Thursday, June 30, 2011

You Know What I Would Do?

Yesterday afternoon I was in the local grocery store when the man who was washing and arranging the lettuce was talking at the top of his voice about something that Obama was doing about fixing the economy.

"You know what I would do?" the guy asked.

I'm not sure why, but I chuckled. Then I grew sort of proud. Here was a working man, making the decisions for the rest of us while washing the lettuce and presenting it for the public.

I did chuckle, however, because it struck me that not one of us has the answers, and because there is really no point in talking about it.

"Your blog is funnier when you aren't political," one of my buddies said.

Why sure it is...because like the rest of everyone else...I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

How would I fix the economy?

What the hell do I know? I'm out of a lot less money in a lot shorter time every two weeks. You seriously want me or the green grocer trying to balance the budget? Give me that much money to play with and I'd probably overspend as well. Wanna' give me a loan for a trillion?

I'll try to spend it.

Then there are such heady items as gay marriage and abortion and fighting the people half way across the globe over how we can get the oil or their batteries or their other natural resources.

"You know what I would do?"

I'd look for someone smarter to take control.

Our house budget is in the control of my beautiful wife. If there is a fight brewing, I'm calling my brothers or my cousins. Gay marriage? Hell, not sure who to call there.

I know a few people that like to argue with me across the party lines. It's only fun for me if I can really get them all worked up, which is pretty easy to do.

The green grocer sort of glanced at me as he continued his work and to illuminate his friend.

"You know what I would do if I were Obama?" I asked.

(I'm always ready to budge into a conversation).

"What's that?" he asked.

"I'd quit my job by giving everyone in congress the finger. I'd go on television and announce that it is simply a ridiculous job that just can't be done. Then I'd head out on a nice long vacation."

"Ahh, it ain't that hard," the grocer said. "You know what he should do?"

I listened for another moment, smiled in the right places, grabbed a few jalapenos and escaped.

What the hell do any of us know?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bruce and Clarence

This is why Springsteen is my hero...summing up the life and love he shared with his bandmate...adding a sensibility that isn't always readily apparent to the rest of us mere mortals:

I've been sitting here listening to everyone talk about Clarence and staring at that photo of the two of us right there. It's a picture of Scooter and The Big Man, people who we were sometimes. As you can see in this particular photo, Clarence is admiring his muscles and I'm pretending to be nonchalant while leaning upon him. I leaned on Clarence a lot; I made a career out of it in some ways.

Those of us who shared Clarence's life, shared with him his love and his confusion. Though "C" mellowed with age, he was always a wild and unpredictable ride. Today I see his sons Nicky, Chuck, Christopher and Jarod sitting here and I see in them the reflection of a lot of C's qualities. I see his light, his darkness, his sweetness, his roughness, his gentleness, his anger, his brilliance, his handsomeness, and his goodness. But, as you boys know your pop was a not a day at the beach. "C" lived a life where he did what he wanted to do and he let the chips, human and otherwise, fall where they may. Like a lot of us your pop was capable of great magic and also of making quite an amazing mess. This was just the nature of your daddy and my beautiful friend. Clarence's unconditional love, which was very real, came with a lot of conditions. Your pop was a major project and always a work in progress. "C" never approached anything linearly, life never proceeded in a straight line. He never went A... B.... C.... D. It was always A... J.... C.... Z... Q... I....! That was the way Clarence lived and made his way through the world. I know that can lead to a lot of confusion and hurt, but your father also carried a lot of love with him, and I know he loved each of you very very dearly.

It took a village to take care of Clarence Clemons. Tina, I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for taking care of my friend, for loving him. Victoria, you've been a loving, kind and caring wife to Clarence and you made a huge difference in his life at a time when the going was not always easy. To all of "C's" vast support network, names too numerous to mention, you know who you are and we thank you. Your rewards await you at the pearly gates. My pal was a tough act but he brought things into your life that were unique and when he turned on that love light, it illuminated your world. I was lucky enough to stand in that light for almost 40 years, near Clarence's heart, in the Temple of Soul.

So a little bit of history: from the early days when Clarence and I traveled together, we'd pull up to the evening's lodgings and within minutes "C" would transform his room into a world of his own. Out came the colored scarves to be draped over the lamps, the scented candles, the incense, the patchouli oil, the herbs, the music, the day would be banished, entertainment would come and go, and Clarence the Shaman would reign and work his magic, night after night. Clarence's ability to enjoy Clarence was incredible. By 69, he'd had a good run, because he'd already lived about 10 lives, 690 years in the life of an average man. Every night, in every place, the magic came flying out of C's suitcase. As soon as success allowed, his dressing room would take on the same trappings as his hotel room until a visit there was like a trip to a sovereign nation that had just struck huge oil reserves. "C" always knew how to live. Long before Prince was out of his diapers, an air of raunchy mysticism ruled in the Big Man's world. I'd wander in from my dressing room, which contained several fine couches and some athletic lockers, and wonder what I was doing wrong! Somewhere along the way all of this was christened the Temple of Soul; and "C" presided smilingly over its secrets, and its pleasures. Being allowed admittance to the Temple's wonders was a lovely thing.

As a young child my son Sam became enchanted with the Big Man... no surprise. To a child Clarence was a towering fairy tale figure, out of some very exotic storybook. He was a dreadlocked giant, with great hands and a deep mellifluous voice sugared with kindness and regard. And... to Sammy, who was just a little white boy, he was deeply and mysteriously black. In Sammy's eyes, "C" must have appeared as all of the African continent, shot through with American cool, rolled into one welcoming and loving figure. So... Sammy decided to pass on my work shirts and became fascinated by Clarence's suits and his royal robes. He declined a seat in dad's van and opted for "C's" stretch limousine, sitting by his side on the slow cruise to the show. He decided dinner in front of the hometown locker just wouldn't do, and he'd saunter up the hall and disappear into the Temple of Soul.

Of course, also enchanted was Sam's dad, from the first time I saw my pal striding out of the shadows of a half empty bar in Asbury Park, a path opening up before him; here comes my brother, here comes my sax man, my inspiration, my partner, my lifelong friend. Standing next to Clarence was like standing next to the baddest ass on the planet. You were proud, you were strong, you were excited and laughing with what might happen, with what together, you might be able to do. You felt like no matter what the day or the night brought, nothing was going to touch you. Clarence could be fragile but he also emanated power and safety, and in some funny way we became each other's protectors; I think perhaps I protected "C" from a world where it still wasn't so easy to be big and black. Racism was ever present and over the years together, we saw it. Clarence's celebrity and size did not make him immune. I think perhaps "C" protected me from a world where it wasn't always so easy to be an insecure, weird and skinny white boy either. But, standing together we were badass, on any given night, on our turf, some of the baddest asses on the planet. We were united, we were strong, we were righteous, we were unmovable, we were funny, we were corny as hell and as serious as death itself. And we were coming to your town to shake you and to wake you up. Together, we told an older, richer story about the possibilities of friendship that transcended those I'd written in my songs and in my music. Clarence carried it in his heart. It was a story where the Scooter and the Big Man not only busted the city in half, but we kicked ass and remade the city, shaping it into the kind of place where our friendship would not be such an anomaly. And that... that's what I'm gonna miss. The chance to renew that vow and double down on that story on a nightly basis, because that is something, that is the thing that we did together... the two of us. Clarence was big, and he made me feel, and think, and love, and dream big. How big was the Big Man? Too fucking big to die. And that's just the facts. You can put it on his grave stone, you can tattoo it over your heart. Accept it... it's the New World.

Clarence doesn't leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die.

So, I'll miss my friend, his sax, the force of nature his sound was, his glory, his foolishness, his accomplishments, his face, his hands, his humor, his skin, his noise, his confusion, his power, his peace. But his love and his story, the story that he gave me, that he whispered in my ear, that he allowed me to tell... and that he gave to you... is gonna carry on. I'm no mystic, but the undertow, the mystery and power of Clarence and my friendship leads me to believe we must have stood together in other, older times, along other rivers, in other cities, in other fields, doing our modest version of god's work... work that's still unfinished. So I won't say goodbye to my brother, I'll simply say, see you in the next life, further on up the road, where we will once again pick up that work, and get it done.

Big Man, thank you for your kindness, your strength, your dedication, your work, your story. Thanks for the miracle... and for letting a little white boy slip through the side door of the Temple of Soul.

