Friday, November 30, 2012

Tell Me Why

A couple of weeks ago a couple of kids started a dog on fire here in Buffalo. Thankfully the dog survived.

This past weekend a couple of people decided to beat up a 96-year-old man during a robbery. The old guy is also hanging in there.

Can you explain why those things happened?

I get that there is a real disconnect between what should happen and what does happen. I do understand that there's just a meanness in this world, but seriously. Can you even imagine watching either of those things go down?

Can you tell me why a young woman who'd been busted for drunk driving a few years ago would get back behind the wheel, again, drunk as a skunk, cross a center line and plow into a mother and her child? Mom has survived so far. The baby did not.

Why, after all the time and effort put into it do we still have drunk drivers? Will it ever end?

Can you tell me why a couple of men in the Niagara Falls area would drive by a car and open fire?

The only person in the car was a toddler who took gun shots to the face.

What could that baby have done to become a victim of a drive-by shooting?

Can you tell me why every single story on the news seems to be more horrible then the one before?

In my job I get to meet all sorts of people. I was teaching a class a few weeks back when one of the men told me that he needed me to 'cover for him' for an hour as he had to go to court.

"I can't do that," I said.

"Well, I either attend all of the class or I go to jail," he said. "I don't want to go to jail because I have a baby at home. I need the class to be able to work. What can you do for me?"

The guy was sort of defiant. I decided to be the same.

"How is this my problem?" I asked.

"I made mistakes," he said. "I just need to start over. Can you help?"

I don't know what made me do it, but I asked.

"Why did you get arrested?" I asked.

"Selling," he said. "Second time."

"Can you help me?" he asked as I turned away.

"I will if you answer me a question," I said.

"Anything," he responded. He had jewelry stuck in holes he made all over his face.

"Can you tell me why you'd bring a kid in the world if you don't intend on being a man?"

He just stared at me. I'm sure he wanted to punch me, but he needed me, so he didn't.

"I'm trying to do better," he said. "Will you help?"

I stayed an extra hour to teach him the part of the lesson that he missed. I listened to him tell me time and again that he was starting all over, clean and sober.

Tell me why, after reading the news, I don't believe him.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tear Down Those Walls


Every time I drive into Buffalo along Route 5 I think of bringing a bunch of college friends that way on our way into the city.

"This place is a shit-hole," the ever eloquent Fluffy mentioned.

And I think of a few certain sections of Buffalo as that way for sure. The old steel plant buildings are certainly an eyesore and despite the fact that we may not ever set up a waterfront as wonderful as that of some other cities, we can certainly do better.

The old, tired, unused buildings that once gave the city life are now just sitting there...looking ugly and worn.

There is talk of tearing some of the old dogs down and there are groups standing up in opposition.

We need to preserve them as historical sites?

For what?

Exactly?

Yeah, yeah a lot of people built their lives while working inside the walls of the place.

It won't ever happen again.

Not when they can do it cheaper in some other country. Not when no one works there anymore.

My beautiful wife worked right there. Every single time we pass the place she says:

"That's where I used to work."

Please.

I'm begging you.

Tear the joint down.

Just so I don't have to hear that anymore.

The place is enough of a shit-hole as it is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Filthy Money

The goofy kid from Two and a Half Men is causing quite a stir with his comments about the show, isn't he?

Jake, or Angus T. Jones, as he's known in real life has had an awakening of sorts and he went off the other day about how people should stop watching his show because it's pure filth and will cause problems in eternity.

He collects $350,000 a week for appearing on the filthy freaking show.

Damn, that's a hypocrite, right?

I'm just trying to get my definitions straight.

And it's not that I don't agree with him.

There were times when I thought the show was clever, hell, even funny. Since Charlie Sheen left its become downright stupid, and Angus has a point:

It's filthy.

Yet it's pretty hard to be lectured about morality from a 19 year old kid who actually became a millionaire off of the filth that was being presented.

Has he given any of the money back?

Donated it to his church?

And what will happen to him when the show does leave the air following this season?

Does he think that he is going to suddenly be asked to do only films that have God in the title?

I'm not quite sure what to make of any of it. We have slid all the way down the slope. All of the shows that are on are usually about sex and violence. We can't stop that train. It's done left the station. Check in on any of the shows that are new.

Two Broke Girls is a horribly filthy show.

How I Met Your Mother is filthy and dumb.

Hell, even the cartoons are filthy these days.

But Angus sort of made a decision that was typical of the character that he played on the show:

Dumb.

He just threw the money away.

And part of me is proud of his stand. He took one. He might even be right, but he's certainly fighting a losing battle.

We've already been drawn to the filth.

Little House on the Prairie and Andy Griffith are long gone.

And perhaps we have damaged our collective minds.

I guess eternity will figure it all out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Natives Are Restless

Every three years here in Buffalo we start chanting for the people who run the Bills organization to start firing people.

Today on the job sites I gathered the following evidence.

We want the head coach gone.

We want the GM gone.

We want the quarterback gone.

Hell, we even want the owner real, real real gone.

And then I heard it.

"Sorry to say but we need the team to just leave," one guy said. "Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith were a long time ago. We can't keep up any which way and we can't afford them anymore."

Perhaps it was just sour grapes from a 13th consecutive season down the drain.

Maybe it's the fact that hope seems to be fading for a quick turn-around.

"This is our rebuilding century," another guy said. "Personally I've had enough."

The next shot came from the third guy sitting around the coffee truck:

"I paid my money for season tickets - they ain't cheap," he said. "I re-upped when they took one home game and gave it to Toronto. I re-upped even after the last few years when I couldn't give away the last two games of the year and I didn't want to sit in the cold and watch a losing team. I re-upped because they promised this year would be different. Now I'm gonna' eat the last three sets of tickets for this year - I'm done."

I didn't say a whole lot.

I thought of Sam in his Spiller uniform yesterday when the Bills were on offense. He may even have been switching to a different uniform when they were playing D.

