Thursday, July 31, 2014

D.B. of Week II

A pretty easy choice this week.

Ray Rice is a football player for the Baltimore Ravens. You know, one of the clueless, mindless guys who carries a ball for a living so therefore deserves to be treated like royalty.

My dog can carry a ball for a long way and is actually really elusive when you chase her.

Yet Rice, despite the fact that he knocked his girlfriend absolutely unconscious with a punch, and then, on videotape, guided her knocked out body out of an elevator by dragging her by the hair, is not the D.B. of the week.

(And by D.B. you can either go with 'Dopey Bastard' or 'Douche Bag' - you choose).

Ray Rice didn't win this week!

His coach - John Harbaugh does. There's a nod to Roger Goodell as well.

Because, you see, the National Felony League suspended Rice for a grand total of 2 games for his knockout punch.

(Do you know that the NFL doesn't pay taxes or their cheerleaders? They also hold communities hostage and black-out games if they don't wring out every single nickel on Sunday despite the fact that they're making billionaires of the owners with a massive television contract).

Back to the D.B story.

2 games.

The league had a chance to make a statement about punching women in the face until they are unconscious.

And they shit all over it.

Harbaugh talked about it being a non-story because when Rice isn't bashing in the face of a woman he's a really good guy. Evidently Rice was really sorry he did it, and the bitch goaded him into it, besides.

I bet Aaron Hernandez is sorry he murdered three people as well...perhaps we should let him off. He seems like a decent guy when he's catching the ball.

Orenthal was sorry too.

The jails are filled with sorry felons.

Harbaugh and Goodell went on to talk about the judicial system not tossing Rice into jail. They let it all play out...if the courts believed his 'I'm sorry' story who is the NFL to hit him harder?

Try this...

...punch a co-worker in the face on Monday morning.

Better yet, bash your own girlfriend over the head and see what happens.

Your friendly neighborhood cops will arrest you.

The judge will be Mean John Brown and he'll sentence you to 98 and a year.

Your boss will most likely call you in and fire your sorry ass.

Harbaugh went out of his way to excuse Rice his 'mistake.'

The still dizzy woman married him.

So many D.B.'s...

...so little time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What Would You Do?


Was on another demolition job recently and as usual there was a safe in the center of the room. The safe was not open and really couldn't be opened by anyone there on the demolition crew, but a few of the guys were taking a crack at the combination while on break.

"What would you do if you got it open and there was a quarter mil in there?" I asked the boss.

"Really? You need to ask?"

"You wouldn't give it to the owner or call your boss?" I asked.

He laughed.

"You'd turn it in?"

And I don't suppose that I would. I imagine that I'd stuff all the cash into my pockets and make a run for the car, but it begs the question of finding lost money and actually turning it in.

A few years ago a friend of ours found an envelope in a shopping cart in the Wal-Mart parking lot. She headed back into the store and turned, the better then $2,000 haul, over to the girl behind the glass in the store.

"You dumb ass," I remember saying. "What do you think that girl did with the envelope?"

"She looked for the rightful owner," she said.

"No!" She pocketed it.

The girl shrugged her shoulders.

"It doesn't matter," she said. "I did what I was supposed to do."

As it turned out...that cash did find it's rightful home. The girl was sure to tell me that she received a call of thanks.

"Geez, that's better than $2,000," I said.

"They gave me a $200 reward," she said, proudly.

"Again. Not better than $2,000."

Yet I wasn't being totally honest there. I may turn in an envelope of money in that instance. I'd surely do so if I found it in a wallet.

At least I like to think I would, but honestly, don't you wish a gang of drug dealers would toss a bag of dirty money on your front lawn?

"No," I said to the foreman after great deliberation. "If there was a quarter mil in there I'd most likely take it."

"I'll let you know if we get it open," he said.

"If there's a quarter mil will you remember me with ten grand or so?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"You'll never hear from me again."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Good Life


I went golfing at a country club.

I texted a buddy and told him that I felt a bit like Jed Clampett. Before I even arrived at the course my beautiful wife had to go out and get me clothes that were actually ALLOWED TO BE WORN ON THE COURSE.

So, I was a little tense when I arrived.

I started really slowly. My feet are still really hurting, but if I can put them in work boots, I can put them in golf shoes. And I spent a bit of time loosening up. The hip, the back, the feet were all barking.

But I was still so tense.

Because I felt like I didn't belong.

The rough is like the usual fairways I golf on. The fairways are so nice that I felt bad taking a swing. I learned really quickly that I needed to pour something out of a bottle on our cart on the holes.

I needed to fix ball marks on the green.

I had to wait my turn.

My f-bombs would most likely be frowned upon...and God help me if I threw a club.

So...I settled down quickly.

I kept looking at the beautiful images all around. Every hole was a piece of art. The blue skies were just perfect on Sunday afternoon and the temperature was just right as well.

And then I relaxed.

Before too long I was swinging free and easy.

I got a par.

Then another one.

I looked around some more and got a 3rd par in 4 holes when I sunk a long putt.

"What got into you?" One of the guys I was golfing with asked.

"I feel relaxed," I said. "I mean look around."

When we finished the round I pulled my cart up and a guy ran to the back end of the cart. He cleaned my clubs for the first time ever and loaded them into the back of my car.

Unreal.

A guy could get used to such fun.

Then again...

...I love throwing clubs...

and f-bombs.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Old Friends

During the last few weeks I've received messages from old friends who were once part of my every day life.

We all have friends like that.

People we really, really liked...or loved...who by circumstance fell out of our lives.

Perhaps we switched jobs.

Maybe we got married and those friends just sort of drifted to the background.

Whatever the reason...they aren't around anymore...but they pop back in.

I have a buddy who was a huge fan of The Who. Every single time I hear a Who song I think of him. Sometimes I'll just send the name of the song to him in a text:

Another Tricky Day

And he'll answer:

We should get together!

And you might want to, but you won't.

Yet you have the memories.

I saw another guy at a party this past weekend. When we were kids we used to grab a case of beer and ride around listening to music.

At the party we were both drinking water.

"Hey, I read your last book," he said. "Couldn't believe I was picking it up and actually enjoying it because you were always such a dumb-ass."

We laughed.

We shook hands 'hello' and 'good-bye'.

As I drove home I thought of some of those goofy nights as we blasted Triumph or Boston or Van Halen.

"Everything good," he asked.

"Yeah. Sucks to get old, but it's good."

"See ya'," he said.

Yeah...further on down the road.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Featured Book: Waldorf & Juli


In many ways Waldorf & Juli was my most disappointing book.

Not because of the writing!

I actually really thought I figured some things out with this one.

The back story.

After Eye in the Sky I was doing a couple of really good things. I was writing a lot, and I was talking with an agent out of Pittsburgh. My agent was telling me to slow it all down.

"Make sure you write a good book, first," she said. "The rest will sort itself out."

So I was working on a book I was calling Desperation Explodes Into Pain. That book was a monster and it was inspired by Grapes of Wrath and the Mellencamp song Jackie Brown.

I was living alone in New Haven, Connecticut. I was down in the dumps a little and poverty really saddened me. So I was working on Desperation....and I was sort of living like that too.

