December 31, 2016

New Year's Greeting - 2017

New Years Eve.

We mark time, 2016 flips to 2017.

A snippet of advice from years back:

Be yourself. Push yourself.
Speed it up. Slow it down.
Surround yourself with good friends. Bask in your family.

New layers and learnings:

Love yourself. Be more open than closed. Don't be too hard on yourself. Learning to be yourself is a lifetime journey. Be patient. #NotWeakJustHuman

Don't waste time.

Surround yourself with those from different places, of different colors, religions, ethnicities. Our diversity is our richness. And also seek out and find those that think and dream like you. Band together to make this world what we want it to be. #RadicalHope #WeRageForLove

Seek those large moments and successes. Build big things. But love the small ones. There is success and happiness and love in the rote everyday.

The icons and heroes of our shared cultural fabric and of loved ones that we lost and mourn this year live on through us. (Think Lion King and Jedi apparitions). Through the art we create, the values we live, and the way we move in the world.

Well. That's enough of that! Wishing all my loved ones, my friends and family a happy and sweet New Year.

"From sweetness comes forth strength."

July 11, 2015

July - What I'm Watching, Listening To, and Thinking About

Fatboy Slim Video with incredible juggler, which I came across is this fabulous article, Dropped. Amazing video of a man dancing in 100 places: The virtuoso genius of Ed Sheeran: The comedic stylings of Louis CK: The incomparable Neil Gaiman, on the importance of ideas:

March 1, 2015

Begin The Begin

This is a short fiction piece that I read on February 27th at The Story Slam by Studio B:

Begin the Begin

"As he glanced downward, she caught a glimpse of the dull flecks of loneliness he'd been hiding. He had such sad eyes."

The mysterious "she" was a woman that Cole had noticed a few months ago.  He had stopped by the fountain at Lincoln Center. It was just before 7 PM.  Lincoln Center at dusk was a favorite people-watching spot of his. Cole sat with his back pressed against the outer lip of the fountain and his arms around his knees.  He was wearing a grey windbreaker and a pair of jeans.  Couples bubbled and buzzed all around him.

Except for this one woman he had noticed. She was standing alone on the opposite side of the fountain. She was pretty in a pixie-kind of way, with short blond hair, wearing jeans and a white tee. She had Canon SLR camera on a strap around her neck, and her eyes slowly tracked the scene before her. He noticed that her eyes were different colors, one green and one brown. Cole was looking right at her as she snapped a picture of him sitting against the fountain, checked it in the viewfinder, and then looked back up at him with an amused half-smile.

Cole reached his hands to the ground and rolled forward and popped to his feet. He hadn't thought about it, but he realized he was walking over to the pixie photographer. He would later learn her name was Ella.

The summer sun began its descent and the edges of the sky were a soft burnt orange.  The crowd retreated to the air conditioning and classical music.  She was still looking at him, directly at him.  And she was standing, watching, waiting.  Her right hip was slightly shifted to the side.

Her confidence, real or imagined, was off-putting, and as Cole approached her, he realized he had no idea what he was going to say.

* * *

It was a chilly Sunday in September, and Ella was sipping on a hot tea.

They had slipped easily and comfortably into this . . . togetherness.  It felt good.

Back at her apartment that afternoon, he rubbed her naked back.

He drew small circles on her skin with his finger, and she closed her eyes. He was gentle. He kissed her neck. He rested his head in the curve of her back.

* * * 

It's 4:30 AM. Winter. He is standing on the sidewalk, looking at her building. Three months, he thinks. It has been over three months since he had last been here.

He hesitates at the base of the stairs.  Like the first time he saw her, he thinks, at Lincoln Center. He doesn't know what he is going to say. He walks up the stairs and rings the bell.

The door opens, and she's there. Ella cocks her head to the side and opens her mouth to speak but doesn't. She had woken up a few minutes ago, like she knew he was coming. This - and not his arrival - made her feel uneasy, confused. Getting over her surprise, she looks up at him and into his eyes, trying to get a read on him.

