Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Riding the ferry to Bridgeport

2/18/17 08:15 on board the ferry to Bridgeport
It was one of those nights when the bright moon light was shining on my side of the bed.  I’m not sure what time I was woken up by the light.  I watched as the crescent drifted across the night sky, getting up once to use the bathroom and going back to sleep.  Tried to turn to the opposite direction, but Ali was snoring.  She apologized and turned over.  It was one of those nights when sleep was broken and I am sitting here on this floating metal machine as we sail across the Long Island Sound to Bridgeport.  Somewhere off the coast of Connecticut there is a Russian spy ship or trawler. I don’t see any boats or tankers.  In the summer, Jet Ski jumpers are ripping through the breaking waves in the wake of the ferry.  Sailboats are lingering in light breezes.  Boats are everywhere.  It is stark outside.  The sky is light blue.  The weather is expected to be beautiful this weekend which is one reason for the crowd on this ferry.  We assume we’d get on early.  We assumed we would beat the crowds.  Take the 0800 and be on our way to Boston.  Seeing this packed ferry, all seats taken… I am anticipating heavy traffic.  The abundance of travelling families is on packed display, with kids and dogs and friends and whatever else they have brought with them for this holiday weekend.  President’s Day is one of those holidays that sneak up on us.  Many of us are not aware that Monday is a Federal Holiday and schools, banks and some companies are closed.  Sharp Clinical is closed.  I packed some running gear since I like to run in new towns and yet curious to see how much snow the area received.  If there is too much snow, I will hit the treadmill for a few miles, three miles. I don’t like running on the machine.  It is boring, facing the same wall, watching a small screen the audio on mute and my thoughts are a circular pattern of; this is boring, why is it taking so long?  Only a quarter of mile?  Here we are.  Waiting to get to the other side.  I can hear the rampant conversations and the lulls. There is laughter.  There is anticipation of seeing Mo Cheeks and the rest of our family.  I want to hit a book store.  There I said it, the man with too many books wants to hit another store.  We sit packed together on this long bench.  

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Be Authentic and Take a Stand

2/12/16 21:37

I could hear the screams from up here.  21 Pilots just won a Grammy and our youngest was screaming.  I’d rather clip my toes or fold my laundry than watch any of the award shows.  I don’t care to watch the Superbowl either, so it’s not just the shows, but the insane blitz of celebrity and glamour.  There doesn’t appear to be anything or anyone who is authentic, and yet I watched Meryl Streep take a stand against our current President.  She spoke from her heart.  Last night I was speaking to a family member and he cringed when thinking of Trump as our leader.  I am sorry I am going off on something else.  But here it is.  Thoughts on a Sunday night before the new week begins.  I will be travelling for work and meeting with prospective clients.  There is nothing authentic about Trump.  There is said it.  I pulled it all together.  Be real.  Get real.  Take a stand!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

2/4/17 07:31

I know what you’re thinking.  We’re like two old friends who sit across from one another over a beer.  We haven’t seen each other for a few months.  It’s good to catch up, but there gets to be a point in the conversation when the breaks and the silence seeps in and we smile aware of the spreading distance.  I’ll help to make you more comfortable and do what I can to bring you back.  It’s the way life works. Some of us move on and we return searching for the familiar reassurance; we are alright.  Aren’t we?  Let me get this off my chest.  Was I disappointed with the results of the last election?  Absolutely and I am reminded of this most days.  It’s like a nightmare we are living through, but this struggle will continue for years.  Being the eternal optimist, I have already heard and seen the progress.  We are making our voices heard.  Instead of focusing on that here and now, I want you to know that I am alright.  I’ve removed myself from Facebook, but not in an official way.  I’ve tried this before and like a gnat, the FB continues to come back to remind me of its existence.  I am on Twitter, but scroll through most of the advertisements.  I’m focused on sending out query letters for my new novel and Ali and Amanda have helped immensely with editing both the manuscript as well as the letter.  I was sending letters and receiving minimal responses, and knew there was something amiss.  Ali caught the spelling errors and streamlined the summary.  I am reading more.  I’m struggling through Wicked by Gregory Maguire, this is my third attempt and yet I will get through it.  Still waiting for the “controversial” scene which is the reason why I am painfully getting through it.  Not my style of writing.  There I said it.  Last weekend Amanda was home and I read Maya Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter.  The book itself was not a letter nor did she have a daughter, but it was a series of essays on her life and living a virtuous life.  When I think of her work, I think of Amanda.  Here are some quotes from the book which I hope you will read.

