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The Happy Halladay/Holliday Edition*

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Having recently re-subscribed to the “Less is best” school of life grad program, here is my burn out—I mean — burnt offering for the coming holidays. These are the things which can still make me laugh out loud, long and so hard, I risk a ruptured gut. Pretty sure you’ll agree.

My life is finally one with the universe. Well, the universe as I perceive it anyhow. Spike Lee, peanut head film auteur & Knicks fan, spoke out recently—no breaking news there, he does it a lot. That he called the works of Tyler Perry buffoonery, suggesting it was setting the cause of African-Americans back faster than Oprah can load a dish at an all you can eat buffet, is the shocker. Not sure I can live in a world where Spike Lee and I agree, so I’ll add the following—Tyler Perry is setting the entire human race back. Now that’s a race problem!

Perry’s partner in a recent movie release, Winfrey, has announced she’ll be ending her TV show in 2011. This one made me laugh so hard I might have to sue her for the sutures my sides required. 2011?!… Hold on, maybe she knows something! [see below] Regardless, she’ll no doubt pull a Leno and turn up on a night time version. Let’s see, I bet it will be called O! What a Night. I like O! What a Load.

The 2009 Major League baseball season ended the way it always should, so no gloat-fest here. Two things do need addressing. One is the phrase “bought players.” Teams sign players to contracts—- often for huge money. Yes, they all have the option to do so. While the jaded fan may choose to esteem that process as “buying,” they are morons. Abe Lincoln freed the slaves with that old Emancipation Proclamation. Nobody ain’t buyin’ nobody no mo’. To claim the Yankees bought C.C. Sabathia is racist. BTW did I mention THE YANKEES WIN! THE_UHHHHHHHHH YANKEES WIN!!

As for Bud Selig, 80 year old used car salesman/baseball commissioner (@ $20 million per annum). He just noticed the time lag between playoff games is a bit extreme. Wow! 20 mil doesn’t buy the quality brains does it. Of course, LA of A Angels manager of the year Mike Scioscia complained about it. Mainly due to the Angels losing. If Yankees mgr. Joe Girardi had bitched, a fresh round of anti-NYY sentiment would have filled the airwaves in red hot parallel pinstripes to the yowls of “Yankees bought another World Series” bullshit. Those fellas need some new slogans. I have one for them — STFU.

Read some history you a-holes. Sports has always been this way. You can’t sit around smugly saying life ain’t fair – deal with it to people having a rough time of it now- and then cry when your team gets whupped. Mainly because they are cheapskates. Why doesn’t Selig donate 18 or 19 million of his take, to the team with the worst record each year, so they can S I G N a big time free agent. AS if that alone assures anyone of positive results. MLB needs a major league overhaul, with a tier & rewards system for team performance. They won’t do it, because suits like Pud & his cronies like it the way it is-stoopit. Don’t blame the Yankees, blame the owners of all the other teams. But you won’t.

Nobody cries but NYY fans when tyro low payroll teams like the Florida Marlins & Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees on a fluke & their owners bank the cake for trophy wives and ocean front property in Palm Springs. Oh! then it’s David v. Goliath and if it’s like a story in the Bible, it’s good enough for Joe Redass. When did douche baggery start ruling the world?

Which dovetails, in an un-dove like way to a socio-religious aspect of the current flick 2012. Seems they are ecumenical in their destruction of world religious symbols. Oh wait, they forgot to blow up any Islamic sites. Wouldn’t want to offend those clowns. Now I think of it, they do a pretty good job of blowing up the world themselves, literally and figuratively. If somebody told them the truth about the virgins (actually it’s a box of raisins – you could look it up), do you think they’d do that reprehensible shameful Bombing for Allahs trick? Still, all that doesn’t excuse the P.C. pandering of the film makers. Weak. Very.

Continuing on in the weak dept., there is a sports talk host on WFAN, New York City. The guy is a man of the people type, he speaks English natively, but he mangles it grammatically. He can barely speak a sentence without stammering and repeating words. Was this a pity hire? Hey! that’s fine on some small radio station in the sticks, not on the seminal sports powerhouse, in the world’s largest and most influential media market. The worst part is, a typical sports talk show attracts limited intellect callers. This guy’s audience takes it to a new low, the mouth breather boxing fans are the most virulent. He’s on now like 8 nights a week. Can anyone say—video of suits with donkeys?

It’s obvious, I’m thankful for all the laughter this has all brought me. I’m looking forward to all the swell things 2010 will bring. After all, we’re at the 2 year warning—the Mayan Calendar ends in 2012. Anybody else notice it’s “the Calendar?” My @#%&*! calendar ends every year. My only hope is every year would end with-

THE YANKEES WIN! THE_UHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

YANKEES WIN!!!!!!

