Monthly Archives: December 2011

I Get It In 50 Cent

Having the time off from the cigar shack is quite nice. I haven’t been doiong anything extraordinary, just keeping it burning at a low flame. It works for me. Bill has been stupendous of course. Always there, always supportive and always ready to take the wheel when it needs to be taken. I suppose that could be why he enjoys being a bus driver, a big wheel to steer and Bill is happy.

We’ve been watching movies lately. Last night we watched Snatch which he had never seen before. He does like the British gangster thing and definitely made the connection between Snatch and Pulp Fiction which it so deftly resembles. Bill went to bed after that and I stayed up watching something on cable, definitely unmemorable.

Bill was up and out around 8:00 this morning and I lay in bed trying to avoid the sun streaming through the blinds. A passionate kiss and a strongly worded declaration of love was said before he headed out the door. I got out of bed a little bit earlier than the past few days and made some coffee before stepping into the shower.

After reading emails and updates I headed to the supermarket where I saw the mighty Isis once again. It was the last time for the year. She couldn’t wait until 4:15 when she gets off of work and here it was around 10:30, with a ways to go. I headed home and had a nice breakfast and read the paper which is something that gets rarer and rarer these days.

I once again headed into the city a while after that. I needed a new calendar and figured Barnes & Noble would be the way to go since I still had a Barnes & Noble gift card to use. Alas, the calendar pickings were nearly nonexistent unless I wanted a Dilbert or a Jack Russell terrier calendar. Still I wandered around a bit and mainly looked at books that I had taken out of the library.

It was certainly a nicer day weather wise, than yesterday and I had a cigar as I walked up Park Avenue South. Covering all bases, yesterday was Park Avenue itself and today was Park Avenue South. I eventually walked up to the bus terminal where there was another line like the day before.

I was a little bit earlier today so I was more up in the line, meaning that I was able to get on the bus unlike yesterday where I was turned away. Still, I had to stand for the ride back to Hoboken but I didn’t mind. I made it back home safe and sound, cleaned the apartment a bit and had a nice dinner.

That’s about it. It has been quite a mellow day and the evening promises to continue in such a manner. I did check my work email and saw the latest schedule, making sure I didn’t read any other email about so & so leaving the cigar shack corporation with an ‘Auf Wiedersehen’. Not sure if I will write tomorrow so I will wish you all the best wishes for the new year.

02 These Days Nico

I Get It

There are times when you just have to put down the smartphone and this is that time. I have been trying to get my smartphone to work properly, chatting with Vanessa at Samsung. We used the last resort. Resetting my phone to factory defaults.

That meant I lost everything, photos, phone numbers, apps and whatnot. And Scrabble. And Netflix. I had two Scrabble games going for the past couple of weeks, won one by forfeit and lost another. It had been years since I last played Scrabble and I wasn’t as ferocious as I used to be. My ass, it was kicked. And I had taken to watching A Hard Day’s Night on Netflix occasionally on my bus ride into the city.

Still by linking my Facebook with my smartphone I was able to get something resembling my contact list again. Some names and numbers are lost, so if you do not hear from me anytime soon, you might want to give me a call. I am drawn to the little handheld device. It occupies my mind and demands my attention. Perhaps it is a waste of time.

Today I was up and about and headed into Manhattan to see the Vivian Maier exhibition at the Howard Greenberg Gallery on east 57th Street. I trooped on in in the 20 something degree weather, sat on a crowded bus, next to the wheel well. I decided not to sit directly on top on the wheel well, sitting on the aisle. Still, I held my bag in my lap should anyone want to sit next to me. No one did so I rode into the city in relative comfort while people stood all around me.

I marched up Eighth Avenue and walked over to the Smoke Scene where I could pick up a pack of roll ups as well as some papers. As I was leaving I was telling the guys behind the counter that I work for the cigar shack and we frequently send them customers since we don’t sell cigarettes.

They were just about to thank me when I heard the sound of a certain security guard with snot running down his face. This guy is a cantankerous old fool who thinks he is funny but really is just overwhelmingly bitter. And here he was covered in mucous trying to be funny once again.

At the cigar shack, Thomas wouldn’t have anything to do with this guard since he overheard him screaming into his phone about how he was going to do his woman in. I walked out of the store, wishing the guys a happy new year and telling the security guard to buy some tissues and wipe his face which would be crusty when he headed out into the cold air. Not that I cared.

I walked on over to 57th and Madison and took the elevator to the fourteenth floor. It was a revelation to see the photographs of Vivian Maier. So many similarities between her photos and the photos I’ve been taking the past few years. Of course I have the ability to post them here on this blog as well as Facebook, whereas Vivian Maier did not have that option.

I wandered around, looking at the 50 or so photographs on the wall and wondered if it was possible to be influenced by someone whose work I had never heard of or seen before. It was a brief visit and I headed out into the cold. I lit a La Flor Dominicana Air Bender and walked down Park Avenue, taking pictures as I was doing on my way to the exhibition.

An homage or perhaps a continuation of the photographs of Vivian Maier. I stopped by Bill’s building and he came down for a quick chat and kiss before heading to the bus terminal where I waited on a very long line.

I didn’t mind, I stood and read Will Hermes ‘Love Goes To Buildings on Fire’ which is a fun book about NYC music in the 1970’s from the Bronx to the Bowery with all stops in between. Recommended!

03 Photograph

I Get Around

Well just because it is a day off, doesn’t mean it’s going to be all peaches and cream. It started last night, really bad shit. Shit so personal and involved that I won’t get into here but I will tweak your curiosity. And no worries, none of you will ever find out what it is, even if you phone me I won’t tell.

I won’t know how it turns out for another week but it was stressful. Stressful enough that Bill had to take over since I was at wit’s end. He basically became me for an hour on the phone, talking to various supervisors and underlings. With his cool head and my frayed nerves it was all for the best and we arrived at a somewhat satisfactory conclusion though like I said, it won’t be known for at least another week.

Basically, be very very careful with online transactions. I like to think if myself as somewhat computer savvy, but I obviously tripped. And not tripped in the fun way of psilocybin or LSD or even Ecstasy, three methods of which I am well acquainted. But it’s all better now (he cautiously wrote with fingers crossed).

Today was another day spent sleeping in. I mainly stayed in today and surfed the net, readins updates and postings on Facebook. Not much worth watching on Turner Classic Movies as far as I could tell though I didn’t really look past a Dr. Kildare marathon to see what was on after those melodramas. Apparently it goes on until 8:00 when the Paleface with Bob Hope and Jane Russell comes on.

I still have some other movies to watch so I might just do that. I am slowly getting used to watching movies on the computer. Last night on TCM Bill & I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind which he had never seen from start to finish. I am not sure if he watched the whole movie last night since he was also doing stuff on his computer.

But he was impressed by what he saw, despite the fact that the storm was wreaking havoc with the cable broadcast, with the screen dropping out for a few minutes every so often. When the storm died down the broadcast improved. We also watched part of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes and I can understand how some friends said ‘enough with the CGI’.

True it’s loaded with CGI, and Andy Serkis does a commendable job of wearing the green suit once again, but I had no real problem with it and it did thrill the 12 year old boy inside of me. Bill went to bed before the finale and after that I stayed up watching something on TV before turning in at my usual time.

And so I slept late once again, getting out of bed at the time I am usually about to head out to the bus stop. A tentative plan was underfoot, me hanging out with my niece Corinne for a bit this afternoon. And as an added bonus, my niece Cassie was joining us. A few hours with my favorite nieces who’s name starts with a ‘C’.

It was an eye opening chat as we sat at the local diner eating a late lunch. I was certainly surprised and certainly supportive and told one of my nieces that if she ever needed to talk I would be available to her 24/7 and Bill will be as well. Now it’s another night at home. Bill and I received our invitations to Rand & Lisa’s New Year’s Eve thing. Of course we’re going, it would be foolish not to.

2-13 September Girls

I Get A Kick Out Of You

It’s a day off today, the first of a few. I am grateful for the time off, had to arrange a few things to get the time off as well as using the rest of my vacation days. It was not so bad working at the cigar shack yesterday and it’s not so bad to have the time off either.

