Archive for May, 2010


Sunday, May 30th, 2010

       “…Walkin’ Columbus,
       Walking with my feet ten feet off of Neil.
       Walking Columbus,
       But do I really feel the way I feel?”

The sun rose in central Ohio at 6:06 today; GameDay, morning of the race and I was ready to go! (Not that I run—Bogarts don’t—-not without bases sixty feet ahead). I was here to walk, though. For cancer research. For my brother.

With others. Many others.

We parked two minutes from Bexley High, and as our clan traversed Cassingham toward the track it occurred to me that better parking might have saved my legs for the Herculean task ahead. (I mentioned this to Margie, but she ignored me).

You had to see it to appreciate it: the beauty, the pageantry of the morning. Four hundred or so runners, walkers, supporters of the cause. Rock music piped, everyone smiling, glad-handing, as one.

I did my pre-run stretches in solitude. (Picture Rocky Balboa in preparation for Apollo Creed). It was a photo op, and I grabbed it. Moments later a stranger, watching me struggle, lifted me from the turf.

The loudspeaker urged us to the starting line.

“Runners first!” came the command. This was the cosmetic way of saying “South Euclid people—last.” (At least that’s how it played out).

Not just our family. At all. Check the charts:

The final five finishers in the event, bringing up the rear (in alphabetical order): Robin B, Bruce B, Amy K, Leslie S, and Gary Z. It must have been something in the drinking fountains at Rowland School. Must have been.

The whole “run” took anywhere from one hour (me) to fifteen minutes (for those who cared to show off). And yet, ‘twas so much more. Clearly it was
the culmination of several months hard work for a multitude of area residents pulling this off. It is the most successful such annual effort in our capital city.

Milling around afterward, I was only sorry my kids weren’t here…to share.
Maybe next year. Maybe next year.

We’re staying another night, and will spend it with family and friends. Tomorrow we return and will trudge the next steps together as well.

But this is about today, and today is special. More importantly, as we were taught as kids on Bayard, you have to learn to walk before you can run.

We’re walking Columbus.


Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Never is an awful long time. The axiom was underscored just this week as I found myself in a place clearly NOT on my To Do list. Me…Bruce Bogart…in a store called City Buddha. Me, walking through aisles of incense, candles and pierced bodies. Me. Perhaps, I suppose, I should never say never.

Sharing war stories backstage, Larry had the NERVE to doubt me.

“You mean to say you’re never leaving the country again?”
“Never… ” came the response, “Unless I fall in love, or something like that. Otherwise, why would I?”

Looking at me like I was nuts, he said the wrong thing: “You’re lying.”
A beat or two passed before I spoke:
“Can I tell you something without you being offended?”
I waited before finishing: “You’re a fucking idiot.”

“Maybe he just thinks you’re unrealistic?” entered Marcy, the “peace-maker” in every group.

Shooting her a Helen-worthy glare, I began the gentle history lesson.
Indeed, in lo these many years never once did this cowboy leave the U.S. but for duress: twice to Aruba with Jodi, and once, a St. Maarten trip (under the influence of marriage). Of my own volition, Nyet!

“Well, I guess I was wrong….” he mumbled, affording me the confidence to elaborate. It would be New York, Chicago, Florida or Vegas ONLY. That was my assertion, (absent compelling romance).

His look had now turned from doubt to amazement. He believed, (if nothing else), that I believed. Sensing victory, I went into my patented “I’ve lived my entire life in two square miles” routine. He responded with yet more amazement…including the one opening I just couldn’t resist:

“Most people like to travel,” he claimed.

• There is nothing I like better than responding to a comment
prefaced by “Most people.” It is a window I can’t resist. Ever.

“You know,” I told him, “I never had an olive.”

His doubt which had become amazement was now intrigue.
“Even my brother, who is normal—he hasn’t either. Bogarts don’t.”

There he stood, my new buddy, waiting for what he thought would be a punch- line. Instead, he got more history. Life was full, I advised, of things that “most people” do that Bogarts tend to pass on:

Never tried peanut butter (Hal eats the smooth stuff). Never rode a power mower.

Never bought a shovel, or a rake, or a hoe. Or learned what mulch was.

And…never did a tractor pull…or was on a crane..or smoked dope.

Never touched a reptile.

