Friday, April 28, 2006

Writing and Drinking

If you have writer's block, then you ain't drinkin enough.

Whiskey is the drink of the Gods.

Just thought I'd throw that out there...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


You wouldn’t think it by looking at me, but I actually am Irish. My mother is part Irish, and her mother is descended from the Lynch clan of County Galway. Of course, my dark hair, dark eyes, and lack of height might scream Italy as opposed to Erin, but either way, the facts remain. I’ve always dug having Irish blood in me.

When I was young, my grandmother and I would go into the city for St. Patty’s Day and watch the parade, and eat at an Irish bar that served corned beef and cabbage along with Irish soda bread. These were, of course, long before my drinking would make St. Patty’s Day into a different kind of holiday. Either way, I remember all the stories and all the things I heard on those trips from her. There is a green line that the city paints down Fifth Avenue every year to mark the route of the parade; sometimes, on the nights before, the bastard Protestants would come and paint orange over the line (orange being the color of the North). We would visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and she would mention the old Catholic tradition of hanging the dead Cardinal’s hats from the towering ceiling, and they would fall when the Cardinal reached Heaven (ironically, none of them seem to fall, so I figure I’m screwed when I die). Once, way back in the history of New York, the Protestants tried to burn down the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral- an army of Irishmen protected it, with the bishop at the front, and threatened publicly to burn New York City to the ground if that Church was touched by a Protestant hand.

Being as I was a Civil War buff when I was a kid, my favorite story was about the Fighting 69th of New York. They were part of the famed "Irish Brigade", a brigade recruited from amongst all the Irish immigrants of New York City, and led onto the dreary fields of battle by an Irish nationalist named Thomas Meagher. They made the bravest charges of the war, charges that only an Irishmen would make. I stood on the fields at Antietam with my grandmother once, the same fields that these brave sons of Erin once charged valiantly, and were butchered valiantly, all in the name of freedom. The Fighting 69th is still a regiment in the US Army, and, though they are far from being all Irish now, they lead off the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City every year. They still march under the Green flag adorned only with a Harp and a Gaelic blessing, and are always referred to as "Mrs. Meagher's Own".

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

In reality, I'm no more Irish than I am Polish or Italian, but the influence is certainly strongest from the Irish side. I never knew my Polish side, and my Italian side, unlike most Italians, never really cared that they were Italian. They never had peppers hanging from the rearview mirror, and I didn't know that Columbus Day was actually considered an Italian holiday until I saw it on the Sopranos. I always liked being Italian, and I will always consider Rocky a hero of mine, but it's just not that ingrained in me.

It's kind of humorous, especially because I look so dark and my last name is certainly not Irish, so when folks see the Celtic cross that's tattooed on my back, it really throws them for a loop.

"So, wait, you're...Irish? What's your last name again? Wow! You look so Italian!"

I could see this, of course; eyes that are as dark as a Michelob bottle, and they only look darker because of the thick black eyebrows that hover over them (my girlfriend says they look like caterpillars. I told her I'd break up with her if she ever said it again). My hair is actually brown, but when I gel it, it looks black also. Throw in some sun-tanned forearms that one who's had a few too many whiskeys could call "olive" and a whole lot of hair, and BAM. They don't get more Italian looking. Picture any Italian boxer you've ever seen. Yea, I look like him.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a damn good looking fella, I just look ethnic, I guess you could say. But I've really no interest in Italian history, none at all. No, it's the Irish history, the Irish music, the Irish writers and poets and playrights, those are the ones that I dig. I go home drunk and try to read Yeats, and see if he makes any sense when I'm inebriated, being as he makes so little when I'm not. I'll read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and marvel that the struggle that Stephen Dedalus has with Catholicism is the same struggle that the Stephen living in New Jersey has right now; proof that the more things change, the more they don't. I read Roddy Doyle's novels, and see characters that reflect me more than I thought they would. There will always be something mythical to me about the "terrible beauty" that was the Easter Rising of 1916, and the strength and honor that those men showed on that cold day. And there will always be something noble about the IRA, no matter how bad they get.

I try to explain to people that my "Irishness" is something that I carry more in my mind than anywhere else, kind of like the Cherokee carried the Cherokee Nation; there were no borders, but every one of them felt it in their heart, and in their soul. I didn't need my tattoo to explain to others that I'm Irish, maybe I needed to say it to myself. Those good looking Italian genes sure aren't going away, and neither is my Polish last name. Maybe it reaffirms to myself that I'm actually Irish, and that my great- great- great grandfather did come here during the Great Famine, whether or not I have his hallowed last name, or look like him. It's a comfort to know that my great-grandfather was in the trenches in World War I, fighting for his county, and sending letters back to the Irish section of Jersey City, even though he died long before I was born. When it comes down to it, my grandmother handed down all of this to me, the only one who cared about history enough to be impressed by the old letters and the roster sheets of the 14th Coastal Artillery. And maybe that all is worth more than a last name or some freckles.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

E! is the Devil

I've fucking had it with celebrities. I'm not exactly sure what draws people to these dolts; I don't know whether its' a lack of better things to do, or if they actually give a shit what happens to these people. Either way, it irritates the hell out of me.

Check out what's new on

"Ooops! Britney Pregnant Again?"

What I want to know is why there is a question mark after that statement. Are there folks that are surprised that white trash from Louisiana might get pregnant more than once? Fuck me, they'll get pregnant eight times, abort four of them, and keep number 1, 3, 6, and 8, and then give one to an adoption service. And why do I care?

I don't, and that's my point. Say what you want, but if Britney Spears gets cancer right now and dies tomorrow, the world isn't going to be missing out on anything special, except perhaps a future welfare case. She sure as shit doesn't provide anything to the music scene besides a nice ass, and even that's gone now. None of our lives are affected by her, and too many people pay attention to this crap and not nearly enough to the things that actually messes with out lives.

Pay too much attention to this:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Seriously folks, there's much more important things going on in the world than to wonder what Tom Cruise's fucking kid is named after (I hear it means "loose woman" in Kazakystani). There's a genocide going on in Darfur right now, and a great question of whether or not the United States should go in and try to wrong the rights. Iran is a step away from having nuclear capabilities, which would put the powder keg next to the fire as far as World War III is concerned. Several governments in South America have fallen to anti-American, working class revolutions in the past couple years, including the ones that supply us with a whole lot of oil. Of course, I bet most of America didn't know that; but if they were asked how long it was before Jennifer found out Brad was banging Angelina, well, I bet they'd know the answer to that one.

I'm not trying to sound like an asshole here, but this truly bothers me. It's not the people's fault, of course, it's the mass media who do nothing but talk about this drivel all day long. They will rant and rave about some dumb blonder who gets kidnapped in Aruba, or how Mexicans are ruining this country with their horrendous... wish to work! (the horror!) , but they let the real news fly by.They'll whine about how wrong it is that boys kissing boys, and what God must think about a country that lets boys kiss boys legally. Abortion is another thing like that- let's get the government to intrude on more people's personal lives! Because, you know, that's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted! Blah blah blah....

Of course, these were the same people that sought out 60 year old Vietnam Vets just to prove that John Kerry really wasn't all that great in Vietnam (although the same people who run the government are the ones who ducked out of the draft).

Either way, as people, it is still our responsibility to know what's going on in the world, because eventually, whether we like it or not, the world comes knocking on the door of the little cocoon we have set up...and sometimes, it's pretty goddamn loud.

"If you're not turned on to politics, politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

And you get this:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gas prices

Gas hit about $3 a gallon today. Bush claims that he's going to stop putting gas in the national reserve, and start a probe looking into oil companies. Sure you are.

First, I wonder why anyone, anywhere is surprised by this. The guy is an oilman. He supports Big Oil. Now that he is in office, Big Oil is taking home record profits. And by record, I mean fucking RECORD. Check this out-

"David Winston, a GOP pollster, said the size of the retirement package of former Exxon Mobil chief executive Lee R. Raymond has added to public outrage over rising gasoline prices. Winston said the multimillion-dollar package made people doubt oil companies' assertions that market forces and not their drive for profits stood behind the run-up in gasoline prices.

Raymond received $48.5 million in salary, bonus and incentive payments last year; he got a $98.5 million lump-sum retirement package in January, when he left the company; and he had accumulated by the end of 2005 $183 million in Exxon shares and unexercised stock options with a net worth of $69 million."

Are you kidding? Who the fuck gets a 400 million dollar retirement package?

What frustrates me the most is that the Republicans have managed to convince the working class that they stand up for them, and that it's us, the "East Coast Liberal Elite" who are out to stick it to them. I've got to hand it to them, they've created possibly the biggest myth since the McCarthy witch hunts. When it comes down to it, this country has made its bed, now it must lay in it.

