.
     Even Jason had left off challenging Denny’s verasity after the

first five minutes of detailed descriptions, including how Lou‘'<[1]0*†(†(∞

Reed’s creative energy flooded through the front door when he

entered one of the Washington Square watering holes he and Denny

both frequented, announcing his arrival before anyone inside

actually spotted him.  Denny was the smiling, hissing serpent,

feeding us forbidden fruit and we loved it.
    Before we had quite had our fill, Archie shouted from the top

of the basement stairs, “Hey, you guys, dinner’s ready.  Come and

get it  before I eat it all myself.”  With Pop that might be no

idle threat.
    Claire turned off the tape and we all headed upstairs and out

to the backyard.  I was the last to leave the family room, turning

off the lights, as Mom had trained Claire and me to do.  As I

started up the stairs I saw that Denny was waiting at the top.
     As I climbed to where my head was about level with his chest

he put his right hand on my left shoulder and said,
     “You found all that pretty exciting, didn’t you, Ned?”
     My reaction was automatic.  I brushed his hand from my

     “Hey, relax,” said Denny in his most soothing voice.  “I can

tell you’re not cut out to be a sister.  I’m just pleased to see

that the new member of my trial team isn’t homophobic.  I can see

you appreciate the validity of alternative life styles.  That’s

all.”  He stayed where he was, forcing me to brush past him. 

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Why Reforming Education Is a Critical National Priority

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, divorce, dogs, election, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on December 8, 2008 by castagnera

Why Reforming American Education Is Crucial
By James Castagnera
Attorney at Large
Last week in this space, talking about how to win the war on terror, I asserted, “The American workforce must be better prepared to compete in the global marketplace. When we are through congratulating ourselves on electing our first black president, let’s recall that inner-city high school graduation rates still hover at or below 50 percent in most major metropolises. Colleges are over-priced and inefficiently labor-intensive. We are cranking out too many lawyers and too few engineers and scientists.”
Just as I am convinced that our national security against terrorists rests primarily on good police work, secure borders, and a sensible immigration policy, the proliferation of drug wars, inner-city gangs, and campus crazies persuades me that education — like energy — is a national security issue.  I offer two reasons why.
First, no democracy can feel itself either fair or safe, when it allows an inner-city proletariat to persist and fester from generation to generation.  According to the cover story in the December 8th TIME Magazine, “Young Americans are less likely than their parents were to finish high school.”  Adds the article’s authors, “This is an issue that is warping the nation’s economy and security.”  They are right.
A report issued in April by America’s Promise Alliance and reported on Fox News found high school graduation rates below 50% in America’s 50 largest cities.  According to Fox, “The report found troubling data on the prospects of urban public high school students getting to college. In Detroit’s public schools, 24.9 percent of the students graduated from high school, while 30.5 percent graduated in Indianapolis Public Schools and 34.1 percent received diplomas in the Cleveland Municipal City School District.”
Consider this:  the odds that you or I will be the victim of one of these thousands of high school dropouts is astronomically higher than the chance that one of us will be killed by an international terrorist.  Philadelphia annually averages about 400 homicides, for example.  While many of these killings are drug dealers or gang members taking out their rivals in jungle-land turf battles, the collateral damage in innocent citizens, including kids, is heartbreaking.
We need only glance across our southern border to Juarez, Mexico, to see how much worse it could become.  As early this year as February 28th, the Dallas News reported 72 drug-related murders in Juarez and worried that the violence could begin spilling over the porous border.  In Mexico, the killings include public officials who try to oppose the warring factions.  “Among the dead there: journalists, a city council member and a police chief on the job just seven hours before he was gunned down. Additionally, the cartels tried to assassinate a federal legislator. And efforts to clean up the force have stalled, as nobody wants the job of police chief. Local media self-censors to survive.”  A popular way for cartel killers to communicate their message is to hang a beheaded corpse from a highway overpass.
How great is the distance between Philadelphia and Juarez?  Thousands of miles as the crow flies, but perhaps only a few years away in terms of escalating violence, as our uneducated proletariats turn in increasing numbers to the only livelihood likely to pay them well.
For those who do graduate from high school and hope to come to college, the current financial crisis may pose an insurmountable barrier.  College students already are regularly graduating with five-figure “mortgages” on their diplomas.  Often, if mom and pop are footing the tuition bills, an actual second-mortgage on the family homestead is how the money is raised.  Now, even that undesirable method may be slipping away, as home equity shrinks and major lenders like City Bank flounder.  We’ll have to wait and see whether the college class of 2013, which will come to campus in September ’09, will be substantially smaller than this year’s crop of collegians.  I predict it will be.
Those who can’t afford college probably won’t be working either.  This morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer’s front page reports the highest unemployment rate in 34 years: 6.7% nationally.  More than 500,000 jobs, adds the Inky, evaporated just last month.
More than 100 years ago, the famous defense attorney Clarence Darrow claimed, “There are more people go to jail in hard times than in good times — few people comparatively go to jail except when they are hard up. They go to jail because they have no other place to go. They may not know why, but it is true all the same. People are not more wicked in hard times. That is not the reason. The fact is true all over the world that in hard times more people go to jail than in good times, and in winter more people go to jail than in summer….  The people who go to jail are almost always poor people — people who have no other place to live first and last.”
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, more than 700 people per 100,000.  Only Russia, some of the other states of the former USSR, and a couple of Caribbean countries come close.  Are we stronger on law and order than our sister democracies?  Or are we failing to provide alternatives to crime?
And where lies the greater threat to our security, Afghanistan or the city nearest your home?
[Jim Castagnera, formerly of Jim Thorpe, is a Philadelphia lawyer and writer.  His 17th book, Al Qaeda Goes to College, will be published in the spring by Praeger.]

Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (1)

Posted in art, blogging, books, breaking news, Crime, criminal justice, culture, entertainment, films, history, internet, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, literature, media, movies, novels, pennsylvania, random, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence, writing on November 26, 2008 by castagnera

     My Father is a lawyer.  And so am I.  We both are proud of

what we do for a living.  We refer to it as a profession, never as

a business.  With us it’s always “the profession of law,” and never

“the legal business.”
     But there was a time, about a dozen years ago (and nearly a

decade before I graduated from law school and passed the

Pennsylvania bar), when the old man temporarily lost his faith in

his chosen profession.  That loss of faith first became apparent to

the rest of the family when he started making observations such as,

“The times sure have changed since I started practicing law,” and

“Now, we lawyers eat what we kill.”
     And that’s why, when Claire and I wanted to get even with Dad,

let’s say for not letting us go to a new film we wanted to see,‘x‑ò0*0*0*∞

just because it was rated “R”, we possessed the perfect weapon for

doing it.
     What we did in those days was to wait until after dinner, when

Archie (that’s our Dad) was in his study doing a little of his

endless paperwork, before he moved to the bedroom and watched TV

with Mom.  Then we stood in the center hall outside the door of the

study and carried on a conversation, just as if we didn’t even know

that he was only a few feet away at his desk.  The conversation

might start out being about almost anything.  But very quickly, it

turned to lawyer jokes.
     For instance, I’d say to Claire, “What do you have, if you

have 200 lawyers up to their necks in sand?”  And Claire would

answer, “Not enough sand.”
     Then she’d come back with, “Did you hear they’re using lawyers

instead of laboratory rats now?”
     And my reply was, “Yeh, they found out that there are some

things even rats won’t do.”
     The only clue we’d have at this point that old Arch heard us

at all was that the slight squeaking, which his desk chair made

when he rocked back and forth, had stopped.  In fact, no sound, no

sign of movement, came from the study after our first joke or two.
     Next I might say to Claire,  “What’s the difference between

somebody running over a snake and running over a lawyer?”  By now

Claire would have started giggling a little and her voice always

came out a little bit higher. “Skid marks in front of the snake,”

she’d reply in near©falsetto tones.‘’[1][1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     The silence would now be deafening from within Dad’s “sanctum

sanctorum”, as Mom had (somewhat sarcastically) dubbed the room,

perhaps always resenting a little that his demand for a home office

deprived her of a formal dining room.
     Claire’s giggling was now almost uncontrollable, as I pushed

forward without mercy.  “Why won’t a shark eat a lawyer who’s

swimming past it?”  Claire had to fight for control, barely able to

blurt between giggles, “Professional courtesy.”
     Then a new kind of squeak was heard from within the inner

