13 Houses

When I was born, my dad worked in the laundry of a hospital.  He didn’t finish high school in order to join the military, along with all eight of his older brothers.  As the youngest boy, his biggest fear as a 17-year-old was that the war would end before he could get in.

This is where we lived when I was a baby.

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We lived in the left side of the third floor of this seven-family, 2-bedroom walk-up.

It wasn’t much nicer in the 1950’s than it is today, but we were happy and never went hungry.  When my first sister came along, it was time for a bigger place.

When my grandfather died, my grandmother made a deal with my dad to purchase a house with a mother-in-law apartment and share the rest of the house with us.  She lived with us until her death.  Without my grandmas help, we couldn’t afford the down payment on a house.  At about the same time, my dad took and passed the test to become a policeman.  The new house was right up the street from our old apartment and we thought it was a mansion by comparison.  This is where my sisters and I grew up.

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Just after graduating from high school, I got a job at IBM.  In the early 70’s, this was the equivalent of hitting the work-place-lottery.  I however found it to be dreadful and it motivated me to go to college.  Not long after receiving my first paycheck, I moved out of my family home and into the so-called, “real world.”

A friend of mine had purchased this two-family home and transformed it into a three-family by adding a small apartment in the attic.  It was right down the street from the IBM complex.  At first, I occupied one of the three bedrooms on the left side of the house, sharing the place with two of my high school friends.  After the attic was finished, I moved up there.  What we mostly did was work, drink beer, chase women, ride our motorcycles and smoke pot.  I was trying to work full-time while going to school full-time, so I had to get out of there.

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My best friend Mike and I went in together and rented this really nice and modern 2-bedroom apartment, (you can see the stairs on the left side that go to the 2nd floor.)  Doesn’t look so hot today, but it was a really nice place.

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Mike got a girlfriend who had a little apartment and he was spending most of his time there anyway, so we vacated this place and I crashed on my dad’s couch while I finished up college.

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See that little tip-out room in the front?  That was where my foldout couch was located, in the uninsulated, enclosed front porch.  My dad had re-married and at the time, this 3-bedroom house had 5 occupants plus me!  At this point, my dad had finished his career as a cop, suffered through a divorce and married a woman with 5 kids, the youngest of which was a pre-schooler.  After feeling like a guest in an already crowded little house, I rented my first apartment solo.

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This place represents a very low time in my life.  See that little stair-step and railing on the right rear of the house?  That was my apartment, a once noble home carved into little apartments that were not so nice anymore.  I was living hand-to-mouth, gutting it out in school and trying to make a living.  I had just broken up with my college girlfriend, finished school and was on a wait list for law school.  On a Saturday, I received notice from Texas Southern that I had been accepted late and a seat was open.  I had to decide quickly whether or not to pack-up and drive to Texas, like that weekend.  I went out that night to ponder my fate and met the woman I would eventually marry.  No law school.

After meeting my wife-to-be, everything changed and a lot of growing up and challenges were about to take place.  This was our first apartment together, what was then a really nice 2nd floor apartment in a 3-family home in a nice neighborhood.  Both of my children would call this their first home, even though we moved before they would remember it.

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After we were married, we moved to the Philadelphia area in order for me to take the dream job of my life, and for my wife to be closer to her parents, as she was originally from that area.  Our new place was a brand-new, never been lived in before condo in a suburb of Philadelphia called Perkasie.  (No photo.)

Fast-forward almost 4 years and my wife and I we’re divorcing and I was unemployed.  Crushed, I packed up a U-Haul truck and headed home.  I put my stuff in storage and moved into the spare bedroom of the home of one of the guys I used to live with back in the IBM days.  Unhappy days.

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As life settled down a little, I found a decent job and started dating a bit.  I meet Patty and we eventually decided to set up house together.

We found this 1st floor apartment and lived there for some time.


Our landlord was really difficult, and at the same time, the guy across the street had bought a new home and was having trouble selling his old one.  I made a deal with him to rent the house until he could find a buyer.  It was literally across the street so we moved without a truck!


Patty and I were getting serious, so we made the commitment and decided to buy a house of our own.


Shortly after, I got custody of my kids and this is where they were raised.  It was, and is, a beautiful two-family, custom build, a really super house where we had lots of fun.  Patty and I went our separate ways as the kids grew and left for college.  I bought her out and shortly thereafter, I grew tired of being a landlord, so I sold this place and moved into a smaller 2-family place I had purchased a few years earlier for income.

I fixed up the 2nd floor apartment as I went along, and I live there today.


