Saturday, December 01, 2007


A few weeks ago, an old college friend suggested that I take on a topic other than philosophy or politics – namely, myself. Other bloggers had come up with an idea that as many bloggers as possible should do a post entitled “Ten Random Things about Myself,” and my friend Betty suggested that I do the same. So what follows is my lame attempt to talk about someone near and dear to my heart, despite what I often think of him.

And by the way, PLEASE check out Betty’s own blog “La France Profonde” by Googling that phrase. She actually has multiple blogs that are accessible at that site, and whoever you are, I suspect you will find something there worthy of your time.

1. Counting only blood relatives, if you add up all my living (a) parents, (b) children, (c) first cousins, (d) nephews, (e) nieces, (f) uncles, (g) aunts, and (h) grandparents, you’ll get twice the number of known attributes of Spinoza’s God … or the same number of Presidents named either Bush or Adams. I’m referring to my mother, two daughters, and a first cousin in New York City.

2. I’ve been out of law school for 23 years – and have practiced for 21 of them -- and the closest I’ve ever come to working for a law firm is a single interview that I had as a second year law student. I thought it was a public interest law firm. It turned out not to be. It was clear that neither I nor the firm was interested. And that is the sum total of my private sector legal experience.

3. I’ve been called many things in my life that were less than flattering. The name “Spiro” lends itself to that – there’s “Spiro T. Agnew,” “Spirochete” (a bacterial organism, one type of which is the cause of syphilis), “Spirograph,” and “Spirotot,” just to name a few. But the only name that ever bothered me was when I was repeatedly called “Abner” when I was about eight or nine. The kids on the block discovered that my middle name was Albert – named after that great Spinozist, Mr. Einstein, whose political views coincided with that of my parents and whose love for physics was shared by my dad. Somehow, my neighborhood buddies preferred to name me instead for Abner Kravitz, the Stevens’ next door neighbor on Bewitched. I hated that damned name. Perhaps that’s because I would hate above all else to be hen-pecked like Mr. Kravitz.

4. I’ve always liked to think of myself not as a person who lives in the here-and-now but as one of a series of person-stages, including the past as well as the future. For that reason, I try to stay in touch with old friends and rarely miss reunions (except for law-school reunions, for I feel too alienated from the experience of law school to choose to hang out with random classmates … and talk about the law). As I’ve indicated in an earlier post, I suspect that someone who met me at 10, 15 or 20 would recognize pretty much the same person at 40, 45, or should I be so lucky to get there, 80.

5. I’m hopeless at remembering languages. I’m talking about foreign languages, computer languages … it really doesn’t matter what. I know English and the language of mathematics (that was one of my greatest passions as a child), but the other ones just don’t stay in my mind. Oh, and while I’m on the topic of shortcomings, my mechanical aptitude is off-the-charts bad.

6. I have had three dogs in my life, all small and all white. The first one, my childhood dog, was never fixed. My dad thought it would be “cruel” to his manhood to do that. Consequently, this wild little mutt would try to escape from our house whenever possible and make mischief in my suburban neighborhood. Once, he jumped out our second story window, and we received a call from someone blocks away that he was messing with their bitch, which was in heat. We finally had to give him away to a farm. I think the combo of having balls and being part-terrier meant that he was unsuitable for Bethesda.

Today, I have two bichons – Kirby Puckett and Carly Simon. Carly yaps at practically everyone who comes in, begs constantly for food during dinner, and always tries to steal food from Kirby. But it serves us right, because we never trained her (and were it not for my wife, Kirby wouldn’t have been trained either). Some bad habits run in the family, I guess.

7. My favorite musical group is the Rolling Stones. And my favorite Stones album is Sticky Fingers. That one album has so many of my favorite songs – Brown Sugar, Sway, Wild Horses (my favorite slow song), Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Bitch, Dead Flowers and Moonlight Mile. In addition to the Stones, I also really love Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac. In terms of groups who aren’t yet on the “Senior’s Tour,” I really like the Dave Matthews Band and Radiohead.

8. My favorite word is God – but only when I get to define it, or when the person using the word is intending for it to be meant in a broad way so that each of us can define it for ourselves. I enjoy hearing religious ideas chanted in languages I can’t understand. That way, I can enjoy the spiritual sound of the chant, without having to think about what the clerics are saying, which I probably don’t agree with.

9. I don’t consider myself a cheapskate. I’m generous enough with my friends, and I spend freely on books and on travel (when I have the time to travel). But one thing I hate spending money on is cars. I drive a 1990 Honda Accord wagon – a car that my wife bought back when I was driving a Ford Taurus, which lasted me until the carburetor died. My Honda has three functioning doors (the door on the front passenger’s seat is jammed) and a radio that works perhaps 50% of the time. I think nothing of throwing empty water bottles on the ground in front of the passenger’s seat, figuring that every few weeks I’ll have the motivation to at least remove the bottles, if not the newspapers and other junk that accumulates in the car. That vehicle is a superego-free zone. I miss not having a functioning radio, but the car otherwise suits me just fine.

10. I saved for last my pet peeves and pet loves. Notwithstanding my comments about hypocrisy in The Creed Room, I really can’t stand to see it, especially when it’s manifested in the context of religion. I also have a problem with hierarchy. Yes, I know some amount of it is appropriate, but I like to see people downplay it and attempt to democratize institutions as much as is practicable … and perhaps a tiny bit more. I also really get annoyed when I go into restaurants and don’t find any vegetable protein on the menu. (Don’t we vegans have rights too?)

As for loves, I really love people who are candid, loyal, trustworthy, unpretentious, humble (but not self-effacing), and intellectual. I like people who are either silly or can appreciate raunchy humor. I also enjoy being around spiritual people, but that assumes that their spirituality hasn’t bled into sanctimony, in which case it becomes intolerable.

Anyway, if you’re still reading, thanks for indulging me these random, self-centered thoughts.


Simmer Down! said...

Young Man.....

You conveniently omitted the Mediocre Mobile......

Also, the Stanford victory over Cal was made even more enjoyable as your G_D son picked us out of the crowd and spent the 4th quarter agonizing in our box with his Cal hat....

Please do not spoil that thought with your typical dilletantish half-baked rants about Stanford Athletics that ring hollow with that congenital Beltway wrapped around your head.....I'm sure your parents would have been happier if you attended an SEC or ACC school instead.

Simmer Down!

Daniel Spiro said...

I watched the game too. It was great.

That's so cool that you had a chance to talk to my Godson during the game. He's a great kid, isn't he?

I'm sorry he's for Cal, but both his parents did go there (for grad school), so you can hardly blame him.

As for my parents, I have a feeling that they wouldn't have preferred SEC or ACC. Brooklyn College, maybe.

simmer down said...

young man

he is a great kid. a perceptive kid...he takes you about as seriously as we do :)

simmer down!