20 August 2011

Ghosts, Summer and IEK

The Phi Sigma Kappa crest

Me and Tyler on his first day at the dorms.
Even the Lil Wayne t-shirt and throwing up
gang signs does not help me look
 like I belong here.
I took my nephew to school last week.  He's a Freshman on the soccer team at SUNY Canton. He's 18 and skinny. I'm 45 and have a head like a melon. I don't miss the 18 year old skinny me that much but I would definitely go back and do it all over again. Moving Tyler into the dorms brought back some memories of Edinboro and Scranton Hall and living with D.J. and living next door to George and Eric: the time they stole my door, the time Eric put a used condom on my door handle, the times we would call the guys who lived next door and then hang up on them. Over and over. They would start to shout "Hello!" in the phone and then slam the receiver in the cradle so hard that it shook our wall. So g-d funny...I told him not to worry too much about getting the perfect roommate.  Some things are just better left to fate.

I like The Cure more and more as I get older. I like the Doobie Brothers less and less.....I am ready for some football. However, can the Buffalo Bills get it together? Put it together? Don't we have someone in management that can fight for a Michael Vick? Yes, he killed dogs, but I can separate that from his performance on the field. Hunter Thompson was a great writer but he slapped women. So did Hemingway.  Maybe that should affect how much I like their writing but it doesn't. I guess Ralph Wilson possibly put the kibosh on signing Vick. He's going to his grave with his prinicples and a losing football team....I was mourning the end of Summer a few weeks ago. I'm doing better now.....A shout-out to the girl I massaged last week. Call me....Facebook is a fun place to mess with people. Really? I can't call people retarded anymore? That is so gay....I am watching my nephew and my sister's place starting tomorrow and I am really excited. Pool every morning, then after work and then after dinner and then before I go to bed. Been working out all summer and I keep building muscle but not losing fat. Curious. The pool is great but am more looking forward to hanging out with my nephew Kyle. Gonna get some bikes and ride the Lehigh Valley Trail either down to Lake Ontario or the other way to Geneseo and Piffard where monks make bread. I also want to take him to see all my favorite things in the city: used book store, Mark's Texas Hots, Mt. Hope Cemetery, maybe East Ave....He wants to read The Catcher in the Rye. Hopefully we can get him a copy.

Johnny, D.J., Eric and George during our second semester at school
but first semester as Phi Sigs.  George is sitting on Deanna's lap,
a girl who almost spent more time in our rooms than we did.
Been reading up on the end of the Cold War.  Been reading about the rise of Southern Soul music, mainly my man Otis Redding. Been reading The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter Thompson. Raymond Carver and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. I keep having dreams that I'm in school and working on a project that's overdue. I think my brain is trying to tell me something.....I really, really like going to work, especially if it's outside and I work with people that make me laugh....Can't bring myself to be home long enough to make my small apartment visitor friendly. Stuff all over the place. It has become a place to shower, watch dvds and store ice for my drink while watching said dvds....I visited my brother and his family last week at Fairhaven. They rented a house between the bays and it was really spectacular. A huge old place with many windows. It's odd to me what people put effort into. Making money is fine but it doesn't matter if you have money and no family and no one to share life with. Why make money at the expense of time with your family? I know everyone has to pay the bills but pay them and then spend some time with the Fam. Talking about this with a friend of mine the other day.  He said: "If I have a chance to take my daughters out to dinner and spend time with them then I'll take half a day off and do it. I don't want to look back on my life and regret times I could have had." Someone say Amen! My brother has quite the brood and they're all interesting. They spent the week fishing and sailing and boating and going to the beach. Someone say Amen!....

