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Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Spectacular Gift

One should never discount the wealth that can be found inside the cover of a really excellent bathroom reader. Sure, magazines have their place, but quickly become dated. There's been a landslide of books published dedicated to read whilst doing ones "business" , these, however, are generally of poor quality and I for one quickly get bored with their inane bullshit. The perfect reader must be:
1) Soft Cover
2) Covers a subject you have an intense interest in
3) No long, drawn out stories
4) Stories can be read again and again, gleaning new information or revealing something you have not thought of the last time you read it

and finally:

5) The author has to know how to actually write and turns a great sentence.

Such a book recently fell into my hands at an unexpected time and from an unexpected source.

A dear, old friend of mine, whom I had not seen in years came back into my life recently. I forgot how much I admired his skills as a writer, a storyteller and just over all great friend. I am so much richer for having once again connecting with him. He was actually an usher at my wedding.

We are huge baseball and hockey fans, both loving the same teams and the overall sport they contend in. We can spend hours discussing, yelling and laughing about our two lovable teams and the dynamics of each sport. Recently he dropped by to watch a ballgame and handed me a book, not realizing it was my birthday, which made the gift all the more treasured. It was a rare, used book. It could not be purchased new and he had to scour the dusty, dank recesses of the internet to find it. To wit:

This book is a true diamond in the rough! A baseball card lovers Holy Bible of crazy, unknown players who plagued the game in the 50's and early mid 60's. Cards from my time, when I feverishly bought a pack at a time for $.05 each. The memories are overflowing and satisfying and the writing mixes the factual with dry wit of the authors poison pen. 

Bill "giant chaw in the cheek" Tuttle, Roger "Hapless NY Met" Craig. Ryne "Coke Bottle Glasses" Duren are just a small sample of the hours upon hours of great stories to be discovered and re lived in this book. Not only that, but one of the most important requirements for a first rate bathroom read is:

6) One's "Business" is performed smoothly and effortlessly  when this book is in your hands!

Vive la Brooke!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Squeezing Bourbon out of a barrel board....the "Devil's Cut"

The crowds are gone, the season, over. What is there for next season to draw the dollars through the turnstiles? A-Rod? Hardly. Maybe a big off season signing? Doubtful, besides the day of the huge money free agent is coming to an abrupt close. Youth and the farm system are what a team has always really needed, now more than ever. But the dolts traded all their talent off the farm for the big strapping knuckleheads who produced about as a much a lurching rabid squirrel produces good will among home owners.

So what now? When the "House that Ruth Built" was torn down, they sold it off piece by piece to anyone with a few bucks and perhaps a few steroid shots. They even took dirt from the infield and sold little bags of it to those who would wear it around their necks like some sort of Bronx Mojo. No there is nothing really left. Even bobble heads have run the gambit, they've retired so many numbers and erected so many plaques that monument park is threatening to swallow up the infield and proceed into the cheap seats and over priced hot dog stands.

 So.....what now? Steiner sports, the demented purveyor of all things dealing with Yankee memorabilia have already shredded Jeters dirty socks and sold them off. Maybe they secretly bought up a shitload of Robinson Cano Seattle bobble heads to place on 2nd base on opening day 2015 and then sell them off?

No, they have something much more insidious planned. In conjunction with a secret Chinese laboratory for hair restoration, they are applying the slimy salve to Derek Jeters nether regions in hopes of reaping a plentiful crop of long luxurious pubic hair to then be harvested and woven into watch chains. You laugh.....

Monday, September 8, 2014

"The Last Record Store" Update

A good friend of mine, John Sigona, turned me on to this amazing video. It is a 10 minute clip of the Sunset Boulevard Tower Records circa 1971, at the absolute zenith of the record industry.  I miss those days terribly.

Tower Records 1971

...and an amazing article about a dude who is buying up all the LP's he can get his hands on!

All the LP's in the world

LP's also make great decorative art, as evidenced here in my pocket crap holder made by my pal Heather Taddy:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Top 10 Books that have never left you:

Meaning that the stories they tell and the books themselves have always been close at hand.

This was an interesting post on FaceBook, here is my list, do you have one?

10 books that have stayed with me:
1. Catcher In The Rye
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 
3. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972
4. Mr. Lincoln's Army
5. Glory Road 
6. A Stillness at Appomattox 
7. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
8. The Complete Sherlock Holmes
9. Grapes of Wrath
10. Wild

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Addendum to "Follow Me Boys"

Friends posted a picture of a battalion of Federal reenactors at Harrisons Landing in VA the scene of the 1st rendition of Taps that was ever heard. The plantation, "Berkeley Hundred" was where the event took place out on the Va. peninsula. Summer on the peninsula is brutal with heat soaring over 100 at times and humidity at 1000%. We were not disappointed, it was freaking hot!

The reenactment was really just a period encampment with camp life, guard duty, various mail, chow, pay calls and drill, drill, drill. It was where a very close friend of mine David "Duke" Culberson (R.I.P.) told me that in all his years reenacting he had never heard anyone gripe in 1st person like a real soldier any better than I!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Follow me boys! Do you want to live forever?!!"

