Read here about my adventures at the first Poetry Society of America Chapbook reading back in December, 2003
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
OSBOURNE DROPS A LOAD
May 30, 2007 -- LEAVE it to Ozzy Osbourne to label a ridiculous pop sensation like Sanjaya Malakar "a hairstyle-challenged idiot." An insider told Page Six Osbourne was confirmed to perform on last week's finale of "American Idol," but canceled at the last minute "when he learned he would have to do a duet with Sanjaya. Ozzie said he didn't want to be onstage with that idiot." Fox ended up pulling Steve Perry from Aerosmith to do the somewhat embarrassing duet with the artist with the gimmicky hair.....
Ok, so you didn't have to watch the finale of Idol to see the blasphemy here. Did anyone catch the significant typo here?
Look again - last I checked, Steven Tyler was the lead singer of Aerosmith and Joe Perry was on lead quitar. Steve Perry was the lead singer from Journey. Nice fact-checking, Post editors. But seriously, how much more vastly entertaining would a Sanjaya-Ozzy duet have been? But even the Prince of Darkness has standards.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Walking down 32nd Street, subway-bound, I spied a bit of color on the ground. I stopped. I stared. I was intrigued. Like a crow that sees something shiny, it doesn't take much to distract me. This is what I saw:
No biggie, right? Well, I picked it up and unfolded it. I stopped mid-stride. I recognize a coincidence when I see one, and my surname is much more common here on the East Coast than in Hawai'i, but still. Not to mention the first name:
Nothing earth-shattering, I know. Any other name of a realtor at a prestigious Hoboken realty company, and it would have been unblogworthy. But his name is as close to my spouse's as can be without being it exactly.
Idolator introduced this to me.
And to think the Trombone player went on to compose the music for one of my favorite movies (and has won an Emmy and been nominated for eight Grammys and three Oscars).
That's the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, circa 1976.
I don't know how interesting this will be to the random stumbler upon BillyBlog, but part of the mission statement of this endeavor is to serve as journal and chronicle of the personal. Nonetheless, I'll try and keep it short and sweet.
It is a matter of public record that Stefanie Eliasof and Gregg Karasik were married this past weekend in Tarrytown. Although their nuptials were not reported in the New York Times' "Vows" column, I'm sure that somewhere their marriage will be reported as news.
Ms. Eliasof is cousin to my dear wife, Melanie, thus making me the bride's cousin-in-law. We were invited to the rehearsal dinner on Friday night at
Blu blū Riverfront Bar and Bistro, in the town of Hastings-on-Hudson. Here was a view of the sunset while we mingled prior to the meal:
One of what I considered the highlights of the evening, as we hung out with the cousins et al., was Melanie's collaboration with her kin on re-constructing a family tree, of sorts:
I strongly recommend this as a useful exercise at any large family function.
I enjoyed the Wild Mushroom Raviolis with sage cream sauce & white truffle oil as an appetizer, with the orecchiette pasta, sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe & roasted tomatoes as the entree. For dessert I had the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate & caramel sauces.
The following day was full of excitement, even before we left for the wedding. Our eldest, Jolee, received her acceptance letter into I.S. 187, which many consider the best junior high school in Brooklyn. If you are going by the highest percentage of students that pass the state exams, it's certainly at the top of the heap (read a review here). Here are the citywide averages:
I.S. 187, which is grades 6-8, have percentages of 98% (grade 6), 99% (grade 7), and 96% (grade 8). BillyBlog often celebrates the younger athlete in the family, but is just as proud of the older spawn as well.
So after dropping the kids off at their cousins, we headed off to the wedding locale, Tarrytown House in, you guessed it, Tarrytown, NY.
It was a lovely wedding and the weather was delightful. Here are some pictures:
The three fl
The table centerpieces were magnificent, towering over the guests:
It may be difficult to see, but the following morning, one of the trees was wearing several wayward kippot:
After brunch on Sunday, Shayna headed off with Grandpa Barry to see the Yankees continue to unravel in the Bronx.
Meanwhile, Jolee, Melanie and I wandered around the Westchester Mall, which had numerous leather couches on which to doze while the ladies shopped and caught a movie at the City Center 15, Cinema De Lux:
The movie was enjoyed by all, although it was my least favorite of the Shreks.
