Monday, October 09, 2017

Columbus Day




Celebrate - or not. I give a few reasons for both in today's column in the Boston Herald.

Here's the column!

If nothing else, enjoy the day off (if you have the day off, of course. If you don't, then do whatever you have to do.)

Thanks for coming here, and thanks for reading - in both places, I hope.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A Worthy Cause (& Fun!)


The Jared Kenney Memorial Softball Tournament is what I'm talking about.

You can find out a bit more about it in today's Boston Herald. I write about it there.

Here's a link. I hope you'll go there and read what I had to say.

In addition, should you wish more information, here is a link to the Facebook page of the fundraiser itself. They can always use a donation of something fun to be raffled off; and sports-related items are especially good since it's a sporting event attended mostly by those who enjoy softball. Or, of course, just buying a few raffle tickets at the playing site will benefit the charity, also.






If you have the time, and you're in the area, I expect I'll be there Saturday for at least a couple of games. They'll be ongoing, on two different diamonds, from 8:30am onward. Stop by and say "Hi!" If you don't see me, just ask anyone in the stands if they've seen Sully. Since it's being held in South Boston, it's possible the person you ask will respond, "I'm Sully. Why do you want to see me?" and it might not even be me.

Thanks for reading, of course. I appreciate it.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Is Donald Trump "Crazy"?


Maybe. Maybe not. Not my call. That's better left to professionals to figure out.

However, how they go about figuring it out, and if they then decide to make their diagnoses public - and if that's in the best interest of both the general public and of the professionals' paid patients - is the subject of my latest in the Boston Herald.

If you'd like to read what I have to say about it, here's a link.

As always, I appreciate you reading my stuff. Thanks!

Soon, with more better stuff.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Swan Song


[me, Fast Freddie Goodman, Mark Alimo, Rob Chatfield]

Eventually, all the great ones reach an age where they can’t perform to the level they once did. It happened to Willie Mays, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Bret Favre. I've decided it’s time for me to call it quits, too.

Sunday, August 27, was my last rock concert ever.

Back when my career began, in the early 70s, I showed the promise of a rising young star. My very first appearance in an arena came at the age of 14 as I sat in the second row at the old Boston Garden for a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. Undeterred by the enormity of the situation, I shared a pipe with my friends under the watchful gaze of David Crosby’s admiring eyes. He looked down at us and took time out from his strumming to give us a big “thumbs up”. Having received such approbation from an acknowledged master, I knew I was on the right track.

Following that auspicious beginning, my career followed an upward trajectory, going higher and higher each time. Not willing to rest on my laurels, I continually added to my repertoire. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say there wasn’t anything handed to me, in a musical setting, that I did not gladly either drink, smoke, snort or otherwise ingest.

There were hundreds of concerts. Name a big-time act and I can probably dredge up a memory (which, considering my career path, is an accomplishment in itself.) But now, at age 60, I’m taking off my uniform of black jeans, sneakers and sweatshirt for the final time. I will fight the morning after no more forever.

I can say I went out on top, though. For my final go-round, I had VIP tickets to see Deep Purple. They were headlining a bill with Alice Cooper and Edgar Winter. I had never bought a package allowing backstage access to a group, but the people with whom I was going wanted that thrill and – since they were willing to split my cost when I balked at the price – I was going, too.

I suited up for the last time and hit the road, with a mostly non-drinking friend driving. Along the way, I downed five beers, a few shots of some amazing spiced rum one of my other buddies brought along, took a couple of (now legal in Massachusetts) tokes, and otherwise geared up as I usually would. By the time we reached the venue, I was yelling “Rugga Bubba!”, which was as close as I could get to “Roger Glover”, the bass player for Deep Purple and one of my heroes.

After watching some of Edgar Winter’s set – including “Frankenstein”, a definite career highlight for someone as drunk as I was – we went to stand in a line from which we would be ushered into the Purple presence. It was near a beer stand, so I had another. There were about fifteen of us, in varying states of non-sobriety, who were brought into a backstage area and told that Deep Purple would soon join us to chat a bit and sign some autographs.

And then, there they were. I mustered up as much fluid speech as I was able. I think I did OK; at least, none of the group members felt a need to call security. I shook Rugga Bubba’s hand, told him of my own bass playing and how much of an inspiration he was to me as a musician, and did not throw up on him or otherwise embarrass my friends. As a matter of fact, Rugga was so taken by my presence that he reached into his pocket and took out one of his personalized guitar picks and handed it to me. All kidding aside, a very nice fellow.