…and to all a good night.

* its a baseball thing, if you don’t know

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Leaving the House. . ..

August 22, 2009 4 comments

Avoiding the news is a preoccupation of mine. This will not be an exegesis, satirical, tedious or otherwise on that subject. But it is a quick factoid, explaining that the Internet has virtually made it impossible for me to not see the headlines in some side bar. Even when I’m only reading the @#%&*! comics! That’s how I read the news today (August 20). Oh boy. . ..

While I often allude to a boyhood in the Bronx, NY, where I was born ( the hospital a block from Manhattan—which made all the difference ), for purposes of being clear about one point in this piece, I admit I graduated high school in New Jersey. That’s why I will now tell you about Stevie Butler. I went to high school with him and his older brother Brian—Brian and I were born a few days apart in the same year. Their parents had a general store, maybe a football field’s distance away from the school. See, if it were in the Bronx, it would have been called a candy store.

Due to the vagaries of life & my incredible smarts ( mostly incredible for the fact each year I seemed to lose an IQ point ), even though Brian and I were identical in age, I was a Senior, he was a Junior & Stevie was a freshman, as was my sister. The year after I graduated, I was in a band & the times they were a changin’. Their mother was my boss for two summers I worked for the Parks & Recreation Dept. Sadly, there was no colleague the equal of Rashida Jones.

So, there was a connection. Two years after high school, Brian & I went to sign up at the US Armed Forces Draft Board in New Brunswick together. Despite the well intentioned advice from Arlo Guthrie, we did not walk in holding hands & sing a chorus of Alice’s Restaurant, and then walk out. One, because we didn’t want them to think we ” were both faggots ( sic )”. Two, I couldn’t sing harmony to save my ass. Literally. The thread which ties my life to others is so unbelievable, it’s more suited for the novel I never intend to write. I can’t do it here. Which spares us all. For now.

In that era, most guys I knew had grown their hair long, mustache and/or beard optional. For authority figures, it was believed to be a solid tipoff that person was doing some kind of drugs. It may strain credulity, but at 18 ( some of this ground covered in a previous episode ) I chose not to smoke, drink or do dope. Maybe it was the Catholic training or maybe it was I just wanted to save all my resources for girls & music. This was also the year I met another person who played a major part in my music history. His name was David Sutch–he was larger than life, and his did not end well.

I’d see Stevie at gigs & parties, he was affable, generous and blunt. He did have an annoying habit of busting me for not going out into the world & examining every possibility, in every corner. My retort was I didn’t need to, I had an imagination. The irony of my relationship with him will show up later in this. Despite what my so called other friends & acquaintances, family too, thought then, I was out doing other things. It just wasn’t with that old bunch. As a new decade opened, I jointly started a unisex clothing shop in Flemington N.J. with a college buddy, and I’d met several girls from that Hunterdon County area.

A life long habit of personal high impact-short lived jobs began with that store. About a year after leaving the store in a clash over business styles, I heard one of the girls Rita, had been hit by a car, while walking. Her injuries were extensive, but by the time I got the news, she was home and slowly mending. Rita had been a friendly and attractive girl, who came into the shop a lot and any ulterior motives aside, I went to visit her, hoping to cheer her up. She had some bad physical scars, all over. Though she was in decent spirits when I visited, one of her friends told me, she was good day, bad day. Something about her made me think Steve Butler could help bring back a healthy spark to her wounded psyche. He had a way with chicks.

I promised Rita I’d come back and I did. This time I took Stevie, he was up for it too, and because I was interested in one of her friends, Jaye, it was only natural for Steve to hang with Rita. I just knew Steve & Rita would like each other. I was right. Somehow I lost track of Steve after he got involved with her—my attachments to girls sometimes as short as my jobs. Their relationship lasted awhile, and I know he helped her recovery.

Next thing I knew about him, he was traveling with another girl, his hair down to his waist, and according to Brian, they were in Los Angeles. Everybody got excited when word was out, Stevie was going to appear on a popular television game show To Tell the Truth. The hook—lame, but tailor made for that era— He and the girl were placed, standing with their backs to the audience, the panel had to guess who was the boy or the girl. Yikes! We laughed, we cried–my pals got high, I didn’t. I was envious of Stevie being on TV. I can’t recall, but I think he & his gf made it onto the original Price Is Right that same week. It might even be on YouTube now—I don’t know and I don’t want to either.