After Shayna and Grandpa returned from the game, we joined Jolee's godmother Brenda for dinner at P.F. Chang's China Bistro.
Then we drove back to Brooklyn to begin to recover from the weekend. Barry grabbed us some cheesecake from our favorite baker, Paneantico.
But wait! There was still more weekend! On Memorial Day, the girls and I went early to the park with Grandpa to hit the ball around.
Then we caught the Kings County Memorial Day Parade in Bay Ridge. In its 140th year, this is the longest-running Memorial Day Parade in the United States.
Monday, May 28, 2007
I have been tied up all weekend at a family event. Stay tuned for an update. Have a safe, healthy holiday! Ten years ago this weekend, I severely twisted my ankle playing around with a basketball in San Diego. My uncle, Ron Brenner, pronounced the death of my youth, as the big 3-0 loomed less than five weeks away. "You're getting old, Billy!" he proclaimed. And time marches on......
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Well, the definite highlight of last night's American Idol finale was the surprise (to me, at least) performance by Green Day of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero".
Listen: "Working Class Hero" (mp3) by Green Day (John Lennon Cover)
If that's not awesome enough for you, check out the two-disc track listing for Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save Darfur:
|1. Instant Karma - U2|
|2. #9 Dream - R.E.M.|
|3. Mother - Christina Aguilera|
|4. Give Peace a Chance - Aerosmith, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars|
|5. Cold Turkey - Lenny Kravitz|
|6. Whatever Gets You Through the Night - Los Lonely Boys|
|7. I'm Losing You - Corinne Bailey Rae|
|8. Gimme Some Truth - Jakob Dylan, Dhani Harrison|
|9. Oh, My Love - Jackson Browne|
|10. Imagine - Avril Lavigne|
|11. Nobody Told Me - Big & Rich|
|12. Jealous Guy - Youssou N'Dour|
|1. Working Class Hero - Green Day|
|2. Power to the People - Black Eyed Peas|
|3. Imagine - Jack Johnson|
|4. Beautiful Boy - Ben Harper|
|5. Isolation - Snow Patrol|
|6. Watching the Wheels - Matisyahu|
|7. Grow Old With Me - The Postal Service|
|8. Gimme Some Truth - Jaguares|
|9. (Just Like) Starting Over - The Flaming Lips|
|10. God - Mick Fleetwood, Jack's Mannequin|
|11. Real Love - Regina Spektor|
Just awesome! Pre-order here:
All MP3s provided on this site are hosted via official sites or with the artist/label's permission. On the extremely rare occasion when this isn't the case, the track will only be available for a very limited time. If you are the owner of a sound file and would like it removed, please email me directly. If you like what you hear, PLEASE follow the links provided to buy the records and support the music.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Late last night/early this morning, I facilitated/participated in a discussion of Jewish poems with a small group of co-congregants at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center. I should qualify that I facilitated in so much as I selected the poems that we read, as part of a Shavuot study session. It was a fully enjoyable experience, and certainly intellectually stimulating. Much thanks to Rabbi Micah Kelber for inviting me to participate.
Anyway, I thought I would reprint the poems here, for your perusal.
We started with, and spent the most time discussing, Muriel Rukeyser's "To Be a Jew in the Twentieth Century":
"To Be a Jew in the Twentieth Century"
Read an analysis and discussion of this poem here.
To be a Jew in the twentieth century
Is to be offered a gift. If you refuse,
Wishing to be invisible, you choose
Death of the spirit, the stone insanity.
Accepting, take full life. Full agonies:
Your evening deep in labyrinthine blood
Of those who resist, fail, and resist: and God
Reduced to a hostage among hostages.
The gift is torment. Not alone the still
Torture, isolation; or torture of the flesh.
That may come also. But the accepting wish,
The whole and fertile spirit as guarantee
For every human freedom, suffering to be free,
Daring to live for the impossible.
Next, we read Paul Celan's poem "Tenebrae":
This poem went over very well with the group, who generally seemed impressed by the powerful imagery presented in its language.
Near are we, Lord,
near and graspable.
Grasped already, Lord,
clawed into each other, as if
each of our bodies were
your body, Lord.
pray to us,
we are near.
Wind-skewed we went there,
went there to bend
over pit and crater.
Went to the water-trough, Lord.
It was blood, it was
what you shed, Lord.
It cast your image into our eyes, Lord.