Of course my body clock is a bit screwed up, I just had dinner (or lunch) and it’s not even 5:30. I slept quite well last night, and slept for a long time, waking up much later than I am used to. Once again as I lay there in bed, Bill leaned over to kiss me good bye for the day as well as offering words of encouragement before he headed out to work. I merely rolled over after telling him to be careful.

Eventually I did get out of bed and made some coffee before jumping into the shower. After a cuppa I headed out to the supermarket where I wandered the aisles and ran into Clara Suarez whom I used to work with in the last century..

She was getting things together for her son’s birthday party, a sleepover. She was dreading it, having a few 7 year old boys running amok in her house on Willow Terrace. As she debated whether or not to buy the bag of bagels in the supermarket or to head to the bagel shop, I wished her a happy new year as well as luck regarding a room full of 7 year old boys.

I made my way home and thought about, my plans for the day. It being the last Tuesday of the month I considered going to the Eagle for cigar night. I had done it previously this year and saw some closeted customers of the cigar shack there and figured since I had nothing else to do, it might be a fun night out, if only for an hour or two.

When I came home I checked the weather report and saw that it promised to rain with 50 mile per hour winds to accompany the rain this evening. Now if the Eagle was closer to the subway or the Path train I might have headed in but my once open mind was made up. I would more than likely be better off staying home. Plus since the cigar smoking is on the rooftop deck, with the 50 mph winds expected the whole evening might be closed.

So it looks like I will be staying home. It’s fine with me, plus I’ve been watching old movies on Turner Classics today, starting with Casablanca, I just finished Witness for the Prosecution. It turned out I had seen the last 15 minutes of Witness for the Prosecution in the 1980’s and I did forget about it, but I did remember how an announcer said to not reveal the ending for anyone lest the ending is spoiled. So now Touch of Evil is on, a movie I tried watching years ago but could not get into it.

The storm rages, the wind is hitting the windows and I am pretty cozy and comfy having just eaten my specialty dish, pasta, pesto and chicken. Bill is on his way home I think so tonight we will probably watch some more movies. I am not sure if he had ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but it is the 8:00 movie on TCM.

There are a few movies I also have on DVD, one of them I watched the other night, The Music Never Stopped. A decent movie if not flawed. Its heart was in the right place but it couldn’t help but be a second rate movie all around. It did remind me of how sometimes stroke victims or people with brain ailments respond to music, and of course it was inspired by Oliver Sacks who is one of my favorite authors/doctors.

19 Blue Red and Gray

I Gave You My Heart (Didn’t I)

And it’s back at the cigar shack today. Christmas Eve came as a crawl, busy enough but not many customers as previous nights. A lot of people do their shopping after work and like me, once they are out of the city it takes a lot to have them come in again, especially for shopping.

So there was a considerable drop off in numbers but nothing worth crying over. I did quite well by the way. After the cigar shack closed, Zack and Jerry Vale sat in the man cave and two former employees came in for some scotch and cigars. I thought Bill would be outside when I finished but when I called him, he was still in Hoboken so that allowed me to have a cigar and a glass of scotch with this rogue’s gallery.

I did some organizing of the photographs and put them all in decent gift bags before heading out where I met Bill waiting for me. We drove up the West Side Highway to the George Washington Bridge, both of us exchanging stories- Bill having driven to Philly and back from Atlantic City and me weary from eleven hour days.

I didn’t know it, but the ride from the cigar shack to my brother’s house was probably the highlight of the night. We got there and everything seemed to be alright but of course just below the surface there was drama. This one was upset with that one who made noises about heading back to Connecticut. And when the rest of the family showed up the stress intensified.

I seem to always forget that my brother is not who he used to be and tends to get heated quite quickly. And of course he did, berating my other brother and I for not visiting the grave of our parents and maintaining it. Yes it was bullshit and yes it was Christmas Eve. And arguing with my brothers about British rock guitarists wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. Tiresome really.

Other than that, it was good to see the nieces and nephews, I don’t see them that often. They’re good kids. Bill and I rode home listening to the Beatles Christmas Messages which we were entertained by. And once we got home we exchanged presents, Bill got me a very nice external hard drive for my computer and I got him a nice glass topped box for his cuff links as well as engraved collar stays, upon which were phrases that Bill and I say to each other every day.
He loved them and I was happy.

Now at the cigar shack, there is a little over an hour to get through, Thomas being a stand up gent once again is closing. I get to catch a train about 10 minutes earlier than I usually would. Still I will take what I could get.

Now Thomas and Jerry Vale are discussing the career of Rod Stewart. Jerry Vale keeps mentioning the Small Faces when he really means the Faces. Big (or small) difference. It’s all the same to Thomas.

I remarked that I sometimes listen to the music my parents listen to and then Thomas remarked that both Jerry Vale and I are old enough to be his parents.

Ouch! He was right.

03 Dance This Mess Around

I Found Out

s sama m14 si suarez en zara en g. That is what my smartphone microphone interprets what I say. Quite strange, I think it is having a stroke. It’s been a long day following a night of very little sleep. I could not shut my brain off and all I could do was think about the cigar shack. Most disturbing. I reckon I got about two hours of sleep.

And of course since Zack made a request that I certainly could not turn down, I had to be in the cigar shack and hour earlier than usual. And there is the fact that I have to open the cigar shack tomorrow. Bad planning once again. Today has been hectic though of course the numbers are quite good. Zack should be happy as well as the corporate overlords hidden somewhere in the Alps.

Now there are 12 minutes left, Jerry Vale is lurking about. I haven’t spoken to Jerry Vale in weeks, at least not personally since he had that meltdown about having to wait outside the cigar shack in relative comfort as I was making my way in 30 degree weather. I guess he doesn’t care that we don’t speak.

All I was hoping for was an apology but since it’s not forth coming I will just treat him like Marie Natale, a hobbit like creature from my old neighborhood, who would always keep your Spaulding if it went over the fence and landed in her yard. Right now I am not even sure if I will post this tonight since I am so tired and still have things to do, like get some more prints from CVS.

I should have used the CVS in Hoboken since the digital pics I sent this morning were ready this afternoon. Well I am home now. After lucking out and catching the 10:22 bus (they were late, in my favor) I was able to take the bus to the penultimate stop and go to CVS and pick up the photo prints I sent off this morning. If only I had done that on December 15. But that was then and now is here.

I closed the cigar shack with Jerry Vale and we had a little talk which cleared the air. He claims he wasn’t yelling at me that day, but rather yelling at Bradley. I just happened to be collateral damage I guess. These eleven hour shifts are killing everyone’s morale. Tonight was the last of the eleven hour shifts and tomorrow working an eight hour shift will seem like a half day.

Jerry Vale did apologize several times even though one time was all that was needed. We even hugged and he told me something quite nice, that I am special and well regarded by a lot of people. It was awfully nice to hear.

This afternoon when I went to the fast food joint to get some dinner, an elderly woman was on line, allowing people to go past her since she hadn’t made up her mind. As I passed her I told her that if she decided what she wanted she could go ahead of me. She hadn’t and I proceeded to the register.

She came up right behind me, and when she wasn’t looking I told the guy behind the counter that I would pay for her food. When the time came for her to pay, the guy told her that I had taken care of it. She was so happy and couldn’t thank me enough.

It wasn’t much money wise but apparently I made her holiday. She praised me for being such a handsome gentleman and all I could do was blush while holding back some tears. I was quite happy to do something nice like that, and for a moment the I felt in tune with the holiday spirit. It actually got me through the rest of the night. Well that and finally talking to Jerry Vale.

Not sure if I am writing tomorrow. It’s a holiday and there is a lot of running around scheduled. I hope you and yours have a happy and healthy holiday.

06 Tel Ol’ Bill [Alternate Version] 1

I Found A Love

Well it was back to work for me again today. Back to the cigar shack. Yesterday could have been better but what can you do? Being anti-social, I do not call any friends and I am somewhat relieved when they don’t call me as promised. No hard feelings.

