John: I’m here with entrepreneurs Robert Yeganeh and his business partner for Destina Way, Fred Levy. Thank you, guys, for talking with me. You have some amazing things happening that our readers want to know about. But first, can you tell us what brought you guys together?
Robert: I’ve known Fred for a number of years, close to 40 years, and for all those years, he has been one of my closest friends. He was one of the first people I met in the shoe business and I’ve been doing business with him ever since.
Fred comes from a background of great shoemaking with a wealth of retail and wholesale experience. About four or five years ago he took a back-seat position in the shoe business, as I did too. I went into real estate and he went into retirement. Now he is playing golf and having lunch and dinners, dating and all that stuff that he didn’t do because he was working very hard for all those years. When I had this idea for Destina Way, I couldn’t think of anybody better than Fred. At first, he rejected me. I called him four times and he said he didn’t want to have anything to do with the shoe business. He said he had packed it in, all his skeletons were in the closet and the door is locked. I insisted that he hear me out because I knew that Destina Way was a good idea. Even though I was also out of the shoe business, I knew there was great potential. After some effort, he finally let me tell him my vision behind Destina Way. His response was that it gave him purpose and reason to get back into the shoe business because it really, although it’s a small group, it helps this group solve a long-time problem, a dilemma, that nobody had a solution for previously.
John: I am talking with Sal Ferro so that we can get his thoughts on the breaking news that we’re getting out of the White House, President Trump and his wife First Lady, Melania Trump, have both contracted the Coronavirus. Sal, what do you think about this news and how do you think it’s going to affect the upcoming election?
Sal: Well first and foremost, I would certainly like to say that I hope the two of them recover fully. We don’t wish any harm on anybody. I think our country should be hoping that are President and his family are safe and get through this.
As far as the election, I think you can look at it in two ways; some people will sympathize with Trump and then you’re going to have a lot of people who will just wish him ill. Unfortunately, you already are seeing this online. It’s just going to further put a divide between the far-left and far-right and the conspiracy theorists and all that other stuff. It’s simply that somebody got COVID. Many people that I know have contracted COVID and they didn’t mean to get it.
John: I’m pretty sure I had it myself earlier this year.
Sal: Right, you didn’t get it on purpose. COVID is a reality and how severe it is up to interpretation. According to scientists, it is a serious issue. Right now our President needs to quarantine and the people who do support Trump will support him even more now and people who hate Trump will continue to hate him.
This month, as we begin the Fall season, I am reflecting upon my relationships, specifically the friendships I have built over my lifetime and certainly those I have been lucky enough to form in the last year or so. When we are young, our peers help us learn how to play, how to behave in groups and most importantly, little by little, how to be trustworthy and how to trust others. Trust is an essential and defining element of any relationship. Without it, there is not much substance, not for me anyway. I can chuckle a little as I write this because for some reason, when I think of my early years and adolescence and the concept of trust, there seems to be a lot of memories of boys throwing sand at me in the sandbox, pushing me into pools or chasing me down a rocky beach. I’m sure I am not the only one with these recollections of childhood. Tell me, were you the pusher or the pushee?
All fun and games aside, let’s get back to the subject at hand. Why do I feel that friendships are an integral part of my ever-evolving self? Because I have learned so much from them throughout my lifetime, especially from those mistakes and missteps as a young and maturing human. Perhaps there was a time that I threw the sand? Of course, I have plenty of moments I wish I could reframe or redo. But really, I shouldn’t, right? Because all those moments have helped me become a better person, friend, partner and most important of all, a better mother.
I find as I spend time on social media and in the digital world that there is such a mix of messaging. We humans have a gift to be kind and wonderful to each other, or in quite a contrast, to be cruel and unforgiving. But we all have a choice, don’t we? We can allow that negativity, like a pollution of the soul, to penetrate our daily lives, or we can rise up and above all that. This is the most valuable addition to my psyche in the last year. Recognizing the importance of surrounding myself with people who lift me up and encourage my success both personally and professionally. I’m not sure I can explain why it seemed to take me so long to make this a focus, but I can say that this new epiphany has been like having a wave of optimism wash over my life. It has been wonderful in the most positive of ways. I feel like I can take on the world, and I have the amazing and talented family and friends in my life to thank for that.
I first hopped on the stand three summers ago, the lifeguard stand that is, unaware and nervous of when I would have to make my first save. I had spent the previous two weeks receiving the proper training and obtaining the certifications necessary to become a lifeguard. Despite all the hours of testing, countless laps, and many rescues I made throughout my weeks of training, why was I still nervous when I went up on the stand for the first time?