I needed to laugh a little.

So I also started writing a funny book...it was a book about a guy who meets a girl.

Then I imagined what it might be like to be married, have children, and grow old with said girl.

(I'm a long ways into my marriage these days - and let me tell you - Clifford is a lot like Waldorf).

So, why was the book disappointing?

Because it was mass-produced by a publisher out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

I'm talking they pumped out a whole bunch of copies...in mass-market paperback...and the initial sales were great.

The reviews were terrific.

Two months in and I was on my way.

I thought of topping the best-seller lists.

The book was strong. The publisher was behind it.

And then Princess Diana was tragically killed...and the publisher went all in...with every single resource...on a book to capitalize on the tragedy...

...and the Princess Di book bankrupted the entire business because it stunk.

The entire process was numbing.

They wouldn't return the calls. They started selling off assets.

I got a call about 6 months after the book came out and it was from some guy who had left the publishing company.

"I have 1,000 copies of Waldorf & Juli...do you want them?" he asked. He was calling from somewhere in Utah. He wanted $6 a copy.

I told him to go to hell.

And for years now...I've seen the book for sale...elsewhere.

There was a class-action suit against the publisher, but it sort of died on the vine.

And the book?

It was the first time I actually truly wrote. I picked it up a little while ago and read a little.

I still liked it.

It was still funny to me.

A personal highlight came for me when I entered a bank in Connecticut one day...the extremely pretty teller was reading the book.

A total stranger! Reading my book!

"How's the book?" I asked her.

"It's great!" She said. "I never heard of the guy before, but I really love it."

I slid my paycheck to her and told her to check the name of the author.

The girl nearly had a heart attack.

What a great moment!

Waldorf & Juli.

What a happy, tragic couple!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy 50th Rosie!


My college buddy Mike Palmer turned 50 years old on Friday.

That, obviously, is an old photo.

32+ years old to be exact.

Funny story, but when I arrived at Gannon University in August, 1982 I was a little scared. I was leaving North Collins where I had graduated high school just a couple of months before and I was going to really miss high school because I had a lot of great, close friends.

I didn't know more than one person who was heading to Gannon...the one guy I did know was Chris Miller...and I didn't even like him!

So I was lonely.

The first guy I met, other than my goofy roommate, was Mike Palmer. The second guy I met was Fluffy and the 3rd was Gag.

We've all remained friends for over 30 years.

And it's a truly easy friendship. We grew to know another so well that there isn't a single thing that happens that I don't know what my three buddies are thinking.

When Rosie sent me the above photo of the two of us a whole bunch of things went through my mind.

He's 50!!!!!

First off, I still say a few things that Rosie was fond of saying back then:

I told you a million times not to exaggerate.

His name is Eugene...I call him Euge for short (You're better off not knowing who he's talking about there).

If he's so hungry why doesn't he eat the fly on his face? (Quoting another friend...we were watching a commercial about starvation in Africa).

Secondly, I think of the fact that he got me thrown out of a class in my freshman year. The teacher's name was Miss Maust. He made me laugh by calling her 'Minnie Maust.'

I remember the time he walked out of the bathroom with my toothbrush in his mouth.

"Where's yours?" I screamed.

"I lost it two weeks ago," he answered.

Rosie had to leave school after just a year and a half, but he returned when I was a senior. His truck was packed with everything he owned and he asked if he could bunk on our floor for awhile. Of course he could.

He had his heart set on marrying a girl he hardly knew...but one he REALLY knew. They've been married for a long time and have a beautiful family and a great life together. He married way above his head, as well, Denise is a beautiful woman...and Rosie...well...

I can't believe the short, bald bastard is 50.

We were the Glimmer Twins back in college - he did a great Mick Jagger and I played the Keith Richards air guitar parts.

We both love Springsteen.

We both love the Yankees.

Mike spent time with my Dad, and my brothers love him as well.

He drove a long way when I needed him there to say goodbye to Jeff.

There were a lot of things shared during those first lonely nights at college. We talked about what kind of lives that we wanted to lead. We worked hard to get there.

And he made it to 50 first.

Happy Birthday, buddy.

I keep moving through the dark with you in my heart.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jeff Fazzolari - Thunder Road Memorial Tourney!!!!!


It's that time of year, folks!

The 4th annual tournament to celebrate Jeff.

As you can see in the above photo that's me and my buddy Jeff Renaldo...and while I never would have imagined living all of these days without my brother...

...it's guys like Jeffy who get me through.

And that's how it feels for the entire Fuzzy family.

Our cousins come from miles and miles away.

Our friends gather and play ball.

Wif feeds me SPAM at every turn.

Larry Bowman provides the peppers that Pops stuffs to perfection. We have epic donations from all over Western New York and we have what is really needed...

...every day...

love and laughter.

I really hope that you can all make the trip to Marion Fricano North Collins Town Park on August 10 at 10:30 a.m.

We'll be playing softball. We will have some peppers and a few beverages.

We'll be celebrating the life of an outstanding human being...

...and giving a little bit of comfort to Johnny, Farrah and Rocco.

Jeff would've loved this day.

In many ways, I believe in my heart that he truly still does.

(By the way...they couldn't get me out last year...hit after hit after hit...even stuffed to the gills with SPAM).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Feature: Dopey Bastard of the Week

So, we are bringing a new feature to Thoughts of a Common Man:

Dopey Bastard of the week.

This week the winner comes from the world of sports although there certainly were no shortage of idiots. We can most likely come up with a political figure each and every single week, but the more I think about this one...the more it became clear to me.

This was dopey bastardic.

The winner?

Tony Dungy.

Okay, a few housekeeping things before we get to why he wins the award on week one.

First, can someone explain to me what the rules are in regard to homosexuals?

Religious-wise?

There are people who say that opposition is clearly stated in the Bible. I read that book. I actually studied it during college. I listen to the stories each week.

And there is some messed up stuff in there.

But let's give it to those who oppose gay rights.

Okay...the Bible says it's wrong.

Is it also wrong for you to stand by idly and not judge other people's lives?

Because that's how it feels. It feels that Tony Dungy must state his opposition to Michael Sam's lifestyle and if he doesn't than he is also a sinner.

I don't think that's true.

Yet, let's get to the dopey bastard comment.

Dungy said that if he were a GM he wouldn't have drafted the openly gay player because of the 'distractions' that come with his tackling dummies on the practice field.

Really?

Dungy was the same guy who won a Super Bowl as the first black coach. He knows what it feels like to be hated by others for something that is pretty stupid.

Dungy also went from city-to-city with Michael Vick and begged people to give the dog-killer a chance.

Uh, Vick wasn't a 'distraction?'

What has galled me about the story is that in the end, Dungy - who has the right to say whatever the hell he wants - didn't have the stones to say it out loud.

He wouldn't have drafted Michael Sam because Michael Sam is gay and he doesn't think that a man should couple with another man.

Say it then, you dopey bastard!

Don't hide behind the fact that Sam is a marginal player.

Don't pull back the words because you're afraid of the reaction.

Quote us Bible scripture.

