Mese: luglio 2014

vacation time for gwendolyn and cecily

Gwendolyn and Cecily were old friends, having grown up together in Lindenhurst, New York.    Each year since their teens, according to their lifelong agreement, they were to take a week-long vacation.   Each one saved up quite scrupulously from her pittance of a paycheck.   Over the course of the past three decades, thanks to their arrangement, they got a chance to see both Las Vegas and Atlantic City, as well as all sorts of other places throughout the country.      Each year they both got all their available funds together, picked precisely the best available weeks, made hotel reservations and bent over backwards to make all sorts of other arrangements that left them quite overwhelmed and frustrated.    Going on vacation was usually so much work, but this year it was going to be different.    Cecily came up with quite the perfect brainstorm.    Just because it was vacation time, that didn’t necessarily mean, by definition, that they’d have to be bothered with traveling a significant distance.     She told Gwendolyn that she’d like to go on a fishing trip at Captree State Park and then hang around on Robert Moses Beach the rest of the time.     The only clothes they’d need were bathing suits and towels.    With all the money they’d inevitably end up saving they could go over to the Fifty Six Fighter Group, or some other local bar or restaurant, and have a really nice relaxing meal.      All worked out quite well.   By spending the same amount of money as any other year, they got a lot more enjoyment out of it to show for it.   Never again would they feel the need to be extravagant.


frankenstein opens pandora’s box










As nice as all of mankind’s technological advances are, having given us all sorts of extra ease and convenience, I still like a lot of things better when done the old fashioned way, by real people under ordinary circumstances.    Ever since I was only a little kid, I’ve always enjoyed home made food better than anything frozen or processed.    This is especially true of pastries, baked goods, and desserts in general.   I can remember having made quite a few comments, as a kid, about how home made apple pie tastes so much better than the kind they sell in stores.     I’ve always really liked hand made clothes much better than the kind they make in factories too.    That’s a lot to ask of life though.    Mass produced clothes are usually very nice and much more affordable than those that are individually made.    Music is another world in which I shun excessive technological influence.   I’m not like those fans in the middle 1960’s who abandoned Bob Dylan because he played an electric instrument.   I like a little innovation but please don’t overdo it.

I just recently read something in the New Oxford Review about the current trend toward trying to eradicate penmanship, and to keep people communicating by way of social network media like Facebook and Twitter.    Instead of teaching kids how to write in cursive, liberals in the world of education are now trying to phase it out, explaining that we now live in a world of keyboards and touch pads and that the need for the ability to write is supposedly an anachronism.    The article’s author argues, and I wholeheartedly agree, that each individual’s penmanship, unlike his printing, has his distinctive and unique personality in it and the same thing can’t be said for the printed or typed word.       Food that is processed is a counterfeit of the real thing.   So is manufactured clothing.    Artificial communication, though, is the absolute worst of all because it will inevitably irrevocably destroy all interpersonal relationhips and mankind’s sense of community.  







day 211

Unfortunately I didn’t respond to the prompt that asked what day 211 would be like.     My parents both died last autumn so  I’ve been subjected to quite a few very significant changes this year.    It’s turned out to be quite a nice uneventful year for me though in most respects.   I’ve been having quite a nice time getting used to life in Long Beach.   Nothing has gone especially wrong for me.    I’ve always had a hard time adjusting to change anyway.      I’ve been meeting new people here and figuring out how to find my way around.    The people at St. Mary of the Isle and the nearby Coffee Nut Cafe have been getting used to having me around by now.    It gets me quite crazy but I’ve been able to handle it.    Sometimes I go to the beach or at least walk toward its general direction.   I make sure I go to Mass most days during the week.     I can’t stand cold weather here but I can’t stand cold weather in general anyway.   Now that it’s warm and sunny out I’ve truly been having the time of my life.     My feet hurt quite a lot though so I have one very minor complaint that seems not to have any kind of a solution.


the distinguished young couple


“Remember, Jack,” the young wife said, “Bobby’s, John’s and Caroline’s birthdays are all this week.” “Yes, dear, I understand,” her overworked husband replied as they headed toward Dallas on a brisk Friday morning.

“We have to enter Dealey Plaza at 12:10,” he reminded her. “Then I have to make a speech and we can go to a steak luncheon.” He went on to say, “Considering all my responsibilities, it’s not as if this weekend will go down in history.”

