I am very glad to be home after an abbreviated day of work. It’s New Years Eve and to be in Manhattan, or more precisely anywhere near midtown is insane. I work in midtown. I was a bit bitter earlier and I was not going to write because of that bitterness.
Who wants to read a bitter rant on New Years Eve? That’s why there are 364 other days to write. But sometimes the bitterness comes to a boil and it’s usually best to do something about it. It’s not just bitterness, maybe that is a little too strong a word.
Perhaps it’s the holiday pressure, working retail, trying to get out of a city that a lot of people are trying to get into. In any event, I am simply glad to be home.
We do have plans, Bill & I. We’re heading out to Arthur’s Steakhouse for dinner in a little while, followed by cigars and a stroll around Hoboken, then back home for a spell before heading over to Rand & Lisa’s.
I’m just feeling so beaten that I would be content to stay home. But it will be good to see Rand & Lisa, as well as other friends. I haven’t seen rand since October and I saw Lisa briefly on the street on Christmas Eve. When I saw Lisa I had just gotten off the bus after work so who knows what state of mind I appeared to be in.
We’re leaving at 8:30 and right now it’s 8:13. Animal Crackers is on right now. Bill never saw it before whereas I’ve seen it at least a dozen times. It is good to laugh. Of course I am distracted by the Marx Brothers and find myself watching them, instead of writing.
It’s now 8:20. I had better start getting ready. I will right more when I get back from dinner. Still haven’t left yet. Bill had some last minute thing to do on the computer so I’m watching Chico & Harpo Marx play cards with Margaret Dumont.
Now we’re home. Dinner was nice at Arthur’s. Don’t eat steak so much these days so it was special for me and Bill. He’’s watching his weight and no more sweets, no more Cinnabon. He did allow himself a slice of Chocolate Mousse cake since it’s a special occasion.
We’re listening to the B-52’s Funplex cd right now, just getting things ready before we head over to Rand and Lisa’s. I’m enjoying my cigar, a La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Valiente, which is perfect after a steak dinner. So I think I did good.
Not so much bitterness, just avoided all of that all together. No need to get into the ugly things in the past. Wouldn’t do me any good. A pint of Guinness is much more fitting to my mindset this New Year’s Eve.
I certainly hope that 2011 will be a better time for all concerned and Bala Cynwid gets it’s godforsaken act together. That’s all for now.
I suppose it’s working retail that really tires me out. Dealing with people, standing around for 10 hours a day and not really going anywhere just walking around in circles will do that to you. Today was a day just like that.
Running around in circles. A lot of that today. Slept alright last night, my neck has been bothering me lately. Mainly it is from the pillows doing whatever it is that they want at night and for the past 2 nights I had a crink in my neck.
I was careful last night, doing my best to make sure that I would have much of a problem today. It worked somewhat, not much pain throughout the day. Still every now and then there would be a little twinge but not as bad as it had been.
I met Eliot Spitzer yesterday. he didn’t come into the cigar shop, but was walking by. I stepped outside and said hello, mentioning the mutual friend we had in common, a fantastic woman named Audra.
Audra went to school with my sister Annemarie and that’s how I knew her. And she was at the shindig that Bill and I had in July at Maxwells. He lit up when I mentioned Audra’s name and I later sent an email to Audra saying that I met the former Governor. Nice guy, shorter than I expected.
No bold face names like that today, except Don S. I left the cigar shop today to have lunch. It’s been warm enough, in the 40 degree range but the sidewalks are crap and the curbs and corners are lakes and ponds full of slush. Not much one can do about that.
Still it was good to get out of the store if only for an hour. Calvin still can’t understand why anyone would want to leave the cigar shop on their lunch hour. For him it would be difficult to come back inside. It is for me, but I realize it’s my duty, my job and someone is usually waiting for me to come back so they could take their lunch hour.
There is no news regarding Hyman Gross yet. Bill hasn’t heard anything and I doubt if Bill or myself were listed as a contact in case of emergency. We can only hope that no news is good news.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Bill and I will likely have dinner at Arthur’s Steakhouse in Hoboken, a short stroll around Hoboken, smoking cigars, going home for a spell before heading over to Rand & Lisa’s for their New Year’s Eve open house.
It’s what we’ve been doing for the past 10 years and if Rand & Lisa are willing we’ll probably be doing the same thing for the next 10 years.
Calvin did mention hanging out for a little while after work, to enjoy some nice cigars for the end of the year. He said Sean and the Bradley were into it, so basically I was cornered. I don’t mind. We’re closing the cigar shop at 5:00 so I hope to be home by 7:00. At least that’s the plan so far.
New day, new documents. Using Google Docs at the moment. Got burned by Microsoft Word last night and after 3 or 4 burns, decided to use good old Google. I thought I would have the whole Microsoft Office thing in the new computer, I am using Windows 7 now, no longer an XP kind of guy.
Maybe I do, I just have to find it, and who has the time when there are pictures of who knows what being sent to me continuously in my email.
It was back to work for me today and it wasn’t half bad. Perhaps the good feeling of the holidays are still upon us, good will and all that. It was me and Calvin most of the day with Sean coming in followed by the one known now as Fred.
I like Fred, he’s a nice guy but man can he talk your ear off. It’s OK though, it’s certainly better than the moody shenanigans that the Bradley played a few months ago. It wasn’t too busy and I was able to actually sit in the back room and enjoy a cigar after having something to eat for lunch.
It was a good cigar but stronger than I remembered when I last smoked it over the summer. It made me a bit woozy afterwards but I soon recovered. Calvin was having a discussion with a screenwriter when I finished lunch and he introduced me as a writer as well before Calvin went off to do something else.
The screenwriter bloke and I hit it off somewhat well, discussing various methods of writing. I explained how I write at least 500 words a day and though some of it might not be worthwhile, I still have a decent collection of writing and in that collection there are probably a few choice lines or phrases that I could use at anytime.
I also explained that I was good at dialogue, mentioning how 20 years ago I collaborated on a script with John Bruce who called me a few days later, telling me that my writing made him cry, it was that good.
Perhaps I am rose tinting the past, but that’s how I remember it, getting a phone call from Mr. Bruce at the video store where I worked at the time, or maybe Mr. Bruce showed up to tell me.
It was back to the earlier schedule tonight, closing the store at 9:00. I didn’t rush down to the bus terminal, it was too messy streets filled with cold slush and it’s quite slippery out too. No Hyman Gross either.
Last night Bill called me. he had gotten off the bus a few stops earlier than usual, he was worried about Hyman Gross. Neither of us had heard from or seen Hyman in a while so Bill decided to knock on his door.
When he got off the bus he saw a Hoboken Emergency Services Unit nearby and thought it best if he told them what was up. They drove Bill to Hyman’s apartment where a neighbor mentioned that they hadn’t seen Hyman in a while.
The Emergency Services person did some detective work and found out that Hyman was in Massachusetts near his family, in a hospital. We still don’t know where exactly, or what put him in the hospital but the Emergency Services person took Bill’s information and told Bill they would be in touch with him if there hear anything else.
That is just one reason why I love Bill. Doing something like that, in the cold, checking in on a senior citizen who just happens to be a friend.
Two more days of work for me, then two days off. A weekend. On a weekend. Who would have thought?
OK. I was using Microsoft Word to write and three times I tried to past the word bibliothèque into the text. It caused the document to close and the whole program to shut down. Don’t know why, but here I am writing again.
I wrote about Calvin sending me email asking me to come in today since the trains were running as was NJ Transit buses. He wasn’t sure if the Bradley was going to be in and did not want to work 12 hours by himself. Oh the price of being management.
Then there was a second email about a minute later, telling me to ignore the previous email, since the Bradley was in the cigar shop after all. I ignored both messages and set about getting busy, cleaning up the apartment as much as possible.
My niece Corinne mentioned stopping this afternoon while we were both in Hillsdale. It sounded like a fun idea and I was game. I started cleaning last night but there is only so much you can do while people are trying to sleep.
Corinne caught a train from Garfield, winding up in Hoboken around 1:15. I was planning on meeting her at the station but she was on here way to the apartment when she contacted me. We hung out for a while before I had to run some errands.
A trip to the dry cleaners as well as the bibliothèque where I returned Whatever Works, the Woody Allen movie starring Larry David. I enjoyed it, Bill loved it, laughed out loud several times. I also returned The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks. Recommended reading.
We walked through snowy Church Square Park and had lunch at Oneal’s Restaurant, across from the park. It was nice, burgers and a pint for each of us. We came back to the apartment after that, watching Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Corinne had never seen it before and it may have been a bit of an eye opener. Still a good, fun movie and I’m sure she enjoyed it. She had a train to catch back to Garfield so I walked her back to the train station, on the way leading her into a deceptively deep puddle of slush and getting her Uggs and her feet wet.
I felt bad about that and let Corinne lead the way after that. We got to the station and I bought three pair of socks from a push cart vendor for $5.00, so that Corinne could at least change into dry socks on the train, an attempt to minimize her discomfort.
