Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Driving to DC to see Rollins at the Smithsonian

10/15/14 03:40 Rockville, Maryland

For some reason I can’t sleep so I write.  I drove down here yesterday to see Henry Rollins at the Smithsonian.  I respect him for his work ethic as well as social justice stands.   I wrote a few blog entries about Rollins, from reviewing some of his books as well as his spoken word performances.  This year, he has made infrequent public appearances.  It seemed a Rollins show was an annual event, but he’s busy working on his show for National Geographic as well as he described, “Hollywood stuff.”   Last night event was titled, Henry Rollins on the DC Punk Scene.  It was the closest Rollins event which I could make, so I bought my ticket weeks ago and knowing the event would be a sellout.  Who else would drive more than five hours from Long island and take a subway into a humid October night?

I used my Marriott points and rented a car since my beast has more than 160,000 and I was not risking the drive.  Packed my things, brought some books and CD covers as well as an album by the evens, since I hoped Ian Macaye would be there.  After roughly five hours of easy traffic, passing autumn vibrant in orange and yellows and weary of the highway patrols, I checked into the hotel in Rockville Maryland, dropped off my bags and checked some emails before driving to the Metro station in Shady Grove.   The Metro ride was closer to 45 minutes.  I was not the tourist this time in DC.  I was on a mission.  I barely noticed the Washington Monument when I stepped outside onto the mall, oh there it is, and on the opposite side, the capitol building, the dome is under scaffolds.  I made my way to the museum of natural history.    

DC is Rollin’s hometown.  In his books he writes about the city like James Joyce created - referring to his mythic Dublin. 

The auditorium in the National History seats more than five hundred.   The ceiling is tiled and the acoustics were perfect.  I had an aisle seat and sat four rows back.  Chris Richards was the interviewee and handled himself very well.  There was a familiarity between the Rollins and himself, not only on the subject but more for Rollins support when Richards played in his punk band.   Rollins started out describing his friendship with Macaye, who he still considers his best friend since he was twelve.  They shared and continue to share music,  Macaye lived, “about a four minute bike ride from me.” They swapped Hendrix albums and eventually made a pact; we will either be comedians or musicians.  Music motivated them.  Punk transformed them.  Rollins said they continue to share music as well as artistic influences.  If you don’t know Ian Macaye, he is famous in the punk movement for bands, Minor Threat, Teen Idols, Fugazi.  He is known for creating the movement - straight edge - as well as Dischord records. Not in that order.  Rollins said straight edge has taken off and become more extreme which was never the intention.  If there was one thing missing on the stage, it was Ian Macaye.  I would have enjoyed hearing them swap stories and as Rollins said a few times, Ian was in the audience.  But seeing Rollins take charge and not giving Chris Richards much of an opportunity to carry out the interview…makes me reconsider - I am not sure what we would have seen with Ian up there.  I would assume it would be a moment when Rollins was on a stage and spent a great deal just… listening.

The interview became less of a DC punk movement to a Rollins interview.  There was an emphasis Bad Brains who gained fame for opening for The Dammed.  Seeing HR and getting closer to the stage as others backed up, frightened by the singer HR.  Seeing The Cramps in a very small venue, The Ramones played in a wine and cheese place, he got so close to the stage some sweat from Dee Dee fell on him.  But there was little about the influence of DC punk other than the Bad Brains.  The Cramps and The Ramones hailed from New York.  Early in the discussion Black Flag was raised.  Ian was interested in SST Records and called them up to learn more about the independent record business.  The fact he called impressed Rollins.  “Typical for him.  You did what?”  I called SST and spoke to Greg.”  On a side note, this is typical DIY.  While Black Flag toured, they would stay at Macaye’s parent’s house and this is where Rollins got to know the band.  Their bassist Chuck Dukowski influenced Rollins, suggesting he listen to The Stooges and MC5 and would call Rollins from time to time.  

It was in New York that Rollins took the microphone and sang his first Black Flag song at an after show party and right before he made the five hour drive back to DC to start his shift at Haagen Daz where he managed the store.   Some months later, Greg Ginn called him and said they are holding auditions in New York and would like him to try out for the band. 
Last Sunday, I took a punk tour of the Lower East Side.  It was led by John Joseph the singer for the hardcore band, Cro-Mags.  Part of the tour was seeing where Rollins auditioned for Black Flag.  I have to admit it was one of the highlights of the tour.  Last night, after the interview I had the opportunity to meet Rollins.  I told him about the tour and how the building was one of the stops.  “It’s really part of the tour?”  It is.  