Buzz and the nicely racked Marge at the
Toga Party, circa 1990; 
Eric is drinking out of a Massengil bottle

Gonna have a killer, killer music collection very soon. Got a ton of music from D.J.  Been burning cd after cd from the libary. Adele, Otis, Rilo Kiley, Fleet Foxes, Roy Orbison, and (like the guy on tv says) more! Now I just need an Ipod....Have not been drinking much this summer....Haven't gone to Camp much....Haven't fished much.... Saw a great free show the other night. Tommy Brunett opened for Shooter Jennings. I liked Tommy Brunett more. Shooter was not the rocker I thought he'd be. But still good. My nephew Ben says, "There's alot of old people here," and he wasn't talking about me. There were a lot of old people there....So I went to the skin doctor a few weeks ago. Last time I went I wasn't wearing underwear and had to put on the paper gown. Definitely not enough material to cover me comfortably. This time I wore underwear and felt alright just hanging out in my gown. Got the feeling that she was checking me out which did not make me feel weird at all.  Is that wrong?  She is a hardass doctor. Raised on a farm south of Buffalo, her father was very harsh with the kids, making her self-reliant at an early age. A drinker also, it makes me glad I had two good people for parents.....Spent some time at my neighbor's house a few weeks ago. I grew up there. Not literally, but I spent many, many hours there. First the Pooley's lived there, then the McGurer's. They moved away in 1994 but I had been visiting there since 1971. Twenty-three years. I think that spending time at a place ties your emotions to that place and maybe that's why places are haunted. Not saying there are ghosts but I'm not saying there can't be....I'm surprised that more college dorms aren't haunted.  Ok, that's it.

14 July 2011

My Mom Will Kick Your Ass


The Grandkids: Spencer, Luke, Sam, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Kyle, Ben, Tyler, Cole and Josh on the silo behind the barn

