Friday, March 30, 2012

Tales of the Galloping Doofus

If you read the previous post you know all about my daughter’s puppy, Zoey and how she passed away from the Parvo virus only six weeks after we got her.
Here’s what happened next.
As mentioned, Zoey’s passing hit her hard. She still loved dogs but the ex and I weren’t about to chance putting her through that again. This Parvo thing was a real game changer.
About a year later, my daughter offered to watch her friend’s dog while she and her family went on vacation. By the end of the week it was clear she again wanted one of her own.
This time however, I was determined to get her the most powerful, indestructible dog that ever existed. Basically, I wanted Superman’s dog, Krypto, but without the Kryptonite allergy.
So the ex and I read the ads, hit the ASPCA, even pet shops but found nothing that met the requirements I set for getting another dog. We were about to give up when we read about Rescue Greyhounds.
This organization is dedicated to rescuing these fine animals from being slaughtered when they could no longer race and getting them good homes. What really caught my eye was that these dogs were specially bred for strength and health. These were superdogs!
Bingo! We have a winner!
So, we contact them and they tell us how wonderful these animals are. How easy they are to care for and how deserving they are of a good home and family. And it just so happens they have one available! How’s that for luck?
So me and the ex discuss it with my youngest, show her the picture and she’s immediately sold. She wants to know when we can pick Memphis up. (That’s the dog’s name. Actually his racing name was Y not Memphis? But they shortened it because frankly, who wants a dog whose name is a question? Ladies, would you be interested in dating a guy whose name is Y not Bob?)
There is a lot involved in adopting a rescue greyhound and one needs to learn how greyhounds differ from other breeds before bringing one home.
First, they must always be kept on a leash, or failing that, in a fenced in yard. Because they are bred to run, they do, at every opportunity.
Every single, freaking opportunity!
So if you’re bringing in the groceries and don’t manage to properly close the door behind you, it’s “Warp drive Mr. Sulu!” as Memphis blasts by and is out of sight before I can bellow “Awww, Sh…!”
  Sorry, almost forgot this is a family friendly blog.
 Also you’re supposed to keep them caged at night, I don’t know why, I doubt they turn into vampires but I agreed to do so (but never did, I thought that was cruel). And because greyhounds are sight-hounds we learned that if they can’t see where they live, they can’t find their way back. They also have very thin skin which, if you live in a brutally cold environment like we do, you have to dress them up like Nanook of the North before taking them for a walk.
Here’s another interesting fact, most can’t be trained. Trying to teach them to Speak, Play dead, Gimme paw, or Roll over, will only result in the dog giving you a look that says, “What’s this jackass blathering about?”  One time I tossed him a piece of frankfurter expecting him to catch it in his mouth like all dogs do. Instead it bounced off his head and he bolted out of the room and hid in my daughter’s closet.
Strangely, to show affection they don’t lick you or jump in your lap. They lean against you. Imagine someone taking a 100 pound sawhorse and tilting it over against your leg. It’s like that.
And if you have girls, like I did, you know that they are always in and out with their friends. Friends who are unfamiliar with the importance of keeping the door…
“Warp Drive Mr. Sulu!”
“Awww, Sh…!”
After a while however, the people in the town recognized Memphis and would bring him back or call us and say, “Guess who just dropped by for lunch?”    
 But despite all these oddities he was a terrific dog. In all the years we owned him he only barked once. Yep, only once, which surprised us because we had assumed he couldn’t bark. He was also remarkably friendly. When my daughters would walk him in town, he’d lean against strangers waiting for the light to change. He never did his business inside the house, never chewed up clothes or shoes, never needed to go to the vet although we took him every year for his shots and a physical.
We had him for 12 years when he passed away at age 14, which we were told was pretty old for a greyhound.  After my divorce and the girls leaving for college, it was just me and him. And to this day I still make sure the door is closed properly. I guess somewhere I still expect…
“Warp drive, Mr. Sulu!”
And me going, “Awww… Well, you know.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Sad Puppy Story