SO LADIES AND GENTLEMAN... ALWAYS LAST, BUT NEVER LEAST. LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE MASTER OF DISASTER, the BIG KAHUNA, the MAN WITH A PHD IN SAXUAL HEALING, the DUKE OF PADUCAH, the KING OF THE WORLD, LOOK OUT OBAMA! THE NEXT BLACK PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES EVEN THOUGH HE'S DEAD... YOU WISH YOU COULD BE LIKE HIM BUT YOU CAN'T! LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BIGGEST MAN YOU'VE EVER SEEN!... GIVE ME A C-L-A-R-E-N-C-E. WHAT'S THAT SPELL? CLARENCE! WHAT'S THAT SPELL? CLARENCE! WHAT'S THAT SPELL? CLARENCE! ... amen.

I'm gonna leave you today with a quote from the Big Man himself, which he shared on the plane ride home from Buffalo, the last show of the last tour. As we celebrated in the front cabin congratulating one another and telling tales of the many epic shows, rocking nights and good times we'd shared, "C" sat quietly, taking it all in, then he raised his glass, smiled and said to all gathered, "This could be the start of something big."

Love you, "C".

The Working Man

So, Matt came home on Monday afternoon, muttering under his breath.

"I have friggin' blisters," he said.

"That's because you've never worked before," I answered. "How was it?"

"Tedious," he replied.

Welcome to the world.

Then on Tuesday morning there was this lovely exchange as I watched my beautiful wife make his lunch at 6 a.m.

"Why are you making his lunch?" I asked. "Let him make his own. Better yet, why in all these years have you not made me even a single sandwich?"

My wife rolled her eyes.

"Okay, me and him on a boat...only one life-preserver, who's going over?"

"You know the answer," she said. "But hear me out, there are reasons. First, he's younger. Secondly, you have life insurance."

Nice!

Then I heard that Matt's friend is sort of making fun of the men who work at the place, questioning the drive and ambition of the men who show up each day to feed their families.

So, cut to this morning.

"You haven't quit yet?" I asked.

"This might be my last week," Matt said.

"I hear you guys are putting down the rest of the workers."

"Not me!" Matt said. "I just find all of it rather time consuming."

I laughed. Poor boy has a long way to go.

"Keep an open mind," I said. "Those old dogs can teach you something about life."

Matt sort of grunted.

I know that he is not enjoying the experience. In fact, given his rather busy social life, and new found discovery of beer, he would much rather not be working.

Join the club.

Yet there is something to be said for an honest day's work for a fair wage. It's what this country was built on.

He's out there. His mother would gladly kick me off the lifeboat for him.

Just wish I could get a sandwich made for me now and again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Meet Joe Shit

Thank God Jennifer Aniston has finally found love.

Anyway, I was reading today about basketball star Ron Artest changing his name to Metta World Peace.

Yeah, that's his new name.

He is even going to make the Lakers put Peace on the back of his jersey. This is a guy who a few years ago went into the stands and beat the living hell out of a fan who said something mean to him about his mother.

Anyway, with the moniker Clifford...I have often thought about changing my name. I get tired of the Big Red Dog and Clavin references.

And coupling it with a joke that my Dad used to tell, I am announcing that my new name is now...yep...

Joe Shit.

Wouldn't that be sort of cool?

"Excuse me, Mr. Shit...the doctor will see you now."

I could have named my kids Jack and Dip.

There would be no confusion over how to spell it. I am so sick of going, F as in Frank, A as in Apple, Zebra, Zebra, O as in Oscar, L as in Let me get off this friggin' phone, A as in apple again, R as in Ranger Rick and I as in I am so tired of talking to your ass.

Then again a few years back my Dad was trying to spell a word to a coworker who barely spoke English. I was near Pops as he yelled "V!"

"No, not B, V! V....V...V...V...as in Vagina!!!"

The guy on the other end of the line must have laughed because my father laughed and I was crippled in laughter.

"Couldn't you have said 'Virginia'?" I asked.

"First thing that popped into my head and he finally got it," Dad responded.

But I don't think the judge will grant my wish to name me Joe Shit.

He would probably say that it is a bit obscene.

But is it any less obscene to name yourself Metta World Peace?

What a dope.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Day Off

I took what can best described as a mental health day today. It's funny but when I showed my boss the day planner with the note in it, he glanced at the words 'mental health' and smiled.

"One day won't help," he said.

But it did help. I hung out with the boys all day. We went to lunch and a movie and then played a game of H-O-R-S-E in the driveway. Jake actually won, but it was good to get Sam out of the game quickly with his trash-talking and all.

And the day off sort of got me thinking about people that can't seem to retire when the time comes. A couple of old baseball managers came back this week - Jack McKeon took the job in Florida, and Davy Johnson took the job in Washington. McKeon is 80 and Johnson is pushing 70.

I gotta' tell you. When it is feasible to go, I won't have a lot of trouble stepping down. Of course that is off in the distance, but I know how quickly time flies and before long...

I'm not saying that I'm ready now, by any means. But if all the money in the world was available I imagine that I could fill my days up somehow.

I love golf. I love writing. I used to be a great drinker. There are movies, I have all the Soprano discs, baseball, baseball and more baseball.

Yet some people never truly adjust to the quiet days. My grandfather went down hill fast after he retired. My Dad was always looking to get back in the game somehow.

But 80 years old!

Of course, when I look back on my day, it doesn't seem like I relaxed all that much. I ran errands, mowed the lawn, did the laundry, cooked dinner and did the dishes. The hours sort of flew by...

...mentally healthy?

Not by a long shot.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Everyone is Happy and Gay

As a kid the term 'gay' really only meant that you were happy. Well, there are a lot of homosexuals all over New York State acting all gay because of the court ruling that passed gay marriage here in the Empire State.

I swear to God, I never got the big fight. I know that the people that oppose gay marriage say that the sanctity of marriage needs to be preserved, but I know a lot of men married to women who don't exactly sanctify the dream of togetherness, and it's certainly vice-versa.

They want to be married, who cares? As a heterosexual man living in this state, who also happens to be happily married, I say that the only way that a marriage will be sanctified is through hard work, mutual respect, and love and commitment. Just because the parts don't line up doesn't mean that the marriage will necessarily fail or that I have the right to say that they can't do what they want. I ain't gay. I don't know how or why they feel slighted.

I must interject however that the idea of marriage, as a business deal, is a pretty lousy proposition. I have no thoughts of not being married to my beautiful wife, but if I did, I'd be taken to the shed and whipped by New York State. If I think I'm broke now, what the hell will happen if I'm back in the rat's nest apartment where she found me dining off the plywood table that my Dad made for me?

I loved that table. You could just write down phone numbers as you ate.

So, I'd like to offer a bit of advice to the happy, errr, gay couples that will soon share the wedded bliss.

1). Pick your shit off the floor. It don't matter who you live with. No one else wants to pick up your dirty underwear.

2). Hey guys, change the toilet paper roll. It drives me crazy when the roll is sitting there empty on the dispenser. It takes about 12 seconds. Why leave it for your new husband?

3). Get separate bedrooms. Yeah, yeah, you're in love and you want to cuddle. Cuddle before you go to bed. Then get in bed and sleep and make all the noises you want, roll all over the place, steal all the sheets, and get a decent night's sleep. This is also good for going to sleep. Perhaps the watching of television might not be such a problem for say a male and a male or a female and a female, but I know for a fact that I will be dozing to Sunday night baseball tonight while my beautiful wife is down the hall watching Nancy Grace reruns.

You have to sit through that crap, you wake up angry.

4). Don't argue about money. Figure out what is coming in...understand who dominates the relationship and just give it all to that person. I decided that this is the best course of action in our grouping and my wonderful wife keeps me in just enough coin so that I don't get busted for loitering.

She seems to really enjoy that aspect of our relationship.

5). And finally...communicate. Letting things fester is the worst of all evils. A few weeks ago I was agitated about something. I tried the silent treatment and it lasted all of about four hours because when I thought about it really hard, I couldn't remember why the hell I was mad.

Letting things out before they become a problem that you're rehashing with your lawyer is a good move on offense as you defend your sanctified union.

Follow my rules and we can all have a gay old time, huh?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Sam Man!