          I stopped by my parents’ house last week and was hanging out in the driveway shooting baskets when my Mom came walking from around the front of the house. “Mom,” I shouted, “let’s play H-O-R-S-E.”
        “I can’t,” she said. “Maybe when I’m done.” She was puttering around in one of her flower gardens. She has a lot of flower gardens. Last year she put a decorative brick border around the pine trees in front. Last week she planted some new flowers down near the barn but had to dig them up and move them when the faucet in the barn broke. There is a little area behind the garage, off the driveway, that looks like a garden at the Smithsonian. It’s made up of flower upon flower, mixed in with some bushes and decorative laurel, none of which I know by name. My Mom makes sure the yard looks nice, but it actually looks fantastic.  She likes that stuff. When we would drive by the house we lived in in Rush, many years after we had left and moved to the farm, she would spy the bushes she planted along the house. “How are my bushes doing?” she wondered aloud. She has a nurturing essence that has made her a good landscaper and a great mother and grandmother.
       When my brother and sisters and I were in high school, and college, and junior high - and really, ever since - my Mom took our appearance seriously.  I would often hear comments like “What the hell are you doing without shoes on?!" or  "You look like a vagrant!” directed at me.  My appearance has been a point of contention since we moved to Lima and I stopped wearing shoes.  In the summer the soles of my feet would become black with dirt and grass stains and she would make me scrub them night after night.  They would be clean and white when I was done but by noon the next day they would be back to their altered state.  In fairness to my Mom, I often looked like a vagrant, especially when I had long hair and a penchant for wrinkled shirts.  It was only, I believe, my youth, my innocent face and my ability to play dumb that kept me out of any serious trouble with the authorities, but that didn't fool my Mom.
        She doesn’t like looking at photos of herself but on her wedding day she looked like Audrey Hepburn if Audrey Hepburn lived next door and wore cat glasses.  Her and my Dad are young and handsome and happy in those photos, with everything in front of them.  Last year I was in the church where they got married, St. Joseph’s in Rush, and I crept up in the balcony and thought about them and the day they got married.   After they married they lived on West Rush Road.  My parents fixed up the first house, sold it, and then moved to my grandmother's old place across from the golf course in town.  They were barely in their thirties when we left Rush and moved to the farm in Lima.  Their place sure didn’t look like it does now.  There are some buildings that no longer stand, having been buried years ago now, but that’s not the real difference.  The place was rough when they bought it.  It might be a family legend, but I believe that the former owners had chickens in the house.  I know that I moved into a house that was clean and had new carpets (I still love the new carpet smell), a new kitchen, a new bathroom, pretty much new everything, and I got to pick the color of my room (I liked purple).  I spent a lot of time making forts from couch cushions or throwing blankets over radiators to make a hot house (we trapped the warm air until we were sweating) or playing with hot wheels in my Dad's office.  Kids spend a lot of time in the nooks and crannies of a house, time that makes a house a home.  The bathroom was always clean, the dishes were always done, and the clothes always washed and folded.  As a little kid, a clean house is a cozy house, and our house was always clean. 
        My Dad was at Kodak every day, then home at five, and then on the tractor or in the shop until dark. We spent a lot of time with him because he was fun to be around and because there was always work to be done.  He was like the Godfather - he was the head of the network. My Mom was more like Sonny Corleone. She ran the day-to-day operation from the front lines.  She made the doctor and dentist and orthodontist appointments, took us shopping for school clothes, bought the food we liked and didn’t like, took us to our friends' house, paid the bills, cleaned the bathroom, and set the standards.  Not only did she drive us to the orthodontist appointments, but she was also the one who decided that we were getting braces.  We were her domain.
         When we fell short of her expectations she let us know it.   How many times did I get whacked in the back of the head when I was walking out the door?  Her rants were like a mad lib. “Now you get your ass (“out there” or “in there”) and you (insert task - clean your room, take out the garbage), or I’m gonna (insert threat - i.e. “tan your behind”),” she’d say, and then she’d position herself strategically so she could smack you in the back of the head on your way by.  It also irritated her when we dragged our feet.  She would tell me that "you are slower than molasses in January," and "you take forever and a day to do anything."  If you had screwed up enough for her to say, “Just wait ‘til your father gets home,” then you had won the battle but lost the war.  The mention of my father was the big stick.  My Mom got results.  We were polite and well-behaved in public (and most other places) like it was second nature.   We didn't know any other way to be and for that I have to thank my Mom.  Of course, beneath my Mom's intolerance for foolery was a Mom whose heart was as big as the outdoors, who always thought the best of her kids, always wanted the best for her kids, and always did her best for her kids.   She was the Mom who was on point against every fever, every crooked tooth, every smear of dirt, and every teardrop.          
        My friends kind of laugh now when I talk about growing up on the farm and they say, "Geez Bean, when are they gonna rename your parents' street 'Bean Road?  There's enough Bean's on there."   My brother and my sisters live on the road and there is a path that runs from my Mom's to my older sister's house.  We are close enough that we compare the situation to Everybody Loves Raymond (most of the time in a humorous way).  Everyone comes and goes.  I can stop in at any time to find both my sister's talking to my Mom in the driveway, or my nephews in the shop with my Dad, or my brother picking someone up or dropping someone off.  There's a kind of randomness and ease that doesn't require a formal occasion for any number of our family to find themselves together talking.  I like to joke that my Mom never took me to the circus and that's why I turned out the way I did, and of course I'm being sarcastic.  I turned out the way I did because of my Mom and while the jury may still be out on me, I don't know many families that are still so connected even into adulthood that they would want to have a day-to-day interaction with the rest of their family.  For that I have to thank my Mom, and my Dad, but my Mom is the center, the coordinator, the default babysitter and the quality control specialist.     
         It’s really neat to see my Mom with the grandkids.  My Dad is pretty cool but the little kids think that Grandma is where it’s at.  She paints and colors and draws with them, they sit in her chair and watch movies on her tiny dvd player, and she always has candy.  Whenever I babysit the kids for my sister, I ask seven year-old Cole what he wants to do. “I want to go to Grandma’s.”  And that would be that.  Watching her with the grandkids, I can see how she raised us.  My Dad noticed it too and one day mentioned how great my Mom was with them.  I always thought that my perpetual optimism and happiness was something that was hardwired inside me, that I was just born that way, but I was mistaken.  Somehow, someway, my Mom made me a happy person.  How many people can say that?
        When she got done hauling brush from her gardens, she took off her work gloves and we played a game of H-O-R-S-E.  My Mom, at seventy years old, was leading by a letter when we quit.  She is still taking me to school.

