About the Header Photo

This photograph is from family archives.  Most of the people in the photograph are long gone now … but certainly not forgotten.  In fact, the ancestry of this core group has expanded considerably in both number and geography.  Many of us talk all the time, some of us don’t talk as often as we would like … very few don’t care.

These were the pioneers and the first generation of those pioneers in the New World.  Not unlike today, the world was afire with discontent and tyranny.  Even NYC could be challenging experience.  The labors of many immigrants were needed for growing the United States.  How they assimilated and became part of the American fabric was entirely up to them. Sometimes they struggled and were faced with bitterness and classicism, though they were all Americans, and at a time when immigration was akin to recruiting.

One distinguishing characteristic of the people in this photograph that has always amazed me – is that they never spoke a sentence in private that could not be repeated in public, for fear it was harsh or crude.  It wasn’t that they were careful, it is that they lived their words.  They weren’t perfect.  As the family expanded, like in any growing group of humans … there are some sad stories too.  On the other hand – all one needed to do to hear music – was to start humming, or strum a chord or two on a guitar … and in mere seconds scores of voices would be singing.  After a few bars, the harmonies and counterpoint would begin, the youngest of us would roll our eyes as though it were our duty, yet we were still singing along too.

Here is the photo before cropping (if you click on it, it will become full screen), which unfortunately cut out a few of my favorites including my very special and good friend, mentor and teacher, Uncle Nick Milea.  He was a masterful guitarist.  Don’t be misled by the frozen faces … photographing a  family portrait, at the time – requiring people to freeze for much longer periods of time than we currently experience, evoked emotions ranging from anxiety and consternation to heresy. The photo title should actually be 1930’s – not- 1940’s.

About Binx101

Many years ago, single – residing in NYC and traveling more than half of the time I would enjoy being fussed over by my part-time housekeeper Nora. Originally from Ecuador, she spoke with a very heavy accent. I gave her unrestricted access to my apartment and my fine cigars etc… Often she and her husband would enjoy NYC from my apartment for a holiday weekend when I traveled. I was delighted to offer and the evidence of this highly beneficial quid pro quo included fine meals cached in my refrigerator when I returned from trips, as well as a spotless and tidy environment.

When I wasn’t home … although the telephone had a machine … she would often answer the phone and forward messages to my service.

On one occasion, Howard, my London colleague was unable to find me in London where he had been expecting me. He tried but there was no answer at my flat there either. Shortly before cell phones were prominent he called my home in NYC to leave me a message, figuring eventually I would get it. Nora answered. He asked for me. “Binx101” was her answer. Bewildered at the response he requested she repeat her answer many times … he finally understood he was getting nowhere.

Shortly thereafter, I contacted my frazzled colleague and we met. After explaining my delay and apologizing profusely,  he told me that I was ‘off-the-hook’ if I could simply translate what Nora had told him when he called trying to leave a message for me. Then he stated speaking with his best replication of what he heard her say. “Binx101”

Now, I could understand Nora’s accent without hesitation. In fact, in a previous life, the linguistics and phonetics of foreign accents was one of my areas of expertise- so even on a terrible phone line I could understand the heaviest of accents from any origin. However, I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what Howard was telling me as his ineptitude at language was compounded further with his intolerable adoption of a cartoon character’s voice in his performance; which only succeeded further annoying me, as it was an attempt to besmirch my dear Nora.

There was only one thing left to do. I called New York and asked Nora what she had told Howard when he asked for me. After reassuring her that there was no trouble but her accuracy was important, she told me, as Howard listened on the speaker. He shouted with glee in the final performance of his demented falsetto “See !! Binx101 !!!” I thanked Nora, again reassured her that nothing was wrong and apologized for bothering her at home. Then I turned to Howard and told him that what he heard, understandably, as Binx101 was simply – “Vince went away.”

Over the next week, all of my professional contacts began calling me Binx101, and so it remains.

This seemed much more fun than – attended here, served there … awarded this and that … and dumb as a post. (pun intended)

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