“…courage is the most important of all the virtues.”

I would recommend reading her essay from the book, National Spirit, “For the past four decades our national spirit and natural joy have ebbed.  Our national expectations have diminished.  Our hope for the future has waned to such a degree that we risk sneers and snorts of derision when we confess that we are hoping for a brighter tomorrow.”

Thank you for reading this

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Henry Rollins is a sell out

10/30/16 17:27

I heard the criticism about the Henry Rollins for years, a self-absorbed, macho, and of course a lunatic.  I have a friend who were threatened by the Henry years ago.  I have read his articles and books, and would say I am a fan of the Henry; the myth which he created when he adopted a different last name, "Rollins" when joining Black Flag.  I always respected the Henry who would tell us at his shows that he was accessible, since he had the punk attitude; there is no difference to the person on the stage and the audience, we were united.  “I am here because of you,” the Henry tells his audiences. You could send the Henry an email and he would respond which is respectable and follows the punk ethos.  When seeking advice, for instance, on books or on bands such as - should I see Suicide who are playing in the city? The Henry thought it was a good idea and I went.  And I walked out before the concert was over.  Their last concert.  The Henry removed his email address from his website, no more direct contact with the Henry.  Last Sunday, I saw the Henry in Philadelphia and was not impressed.  He seemed sort of out of place on the stage and I left the show before it was over.  But before the show, I received a promotion from the TicketWeb pitching a special Q&A with Henry.  For $125 I could ask the Henry questions after the show, get my picture with the Henry and a signed laminate from the Henry.  What happened to the accessibility?  Now the Henry will charge you.  You think this was only for his fans in Philadelphia?  Not quite.  The same promotion was in-place when I was saw him in Westbury.  For $125, I could meet the Henry and ask the Henry a question.  I ignored the promo, brought my books for his signature to the gig - since I’d like to have them for my or the Henry collection.  The show itself was full of rehashed stories which I heard over the years and yet he added a new twist on his tip toeing around his sexuality, since he has been friends with Ru Paul for years.  Who cares?  He is seen hanging out with Ru Paul and the stories fly around the web that they are an item. The Henry received an email from a distraught fan.  Sounds like bull shit to me.  Listen, you are on the pride ride or you are not.  Either way, I don’t care.  It takes guts to tell the world you are gay.  It also takes integrity.  So, after the show I go back to the shiny monster tour bus for the Henry. I see his manager, who makes an announcement to the five of us standing around for the Henry, “Sorry fellas, the Henry is not coming out due to liability and management contracts and etc.”  Wait, you mean to tell me he’s not coming out, but if I paid $125 I could have met him after the show?  First he denied it and then made up some shit that was only in Philadelphia.  Henry Rollins, you lost this fan.  You’re a sellout.  You’re gouging your fans for all they can give.  Go on repeating your stories around for the rest of year and try to get on another ad for Calvin Klein.  You said it, you are a whore.  Your words.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Long Island Ducks lost the championship in a barren stadium

