The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 89

Has Coolie entered the rarified realm of philosophy? Is he thinking about Jean-Paul Sartre? Is he reading???

Not exactly. It was day two of his Mission to find Robocop and – as we noted – his search was “sponsored” by his two real (non-human) parents: Mothership and DaddythebigDaddywhoseyourDaddy. They kvelled a little to see their boy on such a serious quest. They were huge Robocop fans and supporters. Little known fact: it was Mothership who whispered in the ears of Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner: write a story about a cyborg law enforcer; engage the themes of authoritarianism, greed, identity and corruption. You’ll make a bundle. As we have seen before, she has often been a prime mover (if you were to ask her, she’d be sooo modest and say it was all Daddy’s doing).

So, there was Coolie encountering The Land of Non-Reality, and coming face to face with something like the void (but far less impressive.) He stopped, wondering what to do next. Stepping into Non-Reality seemed pretty daunting and Coolie was daunting-avoidant by nature.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – or more precisely, back at the beach – Shtew was watching. (Don’t ask. You wouldn’t understand. Trust me, Shtew is always watching.) He really liked young Coolstein and wanted to ease his dismay and confusion. So he did something very rare (for him). He left the beach, stopping only briefly to wash the sand from his feet, and apparated by Coolie’s side – at the edge of the Cliff of Consciousness (don’t we like the alliteration?)

Hey, Shtewie Shtewstein! You’re here. (Coolie, as we know, is a master of the obvious. Don’t knock it. It’s not as common a skillset as you might think.)

I’m here without a beer and about to stand on my ear, said Shtew. This added just that one extra level of confusion to Coolie’s already overloaded brain. It succeeded – as intended – in blowing that not-altogether-intact-in-the-first-place mind.

Coolie eyes goggled (always a significant indicator). He immediately jumped up, spun around, did not pick a bale of cotton, and landed on his butt, legs splayed and jaw hanging onto his chest.

Whuuuuu? He managed to say. (It’s not so easy with your jaw on your chest. Try it.)

Whilst standing (if you can call it that) on his ear, Shtewie was hard pressed to understand Coolie. Not that it mattered much. He responded out of an abundance of mania and in reaction to having been goosed by universal love (that would be Mothership, again): You are that you are, when you are (and are not), if you are what you are. Ya feel me?

Uhhhhh, I don’t know… Coolie managed to utter.

That’s exactly right. You got it! Shtew always saw the bigger picture.

Trusting Shtew’s veracitude, Coolie felt all anxiety leave his body. He was, once again, cool. And who could ever ask for more than that?

Well, yes. One could ask for just one more thing…

And there, beyond the non-void and over Shtew’s left shoulder – at about twenty paces – was the unmistakable presence. Robocop loomed and quickly began to cover the distance. Coolie, with the grace he was born to, fainted dead away.

After several hours (or was it years), Coolie came to. And there, bending awkwardly over him with one metallic hand on Coolie’s arm, was Robocop himself.

Coolie’s grin was heard far and wide.

My new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at

COOLIE LIKES ROBOCOP (this should be inscribed in a heart with an arrow going through it)

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 88

Coolie was lolling around the other day, just trying to become one with the weather. He was desultorily watching TV – flipping channels (as one does, when one is being desultory). He happened upon one of the stations that plays old syndicated series. His flipping hand froze and he became mesmerized (which is actually a second cousin to desultory).

He was fixated on Robocop (the 1987 version), the futuristic adventures of Alex Murphy, a Detroit police officer, mortally wounded in the line of duty, who is converted into a formidable cyborg at the behest of a powerful mega-corporation, Omni Consumer Products. Murphy as Robocop battles both violent crime in a severely decayed city and the blatantly corrupt machinations within OCP.

Coolie was unprepared for the cyberpunk hero; he had never fallen so fast for anyone (except maybe Barbie Blue), and his cool heart beat with intensity and heat. Two words coursed through his mind and brought a flame of longing throughout his body: MY HERO. How can we understand the level of instant infatuation our boy was in the thrall of? What was it about this virtually emotionless cyborg being that took hold of Coolie? It was, perhaps, his first truly religious awakening. Robocop was his Christ – it seems. And his was the promise of everlasting life in the service of mankind (sort of).

Let me be clear: Coolie had none of these analytical thoughts. He was just madly in love.

Knowing full well that Robocop existed in the realm of fantasy, Coolie nevertheless set out to find him – in some corner of some ersatz reality. No matter – the cool one was on a mission (either from God or to God).

