Tuesday, June 30, 2009

BEWARE!



I was driving along through New York State when I saw a barn with a painted message. In 5-foot high letters the message read - Beware! Jesus is Coming!

I had just experienced one of them days - a day when there was so much coming at me, and my mood wasn't good. In my head were the ideas that I need to start writing again - courtesy of my wife. My publisher was talking about promoting the books and making appearances. Work was about 15 hours long.

"Jesus is Coming! Where the hell is He?" I shouted.

As I drove the second photo showed itself - I took a snapshot of the dark, ominous clouds that were weighing down on me. I was waiting on the heavy rains.

A funny thing happened though - they didn't come.

Over the next half hour, I worked everything through my mind - I was a little ashamed of yelling for Jesus to show himself.

The 1st photo shows the sky as the darkness cleared as I drove towards Buffalo. It was hard to miss the message from above.

Just before I pulled into the driveway the old Van Morrison song - "Have I Told You Lately," came on the radio. It was a song written about God with the lyrics - "And at the end of the day, we should give thanks and pray to the one."

And: "You fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness, ease my troubles that's what you do."

Beware?

Strange how two hours time can change your mind about moving forward through the clouds.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I Don't Like Lance Armstrong

Yeah, yeah, I know the story. The amazing courage to beat cancer. I watched an inspirational film of his life and read his life story. I actually used one of his films for an inspirational story in one of the classes that I was teaching.

Then I read more about how he left his wife and family after they helped him win his inspirational battle with cancer. How he dropped Sheryl Crow when she needed him during her treatment for breast cancer. How he supposedly hooked up with one of the Olsen twins. How he allegedly used steroids, or skipped the test, and bashed the whole bike-riding federation.

I was thinking about it today because I just saw a commercial about how he didn't care that people think he's arrogant, or a cheater, or a fraud. It ended with the Nike logo and the Just Do It slogan.

In other words, it doesn't matter who he left shattered along the way - after all - it's Lance's world and we're just living in it.

And the greatest athlete ever? He rides a bike! There was a whole pack of kids riding their bikes around my neighborhood the other day and they never copped out of a steroids test and blamed everyone for doubting their integrity.

So we are supposed to believe in his integrity when it comes to riding his bike when he lacks integrity in every other facet of his life? Liar, cheater, fraud...didn't see those words in his inspirational book.

Speaking of liars, cheats and frauds, Madoff got 150 years. Sounds about right, but I can't help but root for one person to out live such a sentence. Seriously, wouldn't it be cool if he went to prison as a 70-year old man and actually served his whole sentence. Could you imagine the looks on the faces of the parole board in the year 2160 when he enters the room and declares himself a free man.

He probably won't make it.

Hopefully, he can sit back, relax and root for Lance Armstrong as he tries to win another long bike race that no one cares about. One man without integrity rooting for another.

Glad I got that off my chest.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do This In Memory of Me

Started Saturday morning off with a trip to church and most of the time I am able to catch a couple of sentences that catapult me through the next week. I also enjoy the community of church and everyone singing and praying in unison. I better say that or there are about thirty-five nuns from the past who will be lined up to beat me with their ruler.

Yesterday the line that caught my attention was "Do this in memory of me." Of course they are the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, but yesterday they rang a true chord.

My brother Jim had been asking me all week long to help him make Italian sausage. It's a task that we've shared as a family since I was just a kid, but one that we hadn't yet attempted without the family chef. Of course we had the recipe and the know-how, but it wouldn't be easy by any means. Believing that Jim didn't have anyone to help, I made the drive, and Bruce on E-Street radio got me there. Sad, but determined to do it in memory.

To my delight, Jim wasn't working alone. Not only was my brother John there, but my father and my uncle all showed up. It wasn't the same, but we did laugh at one another quite a few times - and we stepped into our roles. John working the casings, Jim running the equipment and me weighing it and putting it into bags. We also ate about six pounds of it while we worked - and damn it's good.

Leaving there, we headed to my house for a long party of ping-pong, basketball, and adult beverages. The laughs just kept coming as the kids shot hoops with us, we chased each other around, and I wound up on my back after slipping in the grass chasing a rebound. I felt the tug on my right Achilles tendon, and before I got to my feet, I looked up at the darkening sky.

I could almost hear the laughter coming from above, and I knew that the entire day was carried by the message heard in church.

Friday, June 26, 2009

One More Thought...

...on Michael.

If the guy who lived next door to you weighed 95 pounds, wore a hockey goalie mask over a respirator, continually grabbed his crotch, slept in a chamber, held hands with a chimp named Bubbles, dyed his skin, re-shaped his nose until it almost fell off, and hung around with little children, allowing them to sleep in his bed - Would you call the cops?

Man oh man, what a long fall.

Whacko

My brother John, out of the blue one day, said: "Only in America can a poor black kid grow up to be a successful, rich, white woman."

He was speaking of Michael Jackson, of course, and it used to make me laugh every time I thought of Jacko.

