Monthly Archives: April 2012

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Trapeze’: Young French-Speaking British Woman On Undercover Assignment in World War II German-Occupied France

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'Trapeze': Young French-Speaking British Woman On Undercover Assignment in World War II German-Occupied France

Marian Sutro, the heroine in Simon Mawer’s “Trapeze” (Other Press trade paperback, 384 pages, $15.95) has abilities that have attracted the attention of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), the British equivalent of the OSS of the U.S. She’s bilingual, with a French mother and a British father who was a diplomat at the League of Nations in Geneva. She’s familiar with France and Paris. And as a young woman, she’s less likely to attract the attention of the Gestapo and SS — or so her handlers reason. Most of the Frenchmen her age have been recruited — forced, really — to labor in Germany’s war plants.


In World War II London Marian’s background is so special that she’s recruited from her post with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force’s (WAAF) Filter Room to become part of the resistance, trained at age 19 to blow up trains, send messages she’s encrypted by Morse code and even kill if it’s necessary. She and other agents know that they’ll be executed if they are captured, as were German agents in the U.S. and elsewhere.


Mawer’s page-turning historical novel is based on fact: In a note at the beginning of the book he writes that the French section of the SOE sent 39 women into the field between May 1941 and September 1944: “Of these, twelve were murdered following their capture by the Germans while another died of meningitis during her mission. The remainder survived the war. Some of these women became well known to the public through films and books that were written about them. Others remained, and remain, obscure. They were all remarkable.”


Simon Mawer

Simon Mawer


Readers with good memories will immediately compare Mawer’s book to “Charlotte Gray”, a 1999 novel by Sebatian Faulks, made into a 2001 movie directed by Gillian Armstrong starring Cate Blanchett in the title role. I’ve seen the movie — and skimmed the novel— and I found Mawer’s novel outstanding in its portrayal of Marian Sutro and the other people in the book. Other readers might compare Mawer’s WWII Europe to American author Alan Furst’s works. I’ve read Furst — an outstanding writer — and I can state that Mawer’s literary voice is original.


Marian is quickly assigned to FANY, the humorous-to-Marian acronym for the deadly serious First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, an independent unit affiliated with but not part of the Territorial Army — the British equivalent of America’s National Guard and enlisted reserves. FANY was active in both nursing and intelligence work during both World Wars. She’s trained at a secret “school for spies” camp in the Scottish highlands and parachutes into France to join the WORDSMITH resistance network.


During her training, she’s recruited — hijacked might be a better description — by another spy agency to go to Paris from her posting in rural southwest France to persuade a man she knew before the war —a research physicist at the College of France named Clement —to join the Allied war effort. He’s an older family friend and Marian had a crush on him — and still does. Most of the physicists in Europe have fled to England, Canada and the United States to work on the atomic bomb project, including Marian’s older brother Ned, but Clement remained in occupied France. The SOE wants him in England and Marian’s task is to persuade him to leave.


Marian’s exploits are the author’s tribute to the 39 women of the French section of the SOE — and the 13 who didn’t return— much as the film “The Great Escape” is dedicated to the 50 POWs who were murdered by the Nazis. One of the qualities of good historical fiction is how it blends fact and fiction. By this yardstick, Mawer’s “Trapeze”, blending action, love, betrayal and death, is a success.


Here’s an excerpt from “Trapeze”, from the publisher’s website:


The plane tilts, turning in a wide circle, engines roaring. Up in the cockpit she can imagine the pilot searching, searching, straining to see the tiny glimmers of torchlight, which means that they are expected down there in the moonlight. A light comes on in the roof of the fuselage, a single, unblinking red eye. The dispatcher gives the thumbs up. “HE’S FOUND IT!”
There’s a note of admiration and triumph in his shout, as though this proves what wonders his crew are able to perform, to come all this way in the darkness, eight hundred miles from home, and find a pinprick of light in a blackened world. He attaches the static line from their parachutes to the rail on the roof of the fuselage and double checks the buckles of their harnesses. The aircraft makes one pass over the dropping zone and she can hear the sound of the containers leaving the bomb bay and see them flash beneath, their canopies billowing open. Then the machine banks and turns and steadies for the second run. “YOUR TURN NOW!” the dispatcher yells at the pair of them.
“Merde, alors!” Benoit mouths to Marian, and grins. He looks infuriatingly unconcerned, as though this is all in the normal run of things, as though as a matter of course people throw themselves out of aircraft over unknown countryside in the middle of the night.

Merde alors!
She sits with her feet out through the hole, in the slipstream, like sitting on a rock with your feet in the water, the current pulling at them. Benoit is right behind her. She can feel him against the bulk of her parachute pack, as though the pack has become a sensitive extension of her own body. She says a prayer, a baby prayer pulled out of childhood memory, but nevertheless a prayer and therefore a sign of weakness: God, please look after me. Which means, perhaps, Father look after me, or Maman look after me, but whatever it means she doesn’t want any sign of weakness now, not at this moment of deliverance with the slipstream rushing past her and the void beneath, while the dispatcher gives her a nod that’s meant to inspire confidence but only brings with it the horror of superstition, that you must never congratulate yourself, never applaud, never even wish anyone good luck. Merde alors! That was all you ever said. Merde alors! She thinks, a prayer of a kind, as the red light blinks off and the green light comes on and the dispatcher shouts “GO!” and there’s his hand on her back and she lets go, plunging from the rough comfort of the fuselage into the raging darkness over France.


About the Author


Simon Mawer is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel “The Glass Room” (Other Press), which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. His previous novels include “The Fall” (winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize), “The Gospel of Judas”, and “Mendel’s Dwarf” (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize). English by birth, he has made Italy his home for more than thirty years.


BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Father’s Love’: David Goldman Recovers His Son But Thousands Still Seek Children Taken by Spouses to Countries Ignoring International Law

BOOK REVIEW: 'A Father's Love': David Goldman Recovers His Son But Thousands Still Seek Children Taken by Spouses to Countries Ignoring International Law

New Jersey model and charter fisherman David Goldman’s long nightmare to regain custody of his kidnapped son Sean ended on Christmas Eve 2009, but, as he recounts in the trade paperback edition of his 2011 book “A Father’s Love: One Man’s Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home” (Plume, published by the Penguin Group USA, 288 pages, photographs, index, $16.00) thousands of American families are still waiting for justice and the return of their kidnapped children.

The book reads like a thriller, exposing the U.S. as a paper tiger when it comes to rescuing children abducted by spouses in countries like Brazil, in the case of four-year old Sean Goldman, Japan, Austria and other countries that ignore the Hague Abduction Convention. Only through more than five years of legal action, the pleas of powerful people like N.J. Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama and appearances on major television programs did Goldman finally get custody of Sean. The story has a happy ending, but more than 60 abducted American children remain trapped in Brazil, a country where powerful oligarchs defy the legal system. And, worldwide, almost 3,000 children remain abducted. Goldman appeared on the Friday, April 27, 2012 Today show, updating the saga of his battle to regain custody of Sean. Here’s the link to the Natalie Morales interview:

Also, Meredith Vieira of NBC will interview Sean Goldman on the upcoming Dateline NBC show.

* * *

If there is one hero in the affair, Goldman would single out Rep. Chris Smith, who has introduced H.R. 1940 to assure enforcement of the Hague Abduction Convention. This is from Rep. Smith’s site (

“With all the assistance and support I received, after over four years and then another year and one half after the death of his first abductor, on Christmas Eve 2009, my son and I were finally reunited and returned home,” Goldman said. “It was nothing short of a miracle. Even after five and one half years of my son’s illegal retention and documented abuse, he is now home and he is flourishing.” Click here to read Goldman’s testimony.

Other witnesses included left behind parents whose children have been taken to countries signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, as well as countries not signatory to the Hague treaty. Parents invited to testify were: Sarah Edwards, of Ohio, mother of Eli, 3 who was abducted to Turkey while on vacation with his father in March 2010; Carlos Bermudez, of North Carolina, father of Sage, 3, who was abducted to Mexico in June of 2008; Michael Elias, father of Jade, 5, and Michael, 3, who were abducted to Japan in December 2008 from their home in New Jersey; Colin Bower, of Massachusetts, whose sons Ramsay, 8, and Noor, 10 were abducted to Egypt August 2009, and; Joshua Izzard, father of Melisande, 3, who was abducted from her home in Chicago and taken to Russia by her mother in October 2010.

Also testifying before members of the subcommittee were Patricia Apy, attorney and international child abduction expert; Kristin Wells, attorney and foreign policy expert; and Jesse Eaves, Policy Advisor for Children in Crisis, World Vision.

Smith said the U.S. State Department’s 2010 Hague Convention Compliance Report highlights 15 countries (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey) for failing to enforce return orders. Many other countries (Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Mexico, the Bahamas, and St. Kitts and Nevis) are failing to abide by the Hague Convention provisions concerning the central authority charged with implementing the Convention, the performance of their judiciaries in applying the Hague Convention, and/or the ability or willingness of law enforcement to ensure swift enforcement of orders issued under the Convention.

* * *

David Goldman had an all-America boyhood, growing up in New Jersey. He was the son of Barry Goldman, a Jew, and Ellie Poll Goldman, a Roman Catholic who converted to Judaism before she married Barry. The family observed both Christian and Jewish holidays. David had a traditional Bar Mitzvah when he turned 13, but while the family was not deeply religious, David Goldman writes that his “exposure to both Judaism and Christianity from family and friends provided a basic sense of right and wrong, a moral compass on which I’ve come to depend.”

His father was a geology graduate of Cornell University who decided that after a career with Hess Oil Co., he decided he wanted to be his own boss. So he started his charter fishing business, where David worked with him. David also worked as a lifeguard on the Jersey Shore and that’s where his modeling career began. Soon he was appearing in photo shoots with supermodels like Kathy Ireland and was in demand in foreign photo sessions, often for catalogue photos.

While in Milan, he met his future wife and the mother of Sean, Bruna Bianchi Carniero Ribiero, a Brazilian of Italian descent (Brazil, Argentina, Chile and many other South American countries have many citizens of Italian or German descent). She was studying fashion design in Milan.They fell in love and married in 1999. Their son was born the following year and David thought he’d met his soulmate for life. He bonded with his son from the start and Bruna’s parents even bought a condo not far away. Bruna went to work teaching Italian in a nearby school and Goldman thought his life was perfect.

Little did Goldman know that he was in for the ordeal of a lifetime when, in June 2004, he took Bruna and Sean to Liberty International Airport in Newark, NJ. She told him that they would be returning to New Jersey after a two-week vacation. Once there, however, Bruna informed Goldman that she was staying in Brazil—and keeping Sean. Essentially, she abandoned Goldman and began an affair with a man known only to Goldman as J.P. She obtained a Brazilian divorce and married her lover.

In the courts, Goldman found himself outmaneuvered by the legal machinations of Bruna’s new husband, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, a member of one of Brazil’s most powerful families. She even obtained a Brazilian birth certificate for Sean, who was born in New Jersey!

About the Author

David Goldman now runs a charter boat business and does advocacy work on international child abduction. He has appeared on Dateline, Today, and NPR’sThe Diane Rehm Show, and on Fox and CNN . He and Sean live in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. His website:
Readers will find the text of H.R. 1940, the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2011 on the website. Link to pdf:

REALTYTRAC: More than Half of U.S. Metro Areas See Foreclosure Increase in Q1 2012

  • By David M. Kinchen
REALTYTRAC: More than Half of U.S. Metro Areas See Foreclosure Increase in Q1 2012

First quarter foreclosure activity increased from the previous quarter in 114 out of the nation’s 212 metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or more, according to a report released Thursday, April 26, 2012 by Irvine, CA-based RealtyTrac ( ), the nation’s leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties.


