Monday, December 31, 2012


I guess I’m really happy about the year ending. It has been a lousy year in that my family lost two wonderful people, and they can’t be replaced.

This New Year’s Eve I’m going to bed the regular time and don’t want to count the minutes or do anything that is any different than any other night. I could never understand the idea and never got excited about the calendar changing, signifying we are all getting older and are all mortal. Party pooper? Yes I am this year.

There are few New Year’s Eve parties I’ve gone to in my lifetime. The last one was in the Mediterranean Manor in Patchogue about 23 years ago! That was a full-fledged New Year’s Eve party with party hats, noisemakers and booze. You need to have just one in a lifetime and then move on. I will look over to the other recliner this year, wish TLW the best New Year ever, kiss her and head off to bed contented she is near.  As long as the Little Woman (TLW) and my children are healthy I am happy.

There are people that I will no longer see in life, the ones that disappoint me, make me see shallowness in them or just are users, I wish well. There are new people in life to come and the ones I know and love, you dear reader: that I write to everyday.

The upcoming year will mark seven years of writing to you on this blogue, sharing my life and experiences, the good and the bad. Think of this blogue as a holiday letter that you get in a holiday greeting card, but one I send out everyday with my best wishes for you and your family.

There are things I need to do yet, unfinished business, and things I wish not to do, and dread and there are new places that I will go to, all part of a life experience.

So, goodbye 2012 and hello 2013!

And to you dear Reader: Have a safe and healthy year’s end, no matter how you spend the evening. Remember there are people in your life that love you, need you and want to see you safe.

Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow?

Sunday, December 30, 2012


I remember her vividly, holding my hand as we crossed Stone Avenue in Brooklyn. It was Halloween and the day was cold, she was wearing a fake fur coat, the collar fur waving in the cold breeze, her eyes squinting against the blast. Her Roman features: solid and beautiful lay kindly on my memory. She was carrying a box of cupcakes frosted in orange icing and black sprinkles for dessert after the night’s dinner.

Mom was quiet and not complaining, just doing what she did best, teaching me not to complain, to make the best of things, that in the end there are rewards for everything we do in life, if we try, even that cold walk held a lesson.

There were other lessons small like that, inconsequential maybe, but valuable non-the-less.

Yesterday as she sat up for the first time in the hospital room, a calm overcame her as she mused quietly, her two oldest children determining her future, making our presence felt. She had lost her youngest and sole surviving sister in April, and my older sister Tess suffering herself from the ravages of getting older when she lost a wonderful man struggled with her emotions as we all do when it comes to a mom who is no longer in control.

We have found mom a rehab center in a nursing home. A nursing home is where old people go, where they wait out their remaining years on Earth. Mom was always so vital, even in her 90’s.

Suddenly we were holding her hand, leading her across Stone Avenue, and it isn’t cupcakes we are holding but an uncertain future, a pending uncertainty that has no clues other than the sadness it projects in shadows and pained sighs.

Mom would always squint her eyes when I showed up, waiting for my punch line, some crazy antic, maybe some insane observation, a laugh slowly building, a smile forming on her stern lips. Today all I see is sadness, deep contemplation and acceptance.

Once many years ago I attended a dance at a wedding before I was married. I got to talking to this very sweet and attractive girl and we talked for along time. But as the hours wore down to minutes and I had to say goodbye, sadness was sweeping in like a cold weather front, I knew I wouldn’t see her again because I didn’t want to get serious just then. That feeling of loss hit me once again, that coldness, that sense of the clock suddenly came back, and I think mom senses it too.

I know many of you have lost a parent, and know what I am talking about, but whether it comes early on or late in life, it still hurts.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Arriving at the hospital to see mom, I found her in her bed with my older sister (Much older) Tessie standing next to her. Tess is the shining example for all her sibs as what to do when it comes to elderly parents. Loyal, devoted and true, she watches that mom has all she needs and wants, will ask questions that Mom won’t or doesn’t think to ask, and is as always a great companion to her mother.

I arrived and we immediately had a sibs conference on the way to the cafeteria after I greeted mom, for a cup of coffee as mom was wheeled down to the x-ray room in her bed.

“Joe, let’s go to the cafeteria, for something.”

“There’s a coffee shop right there!”

“No, let’s go to the cafeteria.”

We start the long walk to the cafeteria, and enter me looking for coffee and Tessie, my older sister (much older) looking for lunch. As she dilly-dallies around the food I go get a cup of coffee and go to the checkout counter. I see her speaking to a uniformed worker as I wait on the checkout line. Who shows up at the register but the uniformed lady who was talking to Tessie my older sister (Much older). The lady looks at me and says:

“Do you work here?”


“Well this cafeteria is for employees only.”

Awkwardly I stand there with a cup of coffee as she says:

“I sell you the coffee but this IS for employees only!”

