Tag Archives: Rants

With A Little Help From My Friends-July 8th 2010

I have been depressed lately despite the fact that I’m on vacation, I’m just not happy. I am very concerned for a far away friend who may be having a health crisis and I can’t do anything but pray and hope. The fact that I am reaching the end of my available cash and will be back on austerity within a week or two is not helping matters any, and I am very unhappy with the state of the world in general, as I have mentioned before in my writing. The job market is again on the down turn, my brother is out of work…again! I’m going broke subsidizing the family income. But it’s the lack of culture here that I find so frustrating. In New York no matter what your into you can find something to do at almost any hour, and many things are free or cheap. I love having a garden and growing veg and flowers, but you have to drive everywhere if you want entertainment. Living in the suburbs is nice to a point , but there is just nothing to do around here day or night. Unless you want to hang round in a bar or go to the movies, there is nothing much to do but shop or eat out. The thing I am most sad about is the total lack of friends, especially friends in the arts or literary world, you get to a certain age and you don’t have the opportunity to make friends anymore. This week has been hot and humid and I spent all my energy last week on a walking tour of New York’s Chinatown on Friday and then two days of prepping the house and garden for a family Forth of July celebration on Monday. So by Tues I was completely exhausted and yet at the same time restless and just couldn’t get out of my own way.

I just finished reading Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and my desire to be an expat in Paris reared its ugly head once again, the” lost generation” might have been lost but they lived in a time when it was good to be alive and everything was cheap and accessible. I know I’m typing on a computer that wouldn’t have been available back then, but I still feel that we lost much when we passed the age of telegrams and typewriters. It seems then it was still possible to live well on a stipend from a parent or the advance of a publisher. I think the thing I desire is a simpler life in a far away place, some sort of escape from the misery of the modern world and all its problems. I know the recent case of an Casey Anthony; the allegedly killer mother, whose daughter drowned possibly out of neglect, makes my concerns sound like the whining of a child. But guess what; that young mother who will go free. Is already receiving offers in the millions to appear on talk shows as soon as she gets that magic get out of jail free card. That kind of money could put me in the position to make my life what I want it to be. There will be no offer like that coming my way any time soon, since I will not be  committing any crimes-except of course excessive complaining and ranting.

So I have spent a few days being miserable, driving around aimlessly looking for that which I just can’t find.Finally, I realized I was wasting time. Next week when I’m back at work at that miserable hot counter listening to the sounds of air tools and screaming bosses, I will look back on this and kick myself. So I picked up my dry cleaning and even though I didn’t want to spend the money, I joined my mom and brother at an Indian restaurant nearby for an excellent buffet lunch.  Afterward I decided to go to the liquor store.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to the liquor store. I am quoting a bit of Melville’s “Moby Dick”, one of my favorite books and one that I used to great advantage to get an A+ on my term paper for English 101 in college. I go here as a kind of spa, not for the wearing of mud on one’s body and cucumber on the eyes, but rather for the wearing of a smile on ones face. There is an enormous cast of characters to amuse a dull spirit and chief among these is my good friend Sam.

What can I say about Sam, he is the kind of guy that can make anyone feel special, he has a good line of bull too. He has a heart of gold and every customer wants to see him. I am one of the people who is allowed in the back office to shoot the breeze and tackle some of life’s mysteries with Sam, he also respects my taste in wine and it guides his purchases for the store. Sams brother Tommy is a great guy, he has been sharing his knowledge of Sommelier school with me and has been brushing up on his studies again, I like to think I inspired that to some degree. He is married to Evelyn, who also works full-time.  My buddy Evelyn is my foodie friend and a good listener, she knows more about my life than my last therapist and never judges me, just offers what I need… positive support and friendship. I don’t know Christine too well, she is Evelyn s daughter and they fight in a quiet funny way as only mothers and daughters can, but she is interesting and a whiz with technology. The co-owner Jamie is a funny mom with great stories about her travels and the tribulations of being a mother, and some recipe advice for my foray into Greek cooking. Jamie is the kind of fun, energetic woman I would like to meet, someone who knows how to live well but not spend foolishly. Then there’s Carina, she is not around much anymore, she is going to be a teacher and is in school much of the time now. But those kids are going to get one of the nicest, bubbly, happy teachers they’ll ever see, I hope they don’t ruin all that positive energy. Lastly, there is Gene. He comes in and does the grunt work and the shelves and dusting part-time, he actually has the job I wanted. Gene is a riot, he messes with Sam and Evelyn and cracks me up with his provocation.