Sean, the former co-worker from the cigar shack is trying to become a corrections officer and I told him I would try to get him in touch with Pedro. But Pedro doesn’t return my calls and Sean never called me like he said. Same thing with Mike C, when I saw him the other day doing volunteer work at the library he mentioned giving me a call, to go over to his place and hang out and listen to music.

No call, no worries. It’s nothing new, I don’t want to see anyone, I don’t want to hang out with anyone, and I don’t want to chat online with anyone most especially. I do not like the fact that my chat room window opens up on Facebook when I prefer it closed.

I don’t have the time to buy frames or photo albums for the pictures I had developed by CVS so I will mail them out next week when I do have the time. The left coast wing knows this already, the east coast wing will find out when I show up empty handed on Saturday night.

I thought I would make some nice gifts from some photos from over the years and I could swear last year when I did the same thing, it did not take that long for them to be shipped. I had them shipped to the CVS near the cigar shack instead of Hoboken so maybe that is the problem. In any event, nothing from this relative until next week.

There’s a picture of my sister in law Elaine with her daughters Meghan and Corinne and I am not sure if I gave them the same picture last year. Bill of course is so supportive and tells me they will see how much I care, how I captured the moment and presented it to them. Nice sentiment, but it doesn’t stop me from looking like a fool if they get the exact same photo that they got the year before.

And speaking of presents, totally out of the blue, the ultra kind and thoughtful Jimmy Seltzer bought me a present. He really did not have to and it was not expected but it should come in handy should I get drafted into the Swiss Army.

It’s been a very long day today and tomorrow promises to be just like today, another eleven hour day, Zack asked if I could come in at 11:30 instead of 12:30 and of course I could not say no. So tomorrow will be long and busy and of course Saturday will be even more insane. I will be closing tomorrow night and opening on Saturday morning.

For me, Christmas is just a day off. I’ll give myself some wiggle room and say that is at least how I feel right now. And I have all those wonderful tracks that Pandora picks out to listen to at work since the playlist of over 200 holiday songs seems to have fallen out of favor. What do I know? I only used to be a DJ. Let some computer faraway decide what to play. Sort of like Clear Channel Communications if you ask me.

You know what? I am not so fond of the holidays anymore, though it does give me an opportunity to see most of my family, if only for a few hours. And hey, I do have Sunday off.

Once again, Julio asked me out for one drink before he flies off to Denmark tomorrow and of course I had to turn him down. C’est la vie.

Nessun dorma

I Fought The Law The Clash

Well it’s another day off and whereas yesterday had been alright, a visit to the Guitar Bar, today is fraught with hurdles to leap. Nothing insurmountable but still it gets me down. A week or so I saw some nice, affordable items that I ordered for Bill online. An hour or so later I saw that I was double charged and so I contacted the company and they didn’t see it and suggested I call my bank.

I called the bank and asked them to look into it. They did and in doing so, promptly stopped my bank card from functioning. I did not know this until this morning when I tried to charge some groceries at the supermarket. The total was $5.36 and no I did not have the cash available on me, hence using the card. Rejected twice I used my emergency card and headed out of the market.

I tried calling my bank and waited for about 20 minutes on hold before a young man was able to help me. He saw I had claimed fraud where I only asked for an inquiry. I also explained to the young man that I was able to use the card several times since my initial call, only today it was rejected. After about five minutes he was able to activate my card again.

I was glad that that had been taken care of but still I am feeling the pressure. Maybe it’s the holidays- maybe it’s the ‘Sunday night syndrome’, being off today and headed back to work tomorrow. I am usually fine once at work but it’s the buildup that almost always gets me down. And today it’s all buildup.

Some good news though, the bonuses came in, and Sharon Burr was correct. The bonus was direct deposit and the usual payroll check which is always direct deposited, was not direct deposited. I was going to head into the city to pick it up but I just couldn’t bear to visit the cigar shack when I didn’t have to be there.

I sent Zack an email, telling him Bill would be picking up my check. I sent it at 12:43 this afternoon. Bill offered to pick it up for me and since my bank is open until 8:00 tonight I will run over there and deposit it. Over three hours later, no response from Zack. No “that will be alright if Bill picks up the check” and “No, absolutely not”. I’m sure it will be OK since Bill has more than likely picked it up or is en route and I expect to hear from him one way or another.

I just had a long phone call with my brother Frank. It was a good call, both of us in similar frames of mind. I have to be careful about saying how much alike our frames of mind are since if I am not careful it can turn into a pissing contest. “I am more depressed than you.” “No you’re not- I am angst ridden and quite morose” “Well I have 11 years of depression on you, so there!”

But it really wasn’t like that, it was a friendly commiserating. And of course dear old Dad entered the conversation, 12 years after shedding his mortal coil. I didn’t know that my grandfather on my father’s side was an immigrant. I had a feeling but I wasn’t sure. It certainly explains some things about my father’s personality, his upbringing and how he brought my brothers and sister and myself up, or rather brought us down.

Frank and I had to commiserate today since when we actually see each other on Christmas Eve there will be no time for such downbeat matters. Bill should be home in a few hours and I will help him up the four flights of stairs, with the heavy amplifier that was too heavy to bring upstairs after bringing up various other pieces of equipment and keyboards last night.

Hopefully he will tell me when he is on the bus so I can meet him, go to my bank, deposit the check and when we return home, could carry the heavy amplifier to the fifth floor. Well I made some dinner, some ziti with pesto and chicken. I took two bites when the smartphone chirped. It was Bill and he was at the Path terminal.

He had my check and I got myself together and headed out, catching a bus downtown so Bill wouldn’t have to wait too long. Then it was at the bank large bank, only one table where you can write your deposit or withdrawal slips, only room for two, I squeezed in to make it three. Then it was back home and as we walked I felt compelled to hold Bill’s hand as we walked up the boulevard.

In case of trouble I had my keys in my fist in my pocket. It is a political act, our showing of affection and I wanted to be prepared. We walked home as the Jehovah’s Witnesses were heading to their meeting. Some averted glances as we strolled, then it was carrying the very heavy amplifier up four flights to the fifth floor.

At least my food was still warm enough to eat and I did.

Christmas Blues

I Fought The Law the Bobby Fuller Four

It’s a day off after four days of eleven hour shifts and it’s a welcome day off. Last night when I came home my legs felt like lead and I wasn’t that communicative walking through the door. Bill was understanding and sympathetic and gave me my space as I wordlessly got out of my suit and tie and into something a little more comfortable like track pants and a sweat shirt.

I sat at the computer much like I am now and added the pics and whatnot to last night’s entry. After a little while Bill went to bed after a generous hug and kiss while I stayed up watching whatever it was that I was watching. I slept really well and once again woke up to Bill kissing me good bye for the day. I am so grateful that Bill is my spouse, forever in my life.

He told me he loved me and how sweet I looked and I mumbled and went back to slumber once he left. I slept a lot later than I expected to and eventually got up and did my morning shuffle. After just one cup of coffee I headed out, walking to the library to return the Ahmet Ertegun biography (spoiler alert: Ahmet died).

It was an enjoyable book, he certainly was a character. And there was one brief mention of Arif Mardin in the book, calling him ‘arranger extraordinaire’. That was it. Tom Dowd was mentioned as was Jerry Wexler. I guess Arif came onto the Atlantic scene later in the story where Jerry Wexler was there almost at the beginning and Tom Dowd shortly thereafter.

I ran into Mike C from up the block at the library where he does some volunteer work. We chatted for a while as I picked up Green Lantern which was really bad. Mike recommended X-Men First Class saying it was much better than Green Lantern. I hope he is right. I also picked up the first season of Community which is really a funny show and now in limbo on broadcast TV.

Tony’s chair was occupied at Mr. L’s so I came home after running to the supermarket and had some breakfast. I went out again, a little while after that and Tony’s chair was now free. I walked in and Tony was happy to see me. Once he again he did a very good job, cutting my hair and trimming my goatee while telling me about how he is going to see a nerve specialist in Paramus to look at his arm which he injured a while ago.