 Cole looks away. Then back at her. "Sorry to come by so early," he says. "I mean - I know – it’s been a while." He shoves his hands in his pockets and looks down, now unsure of himself.

She smiles sweetly and - in a familiar gesture - sweeps her hair from her eyes, "No. I - ... Just come in. It's good to see you.  Really. It's good."

She puts up water for tea. They sit on the floor next to each other, with their backs against the couch and the other three sides surrounded by hundreds of  black-and-white photos she had taken last evening.

"These are really good," he says quietly.

"Thank you. Nice of you to say."

They are tentative. Slow.  It feels like they are wrapped in gauze; the space between them where there should be nothing is stuffed with a barrier layer of cotton. It's uncomfortable, but it also has a calming effect. They feel their way through.

Two cups of cold tea sit next to them on the floor.

"I miss you, Ella."

"I miss you too. But." Her last word hung out there . . .


"But it wasn't working. Remember? You weren't happy. We weren't happy."

It was hard for Cole to remember. But he did. It was true. He hadn't been happy.

"I know," he said, "But..."  He reached his hand over her shoulder and rested it on the nape of her neck. Reflexively, his thumb moved up and down the length of her neck. It soothed him.

"Cole, I'm really confused. It's nice to see you, but I'm not sure why you're here."

They sit quietly. They move next to each other, so their legs touch. It’s easy and familiar. She reaches over and drapes a knit afghan over both of them.  His fingers graze against the back of her neck and against the back of her head.

They sleep.

* * *

Moving from night to morning (or in this case from early morning to the waking-up part of morning) often bends time. It compresses and elongates like an accordion. You wake up mere seconds after falling asleep only to glance at the clock and find out that seven hours have passed.  Or, like today, you fall asleep at 3:45 AM, and rise at 5:50 AM, feeling restored, like you've been asleep for days.  Ella's eyes open, green and brown.  The memory of his hand on her feels like his touch.

A small smile.  A big stretch.  And she sits up.

She knows that Cole must have been watching her sleep, but she doesn't see him.

As she presses her hands against the floor to get up, she brushes against a photo.  One of hers, but one she hasn't seen before.

It's black and white, like the rest of them.  But this one is of Cole.  He is sitting on her floor, surrounded by her photos, watching her sleep.  His eyes are calm, but sad.  Because he is with her, but he is also alone.

Ella begins to cry.

She knows that she is alone.

He's not there.

And he never was.

February 24, 2015

February Collection of Articles, Writings, Thoughts and Music

A collection of what's moving me this month. 


What I'm Working On

Here at The Good Men Project Sports, we closed out the NFL season with our Super Bowl coverage, our #KissLikeaDad Movement, and our general sharing of pictures of affectionate men. Here's me kissing my younger brother, Dave:


At The Good Men Project Sports we've now shifted our coverage from football to basketball. This has given me the chance to riff on pop culture and the NBA with my co-Editor Wai Sallas, do a history of the slam dunk contest, and a wrap-up piece on NBA All-Star weekend's Slam Dunk Contest and Three Point Shootout (as well as #SNL40, the Saturday Night Live anniversary special!). Baseball is up next. Our Why We Run series is also hitting it's stride with so many terrific writers opening up and sharing their unbelievably raw and authentic stories. A few of my early favorites are Daniel Romo's and Whit Honea's.

Outside of The Good Men Project, I just auditioned for Listen to Your Mother, a show that celebrates motherhood. As you may have guessed, I am not a mother. But I do have one. Here is my audition piece. (I did not make it, but I'm proud of my piece)


Who I'm Reading

Last week, I got to see authors Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler (of Lemony Snicket fame) at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, where they riffed off each other, took questions, and discussed their writing.

It was a wonderful night. Equal parts humor and poignancy:
Handlers Son: "I'm scared every day" 
Handler: "Like, are you very scared?" 
Son: "No. Not very. But every day." 
Handler: (I think he just described the human condition. All of history. For everyone). "Me too. I'm sorry." 
                       - Daniel Handler
Gaiman shared Don Marquis' line about poetry writing: "It's like flinging rose petals over the edge of the Grand Canyon & listening for the BOOM."