Tell us how you really feel.

But at the end of the day, you're a black man who had to punch at barriers. You're also a man who raised up a man who did horrific things to defenseless dogs.

You spoke of forgiveness and of love!

And then you turned around and shit all over it.

Tony Dungy is the dopey bastard of the week.

He probably would've been had he said what he really meant as well.

Michael Sam's life isn't being lived for Tony Dungy to judge it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Current Events

Buddy of mine sent me a text the other day:

"I'm not going to read anything about current events anymore."

A good idea.

How can you even fathom the plane getting blown out of the sky by a missile?

You can't, right?

Yesterday morning I picked up the Buffalo News and read about a 3-year-old girl who was a victim of a hit and run here in the city. It was bad enough that it happened and that the young girl was critically injured, but the news story told me that she was sent twenty-five feet in the air and that there wasn't any adult supervision around.

That's enough to make you wanna' spit up your coffee.

So, my buddy might be on to something, for sure.

Could we live without the news?

I happened to put the local news on the other evening.

A couple of questions:

1). Why do we have to know who's not there?

"Hi, this is Keith. Mary Alice has the day off."

Good for her!

2). Why do they have to tease everything?

You could be killing your family with a common household product. More after the break!

So...I'm not good with the local news at all, honestly. Even when I want to know if it's going to rain the next day...it's all jibber-jabber.

We have doppler radar and you will notice that the blue colors moving in might mean something for your weekend plans. More freaking later!

Why do I have to know what everything means?

I don't wanna' be a meterologist.

I don't wanna' know if it's raining in Syracuse.

Make the weather easier.

Skip the guy who wants to tell me he was right three weeks ago Tuesday. Just post one of two photos.

Either the sun...put a freaking smiling face in it if you want...

...or a guy taking a dump...

That's all I need.

Sunny or crappy.

As for the news?

No negative.

Nothing.

Missile shoots a plane out of the sky?

I guess I don't wanna' know.

My buddy has it down.

No more current events.

Back to you...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Diversity

One of the things that always makes me feel good about visiting New York City is that shows me another part of America.

A lot of what is American, actually.

There are the guys painted in silver and gold.

Then we passed the women painted or naked...just a bit of covering.

There's a Chinese contingent over here...a family of French folks on the train...blacks...Hispanics...Muslim...Japanese.

And the languages are not all English.

There were plenty of different forms of communication being used.

I spent a lot of time watching the boys react to seeing people who didn't look exactly like them...and you know what?...I didn't see any change in them.

At all.

It makes me shake my head, actually, because it seems that when you return to the 'real world' there's a lot of pure hatred for people...groups of people...by people who are judging those they don't know.

There was a huge discussion going on someone's Facebook page.

It was all about immigration.

There were a lot of:

"Those people"

Types of quotes.

Listen up, folks, when you start grouping people together as "Those people" you just might be a racist.

But perhaps the tide is turning.

Kids don't seem to have such preconceived notions.

They don't fear all black people...unless they are taught to, I guess.

They don't lump the Asian into a box...or even think about them as "Those People."

Diversity.

New York City is certainly busting at the seams with it.

"We have to keep those people out of our country," someone wrote.

Sam stared straight up at one of the massive buildings and I watched as he turned to take the entire block in. Then he asked a question straight up, as kids are prone to do.

"Who built all of this?" He asked.

My immediate response, in my own head, was 'immigrants....hard-working immigrants working side-by-side with hard-working Americans.'

I didn't hit him with that.

"A whole bunch of hard-working people," I said.

And that really is what is lost when people start spewing about "those people."

"Those people"

were once

"Your people."

Monday, July 21, 2014

We Had A Blast in NYC!


There were so many moments during our trip to New York - the above photo cost me $20 as I had to pay the guys in the suit for posing with the boys, but they laughed all the way through it...so it was worth it.

From the moment when we checked into the hotel room...after a frenzied drive through New Jersey...after my beautiful wife accidentally muted my GPS...

Here was the exchange after the long drive:

Me: We have two rooms reserved under 'Fazzolari'.

Clerk: First name?

Me: Clifford.

Long wait. I'm standing with my nephew John and my son Sam looking at the clerk, who was from India, I believe.

Me: Huge sigh.

Another long wait, but finally the clerk looks up.

Clerk: So, it's under 'Clifford Clifford?'

My nephew, from less than a foot way, roared with laughter.

Me: Kathy...please talk to this woman.

And that was the way I played the trip. Nothing would aggravate me.

Not the long walks.

Not the heavy traffic.

I would shake off the fatigue.


The pasta dish I devoured was worth the entire trip. I kept thinking of my brother, Jeff...with Johnny there, with my brothers John and Jim along, and I was blessed with perfect sauce. We all battled the foot traffic. We rode the subway and the grimy buses...to get where we needed to go.


But much of the trip was also about Mom saying goodbye to Derek Jeter. She just wanted to see him play one time in New York before he retired. And Mom with two new hips...just kept up, walking through the city streets...all for a few hugs.


We really had a blast.

(More to come).

Thanks to John and Dana and Jim and Corinne and Lynn for making it all happen.

And it was so much fun hanging with my family.

A lot of money was spent. My legs were swollen to epic proportions.

No rest.

But we laughed a lot.

Living.

"So," Sam said. "Did you enjoy the trip, Mr. Clifford Michael Clifford?"

(Sam thinks everyone's middle name is 'Michael' for some reason)

(I guess I'll be forever known as Clifford Michael Clifford after this).

And I'll spend a lot of time thinking about the roaring laughter.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Featured Book: Eye In the Sky


Eye in the Sky was my 2nd published book and thinking back on it, it was really important for a whole bunch of reasons.

First off, the why I wrote it:

I had just finished the extensive tour with Money Changes Everything and lo and behold, I wasn't a millionaire. I also wasn't really happy with Limits so I didn't do anything with it.

But I still wanted to write.

I just didn't know what I should be writing about and I was really down in the dumps. I was still in the office in my parents basement and I was still drinking a lot of beer. Yet I wanted more. I landed a job as a writer for a soon-to-be-defunct magazine in Niagara Falls. It was called World Events, I think.

I hated the meetings. I hated dressing up. I hated being told what to write.

I was a mess.

Each day I went to the grocery store in town and each time I waited in line to be checked out by a girl who worked there. Davine was always so cheerful! Her smile and the chance to flirt with her was all that was keeping me interested. After a long while, I got up the nerve to ask her out. She said, 'Yes.'

Days before our first date...she was tragically killed in a car crash.

I was absolutely crushed...as were so many in our tight-knit community.

I laid in bed the night I heard the news. I didn't cry. I just laid there. I had one thought going through my mind on a reel:

"She was so alive!"

I wondered.

Over the next few months I came up with a story. The girl in the story wasn't Davine, but everything about the book was. I still think of her today.

And wonder.

When the book came out I can remember thinking:

"The Crucifix! How do I live up to that?"

These days I pick up the book and read how poorly I wrote it...that's a common theme, folks...it's why you don't go back and read any of them...you're always getting better...the old ones always look like poop.

Yet...

It was important.