I thought about how excited I'd been back 20 years ago.

But that was a long time ago.

What are the answers?

How do the Cubs fans do it decade after decade?

"Ah well," one guy said. "We might not ever see the playoffs again, but at least we live in a city where there is great leadership, plenty of jobs and perfect weather."

Everyone else laughed.

"We used to at least have the Sabres," another guy finally said. "It's all just so depressing."

I told you:

The natives are restless.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Finer Things

Always liked this song...listened to the lyrics really closely on Thanksgiving Day...Steve Winwood

The Finer Things

While there is time
Let's go out and feel everything
If you hold me
I will let you into my dream
For time is a river rolling into nowhere
We must live while we can
And we'll drink our cup of laughter

The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be

Oh, I've been sad
And have walked bitter streets alone
And come morning
There's a good wind to blow me home
So time is a river rolling into nowhere
I will live while I can
I will have my ever after

The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be

We go so fast, why don't we make it last
Life is glowing inside you and me
Please take my hand, here where I stand
Won't you come out and dance with me
Come see, with me, come see

And lovers try
'Til they get the best of the night
And come morning
They are tangled up in the light
So time be a river rolling into nowhere
They love while they can
And they think about the night so sweet

The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mommy

Today is my Mommy's birthday.

(It's my buddy J.C's birthday as well, but when it comes down to it...he loses big to Mommy. Happy Birthday anyway, second-fiddle).

And I thought of Mom when I was finishing up the Bruce biography written by Peter Ames Carlin - a great read for Bruce fans - it ain't all money and sheer happiness.

Yet towards the end of the book there was an interview with Bruce's mom and she was talking about the impact that her son's success had on the family dynamic. The money changed it all for all of them for generations and generations and she was putting that change into the context of the sadness they'd suffered through the years.

"I look at him and I can't believe he's my son," she says.

That's how I feel about my Mom.

Her toughness is extraordinary.

She wants to cry every minute but she disguises the sadness with a hearty laugh.

Her work ethic exceeds her toughness.

"What're you doing?" I asked her over the summer.

"Landscaping," she said. "I've been out there all day."

"There was nothing that needed to be done," I answered, dismayed by the thought of her working so hard.

"I want to do it."

And it's funny because as adults we are all left to wonder who worked harder, Mom or Dad, and it's not really as close a call as some think.

Mom was always moving.

And I think of the love she shared, nurtured and demanded in return. She still has a collar from a dog that died back in the 1970's and I'm sure if you took it out and held it in front of her she'd cry...missing that dog from 35 years ago.

So, it's impossible to not incorporate it into your own life.

And I know we are all lucky for having grown in that love.

There are so many others who don't get the chance, or never feel the grace of such a love.

You see why you take such a huge back seat, John?

You see why I think a lot like Bruce's mom?

I can't believe she's my Mom.

You feel that way when you're surrounded by greatness.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Want, I Want, I Need, I Need

I am just amazed at the people lined up at every store. I'm even more amazed that now people are actually skipping their Thanksgiving Dinner to do it.

Perhaps it's just that I hate everything about the mall experience from the 'Can I help you?' the minute you walk in the door on to feeling nauseated while you stand in line behind someone who wants to talk to you about their putrid life just because you're standing behind them to the swiping of the credit card to throw something in your cart that you don't really want or need.

Do you know that most kids of a certain age are content to play with the box that the shit comes in?

And if you really held a gun to my head and asked me what I wanted for Christmas I couldn't mention a single thing.

And they do hold guns to each other's heads out there. Someone shot someone else over a parking spot in Florida.

Ah well, it was in Florida, who cares?

But, yes, my beautiful wife was out there. She even dragged a hoodlum with her each day. Jake went on Thursday night while Sam sat beside me as I worked my way through the thirty-one pounds of stuffing we ate. We watched football. He talked. I listened.

Mom did the stuffing...Corinne nailed the potatoes and everyone chipped in, but Jim did most of the heavy lifting. We laughed a bit, sulked some, and hung tight to the things that really mattered.

Right up until shopping time.

And since it really doesn't matter to me if I know anything about a subject before ripping it to shreds, I sort of wonder what the appeal is.

I would much rather spend an extra twenty, thirty or even forty dollars on something if I could do it without having to say excuse me to some rude son-of-a-bitch who wants to fight me for it.

But then again, I never put a lot of stock in the 'things'.

Of course, that's not to say I don't smile a little when I see how happy the kids are on Christmas morning and when I realize that my beautiful wife did a lot to make it happen.

But my job is to bitch, right?

So bitching I will do.

Hell, I might even write a Christmas song about it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Orenthal Didn't Do It?????

For many years on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving I'd be out at a bar as long as I could...beer, shot, beer. Hell, there was even one college night that stretched into Thanksgiving Day.

My mother was pissed.

On the Wednesday this year there were rumblings about Happy Hour, but I worked until the end of the day and then made dinner for the hoodlums. Another buddy was on conference calls and one more guy took a nap instead.

So, a quiet evening.

I settled in for an hour of television with my beautiful wife and we watched the murder channel. Just one real-life murder mystery after another. We were treated to a serial killer - Glenn Rogers - who stuck better than 70 women.

What else is Thanksgiving Eve for?

Turns out, Glenn was living in California when Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered. He allegedly told his just-as-mental brother Clay that he was gonna' get her because she was rich.

Could it be?

Was Orenthal telling the truth?

What a kick in the ass that would be, huh?

And it still doesn't quite explain how there were a few gallons of Nicole's blood in OJ's Bronco, but could this guy have actually swung the knife?

The story goes that OJ was paying him for something or other and told him that she could die if that's what needed to happen.

That'd still be murder, right?

Ah well, OJ probably is sitting in a cell right now because he isn't the greatest of men.

But man, he could run.

