Friday, January 29, 2016

My Happiest Moment In The Subway

[Truth in advertising notice: This piece has been published here before, but in two parts. I'm giving it to you now in one, so there's at least that. Since my postings of late - at least, those not telling you to go someplace else and read something for which I was actually paid - have all been about jobs I've held during my checkered career, this fits in with those. It's about my time in the band World's End, despite the title. That's all I'll tell you for now and if you haven't read it before, where have you been?]


(Note to aspiring writers: The first sentence of this piece is what is known as a "compelling lead". It promises excitement and adventure. It entices the reader to begin, assuring a superb return for his or her investment of time. You should always use something similar in your own stories.)


This may turn out to be the most dreadfully boring thing ever written, but I'm going to write it anyway.

When I was 17, I was in a band. The name of the band was World's End, which should give you some idea of the type of music we played. Think Black Sabbath, but not quite as cheery. And when I say "music we played", that's a bit of poetic license. You might want to read that as "re-creation of the sound of a burlap bag full of cats being hit with a baseball bat which we inflicted upon the general public while calling it music".

The band had five members, two of whom were drummers. That's right - five guys and we had two drummers. Make that a burlap bag full of cats being hit with two baseball bats. The only guy in the band who could really play was one of these drummers. I'm not going to say which one, since the other drummer might be reading this and I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings. However, the good drummer died many years ago, so that sort of gives it away.

We thought we were THE NEXT BIG THING!, but we sucked harder than a Hoover factory. The guitarist had one asset - a wonderful cherry-red Gibson Les Paul. However, never in the history of music has such a beautiful instrument been made to produce such god-awful noise. This guitarist sometimes played with both a slide and a wah-wah pedal. When he did so, the result was... well, imagine a fire engine whose siren has had a potato jammed into it. The band included four different bass players during its run, and they encompassed the full range from competent to uninspired. And then there was me. I was the singer/keyboardist and I was the worst of the lot.

I'll give you some idea of how dedicated I was to my craft. We practiced once a week - if everybody wasn't doing something else important like going to a movie. Since I lived in Dorchester, and rehearsals were in Malden, and my keyboard weighed about 60 pounds, between rehearsals I usually left my keyboard at the house of the two guys who lived in Everett. This is why I am now a bass player.

The two guys who lived in Everett went to Malden Catholic High School, which was actually just a couple of blocks from their house. Somehow, they convinced the school to let us use one of the classrooms as our rehearsal space. We'd go there on Saturday morning, set up, and proceed to annoy the hell out of the neighbors for two or three hours. Then came the highlight of our rehearsals. That was the break, when we would smoke a bone and go to Papa Gino's to gorge ourselves on pizza.

(I am still amazed at how much food I was able to put away in those days, stoned or not. I'd order a large pizza for myself and accompany it with a plate of pasta with meat sauce. And bread and butter. And a couple of large Sprites. I weighed about 145 then. And I stayed that way well into my 20's. Now I weigh 190 or so and two slices makes me feel like I swallowed a small anvil. Whuhthefuh?!? However, I digress.)

After pizza, we'd go back to the school and listen to the tapes of what we'd practiced during the first part of rehearsal. This was so we could all yell at Duane, who was the guitarist. "For God's sakes, Duane, we've got two drummers but you can't hear anything except the guitar. You've got to turn it down a bit." To which Duane would reply, "Huh?"

We actually played quite a few gigs - high school dances and whatnot. How we got these gigs is still a mystery to me. I was never one for the business end of things. I was too busy believing I was a rock star. After all, I was the singer and I wrote the lyrics to our original tunes. Here's the first stanza of "World's End", from which we cleverly took the name of the band:

Now the time has come
World's become undone
Fire rains down and there is hell all around
Powers above black out the sun
Split into trillions of crystals
Heat rising from the core
Man is burning - Burnt away!
The Earth is no more!

I was full of all kinds of bright sunshiny thoughts in those days.

I can only recall two or three gigs where we didn't either get stuff thrown at us or otherwise hear the (righteous) wrath of the crowd. One was our first show ever, at Brookline High, April 26th, 1974. I've still got a ticket from that dance at home somewhere. It says, "Come Dance To The World's End!", which was also on the posters advertising our appearance. Amazingly enough, this blurb drew a crowd of 400 or so. This was the early 70's, though, and anybody heavy enough to contemplate death in their music was, like, profound, man!.

I know how we got that job. I was sleeping with the girl who booked the bands for dances. She fancied herself a singer. In exchange for booking us, she got to sing on one of our songs. That was fine. We were both using each other for our mutual benefit. I think the band got paid something like $60, split 5 ways. And four of us had to pitch in for Duane's gasoline, since we hauled all the equipment in his dad's station wagon.

We opened with an original tune called "Feed Your Head". Can you guess what that one was about? I bet you can! Aside from the originals, we did whole bunches of really bad covers. Mostly Clapton and Allman Brothers, for some reason. It didn't really matter who the songs were by, though, as they never sounded anything like the originals when we finished with them. If we didn't announce beforehand which song was coming up, for all anyone knew it was another one of our own compositions.

Despite the execrable nature of our performances, I truly believed that we'd get a recording contract. How we were going to get it, I don't know. Looking back, I think we would have had to have mugged a real band.

I vividly recall another night when we played at a high school in Malden. After the first band finished their set (yes, we were the headliners...) we took the stage. About halfway into our second song, a lit cigarette flew past my head. Then another one. Then a beer bottle hit Chuck's bass drum. I calmly took charge of the situation. I made motions to the guys to stop playing. I grabbed the mic and said, "Alright, you cocksuckers, that's enough. You want to fuck with me? I'll kick all your asses!"

That's what being (or thinking you are) a rock star will do to you. You weigh 150 or so soaking wet, but you truly insanely believe that you are the center of the universe and you can fight an auditorium full of drunken football players and gang members. Thankfully, there was a police detail on duty. As soon as the word "cocksuckers" was out of my mouth, the two officers had stepped in front of the stage and they then literally stopped the crowd from charging and killing us. They dispersed the angry mob and made us wait for close to three hours inside the auditorium before they thought it was safe enough for us to pack up our equipment into Duane's dad's car. Meanwhile, I fumed the whole time because my genius wasn't appreciated. I don't think I even said "Thanks!" to the cops. What a friggin' dope I was.

