Entries from March 1, 2011 - March 31, 2011


March 31, 2011

We’ve been to Penn Station quite a few times since I started MAD, so I thought tonight we’d take a trip to its Terminal sister on the east side, Grand Central Terminal and see what’s going on over there after dark.

We'll walk straight up 7th Avenue to Times Square and catch the shuttle train.

The "S" marks the spot.

And here we are, there's a good-sized crowd which is great, it means a train should be here soon.

And baboom! Here it is, the shuttle. A true Charles Susty moment!

The ride to Grand Central is just a couple of minutes.

See, we're here already, let's make our way to the main concourse.

This guy was singing opera at the end of the track. It was kind of creepy and made me feel like a bit player in "Silence of the Lambs." Time to move on.

Here we are, the main concourse, the heart of Grand Central.

People in motion.

The information booth in the center of the Concourse is a well-known attraction.

As is the clock above it. It's 10:40, do you know where your children are?

Here's some people camped out on the stairs.

This fellow is really absorbed into his text machine. So much so that he...

Can't see the fucking sign right in front of him telling him he's not supposed to be sitting there texting his asshole texts.

This guy didn't get the memo about not sitting on the stairs either and he's going to be there for a while it seems. It looks like he's reading "War and Peace!" That's okay, don't get up, I'll just walk around you...asshole.

Let's go check out the Dining Concourse and maybe get a drink or something.

Speaking of drinks, here's the famous Oyster Bar. Sadly it was closed. And it's not even 11:00 pm! Sheesh! What happened to the city that never sleeps?

And this place already has its chairs up.

Okay, okay...

I get the message. I guess the Dining Concourse is more of a lunch spot.

I like the back of this chair.

Well, well, well. It looks like our friend is done with "War and Peace" and is now hypnotized by his iPhone.

And so is this guy.

Him too, it's starting to feel like a night of a thousand zombies in here...

Time to join in the people in motion...

And get back to where we once belonged. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

Grand Central Terminal
89 East 42nd St. @Park Ave.

Further reading: Google Timeline, New York Architecture, New York Magazine and Time.

Eight Other Grand Things

Grand Piano
Grand Canyon
Grand Theft Auto
100 Grand Candy Bar
Grand Ole Opry
Grand Magazine
Grand Jury
Fred Grandy


Oh baby, come here quick,
That old cocaine’s about to make me sick.



March 30, 2011

Tonight I’m going to write about my favorite summer of all time, the summer of 1967. But before that, I’ve decided to go to 1967 Broadway. No, I don’t have a time machine, I mean the actual address and see what’s there and take a few photos. Alright Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 1967!

Here we are, let's go find 1967 Broadway and see what it is today.

We're close, here's 1965 Broadway, it's the next door down, let's see what 1967 looks like in 2011.

A Pottery Barn. A little disappointing, but then we are on the Upper West Side. Let's see what the address looks like.

They don't have the address up! What a fucking gyp! Oh well, I'm going home to write my story and then we'll get a glimpse of 1967.


I’ve always loved the summer, especially when I was a kid. School was out and you had three glorious months of freedom and warmth. My favorite summer of all time was the summer of 1967. I was nine-years-old.

The experience I remember the best about the summer of 1967 was that our family took a vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was a great vacation. I remember swimming in the ocean for the first time and running on the white sandy beach outside of our hotel room. The skies were blue, the air was sweet and warm and I didn’t have a care in the world. We were in Florida for a week and while we were there my brother Jim celebrated his 11th birthday on Sunday, June 11th. We had a little party in one of the hotel rooms we were staying at and he opened his gifts. I can only remember one of his birthday presents, but it was a doozy.