I have been continuing to read Gaiman, adding Coraline to a list of completed books that includes StarDust, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, and the best book I've read this year, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. My love of Gaiman is epic. One of my favorite pieces that I re-read last week is Gaiman's wondrous poem, Instructions, a collection of life advice gleaned from fairy tales:
"Remember your name. Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story." 
Next up, Jose Saramago's posthumously published Skylight, David Mitchell's Bone Clocks, and Murakami's Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. I've heard mixed reviews of the latest Murakami, but I also heard this quote from it, so I'm in:
"Our lives are like a complex musical score. Filled with all sorts of cryptic writing, sixteenth and thirty-second notes and other strange signs. It's next to impossible to correctly interpret these, and even if you could, and could then transpose them into the correct sounds, there's no guarantee that people would correctly understand, or appreciate, the meaning therein."

What I'm Listening To

Jonah Smith's Big Umbrella, a folksy, strumsy, harmonizing love song:
"My baby loves me like a big umbrella  She’s got me covered in any kind of weather  Always quick with a silver lining  She reminds me that the sun is shining . . . somewhere" 

Love it so much, I'm at the early stages of working on it myself on the guitar. Very early.

The xx's Intro, an electronic masterpiece that I could listen to forever. To me, it has undertones of The Cure, but is a chameleon of a song. It's happy. It's melancholy. It's hopeful. It's grand.

(And here is the 10 hour long version!) I may be late to the party with this group, but not terribly embarrassingly late. They were featured in the New Yorker last month, in an article entitled Shy and Mighty, which describes the band as "appealingly shy" brits and their music as "a collection of muted love laments written mostly in their childhood bedrooms."


I know I'm late to the game on Birdy, a 19 year old Brit singer/songwriter who burst on the scene after winning a UK talent competition at the age of 12. Her breakthrough hit, a cover of Bon Iver's Skinny Love is simply gorgeous. She released it when she was 14:


Cracking Me Up

The things I happen to read and watch this month that are making me laugh include:
(1) The New Yorker's fabulous The Eight Serious Relationships of Hercules:
And it came to pass that Hercules took a step back and did a little soul-searching, and in time he realized that he had been using his relationships as a crutch to compensate for his lack of self-worth. So, resolving to be single for a while, Hercules got to know Hercules, and he did not date, and he did not play wine pong—although he did remain open to certain fixups, provided that the girl was “normal” and objectively attractive.
(2) McSweeney's Internet Tendency's take on mansplaining, Mansplaining Mansplaining: A Man Explains Mansplaining.
(3) Lemony Snicket:
“A man of my acquaintance once wrote a poem called "The Road Less Traveled", describing a journey he took through the woods along a path most travelers never used. The poet found that the road less traveled was peaceful but quite lonely, and he was probably a bit nervous as he went along, because if anything happened on the road less traveled, the other travelers would be on the road more frequently traveled and so couldn't hear him as he cried for help. Sure enough, that poet is dead.” 
(4) Classic Louis CK:

(5) Classic SNL

February 22, 2015

Listen To Your Mother: Audition Piece

My Mom's 'Theories of Everything'

I am (obviously) not a mother.  But I do have one.

This is for her:

Every time I was sick as a child, my mom said that if she could take it away – take it on herself instead of me – she would. I think at times she did.

My mom is a lawyer. When I was 2 years old, she had a child care issue and had to bring me to Court. She set me in the jury box, where I could watch, and a kindly judge asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “A police man,” like him, I said, pointing to the bailiff. It was not the answer he expected. Ironically, I became a lawyer anyway.

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me that I had to try things three times, and if I didn’t like it after the third time, I didn’t have to do it. Because that’s what Kasdan’s do. It’s a pretty neat trick, actually. Because I can’t remember ever stopping doing anything after the third time.

I have strong memories of my mom cheering for me at my basketball games in middle school. Back then, I was a truly terrible basketball player. Each game, I could count on several turnovers, an unhappy coach, and extremely loud chants of GO KASDAN from my mom in the stands. It was embarrassing. I also loved it. I also ended up playing varsity basketball in high school.

