My Teachers

by Richard Grossinger on March 14, 2010

My Teachers

Over a lifetime one has many teachers but only a small number who teach them something essential that transforms everything from then on. Some of the lessons are big, some tiny, and some are absolutely huge. All  lessons, big and small, play a role in growth, survival, and individuation.

You know who your teachers are. These are mine, along with when (and/or how) I met them and the simple version of what they taught me:

Martha Rothkrug (Towers), my mother. I met her at my conception in February, 1944, if not earlier. What she taught me was: pure terror—and, by terror, magic, ancient clan magic in its raw and primal form, plus the profound sorrow and exile of earthly existence. By showing me the abyss, cruelly before I was ready, she gave me the tools of revelation and an intimation of freedom.  She made getting myself deep enough a necessity, for it was the only way to antidote and transmute her dark service. She conferred on me an alienation so engulfing that I could never escape it in a lifetime, so I had to create something out of it. She was my shamanic tutor in the most primeval and bearlike sense.

Robert Towers (nee Turetsky), my stepfather, the ad-man, some time in 1946 when he moved in with my mother. He taught me the rudiments elegant language and artful diction, the spirit of spontaneous joy, baseball’s rudiments and core moves, his own rabbinical apostasy, and the meaning of the social world around me. He was a gentleman and a nice guy who acted like a tyrant because he thought that was his required role. Dandy and poseur that he was, he was still my first intellectual companion, my first debating partner, my first sponsor before the council of the elders.

Jonathan Towers, my half-brother, April, 1948. He taught me the battle, the war, the defiance, the ferocity of our family legacy, and, ultimately from that heritage, compassion, because I had to learn the hard way how to liberate and feel native empathy for him. He taught me that we were twin initiates in a dark lodge, children of a witch. He taught me the catacombs of madness as they lay in the world’s commons outside my own mind.  He took his own life in May, 2005.

Philip Wohlstetter, my first friend, at P.S. 6 and Bill-Dave Group, Borough of Manhattan, 1951. He taught me sacred mischief and secular mystery; he invented the intellect for both of us.  He taught me how to compete in sports and how to follow baseball and collect cards.  He taught me how to rebel, how to flaunt the authority of the elders.  He initiated me in the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt, Rick Blaine. We rediscovered our dialogue half a century later, and then he taught me the esoteric logos of international politics, occult money systems, and rogue governments.; in other words, the Hardy Boys writ large.  He is still flaunting that authority.  I mean, he was in Chile and almost died when Pinochet overthrew Allende.

Abraham Fabian, Greenwich Village, my first psychiatrist, November, 1952. He woke me up and taught me that I existed. He held up the first mirror.  He taught me the logos of dreams.  He introduced me to the symbol and demonstrated for me how all things held symbols, multiple symbols, and all symbols were ceaselessly transformative and bottomless.  He also taught me to be a witness.

Larry Abelman, July 1953, my first camp counselor at Chipinaw, Swan Lake, New York. He taught me custodial boundary, simple affection, and the safety of play.

Bunny Grossinger, August, 1953 (though we met anonymously years earlier). She taught me essential things: love and joy and gaiety, the utter basics. She taught me friendship and camaraderie. Then she taught me goofiness. Then she taught me responsible intelligence. Then she introduced me to great novels and invited me to write my own one, which I did for her and for which she almost never forgave me. Without her, I could not have survived the brutality of my childhood. She gave me intrinsic kindness and its prana, in the world and in myself. Before her I did not know that love or pleasure or hope existed or could be called on and embodied in oneself. She was not my mother and could not have been my mother, but she taught me what my mother was supposed to and didn’t.

Abraham Hilowitz, 1956, my tutor from Columbia. He taught me that I could want knowledge and learn.  He taught me that we can tell stories in the face of fear.  He showed me how much fun it could be to learn.

Robin McCardell, 1957, my eighth-grade English teacher and adviser at Horace Mann School, Riverdale. He taught me how to be a student instead of a hoyden. He gave me discipline.  He introduced me to science fiction.  He made responsibility for one’s work and work habits interesting enough to actually do.

Maurice Friend, my psychiatrist after Dr. Fabian’s death, Central Park West and 86th Street, 1958. He taught me how to separate the horror of my nightmares from the secular world and find solace and space in its neutrality and ordinariness. He taught me the Freudian dialogue at an avatar level. He revealed that my parents were narcissists of the most extreme sort. I experienced that aspect of them so directly I didn’t actually know it or know how to think it for real.  He taught me that my irritability and resistance held feelings of the most delicious and redemptive sort, a lesson and practice I have never forgotten and enacted at a thousand or more desperate moments since.

Charles (Chuck) Stein, my Horace Mann colleague and life-long friend, 1959. He taught me metaphysical, hermetic, and literary dialogue. He introduced me to poetry, Charles Olson, Robert Kelly, tarot, alchemy, philosophy, self-inquiry. He initiated me as a publisher and an occult seeker. He continues to teach me: ontology, Dzogchen, the Eleusinian Mysteries.  Mystery itself is what we shared.  He made the mysteries of the universe, of number, of life and death, of revelation in practice acceptable to myself through him while we were both still teenagers.

Kingsley Ervin, 1960, my creative-writing teacher at Horace Mann. He found the writer and witness in me and assigned them to me as life missions. He taught me how to never stop writing.

Leo Marx, 1962, my freshman-English teacher at Amherst. He taught me the dazzle of the intellect and the drunken-ness of inspired discourse, and he identified me to myself as a great writer. He taught me that intellectual passion is a fire that never goes out, and how to feed it.  Then he turned against me forever.

Jeff Tripp, my fraternity brother at Phi Psi, September, 1963. He taught me Dylan, Beckett, Brakhage, the uses of cars, but most of all how to grow up and take on a male persona. He enforced not being an asshole or a prig.  He gave me bravado and style.  He was the first male peer who cared enough about me in that way to think that it mattered how I behaved.  He was the master of the impeccable gesture, of the single strike of the sword.  He gave me my own sword and chuckled at my first swipes.  The stories are in New Moon.