I’m be 66 years old later this month.  I just applied for social security.  I own a small business that I continue to work in every day.  I am debt free and I own another 2-family house for income.  Being self-employed, I have no pension, so I will need to rely on social security, income from my business, and the rental income from my two, 2-family houses.

I have worked hard my entire life.  I’ve made some colossal mistakes along the way and I’m paying the financial price for those mistakes now.  Having just chronicled the entire journey makes me feel even worse about what I have done and how I have done it.  That said, I guess I’ve done a little better than my dad did, and they say that is the object, to see your kids do a little bit better than you did.  It seems I have set the bar low enough for my kids to clear it with ease.  My daughter already has.  My son’s working on it.




The scheme to Make America Racist Again almost worked but Smollett is even a worse actor in real life.

State Attorney in Cook County Illinois Kim Foxx must have owed the Obama’s a big favor in cutting Jussie Smollett loose from all 16 of his felony indictments.  You remember, that 2nd rate actor that staged his own racial hatred ambush by a supposed pair of Trump loving, Make American Great Again white racist assailants.  Except the truth was it was actually two Nigerian brothers who were paid to make it look like Smollett was assaulted, after he sent himself a threatening letter dripping with racial animus.


Obama advisor Tina Tchen called Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx and as a result:

We’re sorry Mr. Smollett, you’re free to go, all a big mix-up, not only are you free, your record has been sealed, case closed, our bad, please accept our apologies.

Except someone forgot to clue in the Mayor of Chicago as well as the Chicago police chief.  These guys are hopping mad, insisting now that there may be a two-tiered justice system in American.  Imagine that.  Wow, stop the presses; something is amok in Chicago politics?  A dirt bag like Rahm Emanuel, (long time Obama sycophant and current Chicago mayor) is amazed and insulted!  That’s saying something.  His outrage is more likely to be the result of not being in on the scheme.


Then the Chicago police chief is so mad, he starts dumping documents on the internet, revealing much more about the case, that is until a judge slapped him with a restraining order.  Can’t have any truth leaking out.


Hard to imagine that this little stunt isn’t some sort of tit-for-tat payback for the likes of Michael Brown in Ferguson or Freddie Gray in Baltimore, notwithstanding the fact that in each of these cases, the police were not only justified but exonerated.  No, in this case, the perpetrator was and is a race-baiting self-promoting riot-monger, hell-bent on fashioning a racial hatred theme where none existed outside of his own self-loathing.

But then consider presidential candidate Kamala Harris and her ties to anti-lynching legislation, just two weeks after Smollett claims to have been assaulted and then remember Smollett’s accusations about a rope around his neck, and the Trump references, I’m smelling the creation of a narrative to help a 2nd rate actor support the candidacy of a 3rd rate contender for the presidency.

Smollett ought to join the ranks of Colin Kaepernik and OJ Simpson in being shunned into total obscurity but instead; the NAACP would like to reward him.  It seems there is a growing segment of the militant black community that can’t believe that racism is receding as fast as it is, so to compensate, they have to make some up, just to keep their hatred machine fed.  Al Sharpton showed them how, back in the 70’s when he fabricated the Tawana Brawley fiasco, again, targeting innocent people in a racist sting-set-up that never actually happened.  No one was held accountable for that either.


Those who insist that racism is a systemic issue today are correct, except that in large measure, those in the white community have long ago left those sentiments in the rear-view mirror while a significant portion of the agitated black trouble creators create racism when they can’t find it, and then throw it a lifeline to keep it from drowning.  Without the facade of racism to use as shield, miscreants fashion false accusations instead into swords based on lies.


If the racism industry slows to a crawl and threatens to disappear, what are the likes of the Al Sharpton’s, Jesse Jackson’s and Maxine Waters of the world going to do for income?

If law enforcement was able to proceed, unhampered by partisans, and in the process uncovered a scheme that tied Kamala Harris, the Obama’s, Kim Foxx and Jussie Smollett together in an effort to convince Americans that Trump’s America actually looks and feels this way, it is hard for me to imagine anything more diabolical and more anti-American than that.  This is what real hatred looks like and it is hatred of America.



Everyone ought to be offended by the phrase “white privilege.”  To attach that label to every member of an entire race minimizes the individual’s actual accomplishments while undermining their unique values.  All members of a particular race are first and foremost individuals.  Using divisive and accusatory terms like this makes sweeping assumptions about individuals by seeing them as first a monolithic group, rather than as unique and differing people.

How demeaning.