I was born an apartment person. My Mom and Dad were apartment people as were their parents and their parents before them. And since most apartments in New York City don’t allow dogs, we never had any.
But my kids grew up in a big house in the North Country. A place were nearly everybody has a dog (and a gun) and my youngest daughter wanted one more than anything in the world (a dog that is, not a gun.)
I wasn’t keen on the idea because every person I knew who had a dog said they were a big responsibility, you had to walk them late at night, they peed on your new carpet, chewed up your shoes etc. So you can understand my lack of enthusiasm.
But my daughter was determined. She put up pictures of dogs in her room.  Her school bag had dogs on it; her skirt had dogs on it, as did her sweatshirt and pajamas.
One day while me and the ex were out on a drive we started talking about the pros and cons of getting a dog. Her parents always had dogs so she was already fond of the idea. Somewhere along the way she convinced me to stop by the ASPCA just to look. “We won’t adopt one,” she said. “We’ll just go in and see what they have.
“All right,” I replied, “but only to look.”
And yes, apparently I am that stupid.
We’re there no more than 2 minutes when the ex sees a little corral filled with puppies of all breeds on the floor. So she goes over, sits on her heels to get a better look and as she’s putting on her glasses this little puppy sees her, dashes over, leaps over the partition into her lap and starts licking her. 
The ex looks up at me. The dog looks up at me. Even the ASPCP person looks up at me. All with those big Japanese Anime eyes.
It was at that moment that I realized that regardless of how I felt, we weren’t leaving without that dog.
So I figure, ahhh, what the hell and forked over the money for the shots and adoption papers and whatever.
You see, I’m not very perceptive.  During the ride home I was thinking this was an all around win-win situation. The daughter will be ecstatic, the wife will be happy and the dog will grow up to protect my home and my family. What could possibly go wrong?
So we get to the house. My ex calls my youngest to the door and when she gets there I let go of the dog and it runs right to my daughter! So she picks it up, bursts into tears, and as she’s stroking the puppy tells me and the ex that this is the happiest day of her life.
They bond immediately. She names the puppy Zoey. Then announces that we have to go to the pet shop and buy a doggie bed because the puppy will sleep in her room, this way if Zoey needs to be walked in the middle of the night, she’ll do it without having to wake me and the ex up.
I remind my daughter that she is only 6 and announce that there’s no way in hell she’s going out in the middle of the night to walk Zoey and if Zoey needs to be walked in the dark and the freezing cold, then I’ll be the one to do it!
Geez, I really am that stupid!
In the weeks that follow Zoey and my daughter become inseparable. The puppy is easily trained and quickly learns the tricks my daughter teaches her. Six weeks in, even I’m won over and begin to regret never having had a dog when I grew up.
Then Zoey undergoes a complete personality change. A few harmless accidents at first, a little piddle on the rug here and there. I remind my daughter that she needs to walk Zoey more frequently. Then Zoey starts pooping on the rug, starts whining for no apparent reason and barks at me when I come home from work.
I start having second thoughts about this dog thing.
Then Zoey starts throwing up and I suddenly realize that perhaps this change in behavior is because the puppy is sick. I take her to the vet and he says to leave her there overnight and he’ll do some tests. I explain to my daughter that it needs to be done and she agrees.
The vet calls the next day and tells me Zoey has the Parvo virus. He goes on to say Parvo is very serious condition and that Zoey needs to stay there for treatment. He says the prognosis is good as Zoey is young and strong and should make a full recovery. When I ask if I can take my daughter to see her, he advises against it saying it’s better to wait until Zoey starts recovering.
I tell my daughter that Zoey is sick and needs to stay in the doggie hospital until the doctor can make her better. My daughter is very upset but I assure her that Zoey is going to be just fine.
Two days later I arrive home from work. The ex leaves for her job and I go upstairs to my office to do some writing. The phone rings. It’s the vet, his tone is solemn.
My heart sinks.
He tells me  Zoey passed away. Explained that Parvo is extremely virulent and she was just too little and too young to survive. I make the final arrangements.
My daughter is in her room, fluffing up the doggie bed my ex had just washed in anticipation of Zoey’s return.
I take a deep breath and tell her the news as gently as I can.
She pales, her eyes well up and she slumps to the floor sobbing. She is inconsolable.
It’s been 22 years since that day and it still breaks my heart every time I think of it.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Difference between This and That

          Over the last few weeks the hits on my blog have increased dramatically. (Thank you so much! I love you all) Since reactivating it in late November of last year it’s gone from few hits every couple of days to its present 100 hits a week. I receive lovely e-mails from readers telling me how much they enjoy my blog and look forward to reading my posts every Tuesday and Friday.
          But even with this dramatic increase in readership there’s been no increase in book sales or downloads. I wondered why and think I’ve come up with the answer.
          I think it’s because I have two completely different writing styles. My blog posts are like chatting with someone you meet in a bar who has an interesting story to tell. My books are like walking along a dark street, you hear someone walking behind you, their pace quickens, my car suddenly pulls up alongside you, I fling open the door and yell, “Get in! Hurry!”
          Since most of you are now familiar with my blog writing style, I ask that you take a moment and give a read to the first two pages of my novel “The Messiah Complex’. Once you do I believe you'll see what I mean.