We parted ways at the station after I made sure she got on the right train. They’ve been changing the schedules at the last minute and they did it again, operating on a weekend schedule but not mentioning it on their website.
Good old NJ Transit. Last night they canceled the train Bill & I were going to take and we found out once we got to the station, needing to take an earlier train than planned. But it all worked out and it was good to have Corinne around, bringing her energy and color to an otherwise drab day off.
Walking back through the train station I was reminded of when I accompanied my father to work in 1977. I didn’t want to go, he probably didn’t want to take me but since he took my brothers at some point in their lives (and maybe my sister) I had to go.
I was reminded of this since it was around the same time of year, 33 years ago. Different times indeed, all those years ago.
And here we are, two days after Christmas. And it was a snowy day, in fact it was such a snowy day that it was a snow day. Meaning that I had off from work, officially. I started the suggestion last night, sending an email to Calvin who stated that it was up to the building management some Kumpus Group, or Unrelated Companies nonsense in which they excel in a lack of subtlety as well as genuine bad decision making all around.
Calvin actually got back to me and wrote that he had gotten in touch with Marcus who declared the store to be officially closed. I don’t know if the customers knew about the store closing but if the staff from Long Island couldn’t make it in with the subways being shut down and NJ Transit buses not running at all, you really can’t have a store being open.
I found this out around 10:00 this morning, about 4 hours after I had been awake. Too late for me to go back to sleep so I puttered around as well as made use of the new HP computer I got from Bill for Christmas.
I was also up until about 2:00 last night exploring the computer and filled with wonder when YouTube videos loaded and played almost instantly with no jumpiness involved. I have to admit, I had gotten used to the videos loading forever so when the video for The Hardest Part by Blondie played almost instantly I was taken aback.
Bill also had off from work today and for most of the day, we were just hanging out in the apartment, watching TV and listening to music. I made a trip outside to the supermarket. Someone shoveled the steps and sidewalk in front of the building and I was glad it wasn’t me.
A lot of people were digging out their cars and a lot of cars were stuck in the snow and ice. I maneuvered my way around them and got the basics from the market.
I came home and had something light to eat. Bill and I had plans to go to Hillsdale to see my brother Brian and his family, as well as seeing my brother Frank and his family again. We were going to rent a Zipcar but the roads seemed too treacherous.
Brian phoned and suggested the train which made the most sense. We decided on the 5:35 train and left with enough time to find out the train had been canceled and the earlier, 5:16 train would be the one to be on.
So that’s what we did. Brian met us at the station and soon we were in the warm and cozy house of love. Brian and Karen and Hillary and Cassie as well as their brother Brian the prodigal and Cassie’s boyfriend Dylan were soon joined by Frank and Elaine with Meg and Rob and Corinne’s boyfriend Vic.
Annemarie was once again in California with her family and made her presence known by way of my cellphone. Dinner and gifts and some guitar playing by my nephew Brian was all enjoyed greatly.
But being tied to a train schedule we had to make it back to the train station a little after 9:00. Still cold and windy in Hoboken as Bill and I walked down the streets, stopping by neighbor Claire’s apartment to help the people who were staying there turn on their heat.
And now, thanks to Bill’s help, the old computer, Randenstein is now sort of hooked up to the new computer. I have two towers going and about 3 internal hard drives as well as the 2 iPods and one screen.
I actually finished this a while ago, just got very distracted by District 9, a very good movie, worth seeing. Out of the ordinary.
I am writing this on Bill’s new iMac, dual core processor. “An Intel iMac basically” says Bill. He’s on my own new computer, trying to set up the computer so I can get on the network, and get the new HP computer up and running.
So far it’s up, but not running far. It certainly looks pretty though. Bill’s pretty excited about it and I am too.
I just got back from the cigar shop about an hour ago. I thought it would be easy getting from the cigar shop to the bus terminal and once again I was set to listen to the B-52’s. As soon as I left the cigar shop I saw that walking down to the bus terminal would have been much too risky.
So I opted for the train. I waited on the platform with other dazed riders, when finally my train appeared. I avoided the crowds and once in the bus terminal I rode the escalator less traveled and wound up waiting on a queue.
It wasn’t too crowded and it was about 7:24. I thought I would have missed the 7:20 bus but with these people standing around and with the weather being what it is, I figured the bus was late and I was glad that it was.
I gave up my seat so a son and his elderly mother were able to sit together. As people got off at their destinations, I moved up into their seats, entranced by the near white out conditions ahead of us. A few taxis and cars spinning out and fishtailing.
I got off a stop before my usual so I could take some pictures and apparently a young woman did too. The two of us taking random pictures of the snowstorm. I even took a picture of her in the snow with her iPhone.
It was windier than I expected and my uncovered ears certainly stung. As soon as I entered my apartment building I immediately untied the laces on my boots so they would be loose enough to slip off after climbing four flights of stairs.
Bill opened the door and he settled back into the space before my computer as he worked on my computer. He seems to be making good progress, though he did try to contact Rand about transferring info and files from my old computer to the new one.
No response from Rand as of yet, but Bill’s doing a bang up job so far as he listens to the DVD commentary of Jeremy Piven in PCU.
I also sent an email to Calvin, asking if there was a number to call the building where the cigar shop is housed, to find out if the building will be open tomorrow. 18” to 24” are expected by tomorrow and I would hate to head into the city and trekking up to the cigar shop only to find that it’s closed.
And Calvin, being Calvin has not responded as of yet. Such dependable managerial skills.
Still I am glad to be home. Not a night fit for man or beast, or cigar shop assistant managers.
Well the last posting was a bit intense, all about the managerial shenanigans at work. That was then, this is now. I worked yesterday and as it turned out Calvin’s holiday get together was postponed until January. It was busy and we were supposed to close at 5:00 but at 5:15 people kept coming in.
I didn’t leave until a little before 6:00 and walked down the avenue listening to the first 4 songs on the B-52’s second album, Wild Planet. Chasing rainbows in the mud. I caught a waiting bus and soon I was home for only a little while.
I called my sister in law Elaine and told her we would get there around 8:00. Bill got the car as I got things ready. He texted when he was outside and I joined him, trying to figure out how to operate the controls on the car seat.
Garfield was nice and warm and cozy as we sat in the house where Frank and Elaine live. Elaine made a leg of lamb which was very good and I ate a lot of it as well as couscous, potatoes and veggies. And a whole lot of cookies and brownies to bring home. Rob & Meghan joined us a little after we got there and it was a good thing they ate already since Bill and I were starving.
Corinne surprised me and Bill with Guinness cans and pint glasses from Dublin, when Corrine was last in Ireland earlier this year. And a lovely Beatles fleece blanket which came in handy last night. Bill and I came home a little before midnight.
We were both tired from the previous 24 hours, with Bill driving a bus to and from Washington DC and me working retail and as being sick midweek Still, despite being oh so very tired, we managed to exchange presents once it was officially Christmas.
I got Bill an electronic keyboard which rolls up. It’s quite flat. We don’t know what it sounds like but there are supposedly 100 sounds available at his fingertip. I gave him his leather jacket last week since I had a limited amount of time if it needed to be returned and it didn’t need to be returned.
He’s been wearing it more often, but not for work as it’s not long enough to cover the hem of his suit jackets. Bill gave me a brand new HP computer, my first ever brand new computer. I haven’t even taken it out of the box yet since I don’t know how to join this computer and the new one, or at least transfer files.
If anyone has any ideas or directions on how to do such a thing I’d be glad to follow them.
Bill was much more frustrated with the breakdowns of the computer this past summer and Rand, who created this here computer reminded me that ‘you get what you pay for.’ That’s going to be my project the next few days, at least Tuesday or next weekend which will be my next time off.
Juan was here for a few hours. We basically had some sparkling wine, ate some pasta and watched the Freaks and Geeks marathon. He just left a little while ago. He’s always good to have around, if only for a little while. He’s headed back to Trenton tonight.
Back to work tomorrow, Boxing Day. Back to ‘normal’ hours, which means earlier hours. Monday night, a trip to Hillsdale. Hope you had an excellent Christmas holiday or whatever it is you choose to celebrate.
And it was back to work today for me. And not the usual starting time of 12:30. No, last night I got a phone call from Calvin, who when I answered the phone, asked ‘What’s happening Pumpkin?’ Pumpkin? Me?
I told him I was going to call him and let him know I would be in today, and he said that was alright, he wanted me to know that he moved my hours, so that I would be opening the store. Apparently he was pissed off, but cleverly covered it up with ‘Take care my brother.’
If I am his brother I can only hope I was adopted. Apparently, he was pissed because I knew I was getting sick on Tuesday night but did not call until 8:00 on Wednesday morning.
In August when I was sick due to a toothache, I sent an email stating that I wouldn’t be in due to the toothache. On August 18, I received an email stating that it’s company protocol to ‘CALL off sick, not TEXT off sick. It is corporate policy that we hear your sparkling voice to ensure that it is indeed you who is calling off. It’s also faster:). You can feel free to follow up with a text message, but the phone call is mandatory.’ Nice use of the smiley face.
