“Kill Your Parents” was a rallying cry of 1960’s America. We were embroiled in an unpopular war in Vietnam, the world was fighting to change with hope-through-force, and the liberal campus of Columbia University in the City of New York was embroiled in one of it’s worse moments in its history during the Spring of 1968.
Today, I am pleased to announce the immediate availability of the Boles Books Tribute to Howard Stein, Volume 1 (1948-2013) from Boles Books Writing & Publishing and published on Amazon Kindle Direct!
One of my earliest, and most frightening, experiences in New York City was when I first met Dr. Howard Stein at Columbia University in the City of New York to decide if I wanted to attend graduate school with him or not. Howard was Chair of the Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theatre Studies at Columbia University in the City of New York.
I met Howard on a hot August day and he was in a mighty hurry. He was late for a meeting at the Shubert Organization in Times Square and we were at Columbia University at 116th Street and Broadway. If I wanted answers from Howard, I would have to ride the subway to the Shubert Theatre with him. I told him I was with him and we were off!
Yesterday, I received the one phone call I’d been dreading for over 30 years: “Howard Stein is dead.” It turns out Howard died back on October 14, 2012 after an eight-day hospitalization, but I didn’t learn of his death until yesterday. I knew he was deathly ill the last year, and when his surgeon recently refused to do a final operation, Howard told me his heart had finally turned against him and become a “ticking time bomb.”
As I paged back through my calendar for the last six weeks to memorialize the final events of my life with Howard, I reflected back on our final telephone conversation on October 1, 2012. He told me how much he appreciated the letter I wrote celebrating his 90th birthday. He said he read the letter every day. That meant a lot to me. He was my master.
One the first day of October, Howard and I left it that Janna and I would visit him in Stamford, and that he would check his doctor schedule and call me back to let us know what day would work best.
I never heard from him again.
A week later he was in the hospital — never to see the sky again.
As you can see in the graphic below, I tried to call him on October 5th and 11th to check on our visit date. There was nobody home when I called. On October 22 and November 13 I wrote him letters — our one, ancient, guaranteed way of always getting in touch when time and tide and humanity and the phones failed us — to inquire about the visit.
I had no idea was writing to a dead man.
Now I know how Bartleby really felt working in the Dead Letter Office.
Robert Frost is one of our greatest American minds — and the delivery method for sharing his genius was the poem. On November 17, 2005, I wrote — Humility in Adoration — for Urban Semiotic, where I described the moment Mark Van Doren introduced Robert Frost to adoring fans at Columbia University in the City of New York:
The lesson of Coriolanus was echoed decades later by the genius American poet Robert Frost in 1950 when he was accepting an award at Columbia University. Frost whispered to his good friend — and fellow genius — Columbia Faculty member Mark Van Doren, that he didn’t think he deserved the award he was getting, but he felt it would be rude to go against the will of the people who wanted to honor and admire him.
Van Doren smiled, agreed, and introduced the great poet to a Columbia crowd who provided a thunderous standing ovation for Robert Frost. Mark Van Doren used that private discussion with Robert Frost to explain Coriolanus’ downfall in human terms his Shakespeare literary students could understand. The learning we must curry from Coriolanus and Robert Frost and Mark Van Doren is how we must all willingly accept praise and compliments from others without questioning intent or assuming there is a hidden purpose behind the kindness.
Our beloved and respected Eben Moglen is back in the news this week. We met Eban a year ago during his FreedomBox days:
SuperGenius Eben Moglen wants free and unfettered access to the internet and he’s putting his money where his mind is by creating the “FreedomBox” — a device that plugs into the wall and gives you unfettered and unrestricted access to the internet — to help make certain that a government cannot disconnect its people from communicating with the rest of the world during a perceived crisis.
I recently had a wonderful conversation with my mentor Howard Stein — also my Columbia University MFA Playwriting Chair and head of the Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theatre Studies, and now lifelong friend — concerning the appropriateness of ending an English sentence with a preposition.