I turn around to see Tessie my older sister (Much older) standing in the back laughing her fool head off at my expense.

With my head down and great shame I walk the long path back to where she is standing, embarrassed and ready to have one sister less within minutes.

But it doesn’t end there, no. We find our way to the cafeteria and she gets something to eat and as we sit at a table, some obnoxious lady is on her cell phone, speaking loud enough for the medical building down the road to hear her conversation which goes:


Tessie, getting sillier by the moment shouts out: “No!”

If mom weren’t feeling so badly I’d get her wooden spoon and tell her to go see her daughter for a change.

Friday, December 28, 2012


For the first time that I can remember, Mom was not present at Christmas day.  Being she is 94, I know how fragile life is for her. For a woman her age who survived cancer, and raising me, she is in remarkable shape.

She had a scare on Christmas Eve when she went home after dinner. Feeling faint, she tried to grab onto a rolling table and fell on the floor.

The next day, Christmas day, she sent her companion and boy toy: Henry over to my niece Laurie’s house where all the family had gathered for a delicious Holiday feast prepared by Laurie and Gerard. Henry was carrying a cake Mom made and he said that she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to stay in her own house in case she needed anything. So we packed Henry off with two dinner plates filled and wished him well.

To make a long story short, she was in pain and couldn’t sleep. Henry called the doctor who ordered Mom into the hospital through the emergency ward. There I met her among slews of workers who were hurt on the job, auto accident people who were traumatized, and other assortments of injuries requiring immediate help.

After hours of waiting, testing and scanning, we are still waiting for results, but Mom will stay overnight for observation. Her cat scan showed everything is fine, but she does have an infection of the urinary tract and that may have been the problem. They are also awaiting the results of x-rays of her back and head to be sure she is not suffering form fractures or breaks.

I was all set to give Henry a few thoughts about telling us more when I find out from Mom that it was her idea not to tell us the whole truth when Henry came over with the cake.

“I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s Christmas!” were her words.

But I explained to Mom that if we had continued to have a great time and she had something happen to her that was worst, we would all have had a guilt complex a mile long for the rest of our lives!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


We arrived at our favorite diner for Sunday breakfast, and sat opposite each other like we always do. I remember when we sat NEXT to each other before we married and ate in a diner, but so much for young romance.

The waitress took our order and disappeared and TLW (The Little Woman) started to adjust her place mat. This is not a good sign! After aligning it and smoothing it out, she stared down at the place mat and began: “Eve in my wanna-be bank is redoing her kitchen. (You have to be careful here and NOT say ‘how nice’)

The waitress brought us coffee as I shifted somewhat uncomfortably, because I could feel the news coming, “Oh!” I responded to her statement.

“Yes she was showing us pictures and… why are you looking so nervous?

“Oh! Am I? Must have been a lack of sleep.”

Not to be deterred, she went on with her spiel, as I waited for the big bomb to explode. I didn’t have to wait long.

“Well I was thinking (I bet she was) we should really replace that counter top.”

(Here comes my big mistake) “Well I wanted to put in a granite top years ago when we redid the kitchen, but you said no!”

“So you agree we need a granite counter top too.”

“I didn’t say … er…”

“But I think you are right, we should redo the upstairs bathroom first.”

“You do? I don’t remember being right! When did I say that?”

“Maybe this week we’ll take a look at counter tops and get some ideas for the bathroom. I want to replace the walls in the tub area with tiles too.”

“Then I think we would need to do the walls at least half way up with tiles too.” (I can’t seem to keep my big mouth shut)

“Ok, we will then. Glad you agree.”

Remind me to eat in on Sundays, with my mouth closed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Every time I hear someone has a birthday, or I celebrate mine, I like to think that the celebrant, if his/her mother is alive, should get the present for having gone through childbirth. Of course it never happens, but it would be nice.

There once was someone who did something different on his birthday when it came to gifts, my brother-in-law John.

Today is John’s birthday, his first in Heaven where I know he is, and I’m sure everybody that he touched in his life who preceded him there is celebrating.

But what did John do on his birthday you ask?

How about he gift-wrapped presents to give to his family, on his birthday? Yes, I’m talking to you. He GIFT-WRAPPED presents on HIS birthday and gave them to my older sister Tessie (much older) and his three kids and any grandchildren lying around the house!

This was an act of love, unselfish and a show of devotion to his family!

I think it fortunate that he was born the day after Christmas, because it made it easier to understand that Christmas should be celebrated not once a year but always. His gift to the world was his kindness, his worrying about his family and his need to do anything, go anywhere and asks anyone for help when it came to his family. He was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit.  


Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I hope I covered everyone.

I think getting angry over “Happy Holidays!” as a greeting is a little sad. Saying what you want is important, but it is perfect for the crowds in general. Who’s Christian, who’s Jewish, so “Happy Holidays!”  ties it up nicely. I have many Jewish friends and do wish them a happy holiday as well as my Christian friends.

