Category Archives: Hicksville

Sad Times July 23rd 2014

It has not been a very happy year so far and it shows no sign of getting better any time soon. I know I’ve been off the radar for two years now and I can’t seem to get back on the horse. I am putting a link that will tell the tale for me in the hopes of getting some help. Here it is
I never thought it come to this but desperate times call for desperate measures. Thanks for reading, and to any who used my work for term papers and such. I hope you got good grades.


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A Short Note On Hurricane Irene-Part 2

This past week I have heard many stories on the radio that I find very disturbing. In response to threats of violence to workers, the police have had to provide escort service to crews who are trying to restore power and clean up downed trees and power-lines. One man in Hicksville was arrested after making “Columbine” like threats over the phone and another in Islip for calling in bomb threats to LIPA/National Grid.

I have lived here all my life and have been through many power outages as a child and as an adult. It was not fun but it was not worthy of threats and violence to the people who we depend on for the power we obviously can’t live without. Have we sunk so low that we can’t make the best of the situation and huddle together to tell stories, read to our children by candlelight, how about playing cards-I’ll bet many of today’s kids don’t know how to play games we played when I was young. Then there is also sitting and making arts and crafts. My artistic talent today can be traced all the way back to my early days. I remember sitting with my mom learning how to draw and paint, and make things with paper and glue and glitter.

This country was built by people who lived by candle light every night and had none of the comforts and indulgent time saving pleasures we have today, and yes I know they knew nothing else but what about our grandparents? They didn’t have TV or AC or PC’s or anything like what our parents even enjoyed. Yet somehow, when things were bad they got together, helped each other and muddled through the bad times, and they did it without threatening to blow anyone up!

Some of these crews are from as far away as Illinois, they are working twelve hour days away from their homes and families. They miss them, their cats and dogs, friends,  their own beds and hometowns. The other day after dropping my car off at a closed repair shop, I walked home secure in the knowledge that it will be Wed before I get it back. I walked right past LIPA as I passed the last driveway I saw a lone truck from Illinois waiting for the light. I stepped up to the cab and looked at the driver, he was maybe between 23 and 28 tops. I raised my left fist in a pump gesture, I told him how much most of us appreciate the twelve hour days to put our island back together. You should have seen the smile on his face, it made the long hot walk home worth while. I hate not having a car but I’m making the best of it, getting things done outside, writing, creating art, reading and studying.

While I do agree that LIPA could have and should do a better job than they did for the money they get. Lets remember that this was the largest outage on Long Island in recent memory, and we could be in worse shape sitting on our roofs waiting to be rescued like those folks in flooded areas.  The bad weather season is upon us, after this we have the winter to contend with, there may be many days without power or stuck inside because of snow storms. The point is we may need these people in the future, lets give em a break at least if not a pat on the back.

Oh and by the way, I never lost my lights. I still said what needed to be said. The driver said “Thank You.”




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Short Note-Hurricane Irene Aug 28th 2011

The dreaded hurricane is a done deal for us, off to wreak havoc on other poor unfortunates to the north. I would say on balance that we were extremely lucky in that the two large trees we have on our property are still standing, and the garden needs just a minor cleanup of green leaves ripped from the trees to call it a day. The neighbor down the street had the tree in front of his house fall and take out a street light, but that’s county property so no cost to him.

Our Street

Many others were not so lucky, the storm claimed 16 lives so far, my prayers go out to their families. Many people are dealing with large uprooted trees which have landed on their houses and some have blocked major roads. The main road by my house was almost completely blocked by a large tree and when I ventured out for a walkabout this morning, I saw many trees felled right behind us.

3 lanes blocked

Street behind us.

My brother took out his car around noon and found many downed trees in the area by our house and I too found lots of blocked roads when I took a drive a short time ago. There is flooding in many areas, the Belt Parkway in Queens is shut down due to flooding and many residents in low-lying areas are trying to pump out basements and businesses.

Closed till tomorrow

Like a ghost town.