The cast of characters that come in to the store is as varied as the shelves of wine and spirits. I sit in a stool on the side of the counter and hold court a little and watch and listen to the stories and the antics. There’s the dog lady who is very reserved unless she has been drinking, then she is a fascinating study in unrestrained behavior. The friendly guy who is shaking hands with everyone because he’s high and buys little airport bottles of cheap Hooch to add to the buzz. The loud ba-da-bing guys who are too numerous to name whose antics with Sam include hugging, high fives, and occasional gropes. There is the bad foot lady who I also see at the food store who is always got a story to tell. The trio of lesbian fire fighters, several gay couples who are impeccably dressed. There is a cross dresser who has very bad taste in frocks and the famous “Buddy Guy Dude” who unfortunately died before I could meet him but the stories about him are legendary. I sometimes help a customer find something and most people think I’m an employee on break or perhaps security. I listen and laugh and make mental notes for future use as characters in as yet to be written plays or novels.

Today however was special, after spending an hour listening and laughing, I went home just as the rain was getting heavy and went upstairs and started to clean my room, organizing everything and putting away things that were not needed. I opened up my easel area and made it possible to paint, and continued with the change in my desk set up after getting rid of some stuff I was happy and energized. I then proceeded to take the laptop down to the kitchen and started to write this story. I haven’t wanted to write in weeks but now find myself happily drinking Pinot Grigio and writing this piece. So for tonight at least I’m out of the dark seas of depression and sailing off into the calm waters of contentment. Maybe I too could learn something from Melville’s most famous work. I think that Ahab was chasing Moby Dick to try and get his soul back from the whale who had torn it apart when it took his leg. I have been chasing dreams that I’ll never see, the Paris of the twenties is gone. I could be there right now typing this al-fresco at a cafe and still not have the experience of the lost generation. I couldn’t have the experience of the post-war generation either, only the famous St Germain cocktail can bring you closer to 1947 Paris. The thing that Sam said to me out of the blue has made all the difference, searching for your bliss starts in the moment, it’s right in front of you all the time. It’s not in Paris or Provence or even on the moon. It’s how you feel right now and what you choose to do in the moment right in front of you. That’s the secret to life. Not the Holy Grail or the fountain of youth; although those things would be nice if they existed, just making every moment your own.

So thanks guys, for all you do for me. We may only see each other at the store but you guys are my true friends



MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected



Filed under France, Life, Literature, Memories, Moby Dick, My Truth, Paris, Rants, Wine, Writing

Why I Will Never Own A Kindle-Feb 15 2011

 I remember years ago me and my brother watching “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” a series on public television based on the books by Douglas Adams, the madcap sci-fi was centered around the adventures of Arthur Dent, an Englishman from earth, and his friend from somewhere in the cosmos Ford Prefect.He (Ford) rescues his friend from the destruction of Earth in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The Guide itself was an electronic book that Ford used to great advantage to get them out of and also into trouble. We both thought the electronic book was fantastic and talked excitedly like kids about the prospect of owning one, wishing that it did indeed exist. But now roughly twenty-five years later it does exist at least in its early stages, and I find it deserves the label of “silicon snake oil” So as they say be careful what you wish for…

 This winter finds me staying in (despite my remarks in previous stories to the contrary) and reading voraciously instead of venturing to the wilds of New York City. The severe weather we have had and lack of finances has kept me home. I just finished reading “Life” by Keith Richards, before that it was “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene and currently I’m almost finished with “Eating The Dinosaur” by Chuck Klosterman. But recently I read with a sinking heart the news that Borders bookstores were expected to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. I already knew they were closing about one-third of their stores nationwide but didn’t realize how grave the situation might actually be. They are considered the number 2 bookstore in the US behind I’m guessing Barnes & Noble. Borders has posted a drop in sales the past few years and a disappointing holiday season this past Xmas.

