Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Firsts

We are inching ever so closer to a president younger than me. My father was 62 when that happened to him. I might not make it to 50 before it happens to me. I still remember the first Playboy centerfold younger than me. It was Penny Baker, January 1984.

On a more positive note, we also have the first female vice presidential nominee I'd do. Sorry Gerry, nothing personal. I was a lot pickier in 1984. Sarah Palin is kind of librarian hot and she was a beauty queen and she can hold a gun. Bet she'd look great in leather. Picture her taking off those glasses, unzipping her top and letting her hair go wild--suddenly I'm in a "Hot for Teacher" video.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Young Love

More teen dating stories although this one is a little lighter.

When I moved to D.C. there was this girl who lived in my apartment complex. We gradually became friends. We'd hang out in the lobby or the basement or the roof. We'd watch television together in the afternoons, hang out in the drug store down the street. She was my first regular interaction with the female species and already I was deep in the friendzone.

I could live with that until a friend of mine from Jersey came to visit for a few days and they ended up making out. I upped my game only to discover I didn't really have a game yet. I do remember one weird afternoon with the three of us lying on a bed intertwined passing a bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream. My friend later managed to rhyme Harvey's Bristol Cream in a love poem he wrote her so kudos to him.

After he left I was determined to make my move. Sometime later that summer, we were in the kitchen (mine I think) eating cereal when out of nowhere I kissed her. We started making out like crazy. It was kind of like when Andrew McCarthy finally makes the move on Ally Sheedy in St. Elmo's Fire, except they were good looking.

We became inseparable after that. We'd fool around in the laundry room (once she took my leather key chain, jammed it down her pants, rubbed it around and gave it back so I'd have her scent...jeez, how do kids think of these things?), the janitor's closet, the roof, and, of course, our own apartments. She also did a fair amount of dog walking in the building which gave us access to other strange bedrooms as well.

Of course, all we were doing was making out. I may have discovered Penthouse Forum, but I was not yet able to summon the courage to put those reading lessons into practice. For all her bluster and maneuvers with keychains, she too was still pretty innocent. Once we were fooling around in someone's bedroom and her head disappeared under the covers. I thought: pay dirt! At long last I would experience the joy I'd only read about. I waited. A few minutes went by. I kept waiting. A few more minutes went by. There was a hand down there fumbling around, but that was about it. A few minutes later (although it seemed like hours), I felt a single solitary lick. Then her head popped back up and she said, "phew, I didn't think I'd be able to do it."

Now, I had nothing to compare that to, but I was pretty sure from the literary works I'd been reading by college freshmen in small New England colleges that what I had experienced was not what they were describing. Unfortunately, it would be another few years until I was able to receive confirmation of just how shortchanged I had been.

Our relationship petered out when school started in the fall. There was one aborted attempt at intercourse in the bushes along the side of our building but technical difficulties prevented us from achieving liftoff. I've always been grateful that we failed because it would've been pretty awful and could have only led to disaster.

I don't know what happened to that one. The Google searches don't turn anything up. Although, to borrow from Bruce, she wasn't a beauty but hey she's alright, I was no prize either. There were worse ways to spend a summer.

The Date

When I was 16 and in tenth grade, I went on my first blind date. A friend of mine from the frisbee team said there was a girl who liked me. There were several women who hung around the team (our groupies) so I was pretty stoked.

I became more wary however when he would not divulge any information to me about this would-be paramour. My best friend also knew the secret identity but was keeping his mouth shut tight.

Although it should have been clear to me now that whoever this person was, it wasn't Amy, Jennifer, Cairn (yes, that's how she spelled it) or one of the other girls I'd been lusting after. But at 16, anticipation and imagination still trumped reality. I put on my best faded jeans and, jeez, I think a yellow shirt, hopped in the 1973 gray Plymouth Duster with the AM radio (dad was too cheap even for an 8 track).