Yet his sudden death kind of makes his life a pure tragedy, doesn't it? What a mess were made of things when all was said and done.

The trappings of fame are ridiculous when you get that famous - it killed Elvis, killed Anna Nicole, killed Marilyn Monroe, and now killed Michael Jackson, I suppose.

I wasn't ever really a fan on Michael Jackson, but how could you escape it? I even tried to moonwalk one time at a frat party - not a pretty picture. Yet I did watch the Thriller video when it debuted, right along with a million others.

The reason I didn't love his music - although I appreciated his talents - was that I love rock and roll - and girls were into Michael - and he danced - and I dance like Grape Ape.

Yet I certainly was disgusted with the marriage to Lisa Marie, and the allegations of child abuse - yeah, yeah, never convicted, but if I'm not guilty of something, I'm certainly not giving you $20 mil to walk away.

And that's disgusting. And that's where the hero worship should end.

I'm trying to be fair here, but waking up to the words, The world mourns the loss of Michael Jackson might be a little dramatic.

Mourn? Nah, not me. Can't get past the molestation stuff - but I pity him and the tragic life he ended up leading.

May God judge him fairly.

I'll miss Farrah more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jon & Kate

Why the hell do I know who these people are? Why is every newspaper in the country following the break-up of their marriage? I heard that Jon said that he needed to get on with his life. Don't they have 8 children? Get on with your life? That is your life, nitwit.

We finally found that Governor, huh? Turns out he wasn't out trying to find himself by hiking along some mountain trail, or writing down all of his deep thoughts - he was having an affair with some woman from Argentina that he met on the Internet. He has four kids who he is currently begging for their forgiveness.

A spokesman for the governor explained that every once in a while a man needs a break.

I never saw the show that features Jon and Kate, but word on the street is that he was feeling stifled with his responsibilities.

A long time ago I wrote a blog about what every man should repeat to himself when he feels those urges to wander away from the life he'd set up.

BAM - yes - Be A Man.

There are 12 more kids lives uprooted because daddy couldn't BAM.

Yet what really has me outraged about it is that I know who these people are. We continue to find comfort in the crap behavior of others.

Perhaps I will be in a better mood after the Yanks finally trash the Braves tonight (sorry, Larry).

Yet I suppose that if I really need comfort in the morning, I can go to the NY Post and catch up on how Jon is finally finding himself, or how sorry the governor truly is.

Pure garbage - I hope those women clean them out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A-ROD IS FATIGUED

I'm thinking that the streak for waking up before six in the morning is at about two years now. I'm not patting myself on the back, but I never miss work. I hardly ever have a day that would be considered lazy.

I feel guilty when I don't write. I feel guilty when I don't spend some good time with the family. I know a whole bunch of working slobs like me. Working hard - day in and day out - for enough money to have a decent family.

A-Rod is making $204,700 a game - he's 0 for 3 tonight. Insert me into the clean-up position and I'd have the same sort of day and I'd look fetching in the pinstripe uniform.

Which isn't to say it's easy, but the announcer frosted my ass when he mentioned that part of the problem is that A-Rod is fatigued.

Oh really?

Was it the long line at the buffet after sleeping until 4 in the afternoon that did him in?

Was it the seven times he swung and missed?

Was it those late nights with Kate Hudson?

Was it that long plane ride from Florida to Georgia.

Fatigued my ass.

Follow me around - follow my wife around as she does her work. Hell, follow any man or woman struggling to make ends meet.

Why am I watching this dork?

I hope he homers next time up.

Maybe We Didn't Have it All Figured Out

I stopped in a bar yesterday afternoon and did one Heiny Light and a shot of Jameson's in honor of my brother's birthday. I sipped it slow and allowed my mind to wander. Of course it wandered to all of the great places - memories of words said and laughs shared - and then a stray thought struck me and led to the title of this blog.

Jeff and I were usually of one opinion on any given subject, and for the most part, we discussed living right and battled against the things that led us astray - like Heiny Lights and shots of Jameson's - but it was all right - we did those things in the name of fun.

I finished the drinks and headed to the boys baseball games. It was a beautiful summer night with a clear, blue sky that contradicted everything swimming around in my head.

The boys were playing on three separate diamonds in one location - so Kathy and I, along with her Mom and Dad, walked from game to game, checking the scores and if one of the kids was due up.

Matt's team was getting soundly whipped and he flew to center. Sam's team was also losing and he'd struck out. Jake spent the early part of the game on the bench.

All of my life I've fought the good fight against wasting time. For a fleeting moment, I grew distracted - "I'm heading home," I told Kathy.

"This is what summer is about," Kathy said. "Relax."
"I haven't seen any of them come to bat," I said. "I'm heading home, I have stuff to figure out."

Yet instead of heading home I fell to the grass. We were in front of Jake's game and his team was up, but as far as I could tell, he wasn't due up.