It was for Davine.

I was now writing for others.

There was another book-signing in North Collins for it.

A man and woman pulled the car next to the book stand.

"I need ten copies," the man said.

"You sure you aren't at the wrong signing?" I asked.

He laughed.

"I'm Davine's Dad," he said. "I want a copy for all my family members."

Eye in the Sky.

It's raw.

There's a sentence in there when the antagonist finally apologizes to the protagonist but he says:

"You've had so much tragedy. Where is God when you're suffering?"

And the antagonist answers:

"He's in your eyes as you apologize to me. He's here."

And I take a little pride in coming up with that thought.

That was a gift that Davine left behind.

Even though we never had that date.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

JCM Fills In

Since I'm in New York, my faithful friend JCM is filling in today.

Don't forget this message!


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
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?
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

Friday, July 18, 2014

Off to See the Captain!

So, we're heading to New York, New York to visit the cathedral where the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports play baseball.

I'm not sure what the final head count will be but there will be a lot of Fuzzy's in the house to see the Captain play live in the final season of his glorious career.

God, I hope they don't lose!

Of course, heading to Yankee Stadium makes me think of all the other times I headed there. I remember watching the Yankees play the Red Sox in a double-header.

I was there alone.

Mattingly homered in both games and the Yankees swept.

John, Jim and I went to a game at the new stadium in 2009. It was tough. There was an empty seat beside us for the entire game. Bruce came over the loudspeaker just before first pitch.

The Yankees won.

I went with friends a whole bunch of times.

The Yankees won each time.

I sat with my worker buds in the Lou Gehrig suite. The game was tight and was actually headed into extra innings, but Matsui hit a home run with two outs in the bottom of the 9th.

So the Yankees won.

I also think of the very first time I sat in Yankee Stadium.

I was with my buddy Al DeCarlo. We were 20 years old. We took the subway in. We sat up high in left field. It was Yankees-Red Sux with Clemens pitching for the Six against Tommy John.

By the end of the 3rd inning it was 9-0 Sux.

I was in absolute despair.

The Yankees scored 10 straight runs to win it.

Mattingly got the game-winner.

So, what do you think?

Will they win?

Follow the result...we'll be at the Saturday afternoon game.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get A Massage!

Right now.

Go get one.

I have really struggled through the days, weeks and months with legs that just don't want to do what they used to do.

"You need to get healthy!" a co-worker said.

Uh, no disrespect, but uh, no shit!

Yet there are days...

"I'm thinking of going golfing," I texted my beautiful wife a little while back.

She didn't respond. I let some time go by. She texted something about dinner.

"Did you get my golf text?" I asked.

"I did," she answered.

More time went by.

"Thoughts?" I sent.

"You're an idiot."

But I went. In my mind I considered that it might loosen me up.

I stunk.

I couldn't feel my legs by the 4th hole.

They didn't loosen up.

And I went along a few days like that. Ice pack on the feet. Heating pad on the calf. Work. Climb ladders. Ice pack. Heating pack.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

"I'm thinking of getting a massage."

"There you go. Dope."

I got the massage.

And I can walk again!

Get one!

(And don't even start with the happy ending talk, Pops).

(I don't need to hear that the therapist should get hazard pay, JC or Jeffy, or Millie or Gag).

It's about physical health!

Who wants to go golfing?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Greatest Shortstop Of All-Time


I was talking with a friend of mine the other day.

"I hate baseball," he said. "But I gotta' tell you, I love Derek Jeter. I have held him up as an example to my son of how to handle himself whether he's playing sports or not."

"That's because he's the greatest ever," I said.

"I ain't kissing a Yankees ass," he said. "But he is something else."

And my son was in the other room watching the lead up to the home run derby.

"They just interviewed Jeter," he said, "And when the guy mentioned something about being one of the all-time great ballplayers...

...Jeter said, "'I don't know if I consider myself great.'"

Sam was nodding his head as he made a very astute statement:

"Can you imagine how great LeBron would've told that guy he was?"

And that truly is the greatness of Derek Jeter.

Forget the five World Series Titles.

Forget the World Series MVP

Don't even mention the gold gloves.

Or the 3,400 hits.

Or the Rookie of the Year.

Or the All-Star Game MVP's.

It isn't about the awards.

It's not even about the great plays:

The flip play against the A's (Which is still the most amazing thing I've ever seen on a baseball field).

Or the dive into the stands.

Don't even mention all the beautiful girls he's dated.

You know what is great about Derek Jeter?

My mother got tears in her eyes when we talked about his retirement.

That's greatness.

And then this:

"He's never once, in all the years, ever taken credit for anything," I told my boys. "Never. Even. Once. He's always talked about his teammates, his parents, the fact that he was 'lucky to beat the pitcher to the spot'. He's never once showed up a teammate or really argued with an umpire."

"We know!" said the non-Yankee fans in my house.

(Which I swear to God is my biggest failure as a father).

"WE KNOW HOW GREAT HE IS."

Everyone does.

Except Jeter, that is.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

LeBron Is Going Home

I have some close buddies who really like LeBron James and while I must admit that he's one of the all-time greats, I'm not a fan.

I just can't get over the "I'm taking my talents," speech and how self-absorbed that whole deal was.

And the King hasn't really changed all that much, in my eyes. Every single interview sounds the same:

I,I,I,I, Me, Me, Me, I, I , Me, Me, Me, I, I,I,I,I, Me, Me, Me, I, I , Me, Me, Me, I

There were over a hundred and twenty 'I's' and 'Me's' in his going back to Cleveland statement and it was obvious that someone other than LeBron wrote it.

But that's okay.

There are actually a few things I like about his return to Cleveland.

1). Cleveland is a city like Buffalo.

They need a championship.

My father-in-law is an Indians fan and I wish they would have closed the deal in 1997 after they beat the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports, but they were a single strike away...and they lost. The Cleveland Browns lost to Elway. The Cavs lost to the Bulls when the other egomaniac, Jordan was playing.

So they need one.

2). I get the going home thing.

I lived in San Francisco for awhile. I lived in San Jose for awhile. Then New Haven. Then Baltimore. Each and every time I wanted to get 'home' to Buffalo. It's where you're born. It's where your family and friends hang out. You know the streets. You know how people think and act. I actually believe that the entire time LeBron was in Miami, he thought of Northeast Ohio.

I really think that's true.

3). He doesn't want to be the hated guy.

When he made his "take my talents" speech and then when he jumped onstage and said they'd win 'not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven championships', he invited the hate.

It don't matter what nobody says, ain't nobody wants to be alone.

Bruce once wrote that double and triple negative sentence a long while ago and everyone knows what he meant.

LeBron won two titles with Al-Qaeda. He wants to win one that everyone can enjoy. He wants to be the King of his hometown.

4). Yet, with all that being said, I need to continue to root against him.

I wanted him to lose in Miami. I will root for him to lose in Cleveland.

"You're never satisfied when it comes to LBJ," my college friend Tony said on Facebook. "Maybe it's not LeBron that's the problem. Maybe it's you!"

Yeah.

It's me.