Eyes and mouth stand so open and void, Lord.
We have drunk, Lord.
The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord.
We are near.
Next, we read Yehuda Amichai's "A Jewish Cemetery in Germany":
— translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld
On a little hill amid fertile fields lies a small cemetery,
a Jewish cemetery behind a rusty gate, hidden by shrubs,
abandoned and forgotten. Neither the sound of prayer
nor the voice of lamentation is heard there
for the dead praise not the Lord.
Only the voices of our children ring out, seeking graves
each time they find one—like mushrooms in the forest, like
Here's another grave! There's the name of my mother's
mothers, and a name from the last century. And here's a name,
and there! And as I was about to brush the moss from the name—
Look! an open hand engraved on the tombstone, the grave
of a kohen,
his fingers splayed in a spasm of holiness and blessing,
and here's a grave concealed by a thicket of berries
that has to be brushed aside like a shock of hair
from the face of a beautiful beloved woman.
This poem received mixed reviews. I thought that the established opinions about Amichai's poetry influenced the receptivity toward the poem. I saw it more as a snapshot, whereas others saw condemnation and a dark cynicism.
I brought a copy of Joseph Brodsky's "A Song," but we didn't read it:
I wish you were here, dear,We ended with a poem by Kenneth Koch, entitled "To Jewishness". The lines are short, but the poem is long. I won't post it here, but will link it here. Please check it out, it's quite funny. Koch's poem came from his book New Addresses, in which he writes odes to ideas, as opposed to concrete things.
I wish you were here.
I wish you sat on the sofa
and I sat near.
The handkerchief could be yours,
the tear could be mine, chin bound.
Though it could be, of course,
the other way around.
I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish we were in my car,
and you'd shift the gear.
We'd find ourselves elsewhere,
on an unknown shore.
Or else we'd repair
to where we've been before.
I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish I knew no astronomy
when stars appear,
when the moon skims the water
that sighs and shifts in its slumber.
I wish it were still a quarter
to dial your number.
I wish you were here, dear,
in this hemisphere,
as I sit on the porch
sipping a beer.
It's evening; the sun is setting;
boys shout and gulls are crying.
What's the point of forgetting
if it's followed by dying?
This just skims the surface. Wikipedia lists dozens of Jewish poets, whether they be Jewish American, Yiddish Language, Hebrew Language, or Israeli poets.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Wow. Someone actually took the time to stop and write a note chastising someone for their selfishness! Silly idealist!
And is selfishness really the root here? Or is it inconsideration? Or am I splitting hairs?
I mean, selfishness implies that, when the unknown driver (it's not me, dear reader, I am eco-friendly car-less) pulled into Foodtown, they thought, "Ooh, TWO parking spaces next to each other, I will take both, because I deserve both! Others be damned!"
It is more likely they inconsiderately took both spots unwittingly, or just plain couldn't park to save their lives.
And really, are scratches, or the threat of scratches, going to seriously alter this person's mindset? Hey, if you're leaving an anonymous note, why not put some teeth into it? If it were me composing a note, I would be more threatening, but I'd perhaps add a little class to it, maybe compose a haiku:
Lexus took an extra space!
Car fire burns - bright Sun!
Now if that were on your windshield when you left the supermarket, do you think you might exercise a little more care next time you shop? Either that, or go to a different store.
Monday, May 21, 2007
I'm a Yankees fan by marriage (sorry, Dad), and by city of residence, but I cheered for my favorite team since childhood, the Detroit Tigers, last year when they handily defeated the Bronx Bombers (heh heh) in the ALDS.
However, I suffer some guilt knowing, in hindsight, that the Tigers' series was the end of the road for one of my favorite Yankee players, Bernie Williams.
The New York Times has an online article about Bernie that just warmed my heart, so I thought I'd share it here. Class acts are few and far between in Major League Baseball, and I ask myself, would the Yankees be doing worse this year with Bernie in pinstripes?
Different Uniform, but Same Cheers for Dr. Williams
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Published: May 21, 2007
But not everyone there knew or cared.
After a glance at the program, a middle-aged woman was overheard earlier asking her husband, “Who’s this Bernie Williams?”
“He was a Yankee player, until this year.”
“What’s he doing here?” she said.
“He’s getting an honorary degree,” she was informed.
“Oh,” she said, sounding impressed.