We played some other gigs. Most of them were unmemorable except for their utter crapitude musically. I'll tell you about one more.

We had another high school dance to play. This one was at St. Francis's, which I think was in Everett. Now, Duane, whom you may remember as our "guitarist", was employed at Stuart's, which was a department store in Malden. It so happened that he was scheduled to work at Stuart's on the same evening as this dance. Naturally, one would assume (at least the rest of us in the band did) that Duane would ask for the night off so that he could play the dance. If you assumed that, then you don't know Duane. He decided that the money was better for working a four-hour shift as a stockboy than it would be for performing at this dance. Either that or his father told him to buckle the fuck down and do some real work instead of wasting his time seeing how many different ways he could make a Les Paul sound like an animal undergoing unneeded radical surgery. In any case, he wasn't going to make the gig. What to do? What to do?

Well, it was too late to cancel and it was too late to teach another guitarist our arrangements (such as they were) so the rest of us did what we figured was the best we could do under the circumstances. Our bass player at the time, Sean, was taking six-string guitar lessons, so he borrowed Duane's gear and became our guitar player for the night. Since we had two drummers, one of them was more-or-less expendable, so Mark, who had taken about three weeks of piano, moved out from behind his kit and took over on keyboards. Chuck, being the good drummer, stayed where he was. This left me.

If you recall, I was the vocalist and keyboards player. Since Mark was taking over the keyboards, that freed me up to be the bass player. It's important at this point to know something about me. I had never played the bass before in my life. Some folks might have seen that as an insurmountable obstacle to the success of this endeavor, but not me! I was the guy who called entire auditoriums full of drunken louts "cocksuckers" and figured I could get away with it. What was this compared to that? I assumed I could fake it enough to get by. And, if I couldn't play, I could certainly chew on the scenery.

Which is what I did. After a few hurried lessons from Sean, I played on just the E string for most of the night and I climbed all over the furniture, making an ass of myself and distracting a goodly portion of the crowd from my abysmal failings as a musician. At one point, providence stepped in and gave me a hand. Well, actually, providence stepped in and gave me a bloody nose.

I was standing on top of a cafeteria table, jumping up and down to the beat, when my nose started bleeding. I don't know why it did, but I made the most of it. Blood was steadily pouring from one nostril onto my shirt and onto Sean's bass. I kept on playing, knowing that this was about as cool as it could get. These were the days of Alice Cooper and Kiss and other practitioners of "glam" stage shows, a goodly part of which consisted of the use of stage blood. Hey, I just discovered I had a supply of the real thing at my disposal and I wasn't going to let it go to waste. I wiped my nose with one hand and smeared the blood all over my face and wiped the rest on my pants. The girls in the audience mostly gagged, but all of the guys were nodding their heads and mouthing, "Far out, man!"

(It helps if you read that as though either Cheech or Chong is saying it.)

The song ended and I had sense enough to sit down and throw my head back for a minute. Sean played a few power chords and leaned into the amp to produce some feedback, so that bought me some time while I snuffled up the yucky stuff in my nose. The bleeding stopped almost as quickly as it had begun. I probably popped a polyp or something; who knows? It was the highlight of the show, though.

As a coda to this episode (Notice how I slipped in an actual musical term here? Clever!) Duane finally showed up about 30 minutes from the end of our last set. Like a musical god from Olympus deigning to associate with some mere mortals, he strode in, grabbed the guitar from Sean, and assumed his rightful place as ***THE GUITAR PLAYER***. The rest of us mere crustaceans scuttled back to our respective support positions while he assaulted the audience with his own particular brand of aural defoliant. Some of them probably never had kids as a result. I wanted to make my nose bleed again, but I couldn't quite will it to happen.


I should mention here that a couple of us did go on to become decent musicians.

Soon after the nosebleed gig, I took up the bass seriously and played in another 4 or 5 bands over the course of the late 70's and early 80's. Since the bass is much easier to transport than keyboards, I actually practiced daily. I still play, but just for fun. I haven't played an actual gig since 1989 or so.

Sean continued taking guitar lessons and today he is an extremely accomplished jazz player. He plays in Boston-based ensembles and occasionally tries to get the hard-core jazz guys to understand why he likes heavy rock.

Bruce, who replaced Sean and was our bass player at the time of the "cocksuckers" incident, lives in New Hampshire and still plays. He is quite good.

Duane and Mark both became things other than musicians. I totally lost touch with them long ago. Or they totally lost touch with me on purpose, which is always a possibility. In any event, I don't know if they still play. And, Mark, if you're reading this? It's all in fun - you weren't a bad drummer. You just weren't the better of the two.

[Update: I found Mark on Facebook recently. He's a good guy, always was, and after reading this he told me how much he fondly remembers those days. His brother, Duane, is a lawyer. I tried to open communications with him, but never heard from him. Maybe he's considering suing me for defamation of character. If so, he'll lose. I still have tapes from those rehearsals.]

As I mentioned near the beginning of this story, the other drummer, Chuck, has been dead for many years. He was a backseat passenger in a car that was totaled when a drunk driver ran a red light. He was 17. I know I speak for every member of World's End when I say we still miss him.


So, what in the name of the Amazing Kreskin does any of the foregoing have to do with the subway? Well, not one hell of a lot, but now I'm going to tell you the subway story and you'll see that it's not much and I really had to pad things out, so I did.

Mark and Duane, as I may have mentioned, lived in Everett. We were good friends outside of the band, so I occasionally hung out at their house. On Saturday or Sunday, I sometimes watched TV with them and their dad until 10 or 10:30, and then I'd start heading home.

Well, one Sunday evening in early 1975, it was as bitter cold as I ever remember it being and it was snowing. In order to get home to Dorchester, I had to catch a bus from near their house and take it to the Sullivan Square station on the Orange Line of the T, which at that time was an elevated line. I then would make a connection with the Red Line to Ashmont and, finally, take the trolley from there. It was a fairly long trip, especially on Sunday evening when trains and busses ran about once every hour.

I stood outside in the vicious cold and snow, with winds blowing at 20 or 25 mph, waiting for the bus to Sullivan Square. I waited and waited and waited some more. I was out there for a good 30 minutes and I was not dressed warmly. I was chilled to the marrow by the time the bus came, shivering and shaking and with wet feet. My nose was frozen and my eyes were watering. My ears hurt like hell, even with my long hair of the time covering them somewhat.