I'll continue to call him 'Floppy the Crybaby.'

But twist my arm and I'll tell you the truth.

If Cleveland gets to be happy...

...I might not really hate it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Big Hug

Every year the great friends of Cathy George gather in her memory to play kickball.

It's an unbelievable scene.


They are playing for the championship leg.

I didn't play of course...if they were giving away a new left leg I honestly might have to try, but my body is not quite ready for that sort of exercise.

But it's fun to watch!

People jumping, diving, sliding...and laughing.


This year I thought about Foxy. A great guy who was always there. Foxy was Cathy's Dad, of course, and this year the tourney was dedicated to his memory.

Foxy was already a legend.

Great, great guy.

I shook hands with my buddy Wif (who can't get any balder) and then waited for the big hug from Diane.

As we exchanged that hug my mind pleaded with me to hold onto it.

Because the entire benefit is such a big hug as is the tourney for my brother Jeff.

A huge emotional hug that just speaks of love, of hope, of moving forward.

Never forgetting.


And helping others to cope.

Man, Cathy would certainly get a kick out of that...wouldn't she?

I know Foxy did.

I know everyone who showed up, even for a little while, did.

Chances

Steve Howe was a pitcher for a whole bunch of baseball teams.

He was a tremendous talent, but he had a whole bunch of problems. Howe was busted for drugs a number of times. The Dodgers fired him. MLB suspended him for a long while.

And he kept getting chances.

Because he was so talented.

Howe was definitely down to his final chance when the Yankees signed him. For all his bluster George Steinbrenner had a huge heart, and he tried so hard to get the most out of people. Ask Strawberry or Gooden about who saved their lives.

Howe was on the team just as they started to get really good. I remember going down to Baltimore around then and standing behind the Yankee bullpen. We were drinking a whole bunch of beers, and as Howe sat there one night a Baltimore fan started in on him about his drug suspensions. The drunken asshole was really hammering Howe, calling him every name in the book. Howe heard every word. I recall the way Howe's leg shook as he sat there, pretending not to hear the guy, who was leaning in and attacking.

Finally, Howe got up off his seat. He leaned down and picked up a baseball, and signed it. Then he turned and tossed it up to the guy.

The guy started cheering him, apologizing and telling his buddies that he loved Steve Howe.

From then on, I had a soft spot in my heart for Howe. Even if he gave up a bomb, I'd wish him luck.

But the talent ran out.

And baseball was done.

Howe died a young man. It was a traffic accident, but I remember reading that perhaps...he'd fallen again.

I think of all this because a guy I have crossed paths with in the construction industry has been picked up a whole bunch of times for driving under the influence.

And if you read the story in the paper you think:

"Throw the asshole in jail."

And that's where he most deservedly belongs.

But a mutual acquaintance had also written a simple sentence under the news story.

"Damn! He's actually a really good guy."

And to a certain extent, I agree.

But how many chances do you get?

Eventually it's gonna' get you.

Or someone who is innocent and in your path of self-destruction.

It will get you.

It really will.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Featured Book: Money Changes Everything


Thought about running a feature deal on Sunday...for the next 11 Sunday's, I guess.

Just to get my thoughts down on the books that I've written. As you can see the first one featured in Money Changes Everything and that's because it was first.

There are a lot of interesting things about this unbelievably horrible book. And I say horrible because of so many reasons.

1). When I started to write things I was living in San Jose, California with the entire family, at first, but once they returned to Buffalo because of school, it was just me with Jim, Dad and Scott Weiser...who was a permanent fixture then. I was scratching notes on a yellow legal pad and Jim and Scott were reading along...laughing. I was also sending some of the stories back to my college friends including Fluffy, Rosie and Lisa.

But there was a problem.

I didn't know how to type. I didn't own a typewriter and I had no clue about how to get a book published. I was working on Money Changes Everything at the same time I was writing a book called Limits.

It's funny, but the 400 page Limits is in a box underneath my bed. All typed neatly...on a word processor that I purchased, with the help of my buddy, Al DeCarlo. Al had a credit card and I didn't. I keep telling myself that I may grab Limits and read it one day, but I'm certainly afraid to!

2). When I returned from Buffalo I was broke and without a job. Yet I received one last check from California...a two-week paycheck that was owed to me. I don't remember how much it was for, but when I retrieved it from the mailbox at my parents home I skipped towards the house. I was singing the Cyndi Lauper song, Money Changes Everything.

I had a title.

3). Typing the books was an epic event. I employed the hunt and peck method...that I still use now. The difference was back then I could only type three words a minute. Now I have to be able to do at least 70. I can really move! I did all of this work in a little room in my parent's basement. I was stuffed in beside the hot water tank. My brothers and friends were always there, with beer, and I kept pretending that I would be John Steinbeck and someday we'd laugh about that little room. (Pops remembers those days well).

4). I finished both books at the same time. I had huge piles of pages with writing on them. Limits was going to be my serious effort and Money Changes Everything would be my comedy. The world was waiting for me! I imagined having the top two books on the NY Times Best-Sellers list. I wrote a letter and typed a hundred of them, changing only the publishers name on the top. It said:

I wrote two books. You'd be lucky to have one of 'em. I'm the best.

Or something like that.

5). I received a number of responses - a few that were downright depressing. I remember that one guy really went off on me...telling me I was a dopey bastard. But there were two that said: "Send me the funny one."

6). I don't recall a whole lot about the time waiting for the book to come out. I know I was antsy. I also remember that I had to send 500 names to the publisher so that he could mail out little postcards that allowed people to order the book.

(What a freaking nightmare!).

7). The absolute worst memory of the book comes from the day I spent sitting in the grocery store in North Collins - Avery's Bells - for a book-signing. I learned a lesson that day...really...people who knew you as a dope don't change their opinion of you because you wrote a book.

8). Finally, I remember a guy I worked with a year after the book came out. He said:

"There are glimpses there, and you have to start somewhere, but I have a feeling that years from now you're going to feel like a real idiot for having had this published."

He was right.

But I'm smiling about it.

Next Sunday:

Eye in the Sky

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Live Life


Stopped at a job site as I'm prone to do so I could heckle the guys who are out there working hard. I passed one such guy and we stopped to chat. We were just about finished with our conversation about the work when I said:

"There's writing on your arm."

He twisted it so I could read the words.

And I imagine that it's there so he remembers to prioritize his values but as soon as I read it my mind clicked to an obituary that I'd read at lunch on Wednesday.

A guy I'd known for at least ten years had the extreme misfortune of getting his photo in that section of the paper.

At 50 years old!

"What the hell happened to Dave?" I texted another co-worker.

"Heart attack. Saturday morning," he sent back.

I read the arm over and over once I snapped the photo.

And I thought of Dave, who'd made just a line in the news:

Dave enjoyed working outdoors and spending time with his children

And that would be it in many of our minds.

Dave is gone.

And I thought of the guy I'd seen on Thursday morning. He was waiting in the parking lot, standing with his golf clubs, for a ride. His buddies were picking him up to play a round.

Damn! I wanna' skip work and play.

I yelled out to the guy (a complete stranger).