Chapter 1

Friday evening, February 4th
Hal Collins’ breath came in short, panicky gasps, his eyes were wide and his hands shook as he held the steering wheel. He was trying to calm down, trying to make sense of what happened but each time his Ford Expedition slid or lost traction on the snow covered highway, his heart jumped in terror.
He wiped at the frost gathering on the inside of the windshield. Saw the ice caked wipers slapping back and forth at top speed. He checked the dashboard sensors and swallowed in relief when he saw there were no problems. Momentarily distracted by the smell, Hal looked down at the wisps of smoke rising from his still smoldering pant leg.
They must have slipped something into my food at the diner, he told himself. That has to be it. That’s what he wanted to believe. It was the only reasonable explanation, but reasonable or not, the evidence said different.
I should have listened to those truckers. They tried to tell me, tried to warn…
He checked the rear view mirror. He could still see the fiery orange and red glow in the distance, hear the sirens.
Hold it. Is that…Is that…?
He held his breath.
No, it wasn’t.
He exhaled deeply and absentmindedly pressed the button to raise the window, then remembered the window was gone. That…that thing had…That Thing!!!
A thin film of sweat covered his brow. He glanced at the pebbled glass and the tire iron on the passenger seat.
Just keep going. Just keep going!
He was nearly a mile from the accident when his headlights fell upon a group of children ahead. They were walking toward him on the shoulder of the highway. As he drew closer, he saw they weren't children, but kids in their early to mid-teens, clad only in their underwear.
"What the…?” Hal said. “What the hell are they doing out here dressed like that? Shit! What are they doing out here at all?" He hit the brakes. The Expedition slid to a stop.
"Kids! Kids!" he shouted, jumping from the vehicle and slogging through the snow toward them.
They didn't.
He placed himself in their path, motioning for them to stop.
They walked around him, staring vacantly, as if unaware of his presence, their predicament or their surroundings. The wind picked up and battered them with waves of fine crystal powder. Their hair flew wildly in the breeze.
"I have a truck," Hal called out as they plodded by. "I can squeeze you all in. Please come with me. You'll freeze out here!"
One small girl with black hair and dark brown eyes looked so cold Hal took off his coat and attempted to wrap it around her. She stopped only long enough for him to place it on her shoulders, but it fell to the ground as she walked away.
"Kids, listen to me!" he pleaded, picking up his coat. "I've got a truck and..."
They continued walking toward the area he had just escaped from.
"Kids!! Wait! Wait!" Hal said, lumbering after them through the thick snow. As they got farther and farther from the vehicle and out of the glow of the Expedition’s taillights, they disappeared.
Hal searched in all directions.
He was alone.
Standing in the center of the snow-covered Adirondack Northway, Hal donned his coat. As he did the distant sirens stopped and the fiery red glow faded.
I must have been drugged. Either that or I’m out of my mind.     
Trudging back to the 4X4, he felt a vibration from the ground beneath the snow. He stopped, turned, but saw nothing. He picked up the pace.
Seconds later, he felt it again and turned. Only this time, headlights snapped on.
He heard an engine rev. He began backing away. The headlights followed.
The semi! Oh dear God, it’s the semi!
As it picked up speed and drew nearer, Hal could see the tractor-trailer's hood snapping up and down, and heard the gnashing metallic sounds that accompanied it. The headlights turned into eyes, cold and blood-stained. The wheels transformed into claws and thundered over the snow and tore into the asphalt. An air horn pierced the night then deteriorated into a sound that could only be described as a mechanical roar.
“Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!” Hal yelped and frantically galloped toward the Expedition. The deep snow pulled off his right shoe and the ground shook under the weight of the approaching behemoth. "Screw it!" he said in panic as he charged toward the passenger-side door now only a few feet away. There was a roar. Hal lunged for the handle. He almost made it.

