Lessons from the past

A Tribute to “Silent Segal”

by Bill Brenner November 11, 2015 Lessons from the past

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my maternal grandfather, Louis Segal. This decorated veteran died 19 years ago, and I keep thinking of the things I wish we could talk about today. Mood music: Papa, as we called him, asked me to take him for a ride to the bank the evening before he died. He got into the car and declared that he felt like “the last rose of summer.” I think he…  [Read More]

Two Days, Three Shitty Anniversaries And One Bloody Month

by Bill Brenner April 19, 2015 Crime and punishment

Today — April 19, and tomorrow, April 20 — we have a trio of tragedies to remember. Full disclosure: I’m about to steal liberally from Wikipedia. April 19, 1993: Waco, Texas The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993, and ended violently 50 days later on April 19. The siege began when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), accompanied by several members of the media, attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel,…  [Read More]

When Anger Was All The Rage

by Bill Brenner September 22, 2014 Lessons from the past

I had a vicious temper when I was younger. To call it a byproduct of OCD, depression and addiction would be pushing it, because I think the temper would have been there even without the mental illness. Mood music: Examples of my temper include: Hurling a fork or steak knife at my brother in a restaurant on New Years Eve 1979 because he made a joke I didn’t like. The more dramatic among my family…  [Read More]

6 Things Every Graduate Should Know

by Bill Brenner May 20, 2014 Lessons from the past

Graduation season means a rush of news articles about famous commencement speakers and their words of wisdom. US Secretary of State John Kerry just gave one, as did recently fired New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson. David McCullough Jr., longtime Wellesley High School English teacher and son of one of my favorite authors, gave one of my favorite commencement speeches of all time last year when he told graduates they’re not special. Much is made of…  [Read More]

The Ego OCD Built

by Bill Brenner November 26, 2013 Lessons from the past

The author has an ego that sometimes swells beyond acceptable levels. OCD fuels the fire. Written in December, 2009 and just as real now as it was then. Mood music: Last night I got on here to explain that sometimes OCD is good for me, in the sense that it provides fuel for my professional ambitions. Some might look at the post and think I was letting vanity take over. Truth is, I was. And…  [Read More]

9-11-01 Jumpers: A Suicidal Mystery

by Bill Brenner September 7, 2013 Depression

I remember the photo well. It was a man falling to his death in a zen-like pose that haunted me for a long, long time. It haunted us all. Mood music: Yesterday, I came across an entire documentary based on that one photo. The program, like the photo, is called “The Falling Man.” Associated Press photographer Richard Drew snapped a series of pictures of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:41:15 a.m. during 9-11-01. He was one…  [Read More]

Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s Age Can’t Shield Him From Justice

by Bill Brenner April 22, 2013 Lessons from the past

After the elation everyone felt Friday night when the second suspected Boston Marathon bomber was captured after a bloody manhunt, the mood dropped again. Some fellow parents lamented the fact that a 19-year-old kid could do what Dzhokar Tsarnaev is accused of doing. They pictured him curled up in a ball in that backyard boat in Watertown, scared beyond all comprehension. Tsarnaev is someone’s child, someone pointed out. Here’s why I’m less sympathetic. Mood music: [spotify:track:22f0HfO1PUGJ3bjVozEewR] I…  [Read More]

Human Tourniquets And Freaks Who Love Them

by Bill Brenner March 29, 2013 Communication skills for the crazy

I originally wrote this three years ago. Looking at it again, it’s an important post describing a time when not even best friends were safe from my insanity. I’ve updated it for the present.  Mood music: [spotify:track:2YGwSRjcY4Hjz6fktW9619] You know the type. They hang  out with people who act more like abusive spouses than friends. They are human tourniquets. They absorb the pain of their tormentor daily and without complaint. This is the story of the…  [Read More]

I Was Wrong About Lance Armstrong

by Bill Brenner January 15, 2013 Lessons from the past

A few months ago I wrote a post called “Lance Armstrong Was Robbed,” in which I opined that he didn’t deserve to be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. I’m back to tell you I was wrong. Like most Americans, I’m a sucker for stories about people who overcome serious adversity to achieve great things. Those stories have given me the extra push I needed over the years to bring my own demons to…  [Read More]

Sandy Hook Lesson: Be the Change, One Soul at a Time

by Bill Brenner December 17, 2012 Lessons from the past

Like most of you, I’ve spent a good part of the weekend thinking about the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We all want specific solutions that will prevent more of these tragedies, but what we’re dealing with is too big and too gray for that.   A lot of people are debating gun control. Some people think the world would be safer if every law-abiding citizen had a firearm. Others say…  [Read More]