Most of the stores are closed, as is the mall and almost all restaurants and diners are closed. So tomorrow begins a new work week and a big cleanup will continue, by next weekend this will be a fading memory. But I can tell you, it was a scary night and I stayed up till 4:00 AM listening to the wind expecting the worse. The whole region is relieved however, it was supposed to be much worse than it was, so as I said…we got lucky.



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1st Aniversary On WordPress!

 Well it’s an auspicious occasion for me tonight, I am six days away from my one year anniversary on WordPress.  To coin a well-worn phrase it’s “been a long strange trip” but really not so strange and actually it has been wonderful!  When I started this BLOG a year ago I was home sick from my many wanderings in New York City, burning the candle at both ends as it were. But when I wrote my “About” page and my first post “Now with Subtitles” I couldn’t have imagined where it would lead and how it would change me as an artist and as a writer.

 While I always knew that I could write pretty good at least as far as my school teachers grades indicated, it wasn’t till I attended college that my English 101 teacher Prof. Wigetow told me when asked that I could be a writer, he said it with conviction and without hesitation. But it was on a cool night on Oct 22nd 2008 that my world was changed when I; waiting for Duffy to take to the stage, was questioned by a woman asking what I was writing in my notebook. While I told her she was joined by her brother W.B.Wilkins, Wilkins (a former english teacher and actor) upon finding out that I intended to wait until the winter to start writing, gave me a lesson I’ll never forget. He covered how one goes about writing, but more importantly how I should go about writing about my experiences. He told me to do this in two days not two months!,and to try to convey what I’m feeling and what others are feeling. If I can write a piece that speaks to 80% of the people then I turn writing into saleable art.

 But he warns me not to expect to make money at it, just like painting the pleasure is in the doing, the experience of the work and the love of the written word. If you are very lucky, people will pay you for it! This is all punctuated by light taps on my chest, a rub to my arm and a squeeze of my bicep. It’s done in a fatherly reinforcing way and with a handshake he and his sister who is also a teacher, moved off to get a good spot for the concert that was starting.

 I left that episode out of the Duffy piece because I thought it broke the flow of the story but now give the credit where it is due, I have tried to convey in all my NY travel stories exactly what he said, how it feels to be there at that moment. To give my readers the sights, smells, and tastes around me and also the people moving around me and how they might feel too. I feel as if I’ve done a good job of  this but there is always room for improvement. I also have to acknowledge the influence of Jack Kerouack, his hand written notebooks and in the moment style have had immeasurable influence on me. The sheer brilliance of his raw novelist as reporter approach to his writing have served me very well and I really don’t think I would be this far along if it wasn’t for him. But I also have to give as much credit to William Burroughs, his loose yet careful words have shown me how a writer can be like a jazz musician, light and dark, fast and slow, all at once or each emotion on it’s own terms. There is also room to mention Tolkien and James P. Blaylock both created antediluvian worlds that made me want to live there, where good quiet folk found themselves fighting evil and having adventures. They are still favorite reads for me and the work never gets old even after multiple readings of  Tolkiens “The Hobbit” and Blaylocks best “The Disappearing Dwarf” and “The Elven Ship” they will be read again and again till I am gone from this world.

 The influence of another figure who is not only a writer but also a well-known former executive chef and star of two hit shows, one for the food network (which is no longer on the air) and currently an Emmy Award winning show for the Travel Channel. I’m talking about the loveably snarky and iconoclastic Anthony Bourdain. He has been my mentor, my man-crush, and my pick-me-up on Monday nights at the beginning of a long week of work. I listen closely especially to the voice over at the end of the show where he tries to sum up his experience in a particular place or country. While images of the trip flash by he recites his words, the liquid wisdom he has written in the moment. Very often the insight about the world and the human condition become (for me at least) the best part of an already excellent show. These programs have fired my imagination and along with my trip to England and France in 2005, have given me a wanderlust that right now…I can’t satisfy. The lack of expendable cash and responsibilities on the home front  have kept me from journeying away.  But I know that someday Tony, I too will swing in my hammock on the edge of the lake in Indonesia, in my little house and wait for “pancake man” to come in his boat on a sunny morning to give me breakfast. Yes, this at least I’ve promised to myself.