The reptile line made him laugh (maybe it was the Jewish stereotype thing); I should have stopped there, of course, but I was in the zone…and there was more (at least for me):

Never went to a drive-in with a date. Never saw a James Bond movie.
Bored a bit, Larry questioned my Bond assertion. He relented only through my self-effacement, admitting I was nerd, never having dated in high school. This, then, led me to: Never have worn a long-sleeve gray Tshirt with blue jeans, never been to the opera, never danced with a midget….

About then rehearsal resumed and we were called back on stage. An hour later we were done for the night.

Larry doesn’t doubt me any more. At all.

He avoids me.


Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

One of my favorite expressions is hearing someone say “God is working in your life,” or “God is doing for you what you couldn’t do for yourself.”

It was mid-March and winter was its bitterest. H was post-surgery/early chemo, and (to use an expression I DON’T like), it was what it was.
Clearly, even with a blend of faith and confidence, in reality we all needed a positive focus. It came in the form of the Jack Roth Rock/Walk Run.

Hal had been receiving steadfast love and prayers from family and friends when about that time Leslie (Rowland School émigré to Maryland), mentioned the fund. Supporting research and treatment at Columbus’s James Cancer Center, this non-profit effort is her family’s memorial to a lost loved one. The drive culminates with a 5K race May 30.

Bogarts are not known for track and field. We are family though, and united. In an instant we recognized an opportunity to rally ‘round the flag. Founded by our life-long friends, the Jack Roth Run was the perfect polestar for our imperfect world.

Margie, Hal and I sat drafting around the kitchen table. Succinctly, the message rang clear: “This fund, this year, strikes close to home.” Hitting the internet that night, we posted it on the race sight, on Facebook, and on faith.

Support, from the very first has been overwhelming. Caroline’s friend donated within minutes; to this very moment, two months later, the message of love for my brother and hate for the disease has been continuous and gratifying. Each gesture, be it from old friends or old colleagues has not only bolstered a worthy cause but strengthened my brother. And all of us.

The past ten weeks have seen chemo end and spirits steady. Hal’s had good days, bad days, and oh so much time on his hands. Eyeing the “run” that was once so far away helped us all keep our eyes on the ball.

Calls from friends,… postings to the fund—everyone that reached out—
gave my brother, gave each of us that shots in the arm that said “Guys, you’re not alone. Hal, we love you.”

Rodney Dangerfield used to end his monologues by urging “Just give me one of these!” Harold Dale Bogart got a lot of “these.”  We all did.

Snow melted. March became April became May. The winter of our discontent—over.

Next Saturday our clan of not-necessarily-Olympians will hit the road for the Run. Together. Three cars, two hotel rooms, one cause.  

Columbus will offer family, friends and yes, a myriad of new faces each united in love, spirit and battle against disease. Still, even the drive down will be fun. Replaying the last months, sprinkling in requisite Aunt Helen stories, and—as always, laughing.

None of us, of course, will actually run. We’ll walk. Side-by-side.   Together.  And THAT, to be sure, is God working in our lives.

       “We’ll travel for miles in our Saturday smiles
        And then we’ll move on—
        But we will remember
        Long after Saturday’s gone….”

                          Dory Previn


Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Some things just are.

From our first meeting in Columbus we connected. Not physically, per se, but spiritually. Bonded by mutual values and knowing smiles…on the same page.

East coast worldly—more accent than attitude—she’d listen, share, but never judge. Clearly, this was the perfect antidote for socially inept Bruce as he spiraled madly in love with the Jersey Girl. Friendship with Linda, then, was never anything more than clearly platonic. As such, it was always nice ‘n easy.

Ah, the Glory Years, the college years. Arguably (until recently), these WERE the best days of my life. A’s in everything but attendance, cruising in contact lenses and a Mustang, the world was my oyster (not that I would touch one).

We graduated. To separate states, lives, marriages, careers, kids. Then, in the precise time the Jews spent traversing the desert, we reconnected.

Mid-town Manhattan. Lunch. Like yesterday.

No pretension. No frills. Just catching up, renewing, sharing, and (again) parting.

“Let me know when you’re coming back.”
“Absolutely,“ I assured.

It never quite plays that way, though (and I knew it). Still, it was hard not to notice that despite life’s curves, despite the long and winding road….she still had that amazing grace.

So we’ve stayed in touch—spurts interrupted by months; (I’m accused of “disappearing”). Ultimately, though, we convene.

She had a birthday Tuesday—MY cue to reach out. Phoning, getting voice mail, as “charming” as ever, I opted merely to sing “Happy Birthday.” No hello, no goodbye, no name. Either she recognizes or she doesn’t!