"You lucky bastard! I wish I was playing!!"

"Go get your clubs," he said. "Let's go!"

But of course, I went off to work and he loaded his clubs into the back of his friend's car.

Live Life Like It's Your Last Day.

I don't suppose that we can possibly do that every single day or no one would ever go to work, would they?

I thought of Dave again.

I imagined his Saturday morning.

Up and out of bed.

A bunch of stuff to do.

"What're we doing for dinner?"

"Are the kids going anywhere today?"

"I need to change the oil in my car."

And then...

...boom...

...heart attack...

and it all stops.

Right there.

The clock runs out.

I read the two words over again.

Live life.

What else can you do?

I hope the guy in the parking lot was able to scratch out a few pars.

(And to my work buddy...thanks for letting me take a photo of your arm...read that...and live it...as much as you can!)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Crazy Week

Did you see the photo of the guy sleeping at the Yankee-Red Sux game in April?

It's making the rounds because the guy in the photo is suing MLB, the Yankees and ESPN because the announcers made fun of him on the telecast and then the people on the social media feed called him a 'fat slob.'

He wants ten million dollars.

If that guy gets a nickel there should be a revolution.

Did you see the article about the 83-year-old woman who was arrested for the murder of her 89-year-old husband?

She hit him with a blunt object.

I happened to read the comment section on that one:

"She's probably wanted to do that for 50 years."

"He should've taken out the garbage when she asked."

and my favorite:

"So...now she's single?"

But that's a truly sad story there. I can't lie here. I sort of glimpsed the future in that one.

There was also a story here in Buffalo about a son who allegedly murdered his father. The kid supposedly tried to get away by making himself look older so that he could use his father's passport and try to get into Canada. When the border patrol guy asked him how his Dad was doing he said:

"Not real good."

And the weather all week has been really weird too. Sunshine and then torrential downpours with booming thunder and lightning that lights up the whole sky.

Just crazy.

And through it all we all shine on.

The party invitations are coming in. Every weekend is sort of spoken for all the way through.

Graduations.

Weddings.

Benefits.

Golf Tournaments.

Napping at a Baseball game.

And a family member bashing another family member over the head with a blunt object.

Just crazy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Too Much Thinking

Every day life should be simple, huh?

We get up, we go to work somewhere, we come home, eat drink, laugh, love.

Yet there's so much stress out there, right?

A good buddy of mine, years ago, told me that worrying was a lot like sitting in a rocking chair and rocking back and forth.

"Nothing gets done," he said. "But at least you're passing time."

And we are all guilty of over-thinking things a lot. I know some people who imagine scenario after scenario and worry, worry, worry all the damn time.

Namely, my wife...and my mother-in-law.

Now Kathy does a great job of keeping tabs on the boys, but when they are out of the house she is an epic worrier. She has been known to send tens or hundreds of texts to a child that is out there for a while.

Her two biggest, well-known worry episodes?

1). She once called the school to see if Jake made it to school because when he got on the bus she noticed that it was a different bus driver.

She was afraid that the bus had been hijacked and that the guy made all the stops and picked up all the kids in an effort to kidnap everyone. I'm a little surprised that they didn't call the police on her.

2). Matt once left the house with the instruction to text home on an hourly basis. He jumped into a swimming pool and forgot all about his phone.

My wife not only called his phone she called the phones of all his friends, including one who was not supposed to be at the party. They ended up clearing the entire party. Matt was a tad perturbed.

Yet my beautiful wife is about a three when compared to my mother-in-law and her capacity to worry.

A few months ago I stopped home to write up a couple of reports before I had to run off to Niagara Falls to attend a job meeting.

It was raining.

"You shouldn't go," my mother-in-law said. "The rain makes those bridges pretty slick. Maybe you should call to cancel."

I was successful in my trip to and from the meeting, and you know what?

My dear mother-in-law checked in to see that it all worked out okay.

But her fear of what might happen to me is really dwarfed by how much she worries about my wife and kids.

"I was out the other night and my phone rang," Jake said. "It was grandma wondering if I needed a ride home. She was really worried that I would have to walk."

And through the years I always thought that worrying so much was just plain silly. Yet one day my nephew Rocco got on a bike and headed off down the road. He was wearing a helmet and he had full control of the bike...

...but I was so worried for his safety.

"Slow down!" I called out.

Rocco just laughed.

Love makes you worry, right?

But too much thinking just wears you out. I once asked my wife about it.

"It's exhausting!" she said.

But hey, you never know when someone is going to hijack a bus.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Here to Help

There's an abortion clinic on Main Street in Buffalo.

I pass the place on a routine basis and every time I do I'm struck by the people who stand outside with sandwich boards around their necks as they demonstrate that abortion is murder.

I try and look at the people who are standing there, wondering what makes them do it. They are there every single time.

As I drove by the place on Monday afternoon there was a heavy downpour.

Still.

There was one guy out there.

His sign was hanging around his neck and his head was down to keep the rain from hitting him in the face:

I'm Here to Help. Not to Judge.

I was a little curious as to how he was going to help a woman who came into view of the abortion clinic.

What would he say to her?

Does he really believe that he will change her mind?

Does he feel that it should be his choice and not hers

The abortion issue is a pretty confusing topic for everyone on the planet. We all have beliefs.

When does life begin?

Are the doctors who perform abortions actually assisting in a controlled murder?

Will God condemn us all?

Why is the topic confusing to me?

Well, on the one hand there are religious beliefs involved. Yet I don't feel as if I am a guilty party if abortion is going on around me. I have never been party to an abortion.

Still, I wonder about the women who choose to go that route.

Are they sinners who are not worthy of eventual eternal salvation?

Perhaps.

Is any of that my business?

I don't think so.

Yet I'm curious about the guy who's standing out in the pouring rain with a sign around his head, offering to help.

Will anyone take the bait?

Someday I just might stop by and ask him.

He may have answers that we all need to survive.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Johnny Idiot

So the Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Football to play QB for them.

He appears to be an absolute moron though, doesn't he?

Manziel was asked by the Browns to tone it down a bit after he spent a weekend in Las Vegas with a few other morons immediately after the draft.

He appears to like hanging out with Floyd Mayweather and Justin Bieber...who are both well-known douches.

But he didn't tone it down.

This past weekend Manziel was photographed back in Vegas and this time he was shown with a rolled up dollar bill. He wasn't using it as a straw for his drink.

And there are so many sides to this deal.

First off, he's free to do whatever the hell he wants, right?

Secondly, he's a young guy with a lot of money and he appears to like to party. He's a celebrity just because he can play with a ball.

He's got the world by the ass, in other words.

The problem with it all?

He's under a microscope.

His employer asked him to tone it down.

Drugs are against the law. Perhaps he hasn't done any, but he's holding up the dollar bill to make it appear that way, right?

Have you ever seen Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in such a situation?

My kids are always touting Manziel for what he does when he's playing football. I don't watch a lot of the college game, but they played highlights for me. The kid can run and throw and he plays fearless. Both of my boys wanted him to come to Buffalo.

Some people thought he'd be the number one pick.

So we watched the draft and he fell almost all the way through the first round.