Today’s popular culture movement has this wrong-headed idea of equality of outcomes over the righteous principle of the equality of opportunity.  Those accusing “white privilege” automatically assume the role of victim because of it.  This conveniently twists logic in order to avoid the more obvious and difficult inquiry, that being examining the weaknesses and deficiencies of the accuser.  Claiming others have this privilege conveniently exempts the accuser of any self-examination or personal responsibility.

According to the dictionary definition of “privilege”, it is a special right, immunity or benefit that is granted.  The obvious question then would be, who is it that is doing the granting here?

People not only come in different colors, but they come in different packages of abilities, temperaments and talents.  Some people are smart, inquisitive, and tireless, while others make bad choices, act stupidly and sometimes even against their own self interests.  These internal qualities and  deficiencies have nothing to do with anyone else, but those who wish to label an entire races have little interest in self-examination or personal responsibility, when it is easier to blame others and then wallow in the self-pity that serves no other purpose than to perpetuate their own lack of accomplishment.


Consider how far we have fallen, when we aren’t outrightly offended by a phrase that classifies an entire race of something so outrageously offensive and unfounded.  Imagine the outrage, and it would be rightful outrage, if the phrase “black self-pity” came into common use, and then espoused a thesis affirming the principle so forcefully that publicly rejecting it would be widely considered as politically incorrect in certain lofty circles.  The accusation of “white privilege” is just as outrageous, offensive and racist.

Replace the word “privilege” with “supremacy” and in a perverted, ironic twist, you have the same argument being made and reaching a similar conclusion, the first by race-baiters and the second by race-haters.


Whatever you might think privilege is, the truth is, it can be found, pursued, grabbed, it can be forcefully taken, wrestled with, sought and harnessed, but only if you have the temerity to afford yourself the power that rests inside you to go after such things and make of yourself whatever you are capable of becoming.  Those whining about their unfounded opinion as to how others did what they did, matters of which they actually have no idea, is wasted energy and it insults an entire race of people unjustly, and not by accident, affording no defense, just absolute condemnation without rebuttal.  Such damning proclamations are blatantly racist.

We all enjoy the privilege of being alive and living in the greatest country on earth.  Untold hundreds of thousands of people from other countries risk life itself in order to get here.  They take their chances in a foreign culture, not knowing our language or customs, many times skirting the law, and they do it all in the hope of enduring the ravages of what a hand-full of self-proclaimed elitist under-achievers call the impossibility of their success because of “white privilege.”  How is it that the totality of the migrant world that dreams of a home in the USA sees so much promise when those who have instant access to that dream see nothing but obstacles and defeat?



Serving as the backdrop for my praises about to be sung on behalf of a community college education, the scandal, yet still unfolding regarding the rich and famous bribing their way into prestigious universities fits nicely into the following narrative.

My college career began as a 21 year-old, a few years late in seeing the light, but then laser-focused on achievement versus simple sustenance.  Broome Community College, (BCC then, now SUNY Broome), a local community college in New York offered me the best options.

I attended school full-time during the day, and worked full-time at a 2nd shift job in a factory.  What prompted my conversion to college was a late-night performance appraisal I was receiving, courtesy of my manager.  “Larry” was droning on about my attitude, my lack of enthusiasm and reluctance to work over-time.  As his words echoed off his cubicle panels, I saw the small certificate of graduation hanging on the wall behind his desk and at that moment, I decided that if the only thing holding me back from elevating my working life status from where I was to where he was involved obtaining a college degree, than that ought to be pursued.  I was excited because it seemed to me that Larry wasn’t any smarter than I was, and he allegedly graduated from Syracuse University, so I thought, how hard could this be at the local community college?

From the beginning, my plan was this:  Learn as much as I could about business and law and between the two, I figured that I could do almost anything.  Some of the best instructors I ever encountered staffed the business/marketing program at BCC.  Many of these men and women had started businesses, some had flourished, and some had failed.  Most had worked in the private sector and had real experience.  A few were truly brilliant and amazing examples of quality educators.  They all had a lot to offer and the access to them was unlimited.

As I settled in to the college routine, three of us, all in the same major, formed a friendship and working relationship that exists to this day.  When it came time to transfer to a 4-year school, one friend went directly to work and the other went to Penn State, a well-regarded business school.  I transferred across town to the State University of New York at Binghamton, (SUNY then, now Binghamton University) a nationally renowned educational powerhouse in the form of the School of Management, (SOM) which at the time had an acceptance rate in the teens, average GPA’s pushing 4.0 and SAT scores in the 95th percentile.  Known then as a “public Ivy” the SOM was the poor mans Harvard.