An hour later the jousting began:

“Thanks!” began her text. “…You actually have a good voice!” No hello, no goodbye, no name.

“In court—check your ears, lady.” (I shot back, perhaps not with my “A” game).

Timing, of course, is always an issue. I’d sent a gift, but sensed it had yet to arrive. Within hours, though, it had.

She wrote again, in thanks for the present and “even more beautiful card,” noting “I’ll get my ears checked if you get your eyes checked.”

That ended interaction for the day. A draw, as usual. Nice n’ easy, as usual.

Some things just are.


Sunday, May 16th, 2010

It was inevitable. Returning from Columbus, the euphoria of my “Weekend About Nothing” was, for the time being, trumped by the reality of today. It had to be.

Locally, friends grieve, consumed with the demise of the Cavs. Me? I ask, in the scheme of things, Who gives a flying _______?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m neither bored nor jaded. Still, the life and death axis of sports? Been there, done that. And no, I’ve not grown old…just focusing elsewhere—like the real world.

There WAS a time: my soul’s been bloodied by sports. On the field, in the stands, on the tube…this heart’s been broken.

At Red Right 88.  Subzero weather, upper deck with Al Oster.  Draped–garbage bag over winter coat, (the kindly, if subliminal suggestion from my spouse.)   Sipe threw the interception and 80,000 people rose as one, filing out in dead silence.  Thirty years later both the garbage bag and wife are gone;  I do have the memory.  

In the Dog Pound for “The Drive.” Saw it all. And the overtime? Twenty-three years later Karlis’s kick was still wide left. Like I said, I was there. A year later—“The Fumble.” Sure—we were only going in for the tie—but it hurt. Then.

Jose Mesa? Watched it.
“Jordan’s shot?” Cringed.
Get this, though: in each case I turned the TV off, went to bed, and woke up the next day with ten fingers, ten toes, and…a life.

Maybe I’m just angry…or frustrated…or, in my own way, lonely. God, Friday was ugly. And the day plus that followed…

Dwelling on the negative, I was isolating. Doing so all the while knowing it was neither my style nor healthy.

(My shrink Tom says there’s nothing wrong with anger…nothing wrong with feeling. He says “Identify it for what it is…then move on.”)

So I am… again. As best I can. With the tools I have…whatever. Went to two meetings yesterday, talked to Tom, shared, prayed. Met with my sponsor. Between it all, just the kick in the ass I needed.

I’m back.

Sure, our family has health issues—both here and on the coast. And yes, each of us is scared, apprehensive, and yet confident all at once. Clearly there are other hurts too painful to blog.

But I’m back on my game. Back in my rhthym. Slid for a day, (maybe two), but I’m in it to win it—this game of life. And I can’t win it alone.

Friday’s gone…Saturday’s past…and today I have family, friends and faith to push through the crap. The present is indeed a gift.

And so it was that I woke up this morning, thanked God for THIS day, and BOUNCED out of bed— grateful for my ten fingers, my ten toes…and my life


Thursday, May 13th, 2010

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

Dear Hal,

You would have loved the drive to Columbus. Loved it.—-maybe even have taken some notes! Between the parents and myself, we repaved Bayard Road one house at a time. Sharing commentary we stirred memories long dormant. It was an oral history for the ages—an epic trip.

Touched on everyone. Those we still see, those we just speak with, and others, frankly— unheard of for years…so obscure that even THEY wouldn’t friend us on Facebook.

And of course, there were the usual suspects….

Al and Fran Davidson. The Wolf family. Did you know that Chuckie Mulberg was an only child? “Oh, how they doted on him!”

Cal Luxenberg, Stuart Fenton. Two murders on the street in recent years.

From their end: the Gross family across the street to Jimmy Polster (next door). The Markowitzs. Normie Katz (same wife twice).

Everyone, you should know, was referenced one of four ways: either they were the same grade as Linda and me, the same age as the twins, your class with Leslie, or…they, as Mrs. S would say: “… Weren’t as old—and only knew our youngest girl…” One way or another though, clearly if you graduated Brush between ’67 and ’74 you got a shout out.

Fred Kantor. The Graynoms. The Neugers.

Randy Nehamkin. The Walters (with multiple mention of Elaine), and the Simmersons (Make mine “Dud”).

Some were only referenced generically—like the Italian lady in the brick house next to Wolf. She was a seamstress (which I knew), but who knew her husband drank? (I didn’t).

