Friday, December 26, 2008

From a member of the AK generation:
It has taken me a long time to think of what to write in honor of Sam's 40th. We knew Elisabeth for many years before meeting Sam: she was a pal of Ed's, Howard coached her in Little League and I even more or less taught her a tiny bit of oboe. But Sam? He was a name without a face. By the time we actually met him -- well, I don't recall the occasion, but he was pretty grown up. My reaction was, who is this strong-jawed and extraordinarily handsome guy? OMG, it's Sam! Wowee! and thoughts of that nature. The best part was that is was -- and is -- a lovely guy as well. All the Guttmen wish him all good things on this auspicious occasion.

Jackie, Howard, Edward and Marc

Thursday, December 25, 2008

happy belated


happy belated! it has been a pleasure to work with, and get to know you. i wish you the best with everything that has yet to come.

best, mike


Unlike others who have come to worship at your alter during this milestone event, I have not known you for longer than I can remember. Rather, I come to praise Caesar, not to bury him. While others may wish to depict you as a long haired, beard laden, non-corporate California beatnik who was always cuter than anyone ever would have expected and yet still has not realized his full potential, not me. No, not me. I don’t care what any of them think. You’re still okay in my book.

Yes, despite all the characteristics you have not only demonstrated, but lived with Biblical adherence since we first met in college, I truly believe that potential still exists.

My recollection of days of yore smolders with Chinese food, music room conversations, travels in Moscow (“Young man you should be wearing a hat.”) and beer at dives that even make “Cheers” look classy. Abounded by such respect for your dates that- classifying one as “the pinnacle of mediocrity”- we knew you were headed in a special direction. Away from New Jersey.

So lets talk about your future, one to be dictated by your honesty (“You know, you’re really boring me right now.”), wisdom (“When a team is known as ‘lovable losers’, the operative word is not ‘lovable’.”) and observations. (“I’ve been told its all about ‘the core’.”) What accomplishments do you have planned? And if the Giants ever make it back to the World Series will you get tickets for your kids?

We are all optimists. Good luck.

Oh yes, and the Happiest of Birthdays old chum.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bon anniversaire
Nos voeux les plus sinceres-
Bonnes Fetes
Tanti Auguri
and all that jazz from sparkly -and cold- Paris!

Notable Quotables

Early 70’s
Sam (into a tape recorder): Oh I love you machine, you’re the best machine in the world. One side you record, and the other side you sing.

Upon a big parental fight:
Liz: Wow, they’re really yelling. Do you think they’ll get divorced?
Sam: I don’t know but I hope they don’t become unmarried.

One Thanksgiving at Aunt Dorothy’s in Valley Stream, New York…
Sam (sobbing to adults): Liz and Danny and Teddy are all jumping on Aunt Dorothy’s bed and they won’t let me because they say I’m going to tell…. Like I’m really going to tell!

Early 80's, to his older sister:
Sam: I am SO.... MUCH.... MORE..... MATURE.... than YOU....

With a deflated balloon in his hand and a dazed look on his face:
Sam: I'm on Venus!

The weekend of his college graduation, again with a dazed look on his face:
Sam: Hammer!

Upon coming home from college and discovering butter instead of margarine in the fridge:
Sam: I can't believe it's not I Can't Believe it's not Butter!

On a Bicycle trip after getting wet in the rain:
Sam: We'll never recover!

After using the word "kafkaesque" and then being reminded he'd never read any Kafka
Sam: Yeah, but I can still throw around "kafkaesque" with the best of them.

To my little brother Shmegeggie, Shmendrik, Sammy or as he used to spell it: MAS. I've known you for as long as I can remember, and your presence has permeated so far into my brain that it's hard to take a step back and try to think what you're like or how I even feel about you. I just know that sometimes when Noah looks particularly like you I'm really tempted to seize him in a fit of exultant love, melancholy for times past, and a latent desire to cause some bodily injury via squashing.

With love,


The day has come...

...for people, young and old, to say what they really want to say to you. In fact, it's been captured on video.

But it's not what you think.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Miyagi have hope for you

It has been suggested elsewhere on this blog that Sam and Chachi are one and the same person. I must now retract my earlier statement, as it has been brought to my attention that the photographic "evidence" has clearly -- not to mention shockingly -- been doctored. It is ridiculous to suggest that Sam ever took Joanie Cunningham to the Teaneck High senior prom.

