Tag Archives: HBJ

I Like The Way You Move- Outkast

I am pretty sure it was junior year of high school, when Sister Reginald told the class that we were there because we had to be there. Once we went to college, no one would be making us go to class. That rang a bell in my head. I am the type of person that if I don’t want to do something or go somewhere, then I won’t do it, or I won’t go there. ‘Why stay in college? Why go to night school? Gonna be different this time” was a line that floated through my head as I rode my bicycle with a tape deck in my arms. Yes I was somewhat coordinated at that point.

In between junior and senior year of high school, I had to go to summer school. I failed history which was odd since history was one of my favorite subjects. I had two friends in high school, Jim Carley and John Nesselt. Jim grew up in Harrington Park and Nesselt grew up in Glen Rock. Paramus Catholic is a regional high school so that meant I never saw them out of school. But the times we were together were genuine and fun.

Jim and I had Mr. Ward for our history teacher and Mr. Ward looked like Lou Costello from the Abbott & Costello cartoons. In between classes Jim and I would see Mr. Ward approaching and one of us would usually yell out ‘Hey Abbott!’ like they did in the cartoons. Mr. Ward eventually caught on and despite being a history teacher, was able to put 2 and 2 together, and flunked both Jim and myself meaning we would have to go to summer school. It was a drag but manageable. I don’t know what school Jim went to but I wound up going to Hackensack high school.

I would get up and get myself together and hitchhike along Essex Street, up the big hill. I almost always got a ride which dropped me off close to the school. There were a few other kids from Paramus Catholic in my class so I wasn’t a total stranger in a strange land. But these kids were the ‘bad’ kids and they didn’t know me that well and I didn’t know them that well. I did wind up in their favor by giving hem cigarettes which I had stolen from my mother. It was a bit like prison, using cigarettes to ‘buy’ protection.

After summer school I would either walk or take a bus to the HBJ warehouse and work most of the day. My parents had gone on vacation to Disney World, leaving my brother Brian and myself behind. Brian would probably not have gone to Disney World with our parents and my opportunity was taken away by Mr. Ward’s desire to teach Jim Carley and myself a lesson. I didn’t mind working through the summer and found myself really enjoying my work and my co-workers.

Nick Lattanzio and John Carroll hit it off and were constantly riffing on Odd Couple episodes, freezing me out since I was not as obsessive as they were. I wound up hanging out with people in other departments. People like Bill Wrice and Derry Pedovitch who worked in the Psych department a few feet over. They worked with Annie Carroll who was John Carroll’s sister, and they all worked for Carlos Baez who was some former junkie from the Bronx.

There was also Laszlo Papp who according to my mother used to be a nice boy, leaving the warehouse one Friday night and coming back to work on Monday with spiked hair and a swastika on his shirt. He wasn’t a Nazi, he just bought some Vivian Goldman stuff in the Village for shock value. And shocked he did. They couldn’t fire him, he was a good worker and a tough nut to crack.

I hung out with Laszlo occasionally, asking if he was going to the city over the weekend and I would give him some money to pick up some records for me if he had the chance. He usually did have the chance and on Mondays I’d meet up with him and get whatever was new and current. Soon I would be going with him on weekends and buying the records for myself.

I was enjoying work so much and also reading the textbooks that I would be shipping to college students around the country. My SAT scores were decent but I wasn’t encouraged to go to college. I wasn’t encouraged to do anything with my life. As far as I knew, financial aid would not be available to me since my parents made too much money. Not that we were rich, just thisclose to being over the cut off point.

I was “gonna be different this time”. I mean, I already was different, it’s just that no one besides me knew it at that point.

I got the mews

12 Life During Wartime

I Like The Way You Move- Earth Wind & Fire

I would attend Paramus Catholic high school until 2:30, and then catch a bus that would drop me off about 100 yards from the HBJ warehouse in Saddle Brook. A lot of the warehouse workers would leave at 4:15, and since I started at 3:00 I would generally stay until 6:00 or 7:15. It was a good job to start at, though it wasn’t the record department at Alexander’s like I wanted.

It was interesting to finally put faces to the names I heard growing up. And they were mainly correct in what they said about John Vasecik, Paul Lo Presti, and Larry Ioli. Lou Nagy was more ribald than I would have guessed, but he worked on the loading dock so his language was probably best suited for that area.