Tony is in his 70’s and not mending as much as he used to. He’s worried that if he gets an operation done on his left arm he won’t be able to use it anymore and then no more haircutting for him. After that I headed back home before taking a stroll around Hoboken, stopping by the Guitar Bar where I saw darling Lily and her father Mr. Wonderful.

I mainly talked to Lily as Jim was conducting business on the phone. She looks great and is enjoying college life. I told her I was enjoying her radio show on the college station and she got a big kick out of that. After that I was going to go to the post office but I neglected to bring my Netflix DVD as well as any holiday cards.

It didn’t matter about the holiday cards since I am still not sure about sending any out this year. I have a feeling some will be sent out, and some will be received late. But they are holiday cards so it really doesn’t matter since they’re not specific as to what holiday I am sending a greeting about.

05 Save It For Later

I Fought The Law Dead Kennedys

44 hours in 4 days. That is where I am at right now. Not as toasted as I thought I would be but still staring at the abyss which by the way keeps winking back at me. Last night Bradley was gracious enough to close up for me, allowing me to get a train to the Path train. The cigar shack did alright as well sales wise so that made Zack very happy as he sat and smoked like Lewis Carroll’s caterpillar in the man cave.

I snagged a seat on the train and was soon home. Bill was up and about and greeting me with a great big hug and a kiss. Bill was watching Lawn hors d’œuvre when I sat down and at 10:00 we started to watch something on PBS about Carole King and James Taylor, me raging Bill with my own personal; stories about James and Carole.

Bill went to bed after that and I stayed up watching Battle: Los Angeles (which wasn’t half bad) and then the second half of Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban. Then it was time for me to go to bed.

Woke up once again with Bill being the loving spouse telling me how much he loved me and me grumbling about how I feel the same way. I eventually got out of bed somewhat reluctantly. Fixed myself a breakfast and talked to Bill as I walked to the bus stop. Bill’s co-worker Tom is none too happy about my posting on YouTube, Smooth n’ Fusion at their office party. It was an eye opener for Bill and a nightmare for Tom.

This morning while waiting for my 11:30 bus, the 11:15 bus approaches while there is a 4 x 4 in the bus stop. Two passengers stand there watching the bus roll up, and expecting it to stop even though the driver can’t see them. I do them a favor and flag the bus, they get on without any thanks. I know, I expect too much.

Then after walking up the avenue, foregoing the subway to save some money I get to the cigar shack where Bradley is running the show. Bradley got a phone call from the head of Human Resources about a possible bonus and according to Bradley a commission check as well as our usual payroll.

Three checks in total is what Bradley is telling me but he’s not so sure. I send an email to Sharon Burr, head of Human Resources asking her to respond via email about the matter at hand. An hour later she calls. I explain what is what, and it turns out Bradley is wrong. There will be two checks and the bonus will be direct deposit while the regular payroll which is direct deposit, will be a live check.

I am sure that Sharon Burr is wrong but she is the head of Human Resources and I am not. Then I get into a spat with Bradley over a phone call versus an email. I explain that coming from the corporate world, an email is the best protocol, that a phone message can turn into he said she said or in the worse case a cruel game of telephone.

But Bradley insisted that he was right while admitting that he does not know how the corporate world operates. Bradley is slipping back into idiocy but I should have seen that happening. Perhaps I am being overly familiar since it true, familiarity does breed contempt.

06 Mambo Sinuendo

I Fought In A War

Darlene Love is singing White Christmas from the Phil Spector Christmas Album. It’s a bit brisk outside. It is day two, eleven hour shift. It has been quite busy. The plan for Thomas to close the store tonight so that I might get a twenty minute head start and get to the bus so I could be home sooner has fallen by the wayside due to the inept schedule for the week.

Who knew it would be so busy, a fucking week before Christmas Eve? Zack had Thomas come in an hour earlier to help out since it was so fucking busy. So I will be closing tonight and opening tomorrow. It can be done but it will not be easy. I have to be up at 7:00 in the morning to catch the 8:00 bus since there is no 8:30 bus. And since I have to open the cigar shack I should be there by 9:00. At least I will have my egg sandwich before yet another eleven hour shift.

Word is out that Madonna is making a surprise appearance playing with the dreaded Wynton Marsalis Salad Bar Band tonight. Not my cuppa tea. It’s been very busy tonight and sales expectations were met and exceeded making Zack a very happy and giggly man. Forty minutes to go then the hustle.

Thomas is just about to head out and hopefully it won’t get too busy. Left alone to man the shack it won’t be easy, so people will just have to wait. And I just had two gentlemen in the store and they had me running back and forth like a chicken sans head. Twenty three minutes and Thomas is long gone.

Tomorrow will have a full staff minus Thomas and for myself I just have to make it through Monday before I get two days off in a row which is quite rare. This morning I was fortunate to see Bill for a few minutes before he passed out after driving to Atlantic City. He is doing that again tonight and I won’t be seeing my beloved until tomorrow night.

I just checked the numbers and they match up so that should be one less thing I have to worry about tonight. I will still worry about Bill though.

It’s funny, at least once a day someone will ask if we have Cuban cigars at the cigar shack and they are incredulous when I tell them they are illegal. Most people don’t know their history. Listening to Section 25 right now, no more holiday music. I’ve had my fill. Actually had my fill before Thanksgiving.

The rest is just a violation of the Geneva convention and that is another thing people don’t know about, what is the Geneva convention. Was John Kennedy Toole right? Is this really the way it is? Sixteen minutes to go and they won’t go fast enough, that’s for sure.

Killing time on the killing floor, that is what I am about.

Endless texting from Julio, trying to entice me into having a pint. I just got home and since I have to get up early, it ain’t happening but he will not take no for an answer. I still have to eat dinner and it’s 11:20. I suggested Tuesday or Wednesday, saying Tuesday would be better for me. After an hour of telling him that he finally tells me Tuesday is his job’s holiday party. His job, which wouldn’t hire me since I am not a woman. They’ve had such bad luck with women in the position, why not continue that direction?

He is also worried that I will be like his father, hooked on Xanax. Me, taking 0.05 once a week maybe, yeah I’m a regular William S. Burroughs. I love Julio and I appreciate his trying to get me out tonight as well as out of my own way, but not tonight. And now I feel guilty but I guess I am being responsible.

14 Ich Bin Von Kopf Bis Fuss Auf Lie

I Forgive You

Well it’s certainly been a long day. Zack and Bradley are hootin’ and hollerin’ in the office, I am manning the front of the store, Who knows what is so funny? Not my concern. I just want to go home. Day one of four eleven hour days. Tomorrow it will be Zack and Thomas.

Last night was definitely a lot of fun. I made it into Manhattan to Bill’s office holiday party. Nice people, good food and a few Amstels for me thank you very much. The combo, Smooth N’ Fusion did an excellent job and I shot video for every song they did. I haven’t had much of a chance to upload them to YouTube but I will soon enough, when I have the time.

Just now an elderly Eastern European woman came in after having a problem with a local pricey supermarket. Covering her mouth as she spoke I could barely figure out what was being said through her thick accent.

I recommended she talk to an auxiliary police officer in the area and she said they weren’t around, so I poked my head in the office where Zack and Bradley are laughing at spread sheets and told them I was escorting her to the auxiliary cop who was as usual quite nearby..

They barely noticed as I walked out, so engrossed in Excel. SO back to the party, food and drinks and excellent songs performed by Bill and company, starting with I Wish by Stevie Wonder with a charming gaffe on Bill’s part.

Bill had also rented a Zip Car to take some equipment back to where he stage managed last month and then we drove Kirk the flautist and a woman from the cultural center up to the Bronx. I hadn’t been to the Bronx in years and driving up the Grand Concourse was a trip in itself. Not as run down or burnt out as I heard or previously seen, some truly grand buildings with holiday lights.

I know it looks different during the day but last night the Grand Concourse was looking magical. After dropping off our passengers it was a trip to figure out how to get back and my GPS on the smartphone was near dead but still we figured if we get wet, we would be in the Harlem River and more than likely had gone too far.