Today, and the actual reason I had to come in earlier than usual was because of the following memo that I had to read in front of Marcus (Calvin was off today) and sign it after I had read it in front of Marcus.
It reads as follows: Company Procedures clearly state, “Sick days should be taken when you are too ill to come to work. You must call your direct supervisor, Calvin Neckbone (212-555-1212) as early as possible to give notice in order to arrange for coverage.”
“You knew you were sick on the evening of Tuesday, December 22, 2010. Further you did not call Calvin directly but rather left a message in the store answering system at 8:00AM on Wednesday December 22, 2010. This resulted in overtime that could have been avoided with proper notice and rearranging of the schedule.”
Then it says, ‘I have read and understand this warning’, which is where I had to sign. The thing is I have never seen this mythical corporate handbook and this was something that Raymond used to mention to me before he got the ax. So I signed it, wishing to be done with the whole thing.
I still wasn’t feeling that well when I came in this morning, still a bit dizzy and feverish, having had to change my t-shirt when I came in since it was drenched in sweat.
Why didn’t I call Calvin directly? Maybe it’s because I had a fever of 103 degrees? Maybe because I didn’t know to call Calvin directly, I thought calling the store would be enough?
When I worked at Wanker Banker under Bobby Risotto, I never dreamed of calling Bobby at home if I was going to be sick the next day. So now I know.
If I get sick in the middle of the night, I will call Calvin at 3:00AM if that is the hour I become sick. I really don’t give a fuck if I wake his lying drunk ass up. He’s a employee who wound up working the extra hours that I couldn’t do.
I also called Bradley up before I left, letting him know that I wasn’t sure if I would be in, and that he might be working a double shift. It’s just as well since the Bradley sold over $20,000 worth of items.
And Calvin makes more money than the Bradley or myself, so his time and a half or maybe even double time (the hours they pay you for are really quite screwy) should have been a nice salve to ease his bald head.
But it wasn’t so he wrote a little note to have me sign in front of Marcus. To make a note of my ‘Failure to follow sick day procedure’. Tomorrow on Christmas Eve, Calvin mentioned that he was going to buy a bottle of Port and let us all smoke a cigar, any cigar in the humidor.
I will not be a part of that. Sean is off as if the other part timer who’s name I’ve forgotten. It will be just Calvin, the Bradley and myself. I haven’t had a cigar since Tuesday and I don’t drink Port, so the party will be just Calvin and the Bradley. I’m on antibiotics anyhow, so no drinking for me anyway.
January can’t get here soon enough for me. A new year and a new job hunt. This place is ridiculous and I want my life back. Discounted cigars just is not worth putting up with this bullshit. FUCK THIS SHIT.
Well, I was a bit unwell over the past 24 hours. It started at work, and I was OK most of the day, it was within the last 90 minutes or so that things took a turn for the worse. I started to feel really cold and I later found out that someone had set the thermostat to cooler.
That meant someone turned on the air conditioner. My bones ached and felt hollow. And I was quite hungry. I did eat some food but it didn’t do much, except keep me awake for a little while longer I guess. I knew I was in trouble though and felt it might be best to see if I can get Bill to rescue me.
I didn’t think I would be well enough for public transportation and if he were home, he might have access to a car. He was home and willing to get a car and pick me up. I was that bad. Everything turned out well when I closed the store that was one less stressful thing to worry about.
Bill parked the car on the corner and I hurried home, teeth chattering and extremely fatigued. I made it upstairs, Bill leading the way to make sure the heat was turned in when I came into the apartment. I sat in the bathroom and Bill put a thermometer in my mouth. I had a fever of over 100.
I went to bed, wearing a long sleeve t shirt, and track pants and I lay underneath a few blankets and a comforter. I fell into a deep sleep but kept waking up every now and then to change my shirts, since they’d become soaked with sweat.
I had a fever dream where I had to fly to London and fill out paperwork. I’ve never been to London. I’d like to go someday. I think I landed at Luton Airport and met up with a decent group of people who showed me around, as well as taking me to the movies.
I called the cigar shop in the dream and spoke with Sean who told me he was too busy with a customer to talk to me on the phone. Fever dreams are weird. I slept quite a bit in the last 24 hours, probably about 13 hours all together.
Whatever it was that got me has subsided and I will be going to work tomorrow. I shake a lot of hands at work and I also handle money and take mass transit, so any of those scenarios could have brought whatever virus it was to me. I will have to wash my hands more often.
I don’t recall any other time where a bug crept up on me and caused such havoc in such short time. Or a bug that made me sleep so long. It’s not like I’ve been out partying and drinking. Or being overworked, true the hours aren’t great at the cigar shop but still they’re not overwhelming.
Oddly enough I never really got sick when I was partying back in the day.
The thing was certainly just a bug that saw an opportunity and took it.
It’s late, it’s cold and I am home. It’s been difficult for me to get back into the work mindset after one day off. But I prevailed and here I am at home, at 11:00 and writing. It was a sort of busy day at the cigar shop.
Most of the regulars kept asking me how Prince was on Saturday night and I don’t know how many time I mentioned how hot Sheila E was and how Prince does not wear high heels anymore. Most everyone agreed he’s a giant with his talent, big enough that the heels were not needed at all. And now with a possible hip replacement, he no longer needs the heels and he doesn’t do splits anymore anyhow.
It was a long day and of course some people had some drama, mainly Sean who is having an ordeal in court regarding child support payments on a part time, college student salary. Homeboy has to learn to stop listening to the smaller head. He’s cute and the girls find him irresistible and he can’t help himself but he is going to have to. 20 years old and in such a mess.
Last night I had a long phone call with Julio who is trying to get a lot done before he flies off to join Stine and Alexander in Denmark. Clean the apartment, tie things up at work, get things set at the West New York property so he could afford to be away. His job is having it’s holiday party at the Cafe Elysian in Hoboken and he mentioned the bonus that he’s expecting which is quite a nice bonus.
No bonus expected for me, except for what is planned on Friday. Calvin is buying a bottle of Port and we will be able to smoke any cigar in the humidor. I intend on having a Padron Family Reserve cigar, a cigar that is usually off limits to the staff.
I mean, we can buy one of those cigars but it’s definitely not one of the freebies that we’re entitled to each day. So that forbidden fruit will be mine to smoke on Friday night after work. Calvin expects the thing to go on until 7:30, I think it will be a 6:30 departure for me. I do have to make it out to Garfield with Bill that night.
I was able to get a nice package sent to California this afternoon. I was going to use the post office to send it, but it was pandemonium at the post office and using FedEx would be about the same cost and getting there in time for Christmas whereas if I used USPS, it might not get there until next week. And of course, I obsessively track the box of presents.
Four days left in the week, and already I am down one day. I’m sure I will be more in the swing of things by Friday. Tonight I of course listened to Prince as I left the cigar shop and stomped my way down to the bus terminal. Kiss and 1999 and half of Little Red Corvette, in about 16 minutes and change. And now here I am, done with writing for the night.
Someone in Bala Cynwyd definitely sports wood for this here blog. What is up with that?
It’s a new day and quite an eventful 24 hours. It didn’t start out too easy since I closed the store on Friday night and had to open the store on Saturday morning. All part of switching hours with Calvin. The day was a good one, I sold about $6000.00 worth of merchandise.
It wasn’t easy, there were a few tire kickers that stopped by, people that take up a lot of time and energy and never buy anything. You never can tell though so one has to go through the whole process in order to get to the disappointment when they say they’ll think about it and walk out the door.
Calvin said he didn’t care if I left an hour earlier, at 7PM instead of 8PM. The store really slows to a crawl once night falls. I’m sure they did alright with 3 on staff, no need for 4 people. I left the store at 7:00 and was soon on a downtown train to Madison Square Garden.
At 7:11 I sent a text to Roda, letting him know I was at 33rd and 8th Avenue. We had a plan to take a quick stroll before the show so we could get a little jazzy for the concert. These days the sweet smell of cannabis no longer wafts through the arenas or any other venues.
I waited about 30 minutes when I heard from Roda. He was held up by the Path train and I walked over to 32nd and 7th to meet up with him. He almost fired up a one hit before going in, but I stopped him, pointing out a few police officers about 10 feet behind us.
We walked to the turnstiles, Roda giving me a printed ticket as well as half a tablet. I trust Roda implicitly so I swallowed it and we made our way to our seats, buying $5.00 bottles of water so that we wouldn’t be dehydrated during the show. Being impetuous, we drank the water too fast and eventually had to get 2 more bottles.
Larry Graham and Graham Central Station opened the show and after One in a Million You, his big solo hit, Prince came out and joined him for a Sly & the Family Stone medley.
Meanwhile the pill started to take effect and there was a mild panic within me, my first instinct was to get out of there, but the voice of reason spoke to me, reminding me that I was with Roda and he wouldn’t let anything happen to me, plus it was all good vibrations all around. Roda sensed something was amiss and asked if I was OK and I assured him I was.