 While there recently I was told by a clerk (who has been there for years) that my local store is an active one and in no danger of closing, but as we all know the employees are the last to be told.  I know that many people are using the web to purchase books from Borders online,(which could explain the drop in store sales) and yet I can’t help feeling that the drop in sales is directly liked to the insidious rise of the Amazon Kindle, and the many other e-readers on the market which seen to be growing daily.  These e-reader’s has begun to chip away at book sales over the last few years, and yes I know. Borders has its own that its hawking in the stores and online too. But the thing that fills me with dread is what all this might mean for the future of books.

 We have already seen the demise of the mom and pop book shops, they just couldn’t compete with the large chain stores which does by the way include Borders. But the fact is that the small bookstores didn’t have the inventory, the cafe’s and didn’t provide the comfy chairs to sit and relax, read and in some cases sleep in. There are of course specialty book shops selling priceless sets and antiquarian volumes. But many of these are by appointment only. I’ve traipsed through a few of these shops in my time under the watchful eye of the store owner, who I’m sure – realised before I did, that I couldn’t afford to buy anything he had on the shelves. But that’s New York City-whaddya expect! My problem with e-readers is more complex than mere hatred for technology, I mean I love my computer. It brings me the world 24/7 and presents me to those who read my essays and stories. What I detest is the possibility that my local bookstores will close one by one. A sad result of the obsession with technology that grows yearly like the national debt. While I’m sure that the tree people applaud the notion of millions of trees being saved from the axe, (I’m a tree hugger too-at least to some degree) the greater problem is the millions of people employed by the publishing industry who will find themselves out of a job. This of course will take time…lots of time, but if I was in publishing I’d be worried. It’s not just about me and my selfish desire for a bookstore to lose myself in a few times a month. Think about it, very few of those people will be able to cross over to jobs producing e-books, I can’t imagine too many tree farmers being down for the sterile halls of a silicon chip factory. Many will have to go to school to start over and believe me, it’s not easy to do in your thirties or forties.

  The loss will also be the tactile feel of a book with pages instead of plastic and metal, the smell of the paper and faintly too of ink. Then also the much-loved book signing events we all enjoy attending, the chance to meet ones idols and get a book signed will also be lost! How is a signing going to work with a Kindle? Yet another distraction from the everyday that will be lost in a post book binding world. The investment in a Kindle alone is a half-a-weeks pay for some,  then the inevitable updates, crashes, re-boots and down loading of new books. Lets not forget about the battery charging that you have to add to your already full “To Do” list. It seems like too much bother when you can pick up a book for a few dollars, have a coffee and maybe even meet another human being to interact with socially.

 The makers of this product I’m sure don’t see a problem going from your computer screen to the kindle screen and back again…and again, then add the TV screen to the equation and you can almost feel the eyestrain this will cause. We have become a world of people staring at screens, hypnotically pointing and clicking at work and at home. The future generations will grow up further and further from real books as the decades roll by. I’m sure to some who may read this I sound like a paranoid over-reactionary fool who’s panicking at something that will never happen in my lifetime. To others maybe a prophet of a very real future. I don’t know but I can say with conviction that I’d rather be guilty of the former than the latter. The path for me is clear, to buy more books and to urge others to do the same. Your local bookstores need you and if your like me you need them too. Don’t take it for granted thinking they will always be there. The bookstore could easily go the way of the general store that our great grandparents knew, replaced first by the five and dime them by the chain stores like Newberry’s and McCrory’s, only to be swallowed up by K-Mart and Target. Like the drive-in movie, arcades, and soda fountains. No one notices the loss till it’s too late.

 Maybe I’m just feeling my age and wishing for a simpler time, or perhaps I’m just a tragic figure like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last” about a man who just wanted time to read. It ends with him stumbling around the ruins of a post apocalyptic library with broken glasses in hand saying over and over “That’s not fair, there was time to read now!”