But that didn’t happen as we drove on the Martha part of the George Washington Bridge. Bill had a great laugh when I suggested we take the Martha, having never heard that before whereas I thought that is what everyone called the lower level of the bridge. Home later than expected but with not a care in the world, just driving around with my beloved spouse after seeing him play his keyboards and swinging and singing and getting merry like Christmas made for a wonderful evening.

Now I just want to get home, 25 minutes left. Zack not in any rush to get home to his expectant wife and daughter and Bradley just being Bradley with no particular place to go. I made haste and got out of there as Bradley farted around trying to figure out what a boy from North Carolina could do in midtown Manhattan. I was all set to go when he asked me to wait up and wait up is what I did just so he could skip away, perhaps into the headlines of the New York Post.

As I rode the bus, Julio texted me, Stine and Alexander are in Denmark and he was looking to go out for a pint. If I had a normal Monday through Friday job it would be no problem, but since tomorrow will be day two out of four eleven hour shift days, it’s not going to happen.

Welcome to the future.

22 – Ode to Billie Joe

I Follow Rivers

Well it’s a day off and I am killing time before heading into the city to visit Bill’s office party. It’s been a weird day to say the least. First off I burned my finger trying to get the heater to work properly. It’s blistered and I am relying on the present day old wives tales and remedies, in other words, I am using the internet.

Finger running under cold water. Aloe, actually sunblock lotion- as well as apple cider vinegar and now it is under a bandage. It’s not as painful as it was earlier. Initially it wasn’t painful at all but within minutes I started to feel it. Luckily I’m not playing guitar in Bill’s combo, just shooting video.

According to Bill’s Facebook update, he is readying himself and his ensemble SmoothnFusion for their first gig. It promises to be a fun evening, and instead of cutting out to let Bill have his fun with his work mates, I will be hanging and eating and perhaps drinking. It’s likely to be the only holiday work party that I will be attending since you can bet that the cigar shack won’t be having anything like that.

In fact, I made the mistake of opening an email from the cigar shack. Apparently numbers are down and the new head cheese is unhappy with that fact. In turn he is coming down on Zack and Zack is coming down on Bradley, Thomas and Jerry Vale as well as myself.

Of course the head cheese whizzes do not seem to take into consideration that sales are down nearly everywhere, and in a store such as the cigar shack, a lot of people that had the money to buy pricey items in the previous months and years don’t have it this year.

Thomas, Bradley and myself have spent hours emailing our customers reminding them that we are still in business and ready to sell and ship cigars and accessories whenever they would like, but the cigar shack offers no sales, no two for one deals, no discounts. It’s merely business as usual.

And since it is business as usual people have been buying the cigars and accessories elsewhere at other cigar stores in the city or online where it is even cheaper. All over the country, bricks and mortar stores are in difficult positions due to it being cheaper to buy cigars online. And reading the email I am reminded once again that shit truly runs downhill.

Can’t sell a $5,000 humidor every day, which I proved the next day when my sales as well as Bradley and Jerry Vale’s sales all took a nosedive. My problem is that I should not have read that email on my day off, my own time.

So tomorrow when I return I will send even more emails to my customers who if they don’t ignore the email, could likely be sending them to their spam folders. I myself get plenty of cigar offers from various cigar distributors, back from when I used to work at the cigar shack, and I do take a cursory look before deleting them, so I can’t really fault any of my customers for doing the same.

I guess I will also have to change my tactics and stop treating people the way I like to be treated when I go shopping or rather when I used to go shopping. I too, shop online you see. When I would go to a store where there were sales people on the floor (bookstores and record stores generally leave you alone) I wasn’t too keen on having a sales person hover around me, or in my face pushing high end items that I couldn’t afford nor was I much interested in.

That will have to change and I will have to be all over them like white on rice. I’ll just do the opposite of how I like to be treated when I shop.

And now, enough of that infernal place. Time to get ready for Bill’s office party. I am looking forward to it totally and I know Bill is as well. It is going to be a fun time for all concerned and you know what? I deserve a fun time I think.

Dave Stewart – Its My Party

I Feel the Earth Move

OK, so the computers that we use at the cigar shack are so decrepit that I often make jokes about how we bought them at a garage sale that was had when the Soviet Union collapsed. All tubes and wires and little or no upkeep. Several layers of dust coat the inside of the computers which more than likely hinders any process that they go through hour after hour, day after day.

The home office had been notified and sent the cigar shack a new computer which remained in it’s boxes for weeks, if not a month or two. Finally yesterday the IT guy came in and was all set to hook up the new computer and take away the old one. Well as luck would have it (just as we had the computer in a box for a few months) the new computer was too large for a spot under the register.

A plan was made to get a jigsaw and saw some space under the counter to make room but that was decided against. Now the new computer is back in the box and ready to be sent back to wherever it was that it came from. Lithuania I believe. The humorous part of it all was the computer was laying in the box for so long and no one had the sense to take a look at it. Foibles I believe is what they’re called.

So today Thomas is back from his vacation and he’s back to being the cocky 25 year old he is. I have to keep in mind that if you treat someone with kindness and equanimity that does not necessarily mean you will be treated in the same way. And that’s how Thomas operates. A lesson learned I suppose.

And today like every other day, my beloved Bill has been outstanding. Really great and supportive and I certainly look forward to shooting the set that his jazz combo will perform at the holiday party his company is having at a hot nightspot somewhere in midtown. I’m also looking forward to some excellent food and perhaps a pint or two.

I am also glad that Bill won’t be moving his equipment out of there until next week so that will be once less thing my beloved Bill will have to contend with tomorrow night. After his combo plays he can relax but knowing Bill he will be a flippin’ and a floppin’ on the dance floor as he is known to do.

I attended the party a few years ago thanks to Bill sneaking me in and he was so well known that people kept asking him when he was going to hit the dance floor. Since I work the next day (first day of four eleven hour shifts) I might just split and let Bill get his groove on. He wouldn’t mind and I could just go home and upload the video. Either way who knows what will happen.

I do know that it will be grand to spend quality time with Bill and it’s always a pleasure to watch him play his keyboards. I am so glad I am married to him. And he is so glad to be married to me.

One last thing, I am running another blog concurrently since certain people have wondered where the pathos is, why are names changed. So the names won’t be changed and the whole blog will be as is. So send me an email with bloggo deux in the header and I will send you the link. Some of you already get bloggo deux so there’s no need to send me the email.

02 No Fine Lines 1

I Feel So

Cookie’s email. Claire’s return.
Shooting video of Bill’s jazz combo Thursday night

Just some reminders of what I could write about tonight. I could also write about how Jerry Vale and I have stopped communicating after his hissy fit on Sunday morning. An apology is what is expected and an apology is not forthcoming. So I guess for the next two and a half hours we won’t be speaking.

I will be busying myself with various mundane tasks and he will stand there with his hands in his pockets, staring out the window like a dog in a puppy mill. It’s funny since the night before, Saturday night, Jerry Vale and I were talking about work and Thomas and Bradley. I told him that when I’ve butted heads with Thomas I would always apologize for being a bitch and Thomas would generally apologize for being a bitch as well.

But like I wrote, no apology seems to be forthcoming and that’s cool. That means I do not have to listen to him talking about how excited he is for the upcoming ski season, or how he is getting a secured credit card and best of all I do not have to lend him money anymore when he is skint.

So, Cookie’s email. I have a cousin whom I’ll call Cookie. She’s sweet and her family and mine were once really close. But with the passing of time and life interfering we’ve gone our separate ways. I have to admit that I think she is a member of the tea party and every now and then she sends out emails about this and that, how “they’re” taking away the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance or some sort of nonsense.

The most recent alarming email from Cookie was how the new dollar coins wil not have In God We Trust on it and how that is a sure sign about how things in this country are going down the toilet. I almost always read her email, check with and send her what I find, which is generally telling her that she’s been hoodwinked.

