Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Get Out Of Here!

I notice a trend today in which children become adults and then never leave the family home.

I know that part of the problem is that when people are graduated from college nowadays, they are around 3 trillion dollars in debt for tuition loans, student activity fees, and bar tabs. So they go home, take down the Black Eyed Peas posters and open a can of black-eyed peas for dinner.

Some say that another part of the problem is that young people are being raised with the notion that the world so eagerly awaits their arrival that top-level executive positions are kept open for them to fill once they get that diploma.

Image result for be it ever so humbleI guess the situation differs from family to family. And maybe sometimes parents are tickled to death to have young Abercrombie or Hildegard hang around until the cows have not only come home, but have turned out the lights in the barn and gone to sleep.

And then again, maybe some aren't.

Meet the Rotondos, Christina and Mark, from Camillus, in upstate New York.  They have this son named Michael, 30, and he just won't get the hell out of the house.  So they have turned to the law for help.

They gave him written notice to leave the house within 14 days on February 2, and he ignored it, probably because he was streaming season three of The Brady Bunch that week.

On Feb. 16 along came a note saying he was “hereby evicted," giving him until March 15 to hit the road.

That didn't work either, so they sent him a note (I have to wonder if they MAILED the note to him or just left it on the kitchen table in his cereal bowl) that said they “have seen no indication that you are preparing to leave.”

All that did was waste some paper, so the Rotondos filed more papers to have the case heard by the Supreme Court of New York State (they aren't fooling around!) saying that they understand that Michael cannot be "evicted" because he is a family member and this is home to him, but asking that he be given the boot through an "ejectment" proceeding.

It's like a ballplayer who argues with an umpire and goes too far; he can't be evicted, whether or not it's a home game, but he can be "ejected."

Michael turned off the tv long enough to file a response, claiming that  five written notices did not give him a "reasonable amount of time" for him to leave. He used the case of Kosa vs. Legg as precedent. That was a 2006 New York case (Larry Kosa, Plaintiff, v Detria Legg, Defendant) in which it was determined that "there is Common law requirement of six-month notice to quit before tenant may be removed through ejectment action.”

Michael also filed a paper that said that he was not given any reason for being shown the gate after just 30 years, years during which he “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement.” 

His official stance, then, is he never had a sense of responsibility to either himself or his parents, and they are just a couple of big poopheads.

The hearing date was yesterday. I'll be on the lookout for how it came out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Farewell to a genius

I was very sad to see that Tom Wolfe had passed away last week, but he certainly lived "A Life In Full," to steal the title of one of his novels.

And novel-writing was what he turned to later in his life. Not many people can lay claim to inventing a whole new form of writing, but Wolfe was right there in the early 1960s when what came to be called New Journalism was born.

And it wasn't like New Coke or the New Math, both of which came to be disliked just minutes after they were opened. In the old days of journalism, a reporter went to cover an event - a fire, say, or a gangland slaying - and came back to the Daily Globe to pound out a couple hundred words about the Who, the What, the When, the How and the Why.  ("A warehouse belonging to Tuxedoville, a men's formalwear chain operating in the local area, caught fire yesterday evening in the 5400 Block of Swallowtail Av. Fire Department spokesman Hugh Burnham reported the building, and its contents - approximately 350 heavily-used, out of style dress outfits for men - were completely destroyed. All of the firm's newer tuxedos and rental haberdashery, by good fortune, had been moved to an another warehouse just last week. The arson squad is investigating the apparent presence of a liquid accelerant and some partially used matchbooks found at the scene.")

Old and stodgy.  Wolfe, a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, had come to realize that he could get at the part of a story that people were really interested in by going to the story himself and finding out what happened - and then writing it in his own inimitable fashion:

This is how he described the masses of stock car racing fans heading to a race, in his article "The Last American Hero is Junior Johnson. Yes!" from Esquire magazine in 1965:

Ten o’clock Sunday morning in the hills of North Carolina. Cars, miles of cars, in every direction, millions of cars, pastel cars, aqua green, aqua blue, aqua beige, aqua buff, aqua dawn, aqua dusk, aqua aqua, aqua Malacca, Malacca lacquer, Cloud lavender, Assassin pink, Rake-a-cheek raspberry. Nude Strand coral, Honest Thrill orange, and Baby Fawn Lust cream-colored cars are all going to the stock-car races, and that old mothering North Carolina sun keeps exploding off the windshields. Mother dog!

Doesn't take much to see how that turned the literary world on its ears 50+ years ago, and, along with Truman Capote's great idea of writing the story of the murder of a Kansas farm family as if it were a novel called "In Cold Blood," things have not been so stodgy since.