It was the last gift he opened and it was slim and square, the size of a record album. We both knew what it was before he tore the wrapping paper off. On June 1st, 1967, The Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” and it was the only thing he wanted for his birthday. I was just as excited as he was. The Beatles were our favorite group and we had heard that this was the best thing they had ever done. We had already heard snippets of songs on the car radio and they sounded magical. It soon became the soundtrack for what history would call the “Summer of Love.”
There was no record player in the hotel room, so we had to be content with just looking at the album cover. But there was enough on that cover for us to absorb and study till we got home. The front was a psychedelic collage of faces, wax figures, marijuana plants, a doll with a note to The Rolling Stones on it and The Beatles themselves in the center of all of it wearing colorful, military outfits. A big bass drum was emblazoned with the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band logo. They had moustaches and instead of guitars they were clutching horns and strange instruments. The wax figures were the old “mop-top” Beatles looking like they were at their own funeral and in a way they were. Some of the faces we recognized on the cover were Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, Bob Dylan and Tony Curtis. The note to the Rolling Stones said, “Welcome the Rolling Stones, Good Guys.” Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had been arrested earlier in the year on drug charges. The times they were indeed changing.
The back of the album cover had all the lyrics printed on a backdrop of red and a portrait of The Beatles decked out in their Sgt. Pepper gear. We read the lyrics to songs we couldn’t yet listen to. There was Billy Shears who got high with a little help from his friends. We were introduced to Lucy in the sky with diamonds, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes. There was a benefit for Mr. Kite and the Hendersons would all be there. Lovely Rita was a meter maid who wore a cap and the bag across her shoulders made her look a little like a military man. In the last song, “A Day in the Life,” we learned that The Beatles would love to “turn us on.” I guess they didn’t know that they already had.

As soon as we got back home from our vacation, we took the album out of the sleeve and put it on our parents fake wooden stereo console and put the needle on the vinyl. The act we’d known for all those years and all the other characters from Pepperland came to life and we played it over and over.
About a week after we got home from Florida, the Monterey Pop Festival happened. It was the first rock and roll festival and it lasted for three days in June of 1967. I remember looking at photos of it in Life and Time magazine and wishing I could’ve been there. Images I remember from the Monterey Pop Festival include Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire, The Who smashing their instruments, Mama Cass in the crowd gaping wide-eyed at Janis Joplin on stage belting out a tune like no one had heard before, Mickey Dolenz dressed up as an indian and kids dancing with their faces painted, long hair flowing and openly smoking pot. I was pissed that I was only nine-years-old and wasn’t able to go, but I remember looking at those photos and being filled with optimism and hope that when I got older, everything would be different. Everything would be better.
All summer long we played Sgt. Pepper and it was the best summer of my life. I’ve never felt so hopeful and anxious for the future to come and I know I’ll never feel like that again in my life.
1967 drifted into 1968 with rallying cries from those under thirty for a revolution that never happened. In 1969 Woodstock morphed into Altamont and the hippie dream turned into a Helter Skelter nightmare.
On May 4th, 1970 at a protest rally over the Amercian Invasion of Cambodia at Kent State University, Ohio National Guardsmen sprayed 67 rounds of ammunition at the protesters and killed four of them and wounded nine others. One would go on to suffer permanent paralysis. By then I was twelve-years-old and watching that on the nightly news sent a chill right down my soon to be teenaged spine. It drained any optimism out of me that was left over from that magical summer of 1967. The really sad thing is the fact that two of the students that were shot to death weren’t even involved with the protest. They were just walking from one class to another and got caught in the line of fire. I realized then that the future had bullets and if you didn’t do what you were told or if you had the balls to question authority, you might take one right between the eyes. Millionaire rock stars singing about revolution seemed a little naive and silly all of a sudden.
Nobody can really say for sure when the ‘60’s ended. Most people acknowledge sometime in the early ‘70’s. Writer Hunter S. Thompson eulogized the ‘60’s free spirit vibe in his nerve-jangled novel, “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas.” I think it’s one of his finest pieces of writing, here it is:
“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run...but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant...

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket...booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change)...but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that...

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda...You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

—Hunter S. Thompson from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

There will never be another summer like the summer of 1967. It came and went like a cool breeze and it didn’t last long enough. I’m sure happy I got to live through it and in some small way be a part of it. The song is over, but the memory lives on in an unending fadeout groove.
Further reading: Wikipedia, Internet Sgt. Pepper’s, NPR and the NY Times.

Seven Other Albums That Came Out In 1967
Younger Than Yesterday by the Byrds
Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane
The Velvet Underground & Nico by The Velvet Underground
Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Something Else by The Kinks
Clambake by Elvis Presley

There's battle lines being drawn,
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.



March 29, 2011

Okay, time for round 7 of the Papaya Wars! A couple of weeks ago I went to the Papaya King on the Upper East Side. They’re the original Papaya King and have been on the block for close to 80 years. If you’ve been following the Papaya Wars, you’ll remember I came here a couple weeks ago. I thought it was open 24 hours like the rest of the Papayas, but was saddened to find it closed. It turns out they close at midnight during the week and are open till two in the morning Friday and Saturday. The next day I put up a tweet on Twitter saying I was sad that this place was closed when I got there. A little later on in the day, this tweet hit the Twitterverse:

It was the King himself, apologizing! I thought that was nice, so I agreed to give the Papaya King a second chance. I’m getting out of work earlier tonight, so I should be able to make the 12:00 pm deadline. Onwards to the King!