I was put to work with Nick Lattanzio, the last time I saw him he was in 4th grade and I was in 3rd grade. He was going to Lodi high school and set to graduate, whereas I was a junior and still had a year to go. He was a nice guy and we bummed cigarettes off each other.

Looking back, so many people smoked everywhere, including a book warehouse which could go up in flames due to an errant cigarette butt. The bosses moved about the warehouse in electric scooters, the big boss John Vasecik always had a cigar burning.

The job was basically to get an invoice and fill it and bring it down to the packing area. It seemed easy enough. Some school district needed 50 copies of Introduction to Psychology, some school needed 100 copies of Art Through the Ages, or Fortran Programming, or Elements of Film. Nick and I handled the smaller orders, John Carroll had a forklift and would get the larger orders. My time card was 19B which I duly signed on each invoice I brought to the packing line.

And almost every time, I would get called back. I had the wrong book, the wrong edition or more often than not, the wrong count. I am quite sure that it was because my mother was so well regarded that I did not get fired. I would work and then go home, have something to eat and then do 2 hours of homework.

2 hours of homework was my father’s idea. My grades were not that good and he felt having me sit at the dining room table for 2 hours should do the trick. Even if I had homework that could be done in 15 minutes, I would still have to sit there for an hour and 45 minutes.

I would generally get whatever homework done and then get a volume from the encyclopedia and copy whatever subject interested me the most, while my father who was losing his hearing would watch the television 20 feet from me with the volume as high as it would go.

This had been going on for a while, even when my brother Brian was still in high school. Occasionally my parents would go out, trusting me and Brian to sit at the table to do our studies. As soon as the car was out of the driveway and down the street the books were slammed shut and Brian and I would usually fight about what to watch on TV. This was probably one of the reasons why education did not work for me.

I just never really got the hang of education, from being horizontally dragged off the fence when it was time to start school at St. Francis de Sales grammar school up to Paramus Catholic high school, I was more than likely looking out the window and wanting to be anywhere rather than there in a classroom.

It wasn’t until years later, once I started getting guitar lessons from Mike Carlucci, that I realized one on one teaching worked best for me, but by then the train had left the station, or in my case, I missed the bus.

04 Revolution Earth

I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)

It’s a Tuesday! I have figured that out all on my own. It’s the third anniversary of my dismissal. Resumes are still going out but what with the piddling jobs information that came out last week, the pickings are slim indeed. The weather hasn’t been that great, looking like rain but not actually delivering on the threat. Time being what it is, fleeting- I spent some time walking along the waterfront, reading and hoping to see the space shuttle going by on a barge, en route to the USS Intrepid. No shuttle, no barge. Bill told me to keep an eye out and even with four eyes out, nothing turned up.

1978. I am turning 16. I decided to get a job at Alexander’s department store. They had a good record department and that’s where I wanted to be. My parents had a friend that worked at Alexander’s in Paramus and I figured that was my way in. One day I got off the school bus early and walked along Route 17, crossing Route 4 and found out where Kathy Ring was working. I got some paperwork from her, filled out an application and then headed home to wait for the call.

My mother got the call. Kathy Ring was calling and talked to my mother about me working at Alexander’s and when she hung up the phone with Kathy Ring, it was settled. I was not working at Alexander’s. I would be working for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Specifically in the warehouse that Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ) had in Saddle Brook, right next to my hometown, Lodi. My oldest brother Frank started working there in the late 1960’s and he in turn got my mother a job in the warehouse offices doing secretarial work as well as other invoice processing.

Frank eventually left HBJ and then my brother Brian worked in the warehouse, more than likely getting the position through my mother. I think Brian worked on the packing line, and Frank used to work on the loading dock. My mother and brothers would occasionally talk about work at the dinner table so I would hear the names John Vasecik, Paul LoPresti, Tony Grega, Larry Ioli, and Lou Nagy. The names meant nothing to me at the time and I just sat and ate and listen to them talk about what idiots these names seemed to be.

When Frank worked for the company in the late 1960’s it was Harcourt Brace and World. In 1970 William Jovanovich became chairman and renamed the company. Brian eventually left HBJ in the mid 1970’s and soon I came on board, thanks once again to the auspices of my mother. I had an interview with an older man who looked like Mr. Magoo and his name was Rudy. It was probably the easiest interview I’d ever had. I basically had the job and what was going on was a mere formality. Of course being 16 years old, I didn’t know that and showed the proper amount of respect and gratitude for the opportunity.