Lindy Hough, Laura Scales House, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, my wife, my life-long partner and companion. October, 1963, three weeks before the Kennedy Assassination is when we met. She taught me trust, putting myself into the care of another. She loved me as a human being and a man, and that contained a teaching and orientation beyond words. She taught me the depth and complexity and multidimensionality of another person. She taught me family and how to co-parent our children. She taught me resilience and forgiveness: the resilience of a sacred bond, loyalty, and that she would always return—and I would too. She taught me intentional risk, how to live in danger. She gave me the world and myself as a man. She totally woke me up and made me do this whole thing for real. All told, it’s amazing that I found a woman who is not only quite a woman but a dame too.

Richard Crowne, 1964, my sophomore English teacher at Amherst. He taught me that my own intelligence was simple and direct and I should stand by it against the pomposity and bluster of others.

Virginia Stangeland, Northampton, Massachusetts, my first real girlfriend (Lindy started in my life as a Platonic friend), 1964. She taught me touch, that physical curiosity was okay, and she touched me.

Harvey Bialy, Bard College, November, 1964. He taught me how and why to talk shit. Introduced to me by Chuck Stein, he introduced me to Robert Kelly.

Robert Kelly, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, November 1964, my mentor. He initiated me into occult practice; he made me a serious writer and then a serious lover for my girlfriend and wife-to-be. He gave me the ancient mysteries in a state of beauty and wonder such that they stuck forever, probably even for lifetimes to come. He was the mage and hierophant who was there at the crossroads. He introduced me to avant-garde literature and myself as a practitioner of it. He taught me Ed Dorn, Paul Blackburn, Diane Wakoski, and the Sufi, Gurdjieffian, and Gnostic masters.  He knew how to hand off the football and then let me make my own moves.

Stan Brakhage, Rollinsville, Colorado, December 1964. He taught me outsider aesthetics, experimental film, the 8 mm. camera, but mostly sacred rebellion.

Greg Dropkin, my Phi Psi buddy, 1965. He taught me topology and music, not only the shapes and notes of the immediate world but the geometric and algebraic mysteries of the universe and dimensions beyond space-time. He taught me how to turn Navaho symbols into abstract sets.  He taught me how to turn any set of dimensions into any other, overthrowing the authority of the academics.  Then he fled the draft and the country and disappeared.

Nels Richardson, my Amherst peer and Io co-editor, 1965. He passed on the primary dope about angels and messages and that they are the same root word: the messages of spirits and the messages of birds and sky and wind, a gentle, free magic I had missed in my own troubled complication and self-absorption. Messages and their singular grace were Nelson’s gift.

Mitchell Miller, close buddy in Aspen, Colorado, July 1965, he made Lindy and me into a couple as he taught me the McLuhan Galaxy and a unique form of whimsy. With his left hand he patterned the hip and the beat and a spacey, wide-eyed awe and, with his right, he enforced on me a politically and artistically radical world.

Frodo, the first animal friend in my care, July, 1965, Aspen. She taught me the bond between animal and human and how to befriend a being from a different species. She taught me secrets of her cat world and by keeping others to herself, taught me a obscure mystery dance. She created our family: her, Lindy, and me.  She was our clan guardian and totem spirit.  Then she left for good.  By that she taught me fidelity and loss.  She remains in my dreamlife forever.

Donald Pitkin, my first anthropology professor, Amherst College, September, 1965. With masterful gentleness and gentility, he introduced me with to cross-cultural thinking, physical anthropology, non-Western mythology, the origin of Homo sapiens from other primates, the symbol, Navaho ceremonialism, Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End, Teilhard de Chardin’s Phenomenon of Man, and Paul Radin’s Mind of Primitive Man, with their dreaming children, Omega Points, transdimensional Suns, and Maori spirit-souls. He then dispatched me into graduate anthropology.  He also taught me the honor of simple academic accomplishment and the bounty of well-practiced liberal arts.

Roy Rappaport, September, 1966, my graduate-school professor and anthropology advisor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; later, a founding Board member of North Atlantic Books. He taught me how to be a mensch and stand up for myself. He all but dragged me into professional manhood. He gave me a portal into critical thinking and made academic achievement possible for me. By being amazingly candid and confidential, he modeled a mensch-hood that required my respect and an answer in myself and my own behavior.  That’s the only way anyone could have gotten me through a PhD.  Along the way he taught me that if I didn’t finish the degree and let my critics win, I would waste a lot of my life bitching about them later.  It was more expedient and economical just to give in to them and win.

Robin Grossinger, my son, 6:19 AM, June 19, 1969, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He made me a father. He taught me to take care of both of us. He gave me back my childhood.

Wendell Seavey, lobsterfisherman Bernard, Maine, the wharf at Thurston’s, September, 1969. He taught me now to man up and to stand by my words. He taught me the practice of active courage and labor. He introduced me to innate psychic knowing.  These are big pieces to come from one boatman.

Dona Wheeler, September 1970 (though we met in 1965). She taught me that you have to simply ask, plus a certain blind grace, acceptance, and humble service to another.

Edward Dorn, West Newbury, Massachusetts, 1971. One nasty dude, he taught me humor—complex irony with bite. He made the pre-Socratics and the Neanderthals indispensable and placed that understanding and acknowledgment inside me so that Parmenides and the Stone Age were there henceforth, always in shouting distance of my mind. By playing an interrogator and bully, he made me take a stand. Robert Creeley did that too, but with more bumble and bluster and less attention to me as a person.  Ed liked me and didn’t like me, both of them enough to invest time in me and get my attention.  I don’t think that Creeley actually cared that much.

Gerritt Lansing, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1971 (though a few years earlier we met in passing, via Robert Kelly). He presented me the key and the map to the psychic realm, though it was decades before I used them. He imparted me, secretly without my realizing it, the dark goddess and the unseen real.  He managed to get across that the esoteric and occult are no more exotic than furniture, and can be enjoyed just as much.  He taught me to speak my truth in English to animals, even insects.

