Tuesday, October 15, 2019

THERE IS NO LOSS OF ITALIANS!


Recently someone posted on We Are Italians:
SO AFTER MY OLDEST SON DECIDED TO DO OUR ANCESTRY EVEN THOUGH MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE SAYS I AM A CAPOBIANCO ...DEFINITELY, AN ITALIAN NAME AND I ONLY MET MY SPERM DONOR ONE TIME IT TURNS OUT I AM NOT ITALIAN AT ALL. I AM SO SADDENED BY THIS I FEEL I SHOULD LEAVE THE GROUP. I. WAS SO PROUD OF MY HERITAGE AND NOW MY WHOLE LIFE FEELS LIKE A LIE...WHAT'S WORSE IS THAT I STILL FEEL ITALIAN AND DO AND SAY AND HAVE MANY ITALIAN TRAITS. I'M SO SORRY AND SAD...GRAZIE.

Let me tell you about that.

Years ago when we were trying to crack the American code of ethics as still outsiders, an older cousin of mine decided to marry someone out of her ethnic group and religion. This was a very unusual thing for a nice Italian girl to do. He name was Marie and she was very beautiful, so gorgeous and a special lady to boot.

Being the oldest cousin, she would naturally become the first to marry and she did. She married a gentleman named Sonny, he was German and Lutheran, educating himself in college and very respectful.

John and my sister Theresa
We as a family could only imagine the eruption that would come from Grandma Frances when they would finally tell her. No one wanted that job, no one would dare. Novenas were made, (maybe not) prayers were said and even Dad, who NEVER went to church, went. The family was reeling over the potential crises.

Finally, someone got up the courage to tell Grandma. I think it was one of her children who decided to say: “Buongiorno, Mama, oh, and by the way, the new boy marrying Marie is German-American and a Protestant!”

The World stood still as everything was frozen in time, the final syllables leaving the lips of the informer in slow motion. (You must have remembered that day way back in 1956?)

Grandma asked her daughter to repeat what she thought she just heard and listened sitting down on her kitchen chair still holding her piatto rabbia when a big smile crossed her beautiful face.

Turning to Grandpa Ralph she said: “Stai ascoltando questo?” (Are you listening to this?)

Looking up at us she said, and I remember it clearly: “Listener, a why a you so nervous, I comer here to be American, this is a what I hoper a happen somer day!”

Her words made me feel very different, suddenly being American was very important. Yes, I was happy, she explained it all for me rather lucidly, even in her beautiful accent.

This event marked a turning point in my life and my family. No longer did we seem to hide in an atmosphere of outsiders because we were Italians, but we became Americans first. Later years went by and my oldest sister married a Polish fellow named John. John became like a grandson to grandma and a brother to me. He loved us and we loved him, as he was immediately accepted.

When John passed back a few years ago, it seemed to take the heart and soul out of our family. We loved him and we loved Sonny, after all, they were family.  


Monday, October 14, 2019

IT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR, AGAIN!

HO-HO-HUM
I know it is too early to complain since Halloween and Thanksgiving are not over yet, but… This Christmas thing is wearing me out. Soon, I will be spending a whole afternoon writing and addressing and stamping envelope for Christmas and Holiday cards! That is a lot of work! Most of you when you get a card read it quickly and put it aside. Christmas is a physical thing, requiring great energy, time and money. After you open the card, my mouth is still dry days later from the licking of the flaps on the envelopes from the days before!

 I store all my decorations on a top shelf in my garage. This means risking life and limbs by grabbing a wobbly ladder and grabbing huge overstuffed heavy boxes, which sit over my head. They are heavy, long, and awkward. The ladder shakes and my legs become wobbly, testing my patience and causing me to recall Italian swear words learned at my father’s shoe, inches from my behind.

 Then there is that wreath, you know, the one that goes outside when it’s cold? The one that looks more worn every year. Again, get the ladder, open it up and climb, and while I climb, the front legs of the ladder sink about three inches into the ground, threatening to flip me into my large dining room window, and onto my dining room table. If this happens, I’m sure the Little Woman will want to know why I’m not putting up the wreath. She will also balk at cleaning up the mess, especially the blood.

 Once my fingers get back the circulation, back into the garage for more torture, taking out the Christmas tree. For all you politically correct wussies, I’m using the word ‘Christmas!’ That’s ‘C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S’, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas! So, there, no, ‘Holiday’ - Christmas.

 We have gone over the years from a real tree to one that is artificial, and now one that has the lights on all the time, even in the box, stored. Whoever came up with this idea was or is a genius. I HATE PUTTING UP THE TREE, TRYING TO GET THE #&64ING LIGHTS TO ALL WORK, LET ALONE BLINK!

 TLW (The Little Woman) every year after I put on the lights and asks: “Why aren’t all the lights blinking?” Holding my sore back, I suggest she blink her eyes real fast.

 Every year we have thousands of little items that need to be put in some kind of imaginative way. I used to care, did care once but don’t care, anymore! Chachki’s, ornaments and other stuff must have a sense of balance on the tree, but as I said before: I used to care, did care once but don’t care, anymore!

