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By Joe Puglia | December 6, 2012
In the 1960s the safest place in the Bronx was on the corner of Arthur Avenue and 187th Street. That was ground zero. All the wise guys hung out there: the Arthur Avenue Boys, the Fordham Daggers and the Boys from Napoli. They kept their sections of the Italian ghetto safe. Regardless of the physical prowess of the Bronx Boys, Frankie Falani was the caporegime, the captain. He answered to Mr. Davia, the boss. If you had a problem, you went to Frankie. During the Middle Ages, in Italy, a man known as a codega would walk in front of you at night, carrying a lantern to show you the way. He would scare off the bad guys and protect you from anyone who would harm you. Frankie was like a codega.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | July 3, 2008
Part 1 Along the way, I’ve had many teachers: “The Odyssey,” “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” and the works of Service, London and Kipling have brought me close to the wild heart of life. When I was young and restless and under their tutelage I craved the reckless life. A million journeys later I find little has changed. My travels have been filled with difficulty, filled with the prospects of sudden disaster, and the peril of life and limb.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | October 7, 2010
Last Friday morning Kaitzer was multi-tasking: folding laundry, making lunches and tutoring the girls for school quizzes. I was busy looking for my car keys. Our kitchen resembled the last frantic moments prior to jumping off a chopper into a hot LZ. "Joe, make sure you gather all your books and papers, my philosophy group is meeting tonight," she said. I didn't know Kaitzer had a philosophy group. Coincidently, that evening some of my buddies were meeting at the Red Lion Pub for some beer and bratwurst.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | August 8, 2012
In the late '60s I worked part-time as a street gang counselor in the East Bronx. Under the umbrella of the police department, my job was to interdict street gangs and keep them from killing each other. I used the old “good cop-bad cop” technique. I was the good cop, acting as a big brother might, counseling kids and trying to show them another way. I always had a few “bad cops” with me, tough guys who were there to enforce my will and watch my back. The neighborhoods had changed.
NEWS
April 24, 2008
Letters to the Editor Philosophies of candidates unstated We have survived 15 months of presidential campaigning, and most of us are not looking forward to another seven months of the same. What has been said and what we have learned over the last 15 months could easily have been taken care of in 15 days. I seriously doubt that what has been presented has changed anybody’s mind about the candidates. The word “change” was tossed around a great deal, but we heard little about the candidates’ principles and philosophies forming the foundation for the changes.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | June 29, 2006
I remember the first time I took kids camping. It was 1966 and I was working as a gang counselor in the East Bronx. They were street kids, tougher than woodpecker lips, and I had this philosophy that adventure, physical challenge and a commune with nature could quell the hostility of a wayward soul. Growth is inseparably associated with risk. Facing challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown is the method of my madness. Forty years later I still think this way. But I've added numerous dimensions to a rather intricate philosophy and have incorporated the ideologies of various writers: Black Elk, Emerson, Barry Lopez, Whitman, Thoreau.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | January 25, 2012
A few weeks ago I wrote thoughts regarding the heightened sensibilities that prevail among us. My thesis was, “Society has become overly sensitive.” I stressed that it's demeaning to portray ourselves as victims, with tender sensibilities, easily offended. We might be free if we were not held prisoner by every chance word that we find offensive. I mentioned Brother Cyprian, a taskmaster whose visceral, verbal and physical reprimands made me a better person and a good student.
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NEWS
By Joe Puglia | December 25, 2013
I have mixed feelings about the New Year; I'm not very celebratory. The ending of the old and the beginning of the new brings mixed regrets. What once was, is no longer. It's like sitting with your best girl watching a shadow run across the prairie before losing itself in a Nebraska sunset. The sadness lies in the inability to return and do it again. Happiness is as simple as a glass of chocolate, but it's often followed by a new sorrow. Poet Percy Shelley wrote, “Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought.” This time of year I am overwhelmed by a million thoughts.
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NEWS
By Joe Puglia | July 26, 2013
At the University of Dayton I studied philosophy, and I took that discipline's precepts with me when I left Dayton in the summer of 1966. I studied the transcendentalists and was eager to apply the ideas of Emerson to the gang kids of the South Bronx. The transcendentalists believed nature is sublime and rejuvenates the soul. An emotional and spiritual rebirth is often a result of a sojourn in nature. I was intent on saving the souls of the punks hanging out in the schoolyard at P.S. 47 on 172nd Street.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | January 16, 2013
Dec. 12 appeared like any other manic Monday. I drove my girls to LCHS, went to Starbucks, and continued my struggle with chapter 12 of the book I'm working on, searching for the right words that would give readers an “ah-ha” moment. The weather was sunny. It was a beautiful, Indian summers' day. If you've been to New England in October, you would understand. Alen made a café latte and I sat in the sun, mesmerized by the aromatic vapors oozing from my favorite ceramic cup. I wrote page after page, and didn't care that I would eventually delete most of it. When I was in the bowels of Vietnam I promised myself such moments if I were to return.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | December 6, 2012
In the 1960s the safest place in the Bronx was on the corner of Arthur Avenue and 187th Street. That was ground zero. All the wise guys hung out there: the Arthur Avenue Boys, the Fordham Daggers and the Boys from Napoli. They kept their sections of the Italian ghetto safe. Regardless of the physical prowess of the Bronx Boys, Frankie Falani was the caporegime, the captain. He answered to Mr. Davia, the boss. If you had a problem, you went to Frankie. During the Middle Ages, in Italy, a man known as a codega would walk in front of you at night, carrying a lantern to show you the way. He would scare off the bad guys and protect you from anyone who would harm you. Frankie was like a codega.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | August 8, 2012
In the late '60s I worked part-time as a street gang counselor in the East Bronx. Under the umbrella of the police department, my job was to interdict street gangs and keep them from killing each other. I used the old “good cop-bad cop” technique. I was the good cop, acting as a big brother might, counseling kids and trying to show them another way. I always had a few “bad cops” with me, tough guys who were there to enforce my will and watch my back. The neighborhoods had changed.
COMMUNITY
By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com | April 19, 2012
“I'm a mom. I simply don't have time to OD.” Those words appear in the prologue to La Cañada Flintridge resident Dena Higley's book, “Momaholic: Crazy Confessions of a Helicopter Parent.” The book chronicles Higley's meltdown in the face of workplace and family pressures, as well as her own self-imposed requirement to be a supermom to four children. Higley, for decades a writer on soap operas, including “Days of Our Lives” and “One Life to Live,” writes in a breezy and humorous style but delivers serious messages about parenting and balance.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | January 25, 2012
A few weeks ago I wrote thoughts regarding the heightened sensibilities that prevail among us. My thesis was, “Society has become overly sensitive.” I stressed that it's demeaning to portray ourselves as victims, with tender sensibilities, easily offended. We might be free if we were not held prisoner by every chance word that we find offensive. I mentioned Brother Cyprian, a taskmaster whose visceral, verbal and physical reprimands made me a better person and a good student.
NEWS
By Joe Puglia | October 7, 2010
Last Friday morning Kaitzer was multi-tasking: folding laundry, making lunches and tutoring the girls for school quizzes. I was busy looking for my car keys. Our kitchen resembled the last frantic moments prior to jumping off a chopper into a hot LZ. "Joe, make sure you gather all your books and papers, my philosophy group is meeting tonight," she said. I didn't know Kaitzer had a philosophy group. Coincidently, that evening some of my buddies were meeting at the Red Lion Pub for some beer and bratwurst.
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