Sheppard Powell, July 1972, my student at Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont. He taught me wildness and to dare to be outrageous. He taught me the subtle rhythms of hip and cool. He helped name me Chard, though Art Cole, another student, sourced the actual form from Ree-chard.  He taught me that, if you want to do magic, just do it.  If you want to house-clean, tell the ghosts to leave.  If you want to remove a curse, throw salt—real salt in a real circle around the offending object or its replica.  My kids will never forget those rituals.  They define their parents’ weirdness.  But Shep later taught my daughter Miranda, as a teenager, the tools of simple psychic practice and magic.

Rob Brezsny, September 1972, my student at Goddard. He taught me baseball magic, rock ’n’ roll divination, epiphanic performance, pop occult service, and the worship of the anima as a lifelong mission.  See also under “Friends” on this website because the other half of it is there.

Miranda Grossinger (July), my daughter February 15, 1974, Barre, Vermont, my daughter. She taught me the path of both the committed artist and creative clown. She taught me the ways in which I failed as a father and an artist myself. She gave me our family constellation with all its reincarnative baggage and potential. She took away from me the many vanities by which I disguised the sloppiness and indulgence of my parenting path. She threw a profound mirror to Lindy and me as a marriage. She taught me that my generation’s moment had passed, quietly and while reminding me that I still had her as my daughter.  She taught me that, at the worst moments, something else is also happening and to find it and pay attention.

Andy Shapiro and Carolyn Smithson, 1974, Barre, Vermont. Most simply, they taught me t’ai chi ch’uan, but they also taught me to recover my sacred pagan body and move it in a way I had never imagined, and that opened the door to other movements.

William (later Ellias) Lonsdale, 1974, Plainfield, Vermont. He taught me magical and astrological seeing, the Rudolf Steiner universe, Atlantis, the zodiac as life epitome and, years down the road (1995), the nature and mystery of death and deathless existence.  These are huge items, and I cannot emphasize enough how dramatic a veil he removed and how penetrating a light he shown into the darkness sections of the universe: the astrological universe, the astronomical universe, and the daily universe of simplest actions.  He revealed the esoteric message contained in every event and action of our lives.  His lesson was how to take the karmic and reincarnative lesson from everything.

Bernadette Mayer, 1965, Milwaukee and the Lower East Side. She taught me the seriousness of the work and flirtation in one lesson—and that they were the same thing.

Paul Pitchford, McKinley Street, Berkeley, California, 1975. He taught me practice and initiated me into a Stone Age guild. He was my first real t’ai-chi teacher, my first meditation teacher, the first person to teach me about diet and nutrition—food as consciousness and practice. He introduced me to Buddhism and Traditional Chinese medicine. He made my spiritual path serious and playful both and then demanded it of me. He taught me why martial arts and meditation were really “playing.”  He told me the great cosmic joke.  See the rest under “Friends” on this website.

Ian Grand, Lincoln Street, Berkeley, California, 1975, my first bio-energetic therapist and bodyworker. He taught me the healing practices of pure anger and pure laughter, and he transformed my frozen childhood psychoanalysis into a a living illuminated path. He taught me how to cry, how to feel bliss in my flesh.  Pure bliss, unconnected to any event or trigger.  And that’s quite a gift and lesson.  He gave me space—space inside myself.  He taught me how to find it and use it, and I have played that hand whenever necessary ever since.

Polly Gamble, Rose Street, Berkeley, California, 1976. She introduced me to formal bodywork and taught me how to breathe. She also taught me to transform pain into energy. She taught me that whatever I was resisting or hiding from her was the path, every time. She introduced me to her teacher Richard Heckler and, years later, her husband Randy Cherner.

Merrily Pascal (Weisbord), Montreal, 1976. She taught me it was okay to be Jewish and that, after all, I was just a regular guy.

Anne Marie Molnar, Vermont, 1977. She taught me innocence and innocent trust.

Stanley Keleman, Francisco Street, Berkeley, 1978. He taught me the mystery of the embryo and the ritual of the body. He taught me emotional anatomy and how the body lives its mind. He also taught me that sexuality is both self and survival.

Charles Poncé, Uranus Street, San Francisco, 1979. This half-Panamanian, half-Greek Jungian mendicant taught me dreamwork and the transfiguration of everything in the symbolic and psychological universes, and he remade psychotherapy into jazz and jive. He also taught me the shifting and supple meaning of the revelatory moment, the symbol beyond the symbol.  He taught me that he who lives by the symbol pays homage to a rigid and simplistic interpretation for the rest of his days.  He taught me that, when dealing with archetypes or planets or gods, always enter by the back door.  See also “A Primary Reading List” on this website for the rest of Charles’ goods.

Richard Strozzi Heckler, Marin, 1980. He taught me prayer and submission and the warrior path. He made it clear to me that we had to do what we had to do—no way out, no other choice.  He told me the he could not protect me from gale force winds and that he expected me to encounter them anyway and see the act through.

Charlie Winton, Emeryville, 1983. He taught me how to be a businessman and a publisher and how to make money.

Randy Cherner, Corte Madera, 1987. He taught me how to convert my literary and verbal skill into other, nonverbal skills. He taught me how to use my hands for healing and, lesson by lesson, he gave me the art of palpation. He made me find my body at much deeper levels than I had thought possible. He gave me zones upon zones of somatic space inside myself. He taught me craniosacral therapy, how to locate and read the cerebrospinal pulse, how to make a chi ball and use it energetically. He set me on a somatic quest that I had all but given up on for this lifetime. He showed me palpably a different way. He enticed and teased me into my second path as a bodyworker.  He taught me that you never get anywhere unless you are willing to take the first step.  And he also taught me a subtle thing: don’t set yourself up to do impossible exercises for the sake of failing.  Only do what you have to do.  He also suggested that, instead trying to do everything well, I do one thing well.