This Christmas is special since we have a houseguest, who is meeting the family for the first time. A very nice young lady who happens to be my Aunt Marie’s granddaughter Christina will be staying at my home. Christina is my cousin Billy’s daughter and we met at my aunt’s funeral back in May. She has hopefully survived Christmas Eve dinner and now will be trying her luck at Christmas dinner which will be spent at my niece and nephew’s home, Laurie Ann and Gerard.

And so I wish you the best of this holiday. Let us put aside our prejudices, and bury our arguments and seek peace with one another.

Remember this is a holyday for Christians, and so keep God in mind, as it is a Holy time for Jews to keep G-d in mind. If you are neither, remember the spirit of the time and keep your hearts in mind.

Say a little prayer or a moment of reflection for the families of those children who were murdered in the Sandy Hook elementary school, Connecticut.

Remember all those that have passed and those that are sick or alone, pray for us all, or reflect on their lives too. Then go and have a great day.

Peace and love to all.

Monday, December 24, 2012


The future
It is Christmas Eve, even though you may be reading this in the AM. There are no holidays that I enjoy more than Christmas Eve, even though for most people it isn’t a holiday. Yet I feel the spirit and the joy of seeing my family gather together for this important evening. It is a warm night of laughter and joy, good food and booze, tempered this year by the passing of two people I loved very much.

A couple of years ago, I was speaking with my Aunt Marie over the phone, and was asking her about the holiday coming up, and how she was spending it down in Florida, and in passing we mentioned someone who was joining my family at Christmas Eve dinner. She said that whoever would come to that dinner would really enjoy themselves: because the family is so warm and inviting to strangers and would make them feel welcomed. She related how her own mother-in-law once ate with us and felt so welcomed.

Aunt Marie
Uncle Frank
Well Aunt Marie passed on this last May at the age of about 91 or so, and she left us too soon. She was behind too many stories about my life and how influential she was in it. I will forever be grateful to her and my uncle Frank, who was a perfect couple in so many ways.  They were loving people, old-fashioned in their ways and proud parents. Good down to earth people that left a lot of love behind for all the family to cherish.

Then there is my brother-in-law John, a man who loved people unconditionally, without reservation, who embraced strangers and made them feel at home. He was very much a part of the family in any way you looked at it. He loved his family and in spite of being a little cranky like I am, loved to laugh. He was the brother I never had and needed. He was a model for me to live by all my years, even until his death this past November. It will feel strange without him at the table in his flannel shirt, trying to sing along with Luciano Pavarotti while eating a lobster claw!

But these are two people who seemed to bring out the family, its spirit and its meaning as a group. We all love each other and enjoy seeing one another. I don’t think I have ever seen in-laws become so acclimated and part of the family like they do in our gatherings. TLW (The Little Woman), Tom, Don, have that spirit too, and it shows, all part of what is a big wonderful family.

My kids, my sister’s kids, all look forward to the same holiday, and I hope that they can continue this wonderful tradition handed down by my ancestors and theirs. Every year it seems we have a new addition, sweet little souls that make up the future and will leave a past of joy and found memories.

This night was Dad’s favorite holiday. He loved the gathering of his kids and grandkids and the festive dinner table: complete with wine and laughter, the many plates of outstandingly delicious foods that constituted the Italian tradition of 7 fish from the 7 hills of Rome, made by Mom, as I marveled at all the work she put into it an she still had the strength to sit down and eat it too!.

I am grateful, that I lived with these wonderful people, have them in my life, and would never trade a moment of it for all the money in the world.

Me and Tessie, my older sister (much older)
Have a ‘Holy Night’ I know I will, it may not be silent, but it will be ‘Holy’.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Retired husbands should not go shopping in the daytime. It gives them a bad attitude and makes them cranky! Being a retired husband who shopped in the daytime, I became cranky and harbored a bad attitude.

Now it doesn’t take much for me to get cranky, and I can develop a bad attitude very easily, just put me in the large store filled with women Christmas shoppers, pushy, bossy women Christmas shoppers. They take up the aisle, they stop to chat, they take forever to make the purchase, chatting with the checkout person, rummaging through their purses and pocketbooks, holding me up. They mess up the displays, taking things apart and then tossing them back on the table or shelf.

The stores are always overheated, the din is unbearable and the lines too long.

Pulling into the parking lot, this crazy lady is flooring it to race me to a space, that I’m already halfway in, and then gives me the horn! I give her the dirtiest look and give her what for. She drives off with a guilty look on her face and refuses to look at me. Now I try to walk up to the store, and another one races toward me, and does not slow up as she hurtles along the lane. I refuse to be intimidated and continue to walk at my pace, she is forced to slow down, and I can feel her wrath as she sees my big smile. I win!