The last two words of that question are the most important, first time. No matter what anyone strives to be or achieve, doing something for the first time is always scary. Whether it be riding a bike, the first day at a new job (in my case) or going on a roller coaster, doing something new for the first time is bound to make anybody nervous.
As I sat on the lifeguard stand in my expensive bathing suit, with my sunglasses over my face and my red whistle in my mouth, I’m sure I looked calm, cool and collected on the outside. However, on the inside, I was a nervous wreck. I mean sure, I had done drills and made practice saves over and over again for the past 14 days, but if ever and whenever the time actually came, could I do my job?
Sometimes you just have to stop in the middle of an interview and wipe the mosquitos from your leg no matter what you do to the camera and the shot. No longer is it the air-conditioned studio or amazing restaurant as the set for interviews but parks and beaches. Even outside Model Citizens Offices.
In this case our socially distant makeshift studio was completely closed, iconic, Long Island Amusement Park, Adventureland. Yes Model Citizen Kershel Anthony brought his This is my Swag Foundation members to Adventureland for Model Citizens Magazine to produce his TV commercial and promotional photos for his upcoming event there. This socially disetant event will be much different than others.
Kershel Anthony has rented out the giant theater in the parking lot behind the park for a once in a lifetime event. That’s right the entire ginormous parking lot that has the huge dance stage across from the entrance to the park! Kershel and his This is My Swag foundation members are going to socially dance themselves into the future with music, and entertainment, and hundreds of children dancing safely together. Saturday, October 17th from 9 am till noon be prepared for fun!
The way I see it, our country is divided into three groups. There are the die-hard Democrats, the die-hard Republicans, and then the undecided or swing voters. Since the Bush/Gore election, our country has become increasingly polarized. It really began with Clinton and the impeachment and both sides sticking to their guns, but the contested election is what got us to where we are today.
Going into the debate, I made a comment that if Biden fumbles his way through the debate, this is all over. The swing voters will be uncomfortable with a President who has questionable stamina and the ability to think on his feet. If you use the fact that Joe Biden didn’t completely stumble, then he came out ahead. Like the experienced politician that he is, Biden didn’t answer the questions that he didn’t want to and instead spoke directly to the audience.
Trump was Trump. He was direct, disregarded the moderator, and went after Joe Biden directly. In some cases, he was debating both the moderator and his opponent, and never showed a sweat. He relied on his record, avoided answering a few of the questions that he didn’t want to address, and was in full-on attack mode. Some polls show that this was a good tactic for some audiences.
On September 18th, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87. Ginsburg served as an associate justice for 27 years; she was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993. At the time she was brought into the Supreme Court, she was viewed as a moderate and later became more left-sided over time. President Clinton’s biggest reason for bringing Ginsburg in was to increase the diversity in the Supreme Court. Prior to her nomination, only one of the eight justices on the Supreme Court was a female. Clinton believed the addition of another female justice would be a good change and a change that the country needed.
Prior to Ginsburg’s passing, the Supreme Court sat six men and three women (including Ginsburg). Of the nine justices on the Court, five of the justices identified as Republicans, including Chief Justice John Roberts, while the other four identified as Democrats. Interestingly, all three female justices in the court happened to fall on the left side. Now that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed, the Supreme Court currently leans much more to the conservative side. President Trump recently nominated conservative federal appeals court judge, Amy Coney Barrett, to replace the late Ginsburg. Trump called it a “very proud moment”, stating Barrett was a woman of “towering intellect”. With Barrett’s nomination, the Supreme Court will sit six Republican justices, and only three Democrats, if she’s confirmed by the Senate.
It’s the beginning of October and we are only weeks away from the 2020 presidential elections, but it is hard for me as a leader in the community to voice my opinion about our two candidates without confrontation. These days as soon as you voice a political opinion about anything, even from a politically neutral standpoint, you are attacked by the “opposing party”. Not even the “opposing opinion” just an attack by anyone who supports the “other candidate”. Even so, I do have the right to have my own voice and my own opinions. But, to share them with the outside public really only subjects me to ridicule and attack.
So now when anyone asked me what my opinion is on a political issue or even who I am voting for in both local and national political campaigns, I simply withdraw from the conversation or change the topic. While my nomination as a model citizen and continuous contributions as a columnist to Model Citizens Magazine has given me a voice, it has also subjected me to ridicule, just like with my radio show, The Diversity Project. So all in all, staying on the safe side in a polarized political world, or being “Politically Neutral” as Model Citizens Magazine publisher John Dowling Jr. likes to put it, is a safe place to reside.
While it is somewhat heartbreaking to admit that, I do have friends and business colleagues on both sides of the political divide. As a politically polarized society, there is a new cold war in the making, and I am not referring to the one between the US and China which has been brewing for decades now, I am referring to the cold war that exists now right here in America between the far left and the far right politically. To most anyone regardless of political affiliation or how moderate or liberal you are, we all recognize that as a country we are on two extremes of the spectrum. You are either ultra-conservative or a socialist. There is no more middle of the road liberal republicans or conservative democrats. We are in a political world where you are either with us on our entire political agenda, or you are the enemy, with them, the opposing party.
We all should really stop and take hold of the fact that in this election cycle yet another seat in the Supreme Court is up for grabs, and it will determine just how far left or right our country goes for decades in the judiciary. The same polarization that is occurring in our society, with our politicians, and with us all, is also now expected to be represented in the Supreme Court. As I am sure you will agree, even judicial choices are based on political affiliations. Again, this is a full-blown cold war between the two parties.
My touch of OCD decided to make a guest appearance as I pulled up to my office, closed my door, and locked it. I skipped my typical list of things that I usually ask myself each time I enter my practice, and then I found myself asking my inner dentist a question….. Did I remember to bring my smartphone? Of course, I did! I am OCD and super organized.
A few moments later while working with a patient of several decades, I realized that even after forty years of practicing dentistry, I forgot, or neglected to do something. I never really taught him about prevention. In fact, as OCD as I am about teeth and most everything in general, I never really taught him the details about prevention at all. Sure we have a practice that is conservative and has an emphasis on prevention. But after only a few questions I realized that he did not know much about the objective of most of the preventative procedures we had discussed over the years. After polling a few more patients it became apparent that many people don’t understand what the objectives are with preventative maintenance. Not just my own patients but most everyone. So let’s get right into the meat, or if you’re a vegetarian, the zucchini of the matter.
Generally speaking, the goal of most preventative maintenance is to remove the bacteria off of your teeth. Personally, I think most advertisements confuse the average consumer about what you are supposed to be accomplishing with preventative maintenance. You don’t want to kill the bacteria in your mouth with mouthwashes that contain huge amounts of alcohol or bacteria-killing ingredients. You just don’t want the bacteria to stay on your teeth, in between your teeth, or anywhere on your teeth where they can cause plack. If you kill the bacteria in your mouth you affect digestion, your immune system, and according to studies, you cut down on oxygen formation in your bloodstream. You don’t need to be a science wizard to know that is not good for your health at all.
John: I am here with Alan Schwartz who is a Model Citizen from the September issue and is now a contributing columnist for Model Citizen Magazine. How are you, my friend?
Alan: I’m good, how are you John?
John: I’m great, thank you. So today I’d like to ask you about Halloween. This year I think everybody knows that Halloween is going to be much different than ever before. I think also that there are some things that our readers and your fans should know about Halloween to do with some legalities. Would you share with our audience please what they should be doing or not doing?
Alan: As you are aware, I’m a long-time criminal defense attorney as well as a Village Judge and, as such, we spend a lot of time dealing with criminal offenses and quasi-criminal offenses. We are continuing to be concerned about the uptick of inappropriate behavior in the community. This could be partially fueled by the pandemic, and partially by the fact that people, in general, at this point, just seem to be very angry, whether it’s about the election results, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or a variety of different things like the protests and so forth. What really concerns us is that people are getting even angrier when they can’t do the things they always look forward to doing. As an example, our domestic violence practice is going through the roof, because a lot of people seem to have discovered that, as much as they love their spouses and children, they can’t stand being locked up in the house with them for lengthy periods of time.
I think this is going to be a big issue come Halloween when the kids really can’t safely go trick-or-treating. It would be nice to think that may change since Halloween is still a few weeks away, but I don’t think so, certainly not to the point where it’s going to be safe to have children going door to door, touching things and not wearing appropriate masks, just decorative masks. We are particularly concerned about young people, not so much the small children, but the teenagers who, shall we say, like to be mischievous, to begin with, and get themselves into trouble. I think it is a good idea for us to go over some of the conduct that could put these kids in a situation where they would need a criminal defense attorney, such as myself. Perhaps by being educated, they will be smart, make good decisions, and not do some of the things that may get them into trouble with the law. As you know, our mantra is that we represent good kids, from good families, who do something stupid. Unfortunately, we expect to see a lot of this come Halloween this year