Henry Rollins and Ian Mackay are currently archiving punk posters, records, as well as journals.  Eventually he would like to create a data base for people to see and learn more about punk.  This leads to one of the last questions which Chris Richards asked, regarding the recent Black Flag formations and their respective tours.  It was Greg who called Henry (although he denies it, per Rollins) to say he was leaving the band.  Well, in that case, there is no more Black Flag.  Instead of being somber, that day he wrote two songs which eventually became his first album and which eventually became the Rollins Band.  He described how he endured the break up and worked hard, starting a publishing company, touring with his band and giving spoken word tours to make money to pay his band, sending them money orders from the road – while his ex- band mates did little to further their career or to make money.  About the new Black Flag renditions, that time has passed.  They came to my office (FLAG) to ask me if I wanted to join.  No.  Not interested.  They are too old and getting close to sixty.  It pisses me off since Black Flag means so much to me.  It was like a war we created when we went on tour.  I was beaten up, stiches to my lip, eye, broken ribs, cut and bitten…both renditions were touring, FLAG contained most of the original members, but Greg Ginn also toured as Black Flag in 2012 and sued FLAG as well as Henry Rollins.  “I guess he sued me for good measure? It was like The Platters, well our version has the original session player from the first album which makes us more authentic.  They play these songs and are huffing through them.  It was a joke.”

It was well worth the drive and the opportunity to hear the man in person in his hometown.  And yes, I met Ian as well…the man is a gentleman and very gracious.  What was curious was to hear and learn the differences in the cities, especially compared to New York, punk fans in DC were more respectful and polite.  I don't think Rollins cussed once during the interview which was a contrast to getting a tour of New York by the street survivor John Joseph...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Regulator kicked ass, combined talents from Bad Brains and Cro-Mags raged at Bowery Electric

9/26/14 12:32

Driving into the city last night was easy.  I didn’t rely on the Waze or the GPS.  I have driven in a few times to the Bowery Electric.  I felt confident in my sense of direction.   It’s perhaps one of my strongest traits.  Leaving New Hyde Park around 9 meant less traffic.  I drank a couple of beers at a farewell party – some salad and pint of water and I was off.  I was a man on a mission.  Onto the cross island and onto the LIE and then the BQE and follow the signs to Manhattan.  The sparking city was resplendent from the passing rain.  I found a parking spot, paralleled parked the Charger and walked a couple of blocks to the Bowery.  Turned left.  Pass some restaurants and a 7-11 and there it was.  Walked in, checked in at the ticket table.  Showed ID and headed downstairs.  Passed legendary Bad Brain’s guitarist, Dr. No, but was too shy to say anything.  

The place was packed.  SubZero was on the stage.  They played the last two songs of their set.  The lights went on and a flood of bodies escaped into the night.  It was the time to climb into the heat.  I went in, stepped down into the pit and took a spot in the back next to the sound board.  I was safe.  I was back against a wall.  

I was there to see Regulator which as members of Bad Brains and Cro-Mags.  Dr. No was warming up and high fived Mackie, the drummer of the Cro-Mags as he sat down behind the drums.  A content Daryl Jenifer, bassist for the Bad Brains, eventually was on the stage and warmed up as reggae music thumped through robust speakers.  It was a few minutes of sound check. The collected and anticipating bodies waited like patient monks till John Joseph, the singer for the Cro-Mags took the mic and asked, “How’s everyone doing?” Ready to rip. 

The super group piled on the bricks of the Bad Brain’s classics.  Sailin’ on, Don’t Need It, The Regulator, essentially all of the songs off The Bad Brain’s seminal self-titled album, but skipped over the soothing (take a break from aggression) reggae selections.  They played House of Suffering off the album I against I and they nailed it.  

Why skip the reggae?  My thoughts: the reggae songs were the influences from their singer (HR and his younger brother Earl Hudson) It was another reminder this was not the Bad Brains on the stage.  Not that it mattered to the crunching horde slam dancing, jumping, legs over heads, shoving the heavy and solid music board back.  The energy in the room raged.  