He sat there with a smirk on his face and it was even reported that he texted the owner of the Browns to say he was ready to be drafted.

I'm not sure how it'll all play out.

Perhaps he will be Johnny Football and will be all the Browns wanted or needed.

I'm thinking we'll remember him more as Johnny Idiot.

It appears that he can't stay out of his own way.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Painted Kites

I imagine that my mother's neighbors thought it was a bit weird when I pulled into the driveway with Frank Sinatra blaring, but Ol' Blue Eyes came on just as I was rounding the corner onto Shirley Road. Of course, Frank sings the hell out of the song and the lyrics are great as well.

I especially like the lyric - Like painted kites, those days and nights, they went flyin' by

It actually had even more meaning as I had been speaking with my brother in the morning and we were talking about Dad at the age of 50.

"It seemed like ten minutes ago," I said.

"It flies by," Jim answered.

I sang the hell out of that particular line.

The Summer Wind

The summer wind, came blowin' in from across the sea
It lingered there to touch your hair and walk with me

All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind

Like painted kites, those days and nights, they went flyin' by
The world was new beneath a blue umbrella sky

Then softer than a piper man one day it called to you
I lost you, I lost you to the summer wind

The autumn wind and the winter winds, they have come and gone
And still the days, those lonely days, they go on and on

And guess who sighs his lullabies through nights that never end
My fickle friend, the summer wind

The summer wind

Warm summer wind

Mmm, the summer wind


Can't you just hear him singing it?

They only call one singer: The Voice.

After I got out of the car I greeted Mom. She hadn't heard the song, but I entered the house laughing.

"Your neighbors might complain about the music," I said.

"Bruce?" She asked.

"Actually, Frank," I said. "I was blasting Summer Wind."

We didn't have to get into the discussion of the Painted Kites.

She knew they went flyin' by.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Freedom of Consequences

I listen to the Opie and Anthony Show from time-to-time. Actually, I usually catch it most every day of the week. I ride around a lot and it's funny. Jim Norton and Opie are sensible enough, and Louis CK pops in and he's pretty much a genius.

Yet on any given day I will switch the show because the other host, Anthony, is prone to go on nonsensical rants that get under my skin. He'll pepper his comments with a lot of 'they's' and 'them people', especially when he is speaking about blacks or Hispanics.

Then he'll laugh and mention that he's joking, but the more you listen, the more you understand that a lot of what he thinks is sort of out of whack.

And let him say it, I suppose. I can turn the channel, and I normally do when he goes off. His Obama black rants are particularly galling.

You can hate the policies and procedures, but to do black voices and pepper it with hate and it is a bit transparent.

Yet again, he can say it. He will mention the freedom of speech a lot as he battles back on this.

What he forgets is the freedom of consequences part.

The story goes that on Tuesday he was walking in Times Square just taking photographs of New York life. Yet one of the photos he snapped was of a leggy, beautiful woman walking in front of him. It's a nice photo, actually (he's taken it down or I'd post it).

Yet it's a little weird.

Snapping photos of women as they walk around?

Without asking them?

It seems stalkerish.

He then snapped a photo of a black woman who was also similarly shaped. Evidently she didn't like it. She went after the camera and a scuffle ensued. She was screaming. He was screaming and there may have been punches thrown...by her...he says.

Whatevs.

The scene was busted up and he went home to his mansion, as did she, to her not-a-mansion, I imagine.

Anthony, a famous guy with a high-paying gig, then went on Twitter and posted rant after rant after rant.

The same sort of things he does on his show.

He called her a 'savage animal.' He threw around his 'them' and 'those people'.

And his employer fired him.

I've actually had fun reading a whole bunch of the comments.

People are defending him. People are defending her.

I think it goes like this:

He shouldn't have snapped her photo. She shouldn't have over-reacted. He shouldn't have continued the rant on Twitter.

Not that he couldn't have...but he shouldn't have.

He's free to say what he wants.

And his employer can fire him for whatever they want.

Maybe he wasn't being racist, but he was being an idiot.

If they don't want an idiot on the airwaves they don't have to have one.

That simple.

Our behavior should be driven by the consequences in some respects. I don't know if he's truly racist, but now he's unemployed.

And he probably should be.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Orange

Net-Flix has sort of changed the television watching experience, huh?

We were looking for a show and my beautiful wife suggested one called, Orange is the New Black. The title was a bit weird and a woman's prison?

But we settled into the first episode and the lesbian angle was a tad interesting, but, of course, I'm really only thinking about the character development and the writing in the story lines.

"We'll give it a go," I said, in the middle of a steamy scene.

Yet, why the television experience has changed is this:

We used to watch a show at say, Tuesday evening at 8 p.m.

If we missed it, by some chance, we may never see it again.

It was an all or nothing thing.

Yet with the new set-up, you can just sit there and a new episode will start in 20 seconds or something. Boom, episode after episode.

Yet what has happened with this show is that we have quite a few moral situations to discuss during the show. Here are a sampling of a few of our questions back and forth as we have looked at the strange characters:

"If you have to go to jail for a year can I cheat on you?"

"What if I suddenly announced that I wanna' be a woman?"

"Do you think she's hot?"

The above questions were all asked by me.

Kathy's answers were:

"No."

"You'd be one ugly-ass woman."

And

"No."

And that's the thing. The shows push the envelope and make people ask sort of crazy questions as they ponder life's mysteries. I imagine that a women's prison isn't even as much fun as it seems in the show.

Yet those who produce the shows keep opening doors and challenging the audience.

I sort of like the show.

There's a bit of humor. The characters are interesting.

Let's just hope that the questions I ask become a bit easier.

Friday, July 4, 2014

John Mellencamp- July 3, 2014


All right, so I lied about having to wait for the review.

First off, the concert hall is small. I couldn't possibly imagine seeing one of my favorite acts in rock and roll up that close.

And I was that close because Millie hit a HR with the ticket (it's hard for Mets fans to hit home runs).

But there were were. 17 rows back. Dead center.

And Mellencamp and the band were prompt and they started right in on Human Wheels. I believe that I've written here before, but Human Wheels is one of my all-time favorite Mellencamp tracks. The problem being that the words were a bit lost as the band seemed to be a lot louder than JCM. The 2nd song wasn't much clearer, and although they were right there I had a sinking feeling.

First off, Mellencamp wasn't moving much. He was all dressed up and he looked a bit like me at a wedding...trying to have a good time, but stiff in the freaking monkey suit!

Still...I thought there might be a chance that John would loosen up a bit and that it would all work out.

The concert actually did turn that quickly.

He ripped through the hits, starting with Check It Out, Jack & Diane on acoustic guitar with the audience singing the Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone part.

Perhaps it was during one of those two songs when it came to me that I'd been listening to his music for nearly 30 years. And he smiled along with the audience as they cheered him after one song ended and I looked at it from the perspective of a man who creates to elicit an audience reaction.

What a great feeling it must be to hear people singing out words long ago written down.

Once Mellencamp loosened up those stiff clothes he got moving around a bit. He's still the coolest guy in the room and I remembered once trying to steal his dance moves for frat parties.