We should make the gas prices higher in the states that voted Republican. Don't blame me, I'm from Jersey...we voted for Kerry.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Politically Incorrect...Forever.

I idolize Bill Maher. Depending on your political affiliation, this may endear me to you, or make you hate me immediately. I sat in the living room last night, watching his show “Real Time” on HBO, and just marveled at how icily cynical he can be, all the while backing it up with facts. I’ve known about him for years; I was once a 11 year old kid staying up every night until midnight to watch “Politically Incorrect” (until it got yanked off ABC for being a little too politically incorrect), and I’ve agreed with him every step of the way.

Image hosting by Photobucket

He used to claim that he was a libertarian back then; I liked this, because so did I. I was a young kid back then, and didn’t really know my ass from my elbow with politics although I followed them very closely (I was an oddball, I know). However, even in my middle school haze I realized that I hated the government, and didn’t think that they should have very much say over what I do. I never agreed with banning all drugs, mostly because of the inherent hypocrisy of the War on Drugs: you’re allowed to make money off of cigarettes and booze, which kill people, but not off coke and heroin, which also kill people. Apparently, some drugs are more moral than others, and selling death is better if it’s a tradition to sell death, as tobacco is. I also never really agreed with things like seatbelt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, abortion laws, or really any other kind of law that I felt was not in the American spirit of “freedom”. Murder, rape, theft; these were crimes that were punishable, sometimes by death if the crime was inhuman enough. I was never much for organized religion, as a group of people in a room, chanting, singing, and swearing that they were right about everything just seemed a little strange to me; it reminded me of the old movies where you see druids in the middle of the night standing around a fire, sacrificing things to appease their pagan gods.

For a little kid, I was incredibly skeptical of anything and everything. If you combine this with not only my political views, but the cynicism that seems to be an integral part of my personality, than you can understand why I looked at Maher as role model of sorts. He was interesting, callous, tough, funny, and all the while, you could tell that he was incredibly smart.

I stopped watching Politically Incorrect for a while in high school when I was going my personal dark ages. I’d turned away from books and learning and got into that high school mentality of being half –retarded and dopily apathetic. That wasn’t to last long though.

Eventually, I got back into politics, and when I did, it was with a bang. I realized that the government in the United States was fucked, and by fucked I mean “six-ways to Sunday, right up the ass” fucked, and that libertarians’ beliefs were partly to cause for this. What I thought had been a noble ideal of how America should be (kind of like I had thought of Republicans) had turned into the realization that everything they did actually took the power out of the hands of the people and put it right into the hands of rich CEOs and multinational corporations. I couldn’t call myself a Communist, although I read a lot about that at one time or another, and still can’t call myself a socialist, as I believe in private property and most tenets of free enterprise.

But when I came back to politics sometime around 2001, Bill Maher was still there, ranting and raving about all the things that pissed him off. And scarily enough, I still agreed with him. He seems now to have traded in his libertarian overcoat for a new vest made of liberalism in a classic sense, just as I have. I don’t classify myself as a Democrat, because I don’t believe everything they say, especially when they talk about gun control and the death penalty. Of course, if you talk to me for any amount of time, you can tell I’m certainly not a Republican, and I’m not in the “swing voter” section either. I know what I like, and I don’t have to agree with either party bout it.

Last night, Maher was literally yelling about the Democrats, and how they have become pussies in all senses of the word. They have given up talking about the environment, they have backed down to Bush in all kinds of ways, and they should be ashamed of themselves as a party. He said that he was ashamed that the Republicans have literally destroyed core issues in favor of one that only a retard could care about- boys kissing and immigrants coming over? That’s what we care about? Above helping the poor, saving the environment, and keeping the planet from falling apart?

Call me bleeding heart, but I’m not. I’m about as bleeding heart as Maher himself is, and if you’ve watched the show, you know that isn’t much. Someone with liberal views does not have to be soft, and does not have to be a career carpetbagging politician (read: Hillary Clinton). They can be tough, strong, and have varying viewpoints on many issues, all the while making sure that humanity is progressing forward, not falling backwards.

Maher is not a political lackey, or party faithful. He’s a freethinking man who doesn’t have to espouse a party line to make himself seem intelligent, and never holds himself back for fear of reprisals. He’ll go balls to the wall for what he thinks is right- would Hillary do that? Would Rush Limbaugh? Have they ever stood for anything in their lives that someone hasn’t told them that they should?

In roughly a thousand days, when the election comes back up, I’m going to write in Bill Maher’s name for president (I’d do my own, but I still drink too much to run the free world). I’d rather vote for someone who stands for something and who thinks for himself than some politician only interested in getting power, and then keeping it. Maher won't stop breaking the government's balls no matter what party takes power...and that is something that I can respect.

Welcome to America, where freethinking men go to die…or have their shows canceled.

CALLER: "Hi. Well, my question is, the Lord spoke to me approximately three years ago, and if the Lord spoke to you [Maher], I was wondering if you'd become a believer."

MAHER: "No, I'd check into Bellevue, which is what you should do..."

St. Patrick's Day Massacred

I've drank alot of beer in a lot of different places. I've covered most towns in Northern New Jersey, and even some from South Jersey (although not willingly). It's fun getting drunk in a strange land; it makes you feel like a traveler of older times, tired from a journey, looking for an inn with a pub on the bottom floor where you can have a strong ale, then wander to your room. Alright, I may be over- romanticisizing to a point, but you understand.

I I'd never been drinking in New York City before. Most of the time it's just too damn expensive, and the way I figure it, I'm going to end up too drunk to remember anywhere, so I may as well do it around here. And yet, I had to make the exception for St. Patrick's Day. Now I realize why going in there once in a while can be a shindig worth trying; so many people in such a small area can make for a hell of a time (not too mention, if you get tossed from one bar, there’s another one next door). St. Patrick’s is the prime time for this brand of drunken wandering, mostly because everyone else is drunk too, and the streets have a festive spirit to them. Seeing that city, which can be very drab and grey at times, illuminated with emerald shamrocks and golden harps at every window certainly brings a spirit of celebration that New York doesn’t normally have.

Image hosting by Photobucket

I did the standard things that I have been doing for years on St. Patrick's Day, like going to the parade and what not in NYC. I wasn't 21 last year though, so I didn't have the option of really travelling to any bars worth going to. This year I figured...ahh what the fuck. Go for it.

We drank at this bar close to Port Authority called Rendevous, a good choice because that’s where the party is on St. Pats. Some folks get fancy ideas of traveling all over the world on St. Pats to find a bar- the secret is to just stay in Midtown, as its not only where the parade is, but its also loaded with Irish bars.

In my drunken carousing around New York City, I came across some interesting things. Not interesting like ‘barfight’ interesting, of course, but still thought provoking nonetheless. One of these interesting things involved a kid from Dublin that came over for the shindig that is March 17th, and this is where my thoughts spring from.

I was standing inside this bar getting started on the festivities, when I saw through the window, and I see a couple of my buddies talking to some guy who’s got an Irish flag wrapped around him like a cape. Now, I figure that given our normally violent demeaner, that my buddies are mouthing off to this guy trying to start a fight, and if that’s going to happen, then I’m going to be there to get involved.

I went outside under the guise of having a cigarette (fucking New York City and their laws), and, as it turned out, they were trying to fight this guy’s buddies, but thought that this guy himself was cool. Being as we outnumbered them, they apparently took off, leaving us with this guy who turned out to be pretty interesting. I don’t even remember this guys’ name (I was drinking…), so I’ll refer to him as “The Dubliner”, being as that’s where he was from. The rest of this story is kind of hazy, as this is the point where I crossed that fine line of “buzzed” into the land of “blind drunk”. So bear with me.

All I really remember about this guy is that he had horrible teeth, like the kind that you don’t want to stare at, but you can’t really look away, being as they are just so THERE. Yellowed and crooked, jutting out in all sorts of ways, so bad that you could tell they fucked with his speech. He was a little taller than me, but lean, almost weak looking to a point, and the hat he was wearing turned out to be something he bought off some homeless guy down by Port Authority. You could barely see how shitty the thing looked, though, because he had yellow “CAUTION” tape tied around it, which gave him a comical deameanor, to say the least (nothing says “Let’s Get Fucked Up” like an Irishman wearing caution tape).

The Dubliner looked at me as I walked out of the bar to have a smoke, and he was already bullshitting with a couple of my buddies. I made a comment about something, and he looked at me funny.

“You famous?”, he asked me. “You fucking look famous. You’re a good lookin lad, you know, you come over to Ireland with that and your accent, you’ll be getting all the womens”. Needless to say, I thought this guy was cool right away.