However, I hereby stand by my new claim:


After many years of friendship, and a level of intimacy that has at times included a really alarming familiarity with the bowel habits of each other's children, I was thinking I knew you pretty well. And yet you always have the capacity to surprise, because who else would have thought that the best way to spend New Year's Eve in the mountains was giving ourselves facials, and would have packed the necessary products for all skin types?

Life would be much less tasty without your enthusiasms, your occasional rages, your expert opinions and your great friendship. Happy Birthday to you, and many many more.

Love, Catherine

(Oh, and now that you're 40? Step up the exfoliant.)



Part of me is stunned that you're turning 40, and another part of me was under the impression that you turned 40 in 1993. You've always had the temperament and perspective of someone who's been around the block a few times, and you will always have the quads of a 22-year-old, so I trust that you'll land softly on this milestone.

I owe you a lot, old man. Were it not for you, I never would have gotten on a bike. I'd have less of an appreciation for cooking. I'd have no appreciation at all for watching football in the nude. I'd still get from the Richmond to the Mission by going through the Haight, rather than taking Laguna Honda to Clipper. I would have let Nadia move in. Some of those thoughts make me shudder.

I couldn't exaggerate how much our friendship over the last 20 years or so has meant to me, and I'm very psyched for the many great things I know we'll do together between now and our 65ths.

I dug up a bunch of appropriately embarrassing archive photos and had them scanned, but I'm just now realizing that they are PDFs, which I can't seem to upload. So, in an effort not to disappoint, and knowing your taste as I do, I'm attaching a recent photo of Gabe Pressman taken with my cell phone.

Happy Birthday buddy.

Wine Country Century '95
Holstein Hundred '95
Grizzly Peak '96
Big Sur Ride '96
Big Sur Ride '02

Something's wrong with frequency here...

Markleeville '09?

Happy 40th, Mr. Full-Body-Cramp!

S Dnem Rozhdenya!


May the next 40 years and beyond be abundant of lasting love, supporting friendships, inspiring discoveries and harmony…Happy Birthday!


Monday, December 22, 2008

The Royal Booninbaums

How did Sam and Elisabeth NOT get credit for this?

(Extra points if you can answer this: Why is Sam's jacket tucked into his pants?)


San Francisco Giants
Mike Fox
Pizza pizza pizza
Sports radio
Really comfortable socks."

These are a few of your favorite things, and thanks to you, now they are mine too. You should come with a warning label: "Caution -- Befriending this man will cause you to be infected by unforeseen hobbies and interests." Because when you like something, you REALLY like it. Like really. Like you wont shut up about it. And because you wont shut up about it, those of us in Sammy's world have no choice but to try it, and the next thing we know we're in an opera house in hour 4 of a Wagner magnum opus, or we're huffing on a bike on some pristine backroad staring at your behind and wondering how, exactly, did I get here? Of course, some of your interests never quite stuck (see fantasy Tour de France, x-country skiing), but for the most part the things you like are really fantastic, they stick, and our lives are better for them.

So that’s one thing. The other is that you have this way of being just exactly right. Highy annoying -- like when you tripled the estimated cost and time for our remodel (grr!). Freakish too -- like how you consistently predict the naked bootleg. But it also means that you have a knack for saying just exactly the right thing at the exactly the right time. Like the time I went from having a crap boss to a great boss, and you said I should celebrate the occasion by going out and doing something nice for myself. Of course, what you, being Sam, exactly said was that I should go buy all new underwear. And of course, like so many other times, both in terms of celebrating the occasion and in terms of bodily comfort, you were just exactly right.

Which is all to say that I’m glad that years ago you decided to share an apartment in San Francisco with our favorite pain in the ass, Hecker, because that's how you and I became friends. And I'm glad it's continued through the countless runs, rides, angst exchanges, the backpacking, the float, the boys trips, the family trips, the weddings, the kid, the other kid, the daily IMs, the sports debacles, the moves, the remodels, the hangin’. A few years ago we moved, at great cost to my neuroses, a lot closer to you, from a house a few miles away to a new house just a few blocks away. When people ask why we moved, I usually mumble some vague non-reason like "Oakland is cool." Really, though, it's more like because you have become, for whatever reason, one of those things we don't get too many of in life, especially as grownups: not just a friend, but a keeper. Happy Birthday dude.

