When I was 4 or 5 I had my tonsils removed. There were complications with the ether and I spent a scary night in the hospital. Aside from that, despite a few concussions and minor fractures, I never spent another hospitalized nite…until Vietnam. Then I spent about 140 nites.

Now nearing the end of my life, in the past five years I’ve undergone the following surgeries: two arthro knee scopes, two rotator cuff rebuilds, one spinal laminiotomy, a 48 hour stay following two small strokes, cervical traction and more tests, exams and rehabs than I can count. I’ve been spending medical insurance $ like a rapper in a Vegas strip club. For my two day bill at Tarzana Hospital following my strokes, you could send your kid to Stanford for a year. And that’s just physical. Don’t even get me started on my mental costs for PTSD…

I’ve earned full coverage ever since beginning my career…and my VA coverage is free for the rest of my life. I do let them fill my prescriptions but that’s about it.

My point is that the statistics don’t lie. Older patients are clearly the most expensive…and our population is aging. Health costs keep rising, fewer people paying into the pools, coverages getting ever more expensive. I dunno. It may be time to take us seniors out on some ice floe and cut us loose…assuming you can still find a frozen one.


The recent news of Indian brutality towards visiting Nigerian students jogged an old memory. I filmed in India for two weeks, months before 911. AIR PANIC. The Indian people were universally warm and friendly to me…except at the airport. I kinda noticed a vibe upon my arrival but attributed it to my exhaustion after 3 flights over 30 hours.

On my departure day, I’m traveling alone with 3 critical connections. That morning my body had finally surrendered and I was now in full crisis mode, the most devastating intestinal distress I’ve ever known. I’ve traveled all my life; I’ve never before felt so vulnerable and needy. At the Mumbai airport, I stood in line, an elderly white Western female ahead of me. She was quickly checked and passed thru. I stepped up….and was immediately struck by the intensity of the guard, the sheer hatred and rage in his eyes. He had an automatic weapon pointed straight at my chest…and he looked as tho he’d really like to use it. For minutes I stood there as he pored over my pages of my past travels and visas. I felt the sweat sliding down my back, I felt the tremors in my abdomen and I was scared. Scared shitless? Fuck, I wish! He had no idea how very close we both were to an ugly international incident.

Eventually he waved me thru and I gratefully moved forward. He was perhaps even darker than I…but I felt the very same contempt, the same anger any earlier encounter with some American bigot might have generated. I now perhaps better understand…and we should all know that bigotry has no racial or color barriers…even among people of color.

This photo was taken on that final day, shopping for gifts in Hyderabad.  My fear and distress are pretty obvious on my face.  😉


Yes my father was impressive, a Fulbright professor in Greece. But it was my mother who made our family function. She manifested FAMILY. So, in a foreign country (Greece) in the mid-50’s, Mom (Hazel DeMouy Smallwood) handled her business.

We learned to churn ice cream and create Cokes from syrup and shop at the markets. Mom didn’t so love jaunting off on adventures to Damascus or Istanbul or Bethlehem…so Dad and I went. But she soldiered honorably and lovingly, back home on Anatolia Campus.

This is a picture of our beginnings. How very fortunate we were.