Leaving the parking lot becomes another adventure. Once again they dare you to walk and not run to your destination, where once arriving at my car, they start to line up for the parking space. They are breathing down your neck for the space! Do they leave you any room to back out? Nooooo! The morons are vying for the space and I’m in the middle. Finally I stop half way out of the space, because I can’t maneuver anymore because they are crowding me. Finally one of them gets a hint, while another one shoots by my car off for another space.

Next year I go shopping in July at night, and wear a football helmet, shoulder pads and carry a big stick. Yes, Merry freaking Christmas, and Happy @#$%^% Holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


The other night I decided to cook a ham steak with roasted red potatoes in rosemary. Well, when I pull out the potatoes to wash them, they were so old that they not only had eyes, they needed glasses!

And so it goes with me, the best laid plans of mice and men.

Of course I’m the same person who watched his neighbors blow off the debris from Hurricane Sandy, and decided to do the same. The only problem for me is, when I took the blower out and set it up, it never occurred to me that my neighbors had gas blowers, and my electrical one wasn’t working for some reason!

Then there is the issue of forgetfulness, going into another room purposely and when arriving, forgetting what that purpose was!

I get confused-I'm old!
My confusion is not only mental: it is visual too. I pick up the TV remote and start dialing to call someone. Not enough for you? Then there is the time I bring my laptop to my large computer on my desk both are running, and I start to type on the laptop, and think that the large desktop computer is not working.

Trying to re-charge my cell phone without power during hurricane Sandy, caused to make TLW (The Little Woman) threaten to kill me if I continued.

Listen, I don’t try to do two things at the same time, since I tried eating and sleeping once, so I really am perfectly harmless, just throw an eye on me every once in a while, for my protection.

Friday, December 21, 2012


It was the night of the big dance, and Santa was on hand to pose with 400 people with disabilities, listen to their stories and subject himself to the love, hugs and kisses of the spirited group at this annual holiday dance.

But first Santa had to dress, and in a large janitorial closet laid out his costume for the night. Slowly he darned the pants that were too big, and Lord have mercy no belt to hold them up! But that was OK, Santa was resourceful, he tucked the waist of the red pants into the belt of his street clothes that he would wear underneath the costume.

After struggling with the boots, a thin covering that looked like leather and slipped on over the feet, he looked at his watch and it was time for the big arrival. But suddenly, a panic overcame him, as he discovered that he had NO beard! This naturally bearded imposter had no beard to play Santa.

Going to the door of the closet, standing by the door was a young woman.

“Pssst! Yes, you-go across the dance floor to that office over there, and tell the ladies in there that Santa needs a beard!”

I sat and hoped the young lady was reliable and understood. After a while, the door swung open and there stood Santa’s helper, with a beard in a large envelope, I was saved!

And so the evening went on, sitting for pictures, listening to sad stories, and long demands for the holiday. The belt around my suit jacket kept coming undone, and the cap kept falling off, Santa was having a difficult time of it! The conversations went something like this:

“Merry Christmas young man, it’s good to see you!”

“I know.”

And so the evening wound down as the last of the participants had their photo taken.

“Well Santa, I guess we are done!” said my helper, as I rose to started my long journey across the room in my ill fitting costume. Slowly I made my way as people were now starting to press to get a piece of Santa, shaking his hand, patting him on the back, hugging and kissing and leaving last minute reminders of what they wanted. As I moved I noticed how almost paralyzed my legs were becoming! The closer to the door I got, the more paralyzed I became!

Finally I reached the door, and entered the closet, where I looked down at my legs, the Santa pants were down around my ankles!


Happy birthday to my polish brother-in-law: Tom. Time to sing another verse of ‘By me a pork chop’!  (An inside joke)

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Being how I read the newspapers from front to back and pretty much every article, I came across the obituary pages and noticed there were two write-ups, one about a judge, with his picture and one of a school custodian with his picture.

Judge Semenga
The judge Alfred F. Semenga had a great professional, and private life, filled pretty much with health and great moral examples for his family to live by. The custodian, William Cea, Jr. when he was a toddler: suffered a stroke that affected his ability to continue his schooling beyond 8th grade. He worked in his father’s business and later on in life became a custodian. Both men had the same amount of words written about them and both loved by their families.

The family of the judge had a lot to be proud of, as the man was a good man who served with great distinction. The custodian served the people around him. He served to make the students of the school his first love, which even a retired professional football player and current sports commentator remark about how much he was loved. The custodian always had change in his pocket to help a student out with lunch money. If the students had a sales of hats or whatever to raise money, he bought not one, but 4! The sports teams loved him, giving him autographed pictures or equipment in love and appreciation, as often he would give up a lunch hour to attend a game or practice.