Let's hail a cab and head up to the Upper East Side.


And here we are. Deja vu, let's see if they're open and maybe have a deja chew.

The door's are open, time for tonight's Papaya Wars to begin. Banzai!

"A Tropical Oasis in the Concrete Jungle." Sounds good to me, it's still freezing cold out here.

Okay, tonight we find out if this is just a boast or fact from The King.

The counter here is long and sparkling clean. Let's check out the dogs.

They look good here and the aroma is doggidly delightful in here.

And here Amzad serves up a Papaya drink and a dog. Amzad's the manager here and has worked for the King since 1996. He says it's a great place to work. I have to admit, this is the friendliest Papaya I've been in yet. let's try the dog and the drink. If you recall the last Papaya drink I tried didn't go down too smoothly.

We'll camp out over here, this place really is the cleanest Papaya I've ever seen.

Here's my dog and I ordered the orange drink from advice from my friend and co-worker, Joey D. They don't have beer here, but this time I came prepared...

Say hello to my little friend! I poured this into the Orange Papaya drink and a new drink was given birth to: "The Screwdrapaya." Both the dog and drink were delicious, good call, Joey D! Sorry there's not an ATM shot in here, I'll try tomorrow.

They have some great vintage photos of the place. Here's one from 1955, hot dog history!

Here's a shot of the counter back in 1950.

The King has been in this same spot since 1932. I found out from Twittering with the King that the Beatles ate here on their first trip to New York.

And if you're a Seinfeld fan you'll remember the King was a guest star on one of the episodes.

Here's the script on the counter.

Here's a shot of the Papaya King from the '70's. I wonder if Travis Bickle ever ate here?

My patented Ebony and Ivory Papaya shot, this time with brand names. No generic condiments at the Papaya King!

One last glance out the window and time to end this week's battle of the Papaya Wars.

And I'm happy to testify that yes, they are tastier than filet mignon! Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

This Week's Papaya Wars Standings. As always the rankings go from worst to the best.
6. Hell’s Kitchen Papaya: Because it’s not there anymore.
5. Chelsea Papaya: It’s clean, people were nice in there, but there’s no beer.
4. Gray’s Papaya on the Upper West Side: It brings back good memories and the signage is nice, but there’s no beer here and I don’t know if I’ll ever get that horrible taste of the papaya drink out of my mouth or mind.
3. Papaya Dog at 14th and 1st: The staff is super-friendly, it’s clean and the hot dogs are great there. However, they robbed me of my patented Ebony and Ivory ketchup and mustard shot! War is hell.
2. Penn Station Papaya: They’ve got beer!
1. Papaya King on the Upper East Side: They’ve got vodka...okay, you’ve got to bring it yourself and sneak it in, but still, this is the original Papaya King in New York City. They've been in the same spot on this block since 1932. The Beatles ate here on their first trip to New York when they appeared on the The Ed Sullivan Show. So does this put the King in first place for now? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

There’s still a few more Papayas in town to check out in this hot dog battle, so stay tuned to the Papaya Wars here every Monday, exclusively at MAD and see if the King can hold on to his crown!
Papaya King
179 E. 86th St. (Near Third Ave.)

Further reading and watching: Grub Street, High Beam, Papaya King TV and The King on Twitter.

Six Hot Dog Blogs
The Hot Dog Blog
Hot Dog Blog
The West Virginia Hot Dog Blog
The Hot Dog I Ate
I Am An Amercian And I Eat Hot Dogs
Hot Dog Spot

I swear I'll never give in,
I refuse.



Bonus Jaws Art!

Jaws sent in his artwork depicting his dream cab. Send that thing out here, Jaws!


March 28, 2011

Okay, I’ve decided to dedicate Sunday nights to independent businesses. The only problem with this is that a lot of them close early on Sundays. So Sunday’s will be the rare MAD experience that occasionally starts in the early evening hours before it’s actually dark out. My two favorite kind of stores are bookstores and record shops, so we'll be seeing a lot of them on Sunday's. This week I’m going to a cool little record store on Bleecker street called, Rebel Rebel.

Ack! The brightness...it's all too much!

Check out this store on 14th Street. It's called, NYC Candy. Yet...

They don't sell candy! Now I don't know about you, but...

I want candy!