One of my buddies is the son of Irish immigrants; the Dubliner seemed to trust him the most out of us. He must have asked my buddy a million times if we were going to beat the shit out of him. I looked at the Dubliner, and couldn’t understand why he thought we would do that unprovoked. He just shrugged, and said that people like to knock around a lot in Dublin, and sometimes they’ll call you over just to beat the hell out of you. I got a kick out of this, of course, but also realized that no matter how tough I think Jersey is, Dublin is a bit rougher. Anyway, this guy apparently thought that we were far cooler than his buddies from Ireland (we were), and he stayed with us and drank.

He was an interesting guy, I have to say. He did IT work in Dublin, and he says that its not like it used to be over there. When most folks think of Ireland, they think of a bleak, poor country where potatos are the only thing keeping the poor bastards alive, yet this world of Angela’s Ashes is long gone. The computer industry exploded over there, and Ireland is the starving bitch of England no more; the “Celtic Tiger” is the new name for the Irish economy, and its led to them finally getting on their feet as a country. This guy seemed kind of representative of that- giving away cigarettes like they were candy, buying everyone beers, and giving the general excuse of, “I’m on vacation, I don’t give a fuck”.

At about six o’clock, we decided that we’d had enough of Rendevous. We’d been drinking for a good four hours, and I was pretty merry around this time. A friend of mine has family who own bars in the city, so we figured that we’d go down that way, around 22nd street if I remember right. Apparently, this was far from where we were, and we had to find a way to get down that way. After much drunken deliberating, it ended up that some tried to walk, some took the subway, and some just ran out into the middle of the street and started giving people the finger. Even though I’m always down to give somebody the finger for no reason, I wanted to keep drinking, so my girlfriend dragged me to the subway.

I don’t remember the subway ride that well except that I hopped the turnstiles right when two cops came around the corner; I think they were off- duty and from the parade, but I ran (stumbled away) anyway. I recall that most folks were on the way back home from work, dressed nicely, suits, etc., and that I was so drunk that I couldn’t stand. If looks could kill though, we’d all be dead men. This whole time, this Irish guy is yapping about something to my girlfriend, and even though I think he’s trying to hit on her, I was too loaded to be overly concerned, and besides, I was busy talking about hating Englishmen and Protestants for fucking Ireland over for a millenium, so I was rolling with it. We got off the subway somewhere, and began walking somewhere…I couldn’t tell you where, but I can tell you that I had a flask full of Jack Daniels that was keeping me and that drunken Mick covered for the walk.

We arrived at the other bar, the one where I think my buddy’s cousin bartends at. I remember that it had blue lights inside and a ton of windows, but that fades in and out. The Irishmen looked at me, and then buys four shots.

“You like fuckin Hennessey? I come over here, they tell me only niggers drink this shit, but in Ireland, we fucking love it. It’s a Cognac you know?”. He hands me the shots and says something in Gaelic. Bottoms up. I drank four of them, and that was about five more than I should’ve had. I went out into the street, and started yelling at some girl about something, and even though I think it may have been about politics, it could have been me just being a jerkoff. Either of these scenarios is as likely as the other…talking about politics with me is bad in the first place and worse when I’m drunk (the only thing that gets me angrier than Republicans is when people badmouth Roadhouse as being corny).

The bar was packed like nothing I’ve ever seen, and getting in and out was like trying to break into Jerusalem before those walls came down. Normally, I’ll say excuse me to people if I’m trying to get through, even if I’m drunk. There was none of that. My regional pride was coming out, and I was yelling “Fuck New York, Jersey rules” at random times (this brought on by the smoking ban that Jersey recently inherited). I was putting my shoulders down and bulling through the crowd in every movement

My buddies tell me I went to another bar with them after that, but I don’t recall being there at all, and different people tell me different things. My girlfriend pretty much carried me the way back to Port Authority to catch that last bus at 11:30, and we left that Irish guy behind somewhere in the mix. I remember telling him right before we left that when he gets back to Ireland, to tell them all that the biggest badasses come from New Jersey, not New York.

“You remember that”, I told him. He nodded and said something in broken drunken Irish gibberish that I couldn’t remember, and we parted ways. Later, when I would check the website that this kid had, he had a picture of me and some of my buddies, along with the caption that said, “Some locals lads from NYC”. Fucker.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Fuck the smoking laws. If you don't want to inhale smoke, don't go to a bar. Goddamn fascists we have in this country now...

Image hosting by Photobucket

Friday, April 21, 2006


View on Hambug Turpike when I was drunk
Image hosting by Photobucket

When I go to Barnes and Nobles, I can spend hours in there just reading. When I was a freshman, I used to skip class all the time, and go read books in the history section of the book store (ironically, I remember more facts from doing this than going to the actual classes). So the other day, while I was in there, I managed to find the series of books that have the pictures of the old towns in New Jersey. As I began gazing through the pictures of my hometown of Wayne, I was taken by the difference between the Wayne of old and the one that exists now.

Wayne has always been overshadowed by the looming presence of Paterson just down the hill. Back in the day, my great-grandfather owned silk mills down by the river, when the whole of Paterson was all Italians coming right off the boat from the mother country, trying to find better lives in this country. The town was full of industry, of mob dealings, and of life.

Eventually, my great grandfather moved out of Paterson, and up to Wayne, which is where most of my family is now. Wayne back then, it was just farms. There were acres and acres of land, untouched since the Dutch first came into the town in the 1700s (my Jersey city born great grandmother used to call Wayne “the sticks”, and hated the town). Barns, old houses, and a few other places were around back in the 1920s- before Rte. 23 was even built.

I always knew this, of course. But it was the pictures in that skinny little book that really kept my attention. In the first section, they had some pictures of the smaller houses that had been around forever. Washington had slept at a few of them, and the colonial troops had used some of the barns as hospitals during certain actions there. Once again, the land was rolling farmland, interspersed with the kind of thick underbrush that forms the woods in the northeast. There were a few battles in this yet untamed land, and more maneuvering and troop movements than most people realize. There is a reason New Jersey is called the “Crossroads of the Revolution”, alongside the other, more inspiring nickname of the “armpit of the country”.

Either way, as I drive the streets of Wayne now, the history is gone. The last time I went down south, to Virginia or Georgia, they have a way of preserving the history. It might be because no one really cares to live there, and so they don’t need the land as badly for housing as we do up here. But there, you can still picture battles being fought in the fields- mostly because not much has changed. But in Wayne, thinking that Washington ever rode through is nearly impossible to picture. There are townhouses everywhere, and where there aren’t townhouses there are neighborhoods, and where there aren’t neighborhoods there are strip malls. Traffic lights, neon signs, Mexican restaurants, bars, banks. So much crowded into such a tight space.

In 1920, there was one bar in the Mountain View section of Wayne. This road was the one they were originally going to make the main street in Wayne, until they figured out that it floods every year, sometimes badly. But right by the border of Lincoln Park, there was one bar, and one train station, and that old book had a picture of it. The caption read that it was “where businessmen and farmers rubbed elbows”, and that it was quite a classy place. I think the building it was in is now a seafood place, still just above where the flood waters peak at after snowy winters and warm, wet springs. The area down there is the flood zone, and the folks that live there mostly working class, some very poor, some just squatting in whatever house they can find empty. When it floods, they get out the small rowboats and get to higher land, and a week after the waters go down you can see piles of garbage lining the streets as they throw out all the garbage that was ruined. There’s a lot of good people down there, even as disreputable as they may be. Washington was there once…

I always seem to carry the burden of History with me. Maybe because I’ve read so much about it, or just that my mind wanders to easily. But once in a while I wish I could the rolling hills and the thick woods, the long blue lines retreating from invading redcoats to fight another day. To see a dirt road instead of a paved one, or feel a breeze that isn’t whipping off some yuppies’ Escalade. Those days are gone though, and all that remains are the ghosts that stare out at you from those old pictures…sometimes, when I get drunk under these lights of Wayne, I stare out at the sky and wonder, if Achilles, Washington, or any other man has looked up at that moon and wondered where we're heading as people, because History is marching on regardless, dragging us down the course that we are destined to lead.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thirsty Thursday

Yeaaa buddy.

Thursday may be my favorite day of all days. Number one, its named for Thor, the Norsk God who had a huuggeee fucking hammer, and used it as much as I would have had I had it. I mean, a day named after a badass like this really should just be a holiday every week, we'll call it the BAMF day (badass motherfucker).

It kind of sucks that the Grasshopper decided to be a bunch of pussies and get rid of dollar beers on Thursday nights, as this was by far my favorite thing to do at night. I dig that bar, mostly because it's not really like the rest of the bars in Wayne. There's a lack of guineas there, which means that those gold chain wearing, open shirted, collar popped pricks are nowhere around (they're all at the Greenhouse). Which is great for me.