Prince hit the stage after being introduced by Sinbad and soon we were off on a trip through nothing but hits from the former Imp of the Perverse. Prince was astounding as we sat and watched from our seats right above the floor. Let’s Go Crazy, 1999, Raspberry Beret, Nothing Compares 2 U, Uptown, Kiss, U Got the Look (with Sheila E, who looked positively HOT), The Beautiful Ones, Purple Rain. Sheila E also sang The Glamorous Life and A Love Bizarre.
Though Purple Rain isn’t one of my favorite Prince songs, the version he did last night was incredible. It flew by all so fast, perhaps due to our altered consciousness. The last song had the stage filled with celebrities like Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Sinbad, Jamie Foxx, Alicia Keys and quite a few more. It was over by 11:00 and we took our time getting out of the Garden.
On the sidewalk opposite the Garden we ran into my neighbor Claire who also saw the show and was headed back to Montauk. That was a surprise, though I had a feeling I would run into someone I knew.
Roda and I made it back to Hoboken safe and sound and we spent the next hours just hanging out, listening to Prince songs and drinking beers while finally getting jazzy. Really a fun evening with a really good friend. I am quite a lucky bastard.
And it’s Friday and I’m tired. Been a long day. Did not sleep well. I repeat, Did not sleep well. My pillows did their best to make for an uneasy night of sleep and when I woke when Bill was kissing me goodbye, I couldn’t really go back to sleep since my shoulder was troubling me.
It’s fine now, but at some point during the night the pillows decided to do whatever they wanted to do and what they wanted to do was make my sleep uncomfortable. They succeeded and I eventually surrendered the bed to them.
I shuffled about, cold once again, but not as cold as it’s been. Today was in the 30 degree area so that made it somewhat warmer. Still it was cold as I waited for the bus into the city. I missed the 11:15 bus which I’ve been taking instead of avoiding since it’s been so damn cold outside.
The 11:30 bus came rolling up in it’s own time and we rolled towards the tunnel. Once inside the tunnel we sat and waited for a few minutes, an absolute standstill. After that it was smooth sailing about one hundred yards into the bus terminal where I made my way down to the post office dropping off some Christmas cards and Shutter Island off to Netflix land. Shutter Island, a big ‘meh’.
I was on time at the cigar shop and immediately went to work. I found out the computers crashed for about 3 hours yesterday, putting a major dent in holiday sales. Well we have some cheap, old computers that when the sales process is going slow, I remark to the customer, apologizing and saying that we bought the computers at the Soviet Union garage sale a few years back. That usually gets a chuckle.
The day was topsy turvy. I couldn’t get a grip on some customers despite my trying to connect. Two times I would be working with customers who didn’t know what they wanted and as I tried to steer them to a product they might like they just didn’t get it.
A co-worker nearby would see what was going on and essentially repeat whatever it was that I said and the co-worker would make the connection. I’d still get the sale but for some reason they would not hear what I was saying, but they would hear the Bradley or Sean. It was frustrating and I decided not to talk to any customers from there on in.
I made it to the bus terminal from the cigar shop in 18 minutes, 10 seconds. Puffing on a cigar and listening to I Am the Walrus, Baby You’re a Rich Man, Flying, Dear Prudence and Revolution 1. Not my usual stomping, getting the hell out of my way music, but it was enjoyable regardless and I was able to catch the 10:30 bus.
Sorry I did not take Harpy’s call as I was trying to close the store but I can’t afford any distractions in that last half hour of closing. Harpy was the one who hipped me to the surprise news that Captain Beefheart aka Don Van Vliet passed away after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet
Oh I might not write tomorrow since I am going to see Prince at Madison Square Garden. Sunday I will write. I promise I will.
Has it really come to this? With all the foot stomping, holding my breath and overall complaining about working retail, do I really find myself lost when I’m not working? It seems that way. Today was a day off and I did get some things done, putting out recyclables, cleaned the bathroom, did some shopping but overall I was pretty much lost, once those things were done I couldn’t think of anything else to do.
I did have a nap for a few minutes, hoping that would reset my clock, my mood, but all I did was wake up hungry. I also went to the bibliothèque twice today, returning and picking up items. I was dismayed to find that 2 items I returned last week are still on my library card. I mentioned it the other day and twice again I brought it up today.
The librarian tried to figure out what was wrong with the printer, why the red light was on when she realized the printer was out of paper. These are the people who will be looking into the case of the missing DVD and CD on my behalf. Things went better at the dry cleaners where dear sweet Mona was able to take items and return them with no problem.
Once again it was cold out though right now with the sun having set, it feels warmer than it did when the sun was out.
I woke up this morning around 9:45, about 45 minutes later than I’ve been sleeping. Philadelphia Freedom by the Elton John Band was what got me out of bed. I didn’t listen to the whole song though it is one of my favorites.
I left the memories of 1975 in the bed as I debated whether or not to go out for bagels and the paper. Staying in was the way to go, having toast instead of bagels and deciding not to get the news, and watched the Daily Show and the Colbert Report as well as the Gilmore Girls for old times sake.
One of my sojourns was to the Burlington Coat Factory where I went a few weeks ago with today’s birthday girl, Lois DiLivio. I checked out some leather overcoats and found the selection wanting. I hoped that the choices would improve a few weeks later and today being today, I once again walked through the doors and found the choice less than satisfactory.
I haven’t given up yet though time is running out. At least if I have it shipped and I’ll probably do that since it seems I will have to purchase it in the city, if a visit to Bergenline Avenue does not pay off on Sunday, my next day off.
I’ve already cut off my long hair so I can purchase that watch fob for Bill. I guess I won’t be needing any combs anytime soon.
I do have Whatever Works by Woody Allen and starring Larry David on DVD from the bibliothèque as well as Shutter Island. I think I will forgo the Keith Olbermann show and watch one or both of those movies. Maybe at the same time.
The Basher doesn’t seem to search for his mention on the blog anymore, but there are recurring visits by residents or merely people who work in Bala Cynwyd.
Wow I am super tired. Been a long day. Not as successful a sales day as I would have liked, or as management would have liked. A few tire kickers who asked if they could get a deal. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to ask, but no, there are no deals to be had.
If you can honestly look at a $2900.00 pen or $760.00 cufflinks, then you can probably afford to pay the actual price. We don’t haggle at the cigar shop.
Last night I went to the cigar bar with the Bradley and his cousin. The Bradley and I have been getting along just fine lately and last night we had a few laughs. Neither one of us wanted to go to the cigar bar, too damn cold out and each of us wanted to go to our homes.
But the pressure was on and we felt obligated to at least make an appearance. The three of us headed to the cigar bar 15 minutes away. We were directed to a special area where Marcus and Calvin were as well as some monied customers. The kind of customers who don’t haggle.
Immediately Marcus had a bottle of old Cuban rum as well as snifters. He poured some run for the three of us, and Calvin appeared giving us cigars. Calvin was a bit wobbly and slurred his words as did Marcus, but not as bad as Calvin.
Both of them expressed gratitude with the fact that the Bradley and I showed up after working all day, saying that it was so very important that we were there. The Bradley, his cousin and I mainly stayed to ourselves and watched most of the guests talking and getting ready to head out into the cold.
Once some people left we were able sit in their now vacant chairs and chatted about how the music that was playing sounded a lot like my iPod. The Clash, The Rolling Stones were heard among others. If I would have heard the Slits or the Fall or even Pylon I would have thought that someone stole my iPod.
We discussed the merits of Tom Petty and soon Marcus reappeared and poured some more rum. I tried to beg off, asking for water instead, but was sort of browbeaten by Marcus who insisted that you couldn’t have a proper toast with water, so I gave in.
After an hour and three snifters of rum for me, I finished my cigar and announced my exit. It was now 11:30 and I did want to get home. Calvin, slurring and a bit unsteady saw my plan and decided to join me. I doffed my hat and coat and Calvin did his own.
The frigid air sobered Calvin up as we walked towards the subway. I walked him to the subway stairs just to make sure he got there alright and then headed towards the bus terminal. A different crowd, and less people waiting for that midnight bus. Mainly men traveling at that hour.
I got home by 12:30, Bill fast asleep in bed. I was glad I wrote before I left the store, and now I am dismayed to find that I was able to write over 500 words in about 25 minutes, but here I am struggling now.
Well I wasn’t as tired as I am now when I wrote last night, and despite being in the store I had less distractions than I do at home. Hardly anyone comes into the store during the last hour and a half, certainly no customers that haggle.
Now I am over 600 words. I could write about how Marcus drunkenly told the Bradley his rule of life. Don’t buy anything new. No new cars, no new houses and no new watches. Most of my co-workers have a fascination for fancy schmancy watches.
9:06PM, at the cigar store. Richard Lloyd, former Television guitarist as well as onetime guitarist for the Health and Happiness Show stopped by with Sheilah to complain about his DuPont lighter. I tried to help him, but thought it best if he used his celebrity and wrote to DuPont directly regarding his lighter problems. Sheilah does his dirty work as she said, and will likely be the one to write the email. I did get a chance to play his Gibson acoustic guitar which was quite nice.