So readers, as you can see there is quite the difference between this and my story about the Playboy club. If you want to find out what happened to Hal and those kids you can read more at

When you get there just click on the book cover. You won’t be charged.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

At the Playboy Club

If you saw this blog title and clicked on it thinking it would be a titillating tale of me with a group (seven actually) of stunningly beautiful women and the sick and twisted things they did to me…
You’ve come to the right place!
There is one drawback, however…
I was 15 at the time.
Now before you break out the Kleenex anticipating the sad tale of a young boy helpless in the clutches of sex-starved Amazonian women, I should probably provide some back story.
I had a summer job working at Head Start which, if you are unfamiliar, is a program that teaches preschoolers from poor neighborhoods the basics. Now strangely, my story has nothing to do with the kids, or Head Start. My adventure began when my boss told me to go to Catholic Charities in Manhattan, (they were financing the program) to pick up the weekly checks and then around the corner to a florist to pick up a floral arrangement specially made for her daughter’s engagement party.
This was fine with me. Instead of dealing with the kids all day I got to spend a good part of my day in Manhattan. The Catholic Charities deal was a quick in and out but it was with the florist that my adventure began.
It turned out I arrived early, the florist didn’t have the flowers ready and told me he needed another hour. Okay. I was about to say ‘see you later’ when he asked me if I would make a delivery for him. If so, he’d pay me 5 dollars.
  Hell yeah! Keep in mind I was making $1.75 an hour with Head Start. So he hands me this large black box and gives me the address to the Playboy club. Tells me to take it to the ‘Mother Bunny’ herself and for her to sign for it.
Yep, there actually is a ‘Mother Bunny’.
These were the days before drug gangs and mules and that kind of stuff so I thought nothing of it and walked the six blocks to the Playboy club and confidently strode inside as if I were a premier key carrying member.
I got about ten feet before two very large men in well-tailored suits stepped in front of me and kindly suggested that I either get the f**k out or I would be thrown the f**k out. (That's their language not mine. Coming from a Catholic school I was taught never to use asterisks in polite company)
I shooed them away dismissively, announced that I was there to see the ‘Mother Bunny’ and attempted to push past them.
I’m sitting on the curb outside the Playboy club wondering what to do next when I look down on the receipt and see the florist’s telephone number. I make a call, explain what happened and ten minutes later I’m back inside with instructions to take a specific elevator to the Mother Bunny’s office.
So I board the elevator and press the button. Two floors up the elevator stops, the door opens and seven (count ‘em) seven absolutely gorgeous women in Playboy bunny costumes enter.
Keep in mind I’m a 15 year old kid from the Bronx and the only time I have EVER seen women that beautiful is on movie screens. To say I was blushing and perhaps a little tongue-tied would be a HUGE understatement.
They are surprised to see me because this particular elevator is reserved for the bunnies only. I understand why now. It’s because no beautiful woman wants to be trapped in an elevator with a lecherous old coot, (at least that’s what beautiful women have said to me every time I got stuck in an elevator with them)
So they decided to have some fun. First of all these women are statuesque. At least 5’10’’ plus they’re wearing heels. I was only 5’8’’of my eventual 5’10’’ so they bent over, knowing they were giving me an eyeful and asked where I was going.
I replied with my best Jackie Gleason/Ralph Cramdon ‘Ah-min-ah, Ah-min-ah, Ah-min-ah’, impression. Which they apparently found delightful so they start running their hands through my hair and caressing my face and telling me how cute I was and how I must drive all the girls in my class crazy.
Yeah. Sure. Whatever. All I was thinking was if I could just motorboat one set of those beautiful ta-tas for only a few seconds, the girl could then rip my head from my shoulders, punt it down the hallway and I’d still feel it was worth it.
The elevator door opened. It was my floor, Mother Bunny’s floor. My honeys escorted me to her office. She was very attractive, pleasant and personable. She thanked me for the delivery, tipped me 5 bucks and instructed one the bunnies to escort me to the lobby. (Yeah, you don’t want a 15 year old hormone charged male wondering around free inside the Playboy club.)
I have lived a full and exciting life. I have no regrets but one.
I should have motorboated one of those gorgeous bunnies while I had the chance!  