“After it’s all over let’s go home and relax please,” she replied, assuming that 1964 would be overwhelmingly busy for them.

recuperating from stress or exhaustion

After an exceptionally long overwhelming drive, or any other prolonged source of aggravation, exhaustion and stress, I just like to hang around and to rest.   Conveniently there isn’t any one and only thing that gets me relaxed.     I don’t necessarily have to go directly to bed but I at least have to make sure that I don’t have anything extra on my schedule.     Coffee always helps too.   Unfortunately I don’t ever get to have any before a significant trip because it always drives me crazy.     I have certain extremely seriously annoying problems under those circumstances.   If I have no place else to go, though, I can have some and it makes me feel so especially nice.     I often read too, or spend time online.   These days I spend a lot of time reading online anyway.      Another thing that keeps me relaxed is practicing my guitar.   Conveniently with all my distinctive interests, there are several sources of rest and relaxation I can resort to.    There’s one last thing i simply must explain quite clearly: I’ve absolutely never been able to stand the telephone so I make sure I avoid it entirely no matter what.     

ominous rainstorm in queens

One sunny Saturday morning, I got the idea to go back to my old neighborhood, 92nd Street in Jackson Heights, for a while, just to see what it’s like now.    I also really wanted to visit St. Gabriel’s five blocks away in East Elmhurst.    When I first got into my car, it was the perfect day, with sunshine and clear skies.    Unfortunately, though, that didn’t last.     By the time I  got to Astoria Boulevard, about an hour after I first left, the sky became very dark and it began to rain terribly.    On my way from 92nd Street to  St. Gabriel’s I decided to pull over and to park for a while on Astoria Boulevard.     In order to pass the time until the weather conditions improved I walked into the first store I noticed.   It was a dark, forlorn looking antique store, filled with quite a collection of artifacts, books and mounds of what appeared to be decades-old dust.    I was so happy simply to be inside someplace, safe from the bad weather, that I didn’t mind taking a chance on staying inside for a while.    After a few minutes, I rang the bell on the desk, hoping to get some service.    A large, gaunt, very old man, dressed entirely in black and grey,  came out of the back room and asked me what I wanted.      He introduced himself as Igor and explained that he and his wife, Olga, were the owners.     His glassy-eyed fixed stare and weak voice gave the impression that he was very ill.     He asked where I was from.    I told him that although I’m now living in Long Beach, I was a neighborhood kid, having lived on 92nd Street long ago.     The more I looked around the old place, the more I got the idea that I appeared to have wandered into another world entirely.    It was one big cliche, something from an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” or “The Twilight Zone”.      He gave me a tour of the establishment, even taking me down the long winding stairs to the cellar, explaining that that was where the couple kept all their supplies and records.    I couldn’t help noticing how cold, damp and musty it was down there.     Although it was quite a genuinely seriously terrifying experience I kept trying to convince myself that no real harm could possibly come to me.   I wondered when would the predictable plot twists kick in?   Maybe he’d try to sell me some obscure artifact that would grant me three wishes-or would some long lost ghost appear from beyond the grave?     Eventually I was able to conclude that the fellow was merely a harmless eccentric old gentleman, no more threatening to my well being than anyone.     After a few hours we passed a window, through which I noticed that the weather had gotten very much nicer, with sunshine in a cloudless sky.      I politely excused myself and explained to the old fellow that I was in a hurry and that I wanted to take advantage of my chance to visit St. Gabriel’s.    We bade each other good-bye in quite a gentlemanly fashion.     I took a brief walk over to my old parish, relieved finally to be able to enjoy an afternoon in one of my favorite places.   Perhaps, though, that brief detour through such a tense unwelcoming environment can serve as a warning to me that certain things from the past must never again be referred to.

been a long time been a long time been a long lonely lonely lonely lonely time

It seems as if it were only yesterday that I was a youngster.    Now that I have all sorts of Facebook friends from as far back as my days in Jackson Heights,  even before my teens, I’m constantly reminded that even my very earliest days seem quite recent in my memory.   I also spend quite a lot of time with my niece and nephews.   Bridget recently turned seventeen, Sam recently turned twenty one and Michael will be twenty six next month.     That strikes me as quite an eye opener.    It seems as if it were only yesterday that I was that young.    I don’t really mind the passage of time and can even get used to the kids’ constantly rubbing it in.    Perhaps you could say I tend passively to ignore how old I really am.     A few years ago I told my parents that I could understand that twenty years was a long time, but that I couldn’t understand that the 1990’s were a long time ago, even though we were living in the 1990’s twenty years ago.     Thanks to my lifelong obsession with the humanities.   I understand well that time is divided into both objective time and subjective duration.    Man has to deal, in one way or another, with units of time ranging from Grateful Dead time to the New York minute, depending upon his circumstances.     I still think of myself as being young, though I realize quite well that it’s now a crock.   All I have to do is to meet a former classmate or teacher of mine, or anyone else I knew a significantly long time ago.     My appearance has changed, though I’m still recognizably the same as I was in days of yore.     I sort of live in the past in certain ways.    I should like to think that I shall soon be quite a very interesting old timer, the kind who knows how to tell legitimate stories about the past, and to compare and to contrast then and now, but not in a creepy way.      It’s all a question of facing up to the inevitable.    I’ve never liked that as-young-as-you-feel crap.   I’ve also never been able to stand when characters such as Willard Scott refer to fans of his as a hundred and four years young, or anything like that.    When someone pretends that old people can be young in some way he denies the legitimate goodness, beauty and worthiness of both age and youth.    When that happens no one wins and everyone loses.