The first kid hit a single to center. Kathy and I began a discussion about the liberal substitute rule in little league. I was in the middle of explaining the major league rule to her when the next kid hit a single to right.

"Good hit Jacob," the coach yelled.

"Jacob?" I asked.

I looked at the kid on first. He looked too big to be Jake. "Is that our kid?" I asked.

"No," Kathy said. "Wait, yeah, maybe it is."

"That's your kid," one of the coaches said as he casually walked by, laughing.

The trip around the bases took awhile, but Jake slid, ran hard, and scored. When the game was over he was awarded a game ball for his hustle.

"Aren't you glad you stayed to see it?" Kathy asked.

Why don't you enjoy life instead of trying to figure it out, a wise man once told me.

Maybe he had more figured right than me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Boy

Today would have been the celebration of Jeff's 39th birthday.

Actually, today will be the celebration of his big day.

It's quite early in the morning and memories are flooding back to me, but that seems to be every day anyway. It's just more pronounced today.

Thirty-nine years isn't a lot of time. Not even close to what would have been acceptable.

Yet the gift of today is to remember that time is short, and to appreciate what is there in front of you. Sounds cliche, but a necessary messsage for sure.

That was part of Jeff's message to us all in the time he was here, busting our chops.

Every day was a bit of a party. There was plenty of time to make us smile. Every meal was a feast... we laughed a ton with him...remember that dear friends.

So, I'll raise a glass...

Listen to Americanland by Bruce...

Maybe cry a little...

And smile a lot...

Happy Birthday, brother!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to everyone out there. I read a quote from Obama who said that it is what he aspires to be - a good father.

I suppose it is an easy thing to say and I'm sure he feels it - I do too. Yet it isn't the easiest job in the world by any means. There are a lot of men out there who shirk the responsibility.

My kids are pretty easy to get along with - they do what needs to be done to stay out of the doghouse on any given day. They are a joy to be around and certainly have plenty of capabilities, but as a father who does want to be responsible there are plenty of things to worry about.

My one goal as a father is simply to be there for the boys. My Dad was mostly always there - he had to travel a bit to provide - but he was ever-present. I still recall the cards and notes he sent to me when I was away at college - there was always money tucked in there - money that he scraped together without telling my mother. I'm sure he did it for every kid.

And Dad was always full of advice - opinionated and always ready to do battle - he never hesitated to set us straight on any subject. We had a nice little battle about the merits of Joe Girardi as Yankee manager just last week.

So where does that leave me as a father? Kids watch and learn. They imitate (I don't want them imitating all of my behaviors), they irritate (Matt, Sam and Jake love taunting me with the rap music they have on their I-Pods), and once in awhile they certainly appreciate.

I'm right there with Obama when he claims that it is the most difficult job he'll ever have (although the economy is proving to be a worthy challenge).

Yet it is also certainly the most rewarding job on the planet too.

Here's hoping that all Dad's reading this are up for the challenge.

And to my boys - thanks for making the job so much fun.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rain Drops are Falling On My Head

Sing that song to yourself, right now, and then curse me for it never leaving your mind the rest of the day.

Man, I was looking forward to golf this week. A little trick I've learned in life is to give yourself a carrot to chase - I had a golf ball in the front of my car all week long - when things got rough - when I got too down-hearted, I picked the ball up, and visualized myself hitting it off the tee on the first hole.

"You'll never golf this weekend," my wife said - "It's going to rain hard on Saturday."

"It'll be all right," I said.

Lo and behold - I was on the tee at 7:36 - the rain was nothing more than a drizzle. The perfect shot I had visualized, however, turned into a hard yank to the left, but over the water, and still in play.

6 holes later, the rain came down hard and cold. I birdied the 7th hole and did my birdie dance.

"Stop," my brother-in-law Chuck said. "I just caught a glimpse of your belly button."

We called it a day after 9 and Pops gave us enough breakfast to last us a month.

And yet, the day didn't suck - not all I was looking for, but I wore my brother's spikes - and they were a good fit.

Remind me to show you the birdie dance.

Raindrops are falling on my head...something, something, feet too big for the bed. Nothing seems to fit.

Friday, June 19, 2009

He's the Guy I Want to Talk To

Strange.

Go from talking to someone every day of your life.

30 + or so years.

To never talking to him again.

What happens?

Loneliness.

Plenty of dreams.

I hear him.

Same inflection.

Same tone.

Same belly laughs.

Tell yourself that life goes on.

Tell yourself that you'll be all right.

Drink a Grey Goose.

Just enough olive juice to cut the taste.

Call a friend.

Thanks J.C.

Not the same.

Still appreciate it.

Put the Yanks on.

Think of my brother again.

What's better than a brother?

Catch an idea!

Oh shit!

He's the one I think of calling.

Damn.

This sucks!

Hear his message.

Live.

Live.

Live.

Thanks.

Bro.

BLAH!

Don't you move a little bit lighter on a normal Friday? I normally do, but today I was feeling real sluggish. Perhaps it's the weather, more likely it's the events of the past few months, but I couldn't help but feel that I just didn't have it.