Seymour Zises, Madison Avenue, 1988 (though we met earlier as children). He taught me how money and the secular world work, and he assigned me my actual place in their schema and instructed me in how to live it.  He taught me that we all have a place in the social structure, class system, and financial pantheon—and just to play it by ear.

Kathy Glass, Berkeley, October, 1989. She taught me, by her simple presence, that we have all lived before, on other worlds and as other beings. She made the room in which we both stood larger. She saw me as an adept and so turned me into one. She taught me radical politics and radical policy from the lived ground up. She taught me sacred rage. She initiated me into the power of spiritual friendship and unconditional loyalty. She taught me a boundary that can never be crossed or crossed only at unacceptable risk, and she taught it and taught it and taught it, even as she simultaneously taught limitless reincarnation by being a bump on my same log.

Amini Peller, Randy’s class, Corte Madera, 1990. She taught me female sacred wisdom: power, courage, faith, and service, and she put me in direct touch with the chakras and their colors.

Cindy Frank (Paradiso), Randy’s class, Corte Madera, 1990. She taught me a safe path to what was forbidden, or a path that was almost safe. She gave me the gift of my own healing hands and how to transmit energy with them.

Cybèle Tomlinson, Breema class, Oakland, 1991, my bodywork partner. She taught me the purity of presence, disciplined presence in the heart of danger.

Elizabeth Beringer, Feldenkrais master, Berkeley, 1991. She taught me courage, honor, and the requirement of taking total responsibility.  She taught the warrior pose that is beyond gender.  She taught me how to reinvent movement.

Eugene Alexander, San Francisco, October, 1991, my therapist. He taught me how to drop my harsh self-judgments and my despair at being so afraid.  He taught me how the crucibles of greatest darkness are chrysalises of the most exquisite and playful light.  He taught me how deep a trauma I had been through and, by showing me how only one in a hundred survive such a blow, he let me be a hero rather than misfit. He taught me to trust someone else, other than Lindy. He taught me how to give myself permission and space. He taught me the shared nature of our human existence and that we are all afraid and in it together. He modeled humanity and friendship. He was there.

Peter Ralston, Oakland, 1991. He taught me that practice is repetition plus intention, nothing more.  Do it 50,000 times.  He taught me to always measure space, angle, and energy—and that these are what stand between “I am here” and “you are there.”

Ron Sieh, at Peter Ralston’s martial-arts dojo, Oakland, 1991, my teacher and sparring partner. He taught me traditional warriorship in the ring, spiritual urgency, how to fight with commitment and integrity, basic practice, the undying resolution to be the best you can be and to stay on a path at all costs. He taught me never to speak empty words without energy and action behind them, never to carry out empty actions without heart and spirit and intention.  He also taught me the specifics of hsing-i and its animals and introduced me to grounding and running energy and martial playfulness. Then he held open the door and pointed the way to psychic work.  See also “Friends” on this website.

Mary Buckley, Ukiah, 1992. She taught me tantra and the sacredness of desire.

Denise Forest, Berkeley. She showed me how to commit to daily spiritual practice.

John Upledger, 1994. He taught me how to accept miracle healing and walk brazenly into the unknown. He showed me how just to do stuff and trust the universe to work it out. He transmitted how and where science and clairvoyance, medicine and telekinesis were the same things. He taught me inklings of a language that transcends all languages—cell talk.  He show me how once you know something, just do it.  And do it again.  And keep doing it.  Don’t waste time trying to prove its worth to someone else.

Terry Leach, major-league baseball player, 1996 (though we met briefly in the Mets’ locker-room in 1987). He taught me the simple patriotic American virtues—how we have to look out for one another and have one another’s backs. He modeled the spunk and chivalry of everyday life. He also taught me how to lay back and take it easy.  He taught me something that a lot of other people tried but never got across: how to take a vacation, how to give yourself permission.

Frank Lowen, Albuquerque, 1997. He taught me the quantum nature of hands-on energy and gave me the imperative to use that energy only and always. He taught me that anatomy was no different from energy. He taught me anatomy, even of stone. He taught me karmic duty and pilgrimage.

Richard Handel, Bar Harbor, Maine, 1997. He taught true artless humanity; he modeled the cosmic prank and the karmic riddle. He taught me how to make what wasn’t light light.

Paul Weiss, Town Hill, Maine, 2001 (though we met in 1997). He taught me how to channel and move energy and embody the chi arts.  He made the flow of cosmic energy palpable.  He taught me how to smile from within, even through bad moods and irritation.  The thing he wasn’t able to teach is how to do it all the time.

Mark Ouimet, Berkeley, 2004 (though we met a decade earlier). He taught me how to run a business, how to manage a staff, how to navigate professional trouble, and how to interface with other businesses and people playing business games.

Patricia Fox, Bass Harbor, Maine, Featherlane Yoga Studio, 2006. She taught me how to unlock secrets hidden in my own body, and that that (not postures or exercise) was what yoga was about. She gave me a yoga that I could do when she wasn’t present. She taught me that it is all yoga, all the time.

Robert Simmons, Montpelier, Vermont, 2006. He taught me faith, opening oneself as a channel, honoring stones as living beings, and how to stand behind your word even when the son-of-a-bitch in you is raising holy hell to get you to reneg.  He taught me how to keep opening yourself anew to cosmic possibility.

Miha Mazzini, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2006. He taught me Eastern Europe and introduced me to the unseen past.

Javier Thistlewaite, Berkeley Psychic Institute, 2008. He taught me how to turn everyday life into practical magic and that psychic work is not about past lives or secret information but is simply spirit communicating with spirit.  This one-time race-car driver lived the riddle and the sphinx, and he manifested actual magic.

Robert Sardello, Marshfield, Vermont, 2008. He taught me the phenomenology of the body and how to distinguish the spirit world from private fantasies and rank suggestibility.