 But since I will probably never get to meet you face to face and tell you this story I’ll write it now, and maybe you’ll read this someday. I have never been a great lover of seafood, even though I have Swedish and Norwegian blood and my Great Grandfather was a sea capitan I have never much liked the water and could only stomach a few kinds of fish even into my twenties and thirties. In grammar school of course I ate tunafish sandwich and I liked fish sticks as long as it was all white, no discoloration please! Frozen deep-fried Howard Johnson’s clam strips or shrimp were a favorite too…thanks Mom.

 But I could not stomach the real hardcore seafood, I’m talking about the shellfish. On a good day I could handle a lobster tail (when I was older) but drew the line at a whole lobster or even crab legs, I had no desire at all to perform an autopsy on my dinner! The humble Mussel was enough to make me hurl, the sight of the chambered form inside with its Lovecraftian appendages, bubbling and blaspheming in a pot of Cioppino at my cousin Chrissy’s house, could send me screaming about the “Old Ones” into the night, and don’t even get me started on snails! But in 2006 things would change in a special way.

 My aforementioned cousin Chrissy had been battling cancer since 2003, and had survived an operation that would have killed most people, they are probably still studying her case. The cancer had spread from the intestines to the liver and ovaries, kidneys, stomach-the lot. They removed so much tissue from her body it was a miracle she lived, but live she did. She would live to vacation in Jamaica and take many other trips away with her husband and two girls, and I living nearby would drop in to see her without notice just to sit and tell her of my adventures or problems, you could always count on honesty with Chrissy, even if she didn’t always tell you what you wanted to hear.

 We had a special bond as painters but had gone to only one art show together since I started to paint in 1999,she was raising a family and I was busy with my own life. So in 2006 Chrissy and her husband Bruce decided to host Christmas for all the family, these were always happy times for me, I loved sitting at the table with my cousin Chrissy and her sister Donna, Bruce and Pat their husbands, my cousins daughters Sharon, Michelle, and Jennifer and my brother Chris as well as all the parents of our tribe. We would go off telling war stories and riffing on each other in a friendly way that would be punctuated by the raucous laugh of Chrissy and high-pitched guffaw of Donna and my own explosive laugh. So on this night things were a little more subdued but not much and when the hot food was served I saw that there was many seafood items to be eaten tonight. I realized that this may be Chrissy’s last Xmas with us and when I had already tried the other dishes of chicken, various pastas, eggplant, zucchini, roasted peppers and mushrooms. I went to the table of freshly laid out seafood and scanned the offerings, there was Cioppino, small snails in tomato and garlic tapenade, crab legs with butter, stuffed clams in garlic butter, seafood stew, a feast of garlicy tomato Italian tradition. 

  I took it all back to the table and bravely tucked right in with my cousin sitting across from me beaming as I discovered that some of this was actually very good! I ate and talked with her enjoying the face time with her and for a while it was not very obvious that she was sick. There was no way I wasn’t going to do so, like Tony says on the show when people are giving till it hurts, even if you don’t like it-you eat it and you smile and you ask for more, to do anything else would be an insult.

 My cousin died eleven months later in November of 2007 and it was touching that she seemed to wait until Stanly Kramer, her old art teacher in grammar school, now the school principal. Had to come to see her before she would let go, that’s how strong her bond was with him and with her art. We get together now without her and it’s cool to see how her daughter Jennifer has taken over Chrissy’s role as the raucous storyteller, regaling us with her tales of working in the fashion industry in New York City and Donna too seems to have joined her as well filling the gap left by Chrissy’s passing, and Chrissy’s other daughter Michelle, (a photographer who looks like her mother) quietly takes embarrassing pictures of all of us-yes we will get you for it too Michelle just wait.