We've all been there, right? It's a feeling of simple --- Blah.

I actually hate feeling this way too. There has to be something that charges us up, gets us fired up, and moving forward.

The kids last full day of school is today. You want to see fired up, get a load of Sam these days. Last night during the Yankee game, he waited for a commercial break and he grabbed hold of my feet and danced along to the music in the commercials.

I tried to tell him to knock it off, but I couldn't stop laughing. Youthful exuberance. We played his little game through three commercial breaks before I was finally able to get him to stop.

It'll be a long, hot summer for Kathy and the boys.

In any regard, I'm struggling to find something that captures my attention these days - still not reading much; aggravated about the behavior of athletes to the tune of not really feeling like such a fan; can't drink much anymore; not really writing anything; the Father's Day golf outing is being threatened by rain.

Blah!

Where's my book on positive thinking?

That's right - I lost it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Getting a Puppy

Billy Joel is 60-years old and news came down this morning that he's splitting with his 27-year old wife. He couldn't make it work with Christie, and now he's losing his young wife. Boy, I feel bad for him - he'll be in that mansion all alone with his millions of dollars.

The Piano Man has been married three times and they've all had the same result. Does he go for a younger woman now?

Well, as Chris Rock said - "If something happens to my wife - I'm going for a younger woman. If I was dog shopping I'd buy a puppy, not a ten-year old dog."

Yet - look at that age difference - 60 and 27. Think about what you'd want to do on a Saturday night. She probably wanted to go out drinking, dancing and spending time with friends. Billy probably wanted to just sit on the couch until 9 PM, sipping a drink, and then head up to bed.

I'm 44 and I can't imagine wanting to do anything other than take a long nap and go to bed early enough to watch 48 Hours and hopefully make it through the show. If you're going to get me to stay out late, it has to immediately follow a long afternoon nap and there better people I already like in attendance.

I don't want to meet anyone new. I don't want to listen to loud music. I don't want to try a new restaurant. I've seen it - been there - and am comfortable in what I like.

There in lies the problem, right? A 60-year old man just can't hang with a 27-year old woman. It might be fun for awhile, but sooner or later... Billy's Movin' Out.

God love my nieces, but they are twenty-something girls and I can only deal with them for about a half an hour at a time - they talk too fast, they make little sense, and their laughter is downright annoying.

Think about it - as we get older - the idea of a new puppy isn't all that exciting.

I get what Chris Rock was saying, but an old, reliable dog is also an excellent companion.

(Geez, I hope my wife doesn't read this one - she'll think I'm comparing her to an old, reliable dog).

She, of course, is still as much fun as a new puppy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Justice For All

At 7:15 AM on a Miami street 59-year old crane operator Mario Reyes met 30-year old Donte Stallworth, a professional football player for the Cleveland Browns. They met on the street where Reyes, after finishing a work shift had the gall to attempt to run across the street to catch a bus. Stallworth, just finishing a shift of drinking at the bar, was considerate enough to flash his lights at Reyes, before hitting him with his car.

Reyes never got Stallworth's autograph. Their meeting literally killed him. An awful story. That morning, Stallworth was drunk and Reyes was dead because of it.

Yesterday the punishment was handed down. Despite laws that say that vehicular manslaughter due to drunk-driving is a crime punishable by a lengthy prison sentence, Stallworth received 30 days in jail. He received credit for one day served - down to 29. He also receives five days off his sentence due to a Florida law that reduces each month of a sentence by five days - (explain that logic to me).

Why so lenient, you ask?

Geez, let's break it down.

1). He was a nice guy at the scene. Hell, he even stayed for the whole investigation.
2). He signs autographs for little kids whenever he has a chance.
3). He cooperated with the officials all the way through. He even signed a ball for the judge.
4). He made the Pro Bowl one year, didn't he?
5). He paid off the Reyes family.
6). He's really, really sorry.
7). He did flash his lights.
8). Reyes was jaywalking.
9). He wasn't really that drunk. 1.2 is close enough isn't it? Grades of 40 were close enough when he went through school.
10). Reyes made a mess of the front grille of his car.

Give me a freaking break - 24 days in jail for a life?

What if it were you or me? Are we signing autographs to get out of it?

One judge, in explaining the sentence said that Stallworth is on triple secret probation now.

Basically, if he screws up again, he will be facing a lengthy prison sentence.

Sounds like too little too late to me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tear Off and Replace

We finally put a roof on the place over the weekend. Actually, we hired a crew to do it. My only contribution was sitting at the picnic table and helping them with the beer.

Yet the entire ordeal was fairly painless (other than the cost, of course) because the crew completed the complete tear down and replacement in about eight hours total for two days. They also cleaned every nail out of the yard.

There comes a certain satisfaction when something has been completed - especially when it is something that you'd stressed about for some time. For about a year, my wife had been bantering about the roof replacement while I had stubbornly explained that there wasn't any water leaking on our heads. (I knew better, just needed to bicker).