The reason I am writing this right now is the fact that I will probably get home until later than my usual time. There is a cigar shop function at the Russian Tea Room, followed by cigars at a Cigar Bar, located right around the corner from the Russian Tea Room. I did my best to promote the dinner and cigar party after and hoped that was all that would be required of me.
But no, Calvin asked me and the Bradley if we were going to the cigar bar afterward. Both of us tried to beg off the situation but found ourselves cornered. Calvin who will be there of course, is also opening up the store tomorrow, and if he can do it, why can’t we? Well the fact that it’s 20 something degrees outside and I live on the mainland did not account for much. The Bradley lives in Queens and he’s off tomorrow so there is really no excuse for him, if there ever was.
The Bradley and I have been getting along fine. Fine enough that I bought him a chicken sandwich tonight. Right now the plan is to go, show up, not neccessarily checking our coats, do a walk around and head out once again. We’ll see how that goes. Ideally, I just want to go home and spend time with Bill. If it weren’t 20 degrees out I might feel differently, but it is and I don’t.
Writing this right now at work isn’t so bad. Less to do once I get home. It’s so damn cold out and it’s no fun. Right now, a DJ Mix from March 1987 by me is playing. I recorded the night I was DJing when Speed the Plough was playing and my brother Frank was in the band at the time. It’s not a bad mix. It starts off with Rise by Public Image Ltd, then goes to South Africa then to The Clash with Tymon Dogg playing Lose This Skin from Sandinista. I seem to remember Catherine Cloud being impressed with the mix.
It’s way better than anything Martini Basher might have in mind. In fact I think Martini Basher might be running for the position of Mayor of Bala Cynwyd. It makes sense doncha think? Now there is 40 minutes left to be here at the shop. Technically the doors are locked at 10:00 for the holidays and if I do everything correctly, and things go smoothly I am usually out by 10:10. But tonight with an appearance at the cigar bar that all falls by the wayside.
But look at this, I have written 529 words in less than a half hour. Ain’t that special? No writing tonight when I get home. One less key to type. 543 words, yay!
It’s Monday and I have been off of work today. I slept in later than usual, took a melatonin after watching Time Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Shameless, the William H Macy show on Showtime. It doesn’t start until January but somehow I found the first episode.
It was pretty good actually, though William H Macy made his first appearance in the last minute. Right now, I am oddly entranced by Claire Danes performance as Temple Grandin in the HBO movie of the same name.
She plays the autistic researcher named Temple Grandin who streamlined the cattle herding industry, which lead to the slaughterhouse (abattoir is a much nicer word). Improvements for the cattle industry, not so much for the cattle themselves.
It’s a very interesting movie, and Claire Danes is unrecognizable as Temple Grandin. It’s a welcome distraction from the day I’ve been having. I’m also watching Temple Grandin instead of the frustration of the news, International, national, local and political.
The day started out alright I guess but the blues did creep in. Just the blues for no reason at all. Perhaps it was because of different things, like books and CD’s I dropped off last week are still listed on my bibliothèque card as being out.
Or going to the dry cleaners as Bill asked to pick up clothes only to find that they couldn’t find them. As I climbed the stairs to the apartment, the dry cleaners phoned to say they found the clothes. They giggled and I grimaced.
Just one of those days. The temperature dropped considerably and earlier when I was outside there were snow flurries. I got a text from Roda, who invited me to the Maxwells Holiday party. I’m not going, last year was too awkward and I felt really out of place.
And I was broke last year and could barely afford a pint. This year, I do have some money and could buy myself a pint or two, but I’m really not drinking these days and I do have to go to work tomorrow. Perhaps I will go, if only to drop off a DVD that Kevin Craughn made.
Kevin burned The Radiant Child the documentary about Jean Michael Basquiat that Roda and I had seen a few months ago. But already that feeling has left me and I would be content to stay home. Just stopping by would be impossible since I’m sure a few people I know would be at the party and wouldn’t allow me to leave without having a drink.
I think I prefer to stay home. I have It’s Complicated starring Meryl Streep (an excellent skater btw), Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin. I also have a 2 DVD set of Citizen Kane. Both from the library. I also have Shutter Island from Netflix, so I have choices.
Guess I won’t watch Keith Olbermann tonight. I think I’ll steer clear of frustration, anger and depression. That’s not so bad. At least I don’t think so.
Wow, it’s been a long day. I am just so tired, wasn’t even sure if I should or could write and right now I am still not sure. Started out alright enough, I was able to see Alexander and Stine before they flew ff to Denmark.
Alexander doesn’t see me that often these days and it took a while for him to warm up to me. He was playing shy, hiding under the table. Sure enough though, he warmed up and ran around the apartment showing me his latest artworks and toys much to the dismay of Julio and Stine.
Julio is flying to Denmark on the 23rd. Alexander was more interested in making scratching sounds on the 3D poster of the Beatles in Yellow Submarine than the actual poster itself. Ah to be 2 and a half years old and easily amazed.
I was downstairs for about a half hour before I headed back upstairs to gather my things so I could head off to work my 10 hour shift. An easy ride into the city, caught the 11:15 bus since the 11:30 bus has been so unreliable lately.
I was in early enough, strolled up the avenue, buying organic chocolate chip cookies at the Farmer’s Market. I noticed that my pants were feeling a bit larger than usual, or rather the belt I was wearing did not fit right. I had enough time so I went to Daffy’s and bought a 38 inch belt. I put it on when I got to the store it felt just right.
Apparently, I’ve taken 2 inches off my waist, which I suppose is a good thing. Imagine if I applied myself!
It was the Bradley and myself for most of the day. For some odd reason Calvin scheduled Sean to come in at 4. It’s only the holiday season, and it’s been getting quite busy, so why have an extra body working? Jeezy Creezy, Calvin can be quite stupid sometimes. Sobriety should be a prerequisite when doing the work schedule.
It was a relief when Sean came in though and I was able to have something resembling a break. The backroom was filled with cigar smokers, not leaving me much of a chance to sit down and enjoy a cigar myself.
We closed the backroom at around 7:00 as scheduled and finally I was able to sit, if only for a few minutes and have a couple of puffs on a choice cigar. The Bradley was quite agreeable to work with so that was nice.
He left after 8:00 since he opened the store, leaving Sean and myself to watch a handful of people come in over the course of 90 minutes. Some good people and a pain in the ass who was upset that his credit card wasn’t being approved fast enough.
An entire 40 seconds had passed before his approval came through. It wasn’t anyone in particular’s fault, the credit card networks were more than likely overloaded.
With Sean’s help I did almost $4,000 earning a nice piece of that 1/3 of 1% commission. I usually buy Sean a hamburger as a way of saying thanks for his help. No one else does anything like that, which is why Sean will ring things up on my register.
The store closed, Sean and I leaving at the same time, he headed to the subway and I headed down the avenue to the bus terminal. After wresting with the wires on my earphones I plugged in and listened to Cosmic Thing and Dry County by the B-52’s. Midway through Deadbeat Club I was in the bus terminal headed to gate 323.
There were several long lines and I asked the people at the end of one line if they were waiting for the Hoboken bus and they said they were so I dutifully stood behind them. The bus arrived and the line crawled. I was within a foot from the door when the bus pulled out, filled to capacity.
There was a woman walking parallel to me and I knew she was trying to cut in front of me. We found ourselves staring right at each others faces. Neither one of us was willing to look away when she asked how I was doing. I said I was OK, that I was hoping to get on the bus after working a 10 hour shift on my feet.
She said I was lucky to have feet and I agreed with her, saying yes that it would be worse if I had tentacles. She tried the old, ‘other people have it worse than me’ routine, a routine I am quite familiar with and often perform it for other people.
She starts saying that when she was hurt (?) she realized that somethings that we get annoyed with are really nothing to worry about, that other people don’t have these things, also saying ‘you have food at your house, don’t you?’
I hope she wasn’t trying to invite herself over.
Not posting tomorrow unless something happens. And hopefully it won’t.
Back to work today after a night of not so good sleeping. Nothing major but did not want to wake up when I woke up at 9:30. Bill kissed me goodbye 3 hours before and after that I slept the sleep I should have slept.
I got out of bed and puttered about, glad to be going in later actually. Won’t be opening the store for the rest of the year. I was on Washington Street waiting for the bus at 11:15 and caught the 11:15 bus. I had enough time and decided to head uptown on the train and go to another Borders bookstore.
I phoned them last night and they said they had the Beatles Yellow Submarine 3D poster and would leave it waiting for me at the register. I took the train to the Wanker Banker Putnam Lovell NBF neighborhood where I used to work and hoped I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew.
I lucked out since I did not see anyone I knew. I walked into Borders and went to the register and was given the poster I asked for. I even got a free customer card from Borders which is supposed to give me deals and whatnot.