My mom consistently gets movie titles just ever-so-slightly wrong enough to be funny. Every time. ‘The Theory of Everything’ becomes ‘The Theories of Everything.’ There is just one theory, Mom. That’s the point.  Or “Blade Running,” instead of ‘Blade Runner.’ It’s not a PSA for holding scissors the right way. It’s a dystopian battle for our future.

Anyway. When I was 11 years old, I transferred from a small private school to public school.  It was difficult. I had no friends. We threw a movie night and invited everyone, and to get kids there we rented the scary space thriller, Alien. (My Mom called it ‘’Aliens’). Only problem: I’m terrified of scary movies. It was quite the dilemma. My mom watched the movie the night before, noted all the scary parts, and then –as I watched among my classmates – would call me to help in the kitchen or with an errand right before every scary part. Every one.

In high school, my mom read every book that I read – at the same time I was reading it. A Separate Peace. Catch 22. The Catcher in the Rye. Lord of the Flies. Melville. Shakespeare.  My books would disappear at bedtime and reappear the next day. She must have stayed up so late re-reading those books, after long days at work. So we could talk about them. So when I struggled with my book report, she could lend a helping hand.

When I was 16 years old, I went to Italy with my mom. It was a business trip. A real estate closing in a remote town in the countryside. We would be traveling back with a suitcase full of cash. I was the muscle, the hired help. Or so I was told. We rode mopeds in Rome. And in the countryside, in Brindisi, we met her clients. They spoke no English. She taught me that you could connect with someone, even if you can’t speak to them or understand their language. We ate fresh figs off their trees.

My mom is a serial sharer of interesting things. She cuts out articles from newspapers, circles the interesting parts in pen, jots my name or my brother’s or sister’s and then sends them to us. As my Facebook friends may tell you, I seem to have inherited this “an unshared life is not worth living” attitude. Things you read or write simply taste better when shared.

My mom has an other-worldly ability to get other people to help her in life. She kills them with kindness and then says things like “thanks so much for helping me” before the person has offered help. It’s like a Jedi Mind Trick. But actually it’s not. She connects to people – quickly and easily and on a human level.

My mom still buys me things. Socks. She loves socks. You lose a lot of heat through your feet. Tooth brushes. Also important. And of course, foot powders and creams.

My mom sends me text messages. Every day. And to my brother too. And my sister. Short ones. Long ones. Simple I’m thinking of you ones: “Pleasant dreams and good thoughts. Love.” That right there is a connection – a touch.

After a visit and when my Dad isn’t watching – my mom presses a $20 dollar bill into my hands. Or gives me a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts gift card. I do work, and I have my own ATM card. But that’s not the point. It’s just generosity. And – like every other thing my mother has done for me and continues to do for me - it shows me – all of us actually - how to move in this world.

Now I’m 40 years old. I’m armed with a lifetime supply of socks, toothbrushes and moisturizing creams. There is something profound in that trinity that I’m still working to uncover. I still don’t choose to watch scary movies.  And I email the articles I read and write to my own kids – Jacob is 13 and Lauren is 10 –  throughout the day when I’m at work.

So you see, it all worked its way into me. And I’m the father I am to my kids because of the mother my mom was – and is – to me.

January 9, 2015


Jacob: Hashtags aren't in anymore.
Me: Oh. What's in?
Jacob: Nothing.

December 22, 2014

Our Toast to Jacob. On His Bar Mitzvah

Hello and welcome to all of our family and friends that are here to celebrate Jacob today.

This is the part of the speech where we talk about how long we know some of you, the distances that you traveled from to be here with us today, and how special and important you are to us and to Jacob.

  • We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by four generations of the most warm and loving family that there is.
  • Many of you have known us since we were children, younger than Jacob is today. Look what we did!
  • We are joined by friends of Jacob’s from his early childhood; friends he doesn’t even remember playing with back then.
  • We have people that traveled from all corners of the country, including friends that we met when we lived in Japan.

We’re still in a bit of awe and denial that our baby boy is 13 years old.