I can safely say that I will never own an e-reader and hopefully I will find a kindred spirit and she and I will have the library together I always wanted. Of one thing I am also sure, I will definitely be buying a second pair or three of eye-glasses…just in case.



MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Amazon Kindle, Borders, Life, Literature, Memories, My Truth, New York City, Rants, Twilight Zone

Powerless?-April 2009

Well, it’s happened again. Yet another tragedy in some part of the world I would like to see but have never been. The earthquake in Italy has left over 150 dead (last I heard) and a massive devastation, and right now people from all over the world are flocking in to help, as aftershocks add insult to injury. But as usual I’m doing nothing, it’s not that I don’t want to but what can I do?  I am off this week but it’s not like I can get on a plane and fly over there, I mean for one thing I don’t speak the language, I don’t have the money for the plane flight or any lodging and food, and I have relatives coming over from England tonight that I am meeting tomorrow in New York that I promised to take on a walking tour. So why do I feel so guilty about having fun while people are suffering, it’s not like I have any skills to bring to a disaster like that anyway. I mean I’m way too sensitive a soul to be hauling bodies out of rubble, I would wind up on the psychiatrists couch and have nightmares the rest of my life and I got enough trouble sleeping as it is. So what do I do?  Yeah of course I can send money in to News Channel 4 in New York to aid in the effort, but what is that…nothing, it never feels like enough anyway. You do it and then forget about it a day later.

I don’t even think the 911 victims family’s have gotten all the money that we all gave to help them, personally I think half of it went “downtown” if you know what I mean, and it just seems like a wasted gesture anyway, the money doesn’t bring back the dead or restore the old architecture of a place like that, just like New Orleans. It will never be the same as it once was, once you replace old materials with new it’s just a replica. I felt the same way each time I heard about a disaster natural or otherwise every time one happened. I know I can’t go there and leave my job, or my brother and folks for that matter and say “see ya in six months, good luck with the rent and stuff…let me know if you loose the house without my income-bye!” I know I can’t go there and give everyone a hug either, for one thing it wouldn’t help and I’d probably get arrested for another ( and no I’m not joking-when people are suffering  my first thought is to grab them and give them a hug if it’s appropriate, even though no one ever does it for me when I’m suffering) but my twenty bucks is just not good enough. This is what I hate about life, the feeling of being powerless.

This kind of thing really bothers me, I don’t have the freedom to act on my impulses and do what’s good and right when I want to, I always sit on the sidelines and weakly cheer for others who make a difference, I am mostly too wrapped up in the problems of the daily life of my orbit of satellites and myself to make a difference to anyone outside that orbit. It makes me feel like less of a man, like a kid still who sits in his room drinking soda while his dad works on the yard. I guess the only consolation for me is that now my dad sits on the sofa and drinks beer while I work on the yard. That is what you call full cirlcle.

So this is not one of my story’s that your used to reading, this is the real me spontaneously talking to you. Not like I usually do as if we are in a cafe somewhere exchanging  stories. More like the way I talk to my family when I’m ranting about something I feel strongly about. Some injustice coming from points unknown or the stupidity of our leaders, or the lack of planning that finds me putting out fires at work or at home that I can’t seem to prevent from starting in the first place. Why do you ask?  Because no matter what I do I just can’t seem to get ahead far enough to see all the traps and pitfalls of life on any front, and that really makes me feel powerless.


MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Disaster, Italy, Life, My Truth, Rants, Travel

Greenwich Village May 2007-Part 2

 So after leaving Cafe Reggio I head back to Washington Square Park and begin to wander around aimlessly, this is what I do when I don’t have any destinations in mind. I start to get a little warm from the rising temperatures and from walking a long distance so I take my denim jacket off and look for an oasis of cool for a quick beer. Naturally, I find one easily in this city, so I sit and slug at a cold Harp in an air conditioned bar. This seems to be a college hangout, but at this time of day only two young girls are there talking about school. I leave cool and refreshed and continue my walk.