It seems as if our boy is destined for heartbreak and failure. But who can be sure what fantasy-come-to-life lurks around the next corner of a reality that is (let us not forget) overseen by Mothership and DaddythebigDaddywhoseyourDaddy.

My new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at



 Driving in a taxi to the dentist. He’s got the radio on and I hear that the evening’s Democratic convention will highlight a speech by Bill Clinton. They say, “it will be highly personal.” What else would you expect from a narcissist?

It’s not quite egg-frying hot in the back of the cab, but it’s pretty friggin’ warm. I just asked the driver to up the fan/air conditioning, but the result is negligible. The industrial strength plastic divider (protecting the driver from being shot by a disgruntled passenger) is keeping him cool, but blocking the flow of air. Note to self: take one of the newer cabs on the return trip.

I arrive at 2:17 for a 2:30 appointment. The receptionist tells me I was scheduled for 4:30. Really? Am I losing it? I leave and take a taxi home (that’s now about $20 in unnecessary New York transportation money). The driver asks me where I want to cross the park (from east side to west side). I say 86th/87th Street (transverse). He then crosses at 79th Street. I decide not to say anything. It’s just one of those days.

I arrive at home and immediately check not only my appointment book, but the “reminder” notice the dentist’s office had sent several days prior. My appointment was, in fact, at 2:30 as I thought. I call the office, get a bit of a stupid reaction from the receptionist that takes way too long to clear up. Will I get a discount now, when I return next week? Not bloody likely.

My new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at


MacArthur Park may be melting in the dark, but Coolie is wilting in the sun. The poor boy just can’t take it. Coolie, we feel your pain. I mean – we really do. Everyone is slogging through what – at this time of year – always feels like endless, oppressive heat.

Can’t wait for summer! Remember that? Why? I know: beach, vacations, flowers blooming. I would sell it all for a cool breeze. Even if you go away for a few weeks (as I did), it matters not once you are back in the grimy, stifling City.

The smart money only goes out in the early part of the day. From 11am on, it’s A/C only. And what did we do before there was air conditioning? Yes, my little newbies, there was a time when no one (at least no one I knew) had air conditioning.

Growing up, we had a couple of fans and a lot of sweating, a lot of restless nights. Some of my neighbors slept on their fire escapes – pillows over the unforgiving metal and no thought about privacy. It was just too damn hot. Crankiness was rampant. Anyway – back to Coolie.

Having a name that makes people curl their lip at the dissonance with reality can be a little dangerous. So, during the months of June through September, Coolie will often use a fake moniker. If you meet a man who kind of fumphers when asked, “And who are you?” and then mutters, “I’m Schmoolie” or “O’Toolie,” that’s probably Mr. Coolstein himself.


….say, “At least it’s only a bug.”

Thus spoke my PIC as he came hurrying to save me in response to my screams.

I was innocently taking a shower on a relaxed Saturday morning. After turning off the water and just as I was about to step out, I saw A GIANT bug scurrying along the bottom of the bathtub. It was the biggest crawling thing I every saw and I’m just thankful that I didn’t have a coronary on the spot.

What is going on in the DNA, I wonder, that makes men – who get incensed over a slow patch of traffic, or who blow a gasket if their ‘team’ gets a bad call from the ref – become poster boys for calm and equanimity in the face of one of the two most dastardly of nature’s creations: bugs? (The other is rodentia.)

I know, I know. I’m being sexist. Yes. Take me to the woodshed. If you are going to be totally honest, however, you will admit to a massive biological bias in this area.

I can recall a day (not that fondly) about 25 years ago when a mouse was in my house. It scurried (they all freakin’ scurry) across the living room floor and ran into the heating unit along the wall. Well, my daughter and I literally jumped up onto the furniture. We would not put toe to floor – rather we jumped from couch to chair as the need arose – until my PIC killed the little rat bastard. He was not a willing hunter, but he dug down into his innate male-murderous nature and beat the thing to death with a shoe (if memory serves). He was and is again today, my hero.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at

Mean streets, part 2

Four wheeled beasts

In New York, we beat on the car that has overshot the cross walk and is sitting out there interfering with pedestrians. We do the same to the car (typically it’s a taxi) that has ignored a traffic light and turned the corner, missing you by a hair. We yell and even curse the bad driver who doesn’t stop in time or who barrels through a yellow-turning-to-red light. But even New York moxie doesn’t truly minimize the rapidly ramping up the danger of bad or mindless or hostile driving.