Yet when the work was completed and as I was walking around the yard, the feeling wasn't one of relief; it was sadness.

Sadness comes easy these days, but I wasn't sad over the monetary cost. I was simply sad because it is the last roof we'll be putting on the place. The roof has about a thirty year life - and when I did the math - I understood that I'd never stress about the roof needing replacement again.

Then it struck me that it is all so temporary. The man and woman who first lived here are gone. Their kids moved away, and now it is our place, and in the blink of an eye, we'll be gone, and there will be some couple to take our place. Hell, they probably ain't even born yet.

Temporary. No one will remember. The house won't speak to them about our dogs running around in the backyard, or Matt rolling the basketball down the garage roof and tearing off the gutters, or Jake and Sam running after Melky, never able to catch her.

Call it a curse, but the new roof made me sad.

Tear down and replace.

Perhaps I'm thinking too much into it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Palin and George Herbert

I've always liked David Letterman - I always thought he was the best of the late night hosts even though I don't see him a lot because he's on in the middle of the night now. He always struck me as a little bit off too, which works well for a comedian.

Yet he most likely stepped over the line with his Palin joke because he definitely got the wrong daughter. A 14-year old shouldn't be subjected to such humor - it certainly was a good joke if he'd been talking about the other daughter though.

I guess he apologized, but it hasn't been enough to make the story go away. I side with Sarah Palin as a Mom on this one - you have to protect your kids - but it should be over by now.

News flash: Sometimes comedians say things they really don't mean just to get a laugh. He screwed up, apologized, and is ready to move on. I get a funny feeling that if Palin continues to fight with him, he'll crucify her with his wit - after all, all he really has to do is show footage of her giving a speech -the laughs will come.

And George Herbert Bush jumped from an airplane to celebrate his 85th birthday. Anyone who reads this blog knows my feelings about one of his offspring, but damn, 85 and jumping from an airplane is cool. I have to give it to him. Plus he also fought for the country - he has it way over the people who completed their work in the last few administrations.

Plus, as Robin Williams once said: "There's a picture of his wife on the one-dollar bill."

Here's hoping he makes another leap at 90.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Walk for Breast Cancer

My sister did it again! She arranged for her Queen Team to raise a ton of money for breast cancer research. She hosted a great party (along with the stupendous Charles Leone) that thanked everyone for helping out.

Corinne also was somehow able to get my wife, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-laws to walk, run or jog along with her for the the three-mile stretch.

"Hey Cliffy," she said when I walked in the door. "You're walking with us next year."

Of course, I hadn't walked. "No pain, no pain," I said.

"It's my five-year mark," she said.

The food was spread out before us. My cousin Jacqui, also a survivor and all-around wonderful mother and wife joined in the celebration.

My own mother, and my wife sat chatting with some sort of blue drink in their hand.

"How many people were there?" I asked at one point.

"Thousands," Corinne replied. "Isn't it amazing that one person - Susan G. Komen - could inspire so many?"

Yet there was something afoot right there in Corinne's own backyard - she was setting forth the same sort of inspirational movement. I wouldn't think of not donating to the cause. Buoyed by her courage and strength, I wore my pink shirt proudly.

I can't believe I'm doing this.

No pain, no pain can go to hell.

To my cousin, my wife, my sisters, my sister-in-law, and all of women everywhere.

I'm in.

Next year, I walk.

I hope they have defibrillators along the trail.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Great Concern of Others


Being stuck in the middle of a life-changing event it is often times difficult to lose track of people who are in your heart and on the periphery of your every day life. Like it or not we all become wrapped up in our own journey and the heartache and heartbreak of others is set aside for thoughts of another day, perhaps, when the mind gets clearer.

My cousin Steve sent me a photo of a sunrise today. Steve was always one of my favorite cousins - being that he lives in Baltimore with his family, it is often difficult to touch base - when we see one another - we laugh as though we were ten years old again. Today Steve reached out and as a family we appreciate that - even if he still looks like Sammy Davis Jr.

And on the other side of events I need to reach out to a friend of mine at Sterlinghouse - God Bless you in your personal endeavor - you'll be fine - you know I have prayers in my heart for you.

And that I suppose is the basis of this life - from one sunrise to the next - we have to stick together in this journey. We are all on our own separate paths, but when those paths cross and we are side-by-side with our neighbors, we need to pass along the kind words, and the gentle thoughts that help each of us sustain.

I've been blessed with a lot of good friends and a great family - thanks for looking out for me - and hopefully I'll continue to do the same for you.

In the meantime, enjoy the sunrise.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life Got in the Way

Since about the age of 8 or so, I have read book after book - all kinds - sports biographies, autobiographies, novels, short stories, true crime stories - anything and everything I can get my hands on really. I usually finish a book in just a couple of weeks - much shorter if it catches my attention. There have been a lot of days in my life when I dreamed about finishing whatever it was I was doing during the day so I could lie back and read.

