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Introduction - Pg. xi

Everything that happens just happens because everything in the world just happened. --Uncle Herman W hen I was a child, my uncles would gather every Saturday at my grandparents' house to sit at a long dining room table telling jokes while accounting their week's gambling wins and losses. My grandfather Morris would retire to a musty back room, crank up his red-brown mahogany Victrola, lie diagonally across a double bed with his eyes closed and his feet off to one side, and listen to the distant voice of the velvety soprano Amelita Galli- Curci sing Gilda's arias from Rigoletto.