Getting drenched by the car that must drive full speed through the pooling water near the curb – that is certainly maddening.

The fools who are texting while driving are real bulls in my china shop. Their pure disdain for eyes-on-the-road driving is inconceivable to me, but it’s going on at an alarming and increasing rate. Not much better are the drivers who multitask: women putting on makeup, folks eating a big deli sandwich, mothers disciplining children in the back seat. The one- or, occasionally, no-hand driving scares the crap out of me. I think they are counting on Jesus taking the wheel. Well, it has been my observation that he seldom does. Crashes with other cars, the taking of pedestrian life or limb…that’s the much more likely outcome.

Now, I have an idea – maybe even a money-making one. Let’s design and market head-to-toe body armor for those of us who want to walk in the street. It might have to look a little like a spacesuit to insure that it has enough buffering to protect the wearer; and a head-covering helmet should be attached – it’s those head injuries that are the most dire. Ungainly and uncomfortable though this may be, it will certainly save lives. Like astronauts suits, it can be constructed to have a heating and cooling system – to accommodate all weather. We’ll all wind up looking a lot like RoboCop. Is that a bad thing?

Let me know what you think.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at

The mean streets, part 1

Just a simple walk down the street has changed. This has happened over time, but – as with most things – the change is incremental and is only noticeable when it gets substantial enough. It then crosses the threshold of awareness.

Well, doesn’t that sound scientific and erudite? Permit me to change modes:

It’s a jungle out there! The animals have taken over the zoo. It’s dangerous on a basic level. So – heads up! Pay attention! Or you will be mowed down.

Here’s what I’m talking about: It has become heart-stoppingly common for people (and that would be men and women and teenagers and children) to never move over when approaching you head on. It becomes a game of chicken and I’m always the chicken – because I see the nihilistic gleam in the eyes of the person coming toward me. It conveys their position: They WILL die rather than acquiesce. If I fail to adjust, there will be a collision. It has happened many times when I was less than cognizant.

And then there is a variation on this theme. It is the glancing shoulder bump. You can’t see it coming, because it isn’t that obvious that there is an entire person in your path. I’m not sure how much of it is intentional, but I find myself all-to-frequently trying to rub the pain out of my arm or shoulder because the person – who hasn’t missed a step and is now several paces behind me – just hit me with their bony shoulder. No excuse me; no oops; no sorry; not even a look of acknowledgment.

Another hostile maneuver is the swinging of an arm or a package so that it is right in your path. And you know (from prior street encounters) that it will hit you. Whatever it is (body part or box of small weights), it has been weaponized. If you’re paying attention, you see it up ahead and have time to zig or zag to keep from getting whacked. This seems even more aggressive than the other acts of road hositility; it seems like an assault looking for a place to happen. It doesn’t make it any better that the swinger of death tends to be about six feet tall. It just makes the diameter of his swing (it’s almost always a man) that much wider.

I am road kill. Or potential road kill. As are you if you don’t pay attention. So we must dodge and weave and try not to lose our balance and try not to trip and fall. As I said, it’s a freakin’ jungle out there.

This does not even begin to take into account the oh-so-many crazies and would-be felons who are sprinkled generously into the populous.


FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at


Once upon a time, there was a very pretty little girl who had the most beautiful curly brown hair. Ringlets sometimes; sometimes just a mass of wild curls. Her personality was very much like her curls: covering the full range from wild-child to the sweetest girl in the world. Her name was Sheridy-shoo. Well, that’s not the name her parents gave her…they called her “Sheridan” but that was way too serious.

Before she reached the age of two, she was known far and wide as Sheridy-shoo. Wherever they went, the family (Mom, Dad, brother Greg and our girl), people called out: hey, Sheridy-shoo, give us a smile! Hey Sheridy-shoo, do you want to play? Hi Sheridy-shoo – you’re the cutest girl in the world!

You might think that she would become too full of herself, but no. She never got a big head about it all. She just accepted that this was how life went for her. Now, before you think she was just an angel, let me disabuse you of that notion. Our little Sheridy-shoo could cause trouble that you can’t imagine. She was creative about it. She liked to find out how things worked, so she took apart anything that could be taken apart. That included dolls and toys and telephones. She even once took the soles off a new pair of sneakers. No one knows how she did it.