I haven't been reading much lately. I have been working on the Joe Torre book for the better part of a month. I have a couple of books stacked up - books I'd been really looking forward to reading - just collecting dust for the time being.

Life got in the way and my mind didn't seem able to follow a story, or hell, even a simple lyric.

I woke this morning with a lyric in my head - Life strips away the dreams that we had planned.

I tortured myself trying to remember where I'd heard the line - I could hear the singer singing it, but I couldn't place the lyric.

An hour after waking, I figured out it was a Mellencamp line.

The dreams I had planned were filled with laughter, joy and undeniable happiness. They were all about food, family and fun.

I still have those dreams, of course, but they feel - well - stripped away somehow.

I tried to sing the next line of the song...remember...remember...

Life strips away the dreams that we had planned, but you are young and you are the future

Mellencamp - Minutes to Memories - I'd got it!

The next line?

Of course - So suck it up and tough it out and do the best you can.

I'd awaken with the reality of it all in one line and through the morning it came to me - thankfully Mellencamp hadn't stopped after the one brilliant line.

Tonight I feel like reading something.

One Man Party

Man oh man, listening to news of the death of David Carradine makes my head spin a little.

At first they thought it might have been suicide - he was found hanging in a hotel room. I'm sure that his family wishes that it was that way after hearing the details.

Auto-erotic asphyxiation is something of an epidemic it seems. Sounds like an awful lot of work to me - evidently it is a way to heighten the sensation of masturbation.

All righty then.

They say that the act is completed by tying yourself off in strategic locations to cut off the flow of oxygen and bring the excitement level to a real high.

It took me until the age of 12 to tie my shoelaces. Tying knots around my neck and other key locations doesn't sound real exciting.

To top it off, Carradine supposedly was dressed in a wig and corset for the evening spent alone bringing himself to....

Did he have a glass of wine first?

Buy himself dinner?

Perhaps give himself a bouquet of flowers?

Sounds like he had a rather romantic evening.

My wife would like to be romanced in such a way. That's a lot of work.

Going out in such a manner is a true shame - there will be real questions left for all those left behind.

Whatever happened just to laying in the hotel bed and watching tv?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Searching for Bucky -*@*king Dent

I hate the Yankee-Red Sox games - to tell you the truth, I always have. I simply hate everyone who's ever put on a Sox uniform and the game is more about hatred than satisfaction. I do recall where I was when Bucky Dent hit the HR to beat the Sox in 1977 and I remember receiving three calls at 1:30 AM when Aaron Boone homered in '03.

Lately though, the Yanks are the one's getting beat up on and I can tell you that it's a lot less fun when the Yanks are losing.

So, I'm searching for Old Bucky Dent to hit one over the green monster and aggravate all of those irritating bastards who live in that part of the country.

So far in '09 the Yanks are yet to beat the Suxs as we call them around my house, and the telephone calls are certainly relentless - I hear from all of my friends who want to rub it in.

This morning, Sam opened his eyes and groaned. "The Yanks lost seven to zip," he said. "My friends are going to be all over me."

"What do you tell him?" I asked.

"Twenty-six," he said.

"That's right," I answered. "Make sure you tell them that the Red Sox only need to win 18 straight World Series to tie it up. As much as they hate that argument, they can't win if you just keep saying 26."

"It would be easier if the Yankees just won," he said.

"Yeah, but until that happens, repeat after me."

"Twenty-six," Sam said.

Can Bucky Dent please come out tonight?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

No Way! Adam Lambert is Gay!!!

I'm going to make an announcement - I'm straight. I'm a straight, heterosexual male. There.

Will that get me on the cover of Rolling Stone?

The whole gay issue means little to me - get married, don't get married, stay in the closet, come out of the closet, lock the closet door - I could care less.

So why then if we are all created equal is it such big news to announce that you're gay?

Adam Lambert is gay, you say?

Duh. Who didn't guess that? Weren't there photos of him on the Internet making out with other men. Shouldn't that have tipped you off?

Be gay - I don't care. I can't see it, but as Seinfeld said - Not that there is anything wrong with it.

Who knows if there is something wrong with it - I certainly don't qualify as a lifestyle judge, but I don't need to know either that you are completely happy with your life choice, or that you feel discriminated against, or how tough it was to tell your parents.

In this day and age it appears to be a free-for-all. Gay announcements were big news when Rock Hudson got sick - we are a more open society now, right?

Right or wrong - who cares? Just stay out of my face with it.

I remember when you had to be a rock star to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Now all you have to do is finish second in a Karaoke contest and have a lover of the same sex.

As my mother often says - "For crying out loud."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Weekend Warrior

Is it any wonder that I'm in the shape I'm in?

I had a nice, healthy weekend - I ate like a human, kept the drinks to a minimum and did a ton of hard work - around my yard, planting my father's garden, and swinging the golf club.

I could feel the burn, as they say.