The other members of the group were similarly pleasant. As part of the package, we were given a photo op. We three who had bought the package together also had our photo taken together, wedged in-between four members of the group. Here is the proof…

[L - R: Ian Paice (drums), me, Fast Freddie Goodman, Steve Morse (guitar),
 Mark Alimo, Rugga Bubba (bass), Don Airey (keyboards)]

After that, we caught some of Alice Cooper’s fine set, then it was time for the last concert experience of my career. Our seats were second row, unobstructed to the stage, and Rugga Bubba played about seven or eight feet from us for the entirety of the show. I would say this equaled Ted Williams’s final at-bat, wherein he hit a home run, insofar as musical finales are concerned. I truly thank my buddies, Fast Freddy and Mark, for talking me into buying the package, as well as picking up some of the cost, and I owe you guys more than just money. I would also like to thank my other buddy, Rob Chatfield, who accompanied us and provided the excellent rum.

Of course, I eventually sobered up the next day and realized that, at age 60, my body just cannot stand the rigors of the arena rock experience any longer. As I leave the game, I have nothing to be ashamed of – although I probably would if I could remember more of it - and I would like to assure the proper authorities that I will not be coaching anyone in following my staggering footsteps.

Thank you and good night! Suldog has left the building.

Soon - but not at a concert - with more better stuff.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Missing Persons



My latest in the Boston Herald is a whole bunch of old fart rambling about people who don't exist any longer. It's not that they died or anything; they don't exist in a professional sense, generally speaking. Or they exist, but not in the same way.

Basically, it's unrepentant melancholia. Oh, boy!

Here's the usual handy link...

Thanks, as always, for reading my stuff. If you leave a comment at the Herald website, here's another thank you. If the comment you leave is uncomplimentary, I take it back.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

In Which I Retire...


... from playing softball.

(My softball friends are now laughing and saying, "Oh, no, not again...")

Yup.

If you want to laugh along with them, please go to the Boston Herald and read my retirement speech.

Why, look! Here's a handy link!

As always, thanks for reading (and thanks for not laughing in my face - although that would be a good thing for a purported humor writer, I suppose.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Multi-Millionaire?


Am I a multi-millionaire?

What a silly question. If you don't know the answer, read today's column in the Boston Herald. You will not only get the answer, but you will probably want to have a jelly donut immediately afterward.

C'mon. Isn't that intriguing enough to get you there? Sure it is. Here's a link!

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

LLWS


Little League World Series.

I love it. It's great. It's...

Well, heck, you could go to the Boston Herald and see what else I have to say about it. I hope you will. Here's a handy link!

Thanks for reading. Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Apologies To Mrs. Hickey


Also to Mr. Doucette and Mr. Russell.

Those were the best teachers I had during my otherwise miserable school years. They deserve a mention, as good and entertaining people, since my piece in today's Boston Herald otherwise makes it sound as though my classrooms were supervised by nothing but ogres and trolls.

Also, I am friends with some teachers - Chris Mauger comes immediately to mind - and if my schooling had been accomplished under the tutelage of such as he, I probably wouldn't be the warped and frustrated individual I am today.

That should cover my ass. Now go read the screed.

Soon, with more better stuff (which phrase proves how much my English classes impressed me...)


Sunday, August 06, 2017

Have A Happy Holiday!


Everybody knows there are no holidays in August, right?

Wrong! You just have to be a little creative about it. And I am, in today's Boston Herald. Read my column and find out about a whole bunch of days you can take off (if you don't mind giving your boss a really flimsy excuse.)

Here's a handy link to the article!

Thanks for reading! I'll see you sometime after my celebration of the coronation of King Otto I of Germany in 936, which took place on August 7.

Suldog? Was in der Holle ist ein Suldog?


See? All kinds of reasons to take days off!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Return of 44


Jason Atton - Big Jay - has been a friend of mine for almost 20 years. He being the age that he is, this means I've known him for half his lifetime.

 [2010 - Me, Fast Freddy Goodman, Big Jay, and Joe Baszkiewicz]

Big Jay has always been an athlete. You name the sport, he's probably played it. And not only has he played it, he has probably excelled at it. He played college basketball and won the USCAA national championship with NHTI (New Hampshire Technical).