I thought I would take the bus across town but there was no bus to be found. For me, it was shank’s mare. I didn’t mind but as I got closer to the cigar shop I found that my t-shirt was soaking wet from sweat.
I dressed a wee bit too appropriately for the cold. I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to wear a wet t-shirt, especially since I was not going to be in any wet t-shirt contests, or at least did not know of any that may have been scheduled.
I went to Duane Reade about bought a pack of t-shirts and when I got to the cigar shop, I changed t-shirts. Felt a lot better and a lot drier after that. It was Marcus and Calvin in the shop as well as a few customers in the back that don’t particularly care for Marcus nor Calvin. I know this since the customers tell me so.
Still I didn’t mind much. Marcus was soon out of the store on his way to who knows where and Calvin was his usual self, ending most of his sentences with a nervous laugh. A new guy started on Wednesday, Vince, who used to work part time at another cigar store in Manhattan until they decided to fire all the part timers.
So we took him on. He’s a nice dresser and so I felt compelled to step up my game. I dressed as impeccably as I could and according to Bill who stopped by later in the day, I looked great. ‘Bangin” he said, quoting those girls on the street from 15 years ago.
The day ended with Vince and myself closing the shop, Calvin leaving around 8:30. I sent Vince on his way at 10:00 since he would have hung out talking while I manically closed the shop. I was out in 10 minutes.
Soon I was out in the night, in the cold, listening to the Smiths. Six songs in 18 minutes, 34 seconds. Made it in time to catch that 10:30 bus where I sat and read about Freddie Mercury and how he started Queen. Nice read.
Back to work tomorrow and Sunday. Off Monday which isn’t so bad, is it?
A day off. A cold day off. Slept really well, slept until 10:00. It felt great, like my body has adjusted itself to the time frame that I am used to. I intended to get up earlier, but things being what they are, and it being so cold out, sleeping in seemed the way to go.
After I had gotten up I had some coffee before running out to the supermarket. Got a few items, picked up some dry cleaning and then came home and had a nice breakfast. I was soon headed out the door, on the way to the Path train.
I stopped by the Guitar Bar where I picked up some slippers Annemarie had sent (‘quite nice and comfortable’ he wrote while typing).
A customer, or rather some one who hangs out at the cigar shop, is a photographer by the name of Ray Bangs. He had some photographs hanging in a store in Soho and today was supposed to be the last date for their exhibition. I decided to check it out and made my way down to Soho after getting off the Path train at Ninth Street.
It was blustery as I walked through Washington Square, down LaGuardia Place to West Broadway. There weren’t that many people out, possibly because it was chilly, possibly because the stores in Soho are quite pricey. It hasn’t been the fun place to visit like it was 25 years ago.
I loved going gallery hopping in Soho back in the day, now it’s all high end shops and very little art. I walked over to Greene Street and found Ray Bangs photographs hanging in an Italian furniture shop. It was nice to see them hanging on the wall and I also thought the furniture was wonderful. All white, almost minimal.
I then walked around the corner and checked out the Morrison Hotel which is sort of a gallery for Rock and Roll photographs. It was OK, nothing I really hadn’t seen before. I walked over to Canal Street (where there is now a Sheraton Hotel?) and hopped on an uptown train.
I was headed to Chelsea and couldn’t make up my mind whether to get off at 14th Street or 23rd Street. I opted for 14th Street and walked over to 10th Avenue to 21st Street. I indulged myself in a little herbilization before checking out some art.
I enjoyed Mimi Smith’s show at the Anna Kustera gallery. I didn’t know of her work before but enjoyed the show a lot. Certainly a lot more than the Robert Rauschenberg show a few doors down at the Gagosian gallery.
That was my main reason to go to Chelsea and I was dismayed at the fact that photographs were not allowed. In fact I was tailed by a security guard to make sure I didn’t take any pictures. I walked in there thinking it would be a nice way to spend some time and take some pictures while warming up, but the atmosphere was so oppressive that after a brief walk through I headed back out into the cold, where it was warmer.
I did ask the girl at the front desk about the banning of photgraphy and she said it was because of copyright issues. I then asked if the copyright problem was from the estate of Robert Rauschenberg or the gallery, and she said it was the estate.
I walked up to 25th Street to check out some more galleries but didn’t find anything that knocked me out. I walked up to 33rd and 7th Avenue, to the Borders bookstore. There’s a Borders near where I work and a week or so ago I was in there, and saw a nice 3D poster of the Beatles n Yellow Submarine.
I thought about buying it for Alexander, but when I went to buy it the other day it was no longer in the store. A salesman helped me and told me that I could pick it up at a few Borders stores in Manhattan and 33rd Street and 7th Avenue was one that he mentioned.
I walked to where the posters were, and once again I couldn’t find the Yellow Submarine poster. I asked a salesman who was of no help at all. I was hoping to get the poster to Alexander before he and his mom, Stine flew off to Denmark this Saturday, but now it seems unlikely.
Right now I am on hold with Borders at Park Avenue and 57th Street, thought I would call before actually showing up. 5 minutes is my limit for being on hold, so I hung up. I called again and spoke to a young man who said they had it and he would leave it for me at the register downstairs, so I wouldn’t have to go upstairs.
I’m glad to be home, nice and toasty in my new slippers. Bill is at his company’s holiday party. Bill will have his one Guinness and dance up a storm. I get to be the one who gives him a great big hug and kiss when he gets home.
Not much happened today and it was good. I’m tired, getting up early and all that doesn’t work well for me. I really don’t have much to write about and since today is the dreadful anniversary of John Lennon’s murder I thought I would republish an entry from 5 6 years ago. It’s a little all over the place but it is from the heart.
Old Dirt Road
Thursday, December 8th, 2005
I used to belong to a bowling league in 1980. Monday nights I’d bowl with the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich teams. I surprisingly was the captain of one. I had my own ball, shoes, and bag. The whole kit and kaboodle, wrist guard etc. I was all pretty much straight edge, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke weed. Smoked the butts though, but 25 years ago, a lot of other people did too.
I think I had a bowling average of about 142. That decreased when I started drinking and drugging. The fun increased, the sportsmanship didn’t. But that was a year or so later. I had some pretty good friends on the scene, Bill Wrice, Derry Pedovitch, John Carroll, Ida Sammartino. Ida was as old as my mother. This was her activity to get out of the house on her own. My mother did that at some point. I used to go with her and my brother, Brian on those Monday nights.
Mom and Brian eventually stopped bowling for HBJ. Mom stopped totally, and Brian bowled for the place where he was working then. I would play with various other kids while Mom and Brian bowled, that was around 1974. Elton was super big and John Lennon had a hit single with ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’ featuring Elton on piano and vocals.
So 6 years later, I’m bowling at Parkway Lanes in Elmwood Park. My friend Derry and I had an extracurricular job with HBJ. We had to clear out a warehouse in Moonachie. When we were going back to Saddle Brook after a days clearing out, we had the radio on, and John Lennon’s first single in 5 years had just came out. Derry and I were big Beatle fans. He liked Paul, I leaned towards John. I liked the name. We were excited because we heard that Cheap Trick was backing him up on his new record and that would probably sound amazing.
What we heard was not Cheap Trick. Not much of an edge. I liked it, but most of the other music that I had been listening to was edgy, and I expected the edgy John Lennon of the Beatles. Or even of the 70’s. But it was a new decade, and he had a new voice and I loved him even more for it.
I grew up in a house of music. My parents and my brothers and sister all loved music. I credit Frank, Annemarie and Brian for turning me onto some really cool things that bring memories in a cascading wave. Frank and Annemarie were more aware of things when the Beatles conquered the States. Brian was seven, and I was two- preoccupied with shoving objects up my nose.
One of my earliest musical memories is of being freaked out by the ending of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. I remember Frank playing the single to me in his room and then when the psychedelic ending came up, he turned out the lights. Freaked me the fuck out.
Eventually the 1970’s happened. I was growing up and finding my own kind of music. Elton, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Dickie Goodman, Curtis Mayfield, Carly Simon. The Beatles were working into my DNA. I liked the solo stuff. Paul’s ‘Band on the Run’ was the first album I ever bought with my own money. Couldn’t wrap my head around John’s records, but I dug his singles. 1973 is summed up for me by George’s ‘Give Me Love’ and Ringo’s ‘You’re Sixteen’, being driven to Lodi Summer Recreation by Sharon Iwanicki in her orange Volkswagen beetle.
In 1976 my brother Frank told me he was going to take me to see the fireworks for the Fourth of July on the Hudson River. The original plan was for my father to take all of us to the World Trade Center and see them from his office, but he heard the city would be overrun with gangs from out of ‘The Warriors’ or ‘Escape from New York’, or worse yet, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
So we celebrated the Bicentennial in Lodi. Frank and Elaine were going to Fort Lee. Turns out it was an adult party and I wasn’t allowed to go. So I went with Brian and his friend Eddie Austeri and tried watching the fireworks through the back window of Brian’s car on River Road in Cliffside Park. Not much to see there, move on in bumper to bumper traffic.
