If you're looking for the David Mintz who grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland; lived in Chile as a teenager; got degrees in classical guitar at the Hartt School of Music and at the University of Arizona; became a Spanish<>English interpreter for the US District Court in New York City; and retired from the federal judiciary in July 2020: this is the one!
My wife Amy Hartford and I live in near-continuous bliss with our dog and three cats in a little house on a dirt road in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, an island south of Cape Cod, Massachussetts, USA. Before washing ashore here, I lived in New Jersey for 30 years, mostly in Jersey City followed by South Orange. Amy and I have four fascinating children: three from her previous marriage and one from mine.
Master Lin-chi, 2007-2020 (foreground)
Vernon 2007-2023 (background)
Vernon with Maggie
Daphne and Walter
As of 28-Feb-2024 at 4:22 pm EST, the local temperature was about 50°F/10°C with 96% humidity and mist with winds south/southwest at 17.27 mph.
Now let's talk about politics. I'm a socialist, a Marxist-Trotskyist, and I wholeheartedly support the Socialist Equality Party. There is a great deal more to say, but for now suffice it to say that I have lived in the world long enough to understand that capitalism is a system under which the social needs of the many are subordinated for the sake of the enrichment of a few at the top; inequality is an essential feature. The capitalist profit system is an utter disaster for the great majority of the world's population and the environment. The only rational, viable alternative is socialism. I recommend the World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org) for further reading; it offers singularly honest, clear-minded reporting and commentary.
other stuff that interests me
I have had the good fortune to do a number of interesting things in the course of my life: I've performed as a classical guitarist; made over 1100 skydives; taken psychedelic drugs (LSD being my favorite); practiced Zen; run marathons and ultra-marathons; coded web applications that have made people's work less onerous; and done plenty of other cool shit that I am too modest to brag about. It's a long, strange curriculum vitae.
I became a full-stack web developer because when I started working as a staff Spanish interpreter for the federal court, the manual, paper-based methods we were using to run our busy office were becoming untenable. But I was unable to find any software that served our purposes. So I set about coding our own court interpreter management system. The resulting app has been developed, revised, and battle-tested for over 20 years, and is freely available as an open-source project. I call it InterpretersOffice. Unfortunately the project has not been updated for so long, it's essentially abandoned. But the source code repository is still on Github.
Once upon a time I was a student at a zendo in New York City, drawn to it because I was curious about practicing meditation. I participated in formal sittings and certain Zen Buddhist rituals -- chanting and bowing and so forth -- worked with a teacher, studied koans. After a couple years I moved on, but continued the habit of sitting every day. There's ample evidence that sitting still and breathing in and out is beneficial to psychological and physical health, but that isn't what motivates me. Nor do I care for what is commonly known as spirituality. After some 15 years I've been sitting long enough to do it for no reason or purpose, with no expectation of reward. It pleases me to report that I have accomplished nothing.
I didn't start running semi-seriously until I was in my 50s, and have since aged out of the game, though I'm still good for a few easy miles about three times a week. But there were several years where I greatly enjoyed training and running races, with respectable age-relative results. Just a couple years before my first marathon, the idea of running one was inconceivable. I must have mistakenly believed you had to be an extraordinary athlete to be a marathoner at all. Of course it does require considerable effort and reasonably good general health to get fit enough to get through it, but this is well within the reach of ordinary people. I was pleasantly astounded to discover how hard running 50 kilometer trail races was not, as long as you pace yourself correctly. So if this is something you've thought about but have never tried, I encourage you to go for it.
To succeed as a professional musician you need talent, determination, resourcefulness, discipline, and luck. Perhaps I was lacking in one or more of these. I studied classical guitar, performed, taught, and quit at around the age of 30 after deciding it was time to find a better way to pay the bills. I have nothing to regret; the way my life has turned out has been more than satisfactory. And it gives me immense satisfaction to see that some of my old friends have hung in there and been successful.
Was I a good player? Listen to this recording of me playing J. S. Bach, Prélude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998 at a public recital in 1987, and decide for yourself. I was playing a guitar built by Eric Sahlin.
You want more? We got more. Here's full-length recital, recorded in January 1989:
It's hard for a musician truly to stop being a musician. And so, after a 30 year hiatus, I decided to pick up the guitar again. But not classical; it would be too difficult to regain a level high enough to make it satisfying. I decided instead to get some instruction in jazz and have fun, liberated from the need to achieve anything. So here's a little video of me having fun making music once again (albeit recorded on the crappiest of equipment).
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The blog is at blog.vernontbludgeon.com