RealtyTrac’s Q1 2012 Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report shows that first quarter foreclosure activity increased from the fourth quarter of 2011 in 26 out of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas, led by Pittsburgh (up 49 percent), Indianapolis (up 37 percent), Philadelphia (up 30 percent), New York (up 24 percent), Raleigh, N.C. (up 23 percent), and Virginia Beach, Va. (up 22 percent).
The biggest quarterly decreases in foreclosure activity among the 50 largest metro areas were in Portland, Ore. (down 28 percent), Las Vegas (down 26 percent), Providence, R.I. (down 24 percent), Salt Lake City (down 22 percent), Boston (down 21 percent), and San Jose, Calif. (down 21 percent).

“First quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “While the majority of metro areas continued to show foreclosure activity down from a year ago, more than half reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous quarter — an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets.”

Despite the quarterly increase in more than half of the metro areas tracked in the report, first quarter foreclosure activity was still down compared to the first quarter of 2011 in 135 out of the 212 metro areas (64 percent).

Thirty-three of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas posted year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity, led by Las Vegas (down 61 percent), Seattle (down 53 percent), Austin, Texas (down 51 percent), Salt Lake City (down 49 percent), and Buffalo, N.Y. (down 47 percent).

The biggest annual increases in foreclosure activity among the 50 largest metro areas were in Orlando (up 52 percent), Indianapolis (up 41 percent), Hartford, Conn. (up 38 percent), Miami (up 37 percent), and Philadelphia (up 33 percent).

Stockton, Calif., posted the nation’s highest metropolitan foreclosure rate in the first quarter. One in every 60 housing units in the Stockton metro area had a foreclosure filing during the quarter — more than three times the national average. There were a total of 3,912 Stockton properties with foreclosure filings in the first quarter, down 13 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 and down 19 percent from the first quarter of 2011.

Nearby Modesto, Calif., posted a foreclosure rate that was fractionally lower than the foreclosure rate in Stockton — giving Modesto the nation’s second highest metro foreclosure rate. Ten other California cities joined Stockton and Modesto among the nation’s Top 20 metro foreclosure rates: Riverside-San Bernardino (No. 3), Vallejo-Fairfield (No. 4), Merced (No. 5), Sacramento (No. 6), Bakersfield (No. 7), Visalia-Porterville (No. 10), Fresno (No. 12), Oxnard-Thousand Oaks (No. 14), Chico (No. 18), and Santa Rosa-Petaluma (No. 20).

Reporting one in every 82 housing units with a foreclosure filing in the first quarter, the foreclosure rate in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area dropped to eighth highest nationwide thanks to a substantial drop-off in foreclosure activity. A total of 10,192 Las Vegas properties had a foreclosure filing during the quarter, down 26 percent from the fourth quarter and down 61 percent from the first quarter of 2011.

A total of 20,787 properties in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., metro area had a foreclosure filing in the first quarter, down 5 percent from the previous quarter and down 43 percent from the first quarter of 2011. That gave Phoenix the nation’s ninth highest metro foreclosure rate for the quarter: one in every 87 housing units with a foreclosure filing.

Other metro areas with foreclosure rates among the Top 20 included Atlanta (No. 11), Miami (No. 13), Orlando (No. 15), Rockford, Ill. (No. 16), Chicago (No. 17), and Prescott, Ariz. (No. 19).


The Riverside-San Bernardino metro area in Southern California registered the highest foreclosure rate among the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas: one in every 62 housing units with a foreclosure filing during the quarter — more than three times the national average.

Seven other metros among the nation’s 50 largest registered foreclosure rates that were more than twice the national average: Sacramento, Calif. (one in 77 housing units), Las Vegas (one in 82 housing units), Phoenix (one in 87 housing units), Atlanta (one in 90 housing units), Miami (one in 95 housing units), Orlando (one in 101 housing units), and Chicago (one in 107 housing units).

BOOK REVIEW: ‘How to Listen to Great Music’: Getting More Out of Listening to Classical Music from 1600 to 1900, and a Peek Into the Future With Schoenberg, Stravinsky

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen

You may think you know a lot about what makes classical music tick, but after you’ve read Robert Greenberg’s “How to Listen to Great Music: A Guide to Its History, Culture, and Heart” (Plume trade paperback, 352 pages, glossary, bibliography, index, $16.00) you’ll probably realize you don’t know as much as you thought. Reading this book will enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of classical music.

I grew up in a musical household: My mother was an academically trained pianist and piano teacher (she was a graduate of Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music, founded in 1886) and played the piano in Chicago movie theaters in the era of the Silents).

I played trombone and tuba in the high school bands (marching and concert) and the orchestra of Rochelle Township High School in Rochelle, IL, 80 miles west of Chicago’s Loop. We consistently were among the top state prize winners in our relatively small student enrollment category, consistently winning or ranking high in statewide competition.

Our success was in large part to an upper Midwestern work ethic, but the main force was our outstanding music director, a great teacher named Willard H. Gieske (how many of you still remember the names of your high school teachers? My 50th class reunion was in 2007!). I Googled the name and discovered he lived to be 90, born in 1912 in Barrington, IL, near Chicago, died 2002 in Rochelle. He was a wonderful teacher and a gentleman of the first order. He convinced me with great tact to switch from trombone to tuba. I was big enough to shoulder the heavy all-brass sousaphones in use in those days in marching band and fearless enough to be the only tuba player in the orchestra (most orchestras have only one. If you make a mistake playing tuba in an orchestra, everybody will know who dun it!).