 The cards we get have to be displayed. I don’t know why, but someone wrote a book on Christmas cards, and they have to be displayed. I would like to display mine in the drawer. I’ll even call it the Christmas Card Drawer, or compromise and say the Christmas AND Holiday card Drawer.

 Last year I suggested that I put all the decorations in a box outside my front door, so when someone comes in, they can pick one out and stick it wherever they wish, (without disturbing me), or on the fake tree.

After Christmas, if they happen to be leaving my house, they can unstick the item and drop it into the box on their way out.

 There is baking, cooking, trying to be merry, and being nice. C’mon folks, you know me, why should I phony it up? There are shopping and wrapping presents, which is another archaic tradition from the law books of Christmas. Why can’t you leave it in the bag you carried it home in from the store? “Here, Merry Fricken Christmas, let’s eat! And drink!”

 The only holiday I like is on Christmas Eve. (Holiday Eve for you politically correct sissies). That was a memorable family day. I’d see my family, we have a nice Italian feast, and no one talks because we are all too full or drunk, or both!

 But hey, Merry Christmas, anyway, I still love you all!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

IT’S, ALL PERFECT, IN THE BEGINNING.


As I drive through my town I see many references to Halloween, with the costume selections one can purchase to the pumpkins and jack o lanterns that I see.

Every October around this time, I drive up to Shoreham/Wading River to visit my daughter at her home. The road, William Floyd Parkway is usually very accessible except for the Saturday and Sunday afternoons before Halloween. Often the 6-minute trip from the LI Express to her home is fast and easy. But at this time of the year, it gets bogged down with traffic that spills out of the entry to Route 25, the exit before my daughter’s home. It is because of the many families that go pumpkin picking on the local farms.

I often wonder how long this family tradition lasts as the children get older and the parents less interested in doing this ritual. It is not unlike the second child syndrome, where new parents note in the ‘baby book, everything that is happening. First haircut, first words, etc. are meticulously recorded for all times sake. Come to the second child, not only don’t you do it again, they can’t even find the first child’s book.

If you look through your family photos, the ones in that shoebox, you will find a ton of pictures of your first child’s years but you need to start shooting the second child’s pictures. That, of course, falls by the wayside pretty much. You panic and call friends and relatives begging for photos, ANY photos they may have from a function that includes the second child.

Remember that first day of school? You made your prodigy stand in front of the camera as you shot the photo intending to do this until his last day when he would receive his doctorate from Yale. Instead, the last photo you got was of the child sitting by the pool after his graduation party from the local community college. You wonder, “Where did the years go?” You also wonder what went on the night before.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

THE COLD DAYS, THEY ARE COMING!

It is the favorite part of the year for me. Some people like the spring with its uncertainty, some like the summer with its heat and humidity, but for me, give me the fall or autumn months. Why? Because I understand best my heritage as an Italian American, when in that period.

If we take a look at it all, except for Easter the most sacred holiday in the old country, All Souls Day, All Saints Day, even Thanksgiving are taken on as holidays of great importance. The obviousness of what All Souls Day and All Saints Day mean to church-going, God-loving Italians, so does Thanksgiving has a sacred meaning to those very same people who also are patriotic. It is the truth of patriotism you find in their hearts and souls. They are Americans for real, giving their thread of love, talents, and respect to the culture they adopted and worked so hard for.

Making a feast is an Italian specialty, bringing in the best dishes or wearing the finest is all part of the celebration.

Every Thanksgiving when I grew up in Brooklyn, every aunt, uncle, and cousin and everyone in my household had to be present for dinner at Grandma Francesco’s house. Her extra long kitchen enabled her to butt two tables together, head to head. It was overflowing with relatives and food, bottles of wine and soda, and of course the small table that seated the bambinos. Thanksgiving Day was as big as Christmas Day big as almost Christmas Eve and bigger than even being Italian it was being Italian-AMERICAN! Grandma had a huge turkey stuffed with Sausage stuffing she made and alongside that turkey was a capon. Grandma didn’t care for turkey so she made capon for herself.

Although feasting was the culmination of the holidays, the preparation was what kindled the excitement. It always seemed on gray cold blustery days mom or grandma would go out to the various mom and pop stores to shop in Brooklyn. Buying vegetables such as finocchio to pour a little olive oil on, salt and eat divinely, carciofi or artichoke to stuff, and various nuts, especially chestnuts, to cross before putting into the oven. There was the fishmonger who sold you baccala to make a salad with olives, lobsters for Christmas Eve and scungilli, calamari and crabs, shrimp and mussels or clams or all. Along with the haul came long loaves of warm Italian bread, and in that bakery you found the pastries to choose from. There had to be at least one canola for each person at the feast.

Out of the dark deep cellar came the most prized of celebratory items, Grandpa’s homemade wine and grandma’s homemade sauce, all bottled with love, care, pride, and devotion to the art of making each. God forbid you didn’t mention how good it was if grandma or grandpa didn’t smack you, your spouse or even the newborn would!

One day I will find a distant place to sit quietly and alone, and shed a few tears for all those days of yore, I will cry for losing all that wonderfulness that existed and doesn’t anymore. It still pains me when I think of what we have today and what I once had as a child on those cold fall days.