Check it out if you get the chance though. The life the Rogers boys lived tells you the exact recipe for raising a murderer.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Proclamations - Mine & Abe's


“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven;

We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity;

We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the
necessity of redeeming and preserving grace;

We have become too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and
gratefully acknowledged;

As with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States...

To set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving;

And praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

--- Abraham Lincoln - 1863



"You have much to be thankful for;

Whoever you are and whatever your circumstances.

Look around.

Look up.

Appreciate those who love you;

And those you love.

The rest is bullshit."

---Cliff Fazzolari 2012

Happy Birthday to my brother John. The old bastard.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NO TWINKIES?????

What a world we live in.

Try and find a Twinkie somewhere tomorrow.

Ever since Hostess announced that they were going out of business there's been a mad rush.

Crazy.

My favorite Hostess story revolves around a golf tournament where there was plenty of beer being consumed. One guy stood up to answer a cell phone call from his wife. As he finished up the call another man (who was more than portly)screamed out:

"Hey Kevin was that your wife telling you that you can stay out a little longer?"

Kevin didn't miss a beat:

"No, Corky, you fat f%&* that was Hostess asking me if you mentioned how hungry you are tonight because they're trying to set their annual budget."

I think of that line every time someone mentions Hostess.

And being a Fazzolari I'm not much into sweets. I can't remember if I've ever eaten a Twinkie.

(Yeah, this shape is all pasta and pork chops, folks).

Yet there is a certain sadness, isn't there?

It's like losing a bit of our childhood.

It shouldn't be.

The products that Hostess sold were not real good for any of us. Those cupcakes look harmless and can be hammered down fairly quickly, but they are all the fat calories you need for a week or so.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the companies that produced those empty calories would just go away?

We are too fat after all.

But alas, I just heard today that the company may be saved and even if it's not the production of Twinkies will continue.

At least Corky will be happy.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

17 Has Turned 48

I was having lunch the other day when Cherry Bomb, by Mellencamp, played over the speakers. As usual I concentrated on the line where he croons about 17 turning 35 and I recalled singing that when I was just 25 or so. I changed the words to suit my own age.

17 has turned 25, 26, 27, 28.....48.

And it gets to me, you know?

I've looked back through some things lately seeing myself at the age of 26 and 28. The dark hair. The less weight (although all of my best friends referenced fat back then too), the hope and promise of things to come.

And looking back there are a lot of smiles. Life has a way of stripping away the struggles, right?

Do you remember when you were in high school, or college, or at a job that you particularly despised.

When you look back on it, it all seems like it went great. You recall the smiles and the laughter.

You distance yourself from the pain.

And I suppose that it's good that life plays out that way.

Yet back in 1993 it was hard to escape the Buffalo Bills in this town and I remember talking to a guy around one of the shops where I worked. He didn't watch them at all. He didn't care if they won. He didn't wear a Kelly jersey on casual Friday.

"You're gonna' find out later, kid," he told me. "That none of this shit matters. Life is just sadness and struggle."

I remember him saying it and I can still feel how it felt for me to hear it. I don't recall what his personal demons were and not sure what the 20 years has done to him. He'd be about 68 now.

He was 48 then.

And I still disagree with him.

Life is sad. It certainly can't choke you from time to time as you struggle. In the end there are not years and years of sheer joy.

It's more condensed than that.

Yet the guy in those photos had hair and a slimmer waste line, but he didn't have quite as much knowledge. He hadn't yet experienced all the love that he could. He had an idea about how to get it, but getting it and holding it are two separate things.

And I pray that we all somehow find it someday. At least a glimpse.

The love is out there, folks. It's floating in the air just above the place where you're standing, and 'none of this shit matters, and life is just sadness and struggle', is a tough way to watch the days pile up behind you.

Still, it amazes me to watch the transformation. You see it in the growth of the kids mostly, but its also in the creaking of my body as I climb the stairs.

There's a long ways to go, I hope.

If 17 to 48 is any indication the next 30 years will pass us by quickly.

When I exit stage left there's gonna' be more love than sadness left in my wake.

I guarantee that much.

I'll be singing 17 has turned 78.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More Than Expected

I forget which candidate was saying that corporations aren't people and which one was saying that they are.

It was sort of a stupid argument anyway.

Yet through the years I have operated on a simple basic philosophy and it has served me well through the years. It was one of my Dad's commandments:

When someone gives you a job to do; do more than what they expect.

I think of that all the time. I tell the kids to do the same.

"If I ask you to clean your room, make me smile when I come in to check out how you did."

It doesn't always work.

Yet there are so many days when things get pushed together and every once in awhile we get caught up in our own thoughts.

Life is unutterably weary and tiresome and there are moments when we start to think less about the job that we are asked to do and more about:

"Man, I'm busting my ass here and no one is telling me how good it's going."

And that's when places of business feel less like people and more like corporations and when there is a disconnect, people slip through the cracks.

I once worked for a guy who was perpetually angry. He had a hundred people that worked for him and he interacted with them in anger and mistrust.

Everyone hated that bastard.

The company didn't survive.

Fortunately I work for people who are less miserable now. They make me feel like working for them by simply allowing me the time and space to do what I do.

Yet, there are days, in my position, when my own aggravations seep into the things that I'm tasked to do.

It's Thanksgiving week.

The holidays are heading into clear view. I saw a Christmas list floating around the kitchen counter the other day.

What we want.

Sometimes it is so much less about what we want or need, and much more about doing...

...more than what's expected.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wanna' Party?

The story of the young man who drifted away after getting tossed from the football game on Thursday night is heartbreaking, isn't it?

It is assumed that he was drunk from an afternoon of tailgating before the Bills played the Dolphins. He was asked to leave. He made arrangements to meet his friends for more drinks once the game ended.

Instead he drowned in a small creek at the opposite end of the stadium.

26 years old.

His photo was in the paper.

It hit me hard on a few levels.

I thought of my kids and how excited they are by that stupid game. In a few years they will be standing in the parking lot...exposed...