Sheridy-shoo also did not like to be left out of things. Just when you thought she was asleep for the night, and the grownups could relax and talk about grown-up things, there was the sight of tiny fingers extended underneath her door. No sound, just the evidence that she was alert and listening on the other side of that door.

Sheridy-shoo is many things. One of them is a poet. She began to write poetry at a very precocious age. I think it might have been in first grade. The family was quite stunned at the memorable poem that she wrote in school: (It’s a two-parter)

There once was a catfish
He wasn’t a fat fish
He wasn’t a rotten fish
He was a “sunk-to-the-bottom” fish
He was sick
He wouldn’t take a lick
Of his food
Or even chewed
He died
I cried
It was over
I named him Grover

.. AND…

There was a catfish and he died
I really really tried
To help him when he was ill
Now he lies there very still

I put him in a separate bowl
But now I’m afraid
His mortal soul
Has gone to fish heaven

Now, as things go, Sheridy-shoo grew up. She is a Mommy now with two beautiful children. One of them is a special, sweet, smart boy; and the other is a girl: also special, sweet and smart. But the girl also has the same beautiful curls as her mother. And she looks so much like Sheridy-shoo, I sometimes forget that time has passed.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at


If – and that’s not a given – I repeat, if you survive growing up in Brooklyn, you will have confidence for days. And we’re talking dog-year days. My formative years were spent in the 1950’s – a time that was both innocent and unbuffered.

From your first encounter with the outside world of Yo! Whassup? while you are still portable enough to be carried everywhere; to that experience of flying solo-ish: playing with other kids on the block, while some very focused adults watched from their perch on the stoop; to that thrill of being allowed out by yourself… you are, whether you know it or not, dancing on the edge of the sword.

So, you yell and run around like you see the other somewhat older boys and girls doing. And that feels pretty good. But there is that moment – for me it was when I dared to go past the “empty lot” (in the middle of the very long block I lived on). My mother said, “Don’t go past the empty lot.” But I did. And I was feeling pretty stoked, until I realized I was in unfamiliar territory. And then I saw some of the “big” boys who had already adopted permanent scowls and other attitudes which were (as they were intended) pretty scary.

My friends Argie and Connie were unfazed. They were a year or so older than me; I was ten. Eleven was virtually a teenager, so they were tough. And cool. And daring.

They were also sexually precocious (in what would now be considered a pretty tame way), and enrolled me in the plan to go “down to Argie’s basement.” Once there, I think it was Connie who suggested we all “pull our pants down.” I was not going to be the “chicken,” so I joined them. And, of course, just as we were all bare-assed and not quite certain what to do next, Connie’s father came roaring down the stairs. I can’t possibly recall the words he bellowed at us, but I know we high-tailed it out of there, stumbling and bashing knees in the process.

My parents were informed, but I have a much-needed blackout about their response to my shameful behavior. Shame. That was a big word back then.

As I think about it, there was an earlier pants-down experience. (What shall we deduce from this? Hopefully,nothing.) I was little, maybe four or five. I was outside with my mother and for some not to be recalled reason, I took it upon myself to flash the immediate neighborhood. Just a quick skirt up, and then my knickers were around my knees.

A chorus of neighbor ladies who just happened to be sitting outside next door and across the street arose: “SHAME, SHAME, ON YOUUUUU!!!!” This was accompanied by a hand gesture: index fingers crossed, the right hand finger scraping the left.

Mortification was quick and lasting. I can still feel my cheeks on fire.

Somehow, I returned from my disgrace and resumed playing outside. There were a few games we played fervently, with joy but always to win. There was “potsy”: a fairly complex game (some equate it with hopscotch – but I don’t know about that) with numbered boxes drawn in chalk on the sidewalk. It entailed throwing a rock sequentially into a specific box, then hopping and jumping through the remaining boxes – WITHOUT STEPPING ON THE LINES. Boundaries were essential in most of our homemade games. There was stoop ball (one of my favorites): A pink high-bouncing ball with SPALDING stamped on it (which we called a “Spaldeen”) was first bounced, then slapped in the direction of the five stairs composing the stoop leading up to the two-story, three apartment building I lived in. The goal was to hit a step or, even better, an outer edge of the step, and then catch the ball either mid-air (preferred) or on a bounce. Scores were kept. Scores were always kept.