The Starishevsky Clan

Dear Sam,

You are so old. How did that happen so fast? At least you still have a good head of hair. I would tell the "like I am really going to tell" story, but I am sure Louise already has it posted. It only came up four times at Thanksgiving this year. We miss you and wish you were closer. Don't forget you owe us a trip east.

other memories that come to mind...Daisy, that big tree in your back yard by the porch, and the time that we lit dan's room on fire during the chemistry set ulitmate experiment (combine all chemicals in the set and throw matches liberally), the fact that you and teresa were the first to meet my little jilly....reminiscing bout all the forts we used to build in our basement out of the blankets our grandfather sewed, where you and elisabeth used to hide when it was time to go home to new jersey!!!

love, ted

Dear Sam,
This is sweet Rita. My famous story about you includes you and your sister. We were all going to the Stars, your mother and father had picked me and Pearl up. You and Elisabeth were in the back seat and Elisabeth was biting off your ear. I was very upset and said something to Pearl, she didnt respond to my concern, I then told your parents about what was happening and neither of y our parents were concerned,so I thought if the parents arent concerned why am I.
That is my famous Sam story.
I want to wish you a very happy and healthy birthday and in 40 years we will all tell another story.
Stay Well
Rita aka Sweet Rita

Hey sammie!!

it's me ellie!...HAPPY BIRTHDAY CUZ!!! I have only one very important thing to say to you on your birthday...and that's BLADDER SHLATTER!!! need I say more? I remember that sunny summer day on Baldie mountain in the Adirondack mountains with uncle joe on the gondola that made that famous noise...b..l..a...dder ...s..h...l...adder....which inducted us into our B.S. Club! MEMBERS FOREVER are we sammie!...I love you, and wish you the happiest of birthdays filled with love, laughter, light, peace, health and happiness!!!

love n light, cuz ellie

The Unified Theory of Sammy Change

Behold Sammy. Clean. Crisp. Strong. And the beer in his hand? There's only one possible answer: Boont. Boont Amber from Anderson Valley Brewery, the world's best beer, and one of the many Principles of More Evolved Living I've learned from Sammy. Sammy, as we know, is man of strong convictions. And all of us wise enough to get on board the Sammy Express are rarely disappointed. Sammy at 40 is a good time to recall my Unified Theory of Sammy Change (more colloquially, we refer to this as "What Makes Sammy Run"). And it goes something like this: if you want to know where business and culture and (in some years) sports is headed—not to mention what beer to drink—watch Sammy. He always know the right time to quit his job and go biking for the summer, the best time to buy in Rockridge, was totally on the cutting edge of rocking out kids. But I've digressed from that pint in the picture. Sammy's schooling me in the ways of Boont led to my dream of having a keg of Boont Amber at my 30th birthday party. When that didn't happen, I made sure it did at my wedding, much to Sammy's approval. His worldview is infectious, and in this case, quite tasty.

Sammy's intense convictions about the way things ought to be and should go can sometimes result in strange behavior patterns particular to his Sammy Species. There was the time a bunch of us were hanging at our then-traditional post-Seinfeld gathering at a terrible pizza place in the Lower Haight called Benvenuti (they had cheap pitchers of beer of Thursdays). Sammy couldn't join us for Seinfeld that night (a night that for a lot of us was pretty much the highlight of the week; what can we say, times were lean), because he had…. a date. This was a good sign, because, well, he didn't date so much, or at least date the same woman twice. I can't remember what the young lady did to upset Sam so much that night (it might have been that she didn't realize it was a date? She had plan to go camping without him the next day? Things are foggy). But we do know this: In rapid order, Sammy stormed into the joint, guzzled a beer, disavowed the quality of the pizza and the date, and proceeded to leave a $15 tip on a $40 tab, one he had next to nothing to do with. Sammy was pissed. And tipping big. I'll never understand it, but I'll always respect it. It's just that way with him.

Happy Birthday, Sammy!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

who is this man?

What to make of a guy who shows up for a blind date on a bicycle? Between that, the long hair, your love of opera, and that you had no interest whatsoever in me, I decided you had to be gay. But no. Not so easy. It was, after all, San Francisco, and most of the twentyish guys had long hair, went to the opera and had no interest in me (especially so the straight ones). So then I decided you were one of the Fusco Brothers. You were certainly as funny as those guys. And aren’t they from somewhere near Teaneck? Learning that your birthdate was December 24 gave me a new thought. He’s Jesus. Getting married and having kids isn’t supposed to be part of the second coming, though, is it?

