BY MICHAEL SCHENKLER
TWO WORDS: No, not those!
Root canal! You see, I’m basically a chicken. I don’t even try to pretend. I grew up being scared of the dentist and any dental procedure more than filling out an insurance form has always been on my list just above an IRS audit.
Now, I have a wonderful dentist. Charlene Berkman in Forest Hills. She’s great. Never hurt me. Inspires confidence, relaxation and is pleasant to be with. As a matter of fact, we’ve become friends with Charlene and her husband Richard, even though they’ve never invited us to their boat. Anyway, she’s a wonderful dentist. I’m not petrified; but I’d rather meet her at a restaurant than her office.
I’ve been going to Charlene for years — without problem — until my last visit. She said those two words: root canal. No, Charlene was not going to do the root canal work. I had to go to an endodontist.
Enter Mitchell Greenberg. He too has an office in Forest Hills. I didn’t know him and really would have rather lived my life without having to meet him. Charlene said I had to go. So I went. It was still probably going to be a step up from an IRS audit.
Forget all those horror stories. Really! Mitch did what endodontists do — painlessly and almost comfortably. In just the first visit — there’ve been two so far — Mitch demonstrated to me that the terrible fear of “root canal” that we all grew up with, was just unfounded. In brief discussion, Mitch asserted that little pain and few problems arise when competent endodontic professionals perform the procedure. If you know what you’re doing, you can do it well.
If you gotta go, it ain’t so bad. I’ve been there.
However, if you do go for a root canal, I have two words for you: nitrous oxide.
And if you get called by the IRS man for an audit, I have two words for him too!
THOUGHT: By the time you get to the point where you can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.
PADAVAN: As always, it’ll be a year for incumbents in this election cycle. The only local race worth talking about this year (other than Crowley), is the primary for the right to lose to State Senator Frank Padavan.
Padavan, one of the Republican deans in the Republican controlled NYS Senate, has owned his seat for almost three decades. Over the years, he has fought off strong challenges from the impressive community activist Nick Garaufis (who later became Council to the Queens Beep and is now Chief Council to the Federal Aviation Administration) and a redistricting challenge from fellow State Senator political pro Jeremy Weinstein (who is now an NYS Supreme Court judge).
The Dems, energized by some recent successes in neighboring Nassau and an ever-popular Dem President (lol) have fooled themselves into believing the invulnerable is vulnerable. They’re lining up to take on Padavan.
Civic activists Rory Lancman and Morshed Alam are both acting like they intend to fight it out in a Dem primary to eventually have their brains beaten out by Padavan.
Both hopefuls have a decade of service and political experience. Alam however, was Padavan’s opponent last time out and lost on the Democratic line by about 18 percent — a trouncing by any standards. Look for Alam’s political “rabbi” — the astute senior east Queens Democratic District leader Chet Szarejko — to pull Morshed from this race. Chet is well aware that a primary battle does the Dems no good and that the entire effort is a losing proposition anyway. Look for Alam to be rewarded for stepping aside with a job or political appointed position. That’s the stuff that makes political deals.
Padavan over Lancman: give 13 points.
Szarejko and Alam, the real winners.
LOL: A common online chat room abbreviation for “laughing out loud.”
RABBI: In politics, one who watches over you. A mentor.
ELECTION.COM: Just a week ago, it was votation.com and now after spending some major league bucks, they’re election.com. And our old friend, former Nassau County Democratic Chairman John Matthews has been named as a director of the first global Internet election company.
Garden City-based election.com offers voters the option of voting online as opposed to traditional polling places with the expectation of increasing voter turnout. The Arizona Democratic Party and election.com recently digitally signed a contract to hold the first-ever, legally-binding public election over the internet for the March 11, 2000 Democratic Primary.
TROJANS: So, it’s late at night and I’m watching one of the network late shows and on comes this ad for Trojans. Now, when I was a kid — no, it’s not that long ago — you wouldn’t find commercials for Trojans on television.
Then again, when I was a kid, you wouldn’t find Trojans on kids.
BENEFITS: AN EVENING OF FINE FOOD: Cerebral Palsy of Queens at Terrace on the Park on Feb. 9, 2000 — 6:30 p.m. honoring Queens’ Joel Miele, Commish NYC Dept Environmental Protection. A Gastronomical Tour of the World, with a variety of restaurants and bakeries participating, plus a silent auction. Sounds like a gas for $85 per. Info (718) 380-3000.
WE TAKE YOUR LUNGS TO HEART: American Lung Assoc. of Queens at Terrace on Friday, Feb. 11, 2000. 7 p.m. Reception & Silent Auction, 8 p.m. Healthy Living Awards to Barry Freedman, president Mount Sinai Medical Center & others. Black Tie Optional. $150 per. Info (718) 263-5656 ext. 15. “When You Can’t Breathe, Nothing else Matters.”
LANGUAGE: A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. “In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”
A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”
AJC: Monday night was an interesting night. I attended a mini-conference of the American Jewish Congress at which my friend, Trib Associate Publisher Mike Nussbaum, was installed as AJC Met Region president.
Now, I’m not into religion the way Michael is (please, don’t send letters). However, I found the evening intriguing and pleasant.
The purpose of AJC is far more global and humanitarian than just fighting for the survival of the Jewish people. As part of its mission, it advocates activism committed to the preservation of democratic principles: civil and religious freedom, the separation of church and state, the advancement of social and economic justice, women’s equality and human rights. Whew!
If Monday night was typical, they fulfilled their mission well and I understand Michael’s motivation in devoting himself to the organization. Bobby Kennedy, Jr. spoke with passion about preserving our environment. Other impressive participants included Israeli Ambassador Schmuel Sisso, Alan Hevesi, Bronx DA Robert Johnson, Herman Badillo, Mark Green, Bd. of Ed Prez Bill Thompson and more.
Borough Hall’s Melinda Katz and Councilmembers Morty Povman and Helen Marshall turned out to salute Mike and the organization.
We take pride when one of the Trib family accepts the challenge to work for the good of others. We know Michael will do the Trib, the borough and the city proud.
We wish him well.
CLAIRE: It’s no surprise; Claire Shulman loves her job and enjoys serving the people. The City’s Charter prevents her from seeking reelection. So what is her Beepship going to do in 2002?
Don’t bet the ranch on it.
Claire would not be happy sitting at home or leading the life of luxury in Florida. The Claire Shulman I know would miss the action.
What’s she planning?
Insiders tell us that the Queens Borough President is leaving her options open. However, we’re told that she’s been approached by a coalition encouraging her to run for Public Advocate — and she’s giving it serious consideration.
On March 2, Friends of Shulman will be hosting a Flushing Town Hall fundraiser to lay the groundwork for the Beep’s future move. Look for a room filled with people doling out $250 to $1,000 per to launch a new career for the matriarch of Queens.
Claire’s not done.
You can take that to the bank.
Michael Nussbaum contributed to this column.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com.