[6' 7" and superb at blocking out]

I've played with him on a championship team in men's fast-pitch softball (and it was his pitching gem, on the final day of the regular season, that clinched first place for us, even though... well, more about that later.) I know few people who understand the nuances of games more quickly than Jay, and whose physical gifts could as readily make use of that intelligence. Jay has tremendous reflexes and great hand-eye (as well as foot-eye) coordination, and those are gifts, but it has always been his grasp of the details that impresses me. He may be the smartest player with whom I've had the pleasure of sharing a softball field.

That surprises some people when I say it, but it's the truth. The reason it surprises some is because Jay has a great sense of humor and he often plays the fool just to get some laughs.


But make no mistake, he always knows the score (so to speak.)

Because he has such a firm grasp of the rules of various sports, Jay is also a referee/umpire. He earns a good portion of his living reffing football, etc., and it's never a good idea to challenge Jay on a rules interpretation. He just plain KNOWS.

Now, about that softball game I mentioned earlier; the one he pitched for us to clinch first place in the regular season? That was in 2014. Jay ended that day laying on the bench, absolutely drained, and some of us were truly concerned. It had been a hot day for a game, Jay is a very big man (that's why he's BIG JAY), and his uniform was drenched by sweat. We had no idea how concerned we really should have been.

[Fred wasn't unconcerned; he just didn't know]

A few months later, Big Jay was in Houston, visiting with family, when he suffered a massive heart attack. There was serious fear that he might have suffered kidney damage that would require a transplant, since he was also diabetic (something some of us didn't find out until then.) He was more-or-less in a coma-like state for a long time, and speculation about his brain function returning to normal was also on the table.

I'm happy to report that Big Jay made a recovery from all of it. Hell, happy isn't the word; ecstatic is about right. Lots of people, me included, had prayed hard for the big man. But, since then, Jay's physical state hasn't been totally free from trouble.

His diabetes and (I'm the last person to nag, considering my own bad habits, but it has to be said) his lack of taking care of himself led to more bad news. This athletic man, who loves sports so much, had to have both of his big toes amputated. Jay took it with the good humor and grace he has always displayed - immediately after the operation, he said. "Now I can only count to 18..." - but it was a big blow. Jay pretty much had to learn to walk again, let alone be able to go back to sports.

Since then, he's engaged in some smaller athletic endeavors, such as bowling. If you didn't know about his particular handicap, you'd never guess it from his bowling. Jay still beats hell out of me (granted, everybody beats hell out of me.) Jay also took the field again to ref football, umpire softball, etc., but the one thing he wanted just a bit more - and which I have wanted to see since his heart attack - was to make a return to a playing field and pitch softball.

This past Sunday, he did.

Our regular season ended on Sunday, and there was an all-star game and cookout immediately following. In the week leading up to the game, Jay approached me with a GREAT idea. He would be at the all-star game and so would I, but not as players. We would be umpiring the game - me behind home plate, Jay covering the bases. One of Jay's very best friends, and a great guy in his own right, Joe Baszkiewicz, was one of the 24 players chosen to play in the all-star game. Jay thought it would be great fun if, the first time Joe came up to bat, he was allowed to trade places with the pitcher and throw to Joe.

The idea was greeted with enthusiasm by everybody who had to be in on it. And so, when Joe Baszkiewicz came up to bat, with one out, Big Jay called time, walked to the pitcher's mound, and - to Joe's surprise - took the ball from pitcher Brian Pacheco and got ready to pitch.

I was also in for a surprise. Pacheco walked in to where I was umping behind the plate and told me he would take over. He said I had to catch. The all-star catcher, Tony Hutchins, graciously took a seat on the sideline. Jay had specifically wanted both Joe and me to be involved. I squatted, Joe batted, Pacheco umped - and Jay pitched.

It was the first time he had taken the field in that league since that sweat-drenched gutty 2014 game three years before. It was the first time he had pitched competitively since the heart attack that almost cost him his life. It was the first time Jay had thrown a real pitch since losing his two big toes.

It was magnificent.

Big Jay legitimately got Joe out (Joe may be Jay's very good friend, but he was in the all-star game for a reason and he would have loved to have gotten a hit off Jay, I guarantee that.) Then, next up was Drew Atton, Big Jay's cousin, who was pitching for the other team. I stayed catching and Jay stayed pitching. And Jay retired Drew, too, to end the inning. Jay walked off the field to very heartfelt congratulations from both sides. He was legitimately exhausted, though. Eight pitches in a broiling sun had taken it out of him, so he took a seat in the shade and Fast Freddy Goodman took over umping the bases.