And once again I did that with regards to the dollar coins. She did respond in kind, thanking me for the information as well as explaining that is blocked where she works so she just sends out the email rumors and whatnot regardless if it’s true or false. And like I said, they’re almost always (99.9%) false. Still I love Cookie very much and don’t mind letting her know what’s what.

Last night after a run to the grocery store I ran into neighbor Claire. She seems to be back, things did not work out out in Montauk where it is perhaps too cold for surfing. We ran into each other on the street, both of us expressing our hopes that 2012 simply has to be better than 2011. I guess we’ve both had bad years but I am not holding out much hope for the new year. I sense more stress and strife and lately being hopeful has only sunk me into deep depths of depression.

One good thing I have to look forward to is the fact that I am shooting a video for my beloved Bill when he plays with his combo on Thursday night. It should be fun and there will be food and drink and I will be able to spend time with the one I love as well as his band. It’s a good thing that I am off on Thursday. Oh I forgot about the cigar shack computer…I guess I will write about that tomorrow.

Electronic – Idiot Country

I Feel My Stuff

Whereas Saturday was a stellar day at the cigar shack, yesterday was a bit like a black hole. Day 3 of 11 hour shifts had taken their toll, closing u the cigar shack and getting home after 11:00 and then getting up the next day to be there to open up was taxing enough.

I did not remember that NJ Transit’s Sunday schedule was flawed, buses running every hour until 9:00AM so that didn’t help me as I waited for what the automated schedule announced that an 8:29 bus would be appearing. At about 8:35 I made my way to the Path train where I descended the stairs to the platform where I saw onscreen that the next train to 33rd street would be at 9:15.

Since I needed to be at the cigar shack at 9:30, the 9:15 train would not help me at all. So forfeiting my fare (no arrival/departure screens before the turnstiles) I went back up to the street and felt it would be better to wait for the 9:00 bus and take my chances. I got to the city and walked through the bus terminal at 9:25.

Because the bus terminal is closer to the cigar shack than the Path station and since it was also the weekend and the subways were on crazy schedules and outages I once again walked up the avenue to the shack. I stopped and got my egg sandwich and hustled on up the street.

A block away from the cigar shack I got my iced coffee and while waiting for that I got a phone call from Jerry Vale. He was near the cigar shack and inside where it was nice and warm where I was out on the street in 32 degree weather and already tired from the hustling with the bus and Path train schedules. I told Jerry Vale that I too was outside and would be there soon enough.

When I got to the cigar shack the lights were on and no Jerry Vale in sight. I figured Bradley let him in since Bradley was sitting in the man cave when I came in. I asked Bradley where Jerry Vale was and he didn’t know. I ate my sandwich quite fast and got a few things ready for opening.

A minute or two before 10:00 I walked up to the door where I saw Jerry Vale calling me. He saw me so he did not complete the call. But he was angry with me. I asked him why didn’t he call Bradley but he didn’t know that Bradley was working with us. No- Jerry Vale doesn’t check the schedule to see who he is working with.

He started snapping at me and I of course snapped back and even Bradley chimed in against Jerry Vale. I asked Jerry Vale what time he was due in and he said 10:00. I told him since it was 10:00 then maybe he should punch in. He was upset about having to wait in relative comfort while I was busting my ass to get to the cigar shack.

The day was spent mainly with Bradley and I ignoring Jerry Vale and Jerry Vale sensing this, spent most of his time staying away from both of us. It certainly was a long day and I was quite glad to be home again where I crashed. A day off today was not nearly enough to recover and it’s back to work again tomorrow.

I think of what Jimmy Seltzer said, that I am a good worker, showing up to work day after day at a job I don’t really like, but it’s a job and reluctantly I am happy to have at least that.

07 Moon Rocks

Thanks to Deborah for her advice, no more car wreck viewing of the Santorum sculptor.

I Feel Love

Well it’s been a very long day for me and for Jerry Vale as well as Bradley. I just found out that our Jerry works seven days a week bless his heart. He’s been struggling and striving for a long time and still he gets up and does his thing.

I have to take into account what Jimmy Seltzer said to me months ago, that while it’s true I don’t like the job, I still come in and do my job and I do it well. I mean there is no tolerance for a job done half assed so I am glad to have passed the tests.

I woke up in time today and got myself together. I was able to see Bill for a few minutes, he was so tired when he came home and I was heading out the door moments later. Bill is driving once again to Atlantic City tonight so I will more than likely see him tomorrow night. I was running a bit late today, not through anything I did but rather from Lincoln Tunnel traffic.

I was happy to see the Atheist billboard above the tunnel as we rolled in under the river. I made my way up the avenue, getting my egg sandwich and all in all I wasn’t that late, only about 10 minutes. I did not listen to any music on my stroll up the avenue since I couldn’t decide on what I should listen to.

So I went the John Cage route and took in the sounds that happened all around me. My very own 4:33. And here I am hours later unable to remember anything that I heard. And at the cigar shack it was busy busy busy. I hit the ground running and to my surprise sold a $5000 humidor which put me in the lead for sales and my high tide lifted all boats. So it was good for the store as well as Bradley and Jerry Vale (& Thomas) since we all get a piece of that pie.

I was also surprised to find out that I am off on Monday. It’s been so hectic lately that I haven’t a clue 3what day it is until I check my schedule. And that is where Jerry Vale comes in with his seven day schedule. If he’s not working here, then he’s working elsewhere. And once again working with Bradley was a pleasure.

It could be from a talk Jerry Vale had with him, or he could very well be coming into his own. And it could also be from me telling him that he is the assistant manager not me and he does a damn good job at it.

I couldn’t really have a talk with Annemarie today which was a bit of a drag but tomorrow I should be able to. It promises to be a shorter day, getting out at 8:30 after coming in at 9:30. Having written that I realize that it’s not really shorter but I will be getting out earlier and you know that can’t be bad.

It is 11:22 and I just got home after riding the Path train with a crowd of Santa Claus’ and helpers singing the 12 Days of Christmas. It was a fun ride and I chuckled as they sang while I read all about Ahmet Ertegun & Atlantic Records.

No writing tomorrow. Enjoy yourselves and be excellent to each other.

08 Sail Away

I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag

“It’s been a long day.” That’s what Jerry Vale has to say. And for him it was and still is. He was scheduled to come in before noon but got a call to come in even earlier. So he wound up coming in a little before noon. Can’t fault him for that. It’s been a long day for me as well.

Last night was pretty good, Bill came home and drove me crazy (in a good way) like he always does before turning in around 10:30. I stayed up until abut 12:30 before I went to bed. I awoke once again to Bill kissing me goodbye. He said he would see me tomorrow which meant he was driving a bus again tonight to Atlantic City. I wished him well, told him to be careful before getting out of bed and giving him an extra special hug since I love him so.

I then puttered about taking a shower, making coffee and pouring ceral. Yes it’s quite mundane but it beats being an invisible sculptor which is even more mundane. Soon I was on the street walking to the bus stop. It was a nice morning, quite cool. In stood in the sun and enjoyed a nice cigar. It wasn’t too crowded and not too many Hoboken residents roaming around.

The bus ride was uneventful of course and instead of looking at my smartphone I read The Last Sultan, a biography on Ahmet Ertegun. I am enjoying it much more than I expected to though looking at the index I have to say I was bothered by the fact that there is no mention of Arif Mardin in the book, or at least no mention worthy of a listing in the index.

Perhaps there was bad blood in the end between the two Turks though I doubt it. Still I made a point to walk by the first (or one of the first) offices and studios of Atlantic Records at 23456, that is 234 west 56th Street, right next to Patsy’s.

It’s been a long day nonetheless and even though there is less than half an hour left it feels longer than that. That’s probably because I won’t be getting home until after 11:00. Such is life I gather.I have decided that the best way to go to work is with no expectations. When I seem to have a grip on things (or at least that is what I tell myself) things generally go awry. And if I have a bad attitude then that doesn’t work out either.

So tabula rasa seems to be the ‘proper’ way to go. Hopefully there won’t be any problems getting home since the trains were all screwy due to a police officer shooting a groper at the 125th Street station. That happened this afternoon and caused a lot of headaches for the patrons of the cigar shack. At least that was the excuse for them staying here from 10:00AM until 7:00PM.