Private hooker joke between Biff and I alert: Ah, the Karavas Tavern, spanks for the memories!

Okay, we're on Bleecker, just a few blocks till we get to Rebel Rebel.

Speaking of hookers, this place is a real meat market. (Rimshot.)

And here we are, Rebel Rebel. The store's named after this David Bowie tune.

You don't even have to go inside to shop here.

But let's go in, it's freezing as fuck out here. Where is spring?

Okay, I went in and met the owner (I think he was the owner.) He was a real nice guy, but couldn't seem to understand what I was doing and why. He told me I could take a couple pictures. I told him I really needed to take more and he told me a couple would be enough. And again, he was being super-nice about it, so I asked if I could take ten and he said I could take five. Here's the thing, I don't know much about photography (other things I don't know much about: History, biology, algebra and no, I don't know what a slide rule is for) so usually I take about sixty photos and out of those I'll get about twenty good ones. So I'm really feeling the pressure here to get five decent ones in a row. Here's number one: A full shot of the shop. There's tons of records and CD's in the small shop.

There's a nice selection of rock and roll magazines in here, Mojo magazine is great!

This shot kind of sucked, I'm really feeling the pressure here.

A stack of Rebel Rebel shirts on top of a pile of albums.

The back wall has tons of magazines with Madonna on the cover. That's it, my five picture deal is done. I feel I did the best I could under the circumstances. Please don't rag on this place in the comments, it's a great store, the owner is just a little camera shy. If you're ever in New York, you should check it out.

I found a German import of "The Who Sell Out," one of my favorite records of all time. Since I bought something the owner agreed to one more photo and even took it himself. Squeezed an extra photo out of him! I felt really good about that. Yes, this is what my life has been reduced to!

And the sun has set. Look to the right of this photo for a reminder that the stupid-ass all-important Papaya Wars continue tomorrow, exclusively here at MAD! Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

Rebel Rebel
319 Bleecker St. (Near Grove St.)

Further reading: New York magazine, nycgoth, Turntabling and the Village Voice.

When I was a kid Sunday nights meant three things: School was starting the next day, my homework was never done and Ed Sullivan was on TV that night. Here’s five great Ed Sullivan moments via YouTube. You can only watch these if you've done your homework!
The Beatles
Richard Pryor
Topo Gigio
Plate Spinning
Senor Wences

 The Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal are mine to see on clear days,
You thought that I would need a crystal ball to see right through the haze.



March 27, 2011

Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night Cheeseburger! Tonight’s host is Whitmans in the East Village and featuring the ready for prime beef player, Marty Wombacher. Ladies and gentlemen...Whitmans!

And here we go down Fifth to 9th, hang a left and off we go to the East Village.

Oh jeez, this fucking poster is going to start haunting me. A second after I shot this photo a voice behind me shouted out, "There'll never be someone who can play Arthur like Dudley Moore." I spun around and agreed with...

This fellow, Metal Mike. We had a nice chat about movies, Paul Giamatti and New York. That's one of the things I like about doing this blog, all the different people you meet. Okay, onwards towards the cheeseburger, I'm starvin' like Marvin over here!

And here we are at Whitmans. I hope it's not crowded in here.

And look at this, not crowded at all. It's unseasonably cold out and I think a lot of people stayed home tonight. All the better for us!

I decided to start out with a can of Genesee and Claire behind the counter was happy to serve it up. Cheers!

There's tables next to the brick wall on one side.

But I opted to sit at the marble topped counter facing the white tiled wall on the other side of the room.

Here's a shot of my view from where I was seated.

The place is named after writer Walt Whitman, here's a drawing of him on the brick wall.

Guests are welcome to draw portraits of Walt which Whitmans will hang up. Here's one hanging in the back. Note the tin ceiling, nice!

Rose was working downstairs, but made a trip upstairs and I snapped a photo of her showing off the tip jar. If you eat here, throw something in here, the staff is nice and deserves it.

And before you know it, Mick shows up with tonight's meal. Let's check it out.

This looks like one tasty cheeseburger. And the orange coloring at the top isn't the cheese it's mustard. The cheese is...

In the middle of the burger. Oh my God, I think this is the best cheeseburger I've ever had!

Afterwards I decided to check out the lower level of Whitmans.

It's dark and the walls are a wooden brown down here. Kind of a romantic setting.

Speaking of romantic, here's a couple that's making out down here. Let's give them a little privacy and go back upstairs.

Here's Claire with Alex, I thanked them for the great service and cheeseburger and...