Of course, I think they would still have dollar beers if me and my buddies weren't such drunks. I don't think they like the fact that we'd put down a ten or a twenty and buy just as many beers at one time, getting super drunk in a matter of an hour or so. Bad things tend to ensue...and by bad I mean bottle breaking and fight starting (at least). But hey, we fight the good fight, you know?

They even ditched the damn video DJ, which really sucks, because he was awesome. Just like a normal DJ, except besides playing the song, he played the video on a big-ass overhead projector, and it would also play on half the TV's. He'd always play Christina Aguilera's Dirrty video, and that was probably the only time you'd see us all quiet at a bar...there's just something about that video that cannot be put into words. Either that, or that pink thong she wears is really just something to control men's minds and sell more CD's.

Of course, when you can watch that video, and then the next one is some live version of an Eagles song, well, that makes for a kickass night. I guess it's just the natural progression of things, though, because even I had started to get sick of going to the same bar every night. I mean, dollar beers are awesome, but I need a change of scenery once in a while. In a way, I kind of limit myself with my "No Cover Charge" rule, which I generally unequivocally stand by (I don't pay cover charges. Ever. Those bastards should be paying me to be there). It limits me on where I can go, but its better off, because if a place has a ten dollar cover, then I can't afford to drink there anyway. Same goes for fancy clothes; if I can't wear jeans and a t-shirt there, then fuck'em, I'm not going. I know, this is where the hot broads hang out, but man I don't think I could deal with a girl who pays $11 for a drink...or makes me pay $11 for a drink. I could buy a 30 pack of Keystones for that and be drunk all night.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Anyway, music has an incredibly important influence on me when I'm drunk, so that's why that video DJ was awesome. Someone goes and puts on the slow version of "Listen To Your Heart", and all I want to do is slam someone's fucking head into the wall- I mean, way to kill the fucking mood man! Now, if someone throws on some old school GNR, those are fightin' songs, especially Welcome to the Jungle. I'll hit that guy that just bought me a beer, just because that song came on, and its just cooler if you're fighting to it. I think this is written in New Jersey law somewhere, but I could be wrong..."If Guns N' Roses doth come on, though must hitteth thy nearest strangerth". Its one of those old laws from the 1690s I believe, like the ones that ban blowjobs.

The best stuff to put on is the classics- "Paradise City", Billy Idol, "Sweet Home Alabama", Buckcherry, AC/ can't go wrong with good ole wild drinking songs. As long as we stay away from that shit techno stuff, I'm a happy guy, and I'll have no problems with anybody. Except for that fucking DJ at the Greenhouse....if you could see me now, I'm shaking my fist (Billy Idol style) in rage at that fucking bastard...HOW DARE YOU FUCK WITH JOAN JETT!

That DJ...still sucks

Again, again, a-fucking-gain, I have a run in with that shitty DJ at the Greenhouse. This guy is sitting there, butchering songs like its his job, fucking up Joan Jett's I love Rock N Roll, and there I sit, stone sober because I don't have enough money to get a damn drink.

As if this guy isn't bad enough when I'm drunk, he's even worse when I'm not; I can't be nearly as much of a prick when I'm sober because I actually have some sort of a conscience (I don't agree with it, but its not my choice). So I'm getting irritated, and starting to bitch loudly about how bad this guy is (again, just me being a dick, not because of the one beer I had all night), but no one is really paying attention.

The place is crowded with wannabe gangbangers and whores, and I remember right away why I hate this place so much...and of course that is adding to the fire. Just as I'm about to leave, some guido looking douchebag is standing outside having a cigarette talking to some other guy about something...and I make a remark about how much that DJ in there sucks. Sure enough, guido looking douchebag turns and smiles and goes, "Ha, yea right" and then walks back his DJ booth. Now, being as I'm sober, I actually feel bad that I insulted this dude right too his face, and try bullshitting with the other guy that knew him, saying that I dig classic rock and not this techno dance bullshit they play nowadays. It got nowhere.

Now, I feel kind of bad because I insulted this dude right to his face, and he could have been a lot more of a dick about it...yet the moral of the story is, don't play shitty music. Play club music at a club, play rock n'roll at a bar, or else pricks like me will insult you...consistently. If there's any DJ's out there, heed my warning, for it rings true.

On a related note, I've launched a six month JIHAD on the Greenhouse because of this shitty night.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Fuck the Abercrombie Guy

He looks around the room, his teeth bared slightly. He looks from man to man, these men who have been around him for such a long time. They are his people, but they would turn on him on a dime if they were sure they could do so without retribution. Slowly, he turns the ring on his third finger around, to keep the valuable part on the inside of his hand. His eyes search from man to man, looking for the biggest and strongest.

“You slam that fucking fridge?”, he asks the muscular kid who sits at the table, smoking a cigarette.

The kid looks at him bewildered and says, “What are you talking about? I didn’t even open it”.

“So you’re fucking arguing with me now? Is that what you’re fucking doing?”

“No! The fridge wasn’t open! I don't want any troub-"

The kid is cut off as he catches a right cross to the mouth, knocking a tooth out and putting him to the ground. He looks up, enraged, and charges the guy who just hit him. The guy promptly slams the kid into said fridge, and gives him a beating he won’t forget, leaving him a limp bloody pile on the ground.

The guy backs off, yelling, and goes into the bathroom, puking blood immediately. But in between the vomiting, he looks up at the mirror, and smiles a maniacal smile at himself, all the while blood running down from the sides of his mouth. He just proved who was king shit of fuck mountain in that room, and they all know it.

In case you didn’t know, that was the last scene in the Sopranos this week, where Tony Soprano beat a guy half to death, just to prove that he was still top dog in the Mafia. In the mob, any display of weakness is something that can get you killed, no matter how high up you are on the food chain; any tears you shed are the same ones your family will be crying at your funeral.

Is it brutal? Yea it is. However, for all its brutality, there is something that is just incredibly impressive about this to me. Tony Soprano is not one of the masses, he’s the leader. If you cross him, he will kill you, and he won’t give a fuck. I think this is the same reason that people either love him or hate him; he lives how they want to live. He lives outside of all bounds, all laws, and all morality. He does what is best for him and his family, and if you try to take that, you will end up in the ground. He’s got ideas, and if they are followed, everyone in the Soprano crime family will benefit. If you don’t follow them, well, other things happen.

Image hosting by Photobucket

People will call him a brute, a cheater, a killer, and a monster. And yet, any person, I think, if probed about it, secretly admires this character. Isn’t it people like him who built the world? Wasn’t it people like him, the people that Nietzsche would call the ubermensch, that made civilization, ran empires, and caused the landscape of the world to look as it does?

Now I sit here, watching a montage of the first Gatti/Ward fight on the computer. Mickey Ward is cut and bleeding heavily out of his eyes, while Arturo Gatti's eye looks like its swollen shut. This is the famous footage of Round 9, where these two men slugged it out in one of the most brutal, bloody brawls in the history of boxing; it's as close to the Rocky movies as fights can come in real life. I mean, these two fucking guys can't even see what they're swinging at, all they can do is just feel where the other is, and swing for the fences. It's amazing to me to see these two champions, who can barely even hold their arms up, just bang out in hopes that the other drops. This fight stopped being about muscle sometime in the ninth round, and started being about heart.

Image hosting by Photobucket

This, to me, is the pinnacle of what men can do, two guys who are regarded as maybe not the best, but the toughest and most gritty contenders there are, refusing to give up no matter what happens. It seems though that as the athletes break the records that have stood for years, regular men seem now are ghosts of what they once were, beaten down and ravaged by the bullshit that society has placed on us as a whole. I see it everywhere; everything from "sensitivity training" to the massive rise in rates of obesity points me to thinking that men in this country are becoming complacent, fat, sensitive creatures with little to strive for besides a middle management position at some shit company.

What have we become? There was a time once when men were truly men; when it wasn't OK to be "in touch with your feelings", it wasn't OK to be scrawny and weak, and it wasn't OK to be beaten down by life. It was right to be tough, it was alright to not whine about your feelings, and it was understood that life wasn't fair, it never has, it never is, and it never will be.

When was this time? I don't know if we even realized it ended, or when it happened. It probably happened sometime in the last century though, and it was certainly a slow moving process (maybe that's why we didn't catch it). When was it exactly when the model for men is the Abercrombie boy, the skinny runt of a lad who doesn't look like he could kill a bunny, much less kill a deer and eat it?