The Spaldeen was used to play a series of games that had no real name. They were all about “turning over” which was what we called bouncing the ball under one leg which we lifted and put down (i.e. the turnover), as we told a prescribed singsong story. Here’s an example:

“‘A’ my name is Alice and my husband’s name is Arthur. We come from America and we eat Apples.” One had to turn over for each word starting with A. If that was successful, you moved on to B. And so it went, as far as you could get through the alphabet.

We also played box-ball. The sidewalk was “naturally” divided into concrete rectangles. Those were the boxes. Two people stood either two or more boxes apart (depending on your skill-level). Feet were planted outside the boundary-line of the box. You took turns bouncing, then hitting – with an open palm – the ball into the far box. Kind of like tennis. Kind of. The ball was returned with a similar open-palmed hit designed to land in your opponents box. Points were given.

In all seasons (unless it was raining) you could find kids playing outside. Those who had bikes would ride them. In my neighborhood, only boys rode in the “gutter.” Girls rode on the sidewalk. Going around the corner was a big deal – either on foot or by bike. I lived one block over from Ocean Parkway, a multiple-lane road that also had a railed off bike-path. The only time I ever rode my bike on it was the year my father got us “English racers” – thin wheeled, fast bicycles. He and I rode to Prospect Park one time, and to Coney Island – also one time. Then he lost interest. I don’t know what happened to the English racers.

School. I started kindergarten before I turned five. An April birthday put me right on the inside of the cut off. So I was pretty much the youngest in my class forever. For the first six months, my parents sent me to a private school in Rockaway – a fair distance from my home. A bus picked me up and delivered me home. But mid-year I transferred to the local public school. My two memories of that year were singing “Onward Christian Soldiers (in private school) despite the fact that I Jewish, and being put in the coat closet (in public school) by my teacher who couldn’t get me to stop talking in class. Ah! Memories.

I know my mother took me to kindergarten, but by first grade I was walking the seven blocks by myself. No one worried, and nothing untoward ever happened. I recall carrying a lot of books. I mean a heavy stack. Back and forth. At some point my parents got me a satchel to put them in. We (my best friend, Regina and I) called it a “schlep-along.” Aptly named.

There’s more, of course. I went to Seth Low Junior High, James Madison High School, and Brooklyn College – all in Brooklyn. But I’ll save some of those stories for another time.

My point here is that after all dealing with all the hard edges of a Brooklyn childhood, you develop a capacity for regeneration and muscling through things. That doesn’t mean you can’t get knocked down. But you always get up again.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at

Coolie is pining for Uncle Greg

It’s not something Coolie likes to talk about much. He has a beloved Uncle Greg who went far, far away two years ago. That’s a really long time. Coolie’s been sad (even when he’s happy) ’cause he misses his favorite uncle a lot.

Uncle Greg is in Californ-i-a – which, as Coolie’s chief advisor, Mickey Mental, tells it – might just as well be another planet. Or (Coolie is a little confused) maybe Californ-i-a is another planet – one that took the place of Pluto when it was declared a non-planet. Pluto has never gotten over the disgrace, the shaming, the loss.

Cali (that’s what Barbie Blue calls it – it’s just cuter) has a different species of humanoid: the laidbackfolksteins – who are actually distant relatives of the Coolstein family tree. They went too far down the cool path (if you can imagine that), and now they can no longer feel very much. They are universally too cool for school, so they are an uneducated bunch – operating solely by instinct and opinion poll. Thought is frowned upon (if frowning were acceptable – which it’s not. It might cause wrinkles – a horror to be avoided at all costs).

Word came down from the powers that be (and that would be The Oracle), that Uncle Greg was returning to civilization (aka the East Coast). The joy that our cool young man felt cannot be described. Okay, I’ll try: He leapt 18 ½ feet into the air, did a back flip, a half twist, and a forward two and half in pike position, landing in a split. But the grin! It was truly the most amazing thing (the crowd that had gathered all agreed). His eyes sparkled and he let out the most resounding whoop, which was so infectious that the entire audience (now composed of hundreds of random strangers who had been drawn to this display of joy) began to whoop for a full thirteen minutes.

“When, O Oracle, when is Uncle Greg coming home?”

“When the chickens come home to roost,” said the great wise one.

Coolie was nonplussed, not knowing of any chickens nor any roost. Fortunately, Brownstein – that wise and wonderful wizard of a pooch – was monitoring this exchange.

“Worry not, Coolie, my pal. There will be chickens in September. I can assure you that they will be coming home as will Uncle Greg.”

Hope was now transformed into expectation. And waiting would be (as it often is) the hardest part.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at