John Joseph carried the tunes very well, but the strong vibrato, the classic pristine falsetto of HR’s voice was missing last night.  But considering where HR is now and what he has been up to recently – performing solo shows to some harsh criticism, even his voice can’t match its peaked past.  

Regulator may be flirting with our nostalgic heart strings.  Is there a possibility they will continue as a band?  I was surprised how short the set was - as well as no encore. There were so many songs left to play and there was the expectation they'd play for an hour plus. I'd say they played for about 45 minutes. 

Before closing, John Joseph thanked Jesse Malin for hosting the event.  He explained why we were there – it was a benefit concert for Children’s Tumor Foundation.   Even on his FaceBook page he stressed even if you cannot make the event, you can make a donation to the foundation and suggested buying a T-Shirt on the way out.  All of the money is donated to the foundation.   I will share a link within this post.  Enjoy the pictures.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kids Don't Follow! And We Can't Stop Getting Older...The Replacements at Forest Hills

9/20/14 9:20

Last night was one of those events that met all expectations.  It doesn’t happen very often.  There is the height of anticipation of the first kiss only to meet dry lips or the closing on the house and learning there are chickens in the attic or meeting that one person who you thought would be inspiring and so insightful but instead were dreary bores.  Before we got in Mike T and I bumped into Rhett Miller from the Old 97’s who literally came out of a porta potty and was drying his hands.  Mike shook his hand first and Rhett jokingly said now my hand is dry.  He was appreciative when Mike had mentioned seeing some of his solo performances at Fez so many years before.  He was also pumped for seeing The Mats.  
So, let me share this event.  After decades of listening and dreaming of a Mats reunion it occurred.  For the legion of fans we know why it was nearly impossible, Tommy Stinson the Mat’s bassist was in an exclusive contract with Axyl Rose and Guns & Roses.  The chances for a Replacements reunion were slim.  The second lead guitarist, Slim Dunlap had suffered a debilitating stroke.   But it happened.  The first reunion shows were last year in Toronto and Denver. In more than twenty something years, Replacements were on stage in New York.  Their everlasting goof ball ringleader, Paul Westerberg wore a yellow clownish blazer, red knickers, and knee socks.  He took a guitar and had a smile that could part the red sea.  Tommy Stinson stood to his right and was almost ready.  He fixed the microphone stand and cursed at the roadies, “What the fuck?  Why is this so short?  I’m older and taller.”  Tommy was twelve when he started playing with his brother and the rest of the band.  At the cozy Forest Hills Tennis stadium in New York, The Replacements were tight and efficient.   They ripped into Favorite Thing off their Let It Be album (Twin/Tone) and then Taking A Ride off their first Twin/Tone album, Sorry Ma Forgot To Take Out The Trash.  I was a few rows back from the stage until nature called.  Excuse the interruption, let me get this off my chest; from this vantage point in front of my computer and a day later. I can hear some groveling.  These are the whiners, the hardcore Mats fans who would not dare set foot in front of this semblance of the band.  The Mats were once and this band is a fraud.  Without Chris Mars, their former drummer or Bob Stinson, their former lead guitarist, the band as The Replacements for these ardent and stubborn fans is not truly…authentic.  I heard some of the skeptics.  I looked around me and noticed all of them were singing to the music and pumping their fists.  Listen, Chris Mars refuses to play with the band and sadly Bob has been dead for twenty something years.   Get over it.  For a couple of hours we linked the past to the present and suddenly everything was right in the world.   Each song evoked a burst of energy, but for me there was one particular song which ripped my vocal chords, that was their classic howling blues "White & Lazy" off their Stink EP.  I understand they have not played this song very often. I called out for it when I was in front of the stage and this is my hunch, my faint voice was heard.  I noticed Tommy approached Paul and perhaps suggested a different song; Paul waved his head and picked up the harmonica.  Maybe he thought, “No, I heard some tall guy in the front call out for this and he will get what he called for.  Here’s to you tall guy with the big nose.”  Yeah, I can dream.  Too band I can’t post my video for you all to hear my singing and see The Mats from where I stood.  The song did not get the full or even half of the audience’s response. I assume there were some who heard the song and asked what the fuck is he singing?  Is this a white racist song?  Far from it.  If it was, I would not be a fan.  "I can wake up in the morning and stay up in the afternoon"…there is a link to the set list from last night, which includes, Color Me Impressed, Taking a Ride, Waitress in The Sky, Bastards of Young which is the anthem for The Replacements, “The ones who love you least are the ones you die to please.  The ones you love you best - are the ones you laid to rest, if it’s any consultation I cannot begin to understand.”   Tommy said they had to shut the show early since the neighborhood has an enforced policy, “What can I say? We need to pull the plug at 10 PM.”  When I strolled out into the streets, I was surprised by the robust presence of the police.  There were mounted police who looked menacing, eventually galloping off to battle some night creatures in Kew Gardens.  Why the full force? It was just us older - meandering middle aged punks who drank a few beers and perhaps appeared slightly inebriated to the neighbors. Was there really a need to have a battalion of cops ready or was it the distant threat - that if we acted like the children we once were - we would be severely punished.  It was the slap in the face, the voice over the loud speaker…hello… the party is yourself a favor and listen to the link below, Kids Don't Follow and you'd get the reference.