Why did we lose this masculinity? We are stuck now in a society where violence seems to be completely unacceptable, to the point where there are perennial calls for such things as the UFC to be banned... is the idea of two trained and willing men beating the fuck out of each other now that repulsive? I understand that we claim that we are such enlightened beings as where we should not enjoy this, but I do. There is something both noble and admirable in seeing two guys that are willing to physically kill each other for nothing more than pride. Say what you will about that statement, but it is men like this that have built this world. This is the same reason that I love boxing as much as I do- there is no other sport where it is just two men in a ring, most of whom would rather die than be beaten, and are driven by nothing more than their hearts and an indomitable will to win.

But no, we are no longer in an age where something like this is admirable. Now there are trophies for thirteenth place, and everyone has to love themselves! Well what the fuck ever happened to bettering yourselves? Why is it OK to not strive to be the best? Why do I have to be sensitive to the morbidly obese, to the weak, and to those who would rather roll over and die like a dog than stand up and fight? Most people encounter something difficult, and rather than strive to overtake it, sit back and quit, or, worse yet, feel that they shouldn't have to bother in the first place. This has something to do with the castration of the competitive spirit that guys exhibit, and I don't like it at all. This same spirit that feminists and weaklings will bitch about is the thing that has built the cities, the religion, and modern society as we know it.

There seems to me to be a war against testosterone, in this country especially. A kid shows some fire, and we put them on Ritalin. Just in case they miss one, advertising takes care it later on in life, dumbing men down to the point where they think that a certain car or suit or house is a measure not only of success, but of masculinity. Keep your fancy houses and Lamborghinis...if we meet in an alley, I know I could rip your throat to protect myself, and that comforts me alot more than a car that does 160 MPH.

I don't know where America is supposed to go with this. There are signs all around us- gym classes getting cut, car seats for fatter kids, etc. People are getting complacent and lazy, and the people who were once long ago the hunter gatherers are getting to be the worse. Nothing disgusts me more than a man who, if his family was threatened, is too fat and out of shape to even consider posing a physical threat to the attackers. Maybe this is why I weightlift, or why guys take all kinds of martial arts, or why guys get high off jogging. We are preparing for a war that never seems to come, for a fight that one day will separate us from the fat inert masses, from the peaceful hippies, and will make the feminists ask us again to pick up guns to save their asses. Maybe. Or maybe its just that I never want to be one of those guys, and would rather be the ubermensch, like Tony Soprano, than an accountant in Bergen County. Maybe...

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I was talking to one of the guys I work with today, and he asked me if I was going to Church for Easter.

I told him pretty plainly that there's not much that I despise more than going to Church on Christmas, Easter, and right before you die. If you are going to do it, than fucking do it. If not, then don't think that two fucking days a year are going to make up for 363 days of not giving a shit.

Besides this, I had to explain that me and God are not exactly on speaking terms right now, so it would not be a good thing for me to barge into his house.

The Red Sox won though, so the day wasn't a complete waste.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bar bullshit

Last night was a good time. I haven't let loose like that in...well a week or so. No, honestly its been a while since I was as...uppity as I was last night. I swear to God its these fucking zombies that Bill makes.

Bill is the bartender at a local bar by me, which is actually a Chinese restaurant (its always funny how these bartenders who are right off the boat from China have names like Bill, Chip, or Steve). Its a quiet place, or at least it was until my buddy found out that we could drink there when we were 17. We haven't stopped going there since. By now, I can order half the menu and enough beer to drown a horse, and I get charged 18.75. Its kind of like Chinese Cheers.

Either way, this bastard makes these zombies, which he calls a "mixed drink" and I call a "Cup of drunk". These have the ability to make you insta-drunk, which is damn impressive for a "mixed drink", and if you drink two of'em, then you may wake up in the morning with a fat chick having pissed yourself (I mean, not that I have, but its possible.) Throw in a couple shots of whiskey, and you've got yourself a night worthy of a Kerouac novel. It was a good time. I was pretty shitfaced by about 11, so it was successful. Of course, when I get that drunk, I start trouble.

The only problem with this Chinese place is that they close early- 11:30 on the weeknights. Back when I was underage, it was only this joint and another that I could drink at and not get hassled by some bouncer- the other place is the Greenhouse. I had a thing set up back in the day, as all of us did before we were 21- we'd go pre-game at China P, then go to the Greenhouse afterwards. It wasn't bad for a 19 year old kid who really couldn't go anywhere else.

Even with this storied history, the Greenhouse is a bar that I can barely hide my enmity for. It is the place where good times go to die, and I've avoided it like the plague for a long time. Fights are always interesting, but there's just too many tough guy guineas there with little dicks who've got to prove something. I've literally almost fought guys for telling them to watch out because drinks were coming through...its to the point where I think most of the crowd there has a fucking learning disability.

ME: "Watch out bud, drinks coming through

TOUGH GUY: "The fuck did you say to me?"

ME: "I said watch out."

TOUGH GUY: "Who the fuck you think you're talking to?!"

ME: "Obviously a fucking retard, huh?" I say with a sigh.

They get mad at this kind of thing. The only good thing is that I know a lot of people who frequent the place, so I'm never alone in any situation. Either way, I don't like that kind of shit so much anymore, I've had my licks. Nowadays I just want to hang out and drink.

Anyway, they had a DJ at this shitbox bar, and this guy was a tool. He looked like your typical fag frat boy, a red and white striped collared shirt covering a skinny- fat body, a goofy fuckin haircut that made me want to smack him on principle. Anyway, I walked over towards the door and started bullshitting with the lone bouncer, a mountain of a man who's known by "Mac". He's cool for a coke blowing bouncer...he's always been good to me. I started talking about this DJ, man this guys sucked.

So after hearing that the bouncer agreed with me, I figured, "Fuck this guy". I walked over to his dashboard thing and started fucking around with all the knobs and buttons and everything...and this fella didn't think it was nearly as funny as I did.

"Can I help you?", he asked bitchily.

"Yea. Leave" I said.


"You fucking suck balls. Play Skynyrd or something. Like, you're really fucking bad" (I'm a class act I know.)

I mean, what do you say to that? This guy had nothing good, cause if he did I would've kept mouthing off to him. He was taller, but I could've beat his ass. Part of the moral of the story is that I guess I'm a bully, and one of those guys I hate sometimes, mouthing off to everybody I can. Although, this guy did piss me off, so maybe I was justified. Probably not, but it makes not feel like such a dick. Of course, the fact that all this happened at the Greenhouse takes some of the sting away, because that place is such a shithole and I hate it.

Before I left, I was a gentleman in the bathroom (meaning I pissed on the toilet paper) and broke some thing on the wall that apparently dispenses something. Oh well, here's to drinking.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Drinking again

I'm drinking a little bit. And by "a little bit" I mean LOTS. I'm just kinda chillin' here by the computer, drinking a beer, pregaming for wherever this night takes me.

So being in a contemplative mood tonight, I wonder why writers are so prone to being so very fucked up. I mean, everyone you see that writes decent songs is some kind of fucked up, all my favorite writers and poets were a bunch of drunks, even artists get into the mix once in a while. I wonder why business majors don't drink as would think when the name of your game is "Take what you can and fuck everyone else", you would need a few drinks to sleep at night. But no, its us writers who are half crazy drunks, we who are so often bleeding heart liberals.

I'm not much for information on how the brain works, but I swear we are wired differently than nearly every other person. If you have a fondness for reading literature and writing, than you are guaranteed to be some kind of fucked up, no matter how decent your life is.

I think it is because, as I once read somewhere, we feel life to too much to bear living it. We're so wrapped up in everything that is going on in the world, in the politics and genocides and revolutions and deaths and oppression, that we never can just sit back and enjoy what we've got. We're so goddamn worried about things that seem so far out of control for us....I doubt many businessmen give a fuck about the world's affairs, aside from how it affects oil futures and the price of gasoline.

I remember a teacher of mine saying how much the English teachers in high school drink; "They're at the bar before you, and they're there when you're leaving". So its not just me- we're all nearly beyond comprehension. I can't figure out whether that's good or not.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hope in the Ghetto...For Once?

I was working with this Puerto Rican kid the other day who impressed me alot. He's from Paterson, so I had my thoughts on how he would work out- the last Puerto Rican was a lazy piece of shit. I know him being Puerto Rican has nothing to do with it; its far more about Paterson than any gene in his blood. It irritates me that I judge like this sometimes, but from my experience, people from Paterson don't want to work, they want to sell drugs and be tough guys, mouthing off about how many people they've knocked out or how many times they've been shot (I hate to tell them all that this short white boy would rip the shit out of their skinny tattooed asses, but I figure its not worth the trouble).