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Friday, March 16, 2012

As Luck Would Have It

I had a boss once who was truly a brilliant man. I asked him how he became so successful. He said, ‘If you want to be successful at anything, you need to figure out what it is you want, learn how to achieve it, then persevere until you get it.’
‘Or,’ he added. ‘Be lucky, because if you’re lucky all that other crap doesn’t matter.’
Over the years I have found those words to be one of the greatest truisms I have ever come across.
Recently I read that Frank Miller, the famous graphic novel writer and illustrator of the acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City, went on a rant about the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Called them lazy whiners who needed to go out and get a job.
I have noticed this attitude in many of the successful people I know. They often go on about how, in the beginning, they put in 16 hour days, 7days a week, never took a vacation and firmly believe that if everyone put in that kind of effort they would be equally as successful.
I have had the good fortune to have been in the company of talented people on both ends of the spectrum. Wealthy successful people who have made their place in the world and poor, beaten down people, who, if their great talent is ever recognized at all, it will be after they’re dead.  Both types are equally talented, worked just as hard, and persevered through unrelenting hardships. One group succeeded, the other didn’t.
Simple. One group was lucky, the other wasn’t.
How often have you heard the saying, ‘he was a man before his time’? Take the artists Vincent van Gough and Paul Gauguin, two of the greatest painters who ever lived. Yet both had their work ignored and dismissed during their lifetime and died miserable and penniless.  Their paintings now sell for millions of dollars. Were they lazy, whiners who needed to go out and get a job?
Gregor Mendel, the now famous botanist and geneticist’s work was ridiculed and labeled nonsense during his lifetime. After his death however, his theories were proven correct and he is now considered one of the greatest scientists who ever lived.
I could go on and on about the multitude of personalities from all walks of life who worked hard, persevered and died broke and unappreciated but I’m sure you get my point.
W.C. Field was once quoted as saying, “If first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And then give up. No sense being a damn fool about it.”
Was he right? Not if you believe that Henry Ford had 5 failed businesses before his success with his car company. Or that R.H. Macy had 7 failed businesses before hitting it big with his New York store. That certainly says a lot for determination BUT I’m curious as to where Ford and Macy got the money to finance all these businesses. I know businessmen whose businesses failed. And from what I’ve seen, it takes years to rebuild their credit and to dig themselves out of debt. So if Ford and Macy had so many opportunities, that wasn’t perseverance, that was just plain luck.
And in many instances perseverance can ruin your life. I know a man who is struggling to get a business off the ground whose time has simply passed. He loves it with all his heart and truly believes the industry will bounce back.
I’m sure many a blacksmith felt the same way.
But it’s not going to happen.
So I’m going to ask all my successful friends to remember that at one time, after years of hard work and perseverance, you just happened to be at the right place at the right time, met the person who believed in you and gave you the opportunity to run with the ball. And you did which made you the success you are today.
And while you’re doing that I would also ask you to remember that there are many people who worked just as hard, sacrificed as much and persevered as long, who never made it to the right place at the right time, never met that special person, never had the opportunity to show what they could do.
So in conclusion I’d like to ask all the people out there who dream big, are hungry for the good life, have a passion for success, wealth and independence, just one question.
Do ya feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The White Castle Hamburger Incident