The next day, Frank, (fried and hung over Frank), felt guilty and gave me a copy of ‘Abbey Road’. The doors were open again and I was enchanted. From ‘Come Together’ to ‘Her Majesty’ I was reborn as a Beatles fan. Both Frank and Annemarie had some records that they hadn’t played in a long time that I eventually incorporated into my record collection.
I started buying anything Beatles I could get my hands on that Frank and Annemarie didn’t have. I also found some old prints of the Beatles from 1964. My room was starting to become a shrine to the Fabs. I collected magazines, books, the solo records, posters. When I started working, I started a serious collection of records, not just Beatles mind you, Punk and New Wave was happening and new fantastic things were coming out every week.
Though I subscribed to the Punk ethos of everything old sucked, the Beatles were untouchable in that respect. John had retired by then though and after 1975 he took a well deserved break. I tried keeping in touch with him though.
For his Birthday, I’d send a card. Addressed as
New York City, N.Y.
And I’d always put a return address in the proper place so I would get it back if it wasn’t delivered. I never got any back. I would write and wish him a Happy Birthday or a Merry Christmas and let him know that if he was ever in Lodi, he could always stop by and hang out if he wanted to.
But I guess he was busy with the washing and the kid and all. He might have preferred Rochelle Park.
Derry and I eventually found out that it wasn’t Cheap Trick backing John on the single. We found out when we bought ‘Double Fantasy’. No mention of Rick Nielsen or Bun E. Carlos. I remember when I was shanghaied to the Mudd Club in November 1980 I heard the B-side to ‘Starting Over’, Yoko’s ‘Kiss Kiss Kiss’. So that’s where the edge was. In Yoko’s stuff. I never had a problem with Yoko. I saw her sing ‘Who Has Seen the Wind’ on the Mike Douglas Show and thought she was great.
I had gone to midnight showings of ‘Let It Be’ and whenever Yoko was on screen, people would hiss. I didn’t. I loved John and if he was happy with Yoko, then so was I. I was probably one of the dozens of people that played ‘Double Fantasy’ from start to finish. It was a good album, but nowhere near Talking Heads ‘Remain In Light’ or the B-52’s ‘Wild Planet’.
After bowling that Monday night in December, on my way home, I stopped off at the 711 and bought a copy of Playboy Magazine. Major interview with John and Yoko inside. I heard there were pictures of naked women in the magazine, but I don’t recall seeing any.
I got home and settled into my room while my parents were downstairs watching Monday Night Football.
I was laying on my bed, actually reading Playboy when my mother yelled upstairs, that Howard Cosell said that John Lennon was shot in New York. I figured, he had a gun and was cleaning it and shot himself in the foot. The Beatles still grabbed headlines, even caused Howard Cosell to say that John Lennon was shot cleaning his gun.
I didn’t really worry about it. I figured he lost his little piggy. I continued reading Playboy, reading John’s words.
My mother yelled upstairs a little while later. “Howard Cosell just said that John Lennon’s dead”. No way. Impossible. It’s not in my script. No, he’s going to live to be an old man. I will see him in concert. I will perhaps meet him. Perhaps he’ll show up in Lodi. Hey it could happen. Anything could happen. Anything but this.
This was wrong. I turned on the radio. Vin Scelsa was on, talking, and sounded like he was crying. What the fuck? People were calling in, crying. Beatles songs were playing. Lennon songs were playing. I sat next to the radio for a few hours waiting to hear that it was all a hoax. I was shaken, but still harbored the belief that it was for publicity.
Oh that crazy John and Yoko. What will they do next?
I woke up a few hours later and got ready for work. My mother listened to WNEW 1130AM. They played the songs she liked mainly, Sinatra, Mel Torme, Peggy Lee, Andy Williams. Today they were playing the Beatles. The newspapers were on the table, nasty headlines. John Lennon Shot. Pass the sugar.
I was gutted. Shock. I somehow got to work, but could barely function. I was driving a forklift then, picking orders. I preferred that to College. But I kept breaking down, having crying jags.
Little did I know that this would be the first of several truly horrible moments that would occur in my life.
I couldn’t stop crying. The dream of a Beatles reunion was dashed forever, but I just felt so bad for Yoko and Sean. A brutal murder on your own doorstep. I shut myself off from the world and just kept playing the Fabs and Lennon over and over.
A day or so later, my brother Frank was coming over for dinner. I heard him come in and started walking downstairs to see him. He looked up at me and asked how I was doing. Bam! Instant crying, all over again. My brother Brian had gotten quite tired of it and let into Frank for bringing up John Lennon’s death again. Like it was never going to be mentioned again.
The following Sunday, six days after John’s murder there was a vigil in Central Park by the band shell. Me and a few friends (Derry Pedovitch, Annie Carroll, Bill Wrice) caught the bus to the city and trekked up to the park. There were thousands of people. We walked by the Dakota and then into the park. There was a long moment of silence ended by the playing of ‘All You Need is Love’. Or maybe it was ‘Imagine’. I’m putting my money on the former.
The crowd dispersed, we straggled back to the Port Authority, to the bus and to our cars. I continued listening to Beatles/Lennon stuff for quite a few weeks.
In February 1981, Derry and I went to the Meadowlands Hilton for the Beatle-Fest. That was scary. Hundreds of people whose lives revolved around the Beatles. People that listen to the Beatles more than the Beatles did. “Let’s give a big cheer for John Lennon” Hurrah. Too corny for me. I, at least listened to other music. I loved the Beatles but I loved other things too. I think my grieving period ended that weekend.
I did become more active about Gun Control, and John’s message of love and peace is still needed today. I do miss John. I miss George too, and I miss a lot of people and I am grateful for the ones that are still here and aren’t hiding.
And it was back to work again. Had to open the store so that meant early t bed and early to rise. Not so happy, relatively healthy and my being wise is debatable as it ever was. Actually I am pretty happy. Things could be better but overall I am happy, and happiest when I am with Bill.
And Bill is nearby right now, doing his thing as I am doing mine. His is theater and mine is not. At least not yet. Or is it all theater? I know I tend to wallow in drama and I’m sure the Bala Cynwyd occupants are prone to agree.
Waking up at 7:00 was a chore this morning. I know, most of you get up around that time, or perhaps even earlier. Not me lately. Been sleeping until 9:00 then hustling to get out at 11:00. This morning was not that at all. And it was cold too.
Been bitter cold lately and doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. I got on a cozy coach bus which by the time it reached 14th Street it had filled up considerably. A quick ride uptown and soon I was at the cigar shop, 20 minutes early. I didn’t mind, no one else was in yet.
I did a lot of work before I even punched in and soon Marcus was in as well. It was odd since I hadn’t worked alongside Marcus in a few months, but it was manageable. Since he is the head honcho it was easy to defer to his judgment with regards to different matters. ‘Marcus said this, Marcus said that’ was a refrain I repeated a few times throughout the day, and most everyone would shut up after that.
And by most everyone, I mean Calvin and the Bradley who came in just before Marcus headed out for the day. It wasn’t that bad a day, except for the hours that is. Harpy even made an appearance, blessing me with a burn of mash ups with a holiday theme, Rudolph (you don’t have to put on the red light), to the tune of Roxanne by the Police.
It’s pretty good though it is not 100% safe to play at the cigar shop. I tried to buy a nice little 3D poster I saw for sale a week ago at a nearby store, The Beatles in Yellow Submarine that I was going to buy for Alexander, but unfortunately it was sold out. I may hit a similar store on Thursday when I am off.
Or maybe even tomorrow night when I get out of work early. Earlier than 10:30.
Right now I am wearing a sweater and track pants, socks and worn out slippers and listening to Double Fantasy Stripped Down by John & Yoko. Hopefully sleep won’t be a problem tonight and hopefully waking up won’t be a problem tomorrow morning.
The schedule is playing havoc with my body clock, but I guess I’ll be able to reset it on Thursday, my next day off.
Well today would have been the day I started the new job. I was supposed to be training for a week during the day, then I suppose next week I would switch over to the 5:30PM – 1:00AM shift. We all know how that turned out don’t we? The home office in Bala Cynwyd undoubtedly chuckles at the outcome.
Instead I had a day off. And it was a day off where I got somethings done and other things were postponed. I stayed up last night and watched a crap movie, Legion. I’m an occasional sucker for biblical apocalypse stories. They’re almost always bad and this was no exception.
Like the night before I was physically tired but mentally awake. But unlike the night before I was able to fall asleep rather quickly rather than tossing and turning and then getting out of bed for a melatonin tablet. Bill was fast asleep of course by the time I hit the hay.
I woke up hours later when Bill was getting ready to go to work and while his was in the other room, his alarm went off a few feet away from my ears. Somehow I managed to switch it off without smashing it to bits. A few minutes later, Bill was kissing me goodbye for the day as I lay there trying to get back to sleep.