It was as good as sports gets. That Jay asked for me to be included, as catcher, means the world to me. Hell, I'm getting misty just thinking about it again. Thanks, Big Man.

And now, I'm turning this over to Jay, because he wants to say something to all of you.

"I want to say how some days were hard going to a Bombers game hurt that I could not be there playing with my family. But even if I only threw 8 pitches today, it was the best feeling in the last two years, and with those pitches it gave me hope that next year I can play with my family. How each person who said they will pray for me, or asked how I was doing, really helped out. The amount of support I received from the league today - the hugs - lifted my spirits. Me pitching to my best friend Joe, and having Sully catch me, and to share the field with my cousin Andrew, might now be my best moment in my sports career, even overshadowing my national championship season. Thank you."

Soon, with something else (but it won't be better than this. It couldn't possibly be.)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Umpire




This week's entry in the Boston Herald is all about my experiences as an emergency fill-in umpire. Even if you don't like sports, there are life lessons. If you don't like life lessons, well, there's sports!

Here's the usual handy link!

Thanks very much for reading. I always appreciate it.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. The umpire in the above drawing is wrong. Since the catcher has the ball in his hand, and not in the glove, that runner is safe. Just thought I'd point that out so you nitpickers in the crowd would know I understand the rules.

P.P.S. I have no idea how the umpire and the two players could possibly get into that position. Either the batter was sliding head first on his back from third base or the catcher is facing the stands and couldn't possibly have gotten the throw from anywhere except behind the plate and that's impossible with the umpire standing in front of him.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Go To The Boston Herald


Figured I'd cut to the chase. Here's a link!

Thanks for stopping by. Here's the usual lie.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hair (And Lack Of Same)


Here's what happens when you go from being a bass player to being a freelance writer.


Before

After
Well, OK, all of my hair loss wasn't because I stopped being a rock star and became a writer. There were a few years between these photos where I was neither. However, the two photos do rather nicely illustrate what's in my latest piece, which is published in an on-line site called Purple Clover. I hope you'll go read it right now!

(If you don't, the stress you'll be causing me might make what's left of my hair fall out. You wouldn't want to be the cause of that, would you?)

As always, thanks for reading!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Just Pigeons


My piece in the Herald yesterday gave a shout out to various forms of urban wildlife. Among those I extolled as my favorites were pigeons. I know a lot of people don't share my fondness for them, but I think they're lovely birds.

As a follow-up, I recommend the book Pigeons by Andrew D. Blechman.


This is how good of a read I think it is: If you don't like pigeons now, you might be a convert after reading this fascinating account of the history of the bird. I found out things I didn't know about them; things that would have made me an admirer even I hadn't been one already. For instance, pigeons were responsible for saving thousands of human lives during times of war, via their amazing homing instincts and the carrying of messages from the battlefront, and some have been awarded their country's highest honors for bravery. As much as I like soft cuddly bunnies and such, you can't say that about rabbits.

Anyway, I thought it a good idea to turn you on to the book since I enjoyed it so much. And now I have done my job and will leave you alone.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. For those who might like more about the book before rushing out to buy it, here's the New York Times book review.

P.P.S. While the Times reviewer seems to take points away for Blechman's first-person narrative, I found it one of the more charming aspects of the book. Of course, I almost always write in the first person, so I would.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rabbits & Pigeons & Turkeys - Oh, My!



I don't know what else to tell you about today's column in the Boston Herald. I suppose I could throw in squirrels, possums and skunks, but that's about it.

Thanks for reading!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Fr. Vinny


Those who have been coming here for a long time know that I'm a nut for men's fast-pitch softball. I've played the game for over 35 years and I rarely miss games. In the Sunday league of which I've been a part for the past 23 seasons, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Sundays I haven't been at the field ready to play. That includes times I've been injured and couldn't play at all. I still showed up to keep the book, coach the bases, etc., because I figure if you're a part of a team, you're still part of the team even if you're in a cast.

Today, I'm missing my games - voluntarily.

And gladly.

The man who performed our wedding ceremony, Fr. Vincent McKiernan, CSP, is in town as part of his 60th anniversary of ordination (yes, 60th.) MY WIFE and I will be attending the 10am mass at The Paulist Center in downtown Boston, where Fr. Vinny will be the celebrant. And I wouldn't miss that for anything, even softball.