First and foremost, thanks to all my readers. The Author Zackary Richards blog celebrated its 1500th hit today. I will continue to do my very best to keep you amazed and amused.
And now, on to White Castle Hamburger incident.
So there I was, with a beer in hand and a hot babe on my lap snuggling in all nice and cozy when all of a sudden…
Perhaps I should start a little earlier.
It all began long, long ago (the 1970s to be exact) in a galaxy about 250 miles south of where I live now. It was a warm spring evening and I had been invited by the girl I was dating to attend a movie viewing on the grounds of Fordham University in the Bronx.
The movies were 2 cult classics. The first was called 'Freaks' a fascinating tale of a very diminutive man falling in love with a gold digger in the backdrop of a carnival freak show. You may have heard the phrase, ‘One of us, one of us, gooble-gobble, gooble-gobble. It is from that movie.
The second was ‘Reefer Madness’. It’s the life affirming tale of a man, who after smoking only one joint transforms, through the magic of cinema, into a wide-eyed, satanic looking lunatic, piano player. (I think he knew how to play the piano before smoking the joint).
But the best part, other than having a beer in my hand and a hot babe in my lap was that THERE WAS A BEER TRUCK RIGHT THERE ON THE CAMPUS GROUNDS! 
Heavens to Murgatroyd, could it get any better?
I thought not, but after I happened to glance across the street and saw what was there, I realized I was in error!
My friends, right there, right before my very eyes was a White Castle Hamburger restaurant. For those of you unfamiliar with White Castle hamburgers, I will explain. The burger itself is square, about 2inches by 2 inches, has four holes in it and is topped with fried onions and a pickle. Since they are so small, most people order anywhere from 5 to 10 of them at a time. They are so delicious! I just had to have some.
So following the movies me and said girlfriend head over and I order and pay for 14 of them. As we’re waiting on line this guy comes in, walks up to another guy sitting at one of the tables and PUNCHES HIM square in the face!
I am not kidding! No words were exchanged, no threats made, no indication at all that anything was about to go down. Just walks up and BAM! right in the face. Instead of squaring off with the guy who hit him, ‘Punched In The Face’ guy, gets up and runs out. The guy who punched him, (whom I will henceforth call ‘Punchy’) then sits in the Punched In The Face Guy’s seat and starts eating his food.
Girlfriend says “We’d better get out of here. That guy’s obviously a psycho.” 
I replied, “I’m not leaving without my burgers. And if he comes anywhere near us I’ll drop him like a third testicle.” Which I thought was quite the clever comment but she seemed too nervous to enjoy my rapier wit.
Now if events weren’t weird enough, I glance out the window and see Punched In The Face Guy charging toward it holding one of those heavy steel mesh garbage cans over his head. I pulled my girlfriend close and shield her (I was very brave back then, I credit the beer) as the garbage can crashes through the window and bounces off Punchy’s head.
Now he’s a bloody mess on the floor and people are charging out the doors like the place was on fire. Madness rampant, chaos abounds!
But there are times when a man has to be strong and stand his ground for the things he believes in, so I looked the man behind the counter square in the eye and said, “I believe I’ll have those burgers to go.”
Minutes later, we’re in my car and leaving the scene just as the police arrive. I’ll never forget that night. Turns out the counterman shorted us one burger.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

I Love Danger

No, I don’t.
In fact, I hate danger but since I spent a good part of my life in dangerous situations, apparently I am some twisted thrill seeker with a problem he’s not addressing.
Today’s exciting adventure takes us to the Grand Concourse section of the Bronx during the late sixties. For those unfamiliar with the area it’s the main local thoroughfare next to Yankee stadium. What most people don’t know, (Even people who lived there for the majority of their lives) is there is an abandoned subway tunnel running beneath it, adjacent to the Metro-North train yards. (It’s been quite a while so I’m going to need a little leeway regarding exact details) I was in my senior year in high school and my buddy Pete, who lived in the area, told our group about it and would we want to go check it out?  
So let’s review.
I’m being asked to explore an abandoned subway tunnel that leads to gawdknowswhere, in the Bronx no less, with a group whose self-defense skills fell short of the girls in The Babysitters’ Club.
“Hell yeah!” bellowed Kenny, our group’s resident psycho. “I’m in,” said Ronnie, who planned to be a cop and felt he needed to experience dangerous situations. “I’ll go if we get beer first,” said Jimmy, who was, as far as I was concerned, the only clear thinking member of our group. Which left me, the remaining member of our little quintet, to be the voice of reason.
“Okay, I’m in,” I said.
Damn peer pressure!
So after school we each bought a 32 ounce bottle of Shaefer beer using our fake IDs (the legal drinking age in those days was eighteen) and headed off on our perilous adventure. The first part was sneaking into the Metro North Railway yards.  Which we did by waiting for one of the trains to pass then scurried toward the tunnel entrance as the train blocked us from view.
There was a thick board covering the entrance but the hinge was broken so we were able to pry the board open enough to slip inside.
It was dark as hell. We turned on our flashlights and saw why train people carry lanterns. It’s because flashlights don’t do diddily when it comes to lighting up the inside of a subway tunnel. So, finding ourselves in a dark, dangerous place with insufficient light we did the only reasonable thing we could do.
That’s right, we uncapped our beers, chugged them and pressed forward.
I remember telling myself that for an ‘Abandoned Subway Tunnel’ this damn thing stretched on pretty damn far. I can’t remember how much time we spent walking along those tracks but when we finally reached the subway station platform, we climbed up on it and took a leak against the wall. (Beer goes through 17 year olds pretty quick.)
As we returned to the platform edge, sat down and finished our beers, I remembered thinking that what I was doing was pretty cool.
And it was. The dangerous part would come about a half hour later while I was shit-faced and stupid.
Once we got back to the tunnel opening, Pete mentioned that instead of waiting for a train to come to block our exit, we should instead hop the wooden fence in front of the staircase entrance that led up to the condemned crosswalk that spanned over the Metro-North train tracks.
That was by far the most idiotic and dangerous idea I had ever heard. So, of course, that’s what we did.
When we got to the top I saw why the overhead crosswalk had been condemned. There were numerous slats missing, the ones that remained were in disrepair and others still had been replaced with debris like pipes, rods, a suitcase lid etc.
Kenny, (resident psycho, remember?) struts right out over it, followed by Ronnie, still needing to test his courage. Then me, who was drunk enough not to realize just how dangerous it was.
As I’m making my way across, a train-whistle screams and a train appears from around the bend. As it races toward us, the overhead crosswalk platform begins shaking and a couple of the makeshift planks start falling onto the train tracks below. I look behind me and see the nearest plank is too far to make without a running start and the remaining slats ahead are either spreading apart or dropping away.
I look to my friends and their eyes are like golf balls and their faces pale as death.
With the crosswalk falling apart and with no other choice, I sprinted across to the other side.  
To this day I have no idea how I made it. Was I lucky enough that wherever my foot landed there was something there to hold it up? Was the Universe watching at that very moment and decided, “Ahhh, not yet, jackass, not yet?” Or is it that a 17 year old, when scared out of his wits, has dexterity and balance far beyond those of mortal men?
Don’t know and didn’t have time to ponder as the train yard police were charging after us.
P.S. We got away.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sex and the Parade