Thank you for reading this.

Kids Don't Follow

Sunday, August 31, 2014

First there was Alice Cooper, followed by a weak hearted Bubblegum Heavy Metal Band on their final tour


For the record, I don’t like Vince Neil’s voice, it is whiny.  I could only take an hour of it till my ears were pained.  I left the venue half way through their set and was in my driveway just as the concert ended.  I beat the traffic and my ears were grateful.  Vince’s voice and the insincere theatrics are the main reasons why I was never a fan.  For a final tour, these guys acted like they should have called it off before the tour bus hit the road.  But let me tell you, there are songs of theirs which I enjoyed, She’s Got the Looks that Kill, which is off their Shout to the Devil album and Girls, Girls, Girls.  The video for Girls was a hit on MTV when thirty plus years ago the channel played videos…hello YouTube.  Back then, heavy metal had its own show on the channel and this band had…and still has its own legion of fans.  It looked like a sellout, maybe after Groupon promoted $20.00 tickets to the nose bleeds. 
The Crue tipped into the glam metal category of plastic, sugary, sweet metal which was like Poison, Quiet Riot, Ratt and a wish washy band like White Snake.  They were merged into the soft metal, malleable; like their talent.  The video for Girls captured what was important to Crue. The rock stars at their finest; on their choppers cruising on Hollywood Blvd, smoking cigarettes, tattoos and making the rounds of famous topless clubs in the country.  “Hey Tommy, over there!”  Whistles.  I wish I can whistle like that.  This band and like their fellow clones - were all about the image.  These men captured the gluttony of heavy metal, the excess, sex, alcohol and drugs.  These artificial influences eventually made their way into their music which gradually suffered over time.  Listen, their song Dr. Strangelove – sucks.  Like all good things, there is a time and place for it.  It took place back when most of the audience was a lot younger, there was no care to what they listened to - most of them accepted the music and the band without really critiquing or learning what good metal was.  Inset your favorites, AC/DC, Metallica, Zep.  Most of us grew up and moved away from the Crue.
Vince gained weight (and has gained more weight) Tommy made a famous video; Nick suffered from abuse and the other quiet guy, Mick Mars nearly died and looks like a ghost, but what a great guitarist.  The Crue were the eighties.  So with all the criticism why was I there?  Two reasons, the protagonist for a novel I am working on is a heavy metal fan and I wanted to experience a heavy metal concert, the pyro techniques, the leather, the woman and the concentration on their boobs (thank you) and the exuberance of being an American male.  All of that was the first reason.  The second was - Alice Cooper was the opener.  I always wanted to see Alice Cooper. 
Before the show, walking through the parking lot, the men and women drank their alcohol out of plastic cups, ate their dinners and it struck me.  We are all about the same age.  I was not out of place.  I saw more bald heads, out of shape bellies, big bottoms, dyed hair, reading glasses in that parking lot and for a few minutes there was some semblance and association to the decay.  Some things don’t change. The teenage girls who got tired of waiting in their long line to take a piss were now middle aged women with children in college, but they didn’t care -they barged into the Men’s bathroom and yelled, “We’re not looking!” Hold it.  This is why most of us were here, the exuberance of being an adolescent, the salute to the American; a bold proclamation of being middle aged adults - who still had a reverence for their heavy metal and faded concert t-shirts which they bought after the show in the parking lot. 
Nick shared the story which he repeats in each venue, how the band started in ’81 in L.A. when new wave was popular, the only bands around LA were The Go Go’s and The Knack.  “I wanted to play my own fucking music in my own fucking way and didn’t want to answer to anyone.”  He sought and found the musicians because as Nicky so eloquently stated, “It all…begins…with a thought.  We are here because it began with a thought.”  And he closes with a declaration, “We’re going to rock you till your dead.”  Yeah?  I don’t think so you middle aged make-up wearing freak.  Besides, I’d rather listen to The Clash than the Crue.
I read their set list, they would play, the songs I mentioned as well as the Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK, Smoking in the Boy’s Room, and before one mellow song Vince declared, “If you’re 25, your parents probably played this song as they were doing something nasty.”  I could see the youngsters throwing up in their seats.
Alice Cooper put on an incredible show.  This is a man who knows how to get the audience pumped, the way he twirled his cane, swung swords, popped large white balloons which were kicked into the audience and were pushed back to the stage.  He was captured in a strait jacket, beheaded in a guillotine, jabbed with needles - it was a wild show. His band was tight, Ryan Roxie on lead, Nita Strauss, also lead and an incredible drum solo by Glen Sobel and least I forget a native Long Islander, Chuck Garric.  The classics were played;  18, Schools Out, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Hello Hooray, Welcome to my Nightmare.  Alice’s strong voice growled a raspy vengeance.  His stage theatrics were incredible and I would love to see him solo.  These days he is opening up for more acts, so I may be reduced to seeing him open for Rob Zombie – which I wouldn’t mind.  This is the man who influenced the dark image in heavy metal.  He is a true artist and compared to the headliner – he and his band took the opportunity to prove to anyone why he still has it and will not stop.
Oh yeah, The Raskins opened the show to a nearly empty theatre. 