Oh, we strayed a bit….to Stonehaven. Sam Galun and his kids. Jerry Payner—even points further south. Heck, trying to hold my own I opined that the two best streets were always Bayard and Stilmore. No one disagreed, which tended to validate me. And so….we talked Stilmore! Les Rosenberg, Ron Pollack. The Herzogs. (Sharing a moment or two of silence, we recalled that Sunday morning just a year ago…dining—all of us—at Menorah Park…. Now Mom’s gone, Gloria’s gone….did I tell you they remembered Mom’s hearing aid)?

It was a virtual video of my Bar Mitzvah. Gail and Susie K. What a nice guy their father was! (I’d forgotten that Gail was married early on—to Cary from …across the street). There were thrills—that we stlll had contact with Amy K, and disappointment (mine)—that they couldn’t remember Bad Neck Harvey walking his little poodle. Or Bernie Pleskoff.

Oh, a bit more. I was surprised they knew the Gelfands. Don’t know why—always perceived Harvey and Delores as somewhat isolated. But they knew them! Mrs. recalled each, specifically reminding that “He gave up his pharmacies to teach…”

All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

You’d have thought we’d touched all bases on our way down. Not so, BayardBreath! Returning Sunday, heading west on Cedar… in field goal range…..there was an ambulance up ahead past Green. In a hurry for rehearsal, I shot right and north toward Greenview.

Turning left onto Bayard I sighed: “Ah, home sweet home.”
Descended the hill, pointed out Wieder’s house—then caught the light.

It turned green and we were in the final approach. Rowland on the left, 4249 on the right. Then, as we passed Matejka’s, my favorite passenger, the lady in the back seat leaned forward and grinned. With a twinkle in her eye she noted: “You know, we never talked about Wilmington.”

Laughing, we emptied the trunk, bid adieu and parted. As I hit Cedar Road my smile remained…but the past was in the past….for now.

I wish you’d have been there, H. You’d have loved it, savored it. Next time!

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more

Love, bb


Monday, May 10th, 2010

We were standing, smiling, thinking. The sun shined as Harriet and I studied her mother’s stone. Claire Rose Galan (accent second syllable) would have been one hundred this August. What a sweet woman.

It was Mother’s Day—a time to remember, to be grateful.

Exiting the cemetery on to what used to be South Refugee Road, my mind scanned the canvas of a past filled with one wonderful mother and several women that gave me a mother’s love. Each, it occurred, shared something different.

I met Harriet’s mom when I was twenty. Her warm heart not only welcomed our father to the fold, but his kids as well. We called her “GALANma.” As years passed her door was always open. Indeed, on occasion I would stay there and, (truth be known), she never quite understood why I’d sleep with the TV on. Many a time I’d wake up to silence, Galanma having tiptoed in mid-night, to turn it off.

Our natural grandmothers were worlds apart:

Celia Sharp Hoffman Porter was born here. She showed our Mom how to multi-marry; she taught us all perseverance. Loving, but not one to coddle, it was from her lips FIRST that I heard that grinding admonition: “Bruce, when are you going to grow up?”

Gladys Bogart spoke seven languages. Of Polish birth, she was elegant, stately and rarely laughed—except at herself. “Old world,” radiating traditional values and a steadfast devotion to Judaism, she taught me, among other things, to respect books and to honor our heritage.

Harriet, of course, was the love of our dad’s life. Just as clearly, she’s been a blessing in ours. From her debut Chanukah. ’69, (noshing Marilyn’s latkes at 20 East 14), through four decades of life cycle events (most occurring post-Albert)…Harriet has stood tall. Through her actions as much as words the message stays clear: Family is not bordered by bloodlines—it is bounded by love.

Our mother, to be sure, could be unique. Still, a simple woman, (in the highest sense), Elaine Hoffman Bogart (86 Bogart) Lerner Turner wanted no more than to love and be loved. Today’s travails confirm her life-long lesson: Laughter is indeed, the best medicine. She gave us our senses of humor, and therefore, riches.

We turned onto Broad Street for brunch with Jeffrey, Shari and Leslie. Focusing on one final “mother,” I thought of Ed. “Itzy,” you see, caught our mom on the back nine. Turns out he was the biggest MOTHER of them all! Stole not only her heart but also ……oh well…

I guess that’s why we got her sense of humor.


Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Today was a banner day. May 5, 2010. 5 5 10. A banner day!