But after the stellar job that he did today leading services, reading from the Torah, and sharing his words and insights with us, we can say that the mix of awe and denial has morphed into pure awe and joy.

As parents, it is said that we have two obligations that constantly tug in opposite directions: (1) to guide, change, socialize, and instruct our children; (2) to celebrate them without question.

Today is without a doubt a day of boundless celebration of Jacob.

Our “number one son,” Jacob is the ultimate family man. What he spoke about today in his D’var Torah, that is 100% Jacob in a nutshell.  Jacob has always put family first, and has the most genuine and sincere love of family. It’s a defining quality of which we are very proud.

Jacob is also a child whisperer; he is amazing around children. His true colors shine with absolute softness and sweetness. Ever since the day Lauren was born, he was the most loving sweet proud big brother. And I’ve never seen a kid so proud and enamored of his little cousins. He has even taken friends home after school to play with them.  He also has consistently shown himself to be incredibly responsible when given the chance.

These qualities all make him an extraordinary man.

Jacob is also our Yankees/Giants/Knicks side-kick, Mike’s fantasy football co-GM, a baseball player, soccer player, ultimate Frisbee player, and tennis player. On the field, he may not be the fastest player out there, but he consistently makes intelligent decisions and executes them; he passes, he shares and he is good teammate.

All qualities we admire.

Sure, he can be a bit stubborn, um . . . on occasion.  But we have heard from many of you that this stubbornness will serve him well in life as he grows.  We’re going to hold you to that!

My good buddy - he Tweeted me once! - and author Neil Gaiman wrote that “The fundamental, most comical tragedy of parenthood: that if you do your job properly, if you, as a parent, raise your children well, they won’t need you anymore. If you do it properly, they go away and they have lives and they have families and they have futures.”  It's bittersweet. But more sweet. We’re certainly feeling that today!

Let’s all raise our glasses.

So Jacob, our son:

We offer you a blessing for you to continue to grow as a person and as a member of the world and of the Jewish community.

We love you.

We are proud of you.

We are confident in the man you are becoming.

We are blessed to be along for the ride. And we will always – always – be there with you and for you.


December 20, 2014

Jacob's Bar Mitzvah

Life is lived every day. But marked with moments big and small.

And I think to myself these things expressed here:

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” – Robert Frost

“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing.” – William Butler Yeats

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” – Emily Dickinson


December 15, 2014

This is What I Said At My Uncle Jack's Funeral After He Passed Away on July 4, 2014

One of Jack’s favorite authors (and mine), Haruki Murakami, said “There are many things we only see clearly in retrospect.”  Luckily for us, the things we saw – and felt – together with Jack were clear the whole time. He had an authentic and deep relationship with each of us. The love was direct and present. The experiences of the relationship varied and delicious.

Jack has always been distinctly Jack.

My Uncle Jack was a unique person – rough and brusque but not at all. He worked hard to cultivate that curmudgeon character. But we know better. If he was teasing and poking and ‘stirring the pot,’ it meant he loved you. The harder time he gave you, the more you knew he loved you. And he loved us all a lot. 

Jack shared with me his love of literature. He showed me the power and elegance of a well-crafted sentence.

He called me Kasdan Major, which I loved. He would describe his feelings and actions as “avuncular” (Which I had to look up).

Jack brought a sense of humor that we hadn’t encountered before and it swept us away. Many of you probably know what I’m talking about – it steps right up to the edge of being wholly obnoxious but at the same time is completely endearing.  And its infectious.

He showed us how to taste life – how to live it – with travel, with music, with food, with drink, with music, with games and with friends.

He was an adventurer. He took me camping for the first time.  Taught me how to play poker.  (He valiantly tried to teach me Bridge, but it didn’t take.)  He introduced me to grappa, and port, and taught me how to appreciate wine.  The Vermont trips that he and Joyce planned became one of the central traditions of my life, as I grew from a 14 year old kid hoping to get to stay up late enough to watch the poker game to well, me, now.

He was a man who knew how to Love.  

He told us he loved us eloquently and often and beautifully.  He showed us, with the words he said and the words he wrote and by his smile and how his eyes would get wet with happiness and pride at family gatherings. Yes, we saw. Always with a love we could all feel.  And that will never go away.