Mr. Cea, Jr.
I just find this remarkable, that a man who had a job such as a janitor or custodian achieved the same lofty admiration of as the judge. That what he gave in life so mattered that it could equate with a great man as the judge in terms of love. Just goes to show it is not what we have in life, but how we deal with it.

So justice was served in a good way, both decent good men recognized for their achievements as men first. I really would have loved to have met them both.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


It seems ironic, almost eerie, that I should be playing Santa Claus, when in fact I was warned so often as a little kid that Santa was probably NOT coming for me. There were the conversations at the kitchen table, under the big black stove pipe that led through the roof on the top floor of our apartment building.

Dad would sit at the head of the table, mom hovering near the stove, and me and my older sister (much older) Tessie sitting on the chairs as the riot act was read to me. At four or five, you took those things seriously. Then Dad would ask me THE question: “Are you ever going to do that again?” If I hesitated, there came this loud knock out of nowhere. This sent chills up and down my spine, as I stiffened up: Santa was knocking: reminding me I HAD to be good!

Yes, that's me!
Fast-forward a few hundred years to today. The most threatened kid in America ever, is being asked to play Santa, and not just once, but twice a year for people with disabilities! With terms like incorrigible, instigator, aggravating and threats such as: Wait, just wait ‘til your father gets home, still ringing in my ears, I am off to see my adoring fans! Finally, someone is happy to see me! Of course I have to wear a beard and costume, disguising myself so they don’t know who I am, but still it is exhilarating, as the DJ makes the grand announcement to the large dance crowd of participants of their annual Holiday Dance: “Is that Santa I hear?” Then I swing out the heavy metal door that conceals me and start a long journey across this large dance floor, “Ho-Ho-Hoing” as I go, getting mobbed, people excited and hugging me, kissing and squeezing me. If it never happened to you, even in a disguise, you are missing one of life’s greater pleasures!

Then there is a much more serene visit I make to a home for people with disabilities. They gather after their dinner and wait for Santa to arrive. He does, rings the doorbell and the whole house gets excited, but not quite as excited as Santa. A seat is reserved for old Santa who reaches down in his sack of presents and one at a time distributes them to the residents. Then we all sit and have ice-crem and cake!

So Dad, I know you can see it all, remember when you said if I behaved like I did, I’d never amount to anything? Well, Ho-Ho-Ho, I’m Santa!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


This past July marked the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones. The reason I mention it is recently there was that NYC relief concert called 12/12/12, to raise money for the hurricane Sandy victims.

In the process of raising funds, they raised out of a tomb, Mick Jagger. Now I don’t have anything personal against Mr. Jagger, except that I am tired of seeing him and the Rolling Stones bounce around the stage at their ages.

Back in the 70’s they were great! They reached their peak around the end of the 80’s and they should have done a farewell tour. It seems these days that every time they get on stage, it may very well be their farewell tour. They fans all hold their collective breath to allow some air to reach the performers, and hope they can make it through the songs.

What I find troubling about Mick Jagger is he left Bianca, who I thought was sexy, and if you leave a sexy woman, it better be because you never had eyesight. Not that sex appeal is important, but it does count in the world of performance.

The only thing the Rolling Stones have got going for them is they are all still rolling, because it is all down hill! I think liking their music is fine, but guys, time for the racetrack, no? They should appear in a senior citizens home, and be entertained for Christmas, and someone can come and read them the old press releases and articles about their great past.

They should leave those tender moments alone for the younger generations, because I think it is starting to become embarrassing!

Monday, December 17, 2012


He doesn’t live there, in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. He has no residence there: that is not where he lives. He does not speak much in words, no: He never says anything. Yet time and time again we invoke His guidance, ask His blessing, call on Him for answers. We wonder why He wasn’t there in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

He never answers us, because we never ask the right questions, not you or anyone I know, and certainly not me. We put so much faith in Him, and then all we hear in the end is silence.

Twenty children ages 6 and 7 perished because of a mad man. Twenty children no longer live, laugh or sing, there are no smiles emanating from their faces, only the stark reality that their lives were snuffed out, without reason, senselessly.

Let’s ask the question then, why God would allow this to happen, this killing of innocents?

Maybe the question lies within ourselves: next to the fault. I mean there is fault to go around, no? The gunman was the instrument that did the killing, using a gun as the method. But did he not have the power to do so? Did he not have the OK from society to have the method? Do we not protect his ‘right’ to own the method: the means to execute his horrific will in the Constitution of the United States of America? Do we not wrap ourselves in the flag and say the 2nd amendment gives him the right, gives you and me the right?

And so we have the “God given right to bear arms” as it is often said. But God didn’t write the U.S. Constitution: he had nothing to do with it.

Newt Gingrich wrote in defense of the 2nd Amendment: “Every person on the planet has the right to defend themselves from those who would oppress them, exploit them, harm them, or kill them.” I guess Newt meant the 20 children who posed a direct threat to the gunman in the elementary school, or maybe he meant the administrators and teachers also.

