Dan Rattiner's Stories

Hole in the Head: The Remarkable Transformation of Karl Grossman

Liberal columnist takes violent swing to the right after head injury.

There’s a certain bond that develops among longtime columnists on the East End, particularly with those doing it for a half a century or more. I am one of those. Karl Grossman is another.

I write humor, local affairs and sometimes hoaxes, while Grossman writes about the environment and preservation, workplace safety, and sometimes government and business scandals, always from a liberal perspective—at least until the last month, about which I will get to a little later.

In any case, Karl and I are longtime friends. My wife and I hung out with him and his wife on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgins for a number of winters.

As with all of us who enjoy life on this planet, bad things sometimes happen. Usually, none of us write about such things, particularly if they don’t have anything to do with the particular point of view we espouse in our writings.

However, last week, Grossman wrote about a particular medical condition that had affected him, and how the problem was solved by doctors drilling two holes in his head. I read it with interest, called him up to give my condolences, and was glad to hear he is now well.

About two months ago, Grossman wrote, he tripped over something in a dark room and landed on his head. He got up with a ringing in his ears, took an aspirin and felt better. Nothing further seemed to come of it. However, several weeks later, visiting his doctor on another matter, the doctor expressed alarm at how Grossman was walking and talking. He appeared unsteady, and his eyes weren’t dilating properly. The doctor ordered more tests.

Turns out, Grossman had blood contusions on both sides of his head between his skull and brain. It was a serious business, and as a result, he wrote, he wound up having to have two holes drilled into his head to drain the resulting hematomas. It was an unpleasant situation for a couple of days, but he pulled through and he’s fine now.

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Personally, I am glad he did this. I hadn’t known what had happened to him when it happened, but I did notice a change in his writing. The week before the date of the accident, he wrote of some collusion going on between the government and some power company. But directly after the accident—I was able to match up the dates—his writing made a violent and unexpected swing to the right.

There were six columns, one after the other, that, well, I thought were not of the sort of thing I was used to reading when I turned to the latest Karl Grossman.

He wrote the first week that we should, in one massive stroke, completely obliterate North Korea in a vicious surprise attack. The second week he wrote that we should arm our school children with submachine guns and teach them how to use them so as to create a wall of defense to stop a shooter.

Then, apparently taking up on the topic of “a wall,” he wrote about how a wall between America and Mexico should not be 30 feet high but 60, and even then should be topped with barbed wire, spikes and trip-wire mines that would go off if anyone went up there. The fourth week, he wrote about the scandal involving asbestos. There was really nothing wrong with asbestos. And the removal of it in public buildings, along with lead paint, which he also defended, was just a make-work job created by the effete liberal politicians to skim money off the taxpayers to pay for the project. The removed asbestos was being sold secretly to create a further profit.

Finally, just days before he had the holes drilled in his head he wrote that a woman’s place is in the home and didn’t they realize how good they had everything? They should just shut up.

Frankly, I was delighted that he skipped the next week, which was last week, and I’m glad to see he is back and writing more to my liking again, his latest column about nefarious efforts to create an urban hub at Ronkonkoma that would result in suburban sprawl overwhelming the East End and ruining this lovely place.

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