25 June 2011

Karl Marx Is Not Gay. Not That There's Anything Wrong With That.

"Two guys wanna get married?  Well, that's just stupid."
                                                                                   Eight year old Luke Bean

"The Take Back the Land Movement is rooted in the following principles: housing is a human right; local community control over land and housing."
                                                                                   Take Back the Land Mission Statement

New York State is really making headlines lately.  Former Congressman Andrew Weiner finally stepped down after weeks of Weiner jokes following his sexting of almost every woman in the U.S. under the age of twenty-five.  The odd thing to me was that our capacity for outrage has become so burned out that news of Weiner's texting a high-school girl was met with a shrug of the shoulders and a "Congressmen will be Congressmen" indifference.  Yeah, the guy is/was a deviant.  I don't think he is the type of public servant that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he envisioned our Nation's representatives.

New York made the national news again last night when it passed the Gay Marriage Bill into law.  In thirty days it won't be just Adam and Eve getting married, but also Adam and Steve (as well as Guy and Manny, Neil and Bob, etc).  My nephew's reaction to the uproar was classic eight-year old brevity: "Two guys wanna get married? Well, that's just stupid."  I don't think that my nephew is biased against gay people but those on the fringes of the political spectrum may disagree.  There is suspicion and distrust everywhere of every representative of the straight, white, male social structure, even (I'm sure) amongst the elementary schoolers.  Wake up people!  Our children are being brainwashed that eating meat, driving cars, earning money and trusting the police are all okay and socially acceptable.  What will become of our society with these sorts of values?  Just think of all these elementary school kids as adults, obeying the speed limit as they drive to work, paying their taxes and coming home to eat a steak with their families, or worse yet, some venison tenderloins from a deer they shot and killed.  It's a Lefty's worst nightmare.  Personally, I miss Ronald Reagan.  He was steady as a rock.  Sure, he cut welfare spending and increased our military budget tenfold, but he was a good foil for a young kid like myself that was anti-Establishment.  Like D.J. says, "If you're twenty and you're not a rebel, you have no balls.  If you're thirty and you're not part of the Establishment, then you have no brains."  I have had both and neither.
Bill Clinton and Al Gore share an intimate moment

I was conflicted when I heard that New York may allow two women to get married, and I wasn't sure what to think, so I did a little research.  College-Girls and Pinkbabes were both useful websites with some very informative videos regarding the marriage issue, apparently also known as "Girl On Girl".  I did not know that so many teenage girls had friends' moms that were willing to hold them and comfort them and do other things to them just to make them feel better when they were going through some rough times emotionally.  I still don't know if two women should get married.   Sure, two ugly women getting married wouldn't bother me but, as for the hotties, I am still determined and willing to watch as many videos as it takes to arrive at an informed opinion.

Emily Good was another New Yorker to make the national news, having been featured on the Huffington Post, Glenn Beck, MSNBC, Newsday, Fox News, and USA Today, as well as many other news outlets.  Ms. Good was arrested on her own property for videotaping members of the Rochester Police Department making a traffic stop.  She wanted to get evidence of racial profiling in her neighborhood which, she says, happens all the time.  In this case the officers were white and the person they pulled over was black which, of course (according to Emily), would be racial profiling.  During an interview with the Democrat and Chronicle she noted that the officers making the traffic stop were white and she ran into the house to get her camera to record evidence of their crime.  The cops come off a bit short-tempered in the video and it appears that the arresting officer acts quickly once he makes up his mind to arrest Ms. Good.  She keeps shouting "I don't understand what's happening," as he is arresting her, which would have been funny if it wasn't so......okay, it was kind of funny.

