Author’s Note: These are the remarks, as prepared, I delivered at my brother’s funeral Sunday, February 13. My sincere thanks for the kindness and support both from my National Review colleagues and from our readers.
When the funeral home asked me what Josh did for a living — “How should we describe him?” — I was at a loss.
Since our first work together selling lemonade on the corner of 84th and Broadway, my brother has had so many job descriptions.
Even then, he was the big brother doing the hard work I was too shy to do.
We sold lemonade out of this giant pewter pitcher our mom let us use. One afternoon a confused and pushy elderly lady saw our giant sign reading “10 Cents” with the word “lemonade” too small or too yellow for her to read. Well, whatever the reason, she thought we had started a business selling giant pewter pitchers, one at a time, for 10 cents apiece.
I was petrified. I was a shy kid, a pushover. If it had been up to me, I would have wrapped it and delivered it to her house.
It fell to Josh to explain to her that our most important piece of capital equipment wasn’t for sale.
And that was Josh. He was always tougher than me, fearless even.
He was my big brother — even if I was taller.
That was a fact I pointed out a lot when we were younger. He didn’t like it. But he got even. As some of you may know, when we were little kids we were in the Metropolitan Opera together. We were “supernumeraries” — a fancy word for talentless “extras.”
Anyway, as I was wont to do, I told the director of a new opera we were in, “He’s older, but I’m taller.” The director responded, perhaps because of my brattyness, that “in that case,” Josh should get to ride in the fake hot-air balloon that soared above the stage.
I really wanted to ride that balloon.
Other than lemonade impresario, operatic supernumerary, and fake hot-air balloonist, Josh had other jobs. He worked at the Carnegie Deli. He helped run political campaigns. He drove a New York City cab for several years. He worked at the Fulton Fish Market, waking long before dawn and coming home from work in the early afternoon with shoes so stinky with fish goo our cat, Max, would attack his shoe laces like they were a buffet. Josh’s knuckles would get bloodied every time he tried to untie his shoes.
He worked for years at NBC News “behind enemy lines,” as at least some here might say. He worked at a news syndicate. He spent some time at his beloved New York Post. Or, simply, “The Post.”
And, if you don’t believe me when I say he was fearless, he ran a tow-truck service on the Cross-Bronx Expressway. At night.
Mad Max wouldn’t do that. David Petraeus wouldn’t do that without 40,000 additional troops.
And if you’re still not convinced of his abject fearlessness, he recently ran for the New York City Council from the Upper West Side of Manhattan — as a Republican.