sanctum, as the old man pushed his chair back from the rolltop desk

and the old leather chair’s little brass wheels let out their

distinctive whistling sound.  This was the signal for Claire and me

to cut and run for our rooms.  Archie never hollered anything after

us as we scrambled up the stairs and headed for our own sanctum

sanctorums (sanctori?  They don’t teach much Latin in law schools

anymore).  Usually, seeing that we’d made another clean getaway, he

just waddled off to the kitchen, made himself a sandwich, grabbed

a beer and joined Mom on their bed for some prime time viewing

pleasure.  At last when I finally ventured out a half hour or so

later, usually to make a furtive trip to the second floor bathroom,

that was where I spotted him out of the corner of my eye.  The

empty beer bottle and plate on his nightstand and his round melon

face settled into a contented expression visible in the glow of the

boob tube were the eloquent evidence that my deductions were at

least approximately accurate.‘Ä%


‘å    You have probably guessed from that brief description that my

old man was fat…still is, though at 57 he actually looks trimmer

and healthier than he did a decade or so earlier, when this little

memoir was taking place.  Then he was in truth a fat slob.  I don’t

say that because I hated my dad or anything like that.  I’ve always

loved Archie, as long as I can remember, and adolescence was no

exception.  For me that was 16 years of love at the time the

following events began unfolding in and around the environs of our

little household in Havertown, Pennsylvania, one of Philadelphia’s

many northwestern suburbs.  But no matter how much you loved

Archie, and we all did ©©© Mom, Claire, me, even Ralphie, our

doberman ©©© no one of us could ever pretend we thought he was

anything but fat.  Plump just didn’t describe my Pop.
     And I guess I have to add that, even though I loved him a lot,

and liked him pretty well too ©©© he’s always been a terrific

playmate ©©© I never really respected my Dad up to that time.  He

was always a hard guy to take seriously.  I think Dr. Swenson, the

school psychologist would have said, if anybody had asked her, that

Archie had “a poor self©image.”  He weighed about 275 pounds, and

that was before the football season, which meant lots of beer and

hoagies and stuff, followed hopelessly by the holiday season:

turkeys, pies, cookies, candy.  Then 300 pounds might be

approached, and maybe even surpassed.  The old man was like that.
   Mom still loved him though.  He said once that she was the only

girl he ever had.  I believed him.  He wasn’t exactly cholesterol’s‘Ä%


answer to James Bond.  I don’t even think he was such a great

    That’s why even after us kids were born, she had kept right on

working as an accountant, eventually working her way up to

Controller at a company called Regional Econometric Forecasting

Associates, a fairly prestigious consulting firm in nearby Bala

Cynwyd on Philadelphia’s Main Line.
     And that’s why I’ve always to this day found it kind of

strange that my Pop, Archibald Edwin McAdoo III, should have

decided at that point in his life ©©© in the midst of a career

slump and the onslaught of an obese middle age ©©© to become a

crusader for the integrity of the legal profession, which afterall

had rewarded him only very modestly and grudgingly.  How much our

little charade outside his office door, which Claire and I pulled

on him maybe half a dozen times in perhaps as many weeks toward the

tail end of the calendar year (which happened to be 1984) helped to

push him over the brink and into his fateful decision, I really

don’t know.  Archie probably would have taken the Dennis Lustig

case anyway.  Or maybe not.  Since lawyer jokes  still hit a sore

spot in his psyche, I’ve never asked my old man how much our pranks

figured into the undoubtedly©complex mix of circumstances and

events which led to him taking on the first pro bono (a/k/a free)

legal representation of his near©twenty©year career as a solo

practitioner.  Maybe someday I will.
     No matter… as miserable as our year of living with √
√Lustig v.

Freeman’s Dairy Bar & Restaurantƒ
ƒ, was, somehow it did Archie’s‘’[1]0*†(†(∞

battered ego a lot of good.  No, this won’t be the story of how

Archibald McAdoo became the Main Line’s leading legal eagle. Nor is

it the legendary recounting of how one lonely and embattled

attorney in a Phillie suburb single©handedly resuscitated the

flagging reputation of a profession grown fat and greedy.  Neither

of those things happened in 1985 and 1986, when this story

unfolded.  But it is the tale of how one fat, middle©aged, and

seemingly mediocre attorney discovered in himself the courage and

devotion he needed not only to see a bad situation through to its

end, but also to face middle age, and perhaps even old age, with

the smile of a man who is content with the fate the gods have

chosen for him.
   The case also did Archie’s bulbous body some good, I believe,

because by the time it was all over, Dad apparently had lost his

taste for ice cream… a lifestyle change that has perhaps

prevented his overtaxed arteries from clogging up completely with

fat… at least so far.