So God, allows things to happen, yet we confuse ourselves and pray to him! What are we doing? What are we saying?

No, God doesn’t live in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, never has. God did his job when he created the universe, and he made this world of ours we call Earth. He put us in it and must have thought: “Here, let me see how you do, how you will make sense out of the gift I bestowed on you. Don’t pray to me, and don’t prey on yourselves, but live in love, respect and harmony. I will know”   I know it presumptuous of me to put words in God’s mouth, I don’t mean to, but I truly believe that when it is all said and done, it IS what we do with ourselves that we will be judged.

Why are we selling assault rifles to the general republic, why are we selling automatics so street gangs can randomly shoot at each other and kill innocent bystanders? Why are we protecting these rights that inevitably lead to Sandy Hook? A means of destruction was used to snuff out lives of construction. Construction that would have led to children that would have made their parents happy, proud and loved, and would in turn had achieved the same thing for themselves. It is far more important to protect the rights of people to bare arms, instruments of murder, than to protect the rights of the innocent to live, grow and contribute to society in a positive and perhaps loving way?

We must come to grips with the fact that we are too enmeshed in a wrongful pride in power, militarism, and jingoism: all that lead to hatred of us as a country, and lets us think with guns in our hands as policemen of the world. The US constitution is a living document. That that document in order to live needs to change from time to time,

We have to come to an understanding of who God is. God does not micro-manage the world, he has given us that job to manage ourselves. But we had better do a good job of it, because he will want answers when we are done. You and I, Christian, Jew and Muslim, will all answer to the same God and be accountable in the same way. It will not be because we followed Jesus, Mohammed or the Torah that we are singularly judged, but because of what we did as individuals.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


DIM SUM FUNERAL is a story about a matriarch in a Chinese family that dies. It is a beautiful written story about a Chinese American family and how it copes with death of their mother who insists on a typical Chinese funeral.

The movie was made in 2008 and can be found on the library, and I think that it is flying under the radar, a really wonderful story Dim Sum Funeral describes the life of four very Americanized children who fled their Chinese "Dragon Lady" mother in the 2000s. The film focuses on the deceased mother's place in the broken family, in which the children recount stories of the past and lament the barriers that exist between the siblings.

This is a movie that at the end has you in tears, as the family comes to grips with it’s relationships and past history. Secrets are revealed and old scores are settled, and the ending comes with a crescendo of unbelievable poetry!

I found this movie in the library one day and because of my love for Dim Sum decided to try it. ‘Dim Sum’ means: ‘Touch the heart’ in Chinese, and that is exactly what will happen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Looking back over the years, there are things I remember and wish I still had. Of course the reality is that life moves on, and I do too, whether I want to or not.
There are places that I miss from so long ago but still can feel the sense of being there. The streets I grew up on, the people that lived on them, and the memories that are associated with them, all play into the memory bag and give me great pleasure as I look back.

Maybe the thing I miss most though is the sense of security I had as a child, the idea I could always go home to a safe haven and be happy.

I remember going to school at Our Lady Of Lourdes, and walking up Stone Avenue pass the green grocer stand and remembering what I did to the poor man the day before, as I got him so mad he chased me and my friends with a broom! A satisfied smile would cross my lips as I passed the yet to open stand. He was a mean Old Italian that had a messy place but was good in a pinch, and he never held it against you the next day, because it was a new day.

There was Pete the Bungalow Ice Cream man who came around on summer evening after dinnertime and we all raced to greet him, with his penciled moustache and patient way about himself with kids.

I remember Dad coming home from work, walking from the Broadway Junction stop, or the corner of Rockaway and Fulton subway station, his grey fedora, hands in his pockets, NY Journal American under his arm, whistling as he walked, as I ran up to greet him, he would raise his eyes and look upwards meaning: Time for dinner.

Of course there were holidays with Grandma Frances, the anticipation of cousins coming from Patchogue, the incredible dinners she made and the festive noisiness of the affair, made for untold memories for me.

I remember high school, after classes, a few friends of mine would come over to the house and we would all go down in my parents basement and shoot pool, or hanging out with my friend Ernie after school, playing records and going into Patchogue after dinner on Friday nights to the movies or what ever moved us.

College became my social awakening, the idea that there was another place on Earth besides Bellport and Brooklyn, and people, all new who brought new ideas and thoughts to the table. Suddenly living for real, dealing with my own destiny, thinking about politics and marriage and career, all at once, all of it shaping my future and having fun doing it. And after all that, I still went home at the end of a semester or week or day, and still enjoyed the comforts of home and the tranquility it brought me.

I miss those rides on the Long Island Railroad, commuting to work as a single guy, dating new gals I met on the train, every weekend it seemed someone new came along. I had money, a new car and a great job; I was on top of the world, working on top of New York City, 32 stories high: in the clouds!

