Joel B. Levine MD

Was I, almost literally, a fly on the wall? In the august company of ambidextrous writers-cum-political actors, Toobin, as was said delicately, “ lowered the camera”. Like a genuflection to his colleagues, he had been morphing into Biden, waxing Conservative, learning to loathe. Indeed, with such stress at hand, what is a man to do?

To say, I feel for him is a bit gratuitous. One moment, opining, supine the next. In flagrante at its’ most sublime with Osnos and Farrow, even more breathless . In that moment of realization, I surely wonder what would Roth’s Zuckerman have done? Testing…


Joel B. Levine MD

The memories of fathers are nestled in quiet moments for every man. Sometimes they come upon us, fresh and vibrant in detail, triggered by an event in which the father’s presence would have been expected. With these thoughts there is an imperceptible pause while you wait for his voice or face to retake its once rightful place.

In each boy’s life, his father is synonymous with something. The memory is different and special for each man. For me it was the walk, from the steak house, where men told sweet lies, to Madison Square Garden for…


Joel B. Levine MD

Life flows in all of us but in some it is a river. My friend Jerzy is such a source. He is fact and fiction, wise man and dreamer. He is what we feel when we are embraced.

Jerzy is a man of many times. His mother, Sara Nomberg-Przytyk, an iconic woman, was a child during a time of hatred, a prisoner during a time of death, a chronicler of inhumanity survived by infinite humanity. She prepared Jerzy for both his strengths and his flaws; she sculpted his stone into her monument. …


Joel B. Levine MD

An elite school in New York City has a Diversity program that teaches children, as young as six, about inherent racism based on inordinate “privilege”. They are told that it derives from their European heritage and is a corruption of their moral worth. The course will redefine , for them, the distortions taught by parents, of “Whiteness”, “good, “normal” and “ American”.

Privilege is an interesting word. The forerunner of the German Workers Party focused on it, specifically, to delegitimize the success and influence of Jews in post World War 1 Bavaria. The use of the word conveyed, then and…


Joel B. Levine MD

I have never lived in the South but it knows me. I came to New Orleans imaging that it was only of the moment. But, here, hope and failure contend for the same space and past and present wrap around each other across a stave of musical notes. Desires grow as botany for dreams. It is their decay that greets you with the paradox of smelling sweet.

In the North, fear pushes everything forward hoping that running faster will lift you by the buoyancy of success. In New Orleans gravity is made of heavy air and…


Joel B. Levine MD

A friend once said, “Do not worry, there are no mirrors in Heaven”. It was a wise remark now that aging is no longer an abstraction. We change bi-directionally, from the obvious outside -in to the more variable inside –out. In case you have not noticed, much time and dollars are spent on one.

Men age differently from women but not nearly as gracefully. If you had to respect Trump for anything it was spectacular hair management. If there is a Comb Over Hall of Fame, he is a shoo in. I would give a lot…


Joel B. Levine MD

I tried to do something that should have been easy. I wanted to stop going forward and go back to a life of 20 years ago. Memories of it were still so vivid that I was sure that I had more than a one way ticket.

I lived in town, actually a series of very small villages, in a beautiful part of the State. Land renews over time, seasons pass and spring really is eternal. Nature inexorably moves forward but we, sensing how transient we are, lengthen time by looking back. …


Joel B. Levine MD

She was in her early 50s, he older but only by years. Life seemed settled, and neither was afraid to be content. They did not know that Joseph Heller had written “Something Happened” as if in waiting for these two. What happened was pancreatic cancer, a malignant mystery that hides the crime in innocuous pain and a little weight loss. It was an inoperable mass, and the best that could be done was to assuage it. She was to die before him, and that was that.

After the diagnosis, they had decisions to make. At least, we call them decisions…


Joel B. Levine MD

I went to breakfast, in a small place, in a small town. It was a particularly nice day, as July has been sorely lacking. We were seated outside amidst a dozen or so tables, all filled and in animation. Save one. Sitting alone, in a motorized wheel chair, was a man, obviously impaired by a past neurological misfortune. He sat, angulated, in front of a coffee. On the front basket of the chair was a sign simply saying, USMC.

I watched him struggling with small tasks, methodical in his practiced effort, his pantomime of living. …


Joel B. Levine MD

For most people today, violence is an abstraction. Kids used to fight their way to school and back. Boxing matches would galvanize the whole country. Now for many, violence is imagined, a thing of Marvel movies, a word that has lost its meaning.

For reasons both correct and false, the Biden administration has made illegal guns the centerpiece of their response to social aberrancy. As best as I can tell, violent behavior, per se, is really not the concern but rather how violence is expressed. …

Joel B. Levine MD

Professor of Medicine , essayist, practitioner, basic research and education ; reflections on medicine and modern society

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