It was relatively successful as I eventually got out of bed around 10:00, later than I anticipated. I shuffled about, made some coffee and showered. After a cup of coffee I decided to head out. I walked up to Washington Street and got some bagels and the paper, then headed over to the bibliothèque to pick up some things that were on hold.
I forgot the Patti Smith book at home and figured I would drop it off later in the day or tomorrow. I picked up The Dead, a movie on DVD directed by John Huston, starring Angelica Huston, based on a James Joyce short story in his book, Dubliners.
After the bibliothèque, it was off to the supermarket. A visit to the dry cleaners was not needed since the shirts I dropped off, were picked up and paid for by Bill. He loves taking care of me. It’s quite a nice position to be in. I came home, had some breakfast and watched The Dead. It was as I expected, a very good DVD, and I believe it was John Huston’s last movie.
I also packed up and left at the curb several empty boxes of cigars. I accumulated quite a bit and was only hanging onto them in anticipation of a gate sale. That usually occurs in the warmer months and since we’re starting the colder months, rather that keep them stacked up it was time to get them out.
All in all I left the apartment twice. It was too cold to do much of anything and I was content to stay in. It’s not like my phone was ringing off the hook anyhow. I didn’t have any plans. Now I am full of distraction, Jeopardy is on TV, Scritti Politti is playing on YouTube, I’m writing this.
I’m content but a bit anxious about going back to work tomorrow. No particular reason but this is how insidious the retail experience is. It really takes a lot out of you. Of course it helps if the people or badgers you are working with get along with you. If not, then it’s perfectly arduous.
Tomorrow and Wednesday I am opening up, then it’s off Thursday and back to the late schedule the days following. It’s quite a drag but I’ll get through it and start a new search in January.
Back after a 10 hour shift. It’s 11:11 right now. Been home about 15 minutes. Just have to get through one more day then I can have a break, a day off. Today was a long day. I was up around 9:00 this morning and had to thank Bill for going to the supermarket last night and picking up some 2% milk for my coffee and cereal. Made life a little bit easier and cooler.
Soon after that, I was at the bus stop with Bill waiting for the 11:15 126 bus into Manhattan. I learned my lesson last week after the 11:30 bus did not show up. Tomorrow I have to catch the 8:00 bus since there is no 8:30 bus and I have to open the shop at 9:30, thanks to the magic of Calvin’s management skills and schedule making.
Today I worked with Sean and the Bradley and let’s face it- the Bradley is an incredible asshole. We have very little in common and since Don who served as a bridge of sorts between is no longer working at the cigar shop the bridge is over.
He’s a terrible phony and I only communicate with him when I have to. He doesn’t pick up after himself and rarely, if ever, cleans up the backroom. He’ll sit in the tiny pantry on a folding chair eating his lunch and not put the folding chair away and doesn’t throw out his trash.
In warmer times between the 2 of us, we had once discussed Xanax. His prescription is a stronger dose than mine and he recommended snorting the Xanax, like Nurse Jackie. I don’t do that and I won’t do that. Xanax chills me out considerably and doesn’t seem to have that effect on the Bradley.
He’s quite hyper, banging away on the counter top like he’s playing congas. I have to wonder, why did he leave South Carolina to take a job at a cigar shop in midtown Manhattan? Did someone or something make him leave? A Crystal Meth habit perhaps?
Yes I know it’s all speculation, but it’s a fun speculation.
I let the Bradley handle the music for the store since I am tired of customers complaining about some of the music choices I play. The other day I played some of Phil Spector’s Christmas album as well as The Roches’ We Three Kings. The Roches made me think of happier times for all at Farfetched.
Some of the customers complained about too much Christmas music. And that even includes the Mix Mas CD that Harpy burned for me a few years ago. So instead of all that, we heard Sheryl Crow, which is really not my cup of tea.
After the customers left the backroom tonight I played Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Yes, I’ve forgiven Reg. No one was around to complain and if they did I really wouldn’t care.
The Bradley left, a bit freaked out over his drawer being short $3.00. He brushed aside my suggestion that he could take the money from petty cash to maintain the balance and asked which drawer I would use to open tomorrow morning. Since his register was short $3.00, I figured I would use the same drawer I used today.
Now Saturday Night Live is starting and I am tired and really not typing all that well tonight. Oh well. No posting tomorrow, unless there is something worthwhile to post and I’m really hoping there isn’t. I’m working with Sean and the Bradley again so who knows?
I made it to Friday. True, my week sort of started on Tuesday but it was an accomplishment for me. Two more days, Saturday and Sunday and then a day off on Monday. It’s not much but I have to take what I can get.
It’s now 11:19PM and I got home about 20 minutes ago. I wasn’t sure if I would make it home, after hustling down the avenue and climbing the stairs, deciding to forgo the escalator since most people at this time of night just dawdle all over the place, not making room for people like me who are trying to make a bus on time.
As I ascended the staircase, you can imagine my surprise when I saw the length of the line for the 126 bus to Hoboken. I called Bill thinking he was waiting up for me to come home and greet me with a big hug. He reassured me that there would be a bus soon after and if I can’t make the bus I was waiting for, he would wait up for me anyway.
As luck would have it, I was able to not only board the bus, but also able to find a seat. I am almost done with Patti Smith’s Just Kids, her memoir of living in New York City in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. She just finished her affair with Sam Shepard, and Robert Mapplethorpe just discovered photography. It’s really an enjoyable book, highly recommended.
This morning as I waited for the bus, I got a call from Pedro who expressed surprise at the fact that I was still alive. We used to talk at least once a month, but lately with my situations and him now a union delegate we hardly talk anymore.
It was a fun talk for a few minutes, only shallow things said since he was on his way to work. After that phone call another call, from 212-123-4567. Yes, that’s the number that came up. It was one of the recruiters, calling to make sure I knew that I didn’t get the job, the one I was supposed to start this upcoming Monday.
I expressed my regrets at what I had done and she was understanding, offering to help me get a job once I send her a legitimate resume.
An uneventful bus ride into the city and a train ride uptown. Got to the store and already the backroom was filled with cigar smoking men. It was Calvin and the Bradley today and I was aloof. I only spoke with the Bradley when I had to and I made sure I almost never had to.
Some of the customers have said to me that they don’t like the Bradley very much, if at all and I can see why. He’s just annoying and basically an idiot. He used to ask Don where he could find some good graffiti and Don didn’t know. I know where, but since he never asked me it will remain the great unknown.
Maybe his annoying personality is from his moving up from the Carolina’s to work in a cigar shop, after working 12 years in a cigar shop down there.
One of the customers decided to have food delivered for the store and like a group of peasants getting free milk, they descended on the offerings. Calvin said I could fix myself a plate but I had a big lunch and wasn’t hungry much.
Still under Calvin’s eye I filled a container with pasta and put it in my bag. As I cleaned up I took the rest of the food and put it in other containers to bring home.
But the food wasn’t going to make it home as I gave it to a couple of people going through the trash on my way to the bus terminal.
It’s been quite a tumultuous day. The lie that I sent out, the fabrication on my resume finally came back to me and I had to admit it. The former president of the last job sent in a glowing letter of recommendation but stated the discrepancy in the start date.
That is what came back to me. I can’t fault the former president for not lying on my behalf, he had too much at stake and I understand that 100%. The woman at the company I interviewed with got in touch with the recruiter who had gotten back to me.
I couldn’t lie. I did ask Bill what to do and he told me what I already knew. Tell the truth. I called up the recruiter and explained that I was tired of answering questions about the 9 months I worked at McMann and Tate and decided to omit it from the resume.
It wasn’t a malicious lie but I misrepresented myself and who would hire anyone who misrepresents themselves? The recruiter did offer some hope, thinking that now that I came clean maybe that would be alright, but the company more than likely had enough of my chicanery.
A little while later, the recruiter called and left a voice mail. The job offer was rescinded. I didn’t feel any relief now that the lie was dead. I felt bad for the recruiters who no doubt were looking forward to the commission they would have gotten for placing me at the new job.
I felt really bad when I thought of Bill and the photo he sent, him beaming and so happy that I landed this gig. I felt like a heel though, like I let a lot of people down. People that believe in me, who offered words of support and congratulations on Facebook.
But ultimately I let myself down. I am now resolved not to lie anymore on the resume. Next month, in the new year, a more honest resume will go out including the time spent at McMann and Tate.
Who cares if I have to answer questions about why I left a branding consultancy in Soho? An explanation is a small price to pay.
Bill once again comes through with flying colors, so supportive and understanding and once again stating that he has my back. He also has my heart but that goes unsaid.
Perhaps there will be a better job, some Monday through Friday job that will get me out of the retail grind of the cigar shop. And at least, I still have that. Just have to get through the month and into the new year. It can be done, I’ve done it before.
With all this going on, I do feel lucky. Lucky enough to have a good man by my side, family and friends that care and are always willing to help me up when I stumble.
I wanted to be out of the cigar shop by the holiday season, but here I am at the cigar shop in the holiday season. You know what? It’s not the end of the world. I will survive. What’s done is done. The past has passed. I’ve got to keep on keepin’ on.