I never had the spare time to participate in music when I was enrolled in nearby Northern Illinois University, but I did take a music appreciation course with Aaron Copland’s “What to Listen For in Music” (1957) as the textbook. Of course Copland (“Appalachian Spring,” “Billy the Kid”, “Rodeo”) was one of America’s greatest composers. You won’t find Copland mentioned in Greenberg’s often slangy and witty book, nor will you find another of my favorite American composers, Samuel Barber (“Adagio for Strings”).

Greenberg says the inclusion of Igor Stravinsky’s 1913 premiere of “The Rite of Spring” is an apt conclusion for a book on what’s called the “common practice” of traditional classical music. He says including music of the 20th and 21st centuries would double the size of the book. Let’s hope he’ll do a book on modern music in his multimedia course — of which the present volume is a part — called The Great Courses (

If you don’t have access to this course, fear not: YouTube to the rescue. I found an excellent YouTube of a performance of Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” which celebrates its centennial this year. Greenberg devotes several pages to this groundbreaking chamber musical work, tracing its roots to the German cabaret and singspiel musical form, combining spoken words and singing. He calls “Pierrot Lunaire” second only to “The Rite of Spring” — also called by its French title “Le Sacre du Printemps” — “in terms of influence and importance to music of the twentieth century.”

Schoenberg, born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Vienna in 1874 (he fled the Nazis and 1933 and died in Los Angeles in 1951), was solidly in the German-Austrian tradition with his use of singspiel, Greenberg writes. Mozart composed operas in all styles, opere serie (“Ideomeno” and “La Clemenza di Tito”) ;singspiel: “The Magic Flute” and “The Abduction from the Harem”; and three of the greatest opere buffa of all time: “Don Giovanni,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” and “Cosi Fan Tutti.”

Speaking of Vienna, Greenberg writes it was the musical center par excellence for much of the period of the book. It had the right combination of wealth and its concomitant leisure time to make it an attractive place for performers and composers like Beethoven and Mozart and many others to practice their art.

Of course you can enjoy music without all the context that Greenberg and other commentators — including Copland — provide, but why do this when this information will enhance your experience? Greenberg’s book will give you the knowledge you need to unlock “the most abstract and sublime of all the arts.”
Whether you’re listening in a concert hall or on your iPod, concert music has the power to move you. The right knowledge can deepen the ability of this music to edify, enlighten, and stir the soul. In “How to Listen to Great Music”  Professor Robert Greenberg, a composer and music historian, presents a comprehensive, accessible guide to how music has mirrored Western history, that will transform the experience of listening for novice and long-time listeners alike. You will learn how to listen for key elements in different genres of music — from madrigals to minuets and from sonatas to symphonies-along with the enthralling history of great music from ancient Greece to the 20th century. You’ll get answers to such questions as Why was Beethoven so important? How did the Enlightenment change music? And what’s so great about opera anyway? Greenberg’s book will let you finally hear what you’ve been missing.

You’ll learn that an Italian composer whose name translates to Joe Green, was, according to Greenberg, a down-to-earth man lacking in pretense and artistic arrogance. Yes, that’s Giuseppe Verdi, composer of such monumental words as “Aida,”La Traviata,” “Nabucco,” “Rigoletto,” and “Il Trovatore” among his twenty-six operas. I’ll always remember a performance I saw of “Aida” — (premiering in 1871 to honor the completion of the Suez Canal, it was set in ancient Egypt) at Indiana University in the 1960s on the football field, with real elephants! Wonderful!

Indiana University has one of the best schools of music in the country and that was a magnificent performance.

Rossini, Wagner, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin (one of my mother’s favorites), Rimsky-Korsakov and many others are included in this book, a must for any music lover. I didn’t see any mention of two of my favorite French composers, Charles Gounod and Jacques Offenbach, in Greenberg’s books. I saw Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette” at Chicago’s Lyric Opera several years ago and enjoyed it immensely. Speaking of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has been an influence on opera composers as diverse as Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Gounod, who is perhaps most famous for “Faust.”

So get a copy of “How to Listen to Great Music” crank up the CD player, iPod or computer and really enjoy great music.

About the Author

Robert Greenberg is the music historian in residence with San Francisco Performances, and also serves as the resident composer and music historian to NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered. He lives in San Francisco.

Publisher’s website:

COMMENTARY: Hate, Hypocrisy, and Mob Justice in Florida

  • By Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick

Joseph J. Honick

“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

 * * *

I was there as a very young man when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words before the Lincoln Memorial and looking toward the Washington Monument. I don’t have to advertise my revulsion to bigotry. I’ve seen it, experienced it and demonstrated against it first hand.

I am also repulsed by hypocrisy that defends mob justice, as has been the case in the tragic death of a young man in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman, the person charged in Trayvon Martin’s killing,  may well be the worst person ever to walk the planet.

Fact is, I don’t know that to be the case, nor do all the other screaming accusers, including Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the United Nations et al, who were not present when the tragedy occurred …. but they all knew and know what took place.

We have accorded more justice and care to Nazis accused of torturing and murdering concentration camp prisoners during WWII. Our U.S. Chamber of Commerce one time even named a former Waffen SS Colonel to be a “Great Living American” because of his work on space matters. That was Werner von Braun. We are today doing the same for scores of prisoners held as terrorists.

But, by golly, courtesy of media hype, celebrity pressure and the United Nations, the world is persuaded of events not witnessed by anyone but the victim and Mr Zimmerman. And, now, for some additional hypocrisy that none of the same people have cared to consider: the hate crime committed by about seven black teens upon a 15-year old Hispanic student on his way home from school in Palmdale, CA.