The bus came and I got on, but I discovered to my dismay that it wasn't much warmer. There was no wind or snow inside the bus, of course, but the heater wasn't working, either. I didn't warm up much on the 15-minute ride to Sullivan Square.

The bus pulled into the station, which was basically a huge wood-and-cement barn open on both ends, so the wind whipped through it making me entirely as miserable as I had been at the bus stop before. I heard a train. I reached into my pocket with frozen fingers to get some coins, paid my fare, and ran upstairs to the elevated platform just as my train pulled out towards downtown.

This was even worse than the bus stop. The elevated platform was completely open and perhaps 20 feet in the air. It stood alongside a section of I-93, so while you waited for the train, cars would go by at eye level. It also was very close to the Mystic River and there wasn't much of anything near that platform to cut the wind. It was perhaps the coldest spot in the entire city that night.

I stood there on the platform with the wind whipping and the snow blowing and my nose frozen and my feet wet and feeling very sorry for myself. Then, something caught my attention.

If you're a veteran of public transit, and perhaps subways in particular, you know that, at one time, many subway and elevated railway stations had waiting rooms. These were places where someone could get out of the elements for at least a short while while they waited for a train. At the time of this story, these waiting rooms were already pretty much a thing of the past. Too many winos used them as urinals or bedrooms, and the liability risks had become such that the T always kept the doors to them locked. This night, though, out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the lights were on in the waiting room at Sullivan Square.

Could it be? Might the doors actually be unlocked? Would I be able to go inside and get out of the bitter cold wind? I pretty much ran over there to check it out.

YES! YES! YES!!! Not only were the doors unlocked, but when I stepped inside the room it was as warm as Miami in July. Some wonderful, blessed angel employed by the T had turned the heater on full blast. My face began to melt. My nose, as it defrosted, dripped both inside and out, but snot was a small price to pay for such relief.

I should mention that, in those days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, it was perfectly legal to smoke in train stations. As a matter of fact, some people were still pissed about not being allowed to smoke in the cars themselves, as had been legal up until recently. So, to make my circle of happiness complete, I plopped down on a wooden bench and lit up a Kool, inhaling the menthol deeply. I had never been, nor have I ever been, more happy in the subway than I was at that moment. It smelled like piss, there were a few spiders crawling around, my clothes were still wet, and I had a post-nasal drip that wouldn't quit, but I was pretty much in heaven.

And that was my happiest moment in the subway. The End.


(Note to aspiring writers: If you don't know what "allegory" is, you should. The weather and the bus and the subway are life, while that smelly dirty waiting room was the band. To an outsider, that waiting room was just a piss-ridden bug-infested pit. And the band was a catastrophe. But my happiness was immense, and very real, in both situations.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Stories About Grand Delusions

So, getting back to jobs I've held...

Oh, right. You might not have been here for the first few tales. Here they are, in the order I published them:


Paperboy - Part Two (this is the part with sexy bits, maybe)

Paperboy - Part Three

Blackjack Dealer

More About Dealing Blackjack (but mostly about eating a hippopotamus, and if that doesn't intrigue you...)

Barker On A Walking Charlie (and unless you read it, you'll never figure out what that means...)

Barker On A Walking Charlie - Part Two

Barker On A Walking Charlie - Part Three

Stock Clerk & Shoe Salesman (Wow! Sounds Thrilling!)

Garage Cleaner (as well as unintentional daredevil)

Once you're done reading all of those, it will be 2017 and I will have moved on to something else entirely. Meanwhile, we’re now more-or-less into the period of my life wherein I tried - many times – to become a rock musician. Actually, I was quite successful in my attempts to become a rock musician. It was getting paid enough to make it a living that was the tough part.

I'm going to write a bit about each of my bands, in rough chronological order. Here are the names of all the bands I was in: World's End, Destination, Live Wire, Powerline, P. S. Wild, City Limits, Soldier, Squiddly Diddly and Assault & Battery. All were hard rock, some verged on metal, fun was had, friendships were forged, money wasn't made.

My first band, World’s End, was truly a bad band. However, we had a decent following in the towns of Everett and Malden and, because we knew a lot of girls from there, Brookline. We were all high school kids and we played high school dances. I’ve already told you a few stories concerning some of the more memorable gigs (and if you haven't read them, you'll get the opportunity soon when I re-post them, so don't sweat it.)

You might be wondering how I joined the band. Even if you aren’t, I’m going to tell you. I started my “career” as a rock musician in the same way I’ve started just about everything else in my life. I faked my way through it until I actually knew a little bit about what I was doing.

I had been going to church in downtown Boston at a place called The Paulist Center. I became friends with another guy who went there and who played electric guitar in the contemporary mass each weekend. His name was Duane Sullivan. We both liked the same kind of music - Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, that sort of stuff. I had never been in a band before, but I figured I could scream and growl as well as the next guy; maybe even better. So, I lied to Duane and told him that I had been the singer in a band from my neighborhood in Dorchester.

To see how well I could sing, Duane strummed “Smoke On The Water” on his guitar and I sang along. As it turns out, I really could sing decently enough. I had always noodled around on every piano or keyboard I saw, so I told Duane I could play some keyboards, too. He bought it.

Duane’s brother, Mark, was a drummer. The three of us got together a couple of times in the church basement, had some fun, and the band was born. Mark and Duane went to Malden Catholic, and they knew another kid from there, Chuck Marotta, a drummer who wanted to join a band. We happily invited him in.

(We figured The Allman Brothers Band had set the precedent for two drummers in rock, so why not a metal band like us?)

We got our first bass player from among the kids who hung out at the Paulist Center. Oddly enough, his name was Kenny Sullivan. So, in the first incarnation of the band, there were four guys named Sullivan, with only Duane and Mark related in any way. The only non-Sullivan was Chuck. We briefly toyed with calling our group The Sullivan Brothers Band, but we decided it sounded too much like we might play Irish folk music. We opted for World’s End, from the title of a lyric I had written. There would be little chance of mistaking a name like that for anything but metal (or so I thought. Turns out there's a little bit of seashore in Massachusetts called World's End that a lot of people like and it's about as far from a heavy metal sort of place as possible, so some folks still thought we might play folk music. Boy, were they disappointed if they came to one of our gigs...)