I write about it (with no mention whatsoever of softball, for those who dislike reading about sports) in today's Boston Herald. Read all about it HERE.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm sure Fr. Vinny would be appreciative if you offer up a prayer or two as an anniversary gift for him!



Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Two For One! FREE! FREE! FREE!


Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! I've got a deal here you will NOT want to miss! Step right up!

Let me tell you what I'm going to do, folks... I'm going to give you TWO reading experiences for the price of one! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, instead of you coming here and getting just your usual dose of literary nutrition, I'm going to give you the opportunity - and an opportunity it is, my friends - to indulge your appetite with not just one, but TWO excursions into the wonderful world of words, the luminous light of linguistics!

Right here, right now, you're getting what you usually get at an establishment of this sort - a few aptly-chosen adjectives, perhaps a bit of gentle jocularity - but for NO extra cost - not a red cent, because they don't make 'em that color any more - I'm going to give you the chance to slurp up so many syllables, you'll be literally literarily sated.

By clicking the link to your right - THIS ONE HERE! - you will be taken to another read, a second read, an amazing read, at least equal to, if not surpassing, this one! That's saying a lot, ladies and gentlemen, but not nearly as much as I'm about to say, so pay attention! Not only will you have had the words in this space for your brain to chow down upon, but you will be presented with an entirely different concept altogether and allowed to shift gears, mentally speaking, and give your mind the superior sort of workout it has been craving!

Do you want to keep feeding your head the usual diet of triteness, trash, triviality, tripe, and other words beginning with "T", that it has been starving upon? Of course you don't! You know what's what and you want to take advantage of every opportunity to heighten your horizons, boost your brainpower, inflate your intelligence, accentuate your abilities and explode your edification! Let those bullies in the library kick George Sand in your face no longer! Become a he-man (or a she-woman, depending upon what you were when you came in) and pump up your personality with a perfect pastiche of pleasingly priapistic paragraphs or, if you are of the female persuasion, make yourself the envy of your friends, both male and female, as well as undecided, with an immersion into a sea of sexually seductive sesquipedalian semantics, and that's only PART of what's being offered here, folks - only a mere taste of what you can have if you CLICK ON THE LINK!

Not satisfied? Not enough? Tell you the truth, my friends - and that's what you are, my friends, so I wouldn't lie to you - I wouldn't be satisfied, either. I can see you're a person of taste and refinement, not willing to settle for the ordinary and mundane, so I'll tell you what I'm going to do (but keep it under your hat - that is, between just you, me and the internet - because if it gets out that I'm offering such a deal, I'll be trampled by so much traffic I won't be able to meet the demand and will have to face the authorities for false advertising and this is the real deal, friends, believe me.) Tell you what - just for YOU, you understand - I'll give you a THIRD piece of literature, guaranteed to be at least THREE times as wordy as this one and just as incomprehensible! Yes, just click on THIS LINK RIGHT HERE (but only AFTER you click on the other links, please, or else all deals are nil, null and void in every state except shock, which is what you'll leave me in if you don't follow directions) and you will be whisked away to a fertile field of fervid and feverish fecundity (the sort advertised in the back of "those sort" of magazines, folks, but keep it on the down-low or else they'll put me out of business; you understand because you're a person of intelligence and a word to the wise is entirely unnecessary) and I promise you - absolutely rock-bottom, iron-clad, stone-cold and word-to-your-momma GUARANTEE you - that you will never see anything like it before, after, since, previously, concurrently or forthwith, no matter what amount of money you... What's that kid? This makes no sense? Go away, kid, you bother me... and if I'm not telling you the truth, I will not only refund every penny you paid, but twice the amount you didn't! You can't beat that with a stick, ladies and gentlemen, and furthermore, if I can't prove the veracity of every syllable uttered on these pages, as well as the TWO others (TWO others!) I'm directing you to, then I'll shove a toy surprise up my ass and you can call me Crackerjack!

It's a limited time offer, folks, so not to alarm you, but you have to act now because supplies are liniment and I don't want to rub you the wrong way! Hah! Just my little joke to break the tension, folks, so pay no attention to the man behind the curtain - what he's doing is not for innocent eyes! - and scroll up to the first link and click it! If that column doesn't deliver everything I've promised, don't act as though I didn't not warn you, friends, because I am a man of my word, and that word is flabbergasted, which is what you will be for the remainder of your days if you do NOT act NOW!!!


