Oh, Brother!

Last week, I told a tale about a trilingual conversation my dad witnessed between guitar immortal Andres Sergovia and luthier Mario Maccaferri. Much of that conversation would have been unintelligible to my dad – whose familiarity with other languages was limited to Yiddish (the native language of his immigrant parents) and high school French and […]

On Playing the Guitar, Segovia Didn’t Always Have the Last Word

This week, I was reminded of a story that my dad, Nathan I. Daniel, a pioneer in the field of electric guitars and musical instrument amplifiers, used to tell about the time he met Andres Segovia, perhaps the greatest guitarist the world has ever known. The meeting took place in the early 1950s at the […]

Chai … Чай … चाय

Chai: a wonderful thirst-quencher I was fond of long before it became trendy. Actually, I often drank tea as a boy, as it was my parents’ regular post-prandial refreshment. They enjoyed it with lemon rather than milk, which (unlike coffee, to which they would always add milk) made it acceptable after a meal with meat […]

Pianos and Diaper Buckets: The Perils of Intercontinental Moves

When I married my “starter wife” (defined in “The Fly,” below) I was not yet 30 and in more ways than one was just getting acquainted with the various responsibilities of life as an adult. I was living in Washington, D.C., at the time, but was preparing to leave on my first Foreign Service assignment […]

‘One of the Cowboy States’

My last Foreign Service overseas assignment was to Japan in 1985. This was no ordinary assignment to our embassy in Tokyo or one of the U.S. consulates around the country. No, this assignment was to the U.S. Pavilion at an international exposition, Tsukuba Expo ’85 (http://bit.ly/1RweFds), held that summer in Tsukuba Science City, 35 miles […]

‘Trumpenik’

The Donald and Il Duce: A more than passing resemblance? Hearing the name of Donald Trump, the blowhard candidate, makes me think of a Yiddish word, trumpenik, that my grandfather would use from time to time about someone he regarded as a lowlife. I looked it up online and found this (http://bit.ly/1pvJWXB) in connection with […]

Surreal Welcome to Leningrad

Bank Bridge over the Griboyedov Canal, one of many canals in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), sometimes called “the Venice of the North.” As a young Foreign Service officer, I arrived in Leningrad in early July 1976 to begin a two-year assignment at the U.S. consulate-general in that city, the second-largest in the USSR. I flew […]

The Fly

The following incident took place one evening in 1971 or ’72 in our apartment, when I was working in my first Foreign Service post at the U.S. embassy in Brasilia. My wife (clarification: my “starter wife,” as a funny friend likes to call a first spouse to whom one is no longer wed) had gone […]

What Car Is This?

Lyrics that I dreamed up for the benefit of our kids at Christmastime 1977 when I was working at the U.S. consulate-general in Leningrad, USSR. We had just washed our (very dirty) blue Saab. These lyrics were originally published in the Neva Neva News, the occasional newsletter of the consulate-general staff. Sung to the tune of the […]