Not content with pummeling the young man to the ground, the group continued the assault while screaming racial and hate taunts … much of which were recorded on video, thereby providing more witness evidence than the event in Florida for which Zimmerman is now charged and virtually convicted by the process of mob justice. Perhaps if the young Hispanic victim had died, the media, celebrities and the United Nations might also have folded in the event as evidence of multi-racial bigotry … simply because it was.

It is noteworthy that the teen gang who beat up on the young Hispanic teen are being prosecuted for a hate crime, but with little media or other reactions of any kind, and certainly not from the UN, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton … and even more mutedly from the very media who joined the mob calling for punishment of Zimmerman.

Now to the reality of mob justice and Zimmerman….the kind of behavior that may well impact his trial. The shock of Martin’s death by gunshot was more than understandable. But from that point, the mob assuredness of Zimmerman’s guilt demonstrated the whole sad affair had gotten out of control. In America, the worst among us, as noted earlier, are assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

However justified in terms of family grief and public shock, reverse hatred is no better. And for those arguing their concerns about racial matters, studies show that assaults against Hispanics are on the rise. In the end, if there ever is an acceptable one, hatred and hypocrisy know no racial, religious or ethnic boundaries, and mob justice is never justice at all.

* * *

Joseph J. Honick is president of GMA International in Bainbridge Island, WA, an international consulting firm. He writes for many publications, including Huntington News Network, and can be reached This commentary was originally published in O’Dwyer’s PR Report and is reprinted by permission.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Asylum’: Actor Joe Pantoliano’s Plea for Understanding, Treating ‘Brain Dis-Ease’

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'Asylum': Actor Joe Pantoliano's Plea for Understanding, Treating 'Brain Dis-Ease'

Asylum: 1. An institution for the care of the mentally ill. 2. A place that provides protection or safety — Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary
You know the asylum is run by the inmates when your shrink in New York doubles as your agent in Hollywood, getting you into the movies.

That was the actual experience of Joe Pantoliano (‘Midnight Run,’ ‘Risky Business,’ ‘The Fugitive’, ‘The Goonies’, ‘Memento’, ‘The Matrix’, ‘Canvas’, ‘The Sopranos’) as he recalls it in his memoir “Asylum: Hollywood Tales from My Great Depression: Brain Dis-Ease, Recovery, and Being My Mother’s Son” (Weinstein Books, 296 pages, index, 8-page glossy black and white photo insert, $25.00). In the early 1970s Pantoliano was a struggling (aren’t they all?) East Coast actor and was in a group therapy class conducted by Ralph Ricci, the father of actress Christina Ricci.

As with all of Pantoliano’s relationships, the one with Ricci was complicated: He was a mentor and he was manipulative like Joey’s mother, and he was ambitious to get out of the shrink business and become an agent in Hollywood, so, as Joey writes Ralph Ricci convinced agent Annette Hanley to work for him in Hollywood.

“When Ralph got to L.A. he started running group therapy but maintained a group in New York as well. Sort of bipolar bicoastal,” Joey writes. Ralph promised Joey that if he’d move to the West Coast he would introduce him to a partner of their’s, Harry Ufland. Joey Pants was part of the actor exodus of the 1970s and benefited greatly from his endorsement by his association with the agency started by Ricci, Ufland and Handley, which morphed into United Talent Agency (UTA).

“Your résumé is different when it says UTA, CAA or ICM on it, you have that endorsement helping you,” Pantoliano writes, noting that only a tiny fraction of the more than 100,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild manage to support themselves by acting; most of the time they’re waiting on tables or doing other jobs.

Pantoliano’s memoir is only partly about acting and actors. Much of it takes aim at the stigma attached to what he calls “brain dis-ease” by writing candidly and humorously about his own journey through clinical depression and addiction. He’s grateful for the benefits acting has afforded him, taking him to places the kid from the projects of Hoboken, NJ “could never dream of. This is what I know, and I hold it close.” Candid in the extreme, he writes: “Come to think of it, working has never been my problem. It’s living that I’m not good at.”


Success is supposed to bring us happiness, but as the Jewish saying goes “Man plans, God laughs.” God is nothing if not ecumenical, so it applies to Roman Catholics from Hoboken, too. Pantoliano, known as “Joey Pants” because everybody — including his friend R. J. Wagner — found it difficult to pronounce his name — struggled with what he later found out was clinical depression —or “brain dis-ease” (BD), as he calls it. When the success he sought and worked for came his way, he went into a painful downhill spiral into depression and addiction.


In “Asylum”, Pantoliano crafts a beautifully written, often F-bomb laden account of the true nature of the disease, as well as his own eventual diagnosis, recovery, and ongoing efforts to educate others and remove the stigma from mental illness. He also struggled with dyslexia, so just about everybody can benefit from a close reading of this memoir.

Before he became one of Hollywood’s most successful actors, he was “Joey Pants” from Hoboken, the son of a fiercely controlling mother with her own undiagnosed brain dis-ease, or BD. Growing up, Joe always knew that something was different about him, too — he just didn’t know what. “It was as if I was born with a huge hole inside my soul,” he writes. Not until much later in life was Joey diagnosed with clinical depression. Now he has a message for the millions of people who suffer from BD: You are not alone. You can learn as he did that by surrendering to BD, you can overcome it. He says, with some exaggeration, that BD is the only disease that people are blamed for having. I think people are blamed for lung cancer, even if they’ve never smoked, as was the case with my late mother-in-law.

Joey’s path to recovery was filled with trials and tribulations. Asylum recalls his early years as a struggling actor, when he was befriended and mentored by Natalie Wood and her husband Robert Wagner, and Eli Wallach and his wife Anne Jackson. Over the years he had major hits working with such megastars as Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, and Tommy Lee Jones, and directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Brest, Christopher Nolan, and the Wachowskis. But as his success grew, so did his dis-ease. Before he was diagnosed he tried to fill the hole inside him with alcohol. When the alcohol stopped working, he started taking up to twenty Vicodin a day in an effort to obliterate his emotional and physical pain.