There's no doubt about the heartbeat of our household. If we were a band Sam would be the drums. He keeps the beat better than the rest of us.

And my boy turns eleven years old today. I know that I'm going to be eating either chicken wings or ribs somewhere tonight because those are his two favorites.

I guess I'll have to suck it up.

But you see, the thing about Sam is that he seriously likes to talk. If you are even remotely connected to our family he has done one of two things to you...called you just to chat...or made a bet with you.

There's more than an outside chance that he will grow to be a bookie.

Yet Sam is so much more around here. He takes the temperature of the room and he knows whether he should add a little laughter, a touch of aggravation, or his proud swagger of confidence.

Did you know that he is going to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls when he's in the 9th grade? Yep, even better then his favorite player, Rose...they aren't even going to let him finish high school.

He's that good.

Yet the problem is that my beautiful wife and I may never let him go that early. In fact, he's the guy we certainly want to keep hanging out with because Sam is just so much fun to see every minute of every day.

You know, it's funny, but there is so much of Sam that reminds me of my Dad and my brother Jeff. The way he cares. The way he wants you to be happy. The way he teases you when he's beating you at something.

Sam can be summed up all in one little mention.

My buddy Chris, a New York Mets fan, called Sam when the Yanks were eliminated in last years playoffs. Chris had no way of knowing that Sam was real down in the dumps about it, but I don't think it would've mattered...Sam had agitiated Chris all year.

"What happened to your Yankees?" Chris asked.
"Why in the hell would I talk baseball with a Mets fan?" Sam asked.

That's Sam. Our big bowl of sunshine.

Happy Brithday, pal. I'm proud of you and I love you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It Don't Matter

I see that Peter Falk died today…that’s a shame, but a nice, long, well-lived life by most accounts.

I watched a lot of Columbo with my Mom & Dad on Sunday nights, and we never really guessed the ending.

And another death of another celebrity that I enjoyed brings to mind a conversation I had with someone after Clarence passed away last week.

“None of it mattered,” a buddy said. “All that fame, all that money. As great as he was…it still didn’t matter in the end.”

But it did matter.

The fact that Clarence was in a band that brought joy mattered a lot. The fact that his job was to entertain thousands of people at a time was certainly a worthwhile way to spend his time on the planet, right?

Same thing with the bumbling detective. And the fact of the matter is that just because their jobs came with fame and fortune it doesn’t mean that they are better than anybody else. Yet their life work had to matter, didn’t it?

Because if none of it matters than what the hell are we doing? And certainly, all the money in the world wasn’t going to stop Clarence, or anyone else, ever from suffering the same sort of fate, but if we don’t consider what is accomplished while we are here as something that matters than why are we trying at all?

The most we can do is hope to make an impact somewhere along the way, right?

Whether you’re blowing a horn in front of millions of people, or emptying garbage cans in a remote corner of the world, there has to be a sense of purpose, right?

Our children are surely depending upon us to live a purposeful life. Our spouses are hoping that our work makes a difference to others. Hell, our own sense of self-worth is not predicated upon the amount of money that we make, but on our own feeling that perhaps we are helping someone along the way.

Not sure that life is best led by considering all of these heady things on a daily basis.

Perhaps life is better led by the seat of the pants from time-to-time, but the ultimate goal is that it has to make some sort of difference.

There have been millions of people who have suffered senselessly and left way too early, perhaps, but even in a life that is stifled living right will ensure that it wasn’t all done in vain.

We never really guessed the ending in all of those Columbo programs. We certainly won’t be able to guess the ending of the long program that we are currently starring in, right?

But somewhere along the way it has to matter to someone, huh?

I Was Only Drinking Tea

With the Yanks off last night my beautiful wife and I settled in to watch a movie. Against all my protests Ben Affleck was in it. His blatant love for the Red Sux makes me believe he's stupid. My wife's love for him also is quite aggravating, and usually, his movies are pieces of poop.

I lost the argument.

Halfway through the movie Ben's beautiful wife spoke a few beautiful, loving, caring and sympathetic words to him.

"See how nice she is?" I asked. "Why don't you treat me like that?"

I was just joking around to get her goat.

"Cause you ain't Ben," she answered.

Lost that one.

I read a whole article today about Lindsey Lohan drinking tea. It was on CNN. Thank God, it wasn't alcohol! Who the hell could possibly care?

Yeah, yeah, I know... I'm the one who read the article.

I also read about Casey and Kaylee Anthony and the twisted grandparents and chloroform, duct tape and the death of a 2-year old. Horrible.

Some other tidbits:

Being on the computer so much is changing the structure of our brains and is making us lazy.

Potato chips make you fat. Not sure we needed a bulletin there.

Afghan troops are coming home. Good news, right?

What the hell happened with Libya? That one went in and out of the news fast.

Anyway...

The movie was finally over and my wife came towards me with a page clipped out of a magazine. It was a photo of a twenty-something model with dark skin, pouty lips and a wild-looking, short haircut.

"I want to get my hair cut like this," she said. "I'll get it darkened and highlighted. What do you think?"

"You trying to look like her?" I asked.

She gave me the 'don't be a wise ass face.'

"The hair," she said. "What do you think of the hair? I sort of like the wild, unkempt look."

I glanced at the photo and then at her.

"You got that look down," I said. "But I think she washes hers."

Ahh marriage...around and around we go.

Ben this!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A High School Graduate


Congrats to Matt, the ceremony is over and you are officially a high school graduate.

A few thoughts collected while waiting, and waiting, and waiting for his name to be called so he could march across the stage in a three-second sprint, shake a few hands and walk back down the steps.

1). I wonder how the Yanks are doing?

2). The Valedictorian has a 99.34 average. Who's the asshole teacher that spoiled the perfect score? She probably got an A- in Gym.

3). God there are a lot of strange names. I counted two Knoops and a Koop. They could form a band.

4). I wonder how the Yanks are doing?

5). Don't the teachers and students who sound so excited about joining the "real world" understand that the big opportunity over the next four years may be getting a hunk of free government cheese?

6). Why were plaid green pants invented? The guy sitting a few rows down is wearing a pair. "Would you ever wear those?" my mother-in-law asked. "Not even to bed," I answered. I wonder if he was trying to look like a dork on purpose.

7). Chasing dreams, cherishing friends, thanking teachers...ahh the love...they keep talking about opportunities and eternal happiness. 330 kids: Are they all heading out to win the Nobel prize? Aren't some of them heading to Target or a life of crime?

8). "I wonder what the valedictorian will do with her life," I asked.
"She'll be knocked up inside three years," my mother-in-law said.

That's the real world.

9). I wonder how the Yanks are doing?

10). There he is on the stage. Wow! It's a real short walk, but a lot fills my head. He can chase those dreams. I am proud of him. Good kid. How are the Yanks doing?

All of those thoughts and more.

My beautiful wife had tears in her eyes earlier. It wasn't off the question when she asked me if I had made any great mistakes in life.

"Just one and it was a doozy," I said.

She caught on quick and we laughed hard.

On a day when sadness enveloped my heart, a little life came shining through.

Congrats! One down, two to go!

"What do you think he'll be doing in 10 years?" Kathy asked.

"Lying on my couch, wondering what I'm making for dinner," I said.

Either way.

That's fine.

The Celebration Continues


I wonder if they celebrate birthdays in heaven.

I know we still celebrate them down here because last night I dreamed I was on the phone with Jeff. He couldn't tell me what was happening there, but he kept me laughing.

Oh how he kept me laughing.

And he kept telling me that he was all right. Just fine, in fact.

Yet there's an overwhelming sadness again today.

ARE WE READY TO TURN THAT SADNESS AROUND????????

Jeff's buddy, Jan Mathis is spearheading the Thunder Road Softball Tourney on August 14th as the first annual tourney to benefit Jeff's family.

All are welcome to play and participate and we will do a basket auction. I'll sign books. All that good stuff.

And we will laugh, and laugh and laugh.

And if Jeff were on the phone with me I know that's what he'd tell me:

"Take care of my kids, and for God's sake, stop trying to understand life, and enjoy it a little!"

August 14th! I want to see everyone there.

I'm playing!

You'll have enough laughs just watching me try to run.

If you want to play...contact Jan Mathis through Face Book. If you want to donate...same deal.

Whatever we can do!

Celebrate.