I started a few days later, assigned to the college department, with my supervisor, Dave Manzo. Dave’s right hand man was a chap named John Carroll and there was also Maria Scarano, a hobbit like woman who ran the light orders, sent off to be packed on the conveyor belt. The warehouse was fairly new, attached to the older warehouse where my brother’s had worked and had conveyor belts running down a ramp to the packing area.

I started the same day with someone I had known briefly a few years before. His family went to the same church as my family (sometimes), and his sisters were mainly in the same classes as my brothers and sister. His name was Nick Lattanzio and I thought he was one of the coolest people I had ever known. A couple of years earlier, Nick left my grammar school and started going to public grammar and high school before we met again, and his family were spoken of kindly in my house.

Mustached Dave Manzo with a pack of Newports in his Fruit of the Loom t-shirt pocket, showed us the ropes, where things are- where to pick up invoices in our individual boxes,how to use a hand truck, the organization of the stock on the floor etc. Maria Scarano scowled and John Carroll ate a lot of sunflower seeds and cracked wise on his forklift. I also met someone named Debbie Pless who was the sister of another one of the names I grew up hearing, Gary Pless. It was an overwhelming first day which probably lasted a few hours before it was time to go home.

My sister Annemarie picked me up in her Volkswagen, a Beatles marathon on the radio. As we turned off Mayhill Street onto Market, she told me she couldn’t believe I was working, that I was now 16 and working for Harcourt. To tell you the truth, I was having difficulty believing it myself.

Rainy Day – _John Riley_

Sing Sing Sing

Wow. Just had an almost 3 hour nap. The thing is I did not sleep well at all last night and was dragging my ass most of the morning. So I closed my eyes for what I thought would be an hour, tops.

What I usually do when I nap is have the TV on in another room. In my mind it acts as a boat tethered to a dock. Well I am the boat and the TV is the dock. And the sound of the TV keeps me from drifting away.

But since there was no TV on, and no dock to speak of, I drifted far away from the shore. It felt good but still there was no need.

It used to be that at least once a year I would come home from work, and maybe go to sleep for 12 hours. I would have done that today but that meant I would be waking up at 3:00AM. Didn’t dream of anything in particular, not that I could remember anyway.

I had lunch with Rand at the Malibu diner. They sat us in the big back room, which neither Rand nor I liked very much. He had a veggie burger with very mediocre onion rings. I had a BLT with fries.

Where I used to removed the tomatoes from the sandwich today I ate the whole thing. I should have had it on toasted whole wheat bread but I didn’t which caused the sandwich to fall apart. Still I ate it all.

Lately I eat just about everything put in front of me. Not such a finicky eater like I used to be. Still, I’m not running out to buy turnips.

I am happy to be able to drop off my computer at Rand’s apartment tomorrow, so perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Then we will go for drinks at McSwells. I was supposed to see the Bongos with the funniest girl alive, Meghan Taylor, but she seems to have the flu.

At least that’s what she posted yesterday on Facebook and today she is incommunicado. She certainly seemed her usual self on Saturday when I walked around Hoboken with her and here freshly shorn daughter Ruby.

I guess even if I don’t see the Bongos, I will have a pint with Rand in the front room. The whole thing about seeing the Bongos revolved around being Meghan’s guest, her plus one on the guest list. And of course I do wish her well.

Last night I watched the latest installment of the Monty Python documentary. It was mainly about Graham Chapman. He was funny and also a pain in the ass to deal with, mainly because of his alcoholism.

It was interesting, that when Graham came out of the closet, John Cleese was surprised since he thought he knew Graham so well. That’s the thing about the closet.

No one knows of the double life that is being led out of fear or self-loathing.

When I was outed at HBJ, a good friend of mine from High School (Kevin Wagner) that I worked with was greatly disappointed that I never told him. Not so much that I was gay, but because of the secret.

Cleese likened it to Michael Palin saying that he was Chinese. It was just a surprising fact about Chapman that Cleese didn’t know.

Still groggy from the nappage so that’s it for today.

Daft Punk is Playing at My House

Well I am back on my own computer, thanks to the good graces of Rand. He texted me around 1:15, suggesting I bring my computer over so at around 2:00 I did just that.

It was a nice visit with Rand and Lisa. Lisa spent most of the time caulking the bathtub which is another thing I should do. Rand hooked up my computer and after some razzle dazzle it was up and running once again.