“Asylum” is the story of Joe’s quest for the Hollywood success he was so sure would cure him. And when it didn’t, he began a painful downhill spiral with the “Seven Deadly Symptoms” — the phrase he coined for his addictions to food, sex, vanity, alcohol, prescription drugs, shopping, and fame — that so often accompany undiagnosed brain dis-ease. Interweaving his personal experiences with informative discourse, Pantoliano creates a highly relevant and unflinchingly honest memoir of everything that led to his eventual awareness, diagnosis and recovery, and public activism and advocacy. His story will resonate with people who suffer from brain dis-ease, enlighten anyone who aspires to join him in the asylum called Hollywood, and entertain all who have admired his career.


To those of us who enjoyed and still enjoy “Midnight Run,” directed by his contemporary Martin Brest (“Scent of a Woman,” “Meet Joe Black” “Going in Style” and, of course “Beverly Hills Cop”) I’d like to see the director and the actor reunited, perhaps with fellow Connecticut resident Charles Grodin, in a film, any film. After all, Joey Pants writes that “Midnight Run” was Sigmund Freud’s favorite Pantoliano flick, too!

About the author
Joseph Peter Pantoliano was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on Sept. 12, 1951. He has more than one hundred movie, TV, and stage credits, and won an Emmy Award for his work on The Sopranos. His first book, the memoir “Who’s Sorry Now? The True Story of a Stand-up Guy”, was a New York Times bestseller. He studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village in New York City. He landed his first professional role in 1972 when he played Billy Bibbit in the national touring company of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. He worked in regional theater appearing in more than 40 Off-Broadway productions including “Vision of Kerouac” at the Lion Theater and “The Death Star” at the Theater of St. Clements He lives in Wilton, Connecticut with his wife Nancy Sheppard Pantoliano. A portion of the profits from the book will be donated to his foundation, No Kidding, Me Too ( dedicated to fighting the stigma of Brain Dis-Ease. In 2010 he directed “No Kidding, Me Too!!”a documentary about BD, available on a DVD from Amazon:


OP-ED: Border agent indicted for violating illegal alien’s rights

By Jim Kouri

In almost total secrecy, the Obama Justice Department has charged a U.S. Border Patrol agent, Luis Fonseca, for depriving the rights of a yet to be identified illegal alien at the Border Patrol station located on Imperial Beach, California, last July. Fonseca, however, was not indicted until a week ago.

Agent Fonseca, 32, allegedly kneed and choked an unidentified alien during his tour near the Mexican border last summer. During his arraignment on Monday April 16, he entered a not guilty plea.

A grand jury had handed down the indictment on April 12, but details were withheld and the DOJ neglected to promulgate why the legal action was taken against the Border Patrol agent, according to an “Inside-the-Beltway” public-interest group that investigates and exposes government corruption and misconduct.

“Border Patrol Agent Fonseca kneed and choked an unidentified alien, depriving him of the right under the Constitution and the laws of the United States to be free from use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “The indictment also alleges as a result of the use of unreasonable force the individual sustained bodily injury.”

According to Department of Justice’s records, a federal grand jury indicted Fonseca on a single charge of deprivation of rights under color of law. The charge, a civil rights violation, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

The case is problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the government’s secrecy surrounding details. In the one-page indictment the illegal immigrant is identified only as “UA#1.” The document also claims that, as a result of the use of “unreasonable force” the undocumented alien sustained some kind of “bodily injury” yet no further details are provided, according to Judicial Watch’s Corruption Chronicles.

“The grand jury indictment is dated April 12, 2012 which means the feds dragged their feet, probably because they knew it was a weak case,” stated the Judicial Watch’s entry .

Fonseca was arrested on Friday during a shift at the Border Patrol’s Imperial Beach station and is currently on paid leave. He pleaded not guilty in federal court this week, according to DOJ records.

Here is why the DOJ is going after the particular agent, according to the federal prosecutor handling the case: “People detained at the border should be treated with human dignity and respect by federal agents. It is important for the public to know that the Department of Justice takes alleged civil rights violations seriously. We have processes in place to investigate and will take action where appropriate to protect those rights.”

Many law enforcement professionals are highly suspicious of this latest case of a Border Patrol agent being “dragged into court by the Obama Justice Department.

“It’s clear that Obama’s sympathies are with the illegal aliens entering the U.S. He’s all but told U.S. immigration and border officials to stop enforcing the law. This is just another message from the Obama Administration to Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to not be too zealous in doing their jobs,” claims former New York City Detective Jeff Knudson.

On top of the DOJ’s actions against Fonseca, — himself a Latino — the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General is also investigating the matter.

“Perhaps when that report is finished, more information will be revealed to the public. For instance, the victim’s identity and the exact bodily injury that he or she supposedly suffered at the hands of the Border Patrol agent accused of committing the choking and kneeing,” states the Judicial Watch posting.

The U.S. government has worked hard to protect illegal immigrants and their “constitutional” rights in the last few years. This has empowered them to file a number of lawsuits against local and federal law enforcement agencies for violating their rights. In Connecticut a group of illegal aliens sued the government for violating their constitutional rights during the operation that led to their apprehension.

In New York an illegal immigrant with a lengthy criminal record got a $145,000 settlement from the state for having his civil rights violated during one of his many arrests. In Maryland an illegal immigrant from El Salvador for unlawfully and unconstitutionally detaining her based on race and in California illegal aliens sued a city for banning them from seeking work on public streets.

The Law Enforcement Examiner has regularly exposed President Barack Obama’s illegal-alien relatives, one of whom was arrested for drunk driving in Massachusetts.

Jim Kouri, CPP, formerly Fifth Vice-President, is currently a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an editor for, and he’s a columnist for  In addition, he’s a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB ( and editor of Conservative Base Magazine ( Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations.  He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.