the rover

So far I’ve only been to eleven of the fifty states in this country.    I have seen New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Illinois and Michigan.    If I could have my way I should like to see the other thirty nine.     There are so many exceptionally interesting sights to see in this country.    Assuming that money and time are not obstacles I could put my G.P.S. into my car, set it for whatever destinations life may have in store for me, and keep right on traveling.    I could visit my cousin Vinnie  in North Carolina and my cousin the Ronald in the State of Washington.      Since I should have to get to everyplace by way of a car, I should have to miss out on only Hawaii.      Unfortunately I’ve always dreaded cold weather, so I’d better plan on spending as much time as possible in the warmer states, reserving all those cold climates for times of the year during which they can be the least damaging to my well being and sanity.    If it doesn’t have to be entirely land based-assuming I’d be allowed to fly a bit first in order to get started-then I should like to see Hawaii and Europe.    I’ve always wanted to see all the historical hot spots over in Europe.     The Carmelites have quite a history over there, especially in France, Italy, Spain and Ireland.     The United States’ history only goes back to the seventeenth century.    Europe’s history, though, goes way back to much earlier times.   I’ve always been quite smitten with the early days of western culture and civilization.    As everyone knows, western civilization is far superior to any other.   By finding out about all its roots, at their very source, I could have quite an exceptionally interesting time and satisfy my intellectual curiosity.    














best friend

I haven’t had a best friend since I was a kid.   When I was a kid in Jackson Heights my best friend was Earl.    Then when we first moved to Lindenhurst, around the time I turned twelve years old, my best friend was Jimmy.   His family moved eventually so that left me without a best friend permanently.   They’re both now on my Facebook friend list.   Each one has a birthday on Halloween.    It’s a very nice idea for someone to be able to have a friend whom he can always count upon, and whom he can even refer to specifically as his very best friend.    I’ve never liked the idea of a BFF though, not because I don’t think someone should have a best friend.   It’s simply because I consider it quite a seriously annoying trite catch phrase.    Maybe the reason for my not having a best friend in so extremely long a time is that I’ve always been entirely too distinctive a character to qualify for one.   A best friend is quite an interesting character.    It would be nice if each of us could count on someone to play Norton to his Ralph, or Oscar to his Felix.    I know I don’t lack a best friend because of a deliberate decision.    It’s merely dumb luck that has dealt me such an unfortunate blow.



best friend

tom balistreri

tucked into a corner

u be cute

even more ha ha lydia

Although Julius, after having worked at the Susquehanna Hat Company for more than fifteen years, was already accustomed to their annual business trips in Wilkes Barre, they were still always quite an annoying chore for him.    Early on Saturday morning he got up so he could have the easiest possible time making the three hour long drive through Routes 80, 115 and 81.      Having gotten to his hotel room on Route 315 a bit early, he thought he’d take a joy ride through River Road and enjoy the local scenery.    When he got to the small borough of Hilldale, he couldn’t help noticing an inexplicably enchanting small candy store on one of the side streets.    Once he went inside he met Lydia and Delfina, the two eccentric old sisters who ran the establishment.      At first they just struck him as nothing more than a couple of entirely harmless spinsters, perhaps relics of a bygone era.    Somehow, though, the pair ended up having quite an enduring impact upon him.    Their speech, mannerisms, and attire were like nothing he’d ever before seen or heard of.    The atmosphere of the store was evocative of some long-ago, faraway land. Eventually he went home to Lindenhurst.   Thursday, his first day home, found him  significantly more tired and moody than anyone could have possibly predicted.      There was something very different about him after the long business trip.   Ethel, his girlfriend, and Ralph, his best friend, tried to talk to him but neither could figure him out.    He explained that the work-related meetings he was supposed to attend went exactly as normally and typically as he could have expected.    There was simply something unbelievable about those  oddball sisters though.    Since his having arrived home, he couldn’t stop thinking of them day and night, often staring helplessly at some faraway fixed point in space.    He would often break out in an icy cold sweat for no known reason.     “Hey Ethel,” asked Ralph, “You don’t believe in any such a thing as a  gypsy curse, do you?”      She just rolled her eyes, unable to figure anything out.    It took them quite a few weeks to help him recuperate from his traumatic experience.       Since then they’ve all been understandably terrified even to presume to talk about it.