  I find a plant vendor on W. Houston St who talks incessantly, not that he isn’t interesting or informative he actually carries on three conversations at once with potential customers!  He’s selling Red Maples and also Green Maples, I always wanted one for my garden so I take note where he is and continue my journey. I wander thru a street fair and am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of food and drink and stuff you can buy here roasted corn, lemonade, fresh fruit, crepes, beer, sausage and pepper hero’s, Thai food, t-shirts, handbags, houseplants, replica signs, as well as jewelery and old dishware. There is something for everyone here, but I grow bored looking at so many stalls. I continue walking and people watching, getting very hungry now, and soon I find myself in a Brazilian restaurant.

 La Palette Bar and Restaurant is a little piece of South America on Greenwich Ave in the West Village, I am sitting in the open air patio sipping a cold bottle of Stella Artois and trying to cool off, the day has become exceedingly hot and I’ve put miles on my feet. The small courtyard is rustic with slate flooring and cement planters filled with tropical plants and small trees, old wooden benches sit against the walls, which are cracked with age and covered with vines. I am sitting at a granite topped bistro table in a comfortable aluminum chair, to my left a trio of late twenty somethings talk …loudly about many different things, the lone blond girl reminds me of my ex-an annoying, opinionated pain in the neck who knows it all and expects everyone to hang on her every word. She and her two male companions are drinking beer and waiting for food. She says she wants to get out of New York-who doesn’t. She’s not making enough money-who is? She’s still single-who knew! But the minute she leaves-she will miss it here. Duh! We all complain about living here and but stay anyway! Kind of like the jobs we hate but stay for the benefits and bonuses.

 I try to tune her out and enjoy my appetizers, a mixed plate of deep fried goodness-beef and herb balls, mashed sweet potato fritters, potato and fish balls all covered in bread crumbs and all crunchy delicious. I think my Doctor would shake her head at me for this, but my cholesterol is low and I’ve walked far today. Then my main course arrives, a simple ham and cheese crepe which was good but not inspired, I could have made just as good at home. The trio has touched on marriage, moving, drinking games, Carmel N.Y. and San Francisco and every other word out of blondies mouth is “awesome”! Next to me on the right is a thirty something couple who focus all their attention on their child, a boy of about five or six with strawberry red hair, they try to keep the kid occupied so he doesn’t fuss, getting the waitress to bring sliced apples to keep him happy while the couple talks and waits for the food.

 It’s getting on to six o’clock and the sun is making the courtyard a little stuffy even though it’s hidden from us by the buildings around us which also keep the breezes from coming to cool us. The annoying blond has said “awesome” at least two dozen more times! Dogs are awesome, backyards are awesome, barbeque’s are awesome, I want to punch her in the face, I’ve never heard anyone so unable to keep from talking in my life. The couple on the other side of me get their food, chicken and cream with mashed potatoes for him and Chorizo sausage and marinara over pasta for her, it looks good to me and both seem to be enjoying their food while still managing to spend all their energy on their child. Blondie stops her two male companions from talking and says “OK…Sidenote!” and starts telling them about google maps for her cell phone-now I want to strangle her while saying “AWESOME” over and over again. LOL just kidding I would never do anything like that….I’d hire someone else to! No that’s wrong too. But to continue I order a strong coffee, which I will need to get home and do some artwork tonight, deciding against dessert this time. But my thoughts will be with this girl who (like an annoying commercial you can’t forget) tortured my ears for over an hour… with her plastic personality and  sound byte vocabulary.

 I walk back to buy myself a Japanese Maple, it’s a real beauty about ten inches high with about a dozen leaves, I walk back the way I came down in the morning. The painter is gone, the railings are finished on 130/132 MacDougal St across from Cafe Reggio and the streets are alive with people on the move and music pours forth from every bar and eatery you pass, people are already starting a long night of revelry and it isn’t even dark yet. It’s so funny how many people see me holding my tree and do a double take, it actually looks like pot to the casual observer, but no on has the guts to question me about it.  I quietly chuckle to myself freaking people out all the way home. It’s been a good day.


MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected


Filed under Cafe Reggio, Food, Greenwich Village, MacDougal St, Rants