As the singer, I was the de facto lyricist. Duane wrote most of the riffs, but everybody was expected to pitch in with ideas. There was an unwritten agreement that, if we ever got a recording contract, all of our originals would be listed as group compositions.

(Me, around this time.)

I somehow talked my Dad into going halves with me on a keyboard. We chose a Farfisa. It really had too cheesy a sound for metal, but I hooked up a few toys - wah-wah, fuzz, etc. - and gave it some beastliness. I knew very little about actually playing the thing. I quickly taught myself how to make major and minor triads, and learned a couple of scales in the simpler keys. Mostly, I stuck to playing rhythm, with Duane taking 95% of the leads. The few leads I took pretty much followed the vocal melodies. I hadn’t really learned enough to improvise beyond that.

We were able to wrangle free rehearsal spaces at Malden Catholic High School; in the basement of one of our bass players; and even in an actual garage. That was Grande’s Garage, so-called because John Grande, a friend of ours who acted as our manager for a while, was able to talk his father into letting us use his company’s workplace to set up in on some Sunday mornings. Grande’s dad owned a construction company, so we set up amongst the tractors, forklifts, and backhoes. It was a fitting place for us, as our music in many ways resembled the noises made by heavy equipment.

(John was an interesting guy. He was one of those fellows who grew a full thick moustache by the age of 15. By the time he managed us, he looked like he was in his mid-20’s, so he was able to negotiate better deals for us than he would have if the bookers knew he was only 17.)


Before we ever played an actual gig, Kenny Sullivan left the band. My friend from Boston Tech, Sean Flaherty, was recruited to play bass. Sean was taking six-string lessons, but he bought Kenny's bass for something like 10 bucks and joined us.

(I own that bass today. It's a Kimberley, I believe. There's no marking indicating the maker, but I seem to remember it being called that. I played it in almost every other band I was in following World's End.)

Sean was with us for our very first gig, played at Brookline High School - see ticket above.

Sean was a weird one.

(Well, he's still a weird one. I love him dearly, and I still get together with him quite often, but he'd be the first one to tell you he's not Mister Normal.)

While the rest of us were living out rock and roll fantasies, and dressing the part - tight shirts that showed off what muscles we had, requisite tight pants to make your bulge look as big as possible, long hair, attitude - Sean was in love with baggy hockey jerseys. He always wore a hockey jersey on stage. And while the rest of us fought for the spotlight, Sean sometimes stood BEHIND his amp.

(Some of that reticense was no doubt caused by Sean's acne. When I met him, in the cafeteria at Boston Tech, he had THE absolute worst case of acne I had ever seen, God bless him. There was hardly a spot on his face that wasn't covered with some sort of pus-filled blemish. I took to the guy immediately - great bizarre sense of humor - but I used to marvel at his face. I always wondered how he shaved without cutting himself to ribbons. By the time he played in the band, he had been through many painful dermatological treatments and was much better looking, but I'm sure he still carried some psychic scars.)

The first moment when we hit the stage at Brookline High - with Duane playing the opening chords of our original tune, "Feed Your Head" - remains one of the highlights of my life. It was an extremely powerful feeling. Duane chugged out the power chords, Sean laid down the steady bottom, Mark and Chuck pounded out the rhythm, and I stood there with a mic in my hand, feeling like I ruled the universe. It's definitely the highest I've ever felt without aid of chemicals. That feeling is why I continued trying to be a paid musician, off and on, for some 15 years.


A few months later, Sean decided that he'd had enough of standing behind the amps. He left the band and got serious with his six-string lessons. He still hung with us at many of our rehearsals, because we were friends, but we had to find another bass player. Bruce Jarvis filled the bill.

Bruce was a very funny guy and probably the best bass player we had. I'm not quite sure how we hooked up with him - probably a schoolmate of Duane's or Mark's - but he was a welcome addition. Not only could he play, he also had a basement we could rehearse in and parents who didn't mind (too much) that we were making such noise.

The rehearsals in Bruce's basement were the most fun of any of our rehearsals. This was because, by that time, we had a whole bunch of females coming to every rehearsal. In the end, that's what most guys gets into rock for, anyway. They might love the music, but they all expect to impress the chicks. The grodiest guy in the world thinks his sex appeal has been raised seven notches when he joins a rock band. And, to a certain extent, it's true. The confidence you gain comes through in every other thing you do, and confidence is sexy.

Anyway, we spent equal parts rehearsing and posing for the girls. I enjoyed both, immensely.


In retrospect, we were horrible, but at the time we were doing it, we thought we were swell. We had enough other people fooled to make a few bucks at it. We were your basic garage band - literally, when we rehearsed at Grande's place - but we wrote and played enough original material to kid ourselves into thinking we might graduate to bigger things.

I just sort of drifted away from the band a few months after graduating from high school. There didn't seem the urgency about it that there previously was. I still liked the guys, and I didn't have any immediate plans, but somehow it just became a back burner sort of thing. Bruce also left at around the same time, for reasons of his own. Duane, Mark and Chuck recruited a bass player and singer by the name of Wayne Shockley, who I actually ended up playing with within a couple of months time (that will be in a later band's story) but World's End never played another gig after I left.

Meanwhile, I bought a bass and started truly practicing in earnest. I wanted to be a REAL musician. And so I did become (but more stories about World's End next time.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Primarily Speaking

It's still a bit early, but maybe you've decided which of the current crop of candidates you'd like to see become the next President of the United States.

I haven't decided which one I prefer, but I've definitely decided which ones I don't prefer. And, if you care about that, you can read about it over at the Boston Herald website.

(Or, of course, you could buy the actual print version of the paper. If you do, and then bring today's issue to the party I'll be throwing when I win a Pulitzer in, say, 2029, it will entitle you to a free knockwurst, so you can see the value in making that investment.)

As always, kind comments are not only welcome but begged. If you disagree, that's your right, Hillary.

Oops! May have given away part of the column there. Oh, well.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


If you follow my Facebook posts, lately you may have noticed a few things about a trolley.

[One of the trolleys in, perhaps, the late 70's? If your photo, let me know and I'll credit it.]

That would be the Mattapan-Ashmont trolley, sometimes known as the "High Speed" line. It serves Boston (the neighborhoods of Dorchester and Mattapan) and the town of Milton.

 [Map of the line. Go about 1/2 inch north of Central Avenue and that's where I lived.]