I have been subjected to racial profiling once and non-racial profiling another time.  My friend Tony Mouzon (may he rest in peace) lived off Clifford Ave. in the city.  There was a crackhouse at the end of his street.  I was driving an old pick-up truck at the time and was (and still am) white.  The first time I went to his house to pick him up for work, I sat in my truck outside his house and waited there.  After waiting for a few minutes, I aroused the suspicion of his neighbors.  What is this white guy doing on our street?  The short and most logical answer to them is that I was there to buy drugs.  That is why most young, white males came to this African-American neighborhood.  When Tony came out of the house I saw him have a quick conversation with one of his neighbors that was standing on their porch.  When he got in my truck he was laughing and said that his neighbor was getting ready to call the cops on me.  I liked the idea of Tony having vigilant neighbors who cared about what was happening on their street.  I liked it even more that they would do something about it.  My other profiling incident was when I had long hair and was a passenger in a car that was traveling in a well known drug corridor headed to Washington, D.C.  We didn't know we were in a "drug corridor" as the officer called it.  It was the same route that my parents took when I was in fifth grade and we were driving to Florida.  We were just on the highway, going to see the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.  The cops said that they pulled us over for speeding but I am pretty sure they pulled us over because we had New York license plates.  It was an undercover car and I think they had shadowed us for a ways to get a good look at us.  Like I said, I had a lot of hair.  They made us wait while they brought a drug-sniffing dog onto the scene.  Did we do anything wrong that would warrant our getting pulled over?  No.  But we did fit the profile.   

Distrust of the Establishment was a given in the post-Sixties/Watergate society that I grew up in.  My first year away at college was 1986 and we were still in the wake of the 1960's.  The Grateful Dead were making a comeback, Hunter Thompson was essential reading, and the drugs of choice were still pot and acid.  Politically and socially, the Sixties cast a long shadow, like an overachieving big brother that me and my friends would never measure up to.  Not that we cared much.  We were doing our own thing.  We still carried a distrust of the Man, the Establishment, and Big Brother, but I don't think that's what Emily Good's deal is. Sure, if you read her Facebook page you will see comments like "very corrupt and they are out of control!" and "RPD must love wasting money and resources by just being douches" and  "Your story is living proof that America is looking more and more like a Police State" but I think that she thinks the problem goes deeper than that.  I think she subscribes to the theory that the police are just a part of the problem in our society, a tool of the Establishment to keep the needy and impoverished in their place, and to maintain the status quo for the Haves, the people who run or support Big Oil, Big Banks, and Big Fill-In-The-Blank.  I am certainly not the first person to defend the police.  I have had plenty of run-ins with cops who were jerks but I don't think the guy making a traffic stop is doing so because he's defending some secret network where white, priveleged males get everything handed to them.  He's just a guy enforcing the law who wants to get home alive at the end of the day.  The arresting officer in Ms. Good's case may be wrong but I don't think he's part of a bigger conspiracy.

Karl Marx
The Rochester Police Department was also put on the spot earlier this year when Ms. Good and others were protesting the foreclosure of a home in the city.  On March 28 of this year two dozen RPD officers executed an eviction notice at the former home of Catherine Lennon, a Rochester woman who had her home foreclosed on.  She hadn't made a mortgage payment in nearly two years and either she ignored warning letters from the bank or the bank refused to discuss refinancing with her.  She was called the "Rosa Parks of the Housing Market" because she stood up to the Big Bank (in this case Fannie Mae) who foreclosed on her house.  Fannie Mae was bailed out with taxpayer money two years ago, lending a murkiness to the morality of home foreclosures of taxpayers who supposedly are paying the bills of the institution kicking them out of their house.  Along with this, Fannie Mae is currently being investigated for fraud.  With the help of an organinzation known as Take Back the Land, Ms. Lennon returned to her home, and awaits further action.  Or something.  I don't really know.  I do know that Take Back the Land, or TBTL, has a mission statement that reads as follows:

Take Back the Land Rochester believes that housing is a human right, not a commodity. We believe that land and housing should be controlled by the community, not the banks. In order to elevate housing to a human right and secure community control over land we defend people from foreclosure-related evictions and assist homeless people to move into vacant, bank-owned homes. In this process we are wresting land from the control of the banks and turning it back to our community in the form of community land trusts—where land can be taken off the speculative market. As long as housing occurs at the whim of the banks and the market homelessness and poverty will plague our community forever. In short, housing should be for people not for profit. That‘s why we’re taking back the land!