This kid impressed me though. He goes to a Catholic school in Wayne, not too mention he's a football player, so he's already better than your average ghetto trash that we normally get at my job. But either way, he's still from Paterson, so you have to be wary. I could tell he's got a head on his shoulders; he certainly is sharper than the other guys they hired this spring. He's about my height, around 5'7, but a lot skinnier and lighter, especially for a football player (maybe 135 soaking wet). Close cut hair, with the sideburns coming to a point like all the guineas like to do now, and he wears a blue and black flannel jacket that at least looks like it adds some mass to him.

He was telling me about just regular shit that goes on in Paterson. It certainly is a different world then Wayne is, and, being as I've never lived in a city, I find all the stories interesting. He mentioned that he just stays away from the blacks (which I've heard from Puerto Ricans before) because they are the ones that start all the trouble.

"You'll be chillin at a basement party, and some ignorant nigger will walk in and go, "Fuck Dominicans and Puerto Ricans". I always tell them to just ignore the fucking kid, and let the shit go away, but then someone mouths off to them, and then there's 20 niggers sitting outside waiting for you, and then fifteen cop cars come. This shit could have been avoided".

I admired this. Normally, guys from P-Town want to run their mouths about being tough, but this kid is the kind that doesn't see a reason for it. He thinks its retarded to fight someone over a hard look, "He didn't give a shit about the look I gave him when it was just him, but now that he's got his boys with him he wants to brawl. That's fuckin retarded".

Like I said, I'm impressed. Not only because he's from Paterson, but because he's only 17. Hell, even now, if someone mouths off to me, we have a problem. This kid's got a cooler head than I do.

What I'm hoping is that he's smart enough to get out of that shithole city, and get into college like he should. I think I'll start mentioning this in passing to him, especially because you never know how long he'll be working with me; guys float in and out all the time. But if I can get this guy to understand that he's got to use that head of his, and get his ass out of Paterson, than I'll be satisfied.

"Just don't ever make fun of my mother", he says. Hey man, no problem. You got my respect.

On the French Riots

I had a disagreement today with a buddy of mine when I stopped into work today, and I really think its indicative of the world today, and the difference in politics in the US and Europe.

He's a worldly kind of guy, or at least he'll tell you he is. But he is pretty bright, as smart as I am at least, maybe even more so in some of the subjects like philosophy and what not. He's farther to the left politically then I am, although he seems to be coming back to Earth a little more every year. We were talking about the riots in France, with the youth showing solidarity against one of the laws that is trying to be passed, the one that says that someone under 25 years old can be fired for no reason within two years.

My buddy was very tentative in what he was saying, mostly about he didn't believe that the guys should be allowed to do this, as it makes people disposable. What I want to know is how people aren't. It works somehow here- why should France be different? I mean, as a lefty, I definitely admire the ideas, the literary works, and the amazing influence of unions on French politics- a stronger labor movement in this country would be a good thing.

However, the French economy is horsefucked. Almost a quarter of the people under 25- my age- are unemployed. All it seems is that the government is trying to make it easier for companies to hire a guy and not worry about having to go to court just in case he's a lazy fuck who doesn't work.

My buddy was telling me that this makes people disposable; well, they fucking are! Not in life in general, of course, but to businesses? Yea. In most businesses, there is one, maybe two guys who are the driving force, the ones who make the business what it is, as strong as it is, etc. The rest tend to just be people that can come and go, and the business will not die. It might not function so well if they were gone, but it certainly won't go under if they are.

And I don't think that this is such a bad thing. Unions have gotten so far away from their original intent that its sad. It is no longer one for all and all for one, no longer that they work hard for the betterment of society, or for the safety of their men. Now, it is that they weld three pipes before lunch, and then have off the rest of the this really what the Molly Maguires envisioned? A bunch of lazy asses beating up non-union guys and working just to make the bosses (only now, the bosses of the unions) richer? Unions don't seem as noble to me as they once did, mostly because, in their struggle for power, they have forgotten their original intent.

My friend says that he isn't too sure of all the issues, but that he admires the solidarity and strength of the French people. On this I agree. This country is too far right, so far to the point where corporations control far more than they need to, to the point where our own government, the government, "By the people, for the people, of the people" is no longer our own, and a stronger labor movement, a stronger Green Party, whatever, would be a great, great thing. Americans are fat and lazy and apathetic, and I admire the outright willingness of the French to fight for what they believe is right, by violence if necessary. Those Americans who call them cowards should take heed of this; these people are ballsy, and they live according to themselves, not us. Any country that can and will stand up to a bloated, imperialist America is OK in my book, and any group of students that can get a whole country, including the Unions, to support them, are heroes. You would be hard pressed, I think, to find an American who would support anything that is outside the realm of what FOXNEWS presents to them, and they certainly wouldn't fight for anything nowadays.

Anyway, I think that the French need something like this law. I don't agree with firing people for no reason, as that's bullshit also; however, I think that France will make an allowance to make jobs a little steadier. And yet, being able to get fired means you work hard. You have to; that's the name of the game. I am all for having a floor that no man can fall below. I am all for helping out the poor, having national healthcare so no one dies needlessly, and for taxing the fuck out of the rich to pay for this. However, there is a fine line between government assistance to those who truly need it, and the government handing out money to those who take advantage of it. I wonder if France has forgotten that....

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Long day today. Worked all day, mostly off about five hours sleep. I was drinking over at the Paris Inn last night, and had a good time, even though I don't really like the place. Too many guidos who think they're in the fucking mob, too many screechingItalian wives with voices that cut glass and shatter diamonds.

But it wasn't bad. Me and Don sat over there and girlfriends, no other people, just me and him and some beer. We've got alot to remininsce about because of the last six years or so...we've done alot of shit. And its been a shindig. I need nights like that once in a while just to drink and bullshit about the stupid crap we've done, as opposed to other nights that get so heavy in drama and drinking and fights. Nah, at the Paris Inn, its a bunch of older folks who seem to have had their fill of life, and they can just hang out. Unlike us younger, more spirited types, of course.

Work went slow. It started off cold, but by around 11 it was pretty damn warm out. I wasn't so much hungover as just outright tired, and that made the morning drag pretty badly. Got some tip money though, and got a decent tan on the arms; this is the start of my farmer's tan, which, in two months, will have me looking Irish on the torso and Mexican on the arms. Nothing like it.

Moved alot of cement today, again, also. This was the second straight day of moving heavy pieces that came in the other day, but I felt fine, surprisingly. I think the powerlifting program I'm on has certainly had its effects- my back and legs feel strong, and there's not much at the yard that I can't lift alone now. I wish I had learned this shit five years ago, because I'd be a fucking bull by now. The fact that I'm only lifting three days a week has helped also, and I'm not so run down on the weekends. Not bad, not bad.

The Sox swept the Orioles today in their series, which is always a plus.

I can feel summer starting to creep in, and its driving me crazy. Five months of frigid temperatures has me so antsy I can't even believe it. The Red Sox are back, baseball is moving, the whether is warming.... It feels good to have my hands have that cracked, fucked feeling from moving cement all day, and to have my lips have that dryness that comes when you smoke too many cigarettes and its just too warm out. It feels good to smell like "Work" again. Feels damn good.

Soon enough...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Drunken Rant

I can't handle this shit. I'm fucking drunk, again, and for some resaon his death is killing me more than it normally does.

I can do nothing more than sit here and cry, like a fucking pussy, about why he's dead. 22 fucking years old, a bodybuilder, and he's fucking dead. Alot of good all that did him.

For me, it seems like he never was here in the first place, like everything was a big dream... he never existed, except in the memories that I'm not sure if I even have...

I guess that is what the mind does, to protect itself. It makes it seem like the shit never happened, and that everything was just a dream , and he was never here in the first place. It was probably easier to do back in the day, when pictures weren't around. For me, I could erase the memory of him easily, like nothing.

But its these fucking pictures that murder me. Its proof that he was here, that he was a living, loving, caring person, before that faithful day when he became a dead bag of bones full of blood, when he became the man that I saw in the casket that day.

I still have dreams, now and again, that he's alive. I've had dreams where he jumped out of the casket, and shook death off, like a bug, and smiled at me, ready to do what we do. I've had dreams that I was talking to him, the day before he died, and I tried to tell him what tommorow would hold- only death. Nothing makes me feel any better.

I wonder sometimes if this is all worth it. If there is no God, then what the fuck am I concerned about? His mother went to a pyshic though, and there was that message, of course, that said, "Tell my mom that I'm OK". For someone less superstitious, that might not have been a bad deal. For me, though, it means the world. Not only does it mean that my buddy is OK, but it means that one doesn't have to be a crazy superchristian to believe that we go to heaven. It means that maybe God judges us on our merits, and what we do in life, instead of what we believe. It means that maybe God is my kind of God, not theirs.

Either way....God help us all.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Once a Catholic...?