Glanced out the window and wished spring would get here. It was a chilly walk home. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

My Meal
I had the specialty of the place, The Juicy Lucy, along with an order of homemade potato chips. For a beverage I had three cans of Genesee beer. The Juicy Lucy is a cheeseburger with the cheese stuffed inside of the burger, supposedly this was invented at one of two bars in Minneapolis. At Whitman’s they stuff it with pimento cheese, and add carmelized onions, lettuce, tomato and a special sauce. The homemade potato chips were also very tasty. Everyone that works here is super-friendly in a genuine way and it's a cozy little cheeseburger emporium with table and counter seating upstairs and a dining room downstairs. if you followed the 365 blog and have been following this one, you know I've been to a lot of cheeseburger places in the last 14 months. Well, I'm declaring their Juicy Lucy as the best cheeseburger I've had so far. It is the cheeseburger to beat and the one which all future cheeseburgers will be judged by. You have to check it out. I’m instituting a new rating system here at MAD for Cheeseburgers. It goes from one Wimpy (poor) to four Wimpy’s (delicious!)

MAD Cheeseburger Rating For Whitmans:

406 E. 9th St. (Near 1st Ave.)

Further reading: Grub Street, Serious Eats, MenuPages and God Bless Burgers.


An on-going Twitter conversation between the King and I.

Find out what the King suggested, this Monday at the Papaya Wars!


A couple weeks ago Fat Al, one half of the fine team over at The Half Empty Glass, wrote a post about a company that names its bottled water, Fred. That is a really stupid name for a bottle of water. But it got me thinking about other names that would improve with the inclusion of the name, Fred. And so here a list of a band, a hairstyle, a movie and a shoe product that would all sound better if they incorporated the word “Fred” into their respective names.
Fred Zeppelin

My, my the clock in the sky is pounding away,
There’s so much to say.



March 26, 2011

Okay, if you remember from last week, the movie, Fear Strikes Out, struck out on us in the bottom of the fifth (beer.) I put it in my Netflix queue and it has dutifully arrived, so we’ll pick up where we left off. As always this film is presented in MartyVision using as few stills as possible to tell the story.  Lights, camera...play ball and go nuts! (Click here to see part one.)

Further reading and watching: Karl Malden Obituary in LA Times, Anthony Perkins Obituary in the NY Times, 1958 Anthony Perkins interview with Mike Wallace and What’s My Line.

The top five movies in my Netflix queue. Click on the title to watch the trailer from each movie.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Ed Wood
Reflections in a Golden Eye
The Matador
The Party

I love their "Mr. Blue Skies."
Almost my favorite is "Turn to Stone."

And how 'bout "Telephone Line?”
I love that E.L.O.



March 25, 2011

One thing that amazed me last year while doing my 365 bar trek was how people reacted when I approached them and asked to take their picture for the blog. Before I started, I thought maybe fifty percent would say yes. I was pleasantly surprised that it was usually closer to ninety percent saying yes. At first I dreaded walking up to strangers and asking to take their picture, but after a while, I got used to it and I enjoyed it.

This led me to think of an idea for MAD to do occasionally, instead of approaching several people for a photo, I’m just going to approach one person and ask to take twelve photos of that person’s face.
If they agree, I’m going to call out different emotions and words for the person to react to. I’m going to call this, “Extreme Close-Up.” Let’s go see if I can pull this off.

Goddamn, it's cold out here again tonight, where are you spring?

It's kind of deserted out tonight, I guess people are pissed that spring has refused to be sprung on this city and they're staying inside.

Oh no. I guess I should thank them for the warning.

I think I'll cut over here and go to Union Square Park, there's always people there.

Okay, here's Union Square Park, let's go to the other side where the steps are, kids are always hanging out over there.

Jesus creeping Christ, it's empty over here and it's not even 10:30! Come on people, work with me!

I was going to ask this guitar guy, but I went over and he seemed to be stoned out of his gourd really into his music, so I didn't want to bother him.

Okay, here we go! This competitive chess player's name is C and he wasn't camera shy at all. He agreed to be the first person to play, "Extreme Close-Up" on MAD. The idea here is to get C to look directly in the camera and then I'm going to throw words out and have him mirror them with his expressions. Here we go!

Happy. (I wanted C to look directly in the camera, but after repeated requests, I gave up I thought maybe this was a better angle anyway.

Sad. (Not too much different than happy, but hey, what are you going to do?)

Confused. (He's still not looking at the camera, but he's getting into it a little more.)