Lo, the unbelievers shall descend upon this post with claims of fraud and malfeasance. They will insist it never happened.
But it did!
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that weird stuff happens to me all the time so you won’t be all that surprised. However, since I will be discussing sex and parades (two very randy topics) I will make every effort to keep it clean and g-rated. So let’s get to it.
When my ex and I were teens we didn’t have a place to go to physically express our romantic feelings and since we were struggling musicians we didn’t have money for a hotel.
But I did have a car and what a car it was. Imagine a red 4 door 1960 Pontiac Bonneville with a V-8 engine that had already racked up 128,000 miles since it came off the assembly line 12 years earlier. If it could float it would probably classified as a battleship and be fitted with eighteen inch cannons. Needless to say there was plenty of room for smootchin’ in the backseat but for those who know New York, know there are very few places one can go for privacy.
Of course there was the drive-in. Otherwise known as the world’s cheapest motel but the movies changed every 7 days and that’s too long a wait if you’re a boy and girl in their late teens with hormone overload.
So we started scouting out of the way locations hoping to find an area private enough for us to perform the unspeakable acts of depravity and debauchery we so enjoyed.
Unfortunately, most of the places we found weren’t as private as we thought, judging by the number of times the cops pulled up behind, got out and rapped their flashlight on the fogged up windows.
Thank goodness for fogged up windows!
Anyway, I remembered the roads leading to Ferry Point Park in the Bronx. For the mile or so from the Bruckner Expressway off-ramp to the park itself, the area was primarily empty lots and warehouses. Nary an occupied dwelling for at least a third of a mile.
One night we set out, found a street far from any personal residence and seeing only a closed warehouse with 2 trucks parked outside, decided we were safe from prying eyes and viewed it as an ‘all systems go’ signal from the Universe.
But as we all know, the Universe has a bizarre sense of humor.
So, we quickly slipped into our birthdays suits (wink, wink) and proceeded to…well use your imagination you naughty, naughty person!
Anyway, so we’re all kneecaps, asses and elbows when we hear a thumping sound in the distance. We ignore it but a minute or so later, we hear it again. She gets concerned, so I rubbed a clear patch on the fogged window and look out.
No big deal, apparently one of the trucks parked outside the warehouse was making a delivery, so we figure when they finish they’ll take off. 
Satisfied, we get back to business but minutes later, numerous other noises, some particularly odd, fill the air, but being in the midst of woofkie-foofkie, we paid no attention.
I remember a golden oldie was playing on the radio that night. One of my favorites, “I Only Have Eyes For You’. Beautiful song and as we lay in the afterglow of love making, wrapped in each other’s arms, a base drum, followed by the thunderous blare of snare drums, trumpets, glockenspiels and tubas suddenly filled the air with a rousing rendition of the ever popular ‘Star and Stripes Forever’.
As my beloved kicked me into the roof of the car and scrambled for her clothes, I— after tumbling back to the seat— wiped away a section of fogged window and saw the St. Helena High School marching band passing by in perfect lockstep formation, apparently practicing for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day parade! 
“Wow!” I said. “Sex and a parade, could this day get any better?”
My betrothed however, did not possess my appreciation for the art form and expressed her dissatisfaction by saying: “Stop staring at the (bleeping) parade you (bleeping) moron and get us the (bleep) out of here!”
Ahh, young love. There’s really nothing like it.
I later discovered that St Helena’s High regularly used that particular street to practice because of its distance from residential housing.
Good to know.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Got a Hot Girlfriend!