I drove over to Choice Cuts, a record store at Tenley Circle in what passed for a mall in D.C. in 1981. I was there looking at records with Sarge, the guy who had set this up. He was still being coy as we waited for his girlfriend and the mystery woman.

Then he said, `they're here.' I looked up, turned around and said, 'you fucker,' or something to that effect.

Needless to say, the mystery date was not what I had been expecting. Actually, considering how Sarge and my friend were acting, it should have been exactly what I expected.

Sarge could hardly keep from laughing as they drew nearer. I couldn't run out. We went to see a movie (The Howling) and then I dropped everyone off. I think I said three words to her and everyone else the entire night.

Unfortunately, while I had a bruised ego, there was a completely innocent victim to all this and that was the girl. She actually did like me (although not too much after that evening). She didn't ask for any of this. I could have been friendly and gotten through the night just fine and moved along in life. Instead I was a jerk.

Through most of our lives there are a handful of incidents that stay with us. Things we'd like to change. This is one of mine. I knew as that night went on that the way I was acting was bad, but I did it anyway. I can't undo it. Karma's paid me back many times since then, but that doesn't really do that girl any good. And yes, I know what is supposed to come next.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'll Rip Out Your Eyes And Piss On Your Brain

Trading Places was on tonight. That's my favorite line. But something about this movie has always nagged at me a little. As soon as Valentine (Eddie Murphy) figures out what the Dukes are doing and decides to team up with Winthorpe (Aykroyd) for revenge, he immediately starts talking street again. What was that about?

Summer Of Sam

So we've had our best NYC movies post. Time for our worst. I'll start with Summer of Sam. For all the shit Spike Lee gives Clint Eastwood, I wish someone had taken him for task for this piece of crap. If Clint can't direct a film about Charlie Parker, then why the hell should Spike direct one with a punk rock subplot?

In the movie, Adrien Brody plays a guido turned punker. We know this because he has a crazy spiky mohawk hair do and safety pins and all that crap. That'd be great if anyone in NYC scene looked like that in 1977. But no, actually everyone looked kind of like The Ramones and The Dictators. Long hair, leather jackets. Other bands such as Talking Heads had a preppy look. Bottom line, that British style did not show up in NYC until much later.

Funnier still though is Brody's character playing air guitar to Baba O'Reilly. Yeah, because those hardcore punkers were really into The Who. Boring old farts, anyone?

A Scriptwriter's Got To Know His Limitations

Saw a preview for Righteous Kill, the DeNiro-Pacino movie. Looks like they've taken Magnum Force and ripped it good. In one clip, DeNiro says, "nothing wrong with a little shooting, as long as the right people get shot." Clever right? Yeah, if Dirty Harry hadn't said, "nothing wrong with shooting, as long as the right people get shot." Oh and the plot is that killers and rapists who are beating the courts are ending up dead. Hmmm, that sounds familiar too.

The Art of Jaywalking

There used to be rules to jaywalking. You went for it if you thought you could make it and you came to a full stop before entering into the crosswalk against the light. Nowadays though, no one knows how to do it. In midtown it's not unusual to see dorks just walk through the red light without even looking and regardless of whether traffic is backed up or not. I am pretty much pro pedestrian. but these days between the cell phones, the blackberries and the Ipods, it's hard not to have sympathy for drivers.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


She greets me when I come home
All I have to do is plug in
Belladonna waits for me all alone
Just wants me to sin

She's all covered in ink
And has that cute little gap
I'm all searching for that link
The one where you snap

Belladonna don't leave me
Don't think I can face someone real
Belladonna can't see me
But she knows my deal

Belladonna you're my escape
Because I can't escape myself
Belladonna you're safe
With you I won't hurt myself

I know one day you'll be gone
Out of my head, off of my screen
And I'll search the world long
for my Belladonna, nowhere to be seen

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where To?

Reading the New York Times Magazine cover story yesterday on the rebuilding of the New Orleans school system and I was once again struck with this urge to do something different with my life.