06 Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue

I’m Losing You

Once again, not much happened today and it was good. It’s been a day off today and 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. Perry 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. I was 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.

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 and 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 the collection of records, not just Beatles mind you, Punk and New Wave was coinciding.

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

John Lennon
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.

Give Peace a Chance

G’oo g’oo g’joob

I Feel Like Dancin’

I can’t help but wonder if someone toasted me with ‘May you live in interesting times’. For these are interesting times. The nap after breakfast thing that worked so well yesterday did not so shit today. I was so sure that it would.

After breakfast, after the shower, after checking emails I figured I had enough time for a quick nap before getting on with my day, but it turned out that it was impossible, even with the optimum circumstances of it pouring rain outside. So with nothing better to do and more time to kill I surfed the net, took out the trash and recyclables and then got dressed.

A stop at the dry cleaners was afforded by my extra time and after that, en route to the bus stop a all too brief chat with Bill. He was inundated with work much earlier than anticipated. I stood near the bus stop, enjoying a cigar under the canopy of an antique store which is only open three days a week. I guess the shop owner, also owns the building.

Despite my being early I did not count on being stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel in bumper to bumper traffic. It wasn’t so bad, since I was above ground I was able to text Zack to let him know that I would probably be late. No response and of course I had no choice but to continue on my not so merry way to work.

And of course when I got to the platform it was crowded which meant no trains had come through in a while. The a capella guys were there with their stand up bassist doing their usual credible job but really I wasn’t in the mood for them nor did I have any money to toss into the hat. And that is something I don’t do so much anymore, no money for my once fellow buskers.

Work was alright, somewhere to go, something to do, and something to smoke. Just Bradley and Zack and me today and it wasn’t so bad. Bradley’s been really great lately and Zack as I wrote a few weeks ago is expecting a child with his wife. So he’s in a good mood. Nothing hormonal on his end. And now I am in the final hour, dregs of bourgeois society clamber on through the area, dragging their feet and falling off their wet heels.

The Sugarcubes are on, Bjork singing Birthday. It beats the New Orleans holiday dirges that play on endless loop in this shopping area. With each trumpet blare I loathe Wynton Marsalis a little bit more. A little over twenty minutes left in the cigar shack and I am very glad to be off work tomorrow.

It’s been a while since I’d seen Jimmy Seltzer which means he will probably be in tomorrow when I am not. He did have good advice as well, reminding me that I am a good worker. True I don’t like my job but I still come in every day and do a good job, I am a team player, well regarded by the customers mostly. Or at least by Jimmy Seltzer.

08 Hey, Snow White

I Feel Home

Well today was an interesting day. Last night was as well. The bus ride home with neighbor Deborah was filled with insight. She offered some wisdom that I imparted years ago to a dear friend of mine that I have written about before. Basically don’t pay attention to the angry, lonely crank. Instead, pay attention to those that are positive and support you.

There’s so much negativity in the world, who needs it from some unknown thing? It is almost word for word, what I told that dear friend back in the early days of the Internet. So many positive and supportive things were said, but all it took was one crank to be such a douche bag that my dear friend was upset despite my dear friend’s wife and I told him, to focus on the positive.

That is the angle I am working and so far so good. No pestilence in my life today. Today was started off with my dear love Bill kissing me goodbye and me sleepy eyed telling him I loved him so. Such a wonderful way to start the day. I soon got out of bed, did my thing.

The coffee, the cereal, the shower and then after checking some email, I felt tired. I still had an hour to get the bus so I decided to take a quick nap. Man did that do the trick. Reset my body clock it did. I should do that more often. I was refreshed and energized and ready to face the world.

Cobwebs blown away, I headed to the bus stop where I finished a cigar and waited for my second favorite bus driver. And he was on time as usual. The bus wasn’t too crowded and soon I found myself traipsing through the bus terminal, headed to the subway. That was where the wait was, on the platform.

No performers, the a capella group that usually does so well were absent as was the over emoting female singer who sings along to a CD, doing her best Whitney/Mariah imitations. I was a half hour early so I chatted with Bill for a few minutes before I headed in.

The day progressed nicely and sales were very good. Zack wound up babysitting for a group of jewelry makers who had reserved the man cave for an hour. They sat and drank and talked diamonds for a while. Then they left, Zack went home and another group of men came in, talking computers. It was all arranged by Zack and it fell to me to babysit this crew.

They were a nice bunch from upstate New York, a bit catty with each other and respectful to me. They stayed for an hour before they all departed to catch their MetroNorth trains home. I cleaned up the man cave while Thomas manned the front of the store. All in all it was a good time, I got to sit and smoke a cigar while watching the crew.

Thomas was understandably antsy since he is flying to the Virgin Islands tomorrow. At the stroke of 10:00 Thomas was out the door. I finished up, closed everything and headed to the subway. My beloved was in midtown and said that he would be taking the Path train home.

I told him if the train that gets me to the bus terminal shows up first, then that is the train I will take. If the other train that goes to the Path train shows up, then I will be on that one. I had hoped to ride home with my love but he was not on the train. Still I sat and read Uncut magazine.

The train took about the same amount of time as the bus would have so it really made no difference. It would have been nice to ride with my Bill again but he just boarded the Path train so he should be home soon enough. I hope you had a good day today, I know I did.

Butthole Surfers – 03 – American Women

I Feel Free

Well after quite a very long day I am glad to be home. Yesterday I was glad to be home too. I spent most of the day indoors not doing much, but I did go out on a few occasions. A trip to the bibliothèque which left me empty handed, a grocery store visit and a brief walk around Washington Street before I realized I had enough and did not want to do anymore.

Luckily for me I fell into a new habit and watched the marathon of Harry Potter on the ABC Family channel. It was on all day and I watched a good part of it, taking a break only when I napped. My husband Bill had woken up while I was on the phone with Annemarie and while I was distracted he turned on ‘Boss’- the new show on Showtime starring Kelsey Grammer.

Bill likes the show and I haven’t watched it. Since Kelsey Grammer is a such a right wing fanatic I have no need to watch him. He probably supports Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann like most shitheads. Still if Bill were to insist that it’s a good show and to watch it with him, I would. But I strongly doubt I would watch it on my own.

I napped while Bill watched and awoke as Bill was heading out to do some work in his office as well as rehearse with his music combo. I got up and made some dinner and farted around while Harry, Ron & Hermione prepared for battle with he who must not be named.

Bill came home while the Half Blood Prince was going on, seeing Severis Snape and recognizing a bad guy, though he hasn’t seen all the movies so things have yet to be revealed. He did not stay awake for the whole thing but I did of course. Then after that I watched Boardwalk Empire and turned into bed.

I think I slept relatively well, waking up at 6:30 with my husband Bill kissing me goodbye. I knew it was 6:30 because I asked him. He split and I carried on sleeping. I was closing the cigar shack so I was going in late. I arranged it so Thomas and Bradley could leave at decent hours and I have something that would resemble a steady schedule this week.

I lay sleeping, thinking of the Beatles, specifically George Harrison when the radio came on, My Sweet Lord was playing. I took that as a good sign and got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. Puttering about I was out on the street two hours later waiting for the bus. My second favorite bus driver was behind the wheel. If you have to ask who my favorite bus driver is, then you should really think about it, maybe read some previous entries.

The bus was relatively empty and a fast ride to the bus terminal. A long wait for the subway but still once I got where I needed to be I was still about a half hour early. Bradley and Thomas and me, Zack out at an off site meeting somewhere. It was busy enough and my lunch, (which was actually dinner) was around 6:00.

The day couldn’t end soon enough though but it did. For a twist I rode home on the bus with Deborah the downstairs neighbor. She’s a sweetheart as well. A fun ride with a chat filled with laughter. I came home and there was Bill, hooking up the music- Outstanding by the Gap band.

Jeez I love my husband Bill. He’s the greatest and I am forever his, as he is mine.

