Celebrity Deaths


Man, what a year. It seems more celebrities died in 2016 than any year ever. For this reason, and also the most contentious election in recent memory, most of us were happy to see 2016 go. 

Some wonder why people make such a big deal out of celebrities dying. “You don’t even know them,” they say. “What did they ever do for you?” It’s because they’re not just mourning that person, they’re mourning the part of their life they represent. 

I remember watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show with my parents when they were young and healthy, the world was new to me, and my little family didn’t have a worry in the world. Good art of any kind can connect us to moments in our lives like a teleportation machine. Paintings, sculptures, even just tabletop knick-knacks, bring back happy memories of the event, day or moment they were bought and who we were with. Songs, books, and TV shows are portals to the past, and the artists seem like friends, even though we may have never met them. 

Now that my brother and dad are gone, I regress a lot (too much, actually), fantasizing about being back there again, all of us whole and happy, the future still unwritten. Then I look at my wife and kids and realize, as hard as it is to let go of what was, of the people I’ve lost and all they were to me, my wife and children are all that matter now. So, for them, I commit to living in the moment again, and that saves me from despairing completely. With my tendency toward melancholy and romanticizing the past, I don’t know what I would do if I were alone. 

So when I mourn another artist who made my family and I laugh in simpler days, I’m not only mourning that artist, I’m mourning the loss of my own past that their creation was a small part of. This is fine for any of us to do, as long as we wipe the tear away – for them and all the yesterdays we can never live again – so we can see the road ahead. There’s a lot more living to do up there.

Book Signing in Burbank!


Friends and Chicken Soup for the Soul fans near Burbank, California – I will be doing a book signing along with four other contributors to the new Chicken Soup for the Soul book “Random Acts of Kindness.”

We will be at Barnes and Noble, 731 N San Fernando Blvd., Burbank Town Center, Burbank, CA 91502, on Saturday, February 11th, between 2:00 and 4:00. There will be food, discussion, story readings and general fun and hi jinx. 

I have contributed fourteen stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul books, two of which are in this book. I’m particularly excited about this book for several reasons:

1) I’ve always considered kindness to be the most important thing in the world. In fact, it’s the the only thing in this world that keeps us all from destroying each other outright. As the song says, “In the end, only kindness matters.”  

2) 2016 was one of the most hateful and divisive years in American history because of the election. The only thing that can counterbalance all that anger is love and kindness.

3) On a personal note, this is the first time I’ve had two stories in one Chicken Soup for the Soul book. I’m glad it was this one. 

My first story in this book is called Flower Children. It’s about some very kind-hearted “hippies” who befriended me as a child. The other is called Put-Pockets, about two Israeli friends I made while traveling in Belgium who talked me into playing their favorite game – putting money into the pockets of random people, and the potentially disastrous but heart-rending way the “dare” ended.

Chicken Soup for the Soul has been inspiring positivity and kindness for twenty-five years now. I’m always proud to contribute. I hope to see you there!