John Friedlander, 2009. We have never met, but he has guided me psychically onto the theosophical path, taught me how to extend the range of my consciousness to other dimensions, and given me a method for establishing a dialogue with my soul.  He has also taught constant daily attunement, plus he teaches the impossible, beyond time and space, and thus makes the universe “amusing,” to use his word, and at hand.

Emily Davis, Manset, Maine, 2009. She taught me how to teach.

Patricia Fox, Bass Harbor, Maine 2010. She me how much heart and patience and compassion is needed to do any yoga posture, meaning any life posture.

Douglas Reil, Berkeley, 2007-2015. He taught me how to transmit, how to turn over North Atlantic Books to my successors there without diminution or loss, which meant having the gumption to hold the mirror to my own excesses, flaws, misreads, and self-entitlements.

Karen Schilling, Portland, Maine 2014. She got me back on speedskates by teaching me slow speed and cultivating an indifference to my complaints I wasn’t doing it to race. She said, “What we are doing here is speedskating, for ourselves and anyone who’s happens to be looking.”

Terry Deacon: He taught me how to ride the infinitesimal gap between scientific meaning and metaphysical meaning and got me thinking about Aristotle seriously and how to work my back to modernity’s neo-Darwinism by a different route.

Tim McKee: He taught me transition, letting go, and how to be a publisher after the fact.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed December 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Enjoyed your writing about Grossinger’s Hotel. I worked there in the mid seventies as a night auditor. It was a great experience living and working there. I especially recall with gratitude how well employees were treated. I felt like a guest. I lived on the top floor of Milton Berle Building. Employee dining room had great food and even waiters. I went on from there to manage and now own my own hotel. Your family business taught me how to treat employees. It was a great lesson that I went on to learn is rarely copied. I would love to visit Grossinger’s one day. Great memories indeed.

Polly Hough November 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Thanks to Richard and responders for an interesting dialogue, some of which seems helpful, but too much seeking to blame Hillary for losing, when she fought as hard as she could to continue what she could of Obama’s Legacy, which has benefited many, though not enough. Thanks also to Congress! I do wonder about her handlers and advisors’ thinking. Trump’s smoke screen of scandalous comments has obscured our view, and perhaps obscured the complexity of the problems. Hillary has apologized for her errors, and had the right to her point of view. I do wish that she had embraced more heartily Sanders’ populist approach and even chosen him to be her Vice Presidential contender, but I think they still might have lost. She had a workable platform, he had charisma and slogans. With work, they could have unified their vision. But neither addressed the “rigging” that I see Republicans do every day here in Utah. Is it so common that we don’t see it?
I suspect the truth of why the Democrats lost lies in the systematic cheating that the Republicans set up long ago, which was not sufficiently revealed and decried. It is time to read Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s,” The Flip & Strip Death of American Democracy…”, ( and look into the rigging in each state, particularly those key ones that lost her the election. She didn’t lose by that much if you face up to the weak democratic institutions we have going, and the way it allows the Electoral College system to malfunction without corrective. Let’s quit grieving and get to work fixing the damn thing. Too much is at stake. Trump’s finger should not be on the Nuclear button.

Linda November 18, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I just finished Ron Sieh’s book and would love to take lessons from him. Can you tell me where is and if he’s teaching?

Vegeko December 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm

You can find pictures of here. Should I aemttpt to preface the city of a hundred spires, its lovely architecture cannot be forgotten. Search in your memory for a name of any style you can think of. Prague will almost certainly have some landmark to offer – be it from hundreds of years ago such as Romanesque rotunda or from numerous eras spanning centuries. The latter can be represented by the picturesque Prague Castle with its truly magnificent St Vitus’s Cathedral or the tiny (and that is probably one of the reasons why) fairy-tale like Golden Lane. The same applies to architectonic landmarks “remembering” merely several decades such as the precious Cubist pearls scattered here and there in Prague’s winding streets, buildings, , theaters, museums.

Richard Grossinger August 16, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for the comment. It was meant to serve a healing function itself, as there is not really a general cure for optical migraines. But no, I don’t have a lot of specific or topic-oriented feedback. Most of it is on the same level of yours: general usefulness of the book. As probably goes without saying (from my quotes and bibliography), I consider Oliver Sacks’ book Migraine very useful, but the best one is a book that our press published for which Sacks wrote the preface: Migraine Art. It is more than a picture book; it goes into great detail on the categories of auras and their effects. Richard

Jackie Perkins August 16, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Hi Richard,
I read your book about migraine auras several years ago and have reread it several
times. Thank you so much for writing it as it helps me when I have a bout of
auras with very little headache. I was wondering if you have had a lot feedback
from fellow sufferers and if you have learned anything more about them since
the book was written. Can you refer me to any other sources to help me make
peace or get rid to them completely.
Any comments will be appreciated,\.

Jacqueline phillips December 29, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Thanks for sharing. Raised in the village of Liberty. Worked the switchboard at the G as a teenager. Went to school with Sandy. Sad it did not continue.

david hovey August 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

my mother and aunt were bauer sisters..founder of lpga golf association..i spent many summers up there..great..miss it

Richard Grossinger May 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Dear Jim, Thanks for writing. You were really there at the core of my time, a rare thing. I don’t specifically remember you, though. Let me know if you want the two books, New Moon and/or Out of Babylon, as I can send them for just the cost of the postage. Richard

jim blankenship May 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I enjoyed reading about your family and experience at Grossingers. I worked there, along with Teddy Howard, as the house photographer from 1958-1961. It was quite an experience meeting and photographing many of the celebrities and sports figures. I had been on the staff at NY Daily news in the city prior to this so I enjoyed the life in Liberty and Sullivan Co. My wife and I live in Atlanta now. We were married in Liberty in 1960……. Jim Blankenship AP Photographer,retired