“Art is not for everyone.” – John Cale

03 – Style it Takes

I Feel For You

Well I just got home from work and like I wrote yesterday it wasn’t so bad. Sure it was difficult waking up this morning. Not that I had anything to drink, and actually that was the problem. I awoke at 6:45 with a throbbing headache due to dehydration. I got out of bed, drank some water and took 2 gelcaps. Of course they did not do the trick until about 45 minutes later when I actually had to get up.

I did the usual thing, making the coffee, pouring the cereal and taking a shower. The coffee of course got my engines going and I looked at my phone. 2 texts from Bill, he was waiting at the bus stop for me. My man, my baby after spending the night at the sleep clinic, wanted to see me off in the morning.

I hurried myself after checking the weather. It was cold out, in the upper 30 degree range and knowing Bill not liking the cold I did not want to keep my spouse waiting. I walked up the street to the main drag and sure enough there was my man waiting for me.

I could see his smile from half a block away and I returned his smile with my own. A hug and a kiss and we stood chatting in the brisk December air. Of course Bill soon became the 12 year old boy that he is and soon my coffee energy was depleted. But I held up my end as Bill held up his end.

The bus was late as usual and one last kiss for the day before I boarded. I waved to Bill as the bus rolled up the avenue. Being late meant the bus was going to fill up rather quickly. And being late also meant the next bus soon passed us as we approached the Lincoln Tunnel.

I walked through the terminal and headed to the avenue where I walked up, stopping to get my egg sandwich. I was opening the store so I would have to eat on the run. Jerry Vale came in at 10:00 on the dot, after I counted the drawers and the safe.

Thomas was next, followed by Bradley. Initially I was clobbered by Thomas and Jerry Vale, both of them raking up decent numbers in their first hour while I worked on Excel spreadsheets for a separate project. Bradley then took the lead, selling quite an expensive box of cigars which took all of us by surprise. But I was not to remain in the basement for long.

An attractive woman who looked like my sister in law Elaine came in and bought a few items which put me in second place, where I would remain for the rest of the day behind Bradley. The day was alright. No phone call with my sister since she didn’t tell me she would be out. I did have a good call with Bill as he was preparing to drive down to Atlantic City once again.

And a very special guest appearance was made at the cigar shack by the dear, sweet vagabond- Harpy who was looking very good.

Back to the cigar shack after lunch where doppelganger Elaine was buying duplicates of what she purchased earlier in the day. Then I sold a box of cigars as well as filling out an order for a client of mine from Los Angeles who called when I was out to lunch. Many giggles were had between me and a few customers as I rode that manic high.

And soon enough it was time to go home. No closing the drawers, no cleaning up the man cave, just an easy punch out and then a ride back to the bus terminal where I lucked out, being in the last 3 of a standing room only bus.

It’s not a perfect evening since Bill is headed to Atlantic City, but we’ll have that tomorrow I hope, and if not tomorrow then for the rest of our lives, my sweetheart and me.

09 Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)

I Feel Fine

Today was yet another day off and another nice day to have off. A nice bright sunny day, pleasant enough to do some walking around Hoboken. It started off with Bill leaning over and kissing me goodbye, telling me how he loved me and would I pick up the dry cleaning later in the day.

I nodded affirmatively and told him I loved him too, a magnificent spouse he is. And I also asked him to text me later in the day so I wouldn’t forget about picking up his dry cleaning. I slept a little while after that, eventually getting up and making a pot of coffee before heading out for some food.

Last night Bill was up later than he usually is, working on horn charts for the holiday gig that he and his crew are playing. I stayed up later than usual myself watching The Town starring Ben Affleck which was merely OK. Perhaps it was good but I wasn’t really paying much attention. A good night’s sleep soon followed which brings me (& you) to now or rather back to today.

I played guitar today, it had been a few weeks since I last picked up the Fender. I had an urge to look up some Electric Light Orchestra songs and once I did, I found them incredibly easy to play. Lots of A’s, C’s and G’s (and various inversions) which makes sense since they did get their inspiration from the Beatles so you can safely assume that if you can play some Beatles songs you can definitely play some ELO.

I did take a nap during the afternoon and suddenly woke up. I still needed to go to the dry cleaners. Bill never texted me but obviously it worked out. Bill is sleeping at a sleep clinic tonight since he has been snoring lately while wearing his sleep apnea mask.

It sort of defeats the purpose of the mask. He could stand to lose a few pounds and I’ve been tiptoeing around the subject. Perhaps if the clinicians tell him he will listen to them. He really relies on comfort food as does most everyone. So I hope they tell him and I certainly hope he listens to them.
Bill is spending the night there, attempting to sleep (though he can fall asleep at the drop of a hat) and planning on coming home so he could actually get some real sleep before driving to Atlantic City yet again tomorrow night.

I will probably miss seeing Bill tomorrow since I will be working at the cigar shack. In fact I will be opening the cigar shack which is not so bad since it means I will be getting out early, and I have Sunday off so it will have the feel of two days off, or one and a half. Hey I will take whatever I could get.

I’m actually looking forward to it. It’s the team of Bradley, Thomas and Jerry Vale and lately we’ve been getting along just fine. I’m sure I will write about whatever unfolds tomorrow.

14 I Feel Fine

I Feel Better

This morning I saw Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs) and Wayne Knight (Newman!) walking together and the guy who played Carmela’s father on the Sopranos as well as Kelly the woman who maintained the flora when I worked at Staffmark.

I got a big kick after seeing Kelly. We cross paths intermittently in Manhattan throughout the years. She looked good, had some dental work done. She’s a sweetheart. She always pops up when and where she is least expected. It was a very long day for me at the cigar shack, 11 hours.

It was rough but bearable. Zack was in and he opened with Jerry Vale. I was in next at 11:30 followed by Thomas coming in at 12:30. Zack and Jerry Vale were in good spirits, Thomas and I- not so much. I was not into working the very long shift but there I was rolling up my sleeves.

It was quite a busy day at the cigar shack, I sold a few expensive pens as well as a humidor and Thomas did the same but despite all that neither of us could catch up with Zack and Jerry Vale, which could account for the very good moods they were in.

The man cave was occupied most of the day, including a certain subset that was there from opening until a half an hour before the man cave was closed. Then the subset went across town to yet another cigar shack. It was enough for Zack to call them sad.

Bill of course was great throughout the day. Always supportive, he is a fantastic spouse. A few phone calls filled with laughter and love filled the lines as the day progressed. Now he sits behind me with his headphones on trying to figure out a horn part from Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Wish’ which he and Tom and Kirk and a bass player (hopefully) will be playing at Bill’s company holiday party.

I love writing ‘holiday party’, it’s so much more inclusive rather than drab old ‘Christmas party’ which is so old hat. At the end of the day at the cigar shack I apologized to Thomas for being a pain in the ass and he responded by apologizing for being such a bitch. It’s nice that we can make amends before the day ends. He’s a good man that Thomas.

Thomas closed the cigar shack and I made my way to the subway where a train pulled up within a minute of my arrival. Crediting that to some karmic retribution I rode to the bus terminal and climbed four flights of stairs. Upon getting to the upper level I saw a very long line which did not seem promising.

I saw my old friend Lois on line and gave her a kiss as I passed. She was awfully kind telling me I looked beautiful which was a nice way to end the work day. I did not cut in line and took my place at the end of the line. Soon I saw Denise Foster, another sweetheart from my past. I said hello to her and she stood next to me as the line started moving.

I was surprised that there was enough room for me and Denise and let Denise sit down near Lois where I introduced them to each other. Lois started to stand up to let me sit, but I wouldn’t have it. Besides being an artist I am also a gentleman.

I stood in the well of the rear exit and each time the bus stopped I had to get off and let people disembark. Soon I started acting like a stewardess, thanking them for riding New Jersey Transit and saying ‘buh bye’.

That got a few laughs from Lois, Denise and some of the other passengers. A nice end to a hectic day.


02 Come Down In Time

Rest in peace, George ‘Jet’ Watley, Alphonso Portillo, John Iserra and others who have fallen.