Happy Birthday, buddy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tee Treatment Time

A psychiatrist might have a lot of fun with me. For the first time in a couple of weeks I got a good night's sleep. I slept all the way until 5:30 and was excited to see those numbers blinking back at me this morning.

And I felt better all day. There have been a lot of long days recently, so I hit the ground running. What did I want to get done?

Then it hit me: A Tee Treatment after getting my hair cut.

Any Super Cuts enthusiasts out there?

I settled in the chair on my way home from work. The young girl looked at me quizzically.

"How do you want it cut?" she asked.

"What in the hell can you possibly do with it?" I asked. "You have free rein...just make it short."

The gray hair started to fall.

"You can color it," she said.

"Most of my friends have seen the gray," I said. "The cat's out of the bag. I color it now and I'll look like a freaking idiot."

"You are 80 percent gray," she said. "The ship has sailed. What about your eyebrows?" she asked. "Would you like them trimmed?"

"Considering that I have to part them, sure," I said. "They get in my eyes when I'm driving."

She laughed. "Did you ever think about waxing them?"

What am I Anthony Weiner all of a sudden?

"Do your best," I said.

"The sideburns?"

I looked sideways at her.

"Just use my own judgement, right?" she asked.

So, in a couple of minutes we were done.

"How about a shampoo?" she asked.

If I had a tail it woulda' been wagging.

"Yep!"

I sat in the chair with the hot towel over my face as a twenty-something girl, who most likely dreamed of a lot more, rubbed my scalp with the shampoo that makes it tingle.

"Why does it feel better when you shampoo my hair?" I asked.

"I know what I'm doing," she said.

Indeed.

Feeling good I picked up a few new golf tees and a dozen golf balls. The veil of aggravation was lifted for a few moments.

And the friggin' eyebrow hairs didn't distort the drive home.

I Sort of Miss Blockbuster

Watched a couple of movies over the weekend. The first one we ordered off of the television and it may have even been free.

It was a piece of crap called "Where the Heart Is" and through it all I kept wondering if it were a comedy (it didn't make me laugh), or a tearjerker (it didn't make me cry) or a romantic comedy (I picked out the guy she'd end up with in the first scene he was in).

It went on and on and on for two plus hours and just before it ended, my beautiful wife asked what I think might happen.

"The only way it ends happy," I said, "Is if they are all crushed to death by a runaway train."

I know that if anyone handed me $200 hundred million I could make the movie that would change the world. So, that's another thing I got going for me. I'd be better than Ron Howard. Speaking of which.

We rented, from RedBox for $1.00 the Ron Howard movie with Kevin James and Vince Vaughn. I was looking forward to it, but it wasn't worth the dollar. Again...not funny...not dramatic...not a love story...and I had a couple of real problems with it.

First off, guys who are best friends don't ever tell each other how they feel. The best you can hope for is a:

"You're a fat, drunken idiot." In guy-speak that means, "I love you."

There are no feelings being discussed, so Ron Howard got that wrong.

And secondly, if your best buddy's wife is banging someone else, there isn't a dilemma.

"Dude, she's whoring around." While shooting a beer is the huge dilemma.

So, I was disappointed.

Yet as I watched I was also let down by another emotion. I surely miss the fights with pimply-faced high school kids at Blockbuster. I lit one kid up because he gave me 99 cents in change once on a $32.01 order for two movies and a couple of games.

"Sorry, no pennies," he said.

By the time I left he had ninety-nine cents to pick out of the carpet.

"Use that for change for the next poor bastard."

Then there was the kid who wanted to charge me an $8.99 fee on a weekly game rental that was a half-hour late.

"Sorry that's our policy," he said. "You have to pay the weekly fee."

"Then give me the game back, I'll keep it for the week."

That kid was so confused with my logic that he may still be thinking about it.

Ahhhh, I miss Blockbuster.

Even if the movies sucked you could torture the kids that worked there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bah!

I really missed my Dad yesterday. Sure it was Father's Day and I was supposed to think of him, but it's not that I don't think of him a lot anyway. It just kept hitting me that there was something that I was supposed to do, but that I couldn't do it.

I heard Chris Rock talking about fathers. He said that fathers get the short end of the stick as they are not thanked for half the stuff that mothers are. In his comedy routine Rock says, "Thank you, Daddy, it sure is good to eat. Thank you, Daddy, it's a lot easier to read with all these lights."

And I suppose that is where some of the angst comes in. Dad's just sort of blend in, and good Dad's do it without expecting much in return, so they are easy to ignore.

Except when you really want to see them and they aren't there.

I didn't ignore my Dad. I couldn't have if I wanted to. Dad was always the center piece of every single room he was in. Thankfully I was able to watch him work as an adult and I certainly marveled at the way he commanded attention on the jobs as well.

Obviously I was blessed to have my Dad as a central figure in my life. In these days of busted up marriages and fleeting relationships there are a lot of kids who will never have such a relationship with their Dad.

And that's a shame.

But I wasn't feeling fortunate yesterday.

BAH!

I miss my Dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In God's Hands Our Fate Is Complete


RIP Big Man. For 30 years and I hope for 30 more I will marvel at your work.

I keep thinking about the Aud and the first concert and telling my friends that I'd never seen anything like that show.

It never changed. It was always great.

Too many damn days missing things.

Listened to Bruce today and everytime there was a solo by Clarence, I felt sad.

That shit better stop soon.

Wanna' get back to enjoying his work.

Too Many Damn Days

Life certainly is confusing. You always hear crap about forgetting the past from people who are encouraging you to move forward. Then other geniuses tell you that you should never forget your past or you'll be destined to repeat old mistakes.

Well which is it? Forget the past? Don't forget the past?

Obviously the past can't just be brushed aside anyway, so I suppose it must be embraced. But what happens when it's sad?

I keep thinking about anchovies this week. Last Father's Day my Dad had us sitting in the driveway as he scurried about the basement looking for a can on anchovies to give me as a Father's Day gift.

For one reason or another that can is still in my cupboard. I've eaten plenty of anchovies over the year but when Dad died (which I still can't say out loud) I decided not to eat that can...holding onto the past and I glance at it from time-to-time, shake my head, and go about my business.

With Father's Day staring me in the face, it's small wonder that I'm sleeping four hours a night again.

Too many damn days.

And Jeff's birthday is this week. Whenever I look at the calendar the sadness descends upon me like a wave and I think of all we'd be doing this week to celebrate, and damn, there are too many damn days like that.

So there's a certain helplessness settling in today as I spin around wondering where to go with the day to fill the empty spaces.

There's a pot of sauce already on. Family will be by today as we celebrate my hoodlums birthdays. As I type this the scent of olive oil and pork and tomatoes fills the house.

I may eat until I drop.

And tomorrow, on Father's Day I will get up with the birds and golf with the Apes and then hang with the hoodlums again as I celebrate the fact that they've been good sons to me.

It's too bad that none of them like anchovies because I feel compelled to give them each their own can.

I know how much that means coming from a Dad.

In the meantime, I may grab a few tomatoes and open up the can in the cupboard. A little olive oil, and I'll scarf them down. Anchovies with tomatoes and olive oil is good living.

And when there are too many sad days of remembrance, I have to force myself to understand that good living is the goal, and the one that Jeff and Dad would wish for me on days when it hurts.

Forget the past?

Nah, that's bullshit.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weiner Slips Out

I love the New York Post only because of their headlines. This morning it called the Anthony Weiner resignation as a Premature Evacuation.

I like mine better.

What makes the story great is that one of the guy's calling for Weiner's resignation is named Boehner. So the whole Boehner-Weiner play on words is really pretty exciting.

What are we seven years old!!!!!!

There have been jokes told, one after another about Weiner. He deserves every second of it. First-class weirdo if you ask me.

If you're gonna' get busted for cheating...at least cheat!

What a dopey bastard.

Yet the reason for the Post is simply the grab for headlines. There have been great headlines through the years and I have a closet filled with old newspapers. I originally saved them for the boys, but with the freaking Internet it all seems obsolete.

Something tells me that I'll be older and grayer, sitting in a chair reading about OJ getting busted for carving up his wife and her friend.

And the all-time worst newspaper headline that I ever saw?

"Man Killed Dead."

Who the hell approved that one?

I swear I was about ten when my Dad and I saw that headline and I swear we laughed about it for years.