Tom Wolfe became an acclaimed observer because he seemed to go everywhere, see everything, and write it up for those of us who couldn't join him. He wrote about the space program ("The Right Stuff"), late 60s hippie culture (“The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”), well-off sympathizers of liberal causes (“Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers”), the art world (“The Painted Word”) and architecture ("From Bauhaus to Our House").

All the while, he carried on lively rivalries with novelists such as Norman Mailer, John Updike and John Irving. Those three, and others, dared to criticize Wolfe's writing and soon were on the receiving end of his barbs, saying that Updike and Mailer were "two old piles of bones, " and that "Irving is a great admirer of Dickens. But what writer does he see now constantly compared to Dickens. Not John Irving, but Tom Wolfe . . . it must gnaw at him terribly."

Wolfe's chief complaint against those writers was that they sat in tony Manhattan homes writing about "real people" elsewhere in America, so he went to do his research when he shifted to writing novels. For example, he immersed himself in relationships with bond traders and other free-wheeling billionaire types before writing "The Bonfire Of The Vanities," and in a group of insecure college freshmen and women for "I Am Charlotte Simmons."

If it sounds like I can go and on about Tom Wolfe, it's because of my admiring his every word for over half a century, and I will close this with my favorite story about him.

Esquire magazine sent him to California in 1963 to write about a custom car show, at the time when hot rods and custom machines and Beach Boys surf music was just being noticed in the national cultural pulse. He spent a weekend with the car-crazy folks, but was not able to find the handle on the article Esquire wanted. He didn't know how to approach a topic that was so foreign to East Coasters. Finally, in desperation, he called his managing editor, Byron Dobell, who told him to just write up his notes in memo form, and the magazine would shape them into some kind of story.

Wolfe began typing at 8 p.m. “I wrapped up the memorandum about 6:15 a.m.,” he later wrote, “and by this time it was 49 pages long. I took it over to Esquire as soon as they opened up, about 9:30 a.m. About 4 p.m. I got a call from Byron Dobell. He told me they were striking out the ‘Dear Byron’ at the top of the memorandum and running the rest of it in the magazine.”

Image result for the kandy-kolored tangerine-flake streamline babyThe title that Esquire gave the piece was “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” soon to be the title of his first book.

No false modesty this man whose talent made him great. “I regard myself in the first flight of writers, but I don’t dwell on this,” Wolfe said in 1981. “If anything, I think I tend to be a little modest.”

I think he was entitled to be impressed with his ability. I will be forever!

Monday, May 21, 2018

My new hero

“Your staff is speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English,” the man announces.Don't get ahead of me here! My new hero is NOT the racist madman lawyer from New York who went off on a foul rant in a restaurant across the street from his Manhattan office, screaming hate because people had the audacity to speak Spanish in his royal presence.

"He heard us speak Spanish and started yelling, 'You mf---ers!' " said Oscar Villanueva, a Honduran immigrant and employee of Fresh Kitchen.

"He said we have to speak English," Villanueva went on. "He started saying a lot of ugly words . . . . We felt really bad, humiliated."

It won't be long before ALL of us have been exposed to this sort of nonsense. I was pushing my cart around the Food Warehouse one day as a young woman talked on her cell. I guess I need to add that she was holding her conversation in Spanish; that's the only way it will make sense when I tell you that a random unhinged harridan ankled up to her and croaked, "Speak English!"

To her everlasting credit, the young woman said, "I am speaking with a friend who does not speak English...if you don't mind..."

I then followed the old hag around the store and placed embarrassing items in her cart when she wasn't looking.

Anyhow, back in New York.  This guy really went bazoo, threatening to call ICE and questioning the citizenship of any and all speaking Spanish. Invoking the threat of deportation, he said the employees are all in "my country."

"My guess is they're not documented," lawyer Aaron Schlossberg bellowed. "So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off my money — I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here — the least they can do is speak English."

He went on to claim that he is better-educated than the employees, although he clearly was not referring to being taught manners or human decency.

Schlossberg is 42, a registered Republican and a donor to the 2016 presidential campaign 2016 donor of Donald J. Trump, another ill-bred New Yorker. 

You saw the rest on the news. The video of his nativistic nonsense "went viral" and exposed him as a loon, and soon he was asked to vacate the office he rented and was last seen being chased down by the relentless Gotham press.

Within a day, there were petitions calling for his disbarment and/or discipline by the state bar ass'n.