Bernie Williams was a Yankee all right. And what a Yankee. Of all their center fielders, only Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were better. Over his 16 seasons, he had a .297 average with 287 home runs and 1,257 runs batted in with four World Series rings, one American League batting title and four Gold Glove awards. Nobody ever complained that he was not worth the seven-year, $87.5 million contract he signed late in 1998.
As a designated hitter and part-time outfielder last season, he batted a timely .281 with 12 home runs and 61 R.B.I. That was enough, he assumed, to deserve another season, even at 38.
But the Yankees, meaning General Manager Brian Cashman and their front-office brain trust, didn’t think he fit “the dynamics,” as Cashman said, of this year’s roster. Instead, he was offered merely a minor league contract with the opportunity to make the team in spring training. Understandably, his pride couldn’t accept that. After all he had done for the Yankees, and done so well, he wasn’t about to attend what amounted to a tryout camp.
Joe Torre, the Yankees’ manager, wanted him and asked him to reconsider, but he didn’t. Still hoping the Yankees might change their mind, Williams continued to work out near his home in Armonk, N.Y., in case the Yankees called, but they didn’t. On opening day, classy as always, he called Torre to wish him luck for the season and, declining requests from the news media, he retired from public life — at least until Iona called about the honorary degree.
Now, as Williams stood with his mortarboard and gold tassel over his heart for the national anthem at the commencement, someone yelled, “Let’s go, Bernie,” prompting that shy smile. After the invocation, the welcome and the president’s greeting, Williams was introduced as “our honored speaker.” After more cheers and a quick chant of “Ber-nie, Ber-nie, Ber-nie,” he stood at the lectern, in a way again batting fourth, as he had for the Yankees for so many years.
He wasn’t being honored only for his classy career in baseball. He’s a classical guitarist. He supported the Children’s Health Fund, which provides care for homeless and needy children.
As fund-raisers and volunteers for Hillside Food Outreach, he and his wife, Waleska, have made food deliveries to five hungry families in Westchester County.
In his speech, Williams talked about how his father inspired his love of the guitar and he quoted Oprah Winfrey as saying, “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret.” He recalled how, as a teenager with the Yankees, he “had to have the ability to outwork” the other prospects, and how he was told that he would never make it in baseball or in music.
“That doubt fueled my reaching both my goals,” he told the graduates. He added: “My path has become my journey, and my journey has become what I am today. ... Don’t be afraid to take risks. ... Stay focused on the things you can control and don’t worry about the things you can’t control. ... Don’t let your job define who you are. Your relationships will define who you are.”
More cheers, as if he had just hit a home run. He sat down as honorary degrees were conferred on Robert M. Morgenthau, the 87-year-old Manhattan district attorney, and David A. Pope, who runs the Generoso Pope Foundation, named for his great-grandfather. He then stood as the white hood of a doctor of humane letters was draped over his shoulders.
More cheers and a loud “Yeah, Bernie” from the seats. He was then told, “Congratulations, Dr. Williams.”
For the next hour, about 1,000 graduates passed by him on the way to receiving their diplomas. Dozens took a quick detour to shake his hand. Polite as always, Williams rose slightly as each graduate approached, smiled shyly and shook hands. One graduate even slipped him what looked like a piece of paper that he quickly autographed.
Half a dozen members of the news media had hoped to talk to Williams, but they were told that on orders from his agent, Scott Boras, he “will not meet with anybody.”
And soon, in the procession of Iona’s administration and faculty from the stage, Dr. Bernie Williams, the gold tassel swinging on his black mortarboard, resumed his retirement from public life.
We miss you, Bernie, baby.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I discovered some recent dispatches saved in old e-mails about various poetry events I have attended over the years. It's only a handful (three, so far), but at least one person has expressed an interest in my first person accounts of readings, what he called (I'm paraphrasing) "a voyeuristic look" at a fan of poetry and a collector.
What I have chosen to do, however, is not post the events as they are updated, but to place them in a chronological perspective within the greater context of BillyBlog. The problem is, these narratives predate the existence of BillyBlog. However, I can backdate the post to fit the chronological sequence.
So have I done.