My friend Holly, once said about you: “He has a face that should be on the cover of magazines.” You laughed when I told you. But I decided she was right, and wondered for a while, what magazine? GQ? People? Nah. Too mainstream. Bicycling? Too limited. Over the years, the cover choices progressed. The Daily Californian? Not unless you protested in Peoples’ Park. PC Week or Wired? Too corporate. But how about this one, just for you, on the occasion of your 40th birthday: Seventeen.

Have a wonderful birthday …and many more!

Haven't I seen you on E! ?

I think I may be one of the few correspondents here without a family, college, or other long-term connection (so thank you for the invite Teresa), but we did spend half a lifetime together a couple of years ago working on a particularly challenging and emotionally draining project at Cisco - a unique bonding-in-adversity experience that I like to think forged the basis a lasting friendship. You certainly helped get me through it with some much needed camaraderie, incisive second opinion and black humor, and I hope I managed to recoprocate a little with your ongoing head-debate about “what to do” (hey don't blame me, I warned you but did you listen noooo..)

Of course this also means that I don’t have a fund of embarrassing photographs or informed experience regarding your body hair, although I did come up with something eerily equivalent along the thread of “Who does Sam remind me of?”. This may be a Brit-only thing, but see if you agree:

Surely not a bad likeness to have, considering Mr. Williams is officially the most successful performer in Brit-pop history, and now lives in LA on his $20M fortune with various addictions and idiosyncrasies..

Anyway I would like to offer my sincere sympathies and congratulations on your reaching the ripe old age of 40, and hope you achieve all that you wish for in the next 40 (whatever that finally turns out to be :-). You are one of the most erudite, intelligent, witty and candid people I know (“too many notes, Mozart!”), and I hope we can swap war stories for the foreseeable future. Oh, and I’ll be tapping you for a favorable review comment when I finally write that book :-)

Best wishes

From the Vault

I dug into the photo vault for some treasures...

Since my Mom did such a good job with the early years, and Rob covered High School, I will focus on post-college days. The picture below must have been post-college, but Sam's T-shirt dates from senior year of high school: the official team shirt from Captain Crunch and the Crunch Island Crew. A come from behind dark horse team that strode to the finals, lasting far longer than they had any right to: the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions! This is a true collector's item and has never before been seen on the internets. (Who's that guy on the left?)

The next poto draws from a great canoe camping trip to the Adirondacks shortly after graduating college. Sam and I took a weekend trip and were bitten by every type of insect known to man, and some that still remain nameless (actually, we had quite a few choice words for the mosquitoes, but this is a 'family' blog).

A few months later we were living in San Francisco with Greg Pulier. I had considered seeking my fame in Baltimore, but Sam convinced me that living was easy on the west coast. This picture represents that period with a collage of 'found objects' from our apartment on Cole St. near the panhandle. Onle one of us (Sam) had an actual 'job' requiring the wearing of shoes, and, occasionally, storing them with shoe trees. The burrito commemorates many, many trips to Zona Rosa and 'Burrito Hill' - the staff of life! Dylan, hiding in the background, was part of the soundtrack to our no-TV lifestyle. (There was a 'Kill Your Television' bumper sticker posted in the John right next to the transcript of Marion "B*tch set me up!" Barry).

This next picture has very little to do with Sam, but everything to do with fame. I had to travel hard and long to get this photo, but it was well worth it. I figured it was time to share the love. Enjoy the splendor!

Finally, I am sure Sam is as happy to be turning 40 as he was this day at Candlestick Park!

As Sam's oldest friend, it's an honor to be able to mark the 4th decade. Over the years I've enjoyed being able to connect and re-connect. Here's to another 4 decades!

Happy Birthday, Sam!

(AKA The Decisionator)

Hey Sam, Happy Birthday

If you're 40 then I must be...  Never mind, you're still my little cousin who I diapered and fed in a high chair.  Have a great celebration and we'll see  you one of these years.
Alice and Steve et al  

Why Aesthetics Matter

To my very good and bestest friend, Sam
(aka Sammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy)
on his 40th Birthday:

We've had so many great -- make that aesthetically great -- times over the years. Luckily, we captured some of it on film and megapixels.