We also listened to Daft Punk, and Goldfrapp as well as a Chemical Brothers compilation. I’ve known Rand since about 1982 I think. Or 1983.

I do know I spent New Years Eve with Rand and assorted other friends and woke up to watch Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel on a Nam June Paik special on PBS for that 1984 New Years Day. Woke up on the floor of Rand’s sisters apartment on Willow Avenue.

One of my first DJ experiences was that New Years Eve at Lois, Martha and Jane’s apartment on Garden Street. I first met Rand when I was driving for HBJ, from the warehouse in Saddle Brook NJ to the offices at 757 Third Avenue.

My job was to distribute interoffice mail and as I walked on the office floor I saw two guys about 100 feet away from me, acting like I did, or do. It turned out to be Rand and Jose who had just graduated from Colgate University a few months before.

Wound up having a conversation with them and when I found out they lived in Hoboken our fates were sealed. I had been going to McSwells and asked if they did too. They said they did every now and then but I think after our meeting they wound up going more often.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

As we got to know each other, Rand and I would drive into the city. I would do whatever it was I had to do at 757 Third Avenue, and then head down to St. Mark’s Place where we would visit St. Mark’s Sounds and St. Mark’s Comics directly across the street.

I had commercial plates by then and would park on the street with no problem. Before I had the commercial plates we would drive through Central Park, listening to music and getting red eyed. Many laughs would ensue of course which cannot be remembered all these years later.

Rand and Lisa make an excellent couple. A nice balance between the two. Lisa is Lady Gigglepuss to Rand’s El Jefe. That’s what I used to call them when I wrote about them in a previous entry on an old web page of Rand’s. That’s how that started.

And I am indebted to Rand for fixing my computer in just a few hours, all the while being as entertaining as he could be as well as getting the inspiration to caulk my bathtub.

Tonight I’m going to McSwells, have a drink with Rand hopefully, as well as Meghan and also seeing my brother Frank before he goes in to see the Feelies. And Bill might join us too!

Of course, thanks to Bill for letting me use his Mac while my computer was on the fritz.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Stranger In Moscow

Once again, tonight’s entry is brought to you by Bill’s Mac, for when your own computer just won’t do what you want it to do, use Bill’s Mac.

It’s Thursday again. Been raining on and off for the past 5 hours. And it’s been raining hard. Bill just texted me, apparently he was on a bus with the bus driver from hell. A short message with the bus number, driver’s ID number and how many passengers.

He thought he was going to die in a bus accident and wanted me to have the information in case the worst happened. It’s not often that Bill will complain about a fellow bus driver, so you know that this was probably a white knuckle ride in the rain speeding down slick ramps into the Lincoln Tunnel outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

I’m in that netherworld after taking a nap and waking up and it’s just muggy inside with the windows being closed because of the rain.

Right now Bill is repeating from a TV commercial whatever they are asking him to repeat.

I had a strange dream with me driving a car I parked in the intersection of Riverview Avenue and Essex Street. I was doing something not far from where I grew up.

Juan was in the dream as well, oddly silent. We were heading into Manhattan for some reason. And the car was one of my broken down jalopies or the van I used to drive for HBJ.

It kept changing. It was a dream after all.

And I wasn’t too keen on driving. I don’t miss driving at all. Being a pedestrian I see bad, terrible drivers all the time.

This afternoon crossing Washington Street, a driver just couldn’t bear to wait at the red light and felt it was alright to inch out into the intersection and make a left turn.

I can understand a right on red, but a left on red just is bad news. Nothing happened though it should have. I see it a lot on my way to work, especially at the corner of 49th Street and Park Avenue.

A few months ago when Vivek and Sanjay were all hot and bothered for their movie box scheme, one of their plans were for me to drive around the tri-state area and visit various hotels and motels, such was their belief in me as a salesman.

That dream was dashed when I showed my incredulous face, telling them I don’t drive. That was ok with them, they would pay for driving lessons.

I explained to them that I knew how to drive, I drove back and forth to California, to Texas and Florida as well as to Washington DC, and driving back and forth from Saddle Brook NJ to 757 Third Avenue, about 100 yards from where I was sitting with Vivek and Sanjay.

I guess they never met anyone in the United States who did not want to drive. I guess I’m an urbanite. If it’s not within walking distance or available via public transportation, why bother?

