Thursday, October 27, 2016


Looks like a trip to Chicago is in the future.
As weddings occur more and more away from the local area, we venture out as a family to celebrate these special occasions.

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town
Chicago, Chicago, I will show you around
I love it
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues

We made reservations at a great old hotel in the Windy City and mapped out our plans on how to get to the hotel from the airport and to the reception from the hotel.

In Chicago, Chicago
The town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down
On State Street that great street, I just want to say
They do things they don't do on Broadway

There's a fly in the ointment.
A rather ugly fly at that.
The World Series will be playing at the time I'm at a pre-reception party and the wedding itself. In Chicago, it is a big deal. Chicago hasn't been to a World Series in 71 years!

They have a time, the time of their life
I saw a man, he danced with his wife
In Chicago, Chicago my hometown
Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town
Cubs fans

I need to get to the hotel while thousands of crazed Cubs fans travel about the city, the crazy, windy city on the lake.

Chicago, Chicago, I'll show you around
I love it
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues
In Chicago, Chicago
The town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down

So what is going to happen? My first fear is somehow we will lose out hotel reservation and won't be able to find another one, secondly traveling around the ‘City in the Garden' will be impossible with all the people and press.

On State Street that great street, I just want to say
They do things that they don't do on Broadway
They have the time the time of their life

There is no way the Cubs can win or lose the World Series before I get there, so I'm in it for the long haul. Just my luck.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


 I've reached the time in my life when things start to irritate me, things that I am tired of reading about or experiencing and wish would go away.

Kardashian and family.

What exactly is their claim to fame? Did they do anything worthwhile to garner all the attention they get? Can they act or sing? Do they raise huge amounts of money for charities?

I see in the gossip columns their names, and wonder who cares? They seem to be involved in fashion but all the clothes seem torn like they were in a fight or bloody street brawl! Some of them seem like they need to pay for two seats on a flight. It all seems like unnecessary attention to me.

Mercedes Drivers and their road ownership.

It never fails, you want the start or indirect cause of an accident, look for the Mercedes drivers, especially if the road is open enough for them to speed and cross over lanes without signaling. Often there is no courtesy from these drivers, as they change lanes, run up your ass and cut you off like they are saying: Get out of my way! I know they own or rent a Mercedes, but you don't hold sway over my life with your bad driving and discourtesy. And when did you get title to the road, to begin with?

TV Commercials.

It never fails, I get a sandwich for lunch, maybe a beer and decide to take a break and eat it while watching TV. I turn on the TV and what do I get? THE BEGINNING OF A RUN OF ENDLESS COMMERCIALS AND PROMO! I hate when that happens and it always does, so you wait impatiently for some programming, meanwhile, you finish your lunch and get disgusted and turn the damned thing off.

That Moron who cuts in front of me from a side road.

You are traveling at 45/mph, on an open road with no one in front or behind you, when suddenly someone makes a turn in front of you causing you to brake, and then drives at half your speed, meanwhile there is no one behind you! Why does the SOB do that? Why can't the moron wait for me to pass so he can drive at a snail's pace without almost causing an accident or making me angry about his stupidity?


You enter a restaurant and someone seats you and now you wait for the waiter or waitress or shall we say for expediency, the server. After what seems an eternity, the server finally shows up, with menus in hand and hands them off. They announce their name and tell me they will be my server. Who cares? "Can I get you a drink while you are waiting or have you made up your mind from the menu? Kiddo, you just handed me the menu, not even a speed-reader would be able to order without first opening up the menu and looking at it. Off the server goes, stopping to chat and meandering on the way to placing your order. Days go by and they return with your drink and a feeling of accomplishment that they delivered on the drink. "Have you decided yet on what you would like, or should I come back again?" If you dare leave me now, you may NEVER return so you give her your order. Now the order might have changed from when you did open the menu and the time it took for the return of your server, probably due to seasonal changes in the menu.

Finally, your food comes out and is placed in front of you, while the server wishes you a good appetite in French and disappears, temporarily. Three minutes after and every three minutes after that the server returns: Is everything OK? This is designed to show her concern. You be polite and say: "Yes" sometimes "Yes, thank you." Then if you do need something your server will never be seen or heard from again, even if the server does pass you, the eyes are cast down as if looking for loose change.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


As we journey through our lives, writing new pages every day, we often forget that one important thing: tomorrow is not promised to us. We go places and later in life wish we could go back to them, and along the way we meet people who are strangers that turn into friends, some we keep and some we don’t. But the most important people in our lives should be our families, those we love. The beauty of life is when we choose someone for a mate, we have them for a lifetime, sometimes theirs, sometimes ours, they are suddenly family.

Being I am a senior citizen, I often think back about the times in my life, and the central characters who populated those times with me. It seems that lately I am doing it more so than ever, seeing often my mother talking to me and teaching me from the grave.

If there is one thing I would want in life is the chance to see Mom and Dad one more day, see my grandmother and hear her, just one more time. I took for granted too many times who they were and what they were like, and I took them for granted one time too many.