He holds a bachelor of science in Criminal Justice from SCI Technical School in New York City and completed training at the NYC Police Academy, FBI Continuing Education Program, Yale University Administration and Management Certification, and the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) of the American Society for Industrial Security.

Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.


  • By Joseph J. Honick

Editor’s (David M. Kinchen)  note: Three days before the anniversary of the baptism (April 26, 1564) of the poet and dramatist William Shakespeare (his birthdate is unknown, but many consider it to be April 23, St. George’s day. He died on April 23, 1616). Bainbridge Island, WA resident Joseph J. Honick submits this poem, recognizing National Poetry Month


Who just crossed my mind?
I looked all ’round
But could not find

The skinny shy lad
Of yesterday
I’m sure I heard him
Softly say

“Hi, are you the me
I came to be?”
I started to answer
So surprised I was to see

This stranger with
The familiar look
Perhaps I’d seen him
In some old picture book.

But no, this was the ‘me’
Of years gone by
And all I could do
Was utter a sigh.

He looked so puzzled,
Perhaps disappointed
Or maybe it was the
Sudden shock that
Made disjointed

My understanding of
This strange event,
That willy-nilly
Had me sent

Mentally reeling
Across the years.
Back to all my childhood fears.

And the face
Returned once more,
As if not wanting
To close the door

That connected the man
To the boy
In a curious mixture
Of fear and joy.

And, as he gazed at me,
His eyes now wide,

could sense his power
To look inside

The man this lad
Had come to be.
And I can tell you
That it troubled me.

Was the man the boy’s dream
When he’d be grown?
Would I be the friend
He’d like to have known?

And then the young face
Crinkled to a grin,
As if to say, ‘Gee
Where’ve you been?'”

“I waited so long to see
Who you’d be.
I’m really very happy
That you’re me.”
From Joseph J. Honick’s  book: How Far Can You Go If You Don’t Know How Big the World Is?  (C)1989

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Dorchester Terrace’: Thomas Pitt Takes Charge at the Special Branch; Charlotte Pitt Stands by Her Man, Providing Valuable Information, Managing Her Household

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'Dorchester Terrace': Thomas Pitt Takes Charge at the Special Branch; Charlotte Pitt Stands by Her Man, Providing Valuable Information, Managing Her Household

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” — William Faulkner (1897-1962) “Requiem for a Nun” (1951)

If you liked Anne Perry’s previous Charlotte and Thomas Pitt historical novel “Treason at Lisson Grove” you’ll fall in love all over again with her newest one, “Dorchester Terrace” (Ballantine Books, 352 pages, $26.00).

Following the dramatic events in “Treason at Lisson Grove” (for my review, click: former Scotland Yard policeman Thomas Pitt is solidifying his position as commander of the Special Branch. He has succeeded Victor Narraway, a still influential man tainted by corruption and mismanagement of the agency that was created to protect the country from foreign and domestic terrorism. Despite his promotion, endorsed by Narraway, there are many in London who believe that Pitt has been promoted above his pay grade. 


Narraway has been elevated to the House of Lords, a sanctuary for eminent people, but Pitt still relies on him for occasional guidance. Much of the criticism of Pitt stems from the class bigotry of 1896 England, where Pttt, the son of a gamekeeper, is deemed suitable for a police position, but may not have the gravitas and sophistication for the post he now holds.

Faulkner’s oft-quoted (and even more often misquoted) saying about the past is true in England a year after the events of the previous novel featuring the Pitts. Serafina Montserrat, an elderly Italian freedom-fighter against the Austro-Hungarian empire, lives in a handsome house in Dorchester Terrace with her great-niece Nerissa Freemarsh and a full complement of servants. Serafina was one of many in London who rose up in the fight against monarchies in the pivotal, revolutionary year of 1848, and is visited by many people, including the beautiful 38-year-old Adriana Blantyre, a native of Croatia, married to a diplomat and power broker Evan Blantyre, also a visitor to the home of the once fiery freedom fighter Serafina. Both the Blantyres have significant ties to Serafina.

Anne Perry

Anne Perry

Another visitor to Dorchester Terrace is Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould, a decade or so younger than the ailing Serafina, but still a renowned beauty and a woman of influence in a country ruled by the utlimate woman of influence, the aged Queen Victoria, on the throne since 1837. Vespasia learns from talking to Serafina — a woman she’s admired for many years — that the elderly Italian fears she’s losing her mind, sliding into dementia, and might divulge secrets and crimes of the past that would disturb the always delicate power in a Europe that is seeing the rise of the newly unified Italy — and especially a resurgent, unified, technologically advanced Germany.

“Dorchester Terrace” will provide the reader with a crash course in 19th Century European history, especially about the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, which at the time of the novel sprawled across central Europe, including Croatia, parts of present-day Italy (Trieste, now in Italy, was a major seaport for the country, both for the military and civilian sector), all of the present Czech Republic and Slovakia, and much of present-day Poland, Ukraine and Romania. Along with the Ottoman Empire, the fin de siècle Austro-Hungarian Empire is considered to be an extremely diverse country, both in religions — Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim — and restive ethnic minorities, that is a disaster waiting to happen. 
Pitt’s able right-hand man Stoker has learned of suspicious activity along the railway line from Dover to London, important to the Special Branch because of an upcoming visit from Austria to England of Duke Alois Habsburg, a distant relative of Queen Victoria. Rumors swirl around that someone may blow up the train carrying the obscure duke to London.

Pitt and Stoker wonder why would anyone destroy an entire train to kill one obscure Austrian royal, creating an international incident that will remind history buff readers of a terrorist event in June 1914 in Sarajevo, Bosnia (also part of the Austrian Empire) that triggered World War I. Perhaps, Pitt wonders, the rumors of suspicious activity in Dover and along the tracks are a ploy designed to distract Pitt from an even more devastating plot. He must resolve this riddle at once, before the damage is done.