Charlie Sheen.

Emilio Estevez. (This prompted C to look away even further from the camera and say, "Man, I don't even know who she is!" I figured this was a good time to end this first edition of, "Extreme Close-Up." Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark!)

Extreme Close-Up—Epilogue
Okay, I admit, this exercise could’ve gone a little better. Part of it was me, maybe I should’ve given C a little more direction, but after asking him to look directly in the camera 37 times, I got a little tired of asking. I thought about trying someone else, but there was no one around and quite frankly, I was kind of out of the mood to do this. I’m not a beaten man though, I will try this again...maybe in a bar next time.

Further reading and watching: Epic Fail, Close-Up Toothpaste, Close Up The Honky Tonks and Repo Man.

Things that come in threes.
Iggy’s Stooges
Blind Mice
Jacks (and a Jill)
Little pigs
And of course...

You’ll live without her,
Just don’t you think about her when you’re trying to drive.



March 24, 2011

Usually on Tuesday’s, I walk home and write a short story. That didn’t happen yesterday, because I had other plans. So I decided to write one tonight, when I get home. The weather was hellish today, rain, freezing rain and more rain. I haven’t been out since, so let’s see what’s happening outside.

Goddamn, it's cold and rainy and rotten out here, glad I'm going home tonight.

Random street art alert!

Good old Spa Bell, the daughter of Ma. Okay, coming up, "Brother David Glover." But first, a word from our sponsor.

Brother David Glover
When I was growing up I really hated school. I hated the way they tried to make you conform, I hated the desks, I hated the lockers (I was always forgetting the stupid combination), I hated a lot of my teachers and I really hated the smell of the lunch room. But of all the things I targeted my teenage hatred and angst at during my school years, none surpassed the blinding hatred I still hold in my heart for one teacher: Brother David Glover.

The high school I attended was a Catholic high school named Bergan. I’m not a religious person now and wasn’t back then either (I’m not knocking it, whatever gets you through the night, it’s just not my cup of tea.) But having said that, I do believe it was a modern miracle that I finally graduated from high school. My one goal in life back then was just to be done with school and move the fuck on with my life. But when I almost got to the finish line, with graduation cap firmly in place, there was one asshole waiting to pull the rug right out from under my feet: Brother David Glover.

I was really excited to get my senior year out of the way and finally graduate and begin my post-school life. The schedule for students at Bergan ran on what was called a “mod” system and no, it wasn’t based on the Small Faces touring schedule. To this day I really don’t know or care what it was all about, but the short story is that you could make your own schedule and apart from classes you had to take there were other electives you could choose from, but you weren’t required to take them. If you took a lot of the required classes your first three years, by the time senior year came, you could have a pretty light schedule and kind of coast through the year. A reward for three years of hard work. And that’s the way I played it. One of the few classes you had to take all four years was religion. You also had to pass all four years or you couldn’t graduate. And I think by now you can guess who my religion teacher was my senior year. Yes, that’s right: Brother David Glover.

In addition to the regular teachers at Bergan, there were also “Brothers” who taught there.
I never really cared enough to research as to what a “Brother” was or what duties or activities they pursued. I don’t know if they still have them today, but back then, they were kind of like junior priests. They didn’t wear a costume like a priest, but you addressed them as “Brother.” Maybe today you can call them, “Bro.” Anyway, my senior religion teacher was Brother Glover and there was something about this guy that really made my skin crawl backwards and gave me a major dose of the creeps.

“Slithery” is the best word I can come up with to describe his demeanor. He was a quiet man. The kind of man who never makes a peep until they discover the heads of the entire Maple Street Boy Scout troop in his refrigerator, neatly stacked on top of one another. He had slightly long, straw-like brown hair and a wiry moustache that was only about halfway grown in. He kind of looked like a psycho version of Gene Wilder. Sometimes I’d see him riding a bike around Peoria and he would have a black beret on his head, kind of like a Jesus-loving mix of the Wicked Witch of the West and Pepe Le Pew. That’s a vision, I’ll likely never get out of my head, and one that tortures me to this day.
From day one I didn’t like him and he sure as shit didn’t like me either. Back then I and most of my friends were smoking pot morning, noon and night. Religion class was right after lunch, I think about three days a week and I can remember sneaking outside to smoke a joint before most of the classes. On the odd days I wasn’t high on pot, I was probably zonked out on acid or mushrooms. Hey, it was 1976, what can I tell you?