It's a feeling I've been getting more and more lately. So what holds me back? The velvet coffin I'm in for starters. I make good money and don't have to do too much except, oh yeah, look in the mirror and have some self-respect.

That's a little harsh. It's not like I'm a corporate lawyer or a gun smuggler. I'm just part of a big con. And as each day goes by it gets tougher to feel good about my place in the world. Yeah, I'm channeling Jerry McGuire, but I know the feeling. And hey, if I were content being an event planner at a wannabe think tank then none of this would matter. But I'm not. To borrow from the movie Metropolitan, "The acid test is whether you take any pleasure in responding to the question `What do you do?' I can't bear it."

Of course, if I had anything, anything at all, going on in my personal life then the work situation would not seem so unsatisfying. I've always put to much pressure on work to fill the void elsewhere. It's asking a lot. Still, one should get some fulfillment out of the thing they spend most of their waking time doing.

For twenty years I've toyed in my mind with the idea of teaching or social work or psychotherapy. Oh yeah, and rock star, but that one's not happening.

Yes, this is another Rambler's dissatisfied post. Maybe he'll get off his ass and actually do something then instead of wallowing in angst.

Maybe I will.

On a side note, I had totally forgotten how great Courtenay Cox looks in that Counting Crows video "A Long December."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

On Vacation

Certainly feels that way. Like the whole world has started to check out. I have no big plans. It's a nice sunny Saturday and I'm sitting here. It's cool.

Work was deadly this week. Even I finally gave up pretending. Watched "Metropolitan" on Hulu. Another classic.

So I'm just babbling here. Nothing much to bitch about. Just thought I should put something in this space.

Oh, and go see Tropic Thunder. The shit's funny.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Almost Forgot

The Brother From Another Planet, another great, under-appreciated New York movie. The drug dealing subplot is a little heavy-handed but the two old guys in the bar bullshitting all day are priceless.

This preview is surprisingly cheesey and doesn't really do the movie justice but anyway..

This scene better captures the quirkiness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hey Leon!

Best New York Movies 1970s-1980s

1)Dog Day Afternoon
3)Mean Streets
4)The Pope of Greenwich Village
5)After Hours
6)The Warriors
7)Sea of Love
8)Taxi Driver
9)Do the Right Thing
10)The Panic in Needle Park

"Oh God, They shot me with unreal..."--Leon in "Dog Day Afternoon."

Feel free to add your own.

The Box (Part Three)

In the middle of the night she woke up and thought she smelled smoke. She was alone in the room, he hadn't come to bed yet. She got out of the bed, grabbed a robe and padded downstairs, almost tripping over the cat who had taken to sprawling out in the middle of the staircase as a form of rebellion ever since they'd moved here from Michigan.

She made it down the stairs and all the lights were out except the little one over the kitchen sink. But she did see light coming from under the door leading to the basement. She bent down and sniffed under the door and again detected smoke. She went back to the hall closet, grabbed a Louisville Slugger and headed back to the door.

She opened it as quietly as possible and started down the stairs. She wasn't sure what to expect. Maybe the kids were getting high. Maybe that old dryer had finally caught fire. Maybe the neighbors were taking revenge for his complaining about their Sunday patio parties.

It was none of those things. He was standing over a garbage can burning the letters.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm getting rid of these things that upset you."

"In the middle of the night. In our basement in our old wooden house with our kids asleep? What, you couldn't just walk the box to the corner and put it in the trash."

"I wanted them gone forever."

She looked around the basement and then walked towards the lawn mower. She picked up the big can by the mower brought it back over to where he was lighting another letter with his Zippo and splashed him with gasoline. He screamed as he was quickly engulfed in flames. That was the great thing about Zippos, they didn't go out.

He continued to scream and burn as she backed up the stairs and shut the door.

"What's going on?"