Soon, with more better stuff, friends - IF you click on the links! - and I absolutely affirm that no ambiguities will be attained nor any perquisites left unperked unless my name isn't worth the paper I rode in on, and this isn't paper, it's a computer screen, so what more proof do you need?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hey! Here I Am Again!


Rumors of this blog's demise (started by me) were obviously exaggerated. Or at least a lie, because here I am again! Of course, there isn't anything here that hasn't been here before. It is still just a way to get you to click onto this link to the Boston Herald, which will bring you to my latest piece for that august journal (even though it's only June.)

As always, I'm happy that you hardy few are still coming around to see if I might have reformed or something. Maybe someday. In the meantime, please believe me when I say I'm grateful. I am.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the Herald piece.

Soon, with more better stuff.

(I've been telling that lie for so long, I see no overwhelming reason to stop now.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thanks For Reading


I so rarely use this blog space for anything new and original, I might shut it down soon. In the meantime, though, here's another redirection to the Boston Herald. Today I grouse about the way people applaud.

Really. I'm in total old fart grousing mode.

Thanks for reading! I would say, "Soon, with more better stuff" but I don't want to insult your intelligence.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Uncle's Day!


Yup. I start today's column in the Boston Herald by being willfully ignorant (as opposed to obliviously so, as is usually the case.) Then I realize my mistake (which is also a rarity.)

Why not go there and come along for the stupid ride? Here's a link!

As always, thanks for reading this increasingly moribund blog. Someday, I might actually put some original stuff here and not send you careening off into the ether to find it.

Soon, with more better stuff (although you'll probably have to go to the Boston Herald to read it.)



Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Thank You, Republican National Committee


Sometimes, when I'm stuck for something to write about, God delivers an idea.

Well, this time it was the U. S. Postal Service, the Republican National Committee and MY WIFE, in that order. First, mail was delivered to our house. It was addressed to MY WIFE and came from the Republican National Committee. When she read what they had to say, she knew it was something I could write about and maybe get a couple of laughs.

The result appears in today's Boston Herald. CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

Overall, I still have to say it was a gift from God. That's because MY WIFE is, too. And without her giving me the idea, none of it happens. So, thank you, WIFE. And thank you, God.

Soon, with more better stuff (as long as my sources don't dry up.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shhhhhhh!


My latest piece in the Boston Herald takes place in the "Quiet Car".




Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Soon, with more better stuff.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day


What I have to say can be found on the pages of the Boston Herald. I hope you find it worthwhile.

Thank you.

Jim


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!


My Mom, at some various stages during our lives, in chronological order...

Christmas, approximately 1961. My Mom with hands on my shoulders.

First Communion, a Catholic ritual wherein parents buy a white suit that will never be worn again.

During my days as a (barely) working musician. Mom seems tickled. Maybe it was a contact high.
My wedding. Mom with hands on shoulders. Niece Alyssa arguing theology with MY WIFE.

Thanksgiving the year MY WIFE was in the witness protection program.

My Mom eating something, which is what people do on occasion.

Mom with my late stepfather Bill.

Our latest Thanksgiving. Mom on the far left.

My Mom is the best mom. At least, that's what I say in my latest piece for the Boston Herald.

If you disagree, too bad.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I Prefer Rabbit's Feet When They're Attached To Living Rabbits


However, all other good luck charms you use in order to give the Boston Celtics an edge in tonight's game will be appreciated.

For a more in-depth look at the subject, please see my piece in today's Boston Herald.

(Oh, who am I trying to kid? There's nothing in-depth about anything I do. It's mostly fun - I hope.)

Thanks for reading (and for any curses directed Washington's way.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

I Am SOL* When It Comes To Sol


I like a nice warm day - more and more as I get older, actually - but the sun and I are not best buddies. That's the subject of today's piece in the Boston Herald. I hope you'll head over there (or, better yet, buy an actual hard copy) and read what I have to say. By all means, feel free to leave your own comments concerning memories of sun-related stuff.

Thanks for reading!

Soon, with more better stuff.

*Shit Out of Luck, for those fortunate enough to have not run in the same obscene circles I have.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Deja Vu?


Today, my contribution to the culture is a slightly longer form - with edits - of something those of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen a couple of years ago. As is generally the case these days, you'll need to travel to the Boston Herald to see it.

I was going through some older writings, looking for something I might be able to shine up and sell, and I came upon the piece. It was about half the length, back then, as what you'll find at the Herald today. I like to think it now contains a couple more laughs, too. Anyway, if it sounds somewhat familiar? That's because, like I said, some of it was part of a Facebook post of mine a while back.