There was that great trip to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby:

And that epic backpacking trip in Yosemite over Red Peak Pass:

One of our very first Boys' Trips after most of us had settled (or were in the process of settling) down:

After that, we did a lot of great things together, but we didn't seem to get it aesthetically right. That is, until our trip to Mexico this year with our families.

We arrived in style.

We partied hard.

We had picture perfect moments.

And we played hard, too, capped off with that PERFECT wedge:

Nice shot, SAMMY!

It still makes me (and Jamie) think how aesthetically great the canoe trip really could have been. Oh well.

I wish you all the best on your 4oth!

Happy Birthday, SAM!


Sam is so old

I wish I had super-hairy pics of Sam to post, but alas, I have only ever seen him fully clothed. I met Sam under less than cheerful circumstances, but immediately appreciated his dark and withering wit. Nobody is better to dish with -- well, nobody except Teresa.

Mazal Tov on turning 40 Sam. It's all downhill from here.



Saturday, December 20, 2008

If Only...

If only I had some angst-ridden photo of us worrying over an INTERSHOP Open or the shot that never existed of your dropping me off at the emergency room to deal with those annoying kidney stones. Alas, we'll have to settle for this happy shot of you at a very special day for Josh and me -- taken of course by one of your very talented children -- showing you on on the VERGE of 40 and looking WAY TOO GOOD for such an advanced age. Here's wishing you another wonderful 40 to come!

PS: I'll send you a bill for the Photoshop work. ;-)

Japanese chocolate

I was wondering how to work a larger version of this photo in (see slide show to the right), and I think Lynn's previous post gave me the perfect context.

Lynn, you are truly love. Unconditional, that is.

Unconditional Love


I wonder if this is the right time to tell you something I’ve been meaning to mention for a long time. I consider you to be a true friend–the kind of friend who can tell you something like, “you have bad breath,” or, “that shirt is not flattering,” and your feelings wouldn’t get hurt, because you know I love you unconditionally.

But I’ve held back on this one, because it’s not one of those things you can change easily, and frankly, you’ve been a bit fragile lately. Maybe because you’re crossing an age chasm. My thinking, though, is that I
can take refuge behind the blog and just post it here so I don’t have to see your face when I break this to you. Also, maybe your other loved ones on the blog will rush to your emotional rescue, should you need it.

Ok, here it is.
You have back hair.

And arm hair.

And neck hair.

I think I once saw some hair follicle
s on your retina.

I have a vague recollection of your ass running into a very cold lake, and yes, you have ass hair.

Now, there are products that can take care of these things. My husband, too, has just about as much hair–one of our favorite games over the years has been to guess who has a higher follicle count–but it doesn’t bother me, so we’ve chosen to live with it. I just wonder if you’ve ever asked Teresa whether she has any needs related to your hair.

I think that’s the most loving thing a friend can do for her friend on his 40th birthday. Oh, and let me add that you are probably the most quick-witted, intellectually curious, loyal, passionate, deep and sensitive man I know, I’ve always loved your smile and your laugh (and your hair), and I’m grateful for the devoted friendship you’ve generously given me, Mike and the boys for so many years.

Happy 40th Birthday!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

With apologies to Dr. Seuss...

I am Sam.
Sam I am.
I do not want to get a job
And join the slavish corporate mob.
I’ll toil at home in my garage,
All by myself, sans entourage.
I fear the boss might be a jerk.
I do not want to go to work!

Would you go to work by car?
While listening to NPR?
I would not, could not, drive you see,
That’s way too much KQED.
Then why not carpool, share the ride?
Through H.O.V. lanes you would glide!
I would not, could not go by carpool.
Rush hour madness is too dreadful!

A train! A train!
Would you, could you, on a train?
Why not BART to San Francisco,
Then connect to MUNI Metro?
I could not, would not, on a train
Public transit’s such a pain!
I do not think it would be jolly
Riding in a crowded trolley.

Not by a train, or street car,
San Francisco’s way too far.
Leaving home is just too hard.
I want to stay in my backyard!
I will not sit inside a cube,
Staring at a cathode tube.
What a dismal occupation,
Slaving for some corporation.