These houses - which are the private property of the bank - must not be sold "for profit" (because making a profit is just wrong apparently) but rather be held by a "collective" and given to homeless people and others in a lower economic strata, particularly women of color.  I have just a few issues with the TBTL, and when I say a few, I mean everything they stand for.  To wit:
               - Housing is not a human right any more than having a car is a human right. It is not a human right that you should have what your neighbor has even though you don't work for it. However, if you can't afford to pay for your own housing, sign up for Social Services and the New York state government will subsidize your housing. That's pretty nice of them.
               - Land and housing costs money. Whoever owns it, gets to control it. It's called private property. Go to school, get good grades, get a scholarship to go to college (or take loans like everyone else), then get a job. Save your money, pay your bills, establish good credit and then buy a house. Or don't.
               - If you are a homeless person, you should be able to squat on someone else's property and the TBTL will protest that it's not fair that you, who are an alcoholic/drug addict who has never worked for more than three months at one job, don't have the same living conditions as the person who worked and saved their money.  Huh?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not guarantee that you get to own a house, especially not a house that you don’t pay for.  I know that everyone has an excuse nowadays.  Weiner sexts underage girls and then checks himself into rehab. For what? To cure himself of being a creep? Yes, the job market is barren, but that doesn't mean you can quit paying your mortgage. If banks like Fannie Mae are using predatory interest rates then foreclosing unfairly, then there should be investigations to see if laws were broken. If we need legislation to prevent predatory bank practices, then let's pass those laws. We were founded as a nation with the power of law, not man. We have no King and there is no Judge that does not have to answer to the rule of law. If our system works properly then we cannot be convicted on a judge's whim. If the system works properly.  But the citizens have to be held accountable to the law as well.

It's insulting to Rosa Parks to call Lennon the "Rosa Parks" of the housing market. Owning your own home is not a human right.  Being able to work and go to school without prejudice or fear of reprisal because of your race or social status is.  Human rights are generally the right not to have awful things done to you. You can determine your own fate. You can vote and you can vote without getting your head bashed in. You have a right to private property and you have the right to be protected from unlawful searches and seizures. You have the right to be protected by the law, regardless of your color, creed, or sexual orientation.  You can't be beaten or tortured by the police or held without cause.  In New York, you have the right to marry someone of the same sex with equal protection under the law.  I don’t think that people have a right to free housing or free food. It is by the largesse of our brothers and sisters in society that we are charitable enough to help the less fortunate, even those who refuse to meet society half way.

It has become fashionable to bash Big Oil (the Gulf spill), Big Banks (where did the bailout money go?), cops (why are they harassing that poor girl?), people not of color (they lack compassion for immigrants even though our families were all immigrants), people who try to make money, carnivores, people who don't recycle, people who don't believe in global warming (I'm not convinced) and people that like Sarah Palin (this I understand).   I am never going to apologize for making money or eating meat or driving my car.   I'd like to live in a world where college education is free, healthcare is free, museums are free and frequent, and libraries and parks are the center of every town.  My dream society is a true meritocracy, one that rewards hard work and skill and talent and vision, a nation in which the best man or woman gets the job because they do the best job. We are all lucky to live in America.  Of course if society goes the other way then I would like to request a house now.  Preferably somewhere near a lake. With a patio, because I like to grill. Oh, by the way, I'll need a grill.

18 June 2011

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day is Sunday.  I am lucky enough to still have my Dad around even though, at 72, he is still relatively young.  His father, my grandfather, Joe Bean, passed away when he was 93, leading me to think that my Dad will be around a long time.  Am I in denial about my father's mortality?  I sure am.  But anyone who knows my Dad can attest to his invincibility.  With two huge hands and the suppport of my Mom, he built everything that we hold dear: our family, our farm, our way of life that hums steadily in tune with nature.  It's perfectly normal on a summer day for either of my parents to grab some tomatoes out of the garden and make some fresh BLTs, like it's no big deal to be so connected to the Earth.   I know that kids always think their dad is Superman, but my Dad is Superman.