As I look back, I recall all the sayings Mom used for situations both good and bad, Dad’s swear words are not so hostile anymore, but a cadence of memories implanted in my mind, along with his kind-heartedness and humor.

Mom made the home, Dad made the house I used to think, Love and care in her home were matched by Dad’s pride in his house, he owned something he never had before. Mom too took on that attitude, I guess from renting for many years in Brooklyn, where even growing up they never owned anything, sometimes not even cares.

My children are everything to me. They are all unique and interesting, as I figure out who they are, and they figure out who I am. If something happens to them, I need to be there for them, and that is how I think. The worst pain, of course, is losing a child, but the next worst thing is seeing your child suffer, it is then when you wish it were you, instead. Did I tell my children I love them, I tried to, every day. I made sure that my job did not overtake my need to see them. I spent many hours on the train and in the car traveling for them and my wife. I look back now and realize how lucky I am to have these precious memories of all of them. They are my new home of nostalgia, wishing I could return them back to the younger years, maybe go to another soccer game, or baseball game. Walk along the make believe cemetery at Bethpage Restoration Village and read the tombstones out loud for the benefit of my son, just to hear him laugh.

I wish I could come home one more night, walk into the kitchen and softly kiss my wife, so good to me all these years, sitting down for dinner and hearing once again stories and complaints, laughter, and joy, and knowing I am where I want to be and even more so: need to be.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, love your family now, by thoughts, words and more importantly, actions.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Every year at this time I venture off to Albany, New York for the NYSARC Board of Governor's convention, usually held at the Albany Hilton. Along with the other members of the Board of Governors, we meet twice a year, (once in the Spring) and vote after discussion on the issues at hand. It is a jammed pack information deluge and interesting.

But that Fall trip up through the State is a wonderful experience for me. Driving I take the most scenic route possible and enjoy the trees as they bend to Mother Nature's will and turn into the awesome pallet of warm colors, amazing you in their majesty and glory!

It is upstate New York where you get the real sense of beauty as designed by nature, the rolling hills, the free flight of a hawk, the sense of adventure as you peer up the Hudson River, a river so rich in history, so important a highway in the winning of the American Revolution and the development of the great empire state.

One can easily imagine the Native Americans as they traveled and hunted their great land, their bastion of survival, and the wildlife that populated with trees, brush, and woodlands, as well as the skies. It is all nature, no Photoshop, no staging, no prepping, just Mother Nature taking her position for all to see and appreciate.

I have traveled through the mountains of Colorado, the desert of Arizona, and the valleys of California, all beautiful in their own right, but when it comes to nature when it comes to the swan song of Summer when I look forward to a change in scenery: give me New York State.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


I was packing for a trip to Albany the other day and while I was folding my clothes to pack, I turned on the TV, and there was a show on called: ‘The Nanny'.

If you are unfamiliar with it, it is about parents who lose control of their children and the techniques of reclaiming that control. There are such things as making charts or maps or even some kind of visual to help take the child off the tantrum and into line with reasonableness.

I found the show interesting because I was comparing my technique with the Nanny, and the techniques of Mom and Dad in raising children.

If I ever said, "I want that!" and Mom wasn't about to give it to me, she would say: "I'll give you something!" I suspected I wasn't getting it and suspected it was better to move on to the next thing I wasn't getting.

Mom was a religious woman, religious in the fact that she carried around her wooden spoon, there was no point in putting it away as she was either cooking or chasing me with it. Timeouts in TV land just didn't occur in real life, straight to the corner, I went, facing the corner and being very quiet until Mom decided I could leave it. I didn't dare cry or pout; she wouldn't have it. She made the rules and I broke them, then she took her second set of punitive rules and applied those, without an appeal from me.

Discipline was Mom's strong suit. Mom was Dad's strong suit. Dad had no technique to enforce family tranquility, he always said: "Go ask your mother." In essence, he was saying: "You are not getting it kid, how do I know? Because you will ask Mom, and Mom will say in English, Italian, and Spanish: *"No"

Corporal Punishment was right next to Capital Punishment and for good reason.  Mom felt that a little Corporal Punishment from her wooden spoon called ‘Gentle Persuasion' was to make me understand that Capital Punishment was not far behind! "Do that again and you're dead!" was an underlining message channeled through the wooden spoon and Corporal Punishment.

Mom did her charts and maps, sending them mentally and she did a very good job of it. "Here's where we are today, and next week is where you'll be when I knock you into it!" Yes, Mom was an excellent communicator. In the old days, there were few if any crybabies in the neighborhood. Why? Because the teachers had the authority to also provide, free of charge, their own form of Corporal Punishment. Such things as hair brush spanking, ruler numbness to the palms and ears that were lengthened were techniques Miss Langon would apply. Mom would announce to us as we stood ready before her to go off to school: "If I find out that the teacher had to discipline you when you get home you will get the rest!" God bless Mom, she had a way with words.

*No-translation: No.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Autunno Dalla Finestra Della Cucina.

Autumn is a very nostalgic time of the year for me. Looking back over 60 years ago, peering out of my grandmother's kitchen window, or mom's, there were certain clues to the time of year.