Two of my best friends in high school were in that class with me, Tim Hennessey and Lee Ann Schwindenhammer and we always sat next to each other and kind of made a mockery of the whole proceedings. And, I’m not bragging about this (Tim is still a great friend and reads this blog and I think he’ll verify it), but I was the one that truly put the word, “mock” in back in mockery in that class.

I know it’s shocking news, but I was a real wise-ass and troublemaker back then.
Brother Glover and I clashed immediately. I can’t recall what started our private little war, but I’m sad to say when it was all over and the battlefield had been cleared, he had won.

As I said, myself, Tim and Lee Ann all sat next to each other in the class. And we’d all clown around. One of my favorite things to do was to sneak a dollar bill out of Lee Ann’s purse and draw all over it with a magic marker, rendering it useless for anything other than framing. Sometimes I’d turn George Washington into Hitler with four menacing swastikas in the corners and the next day maybe I’d turn him into Bozo the Clown in a sea of daisies. We’d all laugh at the money-ruining proceedings and Brother Glover would watch us, but he’d never say anything. That’s one of the many things I hated about this guy. He was kind of a hippie Brother and let it be known that he wasn’t into punishments or “laying the law down,” but I knew our shenanigans really bugged the living daylights out of him and I made it my goal to make him crack that year and scream at me. Anything to break that phony pacifist veneer of his, because I knew in my gut he was living a lie. He wasn’t a true pacifist, I could see it in his eyes and I don’t like liars.

Most days he’d pass out mimeographed sheets of paper to all of us. I don’t know what was on them because as soon as he would hand the paper to me, I’d squash it into a tight little ball and throw it back in his face. Tim, Lee Ann and the other kids would nervously laugh, but he never said a word. And this went on for the entire year. He’d hand me the paper—boom, back in his face. He never acknowledged it, but I do remember a slight twitch developing in his right eye after about four months.

Another thing I liked to do, was put my hand up in the air and when he’d call my name out to see what I wanted, my response was to say, “What?”

“You had your hand up, is there something you wanted to say,” Brother Glover would ask in his Peter Lorre-like creep-a-zoid voice that sounded just like velvet that had been marinated in cat urine for a fortnight or two. If velvet could talk that is.

“No, just giving my arm a little air,” I’d calmly reply. The other kids would laugh and Brother Glover would give me a look. It’s hard to explain the look he would give me. I’ve never encountered one like it since and I hope I never do again. It wouldn’t last long, maybe 17 seconds or so, but it was one of pure, burning hatred. And it was exactly that look that proved he wasn’t a true pacifist.

That’s what I especially hated about Brother Glover, the fact that he hated my fucking guts and I know if he could’ve killed me, tortured me or done anything to make my existence a horrible and horrifying one, he’d have done it. But he couldn’t without blowing his pacifist “Brother” charade and it was clear, that this was the only type of “work” that this psycho was capable of. Without his “Brotherhood,” he’d probably be homeless, sleeping in a gutter of his own piss while clinging on to that goddamn precious beret for the rest of his stinking life.

And true, I hated him as well, but I didn’t wish him any harm, I just wanted him out of my life for good. I didn’t want to be around him, so I taunted him to let him know it. At least I was being honest. Plus I was usually stoned to the bejesus belt and so I really shouldn’t have been held accountable for my actions.

And so the year wore on.
I’d go to Brother Glover’s religion class, draw on Lee Ann’s dollar bills, yuk it up with Tim and throw mimeographed wads of paper at Brother Glover’s twitching, silent face of hate. This went on until about a week before school was over. Graduation was within the reach of my greedy little mitts. It was like a carrot dangling in front of a starving bunny rabbit. Freedom was in the air and it was indeed a sweet aroma. I’ve never liked uniforms, but I was more than happy to don that cap and gown for a couple hours and finally be released from high school hell. One thing was about to stop all that from happening, though: Brother David Glover.

With only a day or two left in the school year, I found myself in the principal’s office and it’s funny, I can’t even recall the principal’s name, now. I think it might have been Brother Mark or something, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was told I had achieved something no other student in Bergan’s fine history had accomplished: I had flunked religion.

Those words echoed in my head and bounced around my brain like a pinball pinging around at the speed of sound.

I had flunked religion. I wasn’t going to graduate. FUCK! I felt like Billy in the movie, “Midnight Express,” when he finds out his sentence in the Turkish jail had been switched to life. Gecmis olsun. May it pass quickly.

