Archive for December, 2013

dead end on the YBR

As yet another year draws to a close I find myself lost and confused on the yellow brick road. You would think that after traveling the YBR for 65 years I would know where I’m going. Well, let me tell you, a GPS might work in the real world, but in Oz it won’t do you any good.

To borrow from the opening of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

The oft quoted opening first appeared in print in 1859 about the world as it was in 1775. How much has changed in the more than 150 years since Dickens wrote those words? And how much has the world changed in more than 250 since the time of the novel?

On reflection I would have to say that the world has not changed all that much. I’d even go so far as to say that if Dickens were to have had the opportunity for an edit, he might have started the book off this way: “It was the worst of times, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Darkness, it was the winter of despair, we had nothing before us, we were all going to hell in a hand basket.”

I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history otherwise.  We might look back on the past with a longing for the good old days, but we all know that the good old days really never existed but in our memories.

You’d think that at this point in human history we’d be a little smarter, a little kinder, a little happier and a little more hopeful, but we aren’t, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. We are totally responsible for the shape of the world.

What worries me most is that instead of coming closer together we are growing apart, and the divide is getting wider and wider. The poor hate the rich. The rich disdain the poor. The Republicans have their heads up their asses and the Democrats have their head up someone else’s ass.

Congress has its lowest approval rating in generations. Young people are punching people just for the fun of it. Marginalized workers want to make a zillion dollars an hour but have no idea how the economy can grant them their wish.  The rich get richer and we circle their mansions with murderous looks on our faces. But at the same time we don’t want to offend some of the working poor by telling them that they can’t expect a handout all the time, and if we are going to hate the rich with such reckless abandon, we have to protest outside the MLB and the NFL headquarters and decry the obscene salaries earned by so many athletes and we need to boycott the movies and concerts of the glitterati who command millions of dollars for a song and dance.

The truth is that people like me are getting screwed. We don’t expect anyone to pay our way through life. We abhor prejudice and racism, but at the same time are repulsed by the number of people who hide behind a race, a religion or a creed to advance a cause that is dishonest and often illegal.

We are sensible people. We don’t wear emerald glasses. We see the world as it is and make no exceptions for president, king or religious leader.

But we’re lost and alone on the YBR because we are afraid to speak up and speak out lest we get accused of being an anti-person.  When we see people getting away with “murder” because they hide behind the mask of a race, religion or creed, we are angered…and rightly so because none of us should tolerate lies.

But then we stay silent because the law is on “their” side and we lack the clout to make a legitimate case for honesty.

It’s come to a point in my life where I don’t believe anybody any more. I don’t trust people in authority because I’ve learned from experience…and learned it the hard way…that people in authority largely misuse their power.

My hope for 2014?  That we the little people, the Munchkins of the world, get a chance to be heard. That we the people who have no political axe to grind get a chance to say what’s deep in our hearts without the fear of being tarred and feathered.

I believe that 2014 can be the best of time, an age of wisdom, an epoch of belief, a season of light, the spring of hope and a time when anything good is possible.


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Seeing how important the kiss the Good Witch gave Dorothy before she began her journey along the Yellow Brick Road, it was only fitting that a kiss would eventually figure into one of my original Christmas stories.  Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the YBR.

An Angel’s Kiss 2013

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The following was a Facebook post.  Any YBR followers or visitors, please read and consider…and pass along.

Once Upon a Christmas - A collection of 40 original holiday stories

It is my hope that you embrace the Christmas season with reckless abandon…being thankful for so many things. But for far too many people, Christmas brings pain and sorry. My heart goes out to all who have lost someone this past year, especially if the one lost was far too young to go.

This past year my brother-in-law, Paul Hartstein III died. As a fire fighter, he spent his whole life thinkiing of others. Before Paul died, a neighbor lost their nine-year-old granddaughter Emily to Leukemia. The Make A Wish Foundation had arranged a special trip for Emily…but she died a week before the trip.

This year, to honor Paul and Emily, I am going to donate the full proceeds from all the sales in December on my original Christmas story collection to The Make A Wish Foundation, available on:

Amazon:  as a Kindle book
and at

Barnes and Noble:  as a Nook book 

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