It is one of the very fond memories of my childhood that still exists. And my fervent wish is to see it continue to exist.

Some folks don't want that. They think it is too expensive to maintain and would like to see it replaced it with a bus.

[This is how the trolleys look now, with fresh paint jobs - lovely. Photo: Stuart Spina, I believe.]

I would like to see the line itself retained as electric transit and I would prefer to see the same wonderful trolleys that have been on the line for some 70 years continue to be the vehicles. And that's what my editorial in today's Boston Herald is all about.

Growing up a few blocks from the Central Avenue trolley stop, I could hear it run on summer nights. Through my open bedroom window I heard the clang-clang-clang of the bell; the steel wheels on the turns; even the opening and closing of doors if it was a particularly quiet evening. It was my bedtime melody. That trolley sang me to sleep.

It was the first part of heading downtown to go Christmas shopping or to my grandparent's home for Easter dinner. It gave me a ride to dates when I was a teenager without a car. When I had my first jobs, it was my transportation to and from work. When I was a kid, it took me to the movies in Mattapan Square. Some nights, I'd meet my grandfather, after his work, at Butler Street station. It was a constant presence in the life of those who grew up in our Lower Mills neighborhood. For the 37 years I lived there, it never let me down. It was - and I don't say this flippantly concerning something mechanical - a friend; one that could always be relied upon to get me where I needed to go, with both style and good speed.

And, if I didn't try to save my friend from death, what sort of a jerk would I be? Thus, my editorial in today's Boston Herald, which I hope you will read. As always, kind comments are welcome - and may even help my friend, the trolley, to survive. That's something I would like very much.
Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mr. Suldog's Wild Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the wild ride of Suldog here,
In the month of August, in Eighty-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers him being filled with fear.

(Little did Henry Wadsworth Longfellow imagine that someday a hack like me would screw with his stuff about Paul Revere in order to have a cheap introduction. If he had, he probably would have skipped the whole thing.)

(This continues the series of tales concerning some of my past jobs. As you'll soon see, it does not follow in strict chronological order from the last tale about selling ladies shoes. I mention one or two other gigs and maybe I'll go into greater detail someday concerning those. For now, though, you should know that - as I said in the rotten poem - this story takes place during the summer of 1985.)


Until recently, I had been working doing deliveries for a fruit and vegetable company in Hyde Park, a suburb of Boston. The name of that concern was A & S Fruit. It was run by Arthur (the "A" - his wife was the "S") and I was the only non-family-member working there. I had gotten the job through a recommendation by Arthur's son, Artie, with whom I had just recently been in a band.

Artie played drums and I played bass. We were a good rhythm section, but the band didn't last too long. As a matter of fact, we never played a single gig. Artie was a real nice guy, though, and we got to be decent friends in the short time the group was together.

When the band broke up, I said something about having to find a real job. Artie told me about an opening for a driver at his dad's produce company. He knew that I had had numerous driving jobs in the past and that I held a Class 2 license in Massachusetts.

(The Class 2 license was needed for driving vehicles of, as I remember, over 12,000 but not exceeding 18,000 pounds, and did not include tractor/trailers. You needed a Class 1 license for those. The Class 2 covered such things as dump trucks and large delivery vehicles. I don't believe the Class 2 license exists any longer, but I could be wrong. In any case, I let mine lapse when it came time for renewal, a couple of years after the time of this story.

The thing that pissed me off is that the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts charged more for Class 1 and Class 2 licenses than they did for a Class 3, which was your standard license. Why they did this, I have no idea. They didn't give you anything extra for the price. You had the same plastic-encased jailhouse-quality photo I.D. that you got for a Class 3 license. The only difference I could discern was that they printed a "2" on the license instead of a "3". For that service, the state charged you $35 instead of $25.

So far as I knew, I wouldn't be driving large vehicles again anytime in the near future. I figured I'd save ten bucks and just renew at the Class 3 level. I did, and I have had no cause to regret saving that money on every renewal since then. However, I digress, so back to the story at hand.)

I liked the idea of spending most of my day on the road listening to the radio, so I took the job. As it turned out, it was a lot more work than I had figured on. As a matter of fact, I got into the best shape of my life during that summer.

I spent most of my day loading and unloading 40 and 50 pound crates of fruits and vegetables, sweating my ass off hauling them into restaurant kitchens and stacking them in their walk-in freezers. Also, part of the deal was all of the free fruits and vegetables I could eat. All day long, between stops, I'd shovel fresh sweet strawberries, oranges, bananas, and other yummy fruits down my gullet. Each night, I'd pack up a sack from the warehouse and bring home sweet peppers, tomatoes, squashes, carrots, potatoes - whatever struck my fancy. I didn't pay for produce a single time while I was in Arthur's employ and that was an excellent benefit of the job.

And I've got to tell you: There are few joys in life that compare to having worked all day in 100 degree heat, hauling heavy boxes, pouring gallons of sweat from your body, and then arriving back at the warehouse, walking into the freezer, sitting down on a cool stack of crates, and slicing up a fresh cold pineapple to eat. Oh, man, that was heaven!

My favorite memory of the job with A & S, however, has to do with the telephone. Whenever someone would call the warehouse - to place an order, inquire about prices, complain about a delivery, or whatever - Artie would answer the phone by saying the name of the company. However, he never said it clearly. So, when he picked up the phone, it sounded like he said, "Anus Fruit". The person on the other end would invariably say, "What?!?", and then Artie would say, "A... AND... S... FRUIT. How can I help you?"

I was with Anus Fruit for about four months. I was in great shape, the pay was decent, I liked the folks there and they liked me. I worked hard and didn't complain. However, I still harbored notions about being a rock 'n roll star someday. Getting up at 3am every morning, working through until 4pm or so in the afternoon, and then falling into bed by 8 o'clock each night did not leave much opportunity to play the bass, let alone put in the time needed to rehearse with a group. So, when I received an offer to join another band, I gave Arthur my notice. We parted on very good terms. He told me that anytime I ever needed a job, I would be welcomed back.

Now, even though my job with A & S involved driving, it has nothing to do with my wild ride. That happened at my next job, which I will now tell you about.