I considered my own tailgating ways a lifetime ago.

But for the Grace of God there go I

It certainly could have happened during the Super Bowl Years.

The kid was going out for a good time. It certainly got way the hell out of line.

The NFL is under the gun for the drinking that goes on. Some people are blaming the security crew that sent him on his way. Others are looking to blame the friends who didn't head out with him to make sure he was okay.

It's more than all that, isn't it?

There were dozens of arrests made during and following the game. Another guy was struck by a car as he tried to cross the busy roadway in front of the stadium. Years ago someone else was killed by a tossed beer bottle.

Senseless, in retrospect, huh?

I haven't been to a game in a long while. I'm not so uptight to say that its because people drink and get fired up, but it is certainly a young man's game. I didn't even watch one play of the game Thursday night. That would have been a crazy thought twenty years ago!

I'm too tired to be hassled in such a manner.

It's just heartbreaking.

And we won't fix it. Football has a lofty place in the community.

Good, bad or indifferent the sporting events somehow get out of complete control.

Say a prayer for the poor kid.

And his suffering friends and family.

Sometimes that's all that's worth discussing about it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Something that Pisses Me Off

There's a posting that goes around on all the social media sites. The gist of it is something like this:

Like if you think states should have drug testing in order to collect welfare or food stamps.

There are usually ten thousand likes for this and the comment section is even more upsetting to me.

Why don't I like it?

Because people are certainly making judgments and because those same people are casting stones at the bottom of the economic food chain.

Is drug-testing something I'm against because it takes away rights?

Not necessarily. There is drug-testing for all sorts of jobs in this country. Why not drug-test people who are getting free money?

Yet what bugs me about it is that we continue to look at the bottom-feeders and consider that they are the cause of all of the problems in the world.

I saw a lady using food stamps while talking on her smartphone!!!!

Those are the types of comments that get to me.

Let me try and explain my very unpopular position.

8 to 10 percent of the population is useless.

It's always been that way and always will be that way. No amount of coaxing, testing, cajoling, chiding, motivating or encouraging them will work. There were cavemen who wanted to sleep all day instead of helping to collect food.

Some people don't want to work.

Yet has that percentage increased recently?

No. What has increased are the number of people who have fallen into the arena of needing public assistance.

And do you know why that is?

Because wages have been basically stagnant since the 1990's for the typical members of the working class. Minimum wage is not a living wage by any means.

It used to be.

People used to be able to put food on their tables while doing what we now consider to be menial jobs.

A minimum wage job now barely pays the cell phone bill.

And do people who are at or near the poverty line need to go without even a single basic luxury before being able to collect food stamps?

I don't think so, but then again, I am a compassionate sort who sees people struggling as PEOPLE nonetheless.

I always want to answer the drug-testing question by putting something smart like:

Like if you think we should drug test the guys on wall street or the investment bankers making millions off the sweat of the working middle class by playing the numbers game and swindling people.

But I don't.

Instead I try and make the argument to people I think should be smart enough to understand.

Who was more responsible for the collapse of the banking industry, the auto industry and the housing industry?

Was it the guys who sit in sweatpants all day and steal $500 a month or was it the guys in neckties and nice Italian shoes who stole a million at a time.

Think about that a bit the next time you look down your nose at a guy who might be using food stamps at the grocery store on his way home of installing drywall as a side job after working as a laborer during the day...all for $8 an hour.

Think about it when you consider Madoff and the thousand guys like him who stole money hand over fist.

Who do you think paid for those losses?

Drug-test them bastards.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Reminds Me of My Cousin Larry

I Love a Funny E-Mail


A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying:

'Everyone who thinks they're stupid, stand up!' After a few seconds, Little Larry stood up.

The teacher said, 'Do you think you're stupid, Larry?' 'No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!'


Larry watched, fascinated, as his mother smoothed cold cream on her face.

'Why do you do that, mommy?' he asked.
'To make myself beautiful,' said his mother, who then began removing the cream with a tissue.

'What's the matter, asked Larry 'Giving up?'



The math teacher saw that Larry wasn't paying attention in class. She called on him and said:

'Larry! What are 2 and 4 and 28 and 44?'

Larry quickly replied, 'NBC, FOX, ESPN and the Cartoon Network!'



Larry's kindergarten class was on a field trip to their local police station where they saw pictures tacked to a bulletin board of the 10 most wanted criminals. One of the youngsters pointed to a picture and asked if it really was the photo of a wanted person.

'Yes,' said the policeman. 'The detectives want very badly to capture him.'

Larry asked, "Why didn't you keep him when you took his picture ? "



Little Larry attended a horse auction with his father. He watched as his father moved from horse to horse, running his hands up and down the horse's legs and rump, and chest.

After a few minutes, Larry asked, 'Dad, why are you doing that?'

His father replied, 'Because when I'm buying horses, I have to make sure that they are healthy and in good shape before I buy. Larry, looking worried, said:

'Dad, I think the UPS guy wants to buy Mom ....'

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tickle Me Elmo

Wow.

Sometimes the blog just writes itself doesn't it?

Did you notice that the guy who does the voice of Elmo was targeted for carrying on with a young man who may or may not have been under the age of consent for molestation?

The man recanted the story, but I had to get a blog out of it, right?

I was never a big Sesame Street fan, but of course, as an adult I had to endure all sorts of shows as the children were exposed to all of it by my beautiful wife.

I remember begging her not to bring a Barney tape into the house when they were infants because I just knew the hypnotic trance that the singing put the kids into.

That stupid Barney song played so often in our house for about a year there that I told my wife that the lyrics would be prominently featured in my suicide note.

She laughed.

And if the allegations are true how can the kid who fell into Elmo's trance not brag to his friends?

"Elmo and I are REAL close."

But, of course, it isn't a laughing matter, but it begs a question.

Does Elmo like to be tickled?