I was going to fancy restaurants for lunch or dinner, with clients and co-workers, seeing my work produced in large quantities, and feeling the excitement of the big city, the freelance jobs I’d get and the constant pressure my dad put on me to meet this gal or that gal from his place of business, not to mention the day my grandmother set me up with a dozy from the other side! (A blogue in itself)

Then there are those days when I married TLW (The Little Woman), meeting her on the train, the romance that grew and the life we made for ourselves, especially in the beginning. Before I knew it, I was a father, and not once, but twice.

We would spend the Saturday evenings with two little tykes at home before dinner, playing Mitch Miller records for the kids to learn all the old time favorites, and I would pour us a couple of scotch and waters and we all sang along, watching my daughter clap and #1 Son dance and sing to the songs. I bet he could win a trivia contest knowing all the words to ‘The Erie Lackawanna’ song.’



Playcrafters proudly presents
Every Christmas Story Ever Told 
(And Then Some)

A Comedy by Michael Carleton, 
Jim FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez

Fridays and Saturdays,
Tonight, December 15, 2012
Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area
471 Atlantic Ave, Bellport, NY 11713

Curtain Time: 8:00pm
Suggested Donation: Adult $18 Seniors/Students $15

For children and adults 10 and above!

Synopsis of the Show:
Instead of performing Charles Dickens' beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told.

Friday, December 14, 2012


It was a quiet Saturday morning, and we as a family were busy doing our Saturday morning things; chores, watching cartoons or eating, maybe fixing and house chores when the routine was interrupted by a loud and forceful knock on the door. Being the man of the house, I was ordered to answer it.

On the other side of the door stood a handsome gentleman I had never seen before, a man maybe a little older than me. He introduced himself to me as Sam, the neighborhood mayor. I instantly took a liking to the guy and invited him in, and we went into the dining room and sat over a cup of coffee as he explained his mission to me, the reason for his visit.

“I’m organizing a neighborhood block party, and I’m asking all the neighbors to come and to bring something to the party!” He further explained his plans and being new to the neighborhood who some of the neighbors were and what they did, how many children they had and so forth.  It was literally an introduction to the neighborhood 101.

But Sam was a guy that just didn’t end it there: no, he became a fixture along with his lovely wife Rose and his three kids in my family’s life, a generous man of by all means and one that invited you into his home and made you feel welcomed.

Then in the early 80’s we moved from the neighborhood and except for a few times, really never connected again. He came to the house one day to say hello and I did the same to him, and then about 12 or 13 years ago TLW (The Little Woman) and I were out taking a walk, when we noticed this Model-T drive by, putting along and we glanced at the driver. Something clicked in my head and I said to TLW: “I know that guy! That’s Sam from our old neighborhood!” Apparently the car passed us, stopped and beeped the horn and backed up, it WAS Sam!  We chatted from the step of the sideboard as he explained he was in a club that worked on Model-T’s and was in the neighborhood to meet with one of the members.  It was a sweet homecoming in a way, and all the good feelings that we shared so long ago were once again present. Sam was a special guy then and stayed that way.

Fast forward 12 or 13 years, and TLW comes home from work and says: “Guess who I saw today? (I always have to work for my news from TLW)

“Who?” (Four years of college)

“Sam! Sam Vivas!”


“Yes, he didn’t recognize me, then I mentioned my name and he still didn’t! But then I said “Joe” and he lit up and remembered YOU!”

The years changed Sam just as they changed me. He lost his lovely wife Rose a number of years ago, and he is grey now, but that Spanish charm and sunny disposition remained according to TLW. Maybe I’ll go back to the old neighborhood and surprise him soon: kind of relive the good feeling that once was, I deserve it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Growing up, we all have our own favorite Christmas memories, and there are so many. Mine for some reason have stayed with me and seem to get although more distant, more etched into my mind.

The little things that seemed so important were meaningful to me, important yet, shaping my life and making me whole.

Buying a Christmas tree was Dads job, and he NEVER did it right, but we loved him for doing it. Dad believed that it wasn’t important that the tree looked like it was left for bare, the price was right, and as he climbed the two flights of stairs, the anticipation became great in the hopes that he did it right for once. If you couldn’t see his face as he ascended the stairs, it meant he DID do it right, but if you knew who was carrying up that tree by looking and seeing whom, he got another bargain, and you put away a few strings of lights and a couple dozen balls.

Pretty close
Of course if you wanted to see where he bought the bargain, all you had to do was follow the fallen needles until they stopped. Aside from the anemic look, the smell was always right, right for the spirit and right for Christmas. Dad would walk into the dining room and place it between the dining room and the parlor, while he went down the cellar to get our tree stand. The balls were all the same, coming in; gold, green, blue and red, with these large bulbs in the same colors with thick electrical cord that was black and white. The star that weighed down the top was of the same colors, each color bulb on a silver star.
that's what they looked like back in the day!