To be honest, I don’t know why I hadn’t see this coming. I hadn’t done any homework all year, I taunted Brother Glover unmercilessly and I had used his face for target practice with my mimeograph paper balls. I felt sick but I soon learned there was a way out.

I was told to show up at school that Saturday at ten in the morning and report to the room where Brother Glover’s class was held  and I’d be given a special test. If I passed it, my grade would be elevated to a D and I could graduate. It dawned on me later that they didn’t want me around there for another year either, so they devised a way out for me.

I didn’t want to take the stupid test, especially on a Saturday morning. I worked after school and on weekends at a drug store and I knew they’d be pissed that I’d be taking the morning off. Plus it would be costing me money, since I wouldn’t be getting paid. But you can’t put a price on freedom, so at 10 am sharp, I reported to Brother Glover’s classroom.

I walked to the room and stopped in the open doorway. There, alone in the room sat Brother David Glover at his desk. The morning sun was shining in through the window. I stood there for around 30 long seconds of silence. The two of us just stared at each other. Finally the silence was broken.

“Come in,” Brother Glover said in that shrill, spine-tingling voice of his.

Like a man walking his last lonely mile to the hanging post, I slowly entered the room and walked over to his battleship-gray metallic  desk. No further words were to be spoken. He just held up a sheet of paper and I took it and walked to a desk in the front of the classroom. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, so I just surrendered. What else could I do?

I sat down and looked at the paper. There were questions on it and it was a mimeographed piece of paper. I looked up and Brother Glover was staring at me. A faint smile was on his face. It took every ounce of control that I had in me not to wad that mimeographed piece of paper up into a ball and shove it right down his scrawny chicken-like throat. I took a deep breath and I looked back at the paper and read the first question.

“Do you believe in God?” it read.

“Yes, I believe in God,” I wrote in the answer area.

Next question.

“Do you believe that God is an all-knowing and honest God?”
it read.

“Yes,” I wrote in the answer area, “I believe that God is honest and all-knowing.”

All total there was about twelve questions like this. You’d have to have been the world’s biggest idiot not to be able to pass it. I didn't necessarily believe in all my answers, I just wrote what they wanted me to write. And that was the whole point of it. They had me doing what they wanted me to do and there was fuck-all I could do about it. It was really a pathetic feeling for me, but I had to graduate and get out of that place.

I finished it in about five to ten minutes and walked up and put it on his desk. He looked it over and just nodded and smiled at me. I couldn’t stand to look at his creepy-ass face and my eyes darted to his desk. There in the right corner of his gray desktop sat that fucking black beret. My blood ran cold.

I spun around and walked as fast as I could out of there.
When I got outside, I ran to my car and floored it out of the parking lot.

Sometimes in life you enter battles you can’t possibly win.
This was one of them. Brother David Glover knew from day one that he held the winning hand in our year long game of poker. I was too stoned and drunk on my success of making a mockery out of his class to realize this until it was too late. He won and I lost. That’s all there is to it. I was taught in life that if you’re honestly defeated, you take it like a man and move on to the next challenge and try to do a little better. My parents taught me that and they are good people.

I never saw Brother David Glover again in my life. But if our paths ever do cross again, I hope there’s a big, honking stack of mimeographed paper nearby. He won't know what fucking hit him.

Further reading: David Glover, David Glover, David Glover and Crispin Glover.

Elizabeth Taylor died yesterday. One of my favorite movies of all time is, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff,” starring herself and her husband at the time, Richard Burton. The movie mirrored their own rocky relationship (they were married and divorced twice) and they both turn in great performances. Here’s my five favorite pieces of dialogue between George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor.)

Martha: I swear, if you existed, I'd divorce you.

George: Martha, in my mind you're buried in cement right up to the neck. No, up to the nose, it's much quieter.

Martha: You make me puke.
George: That wasn't a very nice thing to say, Martha.

Martha: [derogatorily, to George] Hey, swamp! Hey swampy!
George: Yes, Martha? Can I get you something?
Martha: Ah, well, sure. You can, um, light my cigarette, if you're of a mind to.
George: No. There are limits. I mean, a man can put up with only so much without he descends a rung or two on the old evolutionary ladder, which is up your line. Now, I will hold your hand when it's dark and you're afraid of the boogeyman and I will tote your gin bottles out after midnight so no one can see but I will not light your cigarette. And that, as they say, is that.
Martha: Jesus.

Martha: Well, you're going bald.
George: So are you.

Any way you want it, you can call me any day,
Hey, hey, hey.