Jewish Sailor, Harvard Lawyer
In this mellow memoir, the Author revives memories of war: defending democracy and the Navy with injections of the miracle clap cleanser, penicillin; and of peace: attending law school, and acquiring talents to crush Jim Crow; and of pater familias: delighting in the charms of his children. Boswell done, Author shifts to Fable and Farce, to trash the cant and humbuggery of American politics. More
Genesis teaches: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Which done, and fifteen billion years later, the Author was born:
On October 25, 1924, the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (1415), the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava (1854), and the Battle of Leyte Gulf (1944); and, to ridicule the sublime, nine days before the election of that laconic cipher, Calvin Coolidge, as thirtieth President of our blessed realm;
In the town of Petersburg, Virginia, situate in the post-bellum reaches of the last stand of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, and little more than a Minié-ball’s shot from the site of the “Battle of the Crater”, scene of the Confederacy’s last spasm and the eve of Appomattox.
Dramatis personae: Author's Mother, a birthing doctor named Nixon, and a huddled fetus, yearning to be free. A final contraction, and a tethered nine-pound life form emerges, proclaiming emancipation; then swaddled and suckled, with tether severed, yawning in total indifference to the birth of this biography
Then memories of a Jewish lad reared in a Southern clime. Come World War II, a three-year interlude in the Navy, from the Pacific to the Caribbean, providing V.D. control for our naval heroes enjoying the bacterial delights of Batista's brothels dotting the banks of Guantanamo Bay.
Come peace, academia, and law school to learn a trade. Then on to Miami, and the civil rights struggle, clashing with the yokels and trouncing them in the United States Supreme Court.
Done with Boswell, Author shifts from Chronology to Anthology, a congeries of Fable and Farce:
Farce targeting political humbugs, such as the Reverend Michael Huckabee:
“Behold the spectacle evangelical of a mythos neither sexual,
Hypothetical or skeptical, dialectical nor heretical.
Not impractical or quixotic, just symmetrical and static,
An indolent receptacle for a bigot gone political,
One who should have been discarded with placenta and umbilical ”
And Fable, viz., the tale of Snikpoh, a paragon of Oriental lechery:
“Hero’s name was euphoniously appealing to the licentious appetites of his fawning followers, printed in peddled tracts that were illustrated with titillating scenes evoked by its sonority: Snikpoh reclining by his beloved, furtively fingering forbidden flesh under scented silks. The epitome of oriental allure, Beloved’s neck was adorned with a golden filigree choker, a brilliant miniature ruby imbedded in her nostril, a circle of vermillion powder patted twixt her eyebrows, and her eyelids darkened with kohl, all elegantly displayed by gestures of each of her four arms.”