This allows many people, I imagine, who would find the narrative tedious (self-deprecation inserted here), to skip it altogether. To see my recap of the day I spent at the 2004 Dodge Poetry Festival, click here. I do hope some folks enjoy this little exercise.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
The author of Milk, Eggs, Vodka saw my post and linked it in his blog here. Check it out over there at the blog home page and see the latest grocery lists he is posting. There's also another site called GroceryLists. org that pays homage to these abandoned snapshots into peoples' lives. I'm definitely taking a closer look at the wayward lists I chance upon in my semi-regular forays into grocery establishments!
Eldest Blogdaughter Jolee and I had fun looking at some of these pictures of several new species discovered recently in the deep oceans off Antarctica. Jolee's teacher told them about it yesterday, and she and I enthusiastically brought up articles and photos of the bizarre-looking life forms.
As a Cancer, I am predisposed to like the yeti crab:
And this octopus is pretty cool:
This fish has no red blood cells, which it can survive without, in the frigid waters:
How about a spider crab!
And this just looks cool:
Of course, the coolest sea creature I saw today, was discovered in the Fall in Adelaide, Australia:
Read more about the new species and their importance on the National Geographic website here. With a full slide show here.
There. That should meet BillyBlog's science requirement in order to graduate and proceed on to the next level of bloggishness.
Friday, May 18, 2007
In the course of looking through some old e-mails, I came across a blurb that I had sent someone about the Best American Poetry Series, edited by David Lehman. Read on:
From the January 8, 1999 issue of Entertainment Weekly:
Meter Reader A few months ago, Scribner editor Jake Morissey received an unusual request: Bruce Springsteen, a huge fan of the popular Best American Poetry anthology series, had been unable to find the first six books (1988-93); could Scribner supply him with the missing volumes? Members of Springsteen's staff had searched for the out-of-print volumes with no luck. Morrissey forwarded the Boss' request to Gillian Blake, the editor who oversees Best American. "I had a few on my shelves," she says. "David Lehman, founder and series editor of BAP, supplied his own copy of the very rare first volume, edited by John Ashbery." Blake hasn't yet heard back from Springsteen, but she learned from the intermediary who contacted Scribner that the singer was "very pleased and grateful". --Clarissa Cruz and Carmela Ciuraru
Well, needless to say, I was pleased as punch to read this, and even more pleased to know that like Bruce Springsteen, I had a full run of the series, all in hardcover, including the "very rare first volume". Plus, mine are all signed, on average, by at least twenty of the contributors and editors (my 2006 edition only has 10 autographs, but my 1998 edition is signed by 35!). Truly a one-of-a-kind collection, one that I would venture to say, The Boss would admire.
I'm guessing Mr. Lehman's collection would be the only one more impressive, assuming he found a replacement for the '88 edition which he so kindly gave to Springsteen. As for their commercial value, it is difficult to say, as many of the poets have inscribed their contribution pages to me, and the person willing to plunk down a boatload of money on poetry books doesn't necessarily want copies inscribed to someone else, not even an amateur blogger/poet/H.R. dude.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Melanie and I arrived at the Mets game last night at different times, coming from different places. I picked up the kids and brought them to Shea, she dropped off some work materials in lower Manhattan, then proceeded to the game.
At 6:52 PM, she sent me this cryptic text: "Remember nooka 4 me. I will xplain later."
Needless to say, I was intrigued.
Later, between Cub drubbings of the Mets, I got the story. She was on the train to the game, still in Manhattan, when a local resident asked a tourist if he could take a picture of his watch. How's that for role reversal? The tourist assented and the New Yorker snapped away, asking questions about the timepiece. All Melanie could tell me was that the watch was really funky-looking, and had the name Nooka on it. The Nooka website requires a flash player, so we couldn't check it out from the game (remember it was a 10-1 rout, there wasn't a lot going on), but it's worth a peek.
Here's a product description from Amazon:
Nooka is the ancient Amararunkthuh word meaning "future is now". Nooka is the brainchild of artist and designer; Matthew Waldman. In 1997 Matthew had a flash-back to a first grade math class while staring at a large wall clock in a London hotel and was struck by how few options there were for time display. He then sketched his ideas for potential designs on a napkin and brought them back to New York. After working on the designs; he submitted them to his legal team; and indeed; they were unique enough to patent! The linear and graphic representation of time with Nooka watches presents a more intuitive way to view time. The visual mass increases as time passes; giving weight to an ephemeral and abstract concept. Once you’re used to the new visual paradigm; you may never go back to standard analog and digital time displays for your wrist. Included in the Museum of Modern Art
Ugly loss for the Mets. Exciting game for the Cubs fans.