Growing up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fall was the most romantic time for nature and the rituals of life. If you looked out the three story walk-up and went to the kitchen window, which faced the back yard, you would see certain elements of life. One was the long pole that stood in the middle of the garden with three clotheslines strung across to hang the wash of the three families living in the building. I would watch the landlord mount and climb the pole to attach a fallen pulley or wheel to reconnect it, and think how could he climb that high and not fall?

If you looked out, you could see the tower of Our Lady of Lourdes, it's gray high bell tower slowly resonating throughout the neighborhood, wash hanging out all over the backyards announcing the Angelis. Christian, Muslim or Jew, you knew it was noon-time.

There was the last of the tomatoes as they grew imperfectly in looks but delicious in flavor, greenish and red, all destined to someone's windowsill and then jarred for a Sunday sauce.

In the Fall it was time to harvest the grapes, that time of year when wine and vinegar were magically created and the pride of a man's plot of land and devotion to his past. It was said that if you waited long enough until the first frost, the grapes would be at their sweetest. To present, someone with a gallon of the homemade vino was the greatest tribute one could give.

Grandpa would send over a gallon of homemade vinegar, where Mom would create the most delicious of salads, the taste stemming from the soured grapes!

But the most telling sign, the most defining tradition, and lasting icon were the fig tree! It occupied the most prominent spot in the garden, reigning over the tomatoes, zucchini, parsley and any other produce Grandpa grew. When the tree was barren in the Fall months, the cellar door would open and slowly large pieces of linoleum and cord would appear, slowing transforming the tree's natural shape into a mummy-like figure, as it was swaddled in the old carpet and then topped with a green bucket, with crisscrossed roping, awaiting the harsh winter. It was a sad reminder that the gloom of winter was about to descend upon the Brooklyn, and the casualness of summer would be transformed into the rigors of winter.

But in the end, it all began a cycle of old world traditions, mostly centered around the Church. There was All Souls Da, All Saints Day, that adopted holiday to Italian-Americans called Thanksgiving, and of course, the Christmas Eve feast of the seven fished.

It was a great time to be alive and the place was the best, Brooklyn, NY!

Friday, October 21, 2016


Not so fast, I’m going to the gym, and I don’t want to.
C’mon, who wants to jump out of bed in the morning and go somewhere where you have to sweat, and if you don’t, you feel guilty all day long? Who needs to be out of breath as if you are about to have a heart attack?

Being a creature of habit, things have to be aligned a certain way for me to apply myself to them. Be it food, business or even cleaning, I do things a certain way under certain conditions.

When it comes to the gym, I have a routine I follow. First thing in the morning I look for an excuse not to go, when I exhaust all those many options I reluctantly get dressed and go to the gym. It is here that things start as I park my car in a certain spot in a certain way, backed into the spot next to a curb. I pull out my cell phone and activate my gym app and head into the gym. I’m sure to greet the young lady behind the counter as I head downstairs to my play area and into the locker room and locker #33. It is positioned in a strategic place, lining up with the toilet, shower and TV mounted into the corner.

Once I put on my workout gloves and grab my water bottle, I lock the locker (That’s why we call it a locker) and head to the theater, where, as you step down into the bowels of the building there is a room with three giant treadmills, as Stairmaster or two and some other exercising equipment, overlooked by a giant movie screen.
Now the treadmill is designed to give you a near-death experience, taking you on a speedy walk to nowhere and quickly. As I speed along, the heart beats faster and faster, causing me to hang on and pray that this is not how it all ends for me, slumped over the hand rests with my toes scraping along at 3.6 MPH. I imagine the night watchman saying to the investigators: “We thought he was just showing off, and boy what stamina he has! Little did we know he had signed up for an eternal treadmill experience. The poor man and so old!”

Once I leave the treadmill, I head up to the crunch machine, the machine I worked out on every time, and it MUST come after the treadmill. Usually, the pound indicator is set at a much lower number than I do, and this makes me feel good about myself, thinking some young guy is doing less than me, then I realize it was probably an old lady who last used it. Damned old ladies are always showing me up! But this is a revolutionary piece of equipment, you SIT DOWN on this beauty and try to suffer at least an aneurysm of your tongue as it sticks way out, across the gym floor and into the trainer’s room! The idea is to lose weight by crunching your abs enough to explode from the inside out. If you have gas that morning it is advised not to use this equipment for it will send you into the stratosphere as you squeeze those muscle!

To round off events at the gym, I like to hang myself. Now understand going to the gym is reason enough to hang oneself afterward, but this goes a little further. It is a double-handled weight resistant apparatus that you must pull down on two handles and repeat the process at least 10 times, after each pull-down, you hang in the air by your arms.

Once I consider myself punished enough, missing precious hours of sleep and feeling out of breath, sweaty and can just about walk, I limp back to the locker room and locker #33, then home sweet home. As I drive back to my house, I wonder what is wrong with me, why in God’s name I would even get out of bed at 4:30am?
I walk into the house and there sits TLW (The Little Woman) eating her breakfast as she looks at me, well rested and not hurting, WHILE eating breakfast! Looking up she must wonder… “Poor dumbass”