As he has in the past, Pitt turns to his charming, clever and capable beyond belief wife for help. Charlotte Pitt befriends Adriana and provides valuable intelligence to the Special Branch commander. Charlotte is entranced with Adriana and the two women become friends, enjoying Croatian cuisine and attending art gallery exhibits and musical performances with her.

Along with the political elements, Charlotte has to contend with the fears of inadequacy experienced by her new maid and cook, Minnie Maude Mudway, who had replaced her mainstay Gracie Phipps. Gracie has her own home now and had recommended Minnie Maude for her new post. Perry deftly handles the interplay between Upstairs and Downstairs, with poignant humor. Look for a particularly charming domestic incident toward the end of this novel of intrigue, romance and treason. Charlotte also has a complicated relationship with her wealthier sister Emily, married to the up-and-coming political operative Jack Radley.


A few words about the unit Pitt heads: Lisson Grove is the West London district where the Special Branch has its headquarters. It’s the home neighborhood of George Bernard Shaw’s fictional heroine Eliza Doolittle of “Pygmalion” and “My Fair Lady” fame. It’s a gentrified neighborhood today, but in Victorian times, it was a near slum. The Special Branch acquires and develops intelligence of a political nature and investigates terrorist and subversive activity, much like the CIA and the FBI do today in the U.S. The first Special Branch was formed in 1883 as a unit of London’s Metropolitan Police, Thomas Pitt’s former employer, and was at first called the Special Irish Branch because of the struggle of the Irish for home rule and eventual independence.

Summing up: “Dorchester Terrace” is a classic, very readable and educational Anne Perry historical novel replete with well-drawn characters.

About the Author

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including “Treason at Lisson Grove” and “Buckingham Palace Gardens”, and the William Monk novels, including “Acceptable Loss” and “Execution Dock” (both of which I’ve read and reviewed). She is also the author of a series of five World War I novels, as well as nine holiday novels, most recently “A Christmas Homecoming”, and a historical novel, “The Sheen on the Silk”, set in the Ottoman Empire and reviewed on this site by the present reviewer. Anne Perry lives in Scotland. Her website:

Chuck Colson, like C.S. Lewis, found the best knowledge through faith

Chuck Colson

By Stephen N. Reed

Prison Fellowship Founder Chuck Colson passed away today at the age of 80, following a brief illness.

Christians have lost a great statesman, prisoners and their families a leading advocate, and America a formerly tough-talking Marine Corps captain who, ironically, left us all a fine model for civil discourse, even on heated subjects.

For those of us who worked with Chuck, we were struck by how egalitarian he was in his relationships with people, high and low.  He treated everyone with respect, informed by his theology that told him that every human being is made in the image of God, whether they know it or not.  He knew it, and he wasn’t about to be found wanting on this fundamental tenet of his Christian faith.

But of course, it wasn’t always this way, as Chuck himself admitted many times in his books, commentaries, and other writings.  Today, we would have trouble imagining the avuncular Chuck as an outright savage before his conversion.

But looking back, he would have differed with you on that.  So would the Washington press corps, who followed him like a safari team hunting a clever jackal in the political underbrush of national politics.

As a Christian leader, he used his analytical and lawyering skills for the good, whether to develop the InnerChange Freedom Initiative to prepare prisoners for their lives outside of prison or for a motivational speech for volunteers.  He was, after all, a lawyer at heart, and his presentations were cogent, persuasive, and always on point.

However, anyone who has ever worked in politics could easily imagine what a formidable foe the pre-conversion Chuck could be.  He could use his natural intellectual gifts to destroy your argument, make you look silly, or just do endless end-runs around you with his trademark combination of reasoned analysis and hustle.

In short, it was not by accident that he rose to be the chief counsel for the President of the United States at the ripe old age of…35.


Chuck’s compelling conversion story can be read in his quite interesting autobiography, Born Againwhich I recommend for its realness and eloquence.  There, Chuck tells the story of how his pride was crushed, how he reached out to find that God had already been there.

His time in prison with people with backgrounds so unlike him with his Brown University pedigree was one way God changed his life.  Chuck found plenty of common denominators in his interactions with his fellow prisoners.  For example, they often  had wives and children, like him.

Chuck also describes how he started reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and found so much there that spoke to him.  Perhaps the first thing that rung a bell with Chuck was Lewis’s discussion of pride, which both men had in common, especially intellectual pride.

So pride went before their falls, yes.  Yet both of these great 20th Century Christian thinkers discovered that God had no interest in dumping their God-given reason on the sidewalk following their conversions.  Just their self-love, their pride, which had prevented them from glorying in all of God’s banquet of knowledge.

After all, some knowledge can’t be gained from a book.  Experiencing people, understanding what their lives are like, finding common cause with others:  that kind of knowledge requires less of an obsession with self, doesn’t it?

Chuck found to his great delight that learning about other people’s problems was more fascinating than climbing the rungs of power.


Today, April 21st, is the church’s feast day for St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury for 16 years at the turn of the 12th Century.  A philosopher, indeed the founder of scholasticism, Anselm set out to prove the existence of God and is known as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Another man of reason.

But for all his giftedness early on and his lifelong investment in reason, just listen to what St. Anselm said about finding out life’s most important truths:

“Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand.”

St. Anselm found out what Lewis and Chuck found out later.  Faith can add to understanding, not diminish it.

God is all around us, waiting for us to talk with Him as Chuck Colson did in his darkest hour.  Like his spiritual brothers St. Anselm and C.S. Lewis, Colson had to discover that his God-given intellect, finally shorn of pride, could then be used by God in so many interesting ways to produce much good for others and to the Kingdom of God.

Much good.

 Link to Colson obit: