I was a 70’s punk rocker.

Now, in middle-age, I look back and wonder — Who was that skinny kid? The one in the photo taken in girlfriend Tessa’s bedroom, where she dressed him up in a skinny tie and tight-pegged pants tapering to a pair of high-heeled Beatle boots, christening him “the hottest trick in Noe Valley.”

Was he: An aspiring writer and journalist? A wayward, college-educated youth in search of himself? A promiscuous lothario prowling the corners of the punk underground in search of casual sex, so easy to come by in the free-wheeling San Francisco of the…


A disillusioned look at love

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

The importance of giving, blessing others, can never be overemphasized because there’s always joy in giving. Learn to make someone happy by acts of giving. ~ Katharine Hepburn

Love is a many splendored thing.

Love is a divine, godly and spiritual quality.

All you need is love.

Wrong. Love is not splendored, spiritual or the one and only thing you need in life.

Be it brotherly love, romantic love, parental love, patriotic love or puppy love, what we call love isn’t love at all.

In a self-centered culture organized around the pursuit of personal gain, it makes sense that love…


A Lesson in Outrage

Some say that nothing good comes of violence, but the White Night Riots proved otherwise.

On November 27, 1978 there were two murders the entire world heard about. One took the life of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and the other the life of San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, the nation’s first openly gay elected leader.

Both killings were committed by Dan White, a former city supervisor. In a single murderous rampage, White changed San Francisco forever and produced a kind of rage not seen since the race riots of the ‘60’s.

Dan White was elected supervisor from District 8…


Feelin’ good, feelin’ good, all the money in the world spent on feelin’ good. — Levon Helm, Feelin’ Good

Everyone wants to feel good. Humans instinctively seek pleasure, joy, happiness, bliss, or at least the absence of physical and emotional pain. It’s basic to our humanity. Sigmund Freud codified it as the “pleasure principle.” It animates our lives.

If it’s natural for people to want to feel good, why do we demonize the pursuit of good feelings when they involve drugs, alcohol, gambling, cigarettes and porn? …


Photo by James Jonathan on Unsplash

You can survive and thrive with COVID-19. I say that fully aware of the crisis upon us. Even though it’s going to wreak havoc on the economy and uproot lives, it is possible to benefit from it. Not materially, but spiritually.

To benefit spiritually means to benefit in ways that change who you are at a fundamental level. It means to change your being.

You must actively engage this crisis to spiritually benefit from it. Lean into it. If you minimize it, explain it away with bizarre conspiracy theories or endlessly fret over it, it will not provide an opportunity…


You haven’t had a blood test or peed into a cup, but you’re pretty sure you’ve got it — a serious case of introversion.

While there’s no diagnostic test, you may be an introvert if any of the following sounds familiar.

Around talkative extroverts, you marvel at how people can have so much to say. Your own mind is a blank, and attempts at small talk produce only dull-witted cliches and banal utterances.

Large-scale social events terrify you. You’d rather face a firing squad than mix and mingle with people you don’t know. …


As I stroll the narrow and wandering streets of the West Village, a piece of New York City roughly bound by the Hudson River and Seventh Avenue, extending from 14th down to Houston Street, its character seems intact, much as it has been for decades. The Bohemian vibe, the 19th century red-brick homes, the eccentric avenues that defy grid-bound linearity.

I am a newcomer to New York, visiting the West Village to meet its spirits. (I’ve heard that Dylan Thomas’ ghost inhabits the White Horse Tavern, moving tables around and leaving brandy snifters in unexpected places.) I come to visit…


A woman once proudly told me that she had overcome her assertiveness issues in group therapy. She spent five years in a group with a member who savaged her, put her down and berated her incessantly, until she learned to stand up and defend herself. It seemed inconceivable to me that someone would need therapy for so long to get help. She must be a real head case, I recall thinking, rather uncharitably.

Little did I suspect then that I would one day exceed that woman’s therapeutic tour of duty by a wide margin. It’s been 13 and half years…


My paternal grandfather was old and decrepit by the time I was six. I recall him sitting crumpled and cynical in a lawn chair, waving a cane at his grandkids as they ran in circles around him. He muttered under his breath in a mixture of bad English and his native Italian dialect.

Grandpa Rocco was an immigrant from southern Italy. He had spent his whole life surrounded by other Italian immigrants and had learned little English. By the age of 60, he was a cripple from a lifetime of working in a steel mill. He couldn’t so much walk…


My teeth were chattering from the icy cold, yet greeting me on this frigid December eve was a 58 year-old Jewish man, richly tanned, wearing a tie-died t-shirt with a large peace symbol on the front. He seemed to have recently returned from a Grateful Dead concert in the Bahamas. David — pronounced dah-veed — had a room for rent in his apartment in midtown Manhattan. I was there to check it out.

We shook hands and I entered his apartment. He immediately announced: “Excuse me while I kiss a girl,” then bounded off to an adjacent room. …

Tony Rocco

Tony is a freelance technical writer and author of fiction, memoir, journalism and personal essays. You can visit his author website at tonygrocco.com.

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