10/16/16 19:31 Home

My apologies for the lucky five who read this blog on a consistent basis.  This is one I wanted to get in before the baseball season is completely over. This entry is about the Long Island Ducks who were swept in the Atlantic League Championship at home by the Sugarland Skeeters.  The week before the Ducks were selling playoff tickets for $5.00.  Ali and I took Joe and Bella.  Big spenders.  I was surprised there was a small turnout.  Five bucks for a playoff game…on the weekend?  Why?  But I guess the weather was a little chilly for a few fans and most decided to skip it.  They missed a good game, the Ducks won, tying that playoff series against the Somerset Patriots. I decided to take in the deciding game the next night to see if they could pull it off and they did.  Again, there was minimal fan support.  Why?  During the regular season The Ducks sell very well, so I was surprised.  I assumed their fan base would be there.  Instead, I saw the same kid with the green face, the other kid with a mitt who looked too old to be chasing foul balls.  I was like you, so don’t let anyone discourage you brother!  Get the ball.  Later in the week, I bought two tickets behind the Ducks dugout for the first home game in the championship series.  I thought Ali or Bella would join me.  Skeeters won the first two at home and it was a best of five.   The weather was miserable.  Rain was off and on and it was a crappy day.  I called the stadium to see if the game was on.  Yes, was the answer.  Great.  No one wanted to join me, so I walked in and grabbed a beer and took a seat which was dried by the usher with a damp towel.  The Ducks looked like a different team.  It turned out that it was the last game of the season.  The Skeeters won and celebrated in a near empty stadium on Long Island, far away from their Texas fans. I watched them jump on each other as I walked out with a dozen or so miserable fans.  Why did I go?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Foghat Strikes Back with a new album!

9/11/16 Bethlehem, PA 21:49

It’s amazing to think it was fifteen years ago today.  More at another time and place.  I drove up here since tomorrow my company is having a golf outing.  The last time I played golf was more than four years ago.  I don’t like leaving my house on a Sunday, but the car was a Mustang with a sweet kick and the music, Foghat was perfect for driving on any open highway.  Let me tell you a little about what I was listening to.

After three years of production, Foghat has released an impressive new album, Under the Influence on Foghat Records.  It will meet the anticipated expectations from their fans and I hope will make an impact on some younger ears.   Under the Influence was recorded at Boogie Motel South in Deland Florida.   It contains a mixture of classic rock and Southern rock. The third song on the album, a bluesy, slide guitar, a burst in the murky darkness under the shadows of a full moon is titled, Ghost, I imagined a mythical Gothic creature rising up from the dark everglades.  This was one is a hidden gem and stands alone on the album.  Sorry for going backwards, but the second song on the album is: Knock it Off.  This will be a song which will grab you and have you repeating the lines such as, “You keep pushing and pushing…I see you’re looking for trouble, well I can start some too.”  I can see this song playing in a car chase in a movie.  Maybe a Mustang making a break for freedom?  There goes the imagination.   Upside of Lonely, tells the story of a man who is living alone after his lover left him.  “I can stay up late and play my guitar, and the groceries go twice as far… Haven’t cut the grass since the middle of June.”  Heard it through the Grapevine is a crisp and original rendition of this CCR classic.  Pay attention to the background vocals from Dana Fuchs who rips this song from her heart and soul.   Honey Do List is a light piece which pokes fun at the chores all of us are obligated to do or asked to do or demanded - we complete.  The last song is to celebrate Foghat’s classic hit Slow Ride. 40 years!  There is a multitude of background vocals from fans who donated to the campaign to raise funds to record and release this album.  I could not hear them distinctly.  My hope is the next time I see Foghat they will play a few songs off this album since they should be added to their set list.  I recommend picking up a copy of this album and taking a long drive as the music blasts from the speakers.

If I was to rate the album 8/10

Bryan Bassett, lead guitar, slide guitar and background vocals as well as engineer.
Roger Earl, drums and background vocal and original member of the band.
Craig MacGregor, Bass
Charlie Huhn, lead vocals and lead guitar
Special guests, Kim Simmonds, Nick Jameson, Producer Tom Hambridge

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hey Hurricane, you can't stop a minivan on 95!

9/2/16 20:04 Home

Where to start?  On Tuesday morning we woke up and drove to Disney World.  Checked into one of the value resorts, Art of Animation.  A suite was available so we dropped off our things and headed over to Epcot. 

I know where to start.  We should have arrived last night on a flight, but to an impending hurricane and a state of emergency for the whole state of Florida, I felt it should be prudent. I scratched the idea of the flight and picked up another rental for a one way drive back to Long Island.  Amanda was not having any of it and tried to calm me down, but I’ve flown in similar conditions and it wrecked me, turbulence and I do not get along. I panic. But my oldest daughter being the one who has always set her own course in her life booked herself a flight back to Boston and had a pleasant flight back.  Given she was flying out hours before the predicted hurricane, and possible tornadoes which was expected to strike Florida later that night, and would affect 140 square miles, I was not having it.  