I was in the band that offered me the position as bass player - the name of that band, by the way, was Squiddly Diddly, and that's about what happened there aside from a few sets at parties - and I needed to have a part-time paying gig to stay afloat. I wanted something that wouldn't be more than a couple of days a week so I'd be free for rehearsals and the playing dates that never materialized; not too strenuous - I had had enough exercise that summer, thanks - and at least a few bucks above minimum wage, so I'd have enough scratch to keep me in strings, smokes and pizza. I checked the want ads in the Boston Globe and found something that looked like it might fit the bill. It was a position as a cleaner in a parking garage, Sundays.

I've never been averse to pushing a broom. As a matter of fact, I rather enjoy it sometimes. I'm not Felix Unger, but cleaning isn't something I find utterly distasteful, either. So, I went to the garage to apply for the job. The garage was located on Clarendon Street in downtown Boston, and sat atop a tunnel of the Massachusetts Turnpike, Interstate 90.

Well, I've never had any trouble getting jobs like that. I'm a high skool grajooit. I don't appear to be insane. Through the grace of God, I've got no criminal record. I'm able-bodied and I can string together three or four coherent sentences in an interview. What's not to like? I was hired for the princely sum of $5.25 an hour.

However, during the interview I had learned that the job did not involve pushing a broom at all. Instead, the fellow doing the interview asked me if I had any driving experience. I told him about my Class 2 license and my past experiences as a cab driver and in fruit & produce delivery. That was enough to satisfy him. He took me for a short walk outside of his office and into the garage proper. Then he showed me my ride.

It was like a Zamboni machine that ran on dry ground, able to pivot somewhat tightly in corners and reaching a top speed of about ten miles per hour. There was a holding chamber for the debris and dirt that the brushes picked up. And in the rear it had a little yellow flashing light on a stick - you can see it, unlit, in the picture - that I suppose would keep idiots from crashing into me if they were so blind that they didn't see the whole damn machine.

This suited me just fine! I'd ride around the garage on Sunday afternoon and earn about $40; no heavy lifting and I could listen to a ballgame on the radio and smoke. Heck, I wouldn't even need an ashtray. I could just throw my finished smokes on the ground and the little truck would sweep them up.


I reported for work the next Sunday at 10am. A quick lesson on the operation of the little sweeper truck and I rode off up the ramp to the first floor and started cleaning.

It was kind of fun. As I rode, I could see the difference between where I had swept and where I hadn't. In front of me: dirt and dust with some paper trash and the occasional pigeon feather. Behind me: a swatch of clean concrete - or, at least, as clean as concrete gets. I started at one corner, went to the opposite corner, turned and rode parallel to where I had first cleaned until I reached the beginning wall again, and so on, back-and-forth, until I finished the first floor. I then rode up the ramp to the second floor, cleaning the ramp as I went.

On the second floor, I decided to see if it would be more efficient to clean in a spiral. That is, I started in one corner and when I got to the opposite corner, instead of turning around, I hung a right and hugged the wall. I kept taking rights, closing in on the center. I decided that it wasn't as good, since there were too many poles.

I continued cleaning and climbing. It took about an hour to clean each floor thoroughly, after which I'd clean the ramp up to the next floor. There were, as I remember, six floors. Of course, there were two ramps - one up and one down. I'd finish by cleaning the down ramp and then ride the machine back to the office.

I reached the top floor and started cleaning in the back-and-forth fashion I had determined to be most efficient. As I did so, across the garage from where I began sweeping that floor, I noticed an entrance to a ramp I hadn't noticed on any of the other floors. I continued my pattern of cleaning, and I resigned myself to the fact that I'd probably have to clean that ramp also. I finished the floor and entered the ramp. This ramp, unlike the other two ramps which were straight, was a spiral.

As I rode the sweeper down the ramp, I wondered if I had made the right decision to clean this ramp before the OTHER down ramp. If I had done the other one first, I could have possibly found out exactly where this one came out on the ground floor. At least, I assumed it came out on the ground floor. What if it led to a basement or a sub-basement? Would I have to clean those, too?

I didn't know how far I had ridden down on this ramp, as it was closed in on the sides fairly completely and had no exits to the other floors I had already cleaned. I assumed I had gone about three stories down, but it could have been more. Then the thought occurred to me that I should probably go back up the ramp, clean down the other ramp - the one that I knew where it led - and then ask back at the office about this other ramp I was now on; find out where it led, if I actually did have to clean it, if there were other floors, like a basement. I braked the sweeper and stopped.

That's when I figured out some bad news. It was impossible to turn around on the ramp.

Well, what could I do now? If I couldn't turn around - and I sure couldn't - there was nothing to do but continue down the ramp. The sweeper didn't have a reverse gear. So I continued down. However, as I got lower and lower, toward wherever the end of the ramp was, I thought I heard a low rumbling sound. I braked again. Maybe there WAS a basement that this led to and the noise was the sound of heating or air conditioning equipment. I listened more closely. The sounds seemed to be shifting position; kind of a "swooshing". That was odd.

I rode down the ramp another half turn. The sounds still seemed to be shifting, but now in the opposite direction. And the sounds weren't consistent. Sometimes there were more sounds than other times. I was a bit familiar with sound technology, having spent time in bands. It was almost like a phase shifter, or maybe a Doppler effect. WTF? There was no other way to find out but to keep going.

I figured I might as well get to the answer as quickly as possible, so I laid pedal to the metal. I jacked the little Zamboni-like truck to its top speed of 10 miles per hour. My little yellow light-on-a-stick was flashing. The sounds got stronger and stronger and then I found out what the sounds were, because then I reached the end of the ramp.

I was riding my little sweeper truck in a tunnel on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Holy Crap! The ramp emptied into the breakdown lane of the tunnel upon which the garage had been built. As I realized where I was, my heart started beating a mile a minute. Cars were flying by me at 60 and 70 miles an hour. Meanwhile, what with the shock of finding myself where I was, I hadn't taken my foot off of the gas pedal and I was trundling down the Interstate at a mighty 10 miles per hour with my little yellow light flashing off the sides of the tunnel walls.

I took a quick look around, realized I was in the breakdown lane, and stopped. I kept checking over my shoulder to be sure no cars were coming at me, even as other cars whizzed by in the traveling lanes. Thank GOD for that silly little yellow light. What the hell am I going to do now? My boss is going to kill me, if I don't get killed in this tunnel first. I can't just leave the sweeper on the highway, for God's sakes. If I do, I may as well never show my face at the garage again. Maybe I'll be liable for it if it's hit and wrecked. Fuck! I might be hit and wrecked! Shit! Shit! Shit!