Richard Grossinger January 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

Thanks, Kris. I have send the review around to our staff, and there is even some tentative thought about including it as a foreword to one of the two 50th-anniversary Io anthologies that we are releasing next year (2015). If we were to pursue that, would you like to rewrite it or perhaps punctuate it more conventionally (close open parentheses, etc.)?
I’d be curious to know your actual critique of my political statements. You don’t actually say, taking it for granted that it is obvious, though part of your point is that it isn’t obvious to me, and it isn’t. I can guess, but I could easily be wrong. For instance, it isn’t actually clear that you are not the Australian (or other) offended equivalent of a Conservative Republican.
Although I do pose those arguments seriously, they are also at the level of myth, and I speak to that occasionally. I have no special insight into political matters, but I do throw myself into the mythology for what it expresses. I think that one can be literally “wrong” and still mythologically accurate. For instance, in the case of Obama, he is not literally who I have portrayed him as, but the myth is still authentic. In that regard, you might note my Facebook post on him recently, also on this website.
Also ironically enough in this regard, enough people are ONLY reading the political parts of my writing, enough so that Andrew Harvey has urged me to collect them in their own book as part of his Spiritual Activism imprint. This doesn’t make me any less off-base any more than that that refutation is obvious.
No complain here. I’m just interested to know what you are actually saying. I have spent most of my life in America, whether in compliance or reaction.
The whole “Ken Wilber” thing is an interesting story of its own, far too labyrinthine to tell. The very short version of it is that a writer friend in Maine with whom I occasionally hiked and whose work I supported and helped get published suddenly went ballistic against me and not only made those comments about me and Wilber, which I paraphrased, but wrote such, strong threatening emails that friends I showed them to urged me to take them to the police. They were what mafia might write.
The thing that set him off was that after a hike I naively wrote a piece (like many of the other pieces in 2013 and Bardo of Waking Life) about the events on the hike and our dialogue and then sent it to him (from NYC en route back to California) with the idea that he and I might collaborate on a piece about our experiences that day. Making him a character in my piece, even though it was informal and unpublished and I was offering him an edit and a collaboration, had the effect of triggering a response so extreme that I didn’t actually believe he was serious at first. I apologized profusely, trashed the piece, and yet the emails kept coming, up to the “mafia” level. What made this all the more inexplicable was the fact that prior to my transgression in writing the piece, he had been a good friend, and I had been pretty much his main supporter in the larger world, finding him a venue in which to publish.
Now that’s the shell of the story, and the piece you comment on came out of that, is my displaced response to it. I didn’t want to repeat the original error by being any more specific and singling him out in any way. The underlying issues are probably of a whole different order.
Since then, we have mellowed out, though are no longer friends and don’t hike together anymore. Meanwhile I have had a lot of indirect contact with Wilber in the sense that two of his main students who live in the Bay Area have read Dark Pool of Light and consider it relevant to the Wilber tradition and thus have spent time with me, talking. So right after I declared myself completely separate from all that, I got brought back into it in more benign and pleasant terms.
I hope that you take a look at Dark Pool, as what I began in 2013 is brought to its culmination in there. Really what my work is about, and what I make my stand on, is not the political ideology or even the literary voice so much, but the cosmic vision, and then putting it into viable literary form. I will post this on Facebook too. Richard

Kris Hemensley January 6, 2014 at 12:47 am

I’m amazed & humbled at yr reprinting of my review… Thank you. Looking forward to reading you anew in 2014! Cheers, Kris Hemensley

Richard Grossinger September 16, 2013 at 4:21 am

They have not been updated, but I have started work on a fourth volume posted on this website. Also the fourth volume is really now the “fifth”
volume because I have rewritten The Night Sky as a de facto fourth volume. It will be out next spring. See the home page of this site for a table of contents. Also I will continue to post interviews with me about the books, audio, video, and text. Thanks for reading them and for inquiring.

Jim Weddington September 16, 2013 at 3:31 am

I have all three volumes of “Dark Pools of Light” in nook book format. I recently heard that this trilogy has been up dated. If so I would like to recieve the update in the nook format. If this is possible.

I have been having some problems with emails. So if you can’t reach
me by email try.

Jim Weddington
105 LaGrange St.
Newnan, GA 30263


Jim Weddington

105 LaGrange St.

Richard Grossinger July 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Dolores, thanks for the touching thoughts. Time does move remarkably fast, especially because it never stops, even for an instant. But it may not be linear, so those times are still alive somewhere in the universe, as you will be.

Dolores Levine Seiler July 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Dear Richard, I enjoyed reading your piece. For me it was nostalgia and sadness, not only for Grossinger’s but for my life which is also nearing its end. My father was Lazarus Levine, and my husband, Seymour Seiler, married me at the hotel in 1953. He was an architect and worked with Harry. My son, now 56, had his Bar Mitzvah celebration at Grossinger’s. My daughter learned how to ice skate and ski at the hotel. I am sorry that my grandchildren could not particpate in the “Jewish” celebrations that were so wonderful there.

Richard Grossinger May 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Well said. Thanks for the comments.

Carol Malloch May 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Hello Richard,
I enjoyed reading your article. I moved to the town. of Liberty NY. in the early 70’s .
I grew up on the West coast up to that point. Liberty was culture shock . For your family to build a world class resort was a testament to their abilities . Your aunt Elaine. was a respected member of the community . She was head of the school board
in Liberty . She handled out the diplomas at the high school graduations every year.
When your grandmother died, the town lined the main st of town for her procession.
Grossinger’s was the castle on the hill and the jewel of the catskill resort.industry . Your cousins Michell and Mark went on in the hotel industry to make their mark . The problem was the weak economy and decline of the whole hotel industry that ruined Grossinger’s . Your father and Aunt Elaine did what they could do to keep people employed . Despite how your parents turned out, they are still your family and you are apart of them . Grossinger’s will be always known for it’s great hospitality . It’s just a shame how she ended up. The Catskill Mountains just reached up and took back what was their’s .

Richard Grossinger May 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I have no knowledge at all. The property was sold almost 30 years ago and has been re-sold many times since then.

Monique DeCicco-Jones May 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner with a few ideas on the restoration of this facility via Health Care grants. Who actually owns this property and what is their contact information? My phone number is (845)292-9114. I am a resident of Liberty and often don’t read my email because I am extremely busy pursuing a PhD in nursing so please feel free to phone.