The greatest trial in my life has been trying to accept that my life can be changed in a single second. It’s the hardest thing to come to terms with, this crap shoot of the world, but it is the absolute truth. There’s been a lot of changes for me in the last year; I’ve known quite a few people who passed away, some with reason, some without. When you see so much happen, when you see all kinds of people floating through life, only to meet an abrupt, sometimes brutal end, it shatters the things you base your life on. When one can go from a loving, passionate, strong, living, breathing person to a dead bag of bones and blood in a minute…what’s the point?

When I was younger I was a Catholic; between the Irish and Italian in my family, that was certain. I went to Catholic school when I was younger, and went through all the sacraments that one is supposed to in order to get into that strange cult that is organized religion. Maybe I never really believed it, even when I was young; the whole thing sounded pretty far fetched. I used to think, “This guy can turn water into wine? He makes bread for the homeless and starving out of one loaf? There’s lots of homeless around here, and they can’t get a dime from the rich prics who walk by on their cell phones, wearing fur coats, who forgot what it was like to struggle. Where’s Jesus now? Did he get lost on the backroads, or what?”

That was how I thought as a little kid. Yea, I was always a little bitter at the way life turns; complete strangers have told me many times that I’m an “old soul”, as if I’d been here and lived this all before. I was always angry about things that I didn’t understand, things that I had never experienced. I was pissed at things that I knew nothing about, with the cynicism of an old man coming out of my young mind….its like I had seen this all before, on some newsreel in a previous life.

Either way, as life moved on, I had those death experiences that life just wouldn’t be fun without. My grandfather died when I was around 11, and that had a profoundly deep effect on me. By 12 years old, I’d turned completely away from organized religion, and had nothing to believe in. It felt like when you were six or seven and someone telling you that Santa wasn’t real – “Sorry kid, there ain’t no God. We die for no reason, all the time, and there’s nothing that you can do.” Needless to say, by 16, I was drinking, smoking, and had embraced the works of Nietzsche far over the Bible. At least Nietzsche, with all his mad rants, never used smoke and mirrors to make me comfortable…

Eventually, like all good Catholics I guess, I started coming back around a couple of years ago. Church didn’t seem to evil or oppressive, and I was older, a little wiser, a little more together. I didn’t so much believe in it as much as I just didn’t berate those that did believe, which was quite a step for me.

When my buddy died last year, that all changed again. He died in a flash, his life was over as quickly as one could strike a match, in the same fashion as my grandfather- a freaky medical problem where something just blew inside him and there was no saving him. Its ironic I think, because just before he died, my friend seemed to be looking for God again (I used to break his balls, saying that he should worship that Norse Gods of old, being as they were by far the most badass). He was in the midst of a tremendous breakup with his girlfriend, and he felt some kind of calling to get back to thinking about God. Its funny how people always go back to God when life gets difficult, and even more ironic that I turn away completely.

So where do I go with this God business now? I still think most of it is ridiculous, and that the Bible has about as much truth in it as the Bush Administration (that’s not a compliment). But what about God himself? He’s got to be there, somehow, pulling strings, flinging levers, a cigarette in his mouth, ashes in a big white beard, working out the world’s problems, taking this person so that this one will live better, or get stronger, or go insane. It can’t all just be this random.

Depending what day you ask me, I still call myself a Catholic. Most days, I just call myself a philosopher, as if that lets me slink away from having to declare a religion or any belief system. If there is a God though, I’m in deep shit; unfortunately, I’ve gotten ragingly drunk enough times that I’ve cursed off God in ways that would make Cain cringe. Still…sometimes I still wonder if I could curse at Him in Latin, would he actually fucking hear it? Does speaking in the old language make me more important? Because it seems to me any prayers I’ve ever said in English have fallen on deaf ears…..

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

On Bob Dylan

I just began reading Bob Dylan’s autobiography “Chronicles” the other day. As a lifelong Dylan fan, it has always been somewhat frustrating that you could never get a feel on his life, or his thought process, due mostly to his intense privacy. Whatever I thought I knew about Bob Dylan was what came through in his songs, and that wasn’t too much. Maybe the album “Blood on the Tracks” let us in a little bit, but it was enigmatic as it was explanative.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Dylan has reached a point of idolatry to me. As a writer, I’ve never seen anyone be more clear, yet cloudy, at the same time. It makes me wonder how he knew. As I read on, I’ve realized that he was completely self-educated; he learned literature and all sorts of other things from a big library that the folks he lived with had. An awesome mind he has…to live that kind of life, to read all that he’s read without sitting in college, stagnant, for four years. He read during the day, and played music in Greenwich Village at night. Everything was productive that he did, everything was him heading right for his goal of being a giant among not only musicians, but poets. There were no “Development of Math” classes for him, no “Spanish I”. I guess it’s the structure that I have a problem with the most in college. I never feel like four years at Montclair was worth the 20 grand or whatever it costs. I could have learned the same from a library, and a hell of a lot cheaper.

I appreciate the writing classes, and some of the English classes. For a writer, I never write when someone isn’t making me. I guess that’s a bad thing, but when I do write, the shit dumps out onto the page like I spilled a pint glass. I don’t know if all this was worth the four years…I could be working, living on my own, and then have had a whole different set of experiences. Isn’t that what a writer needs- experience? College isn’t the experience that it is for the college kids who are lucky enough to have mommy and daddy foot the bill for everything. Yea, my parents paid for college. But that’s mostly because I pay for my car, and its insurance, and a couple other things…which has totaled about 20,000 in the last two years. There’s nothing like working your balls off 35 hours a week during school, so you can pay for a truck that you regret getting and for a degree that isn’t going to assure me of anything other than the fact that I now have a lot of fancy books that I’ll probably never grab again. In a way its good, because I’ve gotten to have some pretty good times in my hometown, drinking and fighting and fucking around, that I wouldn’t have had had I not been here. Of course, I wonder what life holds on the outside of this town, and I wonder if I’ll ever find out.

Its funny how Dylan never writes about writing his songs. Not a word. I love that. Because I don’t want to know how he wrote them- I already know. That was simply his soul on paper. But its his experiences that I envy. He lived in New York City for years, back when there was just a concentration of some amazing minds. The beat writers, the folk musicians, the leftists, the politics, what a scene they had going on back then. It seems like now all people do is watch American Idol and other bullshit shows, shows which simulate reality for people instead of making them go out and live their own. I wonder what Dylan Thomas would think about reality TV.

If I was out living, like Dylan was, would I be happy? Maybe. Probably happier than a guy who is run down from breaking his ass for four years with little to show for it. I value experience way above degrees. I’d be a great writer whether I came to MSU or not. Would I have been better had I never come at all? Or would I end up like an uncle of mine, who played the drums incredibly but never played in a band…only in the basement, where no one ever heard him besides those that didn’t care…

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cold Stone Yard

My hands are shot. They are cracked, scarred, and broken up from years of working with cement and stone. They have thick calluses on them, sometimes which get to be a half inch thick in the summer; I never need to wear gloves, because I never feel anything on them anyway. You can always tell a guy who works outside doing heavy labor- his hands are rugged and scarred, and his cigarette packs are always crushed. I’ve called out a couple construction workers before they even opened their mouths because of these two things, and I’ve never been wrong.

I was going to write about a time at my job when some hot headed Italian asshole wanted to fight me over a parking space. I was going to write about how he used every curse he knew to try and intimidate, and about how a couple buddies of mine of ill repute began walking up behind him with bricks in their hands. I was going to write about it…but there was no fight, so I couldn’t see the point of explaining it all just to have an anticlimactic ending. Plus I just worked a 13 hour day pushing rocks and shoveling shit with a couple guys who have been arrested more times than either of them can count. That means I’m tired, and everyone will have to deal with that.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Anyway, I hate my job. Sometimes. When I get a nice size tip, or realize the crazy experiences I’ve had because of that place, I dig my job. But mostly I hate it. It’s a ball breaking job that rips the muscles off your bones and makes your back feel like a box of rocks at the end of the day, for mostly little money. It’s not a union job, there are no paid holidays, and you don’t get a raise every year…it’s certainly not the most entertaining thing I could be spending my time on.

For a while it was tolerable when my buddy was alive, but he’s long gone now. With his death, everything there changed; my other close friend couldn’t deal with the strain of working there anymore after such an event, and so for the last year, it’s been me alone. Yea other guys work there, but I am proverbially alone. I have been there for 6 years, I’m one of the older ones, and I am a veteran; a lot of responsibility is on my shoulders. At least, for a couple years, I got to share that responsibility with my buddy, as he was a dependable guy who would rather lead guys than follow. Again, though, it is just me left here.