I finally determined that I had to turn the sweeper around and ride back up the ramp.

I was about 100 feet away from the ramp now. With a machine whose top speed was 10 miles an hour, how fast could I turn around? I needed to leave my relatively safe breakdown lane in order to do so. Even with the tight turning radius of the machine, the breakdown lane was not much wider than the ramp and I hadn't been able to turn around there. I'd have to be in an actual place where a car might ram into me and croak me, for at least a few seconds, and someone coming at 70 miles an hour might not have time to see me, little yellow warning-light-on-a-stick notwithstanding.

I had probably about a 1/5 of a mile of visibility back up the tunnel. I waited until I saw absolutely nothing there and then hit the gas. I turned, S-L-O-W-L-Y, now facing INTO the traffic I hoped wouldn't come into sight anytime soon.

I finished the turn and was safely back into the breakdown lane. I was trying to press the gas pedal through the floor, in my anxiety to get off of the expressway. I made it back to the ramp and started up as a couple of more cars flew by.

I stopped on the ramp after a couple of seconds and let out my breath. I was sweating hard and not just because it was a hot August Sunday. I pulled out a smoke and lit it.

I relaxed a bit, but not for long. I quickly realized that there was a very real possibility of my still dying. There could be a car coming DOWN the ramp. I tossed my smoke and hit the gas again. I had to get back up to the top floor as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, while the top speed of the machine was about 10 miles per hour going down the ramp, it was about 5 going up, if that. And the machine was not enjoying going up seven stories all in one fell swoop. It was actually slowing down. I wondered if I'd have to get out and push the damned thing before I reached the top. Meanwhile, I had visions of a Cadillac coming down the ramp, plowing into me and splattering my guts all over the walls in a spiral pattern.

Well, I'm writing this so you know I made it back up the ramp without dying. As soon as I made the top floor, I pulled the sweeper over to the side, parked it and got out. I sat down on the floor of the garage and lit up another smoke. As I sat there smoking, the garage's elevator door opened and out walked my supervisor. He didn't look happy as he walked over to me.

My first thought was that he had somehow found out about my ride on the turnpike. However, it wasn't that. He told me that he had checked my job. He said that I had left some spots in the corners and around poles unswept and he wasn't happy with my work at all. I felt like telling him that not only had I cleaned the entire garage, but I had cleaned a whole other ramp that I probably wasn't expected to do - as well as about 100 feet of two lanes on Interstate 90.

I didn't tell him that, though. It wasn't worth it. I had decided that I was through being a garage cleaner. If the work I had done wasn't good enough for him, then screw it. I was going to be a rock 'n roll star, after all. I could always find another shit job to make ends meet. Anyway, I seriously thought I had done a good job. I missed a couple of spots? I didn't think I had. Even if I did, his attitude and demeanor just pissed me off to no end after having taken a ride that scared the bejeezus out of me. I stared at him as though he were a madman and told him, calmly, that if he thought my work was that bad, then I was quitting and he could mail my check.


And that's the story of my wild ride. I never did find out why that ramp was built to empty directly onto the Mass Pike. I assume it was an emergency exit of some sort.

Interestingly, MY WIFE and I have had, for a few years now, season tickets to a theater company near that garage. The theater validates parking in that garage, so I end up parking there six or seven times each year. Every time I go in there, I see that little Zamboni-like sweeper and I shudder just a bit.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I Won The Powerball Jackpot!

That got your attention, right?

Well, it's a lie. I did NOT hit the Powerball jackpot. Therefore, I still need to make a living. And I can still use your help. So, if you'll head on over to the Boston Herald website to read my latest piece there, and then leave a nice comment, I sure would appreciate it.

As a matter of fact, I'll tell you how much I'd appreciate it: If you leave a nice comment, I'll give you a share of the winnings if I ever do hit the Powerball jackpot. I'm not saying how much of a share, but I'll definitely give you something. And, if you have an actual letter to the editor published concerning today's column, I'll give you a straight-up 1% share of the jackpot.

Yes, folks, that's right. I'm not above bribing you to pretend you love me.

Of course, if you're the one who hit the jackpot, how's about sending me a million or two? You'll be doing the world a great favor because I'll promise to never write again if you send me enough dough. It's a win-win!

Look, I'm just a poor ink-stained wretch. Help me out here. Either send me a ton of cash or go read my column.


Either way, I thank you in advance (but especially if you're making out a check.)

Soon, with more lies.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Ladies Shoes

So far, I’ve given you some fairly decent stories about my times as a paperboy, a blackjack dealer, and as a barker on a walking charlie. I’ve still got some good stories to tell you about being a musician, a security guard, a dishwasher, a cab driver, and a – horrors! - drug dealer. I’ll be reprinting some wonderful stories concerning my stints as a gas station attendant and as a garage cleaner – if you haven’t read them already, you’ll enjoy them, and if you have read them already, I’ll ask you to pretend that you’re enjoying them again. Today, however, I’m going to regale you with stories concerning my history as an employee of a shoe store.

Believe me when I tell you, there is almost nothing interesting about working in a shoe store. Feel free to skip down to the end and leave some sort of generic comment that lets me know you care about me even if you didn’t read the whole thing. I’ll appreciate the sentiment and you won’t have missed much.

I began my first “real” job (the first one wherein the government took taxes out of my paycheck, while promising to give part of them back to me if and when I retire) just prior to my senior year in high school. I was 16, it was August of 1973, and for some reason or another I decided that loafing around was NOT preferable to working. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept loafing. My entire life since that time has been spent in a fruitless effort to recapture the indolence of my youth.

You know what? I can’t even remember how I came to be employed in the shoe store. That’s how boring a story it is. I don’t know if I answered a want ad, or someone told me about the job, or even if I might have been shanghaied by footwear pirates. All I know is that I ended up in the stockroom of Wilbar’s Shoes on Tremont Street in Boston, receiving the princely sum of… Well, I’ll be damned if I can figure out, from looking at this pay stub, how much I was making an hour. Let’s call it $2.38.