I split my interests between political science and anything else I found intellectually stimulating.  As for the SOM tract, it was lacking from my perspective.  The overwhelming emphasis was on analytics and formulaic analysis of business modeling.  The professors were largely inaccessible and totally lacking any real-world experience or expertise, having spend all of their lives in academia and consulting.

My tipping point came on the morning I asked my distinguished, visiting professor from London, a renowned expert in energy, how many gallons of oil were in a barrel and he couldn’t answer me.  The brilliance of my political science professor, and the unbelievable knowledge shared by the professor of comparative western religions, was the only saving grace.

Fast-forward a few years and the one friend who went directly to work after BCC was living in Atlanta, working for an internationally known magazine publisher.  My other friend had a nice career at a fortune 100 company, and then spent his entire retirement nest-egg on building a business that he recently sold to a competitor for well into 7 figures.  I was the Director of the national governing body of a sport and authored that organizations successful application to become a member of the United States Olympic Committee.  I also started two successful businesses.

The two of us who went on to finish our college careers in the best schools both conclude the same thing:  We learned all that we needed to know at BCC.  For my friend that went to Penn State, he gained the most value from that experience by way of his fraternity, which gave him access to friends and influences he relies upon to this day.  For myself, I took what I wanted from the university, but the real value was at the community college level.

As for the people caught up in today’s college admission scandal, it’s no wonder that many find their worlds so fragile, so fraught with anxiety and turmoil, these spoiled snot-nosed elitists might bribe their way into a prestigious school, but that alone can’t morph them into knowledgeable, capable  entrepreneurs and innovators.  Their fragility and inability to cope once hatched into the cold, hard reality of life must be breath taking.


What this scandal does accomplish is to make the cynical double down on their disdain and reinforces the notion that it’s not what you know but who you know.  You can’t fake it forever, unless you have the trust fund to back you up, or the social connections to orchestrate a rich wedding, where you can brag about the good old days at Stanford, or Yale, or Georgetown, while enjoying the hollowness of a life lived in fantasy, unfulfilled and empty of achievement.


As for myself and my friends, we feel fortunate, grateful and proud of what we did and how we did it.  Making the path easy might seem like a good idea to a clueless parent, but the rocks and ruts in the road serve a nobler goal, ones that can’t be finessed or simulated, and those parents have deprived their kids of that at a terrible price.


Fast Fred; Who are you & Who are We?

State Senator, former Broome County under-sheriff, private investigator, business owner, Port Dickinson police officer, what does Fred Akshar want to be when he grows up?  If the story of Senator Akshar moonlighting as a $16 per hour cop made you wonder why, in the world of politics, whatever it is that seems obvious is usually a diversion from the actual motive and such is the case here.

What happens when patrolmen Akshar has to be in traffic court in the Town of Dickinson while Senator Akshar is simultaneously in Albany?  And when the Village of Port Dickinson is seeking a state grant, or other types of state aid and programs, where normally a locally elected Senator would be their greatest ally, won’t Senator Akshar rightfully need to recuse himself from that vote?  As a PI with access to law enforcement databases, how do we know super-sleuth Akshar won’t access sensitive records otherwise unavailable to private citizens?

PI, cop, Senator, the list of likely conflicts of interest is mind-boggling.


The most obvious question never asked of Akshar when he became a candidate for the senate seat; Why would a high ranking, veteran sheriff officer, well into his career and with less than 8 years to retirement and a legitimate candidate for the post of Sheriff in the not-to-distant future trade all of that in for a job that pays less, requires re-election every two-years, and is noticeably outside of his professional area of expertise?  Now into the 4th year of Akshar’s senate career and we still don’t know the answer because the question was never asked.

No news from the media and failing to be inquisitive in holding public figures accountable is fake news by neglectful indifference.

With only a cursory look into the past using publicly available information reviewing Akshar’s behavior, the appearance of poor judgment and the abuse of power is impossible to miss.  According to media accounts, while a Broome County sheriff, Akshar had a romance with Kate Newcomb, a female colleague in the department.  In 2009, Newcomb reportedly interfered with State Police investigators, coaching her nephew regarding him allegedly crashing his car and injuring his girlfriend while drunk.

Court records indicate that Newcomb and Akshar drove to the scene of the accident where Newcomb instructed the nephew to throw the car keys into a field.  She then took the nephew to her home, where she encouraged him to have 3 beers.  When the State Police arrived at Newcomb’s home, she because irate, demanding “professional courtesy” because she was a sheriff officer and Akshar was reportedly right there at her side.