Three words to capture someone's attention and make them read along is an art form.

Something tells me that Weiner Slips Out did the trick.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Down the Road From Barack


So weird. Up and out of the house by 5 AM and on a plane after going through security and getting patted down at the airport. I got to take off my shoes as well. Ah well, used to that by now when flying. You can tell the seasoned flyers too because they can dress and undress in about a minute and a half.

Landed in Baltimore by 7 and off to the races. You know the drill down there...on a shuttle to a train, and if you're lucky you avoid a bus. Settled into Barack's neighborhood by 8:30 or so.

And there are cops on every corner. We needed to enter a building called IMF...supposed to be a big deal building on Pennsylvania Avenue. Our licenses were scanned. Shoes off again. All items in a bin.

"Come here Mr. Clifford, I need to take your photo," the perfectly polite woman wasn't about to try the old last name.

"Try and make me look good," I said.

She didn't smile.

She didn't make me look good either.

They scanned my driver's license. We laughed at the photo, and we were asked to stand off to the side.

A building rep with a walkie-talkie in hand stopped by. He was joined by at least five other people.

"Are we all set with security?" he asked.

We nodded.

"Okay, well, sad to say, you aren't allowed in the building."

"Do they store gold here?" I asked.

"Sadly no," he said, "but it's an international building. Best I can do is take you to the roof."

I took the photo from the roof.

Back on the street there were more cops. Security watched us all leave. As we headed down 95 our driver slowed.

"They snap photos of speeders," he said.

By 7 PM I was back in Buffalo. I covered the 18 miles from the airport in 15 minutes.

Good to be home.

Some places are way more free than others.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lighten Up, Francis

The comic Tracy Morgan is in hot water because he told a joke about his son possibly being gay. Morgan said that if his son told him that he were gay he'd "stab the n-word".

The key words in the sentence above are comic and joke, if you ask me. Yet Morgan is now running all over the country telling people how sorry he is if he offended gay people everywhere. Not to mention the n-word...he can say that because he's black.

As a fellow standup comic, it sort of bothers me.

First off, the joke isn't all that funny, but it does sort of mimic, right or wrong, what a lot of people think about the subject. We've come a long way in the acceptance of gays in society, but are you telling me that a lot of fathers wouldn't think the same exact thing?

Where I fall on the subject matter is inconsequential...I could care less who other people love...it's worrying about who hates who that is more disconcerting, but even if I totally disagreed with Morgan as to the point of disgust...as many are doing...I think it is wrong that he is being ridiculed for a freaking joke!

Think Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor. Hell, think Archie Bunker!

Why are we so sensitive these days? A comic telling a joke on a stage somewhere in the middle of nowhere is subject to claims of being anti-gay, anti-white, anti-black, anti-anything?

Has anyone ever listened to Tracy Morgan? He's a whacked out, funny guy, who tells jokes for a living. Certainly he may be mis-guided, but do you really think he'd stab his kid if his kid told him he were gay?

Perhaps I might feel differently if I were gay, or black, or whatever is being picked on. Believe me, I've laughed at myself a lot over the years, but it's not a gay-oppression type of thing is it? We didn't hold gays as slaves, did we?

Talk to me.

Maybe I'm way off base here. I just think a comic should be able to tell a joke.

As Bill Murray said in Stripes:

"Lighten up, Francis."

It's enough to make me want to give up stand-up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kharma is a Bitch, Bron-Bron!

Man, I was really rooting for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

Not that I was watching, mind you, because basketball, like hockey, has become basically unwatchable, but because there was an added story line to the series.

You see, I don't care for LeBron James, or even wife-beater Dwayne Wade, either. I don't like Chris Bosh either and most of that is because he looks sinister. I don't like him either because all three teamed up to win.

They basically crowned themselves champions before the season started and said they were together not to win one, or three, or five titles, but ten!

Then they lost.

After the series LeBron showed even less class by saying something along the lines of: Oh well, I'm rich and your not.

How can you NOT root against that.

Yet what bothered me even most is that he was an ass during the season as well. He stiffed the city of Cleveland by saying he was "Taking his talents to South Beach."

He didn't stiff them by leaving, mind you, but he stiffed them by not thanking them for cheering for him and making him a billion dollars. They had nothing to do with that. He's the King of the world.

Then when the team he abandoned lost by 52 to the Lakers in the middle of the year he actually sent a tweet that said: "Kharma is a bitch."

Well, kharma applies to all, there, Bron-Bron.

I don't normally root for people to fall flat on their face unless they are wearing a Boston hat with stupid red stockings on the front of their shirt, but I did enjoy watching Dallas celebrate.

And yes, I am going back to my "miserable" existence and LeBron is going back to his mansion, but today...he is nothing but a freaking loser.

And that's all right with me and the rest of the free world.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Big Man

On Saturday we loaded up the car to head to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk. Since I was driving and gas costs $4 a gallon, I decided that I get to choose the music.

All together now...what did we listen to?

Yeah, Bruce.

My niece and my kids weren't thrilled. My buddy Pops was certainly happy.

The second song that we heard was Jungleland and when Clarence did the long sax solo I cranked up the volume and taunted the kids.

"Listen! Talent! There's no law saying that you can't make a song without talent."

I enjoyed the hell out of the solo as I'd done thousands of times. I marveled at the length of the solo, and I even mentioned that I never heard Clarence miss even a single note.

"Turn it down! He's older than dirt!" my niece said.

When I heard the news this morning I was instantly sad.

Clarence suffered a massive stroke.

The news sounded horrible. As I write this there are encouraging reports as the Big Man is responding, but it's not just a man in a band I like.

Honestly, I can't put my finger on why it hits so hard.

Perhaps its because I stood in the same room with the "King of the World", the "Master of the Universe", the "You Wanna' Be Like Him But You Can't," sax player over 25 times and was amazed at his effort.

Maybe it's because I was 11 when I bought my first Bruce record, and 17 when I first saw the band and that I now feel every bit of 46, and I am really wondering where all the time went.

It might be that I wanted to see the band all together, without Federici, of course (who died a few years ago) one more time. (Or 20 more times!).

I think of my college roommates, my brothers and sisters, my wife...and even all the people I've annoyed with Bruce blasting as loud as it can go...and I know that I'm really going to miss it.

I'm really going to miss seeing the Big Man, and waving to him from my seat.

I will still be able to listen to the music, of course, but I will tell you one thing for sure.

I'm sick of missing things.

Really freaking sick of it.

Happy Birthday Jake!

He has facial hair now. His sense of humor is legendary around these parts, and you can look it up...the best indicator of intelligence is a quick wit. Jake has it in spades.

He's anti-Yankee for now because I am a tad pro-Yankee, but there hasn't been a Fazzolari who has successfully made it through not being a Yankee fan so I have a feeling that will change.

The operation that saved his life is long in the rearview mirror, but I Thank God for it every day.

My boy is 14 today...Happy Birthday, kid.

I'm really proud of my kids, you know? As a Dad there's a sharp edge to all that you do for them because you really want them to understand that life doesn't come easy. That it takes hard work, dedication, passion in doing what's right, and yes, a quick wit.

When there's something funny to share, I find Jake and he comes looking for me as well.

I hope he always searches me out to share things with. He's a wonderful kid with a bright sense of humor, and an ability to ace a test when he needs to. I'm also partial to him because there are moments when he handles frustration as I do...by blowing off steam at whoever and whatever is around.

It's not something to be proud of, of course, but I can understand it, and we certainly try to contain it from time to time.

Yet the best part of Jake sharing our lives is that he's sharing our lives.

A smart, funny, wonderful kid.

We'll work on the temper and the Yankee thing so that he becomes just perfect. In the meantime, find him at the next party, he's guaranteed to make you laugh.

Happy Birthday, kid!

Dad loves you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Baltimore Beat Me!



Okay so Larry won by a few measly strokes as Baltimore visited New York for golf. Baltimore was also complaining because its fifty degrees here in June and because he was teamed with golf's equivalent of Ron Wood and Keith Richards, but we had a great time.

I laughed a lot throughout the day but none more than when I asked my mother why she used to let my older brother pound on me on a daily basis.

"Because you used to cower like a little girl," she said. "I wanted you to toughen up a little."

Good to know.

Didn't really work.