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No Matter How Old You Are - You can be a Scofflaw. The Scofflaws play in Northport, LI as the day faded into the Night

8/23/14 19:40

It was a good week.  I learned on Face Book, The Scofflaws were playing in the park in Northport.  The park is pristine, and there is a classic bandstand set at one end of a long field.  The bandstand is the stage which I used to dream of playing with my band (The Few) in front of ten adoring fans.  That was thirty years ago and yet some dreams are so real, but frankly that one is like old stained glass, the allure catches the light whenever if ever shines on it.  So, I live vicariously through my heroes.  We have our poets and performers, and even the thieves who run reckless in the night causing chaos on our sanctified communities.  Yeah, Rude Boys, The Scofflaws were playing.  I even confirmed it with them on FB.   So, for the whole week I conjured up images of stomping in the grass as their ska music filled the night.  There would be a crowd there.  It was a great vision and on top of that, they were hitting the stage at 7 PM.  It meant there was time for the family to get there and home at a decent hour.  We packed ourselves in the minivan and headed out to Northport.  We even found a parking spot in the park’s lot – what are you kidding?  What luck?  We hauled out blankets from the trunk and barely noticed the grey haired couples in their beach chairs, sitting calmly and some eating their dinner and iced teas.  They can watch their show of a barbershop choir or whatever lame music was playing...there...way back there.  Let’s get this started!  There was Sammy with his van.  He looked confused.  Hey, Sammy!  Like I said he looked confused.  We get into the park and look back at the sedated couples on their chairs.  Could it be there?   Way back there?  The spot with the microphones and little lights and what does it say on the chalk board?  The Scofflaws, 7 PM Tonight.  Really? Here?  In front of them? We drove all this way from Port Jefferson.  Deep breath.  Calm…calm thoughts, enjoy this summer night with the family. So, we played in the park, swung on swings which look the same when I was there almost fifty years ago and took pictures, walked on the dock since if you are ever in Northport you must walk on the dock.  The familiar scent of tar, the green oxidized copper caps on the posts, the cracked floor boards and there in the distance is the boat yard that has been in operation for over a hundred years, maybe two hundred and then it was time to head back to see the show.  The kids were not really interested, although Ali and Amanda liked it.  Yes, Emma as well.  Eileen brought her boys down and we bumped into my father’s friends and we caught up.   We are all Scofflaws no matter how old or young you are.  Little kids were dancing.  Couples were twirling and shaking it.  All of this was taking place in front of the park, even the bikers in their black leather were there to see the band; we are all Scofflaws after all.  They played Boots, Daniel Ortega, Batman theme.  By the end of two encores, Sammy was a sweaty mess.  They were playing another gig later that night in Greenlawn; "The rated R version," Sammy said  They always give it their all. Before the night was over I had to get a pint in at Gunther’s.  I wish Frank Dentrone was with me, but he was in Vermont with his family.  Gunther’s is the sanctified establishment which has brought back so many memories, pitchers of beers, cigarette smoke stuck in clothes and hair and the scent washing out the following morning in the shower.  Seeing Vance Brescia and The Eggmen, Cliff Gardner and his wild dancing, Charlie and Chris, cheers Jon…cheers…cheers and I was there.  I drank my beer while my daughters looked at me, making fun of their weird Dad.  They could not understand what old movies were playing in my mind as I looked across the old bar.  May you discover your own phantoms!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Gordon's take on Hershey but only after The Devils on the Cross Bronx Expressway tried to stop us!