Okay, here’s the deal.
I’m in my fifties, she’s in her forties, she looks like she’s in her thirties, has a body of a woman in her twenties, and together we act like we’re in our teens.
How did this happen?
To answer that, my little buckaroos, we must travel back to the days of yesteryear,  when Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ topped the charts, All in the Family was the #1 TV show and the horror of disco had yet to befall us.
I was in my late teens when I met the blond-haired, green-eyed beauty who would become my wife and soul mate. Like me, she was a musician and had the amazing talent of ‘perfect pitch’ which means she could tune a musical instrument without using a pitch pipe or tuning meter. We played in several bands, as a duet, as studio musicians and played every gin joint, dive, dump, hell-hole, strip-club and mob front (as well as CBGB’s) in the New York area. After dating off and on for several years we decided to get married. When the children arrived we knew our rock and roll days were over so we moved to a popular tourist town in upstate New York.
We were happily married for 25 years and then suddenly…
We weren’t.
I had no idea what I had done (or perhaps what she had done) to make her suddenly hate me with a white hot rage that at times made me concerned for my well-being.  
So we got a divorce.
But I liked being married, liked having someone to come home to, liked having someone to share my life with. So I started dating again. I kept it low key and enjoyed the company of several interesting women but after about a year and a half my full length bathroom mirror sat me down and set me straight on the ways of the world. It said:
“Listen up, Gramps.” (Yeah, my mirror calls me Gramps even though I have no grandchildren.) “You’re no longer the strutting, self-confident, charismatic lead singer/guitarist for a rock band. You are now a bejowled, pudgy, middle-aged man with an emerging bald spot whose attractiveness to the opposite sex went the way of the Big-Hair bands. So my advice is to resume smoking, drinking, eating crappy fast foods and do everything possible to bring on that big heart attack because let’s face it, you’re old, in the way and will never meet anyone as uniquely suited to you as your ex.”
Wow, I just realized what a douche my mirror is!
Anyway, I didn’t resume smoking, drinking or eating fast foods but did realize the mirror had a point so I dated less and less and finally not at all.
Over time I became resigned to never being romantically involved again and started a new life, made new friends and picked up the guitar (something I hadn’t done in decades) and started hitting the open mike venues.
I joined a writer’s group, did a book tour to promote my YA novel ‘Frostie the Deadman,’ wrote several new books, wrote a popular Christmas song, built a backyard deck, built a new roof for the garage, tiled the living room floor, started a publishing company, designed its logo, started a blog (apparently, you already know that) and taught myself how to play the mandolin.
But I still missed women.
But apparently they didn’t miss me.
Then the strangest thing happened. A manager of a local supermarket, a woman I had been casually nodding or waving to for over a decade mentioned she had read my books and enjoyed them. She then smiled and leaned toward me
 Being the Casanova that I am I said, “Thank you” and wandered off.
When I got home my bathroom mirror said, “Psst! Hey Gramps, come here.”
“Screw you!” I replied. My conversations with the mirror rarely go well.
“Seriously, old timer, come here,” it said. “I’ve got something important to tell you.”
I stopped, turned and with a sullen expression stomped into the bathroom and said, “All right, Douchie McDouchebag, what do you want?”
And it said, “That woman from the supermarket digs you.”
I smirked. “You mean that hottie manager?
I flashed a look of disbelief. “You’re crazy!” I said and waved him off as I left.
Ten minutes I get an email from her asking if I’d like to get coffee. So I took her to dinner and we’ve been dating ever since.
Yay me!

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