She wheeled around quickly to see the ten year-old standing there holding his teddy bear looking frightened.

"Daddy's had an accident," she said. "But we'll be OK."

Thanks A Lot, Mo!

Good thing the Yanks took out Mussina after he hit the hundred pitch count last night. It's not like at 39 he hasn't shown he's got an arm that is not ready to give out just yet. But idiot logic dictates bringing in the bullpen to "save" a three run lead.

If Moose ends up with 19 wins this season, we'll know why.

And yeah, that's not a very team player attitude but fuck that shit.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Box (Part Two)

He got home as usual around 8 p.m. That was the great thing about being a journalist. He could always claim he was chasing a story when most times he was chasing a skirt. But tonight he actually had been working late. One of those tips that sounds great but a dozen calls later he had nothing but hot air. Frustrated he headed out of the newsroom to the Port Authority to grab the 7:10 bus.

It wasn't even May yet and the humidity was already unbearable. He worked up a sweat during the walk from the bus station to the house. While walking through the park he spied some kids drinking beer in the woods near the brook. He was never much of a drinker but they sure looked free of worry as they passed a joint back and forth.

As he approached the house he noticed the car was gone. Good, at least the kids were out of the house. Hopefully she had his dinner ready. Maybe he'd manage to have a quiet night.

He walked in and announced his arrival. The cat looked up, yawned, and walked away. The house was strangely silent. He saw a dim light in the dining room. He walked in and saw his plate of chicken livers on top of a box.

"What's this, a gift?," he asked.

"Yes, it was the gift you left for me in the bedroom," she replied coolly.

"What are you talking about?" he said.

"Open it," she responded.

"Look," he said sighing, "I've had a long day so can we just cut through this and you can tell me what's going on?"

"They're the mementos of your conquests," she said, adding, "why don't you pour some ketchup on them and choke. Oh, and thanks so much for bringing them with us to our new house and leaving them out for me to find. That was so very special."

He walked over to the box, took the plate off and looked inside. Then he looked down paused for a second and started to walk towards her.

"Don't bother," she said.

"You're my wife and I love you," he said trying to keep his voice steady.

"Jesus, what is that? That makes this OK? What script did you steal that line from," she said.

He continued to walk towards her.

"I'm sorry," he said.

She looked down for a second then punched him in the eye, walked upstairs and slammed the bedroom door.

He headed to the kitchen, grabbed a Diet Pepsi and a bottle of ketchup, went back to the dining room, grabbed the chicken livers and headed to the little room to watch TV while he ate.

Just Wondering...

Doesn't Dagwood's mailman arrive awful early in the morning? Most mailmen don't come around until noon yet that guy is there bright and early and ready to get run over by Bumsted. Something tells me he wants to make a special delivery to Blondie.

The Box (Part One)

It was just sitting there in the middle of the room for weeks. Just about everything else had been unpacked from the move, but for some reason no one had bothered to open this one box near the closet door that had no markings on it. No "books for den" or "bathroom stuff" written in cheery red ink like the other boxes. It was the mystery box.

It soon became a battle of wills between the two of them as to who would deal with this box. Each morning he'd make a big show of kicking it towards the center of the room and muttering as he made his way from the bed to the bathroom. And each afternoon she'd kick it back towards the closet.

This went on for weeks until one day, perhaps out of boredom, perhaps out of curiosity, she stubbed out her cigarette, put down her wine glass and marched into the bedroom to confront the box.

She grabbed a letter opener from the desk in the little den off the bedroom and plunged it into the box, meeting surprisingly little resistance. Even though the two of them had been kicking this box all over the bedroom for almost two months, it never dawned on her just how light it was.

She tore it open and looked inside. There were a bunch of letters there. She grabbed one and opened it and begin reading.

"Last night was the most amazing experience of my life. I'm not just talking about the sex, although I've never had three orgasms during one romp. I mean everything. The dinner, the play, the flowers."