8/18/14 18:25

What did you do on your summer vacation?  It’s a question some of us dread, some of us wait for the question and let the warm memories flow like a broken dam.  What did I do?  I wrote about some of the things we did this summer, but listen to this; summer is not over.  Not yet.  Last Friday we drove to Hershey.  The plan was to pick up Amanda and Emma’s friends, Sarah and Hannah - both are sisters and the pairs graduated in their respective classes.  After we pick them up we drive to Hershey.  Easy enough.  I rented a car and used points for the hotel.  The hotel was in York.  York is forty five minutes away from Hershey, but for two rooms it was a bargain and well worth the drive.  But here's the news, Friday was one the worst driving experiences I encountered.   As a habit, I listen to 1010 and get the traffic.  The Throgs Neck Bridge was reduced to two lanes due to construction or was that the Whitestone? I wasn’t sure.  I waited ten minutes for the traffic report again, but was distracted, so followed the signs , the recommendations in neon and flashes.  We took the Throgs.  We made it over fair easily.  No major issues to report.  The sun was out, a perfect view of the city to the West.  I used the cash lane since my EZ PASS is linked to my corporate credit card.  Not a problem.  Then the sun went black and the traffic stopped on the Cross Bronx Expressway.  Little devils with gnashing teeth beat down on us and taunted us from the hood of the car, tossing pitch forks and flames. It was hell.  We eventually made it to New Jersey as if the anus of a state - was a foreign land - we kissed the trash laden ground as we set foot on the sacred rest stop.  It took over an hour to get there, maybe three, but really - who is counting?  I avoid looking at the clock when I don’t move.  I was numb.  After our break, we headed back out and while on the NJ Turnpike, I came up with an idea.  It was getting late. Why don’t we go straight to the hotel?  That led to the next parking lot which on this Friday evening rush hour traffic - slowly rolled and stopped, rolled for miles.  The devils were taunting me again.  Each exit was a painful imprint on the skull.  My conscience was playing tricks with me, you are here and you need to be there and you are not going very far…are you?  You can get out of the car and walk and you will get there faster.  Was it an accident?  No.  Amanda and Sarah were playing music and seemed settled and bored.  I questioned my logic, perhaps we should have drove to Hersey and spent an hour or two in the park and then off to York?  What is done is done.  Hello Trenton, only took four hours to see you.  What was a four and a half hour trip to the hotel - took nine fucking (excuse me) hours which included the rest stop and a meal at Cracker Barrel. 
The next morning we awoke after a good night sleep and arrived at Hershey Park.  It is tree lined.  The air is cooler and sweeter and fresh with a trace of the decaying hay from the fields.  Most arrivals take the tour which is a ride as well as an educational opportunity on how chocolate is made in the sweetest place on earth.  Years ago, you would be given a little Hershey bar, not these days, we were handed some lame ass chocolate covered beans in a tiny bag.  Rip off!  But I let that go, these days I need to be more grateful.  Thank you, Hershey for the little shit chocolate covered beans.  We checked through the entrance which is beautiful without being gaudy.  You walk into what feels like a quaint European village, why look, it’s Dunkin Donuts.  It’s sort of laid back in the park.  Kids with pimples on their pale faces wear baggy uniforms and push little brooms, picking up white paper napkins and white plastic spoons. They are the walking dead dreading to be seen by their friends.  I was there.  I pushed shopping carts one summer at a super market and recall the embarrassment and the torture since I had to wear a tie in that scorching heat.  My neck and back broke out in boils and I looked at them and picked up a napkin someone else dropped.  I got it, the kid said.  No son, I have this one.  You do enough at this park.  Well, not really, but I thought of it, as we passed slow ass country folk who walked as their underwear was loaded.   Get out of the way. What's the rush?  We can't help it, we are from New York.  Come back to see us.  What's with the characters?  Hershey Bar and Reese's and 5th Avenue - what the fuck?