As I’m writing this it’s not even a hurricane.  It may not be a tropical storm after all.  Booked a hotel on points in Richmond and made my peace with the idea of driving for half a day and into the night.  

Dealing with Budget Rental was a mess.  I booked a minivan on line, but changed it to an SUV since Amanda said if she was driving up with us - she was not driving in a mini-van - she wanted something like her friend’s father.  An SUV.   It is big and comfortable.  Fine.  Made the upgrade and drove a half hour to make the pick up at a hotel in Orlando. My vehicle was not available, although I made the upgrade and asked for a pick up at 12:30.  The clerk at that Budget said the mini-van was not running properly, the check engine lights were on, and she had to have it returned to the airport. But come back at 2:00.  NO, it’s no longer a minivan…it’s an SUV and I need it now.  Can I pick it up at the airport?  Considering, I still have the minivan from Enterprise which for almost a week cost $36.00.  Thank you points.  They don't offer one way rentals.  Sure, she says.  Go to the airport.  Ever get that uneasy feeling that someone is telling you something which is wrong.  That someone doesn’t know what they are talking about and you’re going to deal with their ignorance?  That’s exactly what I dealt with at the airport.  Amanda booked her flight when there was no vehicle.  Dropped off Amanda at Jet Blue, hugged and said I loved her though she was pissed since I snapped at her and Ali. Want to fly?  Go ahead.  I’ll drop you off and drive up by myself…and Bella, she was the happy camper since we were driving.  This is the best vacation ever!  Dropped off the minivan at Enterprise and walked to Budget.

I waited 25 minutes to get to the counter in the garage, car alarm going off, waiting...I assumed I would pick up an SUV and drive away.  I pre-booked it.  Makes sense.  Get up to the counter.  No, I need to go into the terminal and pick up the key.  Trudge downstairs, my family behind me while Ali is checking for earlier flights since we called Delta and there was no answer nor call back.  She wanted to fly.  Emma – wanted to fly and I think Joe as well.  Mainly it was Bella and her six foot four father who was not having it.  I didn’t want our jet to twirl in the sky like one of the houses in the Wizard of Oz.  So my imagination was creating this mess which was being gorged on by constant weather reports.  

So, I wait in Budget line in the terminal for another twenty minutes, but I notice one guy on a radio controlled microphone.  After each booking he was talking to someone in the garage.  This guy could help. I ask Ali to speak to the man and explain the situation.  My beautiful wife speaks to the man and I’m called over.  Within ten minutes we were out of there and I received a hundred dollars off the bill for the inconvenience.  It was also a hundred dollars more due to airport taxes.  I drove off in a minivan.  It was cheaper and Amanda was flying.  

By 3:30 we were on the road.  By 7:30 we had dinner at a Cracker Barrel close to Savannah Georgia.  Topped off on gas and bought a six pack of Terrapin Beer which is only sold in Georgia.  

Through much of the night it rained and at times it was heavy.  We crossed through South Carolina, North Carolina and finally into Virginia.  The signs for Richmond on 95 were daunting, Richmond 175.  A little after 2:00 this morning we pulled into the parking lot to the hotel, got our key and headed to bed.  We were shot.  I was up before 7 and went out to get our bags so we can take showers and clean up before the drive back.  After breakfast, we loaded up and drove off.  By 11:30 we were in Maryland and picked up some food.  We stopped for gas in Jersey and made a bathroom break at another rest stop in Jersey.  Just after 5, we pulled into the in-laws.  

I drove all the way as a penance for my decision not to fly. I apologized a few times on the ride up that I behaved irrationally.  I know Ali was pissed off at me and we barely spoke on the drive.  

I was lost in the music, singing to songs from the ‘70’s and 80’s and whatever else I found on the satellite radio.  That was a game changer.  I haven’t heard some of those songs for decades, but can’t shake off Donny Osmond’s Look away little girl.  Give it a listen on YouTube and it lock itself into your soul. 

Thank you for reading this.