The last car I had went up in flames and I had a premonition that the next car I owned would be the car I died in. So in order to achieve immortality, I don’t drive anymore.

I took a quiz on Facebook, What Michael Jackson Song are You? I was told my song was Stranger in Moscow, which was a song I wasn’t familiar with and I wrote that in the comments section.

An online friend said it was a really good song, no hiccups or yelps, which were sometimes distracting in Michael’s songs so I sought it out. It turns out it really is a nice song, beautiful even and I since purchased it via iTunes.

A decent song that isn’t overplayed and is a good song to remember Michael Jackson by. I can’t say that I was a major fan but I did have a few of his songs online, had Off the Wall and Thriller like everyone else, but I did mention to a few friends months ago that Michael Jackson’s songs where more enjoyable to me than Prince’s were.

Of course I am disappointed in Prince lately and took all his songs off my iPod. Not so much because of his music, but because of his latest Jehovah’s Witness beliefs about gay people.

Well, John said ‘Enough’ and that was that.

It didn’t help that he hasn’t released anything worthwhile since Sexy MF and that was 17 years ago. I would be interesting to hear what the Purple Imp would have to say about Michael Jackson though.

Eyes Wide Open

Last night. Let’s see, what did I do? Talked to Harpy on the phone. That was fun. Besides that not much else. I vented my spleen last night and that was a wonderful exercise. Over 800 words in a half hour. All I need is a fire under my butt apparently. And Tom Chin makes a nice face plate for an ignited fart. As giddy as I felt initially, dread soon entered the picture.

Bill was here last night, he came in after the first half hour of Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, by Sidney Lumet. That was harrowing and ultimately disappointing. And a most unsatisfying finish. Has Sidney Lumet lost the plot? I hope not, though I have to confess I haven’t seen many, if any, Sidney Lumet movies. I know, ‘How could you consider yourself a film buff when you haven’t seen Family Business? The Wiz? 12 Angry Men?’ I guess I’m just not ‘that type’ of film buff.

Oh well, life goes on. Tom Chin still walks the earth. No more room in hell I suppose. Once again it was nice to wake up next to Bill. I’ve been getting up before him and out of the apartment while he still lays in bed asleep. Got to the office, no one there. Did the usual crap and also started to update my resume, selectively omitting my few months at Golden Staffing last year. I figured it wouldn’t look good, a three month gig, on a resume. Tom Chin even ragged on Padma who they are letting go. He’s such a jerk.

I thought of the jobs that I had from day one. I actually applied for a job at Alexanders Department Store in Paramus since they had a pretty good record department. But that was not to be, I was going to work at HBJ, where my mother worked as well as both of my brothers at various points in their lives. After going from part time to full time I left HBJ and moved to a company called the 1330 Corporation that put up displays in dentists offices around the country. That didn’t go well at all and soon left and tried to go back to HBJ but they wouldn’t have me back.

I then got a job as a messenger for a company called En Route, then got a job for an accounting firm called Friedman Alpren and Green. Then I worked for a friend’s fast food joint on Second avenue in the city called San Loco. Steve Fallon got in my head and told me I would be better off going somewhere else and wound up working for Rupert Murdoch for a few years courtesy of Errol Stewart. It was there that I met Harpy and Pedro. I was also working at McSwells at night as a bar back, then as a door person, then as a DJ among other things.

McSwells continued as the Murdoch job ended and I worked at Take One Video where in a chemical haze I gave videos away for free to my friends in similar states of mind. That ended badly and I got a job at Rizzoli books in Soho. That also didn’t last once they instituted a dress code. Thanks to Justin Luchner I got a job at Skyline Studios just as they were starting their decline. After that ran into the ground I moved laterally to Right Track Recording for a few years and then moved over to Arif Mardin’s production company.

That didn’t last long so I moved to Arista Records, then to A mastering house called the Lodge, run by Emily Lazar who was somewhat nice. I didn’t know where I fit there and jumped back to Arista. After the Arista gig ended I moved to People Magazine which was fun, but not steady work. Then onto Staffmark, where I thought I would be able to help people get jobs when I realized I hate people. Moved to an even worse situation after being unceremoniously dropped by Staffmark to a place called Adecco. Floated around as a temp after that and the night I moved into my apartment in Hoboken I was able to get a job at Putnam Lovell aka Wanker Banker which is where this blog initially started.

One of these days I’m going to do something about all these jobs. One of these days….