 I did some growing up that night and since then I have found myself trying more foods that take me out of my comfort zone, even though I might not like them at least I try them now, veal, seafood, unfamilair meats, blood sausage, lagastino lobster, and anything else offered to me I eat without hesitation. I no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as others enjoy and encourage me to do the same and refuse, too caught up in myself to be polite and join in. I learned there is a big difference between taking a stand against a certain type of food for health reasons or moral obligation, and not trying a certain food out of immaturity.

 So thank you Anthony Bourdain for helping me to grow a lot, and for putting a smile on my dying cousin’s heart. Indeed with your own writing not just for your show (and it’s accompanying books) but also your fiction, which I have also enjoyed very much. You have informed my writing too, just like the master writers of this century and I hope you stay here in New York and keep doing No Reservations for many more years to come. This viewer will never grow tired of it.

 But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one thing that my writing has given me, the most important thing…a friend. When I started reading others work I came across the blog of Maureenj aka White Orchid and after commenting on something she wrote, found her also looking at my page and since then we have become good friends. The fact is that only a few other people have bothered to comment on my posts and the comments have all been good, but no one follows my blog like Maureen.  This past year we have weathered many storms in our own life but still find time and energy to encourage each other and comment on each others blog posts. She has become the older sister I was supposed to have in many ways and although I have not shared some of my deeper problems and fears with her, (especially since she had a medical scare this year and a death in the family) I have come to realize she is my true friend. We talk of our desire to meet one day and I often find myself day dreaming about my trip to Australia or hers to New York, where I would undoubtedly be the personal tour guide for her that I want to be in the near future, and was with my relatives from England in April of this past year.

 Mark and Sharon came over and changed my life without even knowing it at the time, the days spent showing them the Village and Midtown Manhattan were the happiest this year, and led to my realizing that this might be my true calling. This was reinforced by meeting Robert Fogelnest; a former tour guide and Village authority whose book I bought and study along with many others on all things good and bad about New York City.

 So right now while I weather the storm of debt consolidation and zero credit available to me I cannot indulge in the finer things in New York City. I have to learn to write about other topics anyway, still have some story’s to tell about New York and some experiences I had before all this blogging, theater-going, tour guiding study and hardcore foodie stuff started. The very first story I wrote as an intentional piece of journalism was a story about street art that I wrote in 2007 when I was so wrapped up in my story that I didn’t even review the food I was eating in a now closed Sri Lankan restaurant, which is strange because I remember it was good. The story of our trip to England and Paris is all a blur now but I can try to look at pictures and piece it together to make it live. I also have the hope of coming into some money soon, by legal means I assure you which will be enough to pay off a few bills not covered by the debt consolidation in which case I could be in a few months very close to breathing a sigh of relief and able to continue my adventures.

 So right now after watching Paradise Found with Keifer Sutherland last night I am also trying to become an artist again, and trying to meld both my writing and my art into switches I can throw on or off depending on my mood instead of one or the other, which is the way it’s been since early 2007, I haven’t painted a thing in two years,why…I don’t know.  

 I am grateful to Word Press for their support and presence on the web, and to Cheru Jackson of  Alphainventions for helping me to promote my page, and to my Mom, whose diary writing, and her repeatedly showing and speaking aloud the first three letters of the alphabet to me as a baby, have undoubtedly had a lasting effect on me as a writer and reader. As always it’s the little things like this that mean the most.

It has been a great ride and I hope to continue this for the rest of my life, even if I never make it as a writer or an artist it’s OK. The most important thing is that while I write or paint I’m alive, doing what I enjoy and not wasting time with mindless activities or destructive behavior. Thanks to all the cast of characters in my life, which is my work of art, as I am in others casts…so may all of us grow. Thanks for reading and influencing my life and art, and if your ever in New York City drop me a line and we’ll have a drink or two, and one more thing…try the veal at Le Rivage on W. 46th St…it’s really good.