The water park was fun.  Joe and I hit a ride and flew through a darkened tunnel and out into the light and back into the darkness only to crash face forward into the pool. I flew over Joe and nearly drowned my son who I pulled up from the cool deep.  He looked shocked.  Ready for another? I asked knowing what he’d say. Nah.  He was toast for most of the day.  While Ali and the rest hit the lazy river, I stayed at a table and watched the huge candy bar characters chase little kids and demand to get a picture with them.  Music played and this corpulent woman who was the ring leader for the characters was dancing.  I felt sorry for her.  I really did.  She was smiling though, maybe thinking she was on stage or the life of a party.   I hit the comet which is the oldest roller coaster in the park.  Front row.  I screamed like a little girl. Scott and Tyler also joined us.  Overall it was an enjoyable day for all of us. As night settled in - teenagers who were keeping their safe distances through the day were holding hands and acting like kids at a country fair would do; joking around and gawking at other teens.  They were having fun.  I watched them from a distance and saw one odd couple, the girl was tall and the boy quite short. They held hands and looked to be showing the world how opposites do attract. 

Under the cool night air, we wished for rest. We were at the park for close to twelve hours.   We had our fill.  Good night Fifth Avenue Bar and all of your inebriated chocolate friends.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A very short review of a very long book Duma Key by Stephen King

8/4/14 22:24

Henry Miller said if he could not get into a book within the first fifty pages, he’d put it down and pick up another.  I can relate to that, but what about reading the first 400 plus pages of a 600 plus and putting it down, you have to question my sanity.  I would.  I was fed up with the monster.  The heft in my hands built tight muscles, veins popped out near my knuckles.  The heft is called Duma Key by Stephen King.  I like King.  He gets me sucked into his books and for most of them I will go with the flow.  This beast was a little too much of the erection and less of the substance.  Look how big my book is!  Edgar Freemantle lost his arm in a terrible accident, subsequently suffers from memory and verbal dysfunction, is divorced, moves to the gulf coast of Florida, limps on the beach, befriends a lawyer and becomes an artist.  Not just any artist, but a master.  His works captivate.  They also exhibit a possessed spirit.  So, I started the book back in the winter and watched it gather dust on the floor near our bed and finally picked it up and finished it.  I blame the book on our North Carolina transplant and one of the joys in my life, Danielle Zahm, who I thought was visiting us this summer.  Which was the motivator to finish the book.  Years ago she lent me the wide text.  She told me, you have to read this…it’s a great book.  So I read and read and…I felt like I was watching one of those lame comedians David Letterman would bring out on his show from time to time.  You’d wait for the punch line.  You watch the anguish face on the screen.  They are suffering.  The comedian beats himself up in his wretched mind.  You’re on TV now.  Big break.  Big.  I think King has sold a few too many books and sucked us into his name.  I will continue to buy his books.  I will be a loyal reader.  But this book could have been half the size and made an impact, instead it is lost in his library I add to.  Before I put it away, I have to tell you, I was the one who waited for the gripping, nail biting, "oh no he didn't," and the twisting...he did it. The feeling that this master can create horror like no other.  You wait and you receive.  The last quarter of this book flowed and hurled with an incredible kick.  The scene close to the end when Edgar is walking with his daughter on the beach captured such love.   Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Done.  Now I can pick up and read Nick Tosches...

Thank you for reading this.