Yet the 2nd photo attached could be the Jeff Fazzolari rule at the Rosebrook golf course. For all of you that read Oh Brother! it was the Rosebrook course where Jeff took the cart down the road to buy beer.

I am firmly convinced that the sign has been posted along the first hole fairway to ensure that there aren't any repeat performances.

And how did the leg hold up, you ask?

Well, Larry brought up an 8-pack of wine that he relabeled as Clifford wine. It is packaged as old, miserable whine that is made out of real tears.

Congrats, Larry!

It was fun.

Now when we make the trip south you better put us up at a great country club as we did you.

The Queen


Mind-blowing performance by the Queen Team at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Event this year. A team led by my sister actually trounced the field in raising money for the fight, and Corinne was styling as they interviewed her on the television news.

For good measure my nephew James snuck into the media event which was pretty cool as well.

I didn't run or walk this year but I went to the event because I remembered how cool it was last year. Again it sort of renewed my faith in humanity. Just so neat that so many people donate their time and money to battle back against cancer.

Besides the walk back and forth to the car was enough for me.

Yet it's all about my sister...the Queen. She'd be the first to tell you that there are so many others who help her so much. In fact that would be the first thing she'd tell you, and she'd probably say that I'm so stupid for singing her praises, but that's the way it goes with really great people who believe in a greater good.

They like to shine the light away from what they do.

But it's terrific. The team raised more money this year than any other team...

...EVER.

As Corinne was being interviewed by the news she asked if she should take off the sunglasses or the bandanna.

"Leave 'em on!" someone yelled out.

I'm glad she did.

From where I was standing, she looked just about perfect.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Just Gnawing On a Pork Chop

I love breaded pork chops. I have learned to eat just two at dinner instead of the four or five I used to eat. Yet when we bake them, we often times bake way more than necessary because they are even better the next morning, cold, right from the 'fridge.

The other morning I jumped out of bed, knowing that I was going to grab a pork chop instead of my usual bowl of garbage cereal. All jokes aside, I can do that once in awhile, right? I'm not that old!

So, I showered, brushed my teeth, drank a cup of coffee and grabbed my chop. I was engrossed in Sports Center when my beautiful, hardworking wife returned from the night shift at her job.

The unique thing about someone working the night shift is that they've been wide awake for hours when they meet up with people who are just rising from bed.

In other words, my wife is wound up, while the rest of us are just looking for a little peace before starting our day.

As usual, Kathy came in with the stories flying.

"She said this, then I did that, and can you believe?"

I didn't respond at all. In fact, all I actually did was concentrate on the cold chop and pick up tidbits of the game from the night before.

Remember what Charlie Brown's teacher sounded like to him?

Kathy retreated to her room as I met up with Sam and Jake.

"Wow, Mom's fired up," Sam said.

"And Dad just stands there, nodding his head, and gnawing on his pork chop," Jake added.

I did what the kids call the old LOL.

Kathy arrived back on the scene and asked what we were laughing at.

"Just gnawing on a pork chop," I said.

Which reminds me.

There are a few left.

And Kathy should be home any minute.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You Gotta' Aim Them

As you go through life you'll find the most interesting people. Sometimes they will enter like a storm, stay close, and then circumstances will take them out of your life, but the feelings will never change. And you'll remember every second of the life moments they shared with you, when they are taken away.

I knew a man named Kimball Patterson. A Native-American ironworker with a college degree in physics who coached lacrosse, loved the Sabres and Bills, and worked so hard it made my head spin while I sat beside him as a 27-year old man on a long-term job.

Kimball passed away on Monday at the age of 59. He had just hit a golf shot in a charity tournament. His heart couldn't take it.

"We all get a lot of arrows to shoot in our lives," Kim told me once. "Most people just shoot them willy-nilly. You gotta' aim them."

I can still see him saying it. We laughed a lot in our time together in that little job trailer. He let me and my buddy Jeff have his Sabres season tickets one year. Great seats. We paid him $50 bucks apiece. For the entire season.

One day we came around the corner at a job and there was a grand piano sitting there. Kim sat down and played Beethoven. And not just three notes. He played a mini-concert for me as I stood there with my mouth wide open.

"What? You thought I wasn't cultured?"

When I heard the news yesterday I was so sorry for Kim's mother and wife. He was such a fine man. I was also sorry for myself because it had been a little while since I spoke to him. He'd had a heart scare a couple of years ago.

"I'm fine," he said. "Your heart will give out way before mine."

I hadn't called him since. I certainly regret that this morning.

Kim was around when I met my beautiful wife. Perhaps he knew a little something. I was leaving the office to have a drink with Kathy back in the days when she did things like that.

"Aim those arrows," he said.

"Shut the hell up," I answered.

We always said shut the hell up to one another.

RIP buddy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WE NEED CHATTER ABOUT OH BROTHER!!!!!!


Hey folks! For purely non-selfish reasons I would love to get people talking about the book before the National Awards Program.

Over the course of the last few weeks I've been texting Johnny, Rocco and Farrah on a daily basis, and Mom and my beautiful niece Andrea just went down for a wonderful visit.

To hear my Mom tell the stories of the questions that the kids are asking is absolutely heartbreaking so it is with all of my heart, I ask you to pass the word about the book.

The response has been overwhelming, but we also want to get the word to everyone within earshot. It's a story of love, family and living life a day at a time and with a lot of love and humor.

It's a story that the world needs to know!

So, search around for ways that you can help spread the word.

Is it possible that Jeff's book can be a National Book Award recipient.

If life were even a little fair, it would win in a unanimous vote.

I am ready, willing and able to promote the book from here to Baghdad and back.

Just help me get the chatter up!

We all appreciate it!

A Woman's Man?

I passed by my beautiful wife in the kitchen the other day and I said simply, "Man, I wish you were Angela." (Fake name).

Now a lot of guys wouldn't get away with wishing their wife were another woman, especially to said wife's face, but Kathy just laughed. "I wish you were Angela too," she said.

About a year and a half ago I was really hurting after the car accident on the skyway, and my wife dragged me to the spa. I'd been through pills, adjustments, rest and ice.

At the spa (I am tempted to call is a massage parlor, but that's something Anthony Weiner would do) I met Angela.

On that first visit, Angela hurt me with her pushing and pressure and unbelievable strength. Two days later, I felt like my back was brand new. I've been swearing by Angela ever since.

Of course, there's a funny aside to the first massage. Kathy had also gone and we had finished up about the same time and were sitting in the lounge area drinking a water.

"How was it?" Kathy asked.

"They spend too much time in the groin area," I said.

But of course, that isn't true. This is a health plan that really is something that everyone should do. I'm telling you...I feel so much better, all the way around when the massage is over and for weeks afterwards.

Anyway, Kathy laughed when I told her that I needed Angela.

"She doesn't give her husband massages," she said.

Knowing the wife-husband dynamic, I feared that Kathy was probably right. Why would a wife give a man what he really wants and needs? That would be like showing weakness, right?

Before I get in trouble:

I visited Angela yesterday and told her of the pain. Then I asked the million dollar question.

"I've given my husband one massage," she said. "He's not the sort of guy that would get a massage."

"Why not?" I asked.

"He's a man's man," she said.

Oh, I get it. A big, tough guy.

The massage began. Am I a woman's man for getting rubbed down?

I don't even care. I feel so much better today and will feel even better tomorrow.

I'm thinking of getting a pedicure.

I wonder what my brothers might think.

Again! I don't care!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How's Your Dago-ing?

Some day I'm going to count the number of times someone tells me to have a nice day or asks me how it's going?

Just now as I was typing my last report my beautiful wife headed by the office and said, "How's it going, Clifford?"

"I'm working!" I said.

"I was just checking in," she said. "I don't really care what you're doing."

And that's about the extent of it, right?

No one really cares. There are the people we see every day. The woman who accepts the $1.75 for my copy of the Buffalo News and the USA Today.

"How you doing?" she asks.

I try to come up with something clever. Something more original than 'Same shit, different day.'

"Better than Anthony Weiner," I said today.

Yet my favorite is when someone says:

"How's your day going?"

"Dago? Why do you have to start a fight?" I'll ask.

That little gem of a line has been in our family for about a hundred years. I'd be willing to bet all of my brothers and sisters have used it, multiple times...right gang?

And I suppose it's true. The other day I asked a woman how she was doing. It was in the grocery store parking lot. She was an older, normal looking woman, but unfortunately for me her car had been side-swiped in a different parking lot.