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Tougher Times-Mar 2009

 A cool breezy day, supposed to warm up into the 50’s later, right now I’m driving to my mechanics shop. My Saturn is making lots of noise under the hood since the drive home from work last night, and if I’m right this could cost me a ton of money. I could junk it but I don’t have any money to buy a new car and I can’t take on a lease payment every month. Besides after spending $$$ on a new alternator in August 0f 08, and new front brake pads, calipers, and rotors in October of 08, and a starter and belt in November of 08, plus the new radiator, thermostat housing, fan, and fan switch I had put in late in 2007 I just can’t see junking the car right now. My credit cards are maxed out from that and two oral surgeries I had late last year so I have to borrow credit from my folks. I have to have a car to get to work so we don’t lose the house-it’s that simple. When I get to the shop I have the mechanic listen to the car and he confirms my worst fears, it’s the timing chain and guides, which could cost upwards of $700-1000! It’s a blow to my aching head but I tell em to go ahead. I’ve got no choice, and to add insult to injury…I’ll be without the car for five days.

 So after dropping off the car I walk through my town in search of coffee and breakfast, it’s strange to be home from work walking around like this but I also have had pain in my left eye for days so after I eat I’ll walk to my eye doctors office and see if I can be squeezed in for a consult. In this commercial side of town I pass under the railroad to get to Broadway, our Main St where even Nixon toured during his campaign for the White House. I pass the car wash as delivery trucks of all kinds roll by in both directions, banging hard as they hit pot holes left by the snowplows this winter feeling suddenly that my small town is not so small anymore, it’s grown big and Queens-like.

 I turn left at Broadway and walk along in the wind while people honk at each other then hit the gas anxious to get to work, doom on those who are late-our masters don’t allow us slaves to be late. I finally find the place I’m looking for Comida Hispana, it’s all the sign says but I think it’ll be good, a small place kinda like a trailer perched right on the corner of E.Barclay St and Broadway. This location has been a pizza joint, a palm and tarot card reader, a deli and now Spanish food.-I’ve never been here before but I’m sure I’ll find something good and simple.

 I go in to find a deli counter with a tantalizing array of food. There’s lots of fried eggs, two kinds of rice, two kinds of beans re-fried and whole with garlic, potatoes with onion and veggies, and various meats swimming in brightly colored gravies. The fiftyish woman behind the counter with bleached blond hair is pleased to see me, I don’t think many white people come here to eat, especially a weird mix like me with retro longish hair, boot cut jeans, and an overcoat wearing a  scarf tied like a tie and glasses. She is pleased when I order scrambled eggs with tomato, peppers and onions. On my left is serve yourself coffee, I get me some and sit down on a stool by the window, three small tables, three stools, that’s it for seating. There are a few men sitting here eating or drinking coffee and listening to a radio show and laughing occasionally. The smiling lady comes over and asks me if I want my eggs on a roll and is very happy when I ask for a platter, she is so cute. I’m also asked if I want beans and when I agree she is floored, but when I refuse the offered roll again in favor of a hand made tortilla..then she is blushing and rushing off to get the gringo his meal-total authentico for me por favor. I get another coffee and when I come back my food is there for me. My new Spanish step-mom rushes to point out that she has given me both kinds of beans to try, I thank her and start to eat. The hot eggs with crispy peppers and onions and sweet tomato’s is real good, clean food without sauce or condiments it doesn’t need any of that. The beans and tortilla are delicious, good hearty food on a bad day, I’m going to need this meal today, I’ll be on foot most of the day. I pay for my food and the owner asks me how I liked my food, I tell him it was great and his wife charges me only four dollars for a six dollar meal. I leave with a smile and nod and begin walking to my other destination, my eye doctor.