For that money, I pretty much hung out in the stockroom drinking iced coffee, smoking Kools, eating donuts and cinnamon rolls, and listening to Brother Louie by The Stories on the radio, which seemed to be in rotation on WRKO once every fifteen minutes. Occasionally, a shipment of shoes would arrive and I’d unpack them and place them on the shelves. Once a month, I took a sloppy inventory. If the store was very busy – which it rarely was – one of the sales clerks might ask me to check stock for something a customer was requesting.

I worked – if you can call it that - on Tuesday and Thursday after school, and on Saturday mornings. I held this job for about eight months.

It was a decent enough way to earn a few bucks, I suppose, but I had my heart set on becoming a musician. I had joined a band around the same time I started the job at the shoe store. I also still worked the odd night as a blackjack dealer and got as much for four hours of doing that as I made for the three days combined at Wilbar’s, so that didn’t contribute to making me grateful for the opportunity to stack shoes.

After about six months of putzing around in the stockroom, I was given a part-time “promotion” to the sales floor. Despite my experiences dealing cards and barking, I was still pretty shy. I much preferred staying in the stockroom ALL of the time and reading The Real Paper. I truly didn’t relish the idea of feeling up a bunch of strange women’s feet while fitting them for shoes. In addition, I would have to wear a tie and not smoke. There was no raise in pay, although there was a vague promise of some commission. That wouldn’t kick in until after I had made something like $500 worth of sales in a week and I had my doubts about selling ANYTHING, let alone that lofty amount of sandals and pumps in two nights and one Saturday morning per week.

The picture below – God help us all – was taken for my senior yearbook at Boston Tech, but it’s a fine representation of what I looked like while on the sales floor. That vacant expression was pretty much my regular look.

(And, yes, I liked that shirt. It was my favorite. I wish I still had it, no matter what cruel jokes you’re at this very moment formulating concerning it.)

My supervisor was a nice fellow by the name of Rick. He was probably 24 or 25 years old, although he seemed much older to me at the time. Rick would see me standing off to the side, waiting for someone to approach me and ask for help. He’d sidle up to me and say, “Jim, you're supposed to offer the customers some help, not stand there waiting for them to talk to you. Walk around the floor a bit instead of standing there like you’ve got a Popsicle stick up your ass.” He said it with a smile.

I don’t think I made more than five or six sales in the month or so I was on the floor. They never had to worry about figuring my commission.


In recognition of his having done such a stunning job of making a salesman out of me, Rick was promoted to the main office, situated on the floor above the store itself. A man named Jonathan replaced him as sales supervisor. He was not promoted from our sales force, but was hired from the outside. As a result, there was a bit of resentment among the sales force towards him. He put me back in the stockroom full-time. The sales folk thought I should be pissed about this, so they commiserated with me about it and I played along with them, but I was secretly relieved - at least until I found out what Jonathan had planned for the stockroom.

He intended to reorganize the whole shebang and he hired another person to work with me while doing so. His name was Seth and he was a couple of years older than I was. Thus, by dint of my shyness and youth, I was not only demoted back to the stockroom, but I was also now more-or-less under Seth, too. And doing a job I found absolutely no need for doing.

I had been working the stockroom for about seven months. I knew where everything was. I had my systems for getting the work done quickly. And now Jonathan wanted to tear it all down and rebuild it from scratch under an entirely new system.

I tried. I really did. I worked with Seth for about a week, taking every damned box off of the shelves, moving the shelves, and then putting the boxes back onto different shelves than they were originally on and in different aisles. I sweated and Seth sweated, but Seth seemed to enjoy sweating a bit more than I did.

Finally, I just got fed up with the whole thing. I went up to the office and complained to Rick.

“Rick, this guy is tearing down everything for no good reason. I just can’t take it anymore. It’s pointless work.”

Rick asked me if I had tried discussing this with Jonathan.

I said, “Sure, but he can’t give me a good reason for doing it. He actually said he didn’t need to give me a good reason. I could give him a few good reasons for not doing it.”

Rick said, “Well, he’s the boss now, Jim. There’s nothing I can do about it. About the only choice you have is to do the job or quit.”

I said, “In that case, I quit.”

And that was that. I thanked Rick for his time, walked downstairs, and told Jonathan I was leaving.

I probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer, anyway, even if things had stayed as I liked them. My first band – World’s End – was just about to play its first gig. I thought it was only a matter of time before I would be touring and have a recording contract and be making humongous amounts of money.

Next time: No touring, no recording contract, and no humongous amounts of money.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Little Christmas

As some of you already know - and the rest would have known sooner if I hadn't interrupted with this - MY WIFE and I celebrate Christmas on January 6th.

"January 6th? Why is that?", some of you say.

"Because we are traditionalists," we reply.

January 6th, otherwise known as Little Christmas or Epiphany, is the date given, in some Christian traditions, as the day the Three Wise Men (or Three Kings, or Magi) visited the infant Jesus and presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

(I assume Mary and Joseph appreciated the thought, and maybe especially the gold, but what an infant would do with such things is beyond me.)

Aside from historicity, celebrating on January 6th allows us to reserve our holiday best for other relatives and friends on or around December 25th. We are less harried and hurried during the days when most Americans are collapsing from fatigue. We have a spectacularly relaxed personal celebration on the 6th, reserved exclusively for the two of us.

(For those with an eye for bargains, it also allows one to pick up various Christmassy doo-dads and ephemera at cut-rate prices. Stores remove all vestiges of commercial xmas trappings immediately after the 24th, moving on to Valentines Day and other more profit-driven concerns. That's not a huge incentive for us to celebrate 'late', but it may be of use to you, if you're the type to hunt bargains.)

So I haven't much else to say here today, but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have praised my writing via sending letters to the editor or leaving kind comments on any websites. I usually try to respond with a more personal thank you, if I have an e-mail address, but the season has had its usual share of hecticness (Hecticorousness? Hectorocity?) and if it seems I've forgotten you, I haven't. Your kindness dwells in my heart, not unlike that bacon sandwich from 1983.

So, anyway, Merry Little Christmas! Enjoy a song!

Soon, with more better stuff.

[Illustrations from]

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Happy New Year!

Yeah, I know. It's the third. It has been 2016 for more than two days now. But the piece I wrote for the Boston Herald, which you can find by clicking this link and going to their website, is about the New Year, so...

Happy New Year! I hope God's blessings become abundantly clear to you during this year!

And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for coming here to read me. I apologize for sending you someplace else to read me, but that's why they pay me over there and I do like that.

Soon, with more better stuff.