I read the story with a perpetual grimace on my face. I heard the voice of Elmo ringing in my ears as the man tried to defend himself in the newspaper story.

How many times a day do you think his friends and family ask him to do the Elmo voice?

Would he use that Elmo voice when he is trying to impress his beau?

Does the guy who does Elmo's voice break up with his lover in his real voice or in that gravelly growl?

I just have so many unanswered questions.

And what now?

The story has broken and there are parents out there now who have to decide on whether or not they want their child watching Elmo's next big special.

Does the fact that Elmo is out of the closet matter?

Does it matter that Elmo was accused of such a thing?

Does it change the 'tickle me' element of the whole deal?

And what's next?

First Pee Wee Herman and now this!

Damn, even the kids' heroes are messed up.

Please tell me that Barney is scandal free.

I would just feel so dirty and having sung that song over and over again.

I love you. You love me. We're a happy family.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Buddy, Eddie


This is a photo from about 15 years ago.

I haven't changed at all, huh?

My buddy sent it to me and I spent a lot of time looking at it because it's a shot of me and a lifelong friend of my grandfather, my father, and my brothers too. Eddie was an institution around the little town I grew up in and we shared a lot of stories through the years.

Every now and again I get an envelope of old newspapers sent to me about stories Ed and his own beautiful wife, Barb think I might like to see.

And having a friend that has been kicking around awhile means a lot to me because he has a treasure chest filled with memories.

"What was my Dad like as a kid?" I asked Eddie one time.

"About like you'd expect," he answered.

But I was looking for more. I wanted to imagine Dad in his first car, or on the streets.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"He was f*&$ing nuts," he answered.

We both laughed.

Yet Ed was able to fill me in on the old baseball stars as they passed through North Collins and particularly my Dad's cousin, Marion Fricano who played in the MLB.

So I took a good look at the old photo.

My hair was dark...

...and on my head.

We were both smiling.

I could almost imagine the dirty jokes flying back and forth.

Memories.

Hopefully we both have about 50 more years to continue to make them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mellencamp Does One

Your Life is Now by John Mellencamp

See the moon roll across the stars
See the seasons turn like a heart
Your father's days are lost to you
This is your time here to do what you will do

Your life is now
Your life is now
Your life is now

In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now

Would you teach your children to tell the truth
Would you take the high road if you could choose
Do you believe you're a victim of a great compromise
'Cause I believe you could change your mind and change our lives

Your life is now
Your life is now
Your life is now

Would you teach your children to tell the truth
This is your time here to do what you will do

In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now

Monday, November 12, 2012

Betray Us

Weird story about Petraeus, huh?

Is that really the reason to quit your job as the head of the CIA? I think there may be more to it, eventually, but it's one of those things that sort of fits into the 'Is it really our business?' categories.

I'm sure that the man feels ashamed that he was found out, to be sure, but a deal-breaker?

As I've seen posted a couple of times. If the head of the CIA can't get away with it what makes you think you will?

And the whole getting away with it is sort of out of fashion anyway, isn't it?

It seems that there are so many ways to catch the bad guys these days. It sort of makes you wonder how they only solve about 20% of the murders in this country. It isn't all Blue Bloods (a good show, by the way) out there.

I've never been a very good liar and thanks to a bunch of paddle-swinging nuns I don't handle guilt very well. I often feel guilty for things that others have done. I have enough guilt to start my own religion.

And I'd use that as an excuse to never cheat on my spouse, but there are other factors as well.

"If you can find someone dumb enough to want you, feel free," my beautiful wife once famously said.

Evidently she didn't grasp the apparent self-abusing meaning behind her sentence, but to the credit of women everywhere I have not found anyone that dumb through the years.

The other problem that I have with it, of course, has to do with the children. My Dad once explained being faithful in marriage to me this way:

"Imagine having to break it to your kids."

I'm not sure that I could explain it better than an 'ah well, shit happens.'

And in the same light one of the other things that I read written down somewhere:

"The greatest thing that a man can do for his children is to show respect to their mother."

As for Betrayus...(doesn't he have the perfect name for such a deed?)...I hope all goes well. The work he did on behalf of the country is well-chronicled. I'm hoping that there isn't more to the story.

I'm also hoping it stays within his own family. It gets way too messy when things like that are played out on the national stage.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thou Shalt

Since it's Sunday here are a few more commandments.

Thou Shalt keep your religious views to thyself.

Thou Shalt have to move to Canada if before the election you state that you will move to Canada if the election goes the way you're rooting against. If that was a real rule we'd be free of Alec Baldwin, Donald Trump, and a whole bunch of other morons.

Thou Shalt not sit first in the line at the red light reading your Twitter feed. Its happened to me about 10 times in the last few days. I've had to beep at the guy in front as the light threatens yellow. When he or she is startled back to reality by the sound of my horn - which is usually a casual tap - they gave me the finger. Thou Shalt not do that either.

Thou Shalt return to Facebook the day after the election to take the beating when your guy loses. There were a lot of arguments back and forth in the moments leading up to the election and some of those people still haven't come back. They should have to, but it leads to my next one.

Thou Shalt not argue on social media feeds. It got real ugly out there, didn't it? I work hard on my kids to stay fairly above the fray, but it's so difficult to do when you see a post that attacks your core beliefs. Don't bother. You can't win.

Thou Shalt not show up half in the bag when you're on national television. Remember when Namath tried to kiss the reporter? Well, Diane Sawyer acted real weird the other night too. Drunk doesn't play well when you're supposed to be dead serious. Believe me, I've been there.

Thou Shalt not put a laugh track behind comedy shows. I'd heard that those laughs are from people back in the 40's and 50's, and lately I've been hearing them really loudly on the new shows. That awful new Tim Allen show was on the other night and they were playing the laugh track before he even got the unfunny line out of his mouth. It got so bad that I had to switch the channel because once I focused on it, it was over. I hope I ruin a show for you as you think about it.