Some of my happiest and most thrilling moments came during the 10+ years that I reenacted the American Civil War. I won't go into the why's of it all, suffice it to say that it's a way for grown men to play SERIOUS "Army" like we did as kids, at least me anyway.

As I grew into the hobby and learned more of the minutiae of the common soldier and soldier life I became more and more determined to have as realistic a kit as possible, right down to the hogs hair toothbrush. I spent untold amounts achieving this and, in the end, I was about as good as one could become.

  My friend, Jason Wickersty, and I at an Antietam reenactment. This tintype was taken  near Boonsboro, MD. by period photographer Robert Szabo.

Through it all I was able to meet some amazing people, form a few lasting relationships, start a business which lasted about 5 years and, to an extent, changed the way the hobby purchased authentic goods. I saw many battlefields and historic sites and was able to partake a small part in the movie "Gettysburg", filmed right near the field itself.

Hamming it up on the set of "Gettysburg"...shot through the neck with a ramrod...always the clown

Pointing across the field to where the Rebels would soon appear when the filming for Pickett's Charge began.

Of course, the above pictures only prove the obvious, that I am a ham and first rate idiot, but a lovable times.

For a brief story on my 1st major reenactment click here: Seeing The Elephant This was the 125th anniversary of the "Overland Campaign" of 1864 featuring the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania (Laurel Hill and the "Muleshoe").

The next year saw the 125th anniversary of the final battles on Lee's retreat from Richmond (Saylor's Creek) right before the surrender at Appomattox. This reenactment has stayed with me because of one singular scene. As the brigade (3 to 4,000 full strength) marched off to the first fight, I caught a glimpse of the immense long line and what a real brigade on the march may have looked like. With flags flying and drums and fifes playing I had an amazing "moment". One's time in reenacting is filled with these brief, magic moments...if you are lucky and attend the right events. You cannot force them to happen, they just pop up on you and for that second or two you are outside looking in and in awe.

My unit, the 3rd NJ, firing a volley after crossing Little Saylor's Creek. I was the left general guide for the battalion and am pictured holding the guidon with the small American Flag. My counterpoint, the right guide, and myself, would move out in front of the battalion to help keep the ranks straight as we marched in line of battle. This job, historically, was given to the 2nd Sgt of the right most and left most company of the line...hence, me on the left.

The recent 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, TN also provided some excellent pictures too. Though I had retired before this event and thus, did not attend (I did attend the 130th), I love the pics I have seen of it and will share one here.

Damn, I wish I had gone. These Federal soldiers portrayed Western troops extremely well!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Two Hats are Better than None

They sit on the table by my computer. My two straw cowboy hats. Both screaming out loud to be on the road, to be far away from the hurt and confusion, the place where I feel like a renter and an best.

Both are classic in style and I can get lost in another persona when I place one of them on my head. The problem is: how do I get out of here without hurting the ones I love and which hat should I wear?  Granted, the first question is a bit more important than the other, but they both weigh heavily. I guess it is due to the fact that when I look at the hats (and I pass 'em many times a day) I am reminded, constantly reminded, how much I hurt inside.

Should I spill my guts on these pages for the world to see? I've been hemming and hawing over it for years now. Never really saying, but always hinting. What happens then? I guess fucking what was always going to happen, what was meant to happen, I just haven't had the fortitude to face it. I will draw the curtain open upon the last act of my life's play. That's what it really comes down to, I cannot fathom that this is it, the last act. The old show business idiom "Always leave them wanting more". Does this apply?

Saturday night at my job in the bookstore, an intriguing long haired cashier, who happens to be an old man. Give me a fucking break. Ringing up the sales, trying to sell memberships, making small talk with the unwashed minions. Without fail a well groomed, tanned exec and his trophy wife plunk down their beach books. Speaking in low voices, but just loud enough so that I can hear, they carry on about going to the Hamptons and the parties and the sand and surf and "wasn't it a shame about Robin Williams" and all the other bullshit that dribbles out of their mouths like a chaw of chewing tobacco run amok.

A manicured tanned hand pulls out a wad of bills, fat enough to make even a rich man grimace, casually tossing a couple my way. I make change noticing that his fucking shorts are even ironed for chrissakes. Am I just jealous? Probably. Do I want to roll in the mud "doing" his wife? Yup. Fuck it.

 What was the final of the Mets game? No one knows, no one really gives a shit. It's Saturday night and I will be going home to a woman, who after being together for over 30 years, doesn't really care for me anymore. That's it. Pure and simple.

I do so wish life were like the movies. My wife and I would each have an epiphany and, teary eyed and blubbering, fall into each other and face the world as friends and lovers. That is what is supposed to happen. But it won't and the longer I wait for it to happen, the darker and more painful my world becomes.

So my two hats wait patiently, and as long as my head doesn't grow or shrink they will fit for years to come.