(I've never moved well on a dance floor...contrary to what I might say).

Yet the one song that made me smile was Crumbling Down.

It's sort of my theme song.

I've often sung the line:

I'm the same old jerk you've been having for years

to Kathy.

The last song of the night - much to everyone's dismay - was Cherry Bomb.

It's actually a song about thinking back on all the fun that was had. I kept thinking of how many times I'd blared Mellencamp music as I went about my day.

I thought back to college with Fluff and Rosie and George.

On through the years...sharing the songs with my brothers and sisters and even my boys and Kathy.

Just cool.

That's the one word that comes to mind when I think of JCM.

He's older now...Life is Short, Even in it's Longest Days...and if the concert has to be short because he's getting up there a bit...that's fine.


He's still world's better than a whole lot of other artists and he can still write the hell out of a song.

Good show.

Check It Out - Happy Birthday America

To the Niagara Falls Casino to see John Mellencamp on Thursday night.

How American is that?

You need to wait a day for the review.

Here are some great lyrics to hold you over.


Check It Out by John Mellencamp

A million young poets, screamin' out their words
To a world full of people, just livin' to be heard
Future generations ridin' on the highways that we built
I hope they have a better understanding

Check it out
Goin' to work on Monday
Check it out
Got yourself a family
Check it out
All utility bills have been paid
You can't tell your best buddy that you love him

So check it out
Where does our time go
Check it out
Got a brand new house in escrow
Check it out
Sleepin' with your back to your loved one
This is all that we've learned about happiness

Check it out
Forgot to say hello to my neighbors
Check it out
Sometimes I question my own behavior
Check it out
Talkin' about the girls that we've seen on the sly
Just to tell our souls we're still the young lions

So check it out
Gettin' too drunk on Saturdays
Check it out
Playin' football with the kids on Sundays
Check it out
Soarin' with the eagles all week long
And this is all that we've learned about living
This is all that we've learned about living

Check it out
Check it out
Check it out
Check it out

A million young poets screamin' out their words
Maybe someday those words will be heard
By future generations ridin' on the highways that we built
Maybe they'll have a better understanding

Check it out
Hope they'll have a better understanding
Check it out
Maybe they'll have a better understanding
Check it out
Maybe they'll have a better understanding
Check it out
Hope they have a better understanding

Check it out
Check it out
Check it out

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Story

We are all stories in the end, remembered by the adventure we had, the achievements we made and the people we loved.

A guy I worked around for about twenty years passed away last week. He was too young. We had lost touch after he retired. His retirement was way too brief.

Yet a mutual friend got together with me and quickly we recounted a few stories about our now-missing friend. We remembered a lot of things about him, including the moments when we didn't see eye-to-eye on a particular issue.

"He was a good guy," my buddy said.

And there it was.

The summation.

The above quote is so powerful to me.

"We won't ever wonder what you were thinking," Sam said to me one day. "You wrote it all down."

And that's true.

I certainly like to believe that it's the reason I've written so many words through the years. No one can be that self-absorbed, right?

I certainly am doing it for my boys and my brother and sister's children.

The story.

Getting the story down.

It's funny, but my beautiful wife and I shared our story a little bit this week as well.

July 1, 1994 was the first time we kissed.

Isn't that lovely?

Yet we remember it. It's a shared part of our history together. It was a monumental decision on the part of both of us.

(Well, mostly her. I've learned that my decisions are basically hers disguised as my own personal beliefs).

But that's okay because it all worked out.

Believe it or not there were a couple of other girls that I had kissed prior to that night, but I certainly don't remember the dates.

"20 years," Kathy said. "And I still like you."

Which is a good thing too.

Because as you write the story you certainly realize that there are plot twists that you've never actually seen coming.

It's funny, but I was talking to a writer's group a couple of weeks back and they asked me if I always start a book, knowing the ending.

"You write to the end," I said. "You certainly have the resolution in mind, but the ending has to reflect what is happening in the story or the reader won't believe it. So, you make that first kiss strong so that they buy the other elements of the relationship."

I had honestly said that!

Build the story, folks.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Poison Snakes

If a poison snake bites you, you're poison too.

That is actually one of my favorite sayings in the world.

I kind of use it to comfort people who have been beaten to shit by life, or by folks that they once trusted.

I try and explain that they need to get rid of the poison and not let it fester or their life will be poison as well.

Getting rid of the poison is much easier than it sounds.

There are so many people who let it take control of their bodies. They allow it to bring them to their knees. In some cases, the poison kills them.

As a matter of fact, that's the problem with life. It'll grind you.

Every single day it'll grind you down.

I've known men who've loved women with all of their hearts only to find out that it was a brilliant disguise.

Then the poison takes over.

I've known women who believed what they wanted to believe about a guy and when they finally found out that none of it was true...

...poison.

And it goes so much further than just the man and woman deal.

You can certainly get bit by a poison employer, or a lethally poison friend. You can get bit by a family member or a casual acquaintance.

The snake that slithers by you is hidden in the grass of life.

There is so much poison everywhere.

Yet it really is easy to believe that you're surrounded by snakes when not every single person has the poison. I still believe that the world is made up of mostly good people.

But there are snakes. There certainly are.

How many bites can you handle?

My boys are just starting out. They certainly have their own ideas about things, but there are times when I try really hard to let them know that sometimes there are snakes in the midst.

And that they will get bit.

I just hope that they are strong enough to find the antidote somewhere inside their own heart.

Get rid of the poison.

When that snake bit you it did it with the intention of hurting you.

Don't give it the satisfaction.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

World Cup Fever

So.

Are you watching the big game today?

The mighty USA coming off their 1 win, 1 loss, 1 tie play in the round of death is going to face-off against Belgium.

Do they do face-offs?

What I have heard most of lately is that soccer is really catching on in the United States. For the first time in history the American public is jumping on the 'soccer is great' bandwagon.

Are you there yet?

I'm not, actually, but I listened to their game against Germany...on the radio!

Yes...I listened to it on the radio!

Soccer on the radio is actually slightly less entertaining than soccer on television and soccer on television is slightly less boring to me than watching the grass grow.

But soccer in person seems sort of interesting to me.

In fact, it probably would be downright lively in one of those faraway places because they are really, really, really freaking into it!

But you know what?

Americans will be too if we somehow get to the end of the World Cup.

Can you imagine how crazy people will be if the USA is playing for the chance to be crowned the king of the world in soccer?

It would be nuts!

My boys are certainly right there in the mix.

USA! USA! USA!

They were texting last week.

But in a quiet moment over the weekend I asked Sam what he really thought:

"It's kinda' boring," he admitted.

I'm sympathetic with those who love soccer though because I feel that baseball is the best sport and everyone complains to me that it's boring.

I don't believe I've ever been bored watching a baseball game. The anticipation of the sport really drives my enjoyment.

And perhaps that is what soccer is all about.

The flopping?

The yellow cards?

The extra time that no one knows that's added.

The kicks.

None of that seems to register with me...but hey...let's hear it for the big game today!

USA! USA! USA!

Beat Belgium!

Beat Belgium!

Heather Heyer

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