She stopped reading and looked back into the box. There were at least fifty more letters there. She picked the box up, turned it upside down and all the letters fell out onto the floor along with something red and shiny. She reached into a pile of letters and pulled up a pair of red satin panties. She flung them away in disgust then picked them up and put them back into the box with all the other letters. She taped it back up and brought it downstairs to the dining room and put it on the table in front of his chair. Then she returned to the living room and to her wine and cigarettes.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Magic Moments

I guess it was supposed to be one of those sad moments. The turning point. Whatever. I remember my parents coming into my bedroom. They had been out to dinner or something, which was a pretty uncommon occurrence in my house. I assume that's where they were. Truth is, I have no idea. I was thinking of doing some quick research a la David Carr but decided against it. How I remember it is what matters.

Not that there is much to remember. They came into my bedroom (or did I go into their room?) and sat down and did the whole "we love you very much" routine and then told me they were splitting up.

I didn't really have a reaction. Actually, I didn't really express a reaction. I definitely had one. It was, "you mean this guy isn't going to live here anymore? I'm down with that."

My dad scared the shit out of me and scarred the shit out of me in those days.

What I do remember is being told it was OK to cry and me not crying. I later pretended to cry and asked if I could skip school tomorrow. My mother said no.

I was pretty pumped when my folks said they were splitting. I was not thrilled about moving to a crappy apartment across town where I was the only white kid. My mom probably could have stayed in the house or gotten more money out of my Dad for a better place but she was so short-sighted on that shit. My dad moved to the city and took a one bedroom on 23rd and Third.

That one year in Montclair was the best year in Jersey I had. With my dad gone, the clouds lifted. Suddenly I wasn't scared. I had friends. I was starting to live. I hung out with people. I smiled. I washed my hair. Girls even begin ever so slowly to notice me.

Of course, those fuckers decided a year later to not only get back together but to move to D.C. Never mind that my mom promised me we wouldn't move out of Montclair while I was still in school.

And that was when I cried.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


OK, after a long post about why the Pack should say goodbye to Brett, I'll now babble about why the Jets did the right thing in getting him.

For starters, suddenly the Jets are interesting. With Favre, you always have a chance to win. Of course, sometimes Favre snatches defeat from the jaws of victory but we're talking the Jets here. They haven't had a chance to really contend in forever.

Favre is not Namath even if they both share a tendency to turn the ball over. Favre is still good for at least two years barring injury. Namath was done by 1974 and when he got to the Rams it was a complete joke. One of Rambler's sadder memories was watching Joe Willie in the rain on Monday Night in Chicago completing only 16 of 40 in what would be his final game (I know, how the hell do I remember the stats?).

Bummer about Chad Pennington, who is class guy but unfortunately has had too many injuries to inspire confidence in Jet brass. I hope he gets to the Bears, who could really use him.

The deal the Jets made also seems to be smart. It is based on incentives and they only give up a first round pick if they make it to the championship (if what I read is correct).

Of course, we'll see how much of a team player Brett will be. He ran the show in Green Bay on and off the field. He could have handled this whole situation better than he did (true also for the Packers). Hopefully he'll come to the Jets resentment free and ready to take Gang Green at least into the second round.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Just A Detour

Those days
Getting high, getting by
Riding around in my brother's car
Driving fast on the wrong side of 16th Street

Scoring here, missing there
Getting ripped off
Taken down
Finding pay dirt

Then racing back to the other side of the Creek
Hitting the Rodman's or the 7-11 before midnight
Hanging out in the park or behind the arcade
Seemed so innocent then even if we were little thugs

A feeling that could never be recaptured again
No matter how many times I tried
A feeling that came once and vanished only to torment my memories
And send me on a never-ending quest

A quest to get back to that first moment when I felt that warm
The first time I didn't give a shit what you thought
The first time I stopped listening to my head telling me I suck
Was it an illusion?