So the Mets lose a nasty one, but at least it was a nice night for a game. Temps in the 70's. Breezy. Article about the game here. Most memorable was this:
That was Aramis Ramirez hitting a monster grand slam (Newsday referred to it as "spectacular") off Scott Schoeneweis. When the ball was eventually thrown back onto the field from deep in the left field mezzanine, the obnoxious, drunken, foul-mouthed Cub fan next to me boasted, "At Wrigley, they throw the ball back faster". Granted, New York fans are not known for their calm demeanors. Melanie pointed out, correctly, that at Yankee Stadium, such fan exuberance would have resulted in a spirit-dampening barrage of verbal abuse. Here's shoddy footage of the drunken Cub fan. You have to wait until the end of the clip when the Cubs turn a double play and she practically assaults the guy seated in front of me:
Carlos Zambrano pitched a great game, with all due respect.
Despite the home run he gave up to Shawn Green, he pretty much stymied the Mets batters. Kudos to Mr. Green though.
Because he hit a home run in the bottom of the 5th inning, one fan left the game with a vacation to Barbados.
(Note: Three posts below are live-blogged from the game)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Aramis Ramirez hits a grand slam for the Cubs. Obnoxious turns even uglier. By the way, call the Fruitco Corp. at (718) 893-4500 and tell them to not give their box seats to annoying Cubs fans.
Mets down 3-1
Shawn Green is having a great game, with a solo home run.
The seats next to us are occupied by the most obnoxious Cubs fans I have ever seen, and I spent many a summer in Springfield, Illinois, so I've seen my share of Cubs fans.
The opening/pre-game music for Mets pitcher John Maine is Metallica's "Seek and Destroy," from their first album Kill 'Em All. What sounded so hardcore in 1983 is apparently mainstream today.
First, a shout-out to the readers:
Benjie dropped me a link to the 101 Greatest George Carlin quotes. Courtesy of Blogzarro.
Also, the Ancient One, Blessed Be He, has a post about Culver City urinals. You may recall (or maybe you won't) my post on designer urinals here. Like father, like son.
- Rocklahoma! Where the metal comes sweepin' down the plain
- And the wavin' fists can sure give pain
- When the guitars' wails make Headbangers insane!
Rocklahoma! Awesome! It's an 80's child's dream:
White Lion, Y&T, Slaughter, Quiet Riot, Poison, and Ratt. That's just Friday!
On Saturday, you've got Bang Tango, Faster Pussycat, FireHouse, Warrant, Skid Row, Vince Neil, Winger and Dokken!
And the festival closes on Sunday with Britny Fox, L.A. Guns, Great White, Jackyl, W*A*S*P* and Twisted Sister.
For more info, go see it for real here.
Monday, May 14, 2007
So, I got tagged by a meme. From This Blog Right Here, no less, so I am morally blogbligated (new word) to play along.
The exercise is to divulge seven things people don't know about you. This is no easy feat, especially since, among my regular readers are my father, my wife, and one of my oldest friends, Benjie, who has known me since grade 3. I would venture to guess that, combined, they know more about me than I remember about myself. So, I will cheat a little, and offer up, perhaps, a few items that are deep-rooted, non-identifying facts that are unknown to most, but may be no big secret to a few.
1. I was a Washington Redskins fan, for about a minute, in the early 1970's. This may come as a shock to many, if not everyone. Sure, it's not earth-shattering, but it's a fact that I may not have even divulged to Melanie, who's a Giants fan, and may not have married me if she had known of this checkered past.
Let me elaborate. To all who know me, the story has always been that, growing up in Hawai'i, devoid of a local professional sports franchise, I looked beyond the West Coast, past the Rams, 49ers, Raiders and Chargers, and found my kindred team, the Green Bay Packers. I chose the Wisconsin team because they had won Super Bowl I the year I was born, 1967. As a result, it seemed like a natural choice for a young boy, and I have been a Packers fan ever since.
However, I remember cheering for the 1972 Miami Dolphins, being a huge fan of the stars Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Paul Warfield, and Mercury Morris. But I also liked the Redskins for one reason and one reason only:
When you're 5 or 6 years old, little things make sense. Billy Kilmer was a charismatic quarterback. Plus he had a great name. Especially his first name.
