« Archives in September, 2011

“The Three Charlies”

Folly Magazine.

On a bitterly cold New England Monday in January 1978, I entered my third psychiatric hospital in less than six months. I would spend the next year of my life there, almost half of that time as a resident of Thompson 2, the Institute of Living’s most closely monitored, all-male, 24/7 locked-down unit.

I had been in such places before—New York’s Bellevue Hospital and the Carrier Clinic near Princeton in New Jersey—but my arrival to those “facilities” had been cushioned with substantial medication and no expectations. I arrived at Thompson 2 that January afternoon, expecting to step straight off a pampered country inns weekend and onto the idyllic rehab brochure that my Park Avenue shrink had shared with me in New York.

“Do it, Don.” He had implored. “A few months at the Institute is nothing compared to what almost happened last summer. You were lucky to survive a brush with death. Look at this as a fresh chance at life.”

His logic was sound, and persuasive, especially given that I knew I was sliding back into a very dark mental hole—a hole that had all too recently hurled me to suicidal depths and introduced me to handcuffs, straitjackets, padded rooms and electroconvulsive shock therapy.
»Read More


BarbieThere are no blondes in Mongolia. And damn few tourists. Yet despite their nomadic lives and geographic isolation, Mongolians remain surprisingly susceptible to the relentless onslaught of western culture. Or so I discovered when they started calling my wife Barbie.

It was late summer when we traveled to the heart of Asia. Sande’s hair was the picture of towheaded blondeness, thanks to her Scandinavian genes, Mother Nature’s solar rays, and a little chemical jolt from Emporium Josef during our London stopover. That she was wearing her golden locks in a ponytail only added to the Mongolian illusion that the fashion doll icon had arrived in the flesh.
»Read More


ken againken*again, Vol. 12 No. 4

Lover Boy was my uncle. Tanta Anne was his aunt. Baltimore’s Pigtown was their home.

My uncle, the second oldest of five brothers and the one most likely to become a juvenile delinquent, grew up regularly charming his way out of the kind of trouble that usually landed his four brothers in fistfights, mostly to cover for Lover Boy’s small frame and big mouth.

His aunt Anne was a round, sedentary woman of the Wernsdorfer clan that had arrived in Baltimore from Germany in the late nineteenth century. Tanta expended no more energy than was absolutely required to get from one end of the day to the other, preferring to sit in her well-worn chair behind the painted screen of her front window watching the world go by and waiting for someone to throw a party.
»Read More


The LegendayThe Legendary, Issue 30

“Sir, I think you’re telling me a porky.” The dour UK Customs agent said this with the same accusatory tone that Sister Mary Celeste had so witheringly adopted whenever it was apparent that I had not completed my fourth grade homework assignments.

“Excuse me?” I responded, feigning confusion over his meaning.

“A story, sir. Something that is not exactly the truth.”

It was late on the Friday night ending my third week of London residence. I had just flown into Heathrow Airport from Rome, having spent the past two days visiting with an important business partner in Italy. Tired and still trying to get my bearings in my new role as the ad agency’s international pooh-bah, all I wanted was to get back to my hovel at “Laverne & Shirley’s” (my self-dubbed, below-ground service apartment in London’s fashionable Knightsbridge) for some rest and situational reassessment. So when the Customs man asked me if I was working in the UK, I said no. As he persisted with his questions, I persisted with the porky. It was not going well.
»Read More