 I arrive shortly at the office of Dr. Stephanie Becker, she is a class act, more than just a doctor a surgeon with a heart of gold, an upbeat personality and good looks. I call her the supermodel eye doctor, even if by industry standards she’s too petite for the runway. She has great taste in clothing and always presents to her patients smartly dressed and professional. Still I would love to see her in a pair of hip hugger retro faded bell bottoms, a worn out Rolling Stones Lips belly shirt with a ciggy in her mouth, her hair down, a glass of wine in her hand. But she’s married, and doesn’t smoke so that’ll never happen. She could rock that! “It’s just that demon wine that’s got me in it’s sway”…

 I leave the office and start walking back to Broadway to get my prescription filled (another Stones reference?) after first waiting for the doors of Sears to open for a quick pit stop. I walk down Broadway past the old Baskin-Robbins location, now an Indian bakery and on the other side of the street is Utopia, a 60’s head shop that sold love beads,tie dyes and lava lamps that started out as a store in the mall is now a three level store with body piercing, smoking paraphernalia, adult novelties, fine collectibles, wiccan supplies, clothing and shoes, gifts and bric-a-brac. They cater to the tastes of hippies, goths, punks, rasta’s, the artsy and outsider types. Further down is the building that used to be the Briarcliffe Secretarial school which moved and became my Alma Mater, Briarcliffe College, an accredited college offering degrees in business, computers, criminal justice, graphic design, etc. Right next to that is Smith Pharmacy, I remember coming here as a kid and playing in the old phone booth, all wood with a seat inside. It’s still there with a new commercial phone inside but authentic, the business has been passed to Maya, the owners daughter and a mother of three. She always has a kind word and remembers to ask about your family. I get my eye drops and walk past the intersection where my mom, brother, and grandmother crashed into a steel pole (that has since been removed) back in 1979. I pass the old location of Habby’s Tavern, their faint painted advertisement can still be seen on the side of the brick building above the bar. I sometimes wish I could time travel and see it how it was, they advertised “Chicken in a basket” as their claim to fame.

 I turn off Broadway and walk behind the firehouse passing Peppercorn’s Restaurant, where me and my ex-fiancee’ were taken to celebrate our engagement, how could we know promises end as the song goes but that was long ago. I stop in a bodega for a coffee, it’s getting colder now the sun has been clouded over and I’m cold. Going down E.Marie St now I begin passing through an area of the town I always loved. There were many distinct homes here with unusual architectures, beautiful hand set stone facades, Tudor style fronts, and others with fish bowl glass windows, a few remain but all the huge trees were cut down to make the street wider. Now saplings line the street and I walk in the wind as a pair of pure breed miniature Collie’s bark at me through their fence with tails wagging in the wind.

 Eventually I come to what used to be Redeemer Lutheran Church, now a Korean church, as a young teen we used to hang out down in the ramp that led to the basement of the church and smoke cigarettes, talk our bull, and speculate on the mystery of girls. The old field next to the church yard used to be a farm, I remember seeing a horse, geese, ducks and kittens when I was a kid. One woman took care of a group of men who worked the farm until it was abandoned, the house was knocked down and the whole field became overgrown. Someone built up earth mounds and trails and it became a mini bike and bicycle jump ramp heaven for us and the older kids. The secluded areas became a place where young hippies used pot and got naked with each other, the police were often called in to investigate campfires and complaints over noise from mini bikes and dirt bikes.

 It took years but the town finally cleared the land and built a park with lights, two playground with all the trimmings for the kids and a sports field with room for cheering parents and a small parking lot with flags and memorials to fallen soldiers from Hicksville. The place where we used to spy on the hippies from the cover of bushes is now a water district pumping station. I cross the street to see the side of my own yard, I’ve got lots of work to do this spring I think as I walk in through the side gate. It turned out to be a good day despite the expense of my car, at least we can pay for it and move forward. This was a unique opportunity to walk through my town and see it in a whole new way I hadn’t done in years.

 When you walk with the ghosts of your past, some haunt you, others taunt you, then some tap you on the shoulder and say “Remember Me!”, while others walk beside you and put a reassuring arm around your shoulders. Times may be tough but I have been here before, tougher times are yesterdays hard won knowledge. It took many years and a long walk to make that point hit home.


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