And today? I feel like hell - my legs each seem to weigh about 200 pounds, my back is barking a little - and I just feel run down.

So, what the hell are you supposed to do? You don't work the muscles and you feel sluggish and bloated. You work them and you can hardly walk the next few days, let alone climbing ladders.

And golf is a whole 'nother story - the first three weeks was a classic show of not being able to drive the ball off the tee. Yesterday I didn't miss-hit even one drive - and everything else turned to crap. I chipped and putted as though I were missing the particular parts of my brain that controls those actions.

It's the classic tale of the weekend warrior at the age of 44 - I can't do anything even as well as I used to - and the pain in routine movements is enough to keep me from trying to exercise anything anymore.

One of my good buddies, Jeff Popple once told me - "Screw it! I'm going to see how big I can get."

Today I'm right there with you, Pops.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Planting a Garden

It's always strange bringing up the past when I'm speaking with my children. As a child, you just don't believe or understand that your Mom and Dad were once just mere children.

"What were you like in high school?" Sam asked, sort of out of nowhere.

"Women loved me and men feared me," I said.

My wife rolled her eyes, Sam laughed, and Jake deadpanned, "You sure that wasn't the other way around?"

Eventually I told them a little about being a kid, and since it was fresh in my mind, I told them how it was to plant the garden each year. My father would be directing the traffic and my brothers and I would be sweating, swearing under our breath, and hating every plant that went into the ground. The only redeeming factor being that we loved the veggies that came from such work.

The reason it was fresh in my mind was because on Saturday morning, I helped my Dad plant his garden. It was just my Dad and I. He had about seventy plants, and this time, he was swearing - and it wasn't under his breath.

"I don't know why I need a garden," he complained the whole time. "I'm too old for this, but your mother wants me to plant it. I can buy bushels of produce, but I need a garden. I can't even bend over anymore."

Yet he wasn't bending over - I was - and let me tell you - it is different. I was sore. Planting the garden sounded like this:

Dad: Uh, uh, uh, uh(As he strained to catch his breath).

Me: Ow, ow, ow, ow (As I settled into position to place a plant in the ground).

All of the plantings of the past came rushing to me - just last year there had been three brothers there - each with beer in hand, laughing at the way Dad directed traffic; and making fun of one another.

After a couple of hours, the plants were in. My father seemed neither encouraged or terribly excited by the work. He told me a story about when I was a kid and I couldn't help but repeat my exchange with Jake.

"Yeah," he said, "That's a good one - women adored you and men feared you - you were afraid of your own shadow."

So, the lesson I suppose is that when you're planting a garden and talking about the past, it's a good idea to keep your children away from your parents or your lies may be exposed.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Perpetual Ache

My sister saw Bruce in Washington and he sang Racing in the Street.

Whenever I think of that song one lyric sticks in my head - Some guys just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece.

I've lived my entire life trying not to be like that. I find that so sad. Never, ever thought I'd consider that could ever happen. Yet, life is a cruel bitch, isn't it? And it can happen.

Piece by piece. Little by little.

It's so easy to say that the pieces can be picked up and be re-assembled into something less, but something still significant. I'm certainly trying to do that, but will everyone? Probably not. And that's a 'probably not' that really hurts.

It's easy to try and focus on the love in life - thankfully, I'm surrounded by love -some people certainly aren't. Some people who have love sitting right in front of them, decide to take another route.

In any regard, there is a perpetual ache.

Today, I decided to punish a body that is not use to physical punishment. I moved about seventeen million pounds of stone that was in our rose beds (I hear you, Palmer: 'I told you a million times not to exaggerate'), but I did it intentionally, to see what it brought me.

It brought me a sore back. It brought me a memory a minute. It brought me a realization about what happened to the best friend I will ever have - and it brought it to me in twenty second time lapses. I was sweating, I was panting,and I was remembering.

No one loved Bruce more than my brother - not even me - and he was whispering in my ear - "Don't die little by little, or piece by piece."

Live.

Live.

Live.

Live.

And still...drink in hand...perpetual ache.

The Honeymoon is Over

Walking by the television this morning I saw a one sentence crawl across the bottom of the screen that said, "Man arrested; drowns wife on honeymoon."

Well, that's really giving it the old college try, huh? Can you imagine how happy everyone was at that wedding as the loaded into the limo to start their lives together? How about getting that phone call if you're back home working through the hangover from the reception?

Unbelievable.

"He could have gotten an annulment," my wife said as I told her the headline.
"He annulled it himself," I answered.

The second crawl was about David Carradine allegedly committing suicide. Problem, grasshopper? Another strange story.

Then finally, I read about former Buffalo Braves star Randy Smith dying of a heart attack while working out on a treadmill. I can safely say that won't happen to me. I've eliminated treadmills and anorexia as contributing factors to my final moments.

I suppose the lesson learned is to not pay attention to the crawl on the bottom of the tv screen. Day after day there's news out there that can really bring you down.