Last year I broke my leg and then my Dad fractured his pelvis.  His injury was much worse but, despite some tough times, he's bounced back.  We spent most of the winter in dual recliners in the living room, trying to find something to watch on tv to stave off the boredom.  My Dad was not meant to spend much time indoors.  I could read and watch movies and have a drink every day at 4 o'clock like it was no big deal.  My Dad, however, spends his winter days outside with his friends, chasing fox with his dogs.  He likes to listen to the dogs run.  But, like I said, he's bounced back.

My parents moved us out of town when I was only five and plunked us down on 98 acres on a dirt road in Lima.  My Dad started farming shortly thereafter and we became a "farm" family.  We had horses, chickens, pigs, cows, cats and dogs.  There were combines in our driveway and if it was 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning and you hadn't heard the tractor yet it was because my Dad was somewhere else, probably an auction.  I knew and my family knew at an early age that my Dad did everything for us.  We were the reason he got up in the morning.

As I've grown up, life around me has changed.  My Uncle George, probaby my Dad's best friend, was my Dad's brother-in-law.  I had a sort of hero worship for my Uncle George.  He took me to ball games.  He talked my Dad into taking us on a family trip to Florida to see my Aunt Margaret and her family.  It was the kind of trip that cemented childhood memories.  We went to DisneyWorld and the Ocean and I brought back oranges for some of my 5th grade classmates and I was smooth and styling because it was April and I was tan.  George passed away from cancer in June of 1979.  He left his wife Rosemary (my Dad's sister), sons Billy and Tommy, and daughter Amy behind.  My cousins were in their twenties and my Dad did the best he could to be there for everyone.  Eventually, he and Bill became close friends and went into a variety of businesses together.  Bill married a great gal named LuAnne and became a father himself and they built a house on the road where my parents still live and where I grew up.   Bill and LuAnne and my Mom and Dad were inseparable for a long time.  There were a lot of laughs and good cheer.  My Aunt Rosemary married another George and the family kept growing.   Looking back now it seems like the love and friendship and commitment to family that my Dad lived is a tree that keeps on giving to this very day. 

Friends that I grew up with have had fathers pass away.  Friends that I went to school with have had fathers pass away.  I finally caught up to a girl I had worked with a couple years ago.  A sweet, cute, kind-hearted girl that just entered her thirties.  Her father had passed away since the last time I saw her.  I knew some of these men pretty well, as well as one can.  I respected them and also had a healthy fear of them.  They were not the kind of guys that you lipped off to.   As I heard someone say recently about someone else's father, "Your Dad don't play no f***ing games!" and that pretty much sums them up.  One friend's father caught some kids shoplifting from the neighborhood liquor store.  He picked the kid up by the collar and the seat of his pants and tossed him onto the concrete sidewalk like a bag of beans.  The kid sat there until the cops arrived.  Another one of my friend's fathers responded in kind when a neighborhood kid lipped off to his wife.  That kid got tossed over the porch railing and into the bushes.  I liked these guys and I also think that a little bit of fear of your elders when you're a kid is healthy thing.  Now their sons have become fathers.

Contemplating my father's mortality is taxing.  I know it's all a part of the cycle of life but that doesn't make it any easier.   I think about the times that my Uncle George has missed and how my life might have been different had he lived longer.  I think about the fathers of friends and how they will miss seeing their sons grow into fatherhood.  And then I think about my brother and his five kids (yes, I said five) and how they sometimes follow him around and you can see the hero worship peeking through when they're with him and I grin when I realize that my brother has turned into the type of man that you don't lip off to.  I don't know why but I have been continually blessed with family and friends who know what's important.  And today, like yesterday, I am going to stop by and see what my Dad is up to, and tomorrow I am going to wish him a Happy Father's Day.  I am that lucky.

26 May 2011

My Favorite Corey Haim Films

Some people define "blog" as "Any of various internet destinations maintained by tragically deluded people who actually think you are interested in their all-time favorite Corey Haim movies."  Please, Jennifer, when referring to Mr. Haim's work, call them films, not movies.  Afterall, he was an auteur.