I guess I should mention that I work at a stone yard, which is part of a large garden center. I used to enjoy the work more when I was younger, and I didn’t need the job. There was something about being a kid working a hard ass blue collar job that seemed cool to me, working with truck drivers, with blacks from Newark, with white trash from the trailer park. I felt akin to these guys, to these working fellas. They’re never the brightest, or the strongest, or the guys who were at the head of the class. No, they were the troublemakers, sometimes the drunks, many times the inmates. But they were good guys. Most of them would have taken a baseball bat to your head just because I told them too, or would jump the fence and run to Drug Fair and get me cigarettes when I was 16. If they didn’t know you, they would fuck you over quicker than you could blink, and after shaking their hand you’d better make sure your rings were all there. But they were good guys. They are good guys. I felt like the Bob Seger song that Chevy has butchered: “I was eighteen/ Didn’t have a care/ Working for peanuts/ Not a dime to spare/ But I was lean and/ Solid everywhere/ Like a rock.” Might sound corny, but damn was it true. Leaning on a couple pallets of stone, smoking a cigarette in the thousand degree summers, driving a forklift both underage and still drunk. It was a better time than it sounds like on these pages, and it brings a smile to my face.

For those couple of years that my buddy Ryer worked there, I got spoiled. He was a big guy, a bodybuilder type, and he was on my side. If there was an argument in the yard, everyone knew that if you fought one of us, you’d have to fight the other. No one crossed that line. It was a good feeling, to have someone else to take charge once in a while when I was too drunk on a Saturday morning, or to take a delivery out when I was sore from lifting rocks all day. Sometimes you need a break from having one look to you for the answer, of from having to break the balls of those that are so lazy they can barely hold this shit job. It was good once in a while.

After he died, I hated that place. The building seemed to put off an evil aura, as if was laughing at me from behind its brown walls- “You will be here forever! You will not leave, you will not get a better job, you need me!”. I guess it sounds a bit strange to look at a building like that, but it was a damn depressing place after he died. The cold winter followed, changed into spring and summer, and then winter again. It did not get much better.

However, the impossible dream was realized for me a month ago, as I’d gotten a job at a liquor store in my hometown. I was thrilled. Closer to home, less heavy work, not too mention it’s indoors. I had it made in the shade brother. Then, the first day came.

I realized that day that liquor stores are possibly the most boring job in the history of jobs. Everyone is quiet, except for the useless banter between cashier and customer. The managers are nice, but flavorless. They go through the motions, get their jobs done, and say little about anything. The guys I work with are so worried about losing their seven dollars an hour that they rarely mutter anything aside from a greeting. The worst part is, of course, that I’m the only smoker. You would think that at a liquor store, there’d be more smokers working there, at least for the fact that it, too, is a shitty job, and a cigarette is always an excuse for a five minute break. But no, everyone else there is on the straight and narrow, collared shirts, healthy looking, smiling once in a while, all the while pulling bottles of whiskey to the front of the shelf, moving wine bottles from shelf to shelf. I wanted to burn that place down within the first hour.

I got to the garden center today at about 10 in the morning. I knew that I wouldn’t be home until at least 10 that night, and would be doing backbreaking work for at least 5 of those hours.

And as I sat there, having my morning Marlboro and drinking my coffee that was painfully short of sugar, I looked across that icy, windswept parking lot. Somehow, this place, this yard, the beat up yellow forklift with its rusty 80 lb. chains, the curses scrawled on the walls in the warehouse, it has changed me. At the liquor store, I feel like a caged animal, dying inside those four walls (so ironically filled with booze. Ironic for me, at least).

These things from the stone yard, my boss’ stories, the broken pieces of pavement, the old propane shed with enough rust to scare the Titanic, they are ingrained in me. I swear like a truck driver- at the liquor store I sound like a cretin; at the garden center, I sound like everyone else. If you don’t smoke at the garden center, you are in the minority, if you can call two people a minority. If you’ve never been arrested, then you may as well find another job, because we like’em a little crooked.

For the next month, I will work at the liquor store, seething at the walls that keep me in. And when I can get my hours back at the garden center, that liquor store will never see me again. Because for as much as I hate it sometimes, that place carries the memories of years for me, in every square foot, in every old pallet. So, inevitably, I will keep working out there in the sun, at least for a couple more years and enjoy, as an old friend used to say, my “office with a really big fucking window”. And one day, when I’m old and gray after I’ve quit smoking and after life’s lost its thrill, and those hot days come around, I know I’ll reminisce about that place, and that powerful mixture of strength and grit that I felt when I worked there. Maybe I’ll even look down at my hands, and remember how strong they used to be, and how thick the skin got in the busy seasons, the product of 50 hours a week and some heavy rocks. And I will miss it.

New Jersey

I sit here on Sunday night. The Sopranos just ended, with all of its pictures and images of New Jersey. Satriales’, Pizzaland, the Turnpike. Belleville. Elizabeth. Caldwell. All are my home. I really do love New Jersey. The streets on that show are those streets I’ve been on for years, since before I can remember.

Now I’m watching WLIW, which I didn’t know was still on TV. There is a Bruce Springsteen concert on from 1976, but the asshole commentator just cut out after “Backstreets” and started yapping about how Bruce Springsteen has always supported public radio, and how I should too. Fuck you commentator. I need cigarettes tomorrow, and viewers like me need to have our priorities straight.

But I tell you, this damn documentary they are selling is really interesting. I might buy it later, although certainly not from them. I see The Boss on TV, bathed in red from the stage lights, singing wildly. He’s playing the opening lines to Born To Run, and he looks like a goddamn hobo. He’s got one of the knit hats that you would think Jamaicans wear, and he looks like he hasn’t shaved in about four weeks. The sleeves on his shirt are rolled up, showing off arms that make a heroin addict look like a bodybuilder, and half the buttons are undone anyway. What a skinny bastard.

He’s got the look of a crazed gypsy, with one big hoop earring in his left ear, howling out the words of my theme song: “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive…”.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The song brings me back to the days when I was about seventeen, and all kinds of torn up about some girl who wasn’t worth all the whiskey I drank over her. I used to drive around, with my black truck, waiting for my buddies to get out of work, or give me a call, just searching for something interesting to do. I was pissed, always pissed, about that girl, but I could always drink until I couldn’t remember what she looked like. Unfortunately, that wasn’t a cure for my pure boredom on some of those nights. I would drive around Wayne, looking for guys I knew, looking for other trucks to race, looking for a little S-10 or some crappy Ranger that I could smoke.

I used to listen to Bruce Springsteen all of the time. Back then, I listened more to his earlier stuff, when he was a goofy hopeful kid. Songs like Born to Run, She’s the One, or Rosalita; songs about going down the shore, about hope, about living. About being out on the streets, about racing, about being a kid growing up in NJ. It really is a different place to grow up then anywhere else. You are so close to the shore, to New York City, to the Giants, to the roads, to the centers of towns. I always felt like I was on the cusp of something tremendous when I was a young kid speeding around Wayne and Little Falls and Pequannock. I think that we all did. Always another party in some other town, always something to do, always one step away from the coolest night any of us could ever remember. Sometimes, we would just find a house in Butler or Pompton that had a lot of cars in the driveway, and looked like a party, and just send a couple guys in. Eventually, most of us could end up in the house, drinking their beer, all while having no idea whose house we were in. Then we’d try to steal the keg or something and then get into a fight. Yea, we were those guys.

It all feels a bit different now. I’m not 18 anymore; I’m an aged 22. Still a dumb fuck of a kid, I guess, but things are a little stranger now. I haven’t only been smoking for a year anymore- I’ve been smoking for six (and sometimes I cough like I have been for twenty). Sometimes, when I listen to Springsteen, I identify more with songs like Born in the USA; I’m ten years burnin’ down the road, nowhere to run, nowhere to go. I worry sometimes that this college shit isn’t going to do anything for me, and I’m still going to end up driving a forklift on the docks, or pushing rocks and shoveling shit like I have been for so many years already. I dread starting out like so many other men I’ve known, having insane dreams and wonderful aspirations, only to end up working for a union or at some other shit job breaking my ass just to support a family that came too soon.

As I watch Springsteen rumble on that stage though, mumbling his words like Bob Dylan used to with his eyes closed most of the time, I think that I might have a shot. I think that when the Boss was sleeping in a warehouse in Asbury Park, writing these songs that would one day make him millions, he knew what he had to do. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a great writer to rise from the swamps of Jersey, like a phoenix, like Springsteen did in that dark decade that was the 70s, like Rocky rose from the streets of Philadelphia. Maybe, he can triumph over his own misgivings and fears about being starving, homeless, and without cigarettes. Maybe.

Or maybe I should just stay on that forklift.