My simple question left her talking about her personal tragedy. She showed me the damage to the car. She told me about her battle with the insurance companies and the fact that she pissed off her old codger husband.

Ten minutes later I was walking through the parking lot, muttering, 'What the hell was that?'

How I wish I hadn't asked her.

Seriously folks, do you really care? Wouldn't life truly slow down if the question was answered honestly.

Think of my exchange with the clerk at the gas station.

"Hi Cliff, how's it going?"

"Well, the swelling on my knee is a little better. My back is still tight, but I'm hoping that with rest and ice, it'll be okay by the weekend. The Yanks lost to the Red Sux last night, but Wakefield is pitching today and I can hit him, so their lead should be safe. I have the breast cancer walk on Saturday followed by a party with my family and golf on Sunday, and work has been just fine although a little busy."

When do you think she'll stop listening.

How's your dago-ing?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weird and Absurd

You know there are moments in the day when things are going real fast when I'll pass something on the road, or hear a song on the radio, or smell an old familiar smell that brings me back in time to something else.

And right at that moment, I'll stop and consider all the things that have happened in my life, and in the lives of so many other people, and I'll think:

"Man, it's just so absurd."

I really don't feel that I will live another month in my life when I won't think that the whole shebang (to steal one of my beautiful wife's new favorite words) is just sort of weird.

Do you find life weird and absurd at times?

And I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and he mentioned something about it being a good thing that he was blessed with enough intelligence to look at certain situations and make a sound decision.

I told him that maybe it would have been better if we were born, or somehow stayed real simple.

When things get complicated by feelings of love, or passion, or extreme ambition, that's when it gets painful, right?

Think of all the things that you didn't know as a kid. Wasn't there a certain grace and a real freeing feeling to just bounce a ball off the wall for awhile oblivious to some of the strangeness in life that can hold you down?

I'm not sure if all the thinking about things has left me further ahead or miles behind. Have I lost or gained sight? Am I riding in the seat or have I fallen beneath the wheel?

My Dad used to tell me that at any age you can look back ten years and really wonder what the hell you were thinking, and why you were so naive to what the world can do.

It certainly applies at the age of 46. It applied at the age of 12, and will most likely apply at the age of 75.

What the hell was I thinking?

The problem, of course, being the sense of loss that I feel and will feel for the rest of my days. I know all of my family members feel it. I know so many other people who feel it in their own lives.

As I was out signing copies of Oh Brother! I ran across so many people who'd lost a brother, mother, father, cousin, best friend, husband or wife.

I certainly hurt for them as well, but often times, as they were telling me their story, with tears in their eyes, or streaming down their faces, I could only think:

Isn't this crazy?

I don't feel this blog post racing to any sort of wise conclusion.

How could it?

I will close my eyes tonight with a whole new set of responsibilities facing me in the morning.

Sometimes it might be better to be oblivious to it all.

Man, I feel so weird that it's just plain absurd.

Moments



Life is about trudging through the bullshit to get to the really cool moments, isn't it? Isn't that what it all sort of boils down to?

Fortunately I spotted a couple of photos yesterday as they were posted to Facebook. Don't we live in a great world? Two minutes after a photo is snapped it can be sent all over the world. Remember waiting for the pictures to be developed? I should tell my kids about that they'd laugh their asses off. Photos from a graduation would be passed around in August sometime.

Anyhow...I had to put up the photo of Matt at his prom because there's a slight chance that it may embarass him.

Also, Mom and her grandkids is up there because that's one of the moments I was talking about. The picture tells a thousand words, right? More like a million right there.

And you know what I thought when I first glanced at it?

"Man, Mom is incredible."

That's it. Plain and simple. A photo that can muster up a million words and I could only think of four.

The thing about life is that we trudge to the bullshit to get to a moment...

...and a slight moment, in the middle of a routine, hard-working day, can stop you in your tracks because of a simple beauty of that moment.

Sure glad I didn't have to wait for the photos to get back from CVS.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The British Are Not Gonna' Get Our Guns, Or Something Like That!

Sarah Palin has to get into my blog, doesn't she? Just when I want to ban her from making an appearance, she appears somewhere and says something stupid and then swears by it and then blames the media for trying to trick her with their "tough" questions.

This last showing in New England is straight from the George Dubya handbook for mental incompetence.

She told a crowd of her supporters that Paul Revere rode through the streets ringing his bell telling all the British soldiers that the American colonists were mad as hell as they weren't going to let Britain have their guns.

Don't be confused by the facts, there old wise hockey Mom.

Revere actually rode through the streets with a lantern to warn the colonists that the British were coming.

Remember that from 2nd grade?

The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!

When the media called her out on it, Sarah got defensive saying that there may have been some British soldiers somewhere out there and that Revere's trip was to warn the colonists but also to explain to the British that America was not going to take it!

Of course, she also added that someone shouted out a tough question to her and it's tough to think on her feet. Like that brutal Katie Couric question asking her what newspapers she reads.

Now I don't want to get political here and it was the last thing I wanted to write about today, but you just have to hear the exchange between Palin and the reporters. It's downright embarrassing.

What she was actually trying to do was put herself in Paul Revere's shoes. She was pretending that she was traveling across the land telling Obama that she wouldn't give up her guns.

That's fine, I suppose. Go shoot your elk, we don't want your gun, but don't rewrite history to fit your needs.

I suppose that what drives me crazy about it is that there are people out there who love Palin.

"She's like us," someone told me the other day.

I don't want someone like me running the country, do you?

I gotta' stop watching the news.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bring it Maryland!

My cousin Larry is coming up to play golf next weekend. He asked my brother Jim:

"Will Cliff be well enough to play?"

I laughed. Larry is a funny dude.

Yet it is time to whine, bitch, piss and moan. I quit playing golf yesterday after nine holes because I just couldn't figure out what hurt worse my aching back or my forever swollen knee.

Yes, I hate whiners. That is well-established, but what is life without a little whine?

The knee surgery was done at the start of April. I should be all good by now, right?

It depends who you talk to. I know one guy who never missed a beat. I know another five who said it took them eight months to get back to doing their usual stuff.

Well, I've been doing my usual stuff since three days after the surgery...and I will NOT miss another day of work due to this, but it feels as if I am wearing a weighted cuff around my knee. It is double the size of my left knee. Rehab, stretching, ice, rest...its all the same. Climb a 240-foot scaffold...easy enough. Watch the knee swell in the car ride on the way to the next job, even easier.

I must admit that I'm frustrated. I also know that I'm being a wimp.

Or am I? I don't even know! I didn't shut it all down to rest. I tried to suck it up!

Anyway, what's the point of reading along today?

There isn't one. I stopped playing golf after 9 holes yesterday because it rained for an hour and I stiffened up so bad that like an old man, I made the decision to get a little rest instead.

Simply riding along yesterday for the final 9 would have put my golf with Larry in jeopardy for next week.

And that can't happen because I'm well enough to whip his tall, goofy ass.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Hero Snuffy

One of the faithful readers of this blog is also a guy who keeps a running conversation going with me all through nearly every day as we text one another back and forth.

Of course he is also one of the more faithful commenters on the blog, letting me know when my point-of-view is off, and when something we both care about is mentioned.

He is also one of the Grape Apes and can hit a golf ball a long way. Even when he's on the green.

When we were a lot younger, perhaps as much as 35 years ago, he picked up a nickname in the Fuzzy house - Snuffy after the character on Sesame Street.

Well, let me tell you...Snuffy is a good man.

He gets up every morning and goes to work each day, and we all know that sometimes the blood runs cold and you feel so weak that you just want to explode. Explode and tear the whole town apart, and I'm sure there have been days when he's been tempted to take a knife and cut the pain from his heart as well.

Because as you see, Snuffy isn't just my friend, but he is a friend to all things Fuzzy and he is a friend to all of my friends as well.

Today is his birthday. I'm not even sure how many. Does it matter after a certain age anyway?

The thing about it is that he is one of the brightest guys I know and he has as many opinions as me. If he were to start a blog he might even name it...things that the Thoughts of a Common Man author gets screwed up...

And that's good too.

Because he's a good man.

Happy Birthday, Pops, Snuffy, Grape Ape...

Raise a glass today. A Heiny Light and chase it with a shot of Jameson's.