The Godfather.  Corey Haim was great in this movie and I don't know how he did not win the Oscar.  He plays Michael Corleone, son of the Godfather, Vito Corleone, and held his own going toe-to-toe against the great Marlon Brando.

Apocolypse Now.  Who could forget Corey Haim growling the famous words: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

Citizen Kane.  Some say it is the best movie of all time.  Corey wrote, produced, directed and starred as a man who wants the world, gets the world, and then regrets his life and what it took to get him there.

Gone With the Wind.  Corey plays Scarlett O'Hara, a wretch who is loved by Rhett Butler.  Who could forget the look on Corey's face when Rhett says, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."  Classic cinema.

The Wizard of Oz.  Who could play Dorothy better than Corey Haim?  I love the part when he puts on the ruby red slippers and sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

And my favorite all-time Corey Haim film has got to be Star Wars.  George Lucas usually gets all the credit for this film but it's Corey's performance that, just like the Dude's rug, truly ties this film together.  We follow Luke and Han and Obi-Wan as they battle Darth Vader and the Empire and then, against all odds, blow up Corey Haim at the end.  He is virtually unrecognizable as the Death Star, just another example of his ability to disappear into a role.

Ok, that's it.  Tune in next week to learn what my All-Time Favorite Martin Scorcese Movies are.  Hint: License to Drive cracks the top five. 

20 May 2011

And That's What Really Grinds My Gears....

Everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.  Mark Twain said that.  But why complain about the weather when.....

President Obama has abandoned Israel.  He came out last night in support of the Palestinians and embraced the pre-1967 borders.  Iran must be licking its chops.  Why would Saddam Hussein not allow weapons inspectors in?  Because then the world, and specifically Iran, would know he had no weapons!  But we did what Iran couldn't: we weakened Iraq beyond all recognition.  You're welcome.  Now we are going to give billions of dollars (that we will probably borrow from China) to Arab nations whose most mainstream political parties would like to see Israel wiped off the map.  Could we please have Ronald Reagan back?  Heck, I'd even settle for Jimmy Carter.

Public Safety Advocates, a fancy phrase for "People Who Know What's Best For You Better Than You Do Because You're A Dumbass" want to bump off Ronald McDonald because he's a bad influence.  The last time I checked (I didn't really but it's just good, common sense) toddlers can't drive.  Their parents are the ones who decide what the kids eat, and if parents want to take their kids to a G-D Mickey D's, it's none of the State's bizness.  Sure, kids are fat.  I'm fat.  But I still think choosing what I eat is a basic human right even if it's not in the Bill of Rights.
Part II of "People Who Know What's Best For You Better Than You Do":  New York State wants to pass a law banning teens from tanning booths.   If you are not yet 18 it's going to be illegal to get a tan so you don't burn on the family vacation to Myrtle Beach or so you can look nice for your prom pics.  Shouldn't that be up to the parents to decide?  Oh, that's right.  They're dumbasses.

The three-headed monster of Hochul-Corwin-Davis are running for Shirtless Chris "I'm Really Buff" Lee's empty Congressional seat.  The 70-year old Davis gets assaulted by a phony camera crew, who edit the tape to make it look like they haven't been following the guy around all day and getting in his face, and then the incessant radio and tv spots accuse all three candidates of trying to kill Medicare.  Way to make a play for the Frightened Senior Citizen voting bloc, you idiots.  These ads run alongside others in which, apparently, if you agree with the Ryan Budget Proposal from a few weeks ago, you want everyone and their mother to have an abortion.  I don't know who to vote for and I just want it all to be over.

It's NBA playoffs which  means a series started on a Sunday should end right before you begin your Christmas shopping.  The Heat-Bulls series is averaging a game every four days.  Can we please pick up the pace, Mr. Stern?  If Oprah was really that powerful she would have killed bin Laden a long time ago.

I think there was some other stuff that was bugging me but, except for people who hit straights and flushes on the River, I can't think of it now.  Ok, that's it.