However, as I grew older, became a Packers fan, and met obnoxious Redskins fans (thank you, Sandy Kim), I came to loathe the Redskins. Go Green Bay!
I've never read Moby Dick.
3. I bought this album when it came out:
4. Carlos and I Killed a Dove:
CARLOS AND I KILL A DOVE
Wherever we went, we threw rocks at birds.
Pigeons, doves, sparrows, cackling mynahs
and red-helmeted cardinals. There's a bird-
here's a rock: side-arm whoosh! and wings beat
excitedly as the stone skips by, missing.
We never hit a thing. Then one day
in Kapiolani Park, we stumbled upon
hundreds of gray doves engorged themselves
on a bacchanalian scattering of rice. I smiled
and motioned to Carlos, hefting a chunk
of broken asphalt in my hand. I tossed it aloft,
like an Olympic shot put champion.
The greedy birds were too preoccupied
devouring their meal to notice its descent
as it landed with a sickening thud,
detonating like a primitive grenade
in a symphony of dust and bloody feathers.
Sixteen is such a cruel age.
Carlos and I ran up to where the meteor
had torn away a chunk of earth. A small dove
lay on its side, glassy-eyed and staring
right through me, a rivulet of blood
glistening from its beak. Carlos and I
whooped with joy and high-fived and
babbled on about the beauty of the moment:
the fluid entanglement of stone and feather
An old man got out of his car nearby
and approached us. "You kids are really sick!"
he yelled, as the rage crawled across his skin
like a swarm of crimson ants, "You should
get some help." I mocked him with
adolescent arrogance: "I already do.
I see the same psychiatrist as him."
Carlos was writhing in the dirt
and laughing like a lunatic.
The old man retreated, shaking his head,
as we celebrated with our death-dance
in the peaceful confines of the park.
What an evil thing that was, I sometimes
think, but then all the childhood memories
shooting crabs with BB guns,
throwing firecrackers at dogs,
dropping boulders on jellyfish
in the Ala Wai Canal.
I am guilty of all of these crimes
but I do not feel any remorse,
not even for killing the dove,
because I justify such actions
by thinking that this is what boys do.
Carlos is dead.
A motorcycle hurled him to the pavement
when he was eighteen. I don’t miss him.
He made me do terrible things.
©2007 William Dickenson Cohen
Gee, I hate long posts, but I've only discussed four things. Let's finish this up fast.
5. Speaking of Carlos, he and I were once propositioned by a bi-sexual radio disc jockey and concert promoter named Greg Mundy. (Sorry, Benjie knows this one). It's a long story, but not as scandalous as one might think. Carlos and I politely declined. Mundy was a DJ on 98 Rock in Honolulu. That weekend he dedicated "Baba O'Reilly" to us during a broadcast. Teenage Wasteland, indeed. Mundy is dead now, too (referenced buried deep here).
6. I prevented someone from going to see the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. I was working at Thrifty Drug Store as a "hand dip," scooping ice cream. The other hand dip was a pretty young teenager whose name I'll never remember. She was rich and spoiled and not very nice to me. I was a dork, but she still could have been nicer. She was offered tickets to go see the closing ceremonies on August 12, 1984. Which was a Sunday. I worked Saturdays. She worked Sundays. The only time she was ever nice to me was when she asked me to work her shift so she could go. For the first time in my life, I felt a sense of power. I owed nothing to her. She asked me Saturday at the end of her shift. I said no, sorry. She looked at me like I had just burnt down her house. I watched the Closing Ceremonies on TV at home, still swooning over the new love of my life, Mary Lou Retton (does this count as 6 and 7?). Had it been me, I would've just called out sick and gone to the Olympics (well, duh!). She worked. And never spoke to me again. Once every few years, I feel a passing twinge of guilt, but it lasts only for a second.
7. The first time I got drunk was July 25, 1983. I was in the town of Tiberias in Israel on the Sea of Galilee. The bar was called Blue Beach. I had two screwdrivers in small plastic cups. Fortunately for me, everyone else got drunker than me, so our tour group collectively bore the brunt of the counselors' rage.
So, that's 7. Now like Mat from This Blog Right Here, I am tagging my Father, my Sister, and Frogma. If R. Lachsvolkes wants to play, he can too.