Must have been because another 25 years of searching and it never appeared again
Just a maze with every path leading to a dead end

Some days the search was fun
Most of the time it was a trip to despair
But problem was I got off on despair
Until I couldn't get off anymore

So now I'm here
Hanging on these steps
Marlboro dangling from my lips
As I welcome you in

I did it for you
You can stop searching
It's not out there
Just a detour to find what matters

Weighing In

No, no one has been waiting for Rambler's take on Brett Favre. But I'm feeling uninspired on the poetry front, completely brain dead on the fiction front and generally just not all that motivated. Probably how Brett felt back in March.

Favre was a great but I understand why the Pack wants to move on. Perhaps some Favre fans need to look at the footage of the Giants game one more time. Take one last peak at what was likely his final pass in a Green Bay uniform and remember how many other times over the past decade Favre made bad decisions that cost Green Bay a game.

Sure, he led many great comebacks. But how many of those comebacks were comebacks because of his earlier mistakes? I'm not ripping on the guy. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the most exciting guys to play the game. But he was also incredibly reckless, made lots of mistakes and should know it's time to walk off the field in one piece.

Yes, that's hard to do. Lord knows I didn't exit my career by choice and if somone offered me another shot I'd probably jump. But Brett had to know that he'd probably change his mind and want to come back. Instead, he said he was retiring. True, the Packers have wanted him gone for a few years now, but in the end he made the decision and they moved on. If he was a boyfriend pulling this, every advice columnist would tell the woman to stay strong and send him packing.

The Pack should send him whereever he wants to go. Let him play for the Bears. Who cares? You'll face him twice a year and guarantee in at least one game he'll throw two picks that will set you up for the win.

And let's not even get into poor Aaron Rogers. He has totally kept his cool during all this and he knows that the minute he throws a pick, that crowd will turn on him.
The poor dude had some six year-old at practice today telling him he sucks and no one loves him. We've come a long way from say it ain't so Joe.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What's My Agenda?

An ex of mine apparently has had a rough go of it lately. Isn't Google wonderful? One search and I can see she got caught up in a nightmare situation at her job that made lots of news in her town. Who knows what the truth is. I know enough about these sorts of situations and enough about how the media works (guilty as charged) to know that I'm probably not getting the whole story.

I haven't talked to this person in a few years and our relationship ended twenty years ago and I have no torch here (she's married now). When we did live together, I was a shit to her and at some point I will have to get in touch with her and acknowledge all that, etc. She did introduce to my brother to his wife so even though I'm not really in touch with her, there is a family link.

I want to call and say hey and that I hope everything works out, etc. But part of me wonders if this isn't me trying to get caught up in someone else's drama. Am I looking to offer support or just hear the dirty details? And why am I writing like Carrie Bradshaw?

Well, I'll find out what my agenda was soon enough. Amazingly, the phone number hasn't changed in twenty years and more amazing, I still remember it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Old-Timers' Day

I love old-timers' day, but I am curious as to who gets invited and who doesn't. I know Jim Bouton was on the shit list forever, but eventually did make it back for one. Lots of newcomers this year--Jeff Nelson, David Wells, Tim Raines and one of my faves, Tino Martinez. Wade Boggs now has more hair than he ever did as a Yankee. As one who worries about his own hair, seeing him reminds me that maybe it's better to just let nature take its course. The other funny thing is how small those guys are compared to the freaks roaming the diamond today.

I like seeing the old guys most of all. Roy White, Horace Clarke and Joe Pepitone. Where's the old wife-swapper Fritz Peterson?

Seeing the new guys makes me feel, well, old.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Saw you see me on the street
You looked right through me

Saw you see me on the corner
You looked down and walked away

Saw you see me in the alley
You spit at the curb

But tonight you'll be coming by
I'll see you see me from your BMW

You'll tell that same old story
No one understands you

And as long as the cash is on the dashboard
I'll keep listening

And tomorrow you won't see me
Just like tonight I don't see you