I'd like to remember the happy moments. I want to dwell on the long summer days filled with laughter and joy and family and friends.

Those memories seem a world away this morning, but it is all about perspective, right?

How in the world do you drown your wife on the honeymoon?

Crap, now I have to find out the details.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Counting On a Miracle Wins An Award

Well, I suppose that all I had to do was whine a little. I heard today that Counting on a Miracle was honored at a New York City Book Festival - unfortunately the Awards Ceremony is tomorrow night and I most likely won't be able to swing it. Yet, here is the announcement from Sterlinghouse Publisher.


Cliff Fazzolari Making Headlines Once Again!

Cliff Fazzolari, author of several novels including his newest release Blind Spot, has been awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2009 Beach Book Festival for his nonfiction title Counting on a Miracle. Counting on a Miracle is the true story of Cliff’s son, Jake, and the medical emergency that threatened to tear Jake’s family apart. To purchase Counting on a Miracle and other books by Cliff Fazzolari, go to www.sterlinghousepublisher.com Congratulations, Cliff!

Congratulations to Sterlinghouse too!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Angel Encounters

There's a new book coming out by author Kathryn Radeff. It's called Angel Encounters and in it she includes the story of one Jake Fazzolari. She compiled information from Counting On A Miracle, asked me for permission, and is telling the story in the context of her own book.

It's real strange sometimes when I think about the fact that things I've written have been included in other books. The letter I wrote about 9/11 that was published in a few newspapers on September 12, 2001 has also been used in a book about terrorism.

Of course, six months ago, I would have flipped for such promotion for the books. I would have charged ahead, trying hard to get everyone to read not only what I'd written, but what was also written about me.

Now - I just don't care.

Of course, I wish the author good fortune and I certainly believe in every word I've ever had published, but it doesn't seem to matter much to me now.

Wishing and striving for fame, fortune, recognition is no longer a strong pursuit. That may very well be what is missing the most - I'm content now to just participate in life.

I'll never stop writing, but the purpose of doing it has certainly been clearly defined.

Then again...who the hell knows.

Everyone Deserves Another Chance, Right?

Right off the AP Wire....

A man has been arrested for the 153rd time, this time after he was accused of punching someone in the face over the weekend. Paul Baldwin, 49, told a judge Monday he plans to plead guilty to the assault, along with trespassing and alcohol charges. He said he's had a long battle with alcohol and was trying to correct the problem during his most recent one-year jail term, which ended last week.

The Foster's Daily Democrat newspaper said Baldwin's record dates to 1984 and includes 152 other arrests, eight trespass orders, 75 citations, four Social Security aliases and 17 name aliases.

Prosecutor Rena DiLando said she didn't have time to read Baldwin's full criminal record because it's so long.


I don't even know what to say. I get nervous when the cops even appear on the road next to me and I haven't committed a crime in a long time. I can't imagine how this man has even lived this long, but it certainly sounds as if he's trying to work things out.

I wonder when it dawned on him that he may have a problem with alcohol.

In a strange way I feel for him, though - hope he works it out this time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sunrise


I've been watching the sun rise a lot lately. This one is from Florida, of course, but it sits on my computer as my screensaver for the simple reason that I need to remember that another day is dawning and that it would pay to keep moving.

I've been busy lately too - a couple of Yankee games, a couple of Bruce concerts, two horribly-played golf outings, family parties, pain, pain and more pain.

I often think of a line from U2 where Bono writes - "Some sunny days you wish it were raining."

Despite the sun these days, it feels like it's been constantly raining, but lo and behold, in the middle of not being able to sleep again due to the mind-blowing powers of recall and grief, here comes the sun.

Here comes the sun.

I sat in the car looking at my boys for a long time the other day. I saw my mannerisms, my wife's mannerisms, their own little special personality quirks, and the idea that there are days and days ahead of them where they will learn, laugh, live, love and God help them, hurt.

And I thought of the beautiful sun rising up to greet them. When it comes right down to it - we don't have many days - Lord knows that we shouldn't spend much time wishing for the rain.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A So Right Parable

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his
wife open a package.
"What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered.
He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard,
the mouse proclaimed this warning :
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched,
raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse,
I can tell this is a grave concern to you,
but it is of no consequence to me.
I cannot be bothered by it."
The mouse turned to the pig and told him,
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said,
"I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse,
but there is nothing I can do about it
but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said,
"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, 'Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you,
but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house,
head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap...Alone

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house
- the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught.
In the darkness, she did not see it.
It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap.
The snake bit the farmer's wife.

THE FARMER RUSHED HER TO THE HOSPITAL. When she returned home she still had a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup. So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient:

But, alas, the farmer's wife did not get well...She died.

So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered
to provide enough meat for all of them.

And the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn't
concern you, remember- When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one
another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

Heather Heyer

She was a 32-year old woman who wanted to protest the white supremacists in her town. She got killed for her stance. And it's pretty...