Even if you're by yourself, you won't be alone at all.

I know a whole bunch of guys who've cherished the chance to shoot the shit with you.

Even if it did seem like Sesame Street from time-to-time.

Whoa, come take my hand we're riding out tonight to case the promised land, oh-oh-oh, Thunder Road. Sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road.

My present to you...a song to sing along.

Have a great year, buddy.

Sweet Dreams

Close your eyes I want to ride the skies in my sweet dreams. Close your eyes I want to see you tonight in my sweet dreams.

Matt went to the prom last night. He got all dressed up, bought a flower for the gal, and the emotions ran high for Kathy. I wasn't around for the pictures and/or to meet the young lady.

Yeah, he got lucky.

But I most likely wouldn't have given him a hard time anyway. As you can see, I remember the chorus of my own prom song.

Sweet Dreams by Air Supply.

It goes without saying that my prom seemed as if it were about three weeks ago, but I definitely do recall the pre-prom party...a buddy of mine and I got lost in the Boston Hills when he decided to take a shortcut home from picking up our tuxes.

I also recall the prom itself...I was so light on my feet, cutting the rug as a handsome, dashing, skinny, full-haired, let's just say it...flat-out stud...and another buddy took home the prom king hat.

I wonder if he still has it. I'll ask him today, I'm golfing with him.

And I remember the after prom party. I rode with my brother John and his date in John's Cougar with the moon roof.

(Hey that's funny...John's Cougar...all he needs is a Mellencamp).

Anyway, the roof was open and we had a bottle of wine...drinking age was 18 then, folks, and John drove away with the wine still akimbo on the roof. It spilled all over his date's dress. I wonder if his date remembers that...and yes, I can still ask her.

As for my date?

I haven't seen her in a lot of years and maybe just twice in the 25 years since. Going out and dressing up seemed so damn important then. The world was there for the taking.

I'm not sure about riding the skies in my sweet dreams, but life has worked out fairly well for me.

But down deep, you'll always remember the prom, right?

The glitz, the glamour and the drama.

What's a little spilt wine between friends?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mork From Ork

I spent a lot of time on the road today. I listened to the Jay Thomas Show, as per usual. They were running an old show where Jay interviewed a man who makes hats that are designed to ward off the advances of aliens who invade the minds of unsuspecting humans. The guy, Michael Menkin sounded reasonable enough, and he certainly believed that he had the secret to curing things such as autism and epilepsy...which he is sure is caused by these attacking aliens.

Jay did the interview straight up, only laughing after the interview was over, and in between legitimate questions.

How many people out there actually believe in aliens visiting this planet? Do any of you believe that it has happened, or is happening, or that aliens are living among us?

Will a specially designed hat made by this guy be enough to chase away those nasty aliens if they target you?

The man was certain that he was correct. When he was asked if people made fun of him, he said, yes, but he also said that when it all comes to pass and he is saved, and the other eleven people wearing his hats are saved, he will have the last laugh.

Uh, okay.

I've never seen a flying saucer. I remember studying the planets back in grammar school and they say that most of the planets are truly inhabitable. Where do the kooks like this believe these aliens are coming from? Why are they only speaking directly with the nutbags of our society?

Don't you think that if they were out there they'd reach out to our leaders? Like Sarah Palin?

There'd be a conversation, huh? Sarah and the Aliens making peace plans.

I don't even know what to say about all of it...I just wonder...are there reasonable-minded people who actually believe that the aliens are sucking our brains of knowledge?

Now I know that Mork from Ork was real, but that's it, right?

Wasn't Jonathan Winters a baby from that planet?

Ah, hell, I don't remember.

I may just order a hat to cover my bases.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy June the 2!

I have known that June the 2 is a sort of a holiday in the Fazzolari family since I've been about three years old.

Every year, we send messages back and forth wishing each other a Merry June the 2 or a Happy June the 2 or a Wonderful June the 2.

So what's the deal?

My great Uncle Jim, who I remember vaguely, used to promise my grandmother that he would visit. When she'd ask when he'd say June the 2. Now whenever something needs to be done in our family, and there is no certain time frame, we say that we will get it done, or visit, or finish the job on June the 2.

My wonderful Uncle Jim is the catalyst for the June the 2 celebrations now. My Dad, of course, was in on the joke, and all of my brothers, my sisters, my cousins, my aunts and uncles are all June the 2 enthusiasts.

And June the 2 is about so much more to all of us. We have a family bond that is so strong that despite the fact that there are no presents passed out, no celebratory dinners, we all look forward to the day.

Traditions must live on.

I eat pasta every Sunday because that is what we were taught to do....not to mention that I love it...but the day doesn't seem quite right if there is any other food served.

My sister Corinne is wonderful about making sure that the family traits are carried on. Time and pain have separated us from some of the things we've held so dear but there was no way that today would pass without the phone calls, the Facebook postings, and the text messages.

Happy June the 2 to all of you.

It's one of my favorite days of the year.

(This blog goes out to Uncle Jim...a true, Billy Joel-looking, Candy-ass from way back).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What A Weiner

I'm telling you, the members of congress and the various political representatives must have an awful lot of time on their hands.

Now we have a Democratic pervert being questioned about sending a photo of his, well, how to say this delicately, um...weiner to a 21 year old girl on Twitter.

Don't you think that if your name is Anthony Weiner that you'd send photos of anything other than your weiner as a gift to your followers?

I really don't get it. I don't. How does that enter your mind?

"Well, here I sit alone in my hotel room with nothing to do. I already called home to check on the family. What else can I possibly do?"

The respected rep flips through the television shows but little catches his fancy. He decides to update his Twitter account.

"Ah, I have a new follower. I'll ask her if I can follow her. She's hot. Why not?"

The girl is impressed that a congressman is interested and agrees to follow him.

"Wonderful!"

The congressman sits back. He has a new bill he can read, but his mind continues to drift to his new follower.

"I got an idea! I'll send her a shot of my weiner! Get it? Anthony Weiner's weiner! Won't that be funny?"

And now, of course, he is saying that he's been hacked. People will figure it out that this isn't true.

Then he said it was just a joke.

Oh! Ha, ha, that's really funny!

If you're ten years old

Or a Republican.

I don't know. I don't even have enough time to figure out how Twitter works. I certainly wouldn't be able to figure out how to wide angle lens my phone camera to get a shot of my Anthony Weiner.

(See how I slid that joke in?)

I'm thinking of running for something. It seems like there's an awful lot of downtime, and its such an interesting life when the whole world is crashing down on you because you can't control your own stupidity.

Just kills me that with a name like weiner, you choose to act like one.

Catching Up

If you held a gun to my head I wouldn't be able to tell you who won American Idol. If he hit me with a lead pipe, I'd have trouble picking him out of a lineup.

I'm happy about that.

Saw Hangover 2 over the weekend. I didn't see the first Hangover for a long time after it was a hit and I didn't laugh a whole lot. I figured it was because I was expecting too much. Saw this one early...it was okay...still didn't belly laugh.

Me, Myself & Irene is still the funniest movie ever.

I see that the Anthony murder case is going on in Florida. Just from a couple of glances at Nancy Grace that case should last about 12 minutes. What mother loses her kid for 30 days and claims it ran off with a nanny that didn't exist? Sick.

Give her the fair trial, then lock her away forever. Dopey bastards in the world, truly.

Gas prices are coming down, huh?

Probably just in time to hear about the record profits made my big oil. Seriously, we don't need to keep an eye on any of the big-wigs in the country. They aren't worried about money...they just want to help the little guys out by creating jobs.

I vote more tax breaks for the rich. It's the only way to turn this thing around.

Saw Sarah Palin ride into Washington on a motorcycle. How cool was that? I'm surprised the fire in her belly didn't cause the gas tank to explode.

Please just go away!

We finally have some sun here in Buffalo.

The Yankees are in first place.

And I'm killing my buddies Gag and Jeffy...not to mention my boys in my fantasy baseball leagues... (I told you that you suck).

And it's June 1! Breast cancer walks, graduation parties, weddings, and golf tourneys coming up! Kids off of school working like little bees around the house to make my life easier!

What's not to like?

Please note that there are lies and sarcasm contained within this blog. Have fun...see where those sentences are.

The fantasy baseball stuff is true.

Fun While It Lasted

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