What this amounts to is that you came here with good intentions and now I'm sending you to the Herald to read something you may have (partially) read on Facebook already.

Yes, I have my nerve.

As always, though, I truly do appreciate you stopping by and you're definitely invited to the after-party when I cop a Pulitzer sometime around 2023. There will be free pork egg foo yung for those able to show an actual hard copy of today's Herald. For those unable to prove they actually bought the paper, there will be a consolation dinner of canned cocktail weinies.

If you enjoy the piece, please share it on Facebook or Twitter or Linked-In or...

(When you read the piece, you'll understand I'm being a hideous hypocrite by asking you to do that. Or I'm just joking. I suppose you'll decide which it is depending upon how much you like the piece.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Oy Vey?


That's the only clue I'm going to give you concerning my latest piece in the Boston Herald. If that's not intriguing enough to get you to go there, you're a mashugana.

Soon, with more better schmegegge.


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Things I Loved And Miss


(I originally wrote this 7-1/2 years ago. Nothing much has changed since then - I still miss the same things, for the most part - so here it is again. If you weren't here for its first reading, you'll be at least as befuddled as the people who were. The old stuff follows the test pattern, much as was the case in the days of my youth when I turned on the TV at 5:20 am and The Life of Riley came on at 5:30.)




This is something I wrote while under the influence of drugs.

One night, following one of my not-infrequent dental procedures, I was gulping down Percocets while drinking several mugs of coffee. The combination of opiate and caffeine lent itself to a hazy sort of insomnia, somewhat pleasant and especially productive in bringing to the forefront of my mind a raft of nostalgic memories. What follows is my scribbling from that evening.

(It actually WAS scribbling. I usually type anything of considerable length, sitting at our ancient computer sans internet hookup, but I filled four pages of a loose-leaf notebook with this stuff, tightly spaced, while sitting up in bed drinking more coffee, popping more pills, and chain smoking. Considering the circumstances, it was reasonably legible.)

I truly doubt that any one of you will share all of these memories with me. And, no denigration of your mental faculties intended, but I rather doubt you’ll even be able to understand all of them, so don’t sweat it if one line or another is as incomprehensible to you as Sanskrit. Just go on to the next one and the one after that. I’d have the same trouble comprehending your four pages of scribbles. I’m fairly certain, however, that you’ll find at least a few things with which you’ll be able to identify. If I jog a few memories of your own, I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments section.

One final note: These are, as the title says, things. They have little to do with people, at least directly. They are the objects, and the experiences with those objects, which I miss. Had I been in the state of mind mentioned, sitting up and thinking about the people whom I miss, I’d still be scribbling. Memories of things, while inductive to a sort of benign melancholia, reach a point where one has to say ‘enough is enough’ and then you let it go. Memories of actual persons who loved you, but are no longer around, don’t allow such facile closure at 3am.

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The big old Admiral TV.

(Jackie Gleason on Saturday night, Ed Sullivan on Sunday night, The Three Stooges many mornings, and getting channel 10 or 12 from Providence when there was a good show on one of those and it was not being carried on one of the Boston stations. When we got a converter box, and hooked it up to get UHF for the first time, it was damn near magical.)

World Series games played during the day.

The fan-forced heat coming on while I lay on the rug by the vent reading The Golden Book Encyclopedia (which, by the way, is still where most of what passes for knowledge inside of my head came from.)


The knick-knack shelves and their odd contents.

The Welbilt stove & refrigerator. The spelling was weird, but damned if they weren't well built. From my childhood, until I left that house at 37, they worked beautifully and had never had a single repair.


(I got the photo from here.)

Milkmen, bakery delivery by the Cushman’s bakery man, "Any old rags?", Doctors who came to you, and Pete the ice cream man.

Simpleminded comic books where you didn't have to think too hard and just get lost in the fantasy.




















Sunday funnies that were actually funny, rather than misplaced editorial cartoons.

Sports that knew their season.

The days when advertisements weren’t for things so embarrassing that you feel like running away and hiding if you're in the company of a kid.

(Yeah, this is current. I couldn't find the old Viagra ad I wanted, but this will do for uncomfortable.)


The pure joy of the last day of school.

The Sports Huddle. God bless you Eddie, Mark, and Jim!