Thou Shalt never interview Magic Johnson for anything. Ever. Not only does Magic mangle the English language he also does it with a know-it-all-annoying whine in his voice as he yells his answers. But hey, at least he whipped HIV's ass. He's been living with that for more than 20 years.

So there you go. A bunch of new commandments.

Happy Sunday.

I have a feeling the Bills are gonna' lose today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

You'll Be Coming Down


In 1991, Brien Taylor was the first-round draft pick for the 27-Time-World Champion Greatest Franchise Ever New York Yankees.

He could throw that speed-ball by you, make you look like a fool, boy.

Taylor threw the ball in the high 90's. He was going to be a superstar pitcher.

He %&*ked that up by getting into a bar fight and making the $1.55 million that Uncle George paid him just a present.

And I'm not sure Bruce was talking about the kind of speed-ball that eventually destroyed Taylor even more.

The former first round pick will spend the next 38 months in prison for selling crack cocaine to an undercover cop.

Talk about falling flat on your face.

I really don't get that, you know?

There are reports out that Vince Young is flat-broke.

How in the hell do you piss your way through that much money?

How do you just obliterate the talent that you're given?

Of course, it isn't just sports stars who rip their own world apart, but man, when it happens on such a grand scale it's hard to comprehend.

Taylor begged the judge for mercy because he really wants to be there to take care for his kids.

The judge sympathized, I suppose, but there are only so many chances out there for all of us.

I remember how aggravated I was back in '93 when Taylor ruined his career in a bar brawl. I really thought he would've been great.

He not only wasn't great.

As it turned out, he was atrocious.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Daydream Believer

As an adult do you daydream much anymore?

Don't you miss it?

I'm not quite sure when we really stop daydreaming. Perhaps when we finally figure out that it's really all a big pile of shit, but I used to be a pretty good daydreamer.

I bring all of this up because Sam, at least, seems to have a pretty healthy imagination. I just know that he puts himself in scenarios where he hits the big shot, drives in the winning run, or is roundly applauded.

Jake, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be in the pretend world as much unless you count the war he's fighting in Call of Duty...which is a whole 'nother story.

"I've been playing that game non-stop," he told me yesterday. "Thank God there's school or I'd have lost my mind from playing."

Yeah...Thank God there's school.

But as an adult the 'I'm gonna' be a hero' dream sort of fades.

There won't be any big, last second shots.

I can't get the ball to the hoop without emitting a loud groan and hearing the crackle of my bones. What pretty girl in the front row is gonna' be impressed by the sounds of my painful groans?

There won't be a king on a white horse rescue where the undying love is pledged for all eternity.

First off, how do you get on the horse? Secondly, is the emotional rescue really worth the effort? You want out?

Go.

Make me a sandwich before you go.

The burning building saving lives scenario?

I recall writing about this way back. My character in a vastly under-rated book - In Real Life - was a daydreamer. He was also in love with a woman who loved his best friend. He pictured rescuing her from a burning building and then having her fall hopelessly in love with him.

I suppose that I would enter a burning building for the ones that I love, but to win a new love?

Nah.

Too old for that crap.

Besides, fire is hot.

The NBA is Calling.

Sam spent the first ten years of his life telling us that he'd be drafted by the Chicago Bulls straight out of middle school.

He's now in middle school.

"I'm gonna' finish high school before I declare myself eligible," he said the other day.

Oh, Thank God.

I do want him to get some education.

"I hit a bomb in practice today," he told me when he came through the front door.

I could almost hear the cheers that were exploding in his ears.

I wanted to tell him to keep all of those best daydreams alive because sooner or later real life strips the most imaginative of them away.

And you're left spending the day dreaming of the moment when you can just lie down for crying out loud!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Going Home

Now that the election year is behind us it sort of struck me how odd the entire process is.

Not for the winner, mind you, but for the loser.

I only ran for one office in my life. As a senior in high school I ran for the office of secretary. Don't ask me why I did it. I honestly wish that I hadn't.

Not that I lost, mind you, but because I won.

You see, I had no business running for the office. Four of us guys did it for a joke. We wanted to be the first ones called for graduation. We would have the honor of sitting up front and having our names announced.

The problem being that the girl that had held the position of secretary from kindergarten through junior year had always ran unopposed.

And she should have.

She was great at being the class secretary.

I beat her pretty well in the popular vote.

The electoral college didn't save her.

And do want to know the real tragedy of the story?

She did all the secretarial work for the class during the course of our senior year.

I didn't even attend one meeting.

Yet, if you look at the senior class photos, stupid me is sitting right there up front.

(Sorry Kristine).

Anywho-ha...

What about the poor bastards who have to go home after losing a national election? There has to be severe depression, right?

Especially for those who got absolutely trounced.

"You ran a great race," they probably heard a lot of times today.

"The people are %$&ed in the head."

"You should run again!"

"I voted for you!!"

In the end, the fact that you lost to a guy who is more popular has to sting...no matter how you process the loss.

I will never run again, for anything and that is fortunate for all my people out there.

Yet I'm 1 and 0 and I was the 4th person to get my diploma.

Wish I could say it changed my life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Before I Know Who Wins

I'm writing this blog before knowing the winner of the presidential election.

You see, despite the sound of the news a lot has changed in four years.

I recall being so into the last presidential election, fighting for what and who I thought was right, and there were so many polarizing figures in the battle back then.

I really wanted it to turn out one way.

This time, for some reason, it didn't shake me up so much because I got tired.

I got tired of the same old arguments.

We want our guns versus we want your guns.

Don't tell me what to do with my body versus what is the moral right.

Gay marriage. Adam and Steve.

How many times can you argue those points with people who don't want to change their point of view?

And then I grew tired of:

"It was his fault, not his fault."

"No new Taxes."

"Healthcare is for everyone versus I ain't paying for the deadbeats."

So where did I stand as the election played out?

