‘Tuesdays With Morrie,’ Wednesdays With Mitch
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
started writing for the Trib in the early 70’s
— I was the very part-time contest editor. I became the Trib
publisher in 1978 and went full time in ‘82. In the mid 80’s I wrote
a weekly column, “QUIPS: Queens in Politics.” In 1987 my column was
an award winner in the New York Press Association Better Newspaper
the years, I’ve written news articles, humor, contests, commentary,
restaurant reviews and just about everything else. I’ve never done a
Morrie Schwatrz and Mitch Albom in one of their sessions at
A scene from the show at the Minetta Lane theatre with Alvin
Epstein (Morrie) and Jon Tenney (Mitch).
I go to the theater, I’m not a regular. I’m probably not overly
qualified to judge a good play from a great one. I am, however, able to
share with you a delightful, uplifting evening Lil and I spent last
the story begins way back in the early 80s after taking over the Trib
as it’s full-time publisher. Editor David Oats was about to begin his
first of a number of hiatuses with the Trib and I was
looking for a driven editor to help me take the Trib into
a boroughwide expansion.
young reporter named Mitch Albom was my choice. Together, we spent
Wednesday nights deadlining the Queens Tribune.
an interview with the Trib, Albom explained how he became
a writer for Queens’ largest weekly.
came to Queens in 1981 after graduating from Brandeis University in
Massachusetts – where he first met Morrie Schwartz, a professor in
sociology. After settling in at the Fairview Apartments just off the
Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills, Albom found himself looking for
work as a musician.
was a trip to the local grocery store that changed his life and the
lives of countless others since.
afternoon I was shopping at the supermarket on 108th Street in Forest
Hills, and I saw a copy of the Tribune,” Albom
explained, adding that he might have put it down had it not been for a
small advertisement in the pages of the paper that caught his eye.
spare time?” the ad asked, notifying Albom that the Trib
was looking for extra writers.
never forget my first assignment,” Albom explained.
was covering a community board meeting. I had little journalism
experience, but I was so overzealous that I interviewed everyone in the
next day, I went to get a copy of the paper, and it was on the front
page. I think at that point I was hooked,” Albom said about the first
time he had ever been paid for his writing.
three-years at the Tribune, Albom went on to freelance for
sports magazines before landing a job as a sportswriter at the Detroit
Free Press where he remains after 18 years as their celebrity
sports columnist. He has covered just about every major sporting event
one can imagine. His work is famous for taking the “unconventional”
approach, from writing about the basketball-playing child of a crack
addict to following the sled dogs in Alaska during the Iditarod.
hosts two nationally-syndicated radio talk shows for ABC, covering
politics, love, sports and just about everything else, complete with a
comprehensive website. Mitch did a stint as a host on MSNBC cable TV and
is a regular panelist on ESPN’s “Sports Reporters.” He has a
Mitch has written a one-hour drama that CBS hopes to broadcast next
fall. The proposed series centers on the media war between a newspaper
and a TV station.
and producer Gary David Goldberg (“Spin City”, “Family Ties”)
are Mitch’s partners and will co-produce the project.
Mitch has founded two charities in the metropolitan Detroit area “The
Dream Fund” – which enables disadvantaged children to become
involved with the arts, and “A Time To Help” – which brings
volunteers together once a month to tackle various projects, including
staffing shelters, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, and
operating meals on wheels programs for the elderly.
had also penned six books when suddenly his fast-paced career path took
a turn after he saw Morrie Schwartz, his favorite professor from
Brandeis, on the television news show “Nightline.”
was on the show to discuss ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” — a
disease he had.
disease he was slowly dying from.
rest is, of course, history and the details are chronicled in Albom’s
With Morrie,” the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, first
appeared on that list in October 1997, and remained there for the better
part of four years. Oprah Winfrey produced “Tuesdays With Morrie” as
a made-for-TV movie which went on to earn four Emmy Awards including “Best
Actor” (Jack Lemmon) and “Best Supporting Actor” (Hank Azaria).
more than five million copies in print, “Tuesdays With Morrie” is
also published in 34 countries, in 30 languages, and has been a
bestseller in Japan, Australia, Brazil, and England.
book is one of the best selling non-fiction books in history. For those
of you not yet touched by Morrie’s life and Mitch’s words, “Tuesdays
with Morrie” tells the heartwarming story of Mitch’s relationship
with his college mentor, Morrie Schwartz. After rediscovering Morrie, in
the last months of his life, Mitch visited him every Tuesday, just as
they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into
one final “class” – lessons in how to live.
book still stands as a deeply emotional celebration of life while
staring death in the eyes. Both Lil and I read it four years ago and
were deeply moved and proud to have known Mitch. Neither of us were
thrilled with the award-winning made-for-TV movie.
when we heard Mitch’s book was now a play, we both agreed it was a
was a touching evening. The shows’ only two actors captured Mitch and
Morrie beautifully. And the audience spent an hour and a half in Morrie’s
den watching the two share Morrie’s wisdom, love and affirmation of
was a beautiful experience.
at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
1 (800) 755-4000
McGuire, column contributor
Stern: So Far, We Get Bupkis
won’t take 1776 words to tell you what the City is likely to receive
from the State this year. It will take one word: Bupkis. The word is
Yiddish. Its literal meaning is: goat droppings. Figuratively, it
means: nothing of value.
Pataki’s reversion (or regression) to his conservative antecedents
should have been expected. What was surprising was the extent of his
pirouette to the left during his campaign for re-election. He could not
be overly generous because of the impending $8 billion State deficit,
created in good part by his campaign trade-offs of State funds for
political endorsements. But surely some crumbs remain in the cupboard.
State of the State message did not provide hard numbers; they are due
Jan. 29 when the State budget is to be presented to the Legislature.
Although the State fiscal year begins April 1, the budget has not been
adopted by that date for many years. The City’s fiscal year starts
July 1; the City charter requires the budget to be adopted in June. The
Federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1, so each level of government has its
own fiscal year, different from the calendar year.
predict an unusually contentious legislative session in
2003. Neither (sic) of the ruling triumvirs has much use for
the others. In the end, the City will receive some help, painfully
bargained for, and far below the mayor’s requests and hopeful
far, Mayor Bloomberg has relied on a major real estate tax increase
(18.49 percent), already in effect, to help close the City’s $5
billion gap. Governor Pataki’s rediscovery of frugality will
make the mayor’s task substantially more difficult. If the City
decides to increase – or impose a surcharge on – the personal income
tax (called PIT), that raise, in addition to the real estate tax, would
be a modest disincentive for people with money to move in or to stay and
pay more. The City has made its own efforts to reduce its budget,
including actual layoffs in Sanitation, Education and the School
Construction Authority and major reductions in the capital program.
It has eliminated unfilled positions and imposed successive
budget cuts on the agencies. But without state and federal help, what we
have seen so far are warm-up exercises for the spring encounter with
is, of course, not a thorough analysis of Fiscal Crisis III and its
causes. Two previous spastic municipal contractions took place in
1975 (Beame) and 1991 (Dinkins). They tend to bubble over in the middle
of a mayor’s sophomore year. Today’s news is that the Governor
appears unable or unwilling to provide significant financial
assistance. He may, however, give us the authority to tax
ourselves even more heavily. That is some reward for the mayor not
crying wolf until Pataki’s re-election was assured. On the other hand,
we all know what happened to the boy who did cry wolf.
Get your commitments, in public, before the election.
Stern was NYC Parks Commissioner for fifteen years and a councilmember
for nine. He is founder and director of NYCivic, a good government
group. He can be reached at: www.starquest.nycivic.org.
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@queenspress.com