Monique DeCicco-Jones May 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner with a few ideas on the restoration of this facility via Health Care grants. Who actually owns this property and what is their contact information? My phone number is (845)292-9114. I am a resident of Liberty and often don’t read my email because I am extremely busy pursuing a PhD in nursing so please feel free to phone. I pass the facility everyday and have great visions for it!

Richard Grossinger May 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I am moved by your bringing back the past, and it rings true about my grandmother whom, I always felt, had a dignity and grandeur beyond her public image, and also a kindness and generosity, though she also had her own hauteur and corruptness. The generation that followed just didn’t get it, not that it would have changed anything in the end. I’m not sure that “Peter” isn’t a wrong memory. It’s more likely Michael or James, my adopted half-brothers. Also possibly Jerry or Freddie. No “Peter Grossinger” in that era.

Ron Erich May 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm

So glad and sad to come upon your story. I , and my sister, worked at Grossinger’s for two summers as a waiters, earning money for college. I think it was 1965, 1966. Jennie G. offered us the jobs when she was in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and my father was her Physical Therapist. I remember the two great fun summers there. I did hang out a little with Peter Grossinger one summer and it was always a thrill went Jennie would come into the dining room and give me a hug. It made me feel important and kept the maitre d’s off my back for a few hours, at least.
So sad to see the pictures of the property in its state of abandonment. I saw that the Concord is gone also. Here in southern California one seldom sees beautiful properties going back to nature.
Thanks for your story and bringing back memories that I had almost forgotten.

Shirley March 31, 2013 at 7:23 pm

My father worked as a waiter there during the 70s. Sometimes he would take us there and I would remember swimming, skiing, or just roaming around the hotel with my sister and friend. We loved going there and my father still talks about his wonderful years there. When the hotel was closing down my father salvaged a few things, including a painted porcelain plate I believe that was hung in the dining room. I want to return these items to the family. Let me know if you would like for me to send you a photo.

Richard Grossinger February 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Last I knew, he was teaching at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in the Somatics Program.

William McKeen February 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm


The double slit experiment prove that with observation you can improve the probability of making a certain thing happen. The negative aspect of this is if focus on the particle you lose sight of the momentum. Focus on the momentum, you lose sight of the particle. Another example, focus on the tree you lose sight of the forest. Focus on the forest you lose sight of the tree. Even better one, focus on God you lose sight of reality. Focus on reality you lose sight of God.

The extreme differential of the last example can be explored in the writings of both Schopenhauer and Swedenborg.

MN February 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hello Richard, I used to know Ian Grand a long time ago in Berkeley. Wondering if you have any idea what’s become of him. Thanks!

Richard Grossinger November 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Great WorK!

Richard Grossinger October 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

Thanks for the nice note. I think that the warts ARE history, always. Nothing exists as an idea(l) or in a vacuum or as its mere prototype.

Wes Gray October 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

Dear Richard,

You are an extremely talented writer. A wonderful story indeed. As the internet goes, you end up stumbling upon things you never knew. I learned a great deal about a piece of American history, warts and all. Your grandmother’s legacy is secure for eternity.

ann September 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Regarding, Dark Pool of Light, Volume Two: Consciousness in Psychospiritual and Psychic … By Richard Grossinger, I would like a preview copy. I grew up with Kimmie Ross and we just today discussed Ontology, and her future with that concept. So it was quite a surprise to read your bit on her. Though a sceptic, your writing style keeps me reading….and your education…my grandfather went to Amherst and my mother went to Smith then Univ. of Michigan to join my father (a fourth generation U. of Mich grad). You seem to have fun with your life and family so that is why I am requesting the preview, which you offered.
Thanks, Ann

Barbara Sparhawk September 3, 2012 at 8:39 am

Hello Mr Grossinger. Found you googling Goddard and there were so many cross references historically between us I feel compelled to halloo.
Goddard student in ’62, classmates Charlie Ponce, Eric Saarinen, Peter Pilafian…acted in Charlie’s moody plays, there were many and he was stark drama, the only one I remember the title of is The Cistern, me posed reciting in spotlight over faux hole center stage. I attended Riverside’s Encampment for Citizenship summer prior to Goddard, Ethical Culture Society but as a child, and took Tai Chi in the ’60’s with Professor Cheng M’an Ching on West Broadway. Lived in Chinatown, Brooklyn, bits of the states and world; only female billboard painter; still write and still paint; gallery in Big Sur 3 years, now Carmel Valley.
Interesting to find you and read your history. Goddard produced activists, something that never entirely left the molecules electrified there.

Paul D. Mendelsohn August 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

Hi Richard:

I loved your piece. We must have run in parallel universes. My dad had the jewelery concession at G’s in the 50’s and early 60’s, so I spent a lot of weekends up there as a kid and have great memories. My dad was a good friend of PG’s, Jenny and Elaine and he mentioned the other day that he still runs into Elaine down in Boca. The ruins remind me of looking at the wreck of the titanic, which I also had a fascination with as a child. At G’s I had so many great memories of wandering through the lobbies, watching Jenny on “this is your life” in the lobby in 1954 (I was only 7), the ice sculptures, Lew and Simon Sez, skating with Irving, watching them break gound for the “new” indoor pool, the malts in the coffee shop, the great toboggan rides, but mostly I enjoyed watching the people. It was a great time to bond with my dad in a Camelot environment. In the late 60’s I also worked with my brother Hank in the dining room, but G’s was changing and was already not the same. I also got hazed at the one year I spent at Camp Chipinaw. But I did enjoy the horseback riding, fencing and lake area. Athough I did not like having to carry out “rocks” every time we left the lake to clean out the swimming area. I currently live in Charlotte, Vermont and would love to hear from you.