Remember I am writing this before a winner is declared.

Where I stand is:

Please.

No matter who wins.

Stop the bitching.

Help the guy who wins work as a public servant to get things done.

Stop the fighting.

Keep your complaints to yourself.

Please.

It isn't Red versus Blue. This isn't a football game for you to cheer for one team and hate the other.

There's too much at stake.

We are the United States of America not the Blue and Red States of America.

If your guy lost, do me a favor and step it up a little bit. Bitch in silence, and bring a bit of respect back in your future discussions.

That's what I am aiming to do.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Let Me Tell You Something

As we get older I really think our patience leaves us. It just runs straight out the door being chased by all the special plans we made.

I say this because there was a woman in front of me at the checkout line at the local grocery store.

In the grand scheme of my life she will be quickly forgotten, of course, but for just a few minutes there we made a connection, and let me tell you:

I hated the woman.

Let me set the scene:

One cashier open.

It was just 8 a.m. on Saturday. I had a newspaper and a few cans of chicken noodle soup. I had two dogs in the car waiting for me to finish the second half of bye-bye's.I was fatigued, to be sure.

The woman was wide awake. She had one of those loud booming voices and a laugh that was even more mind-numbing. She glanced at the headline on my paper that was on the belt behind her hundreds of dollars worth of groceries. Her 7-year-old kid was begging her for candy, but she was trained on me.

"THAT HURRICANE WAS AWFUL!" she yelled at me. "I DON'T KNOW WHY THOSE PEOPLE ARE BITCHING NOW, THOUGH. DIDN'T THEY SEE IT COMING?"

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

"Mommy, I want the Sponge Bob candy."

"NO!"

She looked back at me.

Now mind you, I haven't said one word to encourage her. I wanted to be deaf, mute and blind. I also wanted to be anywhere else in the world.

"THEY'RE ALL OUT OF GAS. DON'T YOU THINK THAT IF YOU HEARD THE HURRICANE WAS COMING THAT YOU'D FILL UP YOUR GAS TANK? LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, PEOPLE JUST DON'T THINK."

"I feel bad for them," I whispered.

"OH, I DON'T! THEY WANTED THEIR BIG HOMES ON THE OCEAN. WELL, SOMETIMES THE OCEAN COMES UP TO BEAT YOU. WHY WOULD YOU BUILD A HOUSE ON THE OCEAN?"

"Speaking of oceans," the kid said. "Sponge Bob!"

I felt bad for the kid.

The mother ripped the candy out of his hand and saw that it was only 64 cents.

"WE JUST HAD HALLOWEEN AND HE WANTS CANDY! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?"

The cashier was scanning the last of the groceries. She was asking the lady if she had any coupons.

Of course she did.

Please God let her be done with me, I thought.

"I HATE NEW YORK CITY ANYWAY," she said. "NOW THEY'RE GONNA' USE ALL OF OUR TAXES TO FIX THE PLACE."

The woman laid a sleeve of food stamps on the belt. The kid skipped away with his candy.

"Have a great weekend," I muttered.

I thought of a recent George Carlin quote.

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize that half of them are stupider than that.

"YOU HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND TOO," she said. "AT LEAST WE AREN'T LIVING THERE, RIGHT?"

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Monday, November 5, 2012

Who I Am

There are a lot of autobiographies out right now about old rock stars. I started my reading list with Clarence's book that I finished just before he died.

It certainly didn't change my love for the Big Man.

Then I moved onto the Keith Richards book and I was scared to read that one because I've always been a Stones fan and I had no illusions about whether or not they were moral-living, non-weird, clean and sober musicians. I didn't want to read it and shatter my little boy ideals of that group.

I did though, and I loved it. I actually gathered respect for Keith.

Now I'm well into the book just released by Pete Townshend of The Who. Another childhood hero. Another mysterious sort of guy to a kid who wanted to write. Again, I was scared to just dive right in.

But it's great, of course.

That time is really interesting to me. From Elvis to the Beatles and then onto the Stones and The Who I am clearly fascinated with how it all went down.

A bunch of drug-filled, peace-loving, dirty musicians...who weren't really trained much...changing the music world.

Think about what those British kids did.

They were all running around, smoking as much dope as they could, making things up on the fly, thinking about the world as a bigger place.

It certainly beats the Grand Theft Auto generation that we are currently developing.

They had dreams, hopes, and a whole lot of angst.

Jagger, Lennon, Moon, Townshend, Clapton, McCartney, Richards, the guys from Pink Floyd.

They were just all hanging out with each other, writing songs in a couple of days, trying to do better than the next guy. They'd laugh at who went to number one. They'd spend money hand over fist, get stoned and trash some concert hall.

They had no idea that what they were singing and playing would stand the test of time.

They didn't appreciate any of the talent.

In fact, most of them were downright miserable.

Being interested in the field of writing I am especially struck by the idea that it was all so matter of fact.

Townshend talks about how he wasn't writing much and that everything he was writing seemed like absolute shit to him.

Two sentences later he mentions that he jotted down the lyrics to Behind Blue Eyes, as if he was filling out a job application.

And you know what makes matters worse?

My Mom bought me a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday. I used part of it for the authorized biography of Springsteen, and staring back at me was the autobiography of Rod Stewart.

By the time I finish all of these books you may see me with a guitar around my neck.

I'm still looking to change the world, you know.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's Almost Over Now

How many political mailings have you glanced at an immediately tossed into the garbage in the past month?

How many times have you muted the volume on the political ad, or fast-forwarded right by it?

Do you know that it costs money for these politicians to reach you?

A lot of money.

"I can't wait for next week so this crap stops," Sam said the other day.

We are building another apathetic American, folks.

But that money that could be used for, oh I don't know, feeding someone, or rebuilding a devastated city or something.

I don't even want to know how much cash is spent on each campaign. I certainly don't want to consider, really consider, what good that money could be doing for our kids in school.

Soccer balls for all?