I want to share a few things about that.


As I mentioned above, and as many of you know, Jack and Joyce planned yearly trips to Vermont. Jack’s pub quizzes were a thing to behold.  Multimedia extravananzas of impossible to answer questions spanning all things, with music, video, and cheese/herb/alcohol tasting rounds. But because I couldn’t perform well at them, I apprenticed to be the next pub Quizmeister.  He shared it with me.  Now I do it, and I added rules to set the same tone he did.  (e.g., The Quizmeister is judge/jury/executioner on all challenges). I’ve dumbed it down and I can’t compete with the breadth of his quizzes, and every year I still send him my draft and he replies:  

"It looks lovely, but I'm missing the answers, and you know what I'm like without the answers … I like the 'executioner' part. That speaks well for your attitude. Anyway. I'll say Well Done! And wish you and the troops fun at the gaming table~"


At family occasions – Passover at Jack and Joyces, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc.  He always took the time to say … He always said how much it meant to him that we were his family, his eyes would get wet during family moments.  His joy at being with family was palpable.  And every time I would think – it’s we that are the lucky ones:

His note from last Thanksgiving/Jack’s birthday captures it well – its one part sweetness and sappiness and one part Jack, like many of his notes:

Hi Guys~

Yesterday was amazing. The food was scrumptious and the people -- family and friends alike -- were loving and kind and creative and all that people should be. However, the song and the book that you created for me exceeded anything that I thought could ever happen. Listening to you sing to me and reading the words you put on paper for me brought up tears and I was happy to shed them. You guys have been, are, and will be wonderful! I love you~

* * *

Now to the realities of life: The clothing you got for me (no more clothes, please! Write me a word or two; take me to the movies; give me a book; take me to dinner, but no more clothing!) doesn't fit! The jacket is 'L' and too small! The sweater is 'XXL' and too big. Lisa could wear the sweater and David the jacket -- or do I have that wrong? Get your money back and do something else with it! I'll still love you! 

And always will.


A note from a prior Thanksgiving/Birthday celebration was similar.  This time, Jack and Joyce couldn’t come out because Joyce was under the weather.

I wrote:

Happy Birthday Jack.  There will be another Apple Cake!!

We hope that Joyce is feeling better -- you made the only decision
that was to be made, and I would have done the same.  But we sure missed you guys!


On Thu, Nov 26, 2009 at 1:58 PM, <> wrote:

Not only is Joyce ill on Thanksgiving (and of lesser import (ahem) alo giornato del natividad del tio Giqacomo)), but now the grossest breach of all is about to be perpetrated: the consumption of the apple cake specifically designed with me in mind will be eaten by everyone else, but not me!? How can in-laws, nieces and nephews, guests and other persons be so blatantly devoid of feeling as to eat that which is not intended for them? I almost came without Joyce so as to lay claim to her portion, but she begged me not to leave her. What's a man to do?

Alas. Another cake given to infidels whilst the intendee is ministering to the needs of a weaker being. I smile as I write, but I am very serious when I send with this jocular piece of fluff my love and real affection for you all. You have filled a gap in my life that had no family prior to you. Now it saddens me when we are apart when we should be together. 

Thank you for all your good wishes and Joyce -- as each of you knows! -- wanted me out of her hair and in yours. It was almost like: 'You owe me this, Jack!' and my answering, 'It's my birthday! I get to choose!' Mark this down in your calendars. She was too weak to win the battle!

Much love to all youse guys!



We love you.  

That uniquely Jack voice – we still hear it in our heads and we smile. And those memories we made together, they’re part of who we all are.

We are infinitely better and fuller and more alive people for knowing you – 

As you said in your note: “Now it saddens me when we are apart when we should be together.”  

Me too.

December 11, 2014

A Friend Shared This Poem With Me On My Fortieth Birthday

Men at Forty - by Donald Justice (b. 1925) (1967)

Men at forty
Learn to close softly ...
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it
Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices trying
His father’s tie there in secret
And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.

They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something
That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.