By 9:30 Hal and I were shedding tears of joy. With gratitude, in happiness, we smiled…shared.…and, oh so softly, we dripped….

Events occurring five hundred miles apart had two brothers (sixteen MONTHS apart), crying. And it was all good. You’d have thought you walked into the last twenty minutes of “Field Of Dreams.” Or a remake of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

From the east word had come: Jamie and Eric welcomed Haley Brooke to the world. It’s amazing how something (someone) so small, so tender, can be such an emotional catalyst. (Fascinating. As a grandfather am I not younger?). I wonder what she’ll call me.

From the midwest MORE good news! Hal’s fundraising page, a non-
profit effort benefiting James Cancer Hospital’s research of cancer
in non-smokers, had gone over the top…reached its goal. Friends, family
and associates not only demonstrated their love but honored his
passion for the cause. To say my brother was moved is an
understatement. He was…literally…moved to tears.

It’s more than synchronicity. These events connect by matters other
than timing. Clearly, so clearly, it is cause and effect.

The cause of each is love; the effect of each is life.

And so… on the east coast, in a basinette, or changing table, or whatever it is they call it these days, little Haley awaits her first night’s sleep in a world full of future. And too, a few heartbeats down I-80, my brother (among others), is surrounded by family, friends and renewed hope for a world full of future. Yes, it’s been a banner day.

All you need is love.


Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Prologue: My father would urge to trust everyone, but cut the deck.

I am blessed with a myriad of family and friends – all shapes and colors. I am surrounded by love and laughter and (all too often) unsolicited advice. What’s funny is that most of the latter comes from people who are, in 2010 parlance, relationship challenged. These well-meaning folk tend to have a few things in common: a), they neither respect nor get along with women, b), they volunteer their “wisdom” with true altruism, and c), they are alone.
Always alone.

Like this week:

His voice came from behind as I was leaving Starbucks.
“Bruce, when you going to call her? I told her you would.”

(It was Cousin Norm. He’s my father’s age and for good or bad, irrepressible as ever). “I told YOU I WOULDN’T!”
“Yeah, but I told HER you would. Don’t make me into a liar.”

This was not the first time we’d had this dialogue, (nor, I supposed, would it be the last). Eighty-somethings never let up.

“Listen to me—I’m telling you call her.”
“My friend at the mall says she’s nuts.”
“She’s beautiful,” he shot back. “And everybody’s nuts!” Then, pausing, he went in for the kill: “You going to trust a friend or your family?” he demanded, dumping our entire ancestry in my lap.

It was an essay question. Rather than answer I merely smiled…and remembered…

Six weeks earlier: In the dead of winter, when Norman first brandished her name I’d done what any semi-neb of the Dobie Gillis generation would have done: a “drive by.” That March Saturday Beachwood Place was slammed. Perfect time for, shall we say… due diligence.

• Some guys care if they have kids at home; others run
D & B’s or background checks. Me? I just want to know
if they smile. The rest is incidental.

Within the madding crowd I caught a glimpse. Could there be a connection? I doubted it. Generally I can tell in a New York Minute. Still, my buddy Steve’s store was in the mall and she looked somewhat normal, so I ventured over to him. He’s my age, Brooklyn-bred, and has sachel. His word: you can take it to the bank.

“What’s the story with Susan that works over there?” I asked, pointing to her shop, (about 4 o’clock on his watch).

“Stay away.”
“She’s not bad looking.”
“Stay away.”
“My cousin Nor—–
”F#&! your cousin Norm. You want to piss up a rope—then call her.”
(I had no idea what that even meant. None. People with east coast accents, though…they’re always so sure of themselves!)

And so it was that six weeks before my cousin re-accosted me this week, heeding my friend’s advice, I’d passed. And yet it was that now standing, smiling, I found myself compelled, yet again, to respond.

“I’ll see Steve tonight.” Then, weakly: “Maybe he got it wrong,”

Norm’s grumble was melting as he waived me off.
“Bruce, I love ya,” We shook hands and parted, tacitly agreeing to live to “fight” another day. I love him too.

Epilogue:     That was just this past Wednesday. As expected, I did
                        see Steve that night:

”Hey,” I opened, “Remember when I asked you about Susan from the mall and you  told me to stay away?”
“Well, I saw my cousin Norman and…”
“No, Bruce,” he interrupted. “I didn’t say ‘Stay away.’ I said RUN!!!”
“Never mind.”

(My Dad died twenty-five years ago….and I do trust cousin Norman. Still, I always cut the deck).