Richard Grossinger August 20, 2012 at 5:25 am

Thanks, Greg. So great to hear from you. You were my room-mate in Phi Psi at the beginning of sophomore year, a crossroads time. And you were my first stop on my flight west in 1965, the seminal summer of my life. That’s no doubt when I “performed” my orange-juice disaster. I can be very dyslexic with half a chance, and certainly back then. I am still grateful you provided that “safe house” when it counted. I’d love to hear more about your journeys. Is there a way to contact you?

John Prentiss (Greg) August 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Hi Rich. While googling “Sam Lipskin,” I stumbled on your “Best Friends” list and am glad I did. In addition to news of Sam, you shared info about other classmates like Jeff Tripp and Greg Dropkin I’d lost track of decades ago.

You remain one of the most talented, delightfully eccentric people it has been my pleasure to meet. (I still remember my father looking on in disbelief as you tried to mash a 2 1/2 inch wide can of frozen orange juice into a jar with a 2 inch top and his saying to me later, “So how come you’re telling me he’s genius? He can’t even make orange juice.”)
Take care.
Greg Prentiss, former screenwriter, bum, and Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Adams County, Washington, now living in the Ozarks with 6 cats

admin April 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Thanks, Harlan, I appreciate the comments. Probably the only thing further I’ll do on this is rewrite Out of Babylon for an ebook to come out in 2014.

Harlan Friedman April 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I loved this story. My father worked at the G during the 70’s until the parental units decided it was time to take the pilgrimage to Long island and set up shop there. I remember many fun days there. My first “print ad” was a shot they used of me on the playground for a brochure in the late 70’s. Please keep the stories and pictures coming!

admin March 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Thanks, Michael. Are you still around Bar Harbor? Lindy and I plan to be there around July 1 through at least the end of September this year.

michael flahetty March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Hey Richard! We first met on Mt. Desert Island when we swapped a pizza for Somme of your books(great trade).Hope you and your family are well.Saw your son on t.v. and felt a strange sense of pride considering how little I know you or your family.Hope to see you in Maine!

admin February 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I really don’t remember or, more to the point, don’t think I ever knew. The number “$26,000 a day” sticks in my mind from some discussion in the mid-seventies.

Nick Pjevach February 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

couple of quick questions on Grossinger’s Resort
would you by chance remember any of the operating costs of the resort?
I would be interested to find out what some of the costs are to operate such
a large complex. (just think of the gas bill for those two boilers).
Very sad about Paul losing everything. Grossinger’s $1.8 mm loss in 1985 was
probably (or eventtually) covered by Paul personnally. That kind of loss is hard
for any one person (or family) to cover. (my father also covered losses for a
business and it ruined the last 10 years of his life-he died broke also covering
personally guaranteed debt of a business)
also enoyed your writing above

admin February 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It’s from the 1970s, well before PDF days. Ann Arbor Microfilms made a version in the style of the day, and I know that that’s available in Maine libraries, perhaps by interlibrary loan. Some of the material appears in my books Book of Cranberry Islands and The Provinces.

Deborah Confer February 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I’m a research assistant to someone writing a report for the National Park Service on the traditional histories of Otter Cove and Isle au Haut. I would be very interested in reading your dissertation, The strategy and ideology of lobster-fishing
on the back side of Mount Desert Island, Hancock County, Maine. Is it possible to get a PDF version? Thanks so much.

Geoffrey Brown January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Moving and sad and at the same time delightful. I grew up in Liberty, enjoyed Grossingers mostly from the outside but still able to see the place from my bedroom window. Your aunt Elaine was very kind to me when I was doing some grad school research on migrant manpower in the resort industry. Thank you for writing this.

Magdalena Ball September 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Thank you so much for these detailed and richly presented recollections. I’m writing a novel (as you so beautifully put it, “for curios and mementos, for jewels and heirlooms, and for memes of the elusive and illusory American paradise”) partly set at Grossinger’s in the 1940s, when my grandmother worked as a young singer (family mythology was that Jenny chose her from a competition in Central Park and brought her out to the hotel, where she subsequently met her husband, my grandfather, and changed the course of her life). Every piece of information I can find helps me to better reconstruct the setting and also illuminate my own history. Of course I would love to travel back in time and sit in the audience to verify memory, but your notes are almost as good.

David Gitin July 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

Richard, I love your ability to articulate the ‘dilemma’ (even if that articulation, including the capture as ‘dilemma’ is itself part of the issue). Snyder’s discussion of Buddhism and the Coming Revolution decades ago gave hint of this, forerunner perhaps. Andrew’s responses closely echo the talk we heard him give the other night, but good to have them here as part of the conversation. Thanks for pointing me to your website!

jonah mark bekerman June 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

wonderful reading


elliot was going to give you a copy of breathing in the infinite

did he?

Anita Wolfenberger March 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. In 1964, after marrying (in Puerto Rico) to a Army man, I purchased a cookbook of Jewish cooking put out by your parents hotel. The Introduction is by your father.

I have no idea of the name of the book. The cover long ago gave way to white paper and scotch tape, the pages are missing corners and frayed all around, the book is only partly attached to what is left of it’s spine. In short it is well used.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you this. I just read that the hotel is closed and am sorry to hear that. I believe I was there when I was about five or so, which would be around 1948. I have vague memories of a “talent” show of little kids.

(Mrs) Anita Wolfenberger
New Market, TN

Larry Olsen February 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Good Evening:
My brother, nearly 40 years ago, attended a technical competition that was held up at Grossinger’s in Upstate New York. The night before the competition, the hotel had a number of very talented people who put on various skits and songs, including “The Ballad of Irving” and a song about Washington at Valley Forge. One of the few lines that I remember was something about, “If Washington was Jewish, instead of Valley Forge, The Army would have wintered up at Grossinger’s with George!” Is this the same as the song you list on this site?

Paul February 12, 2011 at 12:05 am

I would add a couple of books that came out later – Henri Bortoft’s “The Wholeness of Nature” and Doris Lessing’s “Memoirs of a Survivor.” Interesting to see a bunch of Owen Barfield on your list. Such a lucid and compelling thinker and writer!

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