 

Friday, October 11, 2019

BROKEN VOWS

I even looked Conservative in college!
Way back in 2006 when I first started writing this blog, I made it a vow to never get political or take sides in any political discussion. I take vows seriously and have all my life. I took a vow when I married and kept it always. I saw each of my children when they were born for the first time and promised to myself and them that I would always try to be there for them.

When something or someone you love is involved, you take it to heart and vow to love and protect it as best as is humanly possible.

There are times in life when you know it is time to break the rules, to cast aside and break that rule for the betterment of all. That time has come; I am knowingly breaking the rules, albeit, my rules, and giving an opinion that I feel needs to be expressed.

For years I was a Conservative Republican, from the days of Dwight D. Eisenhower, long before I was eligible to vote, all the way to George H. Bush and even his son to almost the final days of his presidency.

Then it dawned on me that I was too conflicted in my own heart and soul, my mind was rebelling against the very idea that voting the party line was a good idea. How could I stand for one issue for and another issue against? There were too many pro and con issues with the Conservative planks that it confused me. I discovered that what I was was an Independent and that made me happy. No more party line for me, no more burying my head in the sand when I knew that some arguments against the party were true, fair and sound. This was a political shock that transcended into a peaceful accommodation with the truth. I am free now.

As I watch the political world as it now stands, I see the hypocrisy now from both parties as they fight over the impeachment of the President of the US, his Attorney General and State Department heads.

But something far greater than the hypocrisy and demonstrated by all, the party lines that are being adhered to is encroaching into American lives, and as Americans, we need to control it or else. WE ARE COMPROMISING THE U.S. CONSTITUTION! The most sacred God-giving instrument that governs us all is under attack by POTUS. He is destroying the sacred words and rules that hold us together as a nation of morals and values. That instrument that makes America great, not the greatness that Trump thinks he is espousing.

Two culprits have enabled POTUS to run roughshod over our institutions and need to be singled out for their complicities with this sick man called Donald Trump. These two enablers who do know better, who choose to destroy our country and our high standing once in the World: Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell. Until they come to terms that politics take a back seat to the value of the U.S. Constitution, they too should be held accountable.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

RETIRED OR RETRIED?

A book I wrote, A PLACE CALLED BROOKLYN

Way back in 2006 making a move that changed my life, I retired. At the end of July, I was a free man or so I thought. I recalled my first day as a young pup in an ad agency where I started as a graphic designer and sat in my office at my last job on the last day and tried to remember and savor the moment. For sure I thought I would never have to work a computer graphic program, write a piece of copy, or ever plan a campaign or see a client again. I was leaving as a creative director with nothing but great memories and times.

I also sat remembering all the meetings I attended in suits and ties that would no longer be needed, the countless weekends I thought about what was on my desk and what I took home with me for the next day’s battles. I wondered how all this would feel. No more Sunday afternoon blues that started around 5:00 PM and carried into the ongoing evening, as I went to bed.

My first job at an award ceremony that I won!
Of course, I dreamed about the coming days and the wonderful freedom I would experience for the first time in my life. How Sunday night would be just like Friday night or Monday morning would also seem like Saturday morning. I would be free.

So I thought.

Today, I find myself with business meetings, squeezing things together to meet deadlines and facing new challenges. Instead of allowing all the expensive programs to lapse into outdated I am buying new ones or updating the ones I have.

I now have more meetings and business lunches than I need and frankly wish it will all end. The problem seems to be me, I love the creative challenges that can come my way and can’t say NO to any of it!

I’m afraid that I will stop being relevant to the World and myself if I stop doing what I love. What makes me happy and continue to do so is just plain stupid love. When I love I fall hard. Be it a wife, child, or grandchild, and I can include friends, which is what happens.

So, I am a retread, someone who is reinventing himself a little more until the day comes I am a complete vision of what I want to be and close my eyes for good.







 

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

THE TREADMILL


It seems that every day is becoming a steal. It’s the same old ‘same old’ of daily life where things become commonplace for me, that others would revolt against.

The political world is turned upside down and has been for some time. An inability to remove a President of the United States for his high crimes, misdemeanors, and obstruction of justice he practices with impunity seems to never end. His lying has become acceptable to his party as they protect him from justice that we as a people deserve to see served.

As I type this I see my daughter lying in bed suffering from pneumonia once again, the sadness of it all being that she is in the state of confusion, pain, discomfort and it really makes me tired to watch her.

The business world is even getting worse, with someone always willing to try to pull something over my eyes, but I know what is going on, I’m just sick of it all. I think I will end all that soon if it doesn’t change. Money is always a factor, not honesty. I guess if I want honesty I have to visit a pre-school to see or witness it in action.

My sports teams seem to carry on a commonality besides the name ‘NEW YORK’ it is that they SUCK. Every year it is the same old crap, looking up with promise and there is no hope for now.

The only good time I see is with my wife and the calm of the evenings when we get together, the beautiful photos and posts of my son with his children and the wonderful realization that #2 Son is someone wonderful who I am very proud of, just like #1 Son.