As a senator, Akshar reportedly developed a new romance with a subordinate, and at the same time denied any wrong-doing when it was disclosed that he simultaneously jumped her salary eight times and gave her three promotions in 2½ years, rising her from a part-timer making $32,600 in 2015 to a full-timer making $85,000, according to the state comptroller’s office.

In 2014, Akshar once more demonstrated his tendency to bend the rules when he reportedly responded to a request for legal assistance from Paul Battisti, a local attorney, regarding a domestic incident that was happening in the city of Binghamton involving Battisti, his estranged wife, his new girlfriend, and his young children.  While the proper protocol would have been to dispatch the Binghamton police to the scene, Akshar arranged instead to have his brother, deputy John Akshar dispatched, and as a result, Battisti’s estranged wife was subsequently arrested.  After she filed a lawsuit, the district attorney dropped all charges.

At the same time, Akshar was deeply involved with his boss, David Harder’s re-election campaign for Sheriff and Battisti was the Chairman of the Broome County Independence Party, from which an endorsement was being sought and was won.  Fast forward to today, and we see Battisti running for Broome County District Attorney with the enthusiastic endorsements of Harder and Akshar, including a $5,000.00 donation to his campaign from who other than Fred Akshar, the “quid pro quo” alleged in the lawsuit filed by Battisti’s ex-wife.


What is Senator/ patrolmen/ PI Akshar actually doing?  He is sharpening his political sword by laying the foundation of “rediscovering his roots and re-examining his passion for law-enforcement” all will burnishing his credentials for a run at the post of Broome County sheriff after Harder retires.  As a guy who likes to throw around his power, being a Republican Senator in a state now wholly controlled by Democrats has to be emasculating to someone wired this way.  Akshar may find the power-boost that the office of Broome County Sheriff will provide.  After lowering himself to examine the day-to-day life of the rank-and-file patrol officer, and then learning the defense side of the legal system courtesy of his PI license, it seems clear that Akshar will tell constituents how he knows all sides of the law enforcement equation now, having lived it, been there, done that.  The added bonus of being a NYS Senator pulling in over $120,000.00 a year affords him the time and luxury to pursue his ambitions at taxpayer expense.  Not much to do in Albany when you have no power.

The fact that it took the media almost a year to learn that Akshar was a moonlighting cop and a PI, speaks volumes about their level of interest.  Moreover, to add insult to that injury, it was an ordinary citizen, just doing his homework on reading local government meeting minutes that brought the matter to the public’s attention, not some super-sleuth reporter eager to break a big local story.

Dating subordinates, boosting the pay of a romantic partner to ridiculously high levels at taxpayer expense, allegations of his abusing his power as a police officer and manipulating the system to get his way, all fall well short of prudent ethical scrutiny voters expect.  Akshar fits right in to a long shameful line of elected officials that the Albany sewer seems to attract.  Given his propensity to be notable in many eyebrow-raising situations, it seems that he is not only unfit to be a Port Dickinson patrolman; he is likewise unfit to be a private investigator, a sheriff deputy or a Senator.


Washington is no doubt a swamp but Albany is a cesspool if Akshar is any indication of what passes for sound ethics in governance.  With that said, the sobering reality is that the reflection in the mirror might be the dual images of Akshar and ourselves because, as Alexis de Tocqueville reminded us some 175 years ago, “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.”  I would like to think that we are better than that but perhaps Akshar is the accurate reflection of us all, his constituents.

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AOC=Against Ownership/Capitalism

AOCThomas Jefferson said of American politics, “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”  Not only will the residents of New York’s 14th Congressional district learn this lesson the hard way, so will the rest of America be likewise punished in the process.  All because 87% of voters declared “I Don’t Care” by staying home, leaving less than 2% of the electorate to elevate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the US Congress.

Thank God that in her first bid for re-election, Cortez will be forced into the sunlight, courtesy of the instant fame a sympathetic media has heaped on the not-ready-for-prime-time former bartender.

Cortez didn’t know that Palestine wasn’t a state, compared the southern border wall to the Berlin wall, thought she was being inaugurated instead of sworn in, and believed she signed legislation instead of actually writing it.

Cortez is a Saturday Night Live caricature unique to metro-New York that aptly demonstrates the truth of the adage, again from Jefferson, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

Cortez typifies many 29-year-olds; over-confident, idealistic, lacking depth and ignorant of history but overly sure of themselves because they have never been told no.

Ms. Cortez, NO!