It's a shame. It really is, but then again, I wonder how people would get their information about the candidates that they so seriously consider.

"I'm voting for Obama. I just don't like the look of that Romney guy. He killed his dog, you know," I overheard one lady say the other day.

Do you think a political flyer on fiscal responsibility will change her mind?

Yet I have a personal stake in the claim. This year there's a race between two candidates here in Buffalo.

One of the candidates did a television ad that spoofs the candidate he's running against and ties in a witch for Halloween. The witch has a truly grating voice that goes through me as soon as the commercial starts.

There isn't any way in hell that I'm voting for the candidate who paid for that ad.

I don't care if he is brighter than Truman, or more honest than Abe, or better prepared than George (that would be Washington, not the buffoon), or more powerful than Jefferson and Adams and all the rest.

He sealed his deal with the use of the witch.

Besides, I don't like the looks of him.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Running? Really?

I know the New York City Marathon is a big deal to the brain-challenged people who like to run for fun.

I understand that people wait for the event and train for the event and that perhaps there is money to be involved.

I know that there isn't anything like a runner's high for some of those involved.

But ARE YOU F&*%ING KIDDING ME????

Why in the hell were they even thinking about running the race now?

People are starving. People can't get gas or food or power. Some people have lost their homes, their cars, their pets, their parents, their kids.

It would have been a real goofy freaking time to be running around the soaked and tired city.

I usually look at an event and listen to what people are saying and just for kicks take the other path so that I can argue the popular point.

But I can't even do that here.

Everyone in the world thought that running this marathon was a bad idea...except those who stand to profit from it. I can't believe it took them that long to figure it out.

Tying up resources that could have been used to help someone...anyone...not suffer for a day would have been a better use of what is required to dig out.

And don't even get me started on running 26 miles even when the sun is out or you're living in La-La Land.

It ain't right.

I remember having to run a mile in high school.

It sucked.

I remember having to run for basketball at the start of each season.

It sucked.

I remember having to run to catch the bus one time as a sophomore in high school.

That one really sucked because my older sister Corinne saw me coming and closed the storm door. I went through the glass and hit the pavement but I still ran to the bus because I heard my father behind me screaming Italian curse words about the broken window. My poor bus driver Nina had to pick pieces of glass out of my bloody arm. Corinne and John were laughing their asses off.

A couple of years ago I did that Breast Cancer Run -

-No one likes my idea that it should be mandatory to go topless -

and I haven't been able to walk straight since.

If it wasn't such a great cause it would have really sucked.

Twenty-freaking-six miles?

I don't want to drive that far.

So let's think up some ways the runners could have helped:

1). Run around the neighborhoods bringing food to the starving.

2). Run to Delaware and back with gas cans for those who's generators are empty.

3). Run to the Jersey Shore, pick up a hammer and start rebuilding.

4). Carry a pail with them as they ran so they could bail leftover water.

5). They could have ran up to someone who just lost a loved one and hand them their entry fee and all the free water and orange slices they got for joining.

6). They could have ran over to Bloomberg and dumped a large soda over his head.

7). Then thank him for finally coming to his senses. We didn't need a stupid marathon right now.

8). We need life back.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Devastating

A few summers back we hit the Jersey Shore for the weekend and spent time with some great friends. As a family we were truly impressed with the sheer beauty of the place.

Swamps of Jersey?

Hell no, it was great.

Like everyone else in the country (at least I hope so) my heart is heavy with the devastation that the bitch Sandy brought to the area.

New York is my favorite city in the world to visit. I also lived in Connecticut for a year. The Stone Pony is there. Yankee Stadium is there.

Hell, Bruce lives there!

And the photos and the stories of pain...

...makes you forget about the Republican versus Democrat shit, doesn't it?

And we saw how people sort of banded together. Governor Christie and President Obama walking together to survey the damage.

Public servants doing what they could to try and help the citizens of a great area of OUR country.

As I saw them step together on the nightly news I considered that they were doing what they are elected to do rather than bitching at each other and each other's party or telling lies to get elected again next time.

Step-by-step. Side-by-side. United. States. Working together.

And I am not naive enough to think that all that good faith won't be washed away next week by the storm of the election, but it was good to see for a moment.

And man, the best part of being an American, and I still believe it is this way, is that we have a lot of resolve.

The hurricane damaged us?

Huff and puff and blow our house in. We'll build it again.

Bomb our buildings??

We'll build them higher and we won't forget.

Yet the devastation of loss. Loss of life. Loss of time. Loss of homes and power and dreams and ambitions.

Just devastating.

It's the only word that comes to mind over and over again.

Let's build it up again.

Together this time.

No more Katrina type back and forth political bullshit, please.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Humbled By the Passion

As we were leaving sold-out Blue Cross Arena in Rochester last night my cell phone buzzed and my wonderful sister-in-law sent her review.

It was a lot like my own.

"I'm just humbled by his passion."


Ain't it the truth?

Bruce had a busy night last night.

He had to hit Halloween.

Check with A Night with the Jersey Devil and The Monster Mash.

He had to sing about the devastation in the place where he grew up.

Atlantic City, Jersey Girl and My City of Ruins.

He had to address lost friends.

Tenth-Avenue Freeze-Out and Spirit in the Night.

He had to play two songs I'd never seen him do live.

Something in the Night and Drive All Night.

And he had to keep every person in that arena on their feet for over 3 hours.

Dancing in the Dark for Kim.

He did that and more.

And my sister-in-law summed it up perfectly.

"Bruce believes every word," I sent back to her.

"And so does every person in the crowd," she answered.

And man, I'm tired this morning and I just stood there watching.

Yet I jumped from bed and hit the road.

Passion for what you do and who you are doesn't come without a price.

In 35+ years of following Bruce around I've at least learned that much.

Fifty-Three

Today's my 53rd birthday. "You don't look a day over 70." I heard that already a couple of times this week, and I had ...