Immortality, in Grass Processed Through a Horse’s Digestive System

I worked at the New York Public Service Commission from 1970 to 1997. Periodically we have retiree reunion lunches. It can feel like entering a time capsule. Some people seem not to age, or even to improve. At the latest gathering, one who was an old woman 20 years ago was actually looking so good that if I were single . . .  but maybe that just shows I’m getting old.

images-2A former colleague, Jeff, was reminiscing about how much fun we used to have back in the   day. To illustrate, he quoted a line from one of my own legal briefs, from 1977. It wasn’t even a case he’d worked on, yet he remembered it. Oddly enough, I’d recently stumbled on a copy of that very brief, and showed it to my daughter, to make the same point. Early in my career I had found it advantageous to be known for putting zingers in briefs — it got people to read them.

This one was actually my last as an advocate in the trenches; I’d already been named a judge. So I made the most of that final fling, firing away with all guns blazing, and had a fat target – the telephone company’s petition for rehearing on its rate case, re-arguing points already fully dealt with. imagesOne of them I labeled “grass processed through the digestive system of a horse.” I don’t know that that was really so clever, but nevertheless it did become kind of famous among old PSC hands – as evidenced by Jeff’s remembering the line 36 years later!

That – not any of my six books – is probably the only sort of immortality I’ll ever have.


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