Corporate life is so insulting,
Better earn my pay consulting.
Commuting's truly not for me,
I’ll work at home – you let me be!
I would rather seek enjoyment
In the world of self-employment.
Life’s too short to waste you see,
‘Specially now that I’m forty!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sears Portrait Studio Hall of Fame

There is so much to comment on this photo ... where to begin?

First, the Swiss dots on both Nancy's and Elisabeth's dresses are brilliant. They went for a matching pattern but in different fabrics, and let's face it -- who can resist the patriotic red, white and blue theme that they have going on?

Second, I think that Nancy is perfectly accessorized. Not too much, just some cute dangly earrings and a simple strand of pearls.

Third, sweet dress on Elisabeth! I like the rick-rack detail on the sleeve... why didn't they save that for Emi?

Fourth, I'm glad that both Elisabeth and Sam got their bangs trimmed -- keeping your hair out of your eyes for a photo session is important.

Well, I guess that's about it.

Happy Birthday, Sam!

I know I could write a few chapters for this blog but will only tell you, quickly and succinctly that Sam and Howard and Nancy and I met in the park behind the Teaneck Public Library when we were all very young, slim and looking for friends. We became very good friends and so did the boys. There were other moms there, too. We had all come from a variety of places in the NY metropolitan area and were somewhat cut off from our roots. That park served as an entree to Teaneck in many ways. All of our husbands were at work all day and we were mostly non-working full time moms as was the norm in 1970 or '71. We all got together and formed play groups,and let the kids play. Sam and Howard became very good friends.

As you know, this alliance has lasted almost 40 years and is one of the joys of Howard's life...ours, too. Sam is now, and has always been, a spectacular boy and man. We're fortunate to have been privy to his life (mostly voyeuristically).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAM!!! Many more good and happy years to you and your family.

Love, Marge

Monday, December 15, 2008

A toast to Sam on his fortieth birthday

Dear Sam,

How can I ever forget our summer weeks spent in the Adirondacks? You were a smart little kid, a loudmouth who had lots of questions and many answers. In short, you were adorable! Do you remember paddling the canoes to Driftwood Beach or climbing Baldy Mountain, you running ahead of all of us to the top? How about walking in the evening to the Lake Store to buy some kitschy souvenir. I think that is where you and Elisabeth got to know Ellen, Ted and Dan so well. Of course, there were many trecks between Teaneck and Huntington where you guys hung out together.

You are dear to my heart. You have become one terrific person,A fine, with a great sense of humor, dedicated, someone any parent or aunt and uncle would be proud of. You have a wonderful wife and two adorable children. Still it is hard to believe that the youngest of the five cousins is turning forty. As they say in Spanish when toasting, "Salud, amor y dinero y tiempo para gustarlos."
Aunt Barbara and Uncle Reuby

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Once in a Lifetime

And you may ask yourself,
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself,
This is not my beautiful house!

(Really, that's not Sam's house... it's the house across the street)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Sam

It was so nice to see you in Auburndale last month when you were here briefly. When I picked you up at your hotel right up the street from my house, the second you got into the car I immediately thought, then of course said, "Sam, I can't help it, part of me will always think of you as the adorable little boy cousin I remember." Voila, there you are, in the photo at the top of the blog! You're only 12 years younger than I am, but the gap is enough for me (and my fellow Linder Girls) to remember you vividly- and therefore, always think of you in some way - as that cute little, sweet mensch. Needless to say, we've watched you grow into a fine young man, and I suppose now a fine grown man, with a wonderful wife and adorable children. You're one of the Linder Girls' all-time favorite cousins and we love seeing you. So Congratulations on turning the YOUNG age of 40!!!
Love, Janet and family

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dear Sam

Alas, I have no photos — embarrassing or otherwise — to contribute to the wondrous collage that Teresa is organizing, but that deficiency should not prevent me from at the very least congratulating you on your entrance to the fifth decade of shuffling around this mortal coil.