And then, because The Internet Is Forever, someone showed up with a video showing a cursing Schlossberg caterwauling at a rally last year protesting a Palestinian speaker in Manhattan.

But really, Schlossberg and people like him, cold sores upon the sweet smiling lips of humanity, can all just go kick rocks barefoot, because from the smoke and and tears of all their ineffable enormity rises a new hero.

Please stand and applaud a man named Mark Goldberg, who started one of those GoGimmeMoney pages and rounded up $ hire a mariachi band to play "La Cucaracha" "to cheer up the staff and attorneys at The Law Office of Aaron M. Schlossberg Esq. . . . after a difficult day."

Goldberg for President 2020!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Rerun: Philadelphia Story (2011)

The man's name was Bob Marcucci and he did things that people don't do these days.  He died recently in Los Angeles, but his story begins in his native Philadelphia, where he was working as a waiter in an Italian restaurant in 1957.  That's when he borrowed $10,000 from his father and started a record label known as Chancellor Records (there's a Chancellor Street in Philly.)


Those being the nascent days of rock 'n' roll, three years later, the small label grossed $2 million. The first big seller for Marcucci was a kid who showed some musical talent.  Born Francis Thomas Avallone, he was a teen trumpeter and he thought he could also sing a little, but would prefer to keep tooting the horn. Marcucci said, "Give me a year and I'll make you a star."  The first two records they released on the young man failed to hit the Top 40, or the Top 4,000 for that matter.  But then, Marcucci wrote a little ditty called "De De Dinah."  The young man with a horn put the trumpet down, stepped up the mic and sang the song while holding his nose to create a distinctive vocal sound, and went on the road, now known as Frankie Avalon.  He's still known that way and he is still out on the oldies revue circuit, still singing "De De Dinah" and other hits.  Regular viewers of cable tv know him as Teen Angel, singing "Beauty School Dropout" in the movie "Grease."

"He was my mentor, he was my creator, and he really put all of his time and efforts into creating a star," Avalon told the Los Angeles Times. "He had so much zest for life. And with his enthusiasm for show business and the people that he believed in, he just wouldn't stop."

Well, a guy with some musical talent is one thing to make into a star, but here's the real kicker.  Frankie's sister went to school with a 15-year-old kid named Fabiano Forte.  As the legend goes, Marcucci was in the South Philly neighborhood where the Avallones lived when he saw an ambulance in front of a house and an upset looking kid on the porch.  The kid was Fabiano Forte, who was pondering the family's fate.  His father, the breadwinner for the family, was a Philly cop, and in those days, a cop who went sick was a cop who went without a paycheck, so naturally, Fabiano was worried when his father suffered a heart attack.

Marcucci asked the lad if he could sing or if he were interested in being a singer.  Answer to both: "No."

But you don't get to be a millionaire show biz mogul by taking any amount of "nos" for answers.  He kept at it, and of course pointed out that the Forte family fortunes could be vastly improved by the proceeds from a couple of hit records.  Bob gave the singer a new name ("Fabian") and a new wardrobe. He beat the drum, hanging posters that read “Who Is Fabian?,” “What Is a Fabian?” and “Fabian Is Coming!” This was sort of the Facebook of the 50's - hiring kids to go around tacking posters on street corners and telephone poles. In June 1958, Fabian showed up on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” tv show, sporting a sweater, tight pants and white bucks.

“The little girls at the hop went wild,” Clark told The Washington Post. “They started screaming and yelling for this guy who didn’t do a thing but stand there. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Before buying his way out of his contract several years later, Fabian had hit records with “I’m a Man,” “Tiger,” “Turn Me Loose” and “Hound Dog Man.”

As is the way with teen idols, his popularity waned, and he wound up making a couple of movies before hopping on the oldies revue bus with Frankie Avalon.

And Bob Marcucci's Midas touch went away too. The last Top 10 hit for the Chancellor label was Claudine Clark’s “Party Lights,” in 1962, and by 1965 the label was out of business.

He moved to Los Angeles, as do so many, and he found work on the edges of show business.

And now, at long last, I can quit sitting around on our front porch wearing my plaintive, despondent face.  Bob Marcucci has passed on, and I guess I'll never be discovered.  Which is good, because I'm a terrible singer.

But there was a time when that didn't matter!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Saturday Picture Show, May 19, 2018

Out in California, they're still trying to figure out if the guys who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962 made it to shore or not. All sorts of theories abound, but the escape was clever. Here is the mask one of them left in his bunk so that, as he was leaving, the guards would come by and tell him nighty-