The little trolley, especially on a hot summer Sunday when no other traffic was making noise and you could hear it coming from two stops away. And the days when the trolley had real leather seats, lusciously padded, and you could open the windows for the breeze.


Sundays that were Sundays.

Here’s one for us bald guys: Going to the barber and getting a real full haircut, not a 5-minute trim.

Real doubleheaders.

The elevated from Forest Hills to Dover, and then again from North Station to Everett.


The smell of Starlite Cleaners on River Street.

(I still get a vision of childhood anytime I pass by a dry cleaner and get a whiff.)



Ice-cold Coca-Cola in a green bottle.








So many candlepin bowling alleys where I sweated and had fun - Lucky Strike in Dorchester, Sammy White’s in Brighton, Kenmore Bowladrome, Wollaston Bowladrome, The Superbowl in Quincy, The Symphony Hall 55, others in Weymouth, Milton, Braintree, whose names escape me now.

Saturday morning television when it was nothing but cartoons.

For that matter, I miss test patterns, sign-ons, sign-offs, morning and evening prayers, the national anthem, and even farm & market reports.

Huge bowls of Quake.


Insight, The Living Word, Lamp Unto My Feet, Davey & Goliath, and similar Sunday morning television offerings.

Saturday matinees at The Oriental (and a "businessman’s special" at The Cathay Village afterward.)

The towers at Baker’s Chocolate.


Being absolutely mesmerized and delighted in the toy aisles of department stores.

The library in Lower Mills – odd little rooms, great children’s section, friendly and helpful librarians.

When the Neponset River Bridge was made of wood, leaning against the railing and just watching the river go by.

Snow at night and going to bed hoping for no school in the morning.

Listening to the "no school" announcements on the radio and hearing "Boston – no school, all schools."

Sitting in the subway at Park Street Under, smoking, people watching, and letting the trains go by.


Friday afternoon educational movies in the third-floor auditorium of the Gilbert Stuart.

(Getting to the third floor was a bit scary for me, being afraid of heights as I was. There was a huge window to pass by on the landing between the second and third floors. If I was unlucky enough to be on that side of the stairs in our double-file march up, I would shut my eyes and hold my breath as we passed it. Looking back, this probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do to increase my chances of not falling through it. But, once we reached the auditorium, it was all good. The films themselves were usually interesting, and, if was something boring, then Stephen Murphy and I would exchange jokes and giggle in the dark.)

Getting a slice of the hideous pizza sold at Park Street station.

(This was on the way home from Boston Latin. Since I hated going to that school, the pizza was the highlight of my school day. How times have changed over such a short span! Pizza was not ubiquitously available then as it is now, so having a chance to get a slice of horrible pizza – and this was easily the worst pizza in the entire city – was still a rush and well worth the quarter spent. Oh, was that pizza bad! You’d sometimes take the first bite and burn the roof of your mouth, concurrently burning your chin when the entire slab of cheese would slide off the hard dough and slap onto your chin. Then, to save your face and palate, you had to spit out the cheese onto the passenger platform. This left you with a piece of doughy cardboard slathered with cheap tomato sauce. Since it cost you a quarter, you still ate it. Hell, if nobody else had been around I would have retrieved the cheese from the floor of the subway. A quarter was a big deal to me then.)

In Concert, Friday nights at 11:30 on ABC.


(The best televised rock music show of my youth. Others preferred The Midnight Special, on NBC – which actually aired at 1am on the east coast –, but In Concert had more metal acts. Also, In Concert was filmed at varying locales, giving it the feel of a true concert experience, whereas Midnight Special had the groups come in and play on a soundstage, introduced by the barely-tolerable Wolfman Jack. There was the syndicated Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, but the performances on that show were often lip-synched, something I despised.)

Powerline

(This was a religious radio program, airing at 11pm on Sunday as I recall. They played some excellent current metal songs interspersed with a bit of evangelism. Odd, but somehow comforting, listening.)

Exploring my parent’s bedroom closet, as well as the downstairs coat closet.

(There was something entirely comforting about those two spaces in our house. They were enclosed, warm, dark, and full of interesting things. I used to like to sit in them sometimes and just forget about the outside world. One of the major problems with growing up is that you can’t fit inside closets and under tables. Or, even if you can, people look at you oddly when they see you coming out from one of them.)

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I suppose that’s enough pointless nostalgia for one sitting. I’ve got another three pages worth of this stuff in my notebook, but it will wait.

Soon, with more better stuff.