Forty years old! I wouldn’t believe it, were it not for the fact that Peter celebrated his 48th and David his 45th, so I guess I must be reconciled to our kids not being kids anymore, some — like you — even having kids of their own. But when you get to be an alter Kacker like me, you start to fixate on things not as they are but as they were. In the case of Sam Boonin, there is clearly an intellectual process, a synaptic gap-bridging, before I can conjure up the image of a pater familias, a world traveler who has become more than the sum of his many parts. You will forgive me if I confess that my knee-jerk association with you will always be that brisk Christmas Eve morning — early, oy! very early — when the phone rang by us in Teaneck and your dad asked if I could pick him up from the hospital in Manhattan because Baby Sam had arrived. And so, when I say that I have known you from the very day your parents brought you home to 170 Sherman Avenue, having watched your gestation in the belly of mama, you will understand why it takes a nanosecond or two before I can visualize the 40-year-old you have now become.

Sam, throughout your life, I have been privy to the intermittent reports on your doings from your dad and have enjoyed sharing his justified pride in who you have become. Congratulations on the first 40 and very warm best wishes on the years that lie ahead. May they be many — always in good health, productive and full of joy, secure in the knowledge of your heritage and as inquisitive and adventuresome about the future as you have always been.


From the ancients

Remember, 40 is the new 25 but with wisdom and maturity. We've watched you from birth and you've done quite well for a New Jersey boy without a voice.

Bro's aunt & uncle

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Bro Sam Never Had

I'm posting this photo just to help clarify Sara's post below -- Bro is the gorgeous creature with fine chiseled features and thick mane, Sam is in back.

Bro Says Happy Birthday

I wanted to get on here so that you had a complement of contributors who had already passed over to the 'other side'. If you do the math from horse years, Bro qualifies, too. It's really pretty good, once you get used to it, and you probably won't ever look as long in the tooth as he does. Alas, I cannot provide any embarrassment, either (see other posts). I do take pride, however, in being one of those who tried to corrupt you by buying you alcohol before you were legally of age. The best part about that, though, was doing it under Tobyann's nose!
Have a wonderful birthday and welcome to your fifth decade. Getting there was only part of the fun.
Cousin Sara and Cousin Bro

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Day I Became a Man

Really? 40? How did that happen?

"Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run." - Mark Twain

I was looking around for old pictures of Sam that would embarrass him. My thinking being that since I've known Sam for 26 or 27 years I should have some doozies. 

I couldn't find any (I think they are all at my parents' house) and then it hit me ... YEARBOOK!!!!

I pulled it out and the first thing I found was Sam's Senior Quote by Mark Twain which, while I thought it was clever, I couldn't really relate to Sam since he knows the value of education ... and soap. Maybe Sam will now explain the decades-old mystery of his selection.

Then I moved on to the pictures. First there is the main yearbook picture, which I am sorry to say that other than Sam's hair part down the middle is not all the embarrassing.

Then I found the National Honor Society officer pictures. But other than the fact that we had officers for groups like the National Honor Society so that we could shamelessly stuff our college transcripts with more activities, there wasn't much that was embarrassing about that one either. 

So all I was left with was a profile of Sam doing a math problem on the chalkboard. The profile does reveal a pretty decent Carol Brady hair swoop. I am really unsatisfied with the low level of embarrassment that it will cause Sam, but it is the best I've got. 

Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that high school was not nearly as embarrassing for us as we might remember. It was actually pretty damn fun. 

We've been through a lot since 7th grade:
Teachers, good and bad
Drunken stupors at your parents' house (does Joe know about this yet?)
First girlfriends (and then boyfriends for me)
A bike ride or two where I thought I was gonna pass out
Moving west
Our mom's dying way too young
Kids (2 for you and Teresa and hopefully one for Tony and me soon) ...

But you still haven't sign my yearbook, you bastard!!! ;)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Joanie Loves Sammy


I looked at the shaggy-bearded dude on the sand dune for far too long trying to figure out who it was and what he was doing on your blog page. Then I realized it was a shot you had successfully kept from the 'rents for so long. Sort of confirms (or puts the lie to) my twist to the old adage, "It's a wise parent who knows his own children."

Believe it from one who is almost (relatively speaking) there, the first 40 are MUCH harder than the next forty.

Love and best wishes from


Go ahead, take a closer look

First, I must confess that I am editing my original post.

Second, I think I finally figured out whom it is that Sam at this particular stage in his life most resembles. (I know, it's hard, those shapely legs are so damn distracting!) I first thought of Michael Landon, circa Highway to Heaven, or Jaclyn Smith in Charlie's Angels, but a Google image search revealed that neither of them ever sported a beard.

Finally, it dawned on me. I think it's...

(sorry for the scroll down)

... this guy.