Hi Chris – an answer to your peg on standing on the shoulders of others……
I am sorry for the long time it has taken me to answer this. I have so many things to look at every day that some of them, inadvertently, I miss. I appreciate that you posted this, and it is a great question: Whose shoulders are you standing on?
I have got to say the shoulders that kept me straight and strong were those of my brother, Bill, a great basketball player for Cardinal Hayes HS in the Bronx In the fifties – while he was also working as the gym teacher at Kips Bay Boys Club on 52nd Street. Not only was he always there, but he was a natural teacher, and always attached a continuing lesson to everything he said. Without even knowing it, he was an expert in history, philosophy, music, and politics. Everything I know I realize now I know because he was the one who would always introduce a subject. For instance, he would say at the dinner table in our cramped kitchen on 56th Street on the east side of New York:
“Do you know the Four Seasons?”
“The weather or the singers?”
“Neither, but one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, by a Catholic monk in Italy. Vivaldi.” If you remember that these are just two kids, 15 and 13 who walked usually with holes in the soles of our shoes, you will see how influential a thinking mind can be to even the toughest kids. You cannot make a better world without knowing the one you are in, and he knew it well. He went on to be a NYC school teacher for 20 years, most of those years in the toughest neighborhood in New York, with the toughest challenges for a teacher, and then a professor of English. I wish I had him now as he was then, just a guy who I always thought knew everything. He never stopped – he painted, he wrote a novel, he read two or three hours a day, he taught college level English, he played tennis, and then he had a stroke. It damaged a lot of things in his body, but he is a fighter so it gets better and worse with no predictability. Keep at it Bill.