Steve lived in a cave for a phase, on one of the Hawaiian Islands. Mostly he traveled the world. I’d get picture postcards from all over the planet, many with the same message— ” have you left the house yet?” I resented it after a while. But he wasn’t wrong. Experience had made me even more solitary, writing songs & collaborating with several others. My body lived locally—my mind traveled globally. Then I’d write a song. One made a sentimental reference to a friend like Stevie and a guy like me & a girl. I was sure it would be a hit. Just like me, it didn’t go too far. But it did leave the house, winding up no doubt in circular files from NYC to L.A. with a stop in Nashville.

In 1986 I was doing a thankless gig at a street fair in Frenchtown N.J. I’d invited an old friend, but he had not shown up. Much to my happy amazement, another, very unexpected person, did— Stevie. He’d just come back from Tibet (!), spoken with our friend Dennis ( the no-show ) & decided he’d try to sell some of the items ( no! not drugs ) he’d brought back from Asia. Doing my usual, “ I’d like to buy something, man , but I’m doing this gig free ” act, I shook his hand. Being Stevie, he said—“…just pick out a few things, they’re yours. It’ll be your pay for playing.” Chambers of Commerce could learn from guys like him. Ex-cave dwellers being more giving than say, fat white blowhards. I chose a great cap & a scarf, which I subsequently employed as gifts for two women. I’d told him I might do just that & he smiled. But the third thing, a small wooden slide whistle, resides just a foot away from this keyboard.

That was the last time I saw Steve Butler. Two years later, he boarded a plane in London for NYC. It was Pan Am Flight 103 and it blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. The story doesn’t end there. That’s why I’m stopping this one. And for the moment, I won’t be leaving the house.


W is for. . ..

August 19, 2008 Leave a comment

This is about two disparate TV shows. One is now history, the other continues. Both focused on drug dealers in the early 21st Century. The shows are The Wire and Weeds. I’m not going to promote the latter, and as the former has finished it’s run, I’ll just state the obvious. If you want them they are available for purchase or rent.

Weeds has as its premise, upper middle class wife in California, suddenly widowed, & heavily in debt becomes a pot dealer. In the most cloying flashbacks ever, her late husband is shown as some kind of saint. The barf factor is high and doesn’t stop. The writer(s) obviously got their street smarts from an old Starsky & Hutch show. This woman wouldn’t last a day in the real world of dopers. In fact, she’d more likely be a vic on a CSI slab, for a nice crossover sweeps stunt, those network humps love.

The cast, who I decline to mention by name, is so filled with cliched posers & over-acters, it appears that was the goal in casting them. It’s garbage, the kind of program that thinks having a cameo by Snoop Dog is the height of clever. There is a character named Snoop in The Wire. That Snoop is one of the scariest bitches in history. Not TV history—all of history. If only she’d shown up on that MILF Meets Dogg ep! Now that would’ve been stunt casting!

The Wire is nothing short of the best TV show ever. Sure it has cops, lawyers & drug dealers. The like of which has rarely been seen in a major television production. The writing & acting burned with verisimilitude. Partly because, some of those people were from the streets of Baltimore, where The Wire is set. Characters were multi-layered and had story arcs which went from the first episode of the first season to the last of the series, a five year span.

I’ve stated before, nothing on TV, especially the so called news is that real, all the time. No work of fiction puts you there, it just can’t do it. Even when you’re there, you miss some things. Life is Rashomon, like it or not. By accident, the news gets it correct occasionally. When a TV writer gives the extra effort to give the viewer a genuine catharsis, it’s as gratifying as it is rare.

The characters of The Wire are written and acted so well, you can’t help but care about even the bad guys. As with most good writing, it was a close call, who was good. No one was left without a flaw. Most of them the tragic kind. Any attempt to choose the standouts in this would virtually demand a cut & paste of the cast list. Even as I write this, I keep thinking of how to limit it to maybe three, and it’s impossible.

And there are astonishingly fluid relationships. Things you don’t see coming, even when you’re looking for it. Some of these actors created characters so indelible, they will be forever recognized. Sure, that happens a lot. But I assure you mostly it happens due to quantitative reasons. This is purely qualitative.

For me, there is more evil in a scene of Weeds where a leering Snoop Dogg is rapping how he’d like to fuck Mary Louise Parker, than any sociopathic hit Snoop executes in The Wire. She is doing her job from her POV, as we see it, a reprehensible job, given impetus by a world she didn’t create, just uses her regrettable skill to survive it. The teleplay of the other Snoop has him being him all right, but it’s a contrived scene born of the fevered imagination of a lameass, sitting in her SoCal dreamland.

Weeds, named after one of the many slang terms for marijuana, belongs in the weeds. The Wire, which is cop talk for a phone tap, electric with a message, pumped along a wire from the twisted soul of an inner city nightmare to the true heart of art.