The tradition in my house was for my older sister Tess (Much older) knocking down the tree at least once and Dad having a swearing fit in Italian. We would put up most of the tree and THEN she would do something to knock it down. Dad who was watching his favorite child and his second born work together, standing on kitchen chairs as we decorated the tree, and he would of course have to come and rescue the whole thing.

Mom was never part of this routine: instead she would wait in the kitchen for Dad to jump up, my sister to say ‘OOPs!’ and Dad to do his Desi Arnez routine in Italian. “ANTHONY, WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE! IT’S CHRISTMAS!”

Mom was the religious fanatic in the household, and Dad was the sinner, or so I thought. Tess my older sister (much older) would wake me up about 1:00 am from a deep sleep and announce that she thought: “Santa was here!” “Go in the dining room and see.” She said. Me, like the developing schmuck I would later in life perfected, did as she suggested once she untwisted my arm. We would tip toe out to the dining room where we would find empty boxes scattered in the kitchen and the toys under the tree. The suddenly there would be a sound at the front door and we would jump, thinking that Santa was taking back the stash, when it was Mom returning form Mid-Night Mass.


“Who, us? We heard a noise.”

“I’ll give you a noise, go to bed.”

Of course we never did, but Mom HAD to fire a shot before going down.

A few nights before Christmas, Mom would do her shopping along Broadway under the Broadway Junction. She would darn her fur coat and take me along for the walk. As she window shopped, I would see a toy store, all lit up with a set of American Flyers and another set of Lionel trains, running through this incredible scenery, making we want them so much, in their magical wonderland, the smoke coming from the engine, the little man with a lantern standing close enough to the oncoming locomotive I was afraid it would knock him on his plastic ass! For the rest of the evening wanting and dreaming of having a set of trains under my Christmas tree if it was still standing was all I did.

Then the next morning when the trains were under the tree, and I was happily playing with them, Mom would make her announcement.

“GET DRESSED. We have to go to church!” She was pulling me away from my trains and making me go to church!! Tess, my older sister (much older) had to do the same thing, so at least I wasn’t miserable alone. This meant I had to sit quietly and listen to a boring sermon and try not to dream of my trains. When the Mass was over, they marched us all over to the school, to our classrooms and they took attendance, and who went to communion! God how I hated them all in spite of what great good they did do for me!

Dad got to stay home and in bed, and I suspect to this day, once we left for church, he was busy playing with my trains. (At least it wasn’t my sister’s dolls. I hope)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


 The Ancient Mayan calendar predicts 12-12-2012 as the end of the world as we know it, and the beginning or restart of the Mayan calendar and of a new cycle of evolution for the world. Buddhism, Tao, Hopi and Vedic knowledge predict a ‘Golden Age’ or ‘Satyug’ in their calendars about the same time.

A lot of people are running around scared and they are making me a little nervous too, so I decided that maybe to cover all the bases I would pen my goodbyes to the woman I love.

So if you wish to move on and read some other blog, go right ahead and maybe, just maybe I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Here goes:

Dear Toots,

Being that today is the last day for all of us, I thought I’d tell you what I think about you after 41 and a-half years of marriage.

Whenever I see you, be it a long or short period that we are away from each other, a certain excitement comes over me, a flushness if you will and… oops, that’s my blood pressure acting up again! Darn if we had any more days left I’d go see Dr. Strangeglove about it.

Anyway, I’m getting off the track here.

Living with you has been a special time, this love I have for you surges throughout my body just thinking of you and … Oh jeez, I think that may be my cholesterol I’m feeling, yes I know the doctor increased the meds on it, but it takes time, just give it a while. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel … what am I thinking?

There can be no denying the fact that the very thought of you being near me just sends my body tingling with anticipation and emotion! Oh, wait a minute: that is my diabetes, which happens a lot, especially in the hands and toes! Boy, Dr. Strangeglove would have had a busy day with me if there were a tomorrow!

But there is no getting around the chills I get just sitting and having a simple meal with you all these years, and the … oh, sorry toots, that is usually gas I get when I eat too fast or am really hungry. Nothing personal.

Well there you have it Toots, from my heart and soul to yours, the years have been great, but just in case there is a tomorrow, what do you want for dinner?

All my love,
Your old fancy fiancy

Playcrafters proudly presents
Every Christmas Story Ever Told 

(And Then Some)
A Comedy by Michael Carleton, 

Jim FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez

Fridays and Saturdays,
December 14, &15, 2012
Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area
471 Atlantic Ave, Bellport, NY 11713

Curtain Time: 8:00pm
Suggested Donation: Adult $18 Seniors/Students $15

For children and adults 10 and above!

Synopsis of the Show:
Instead of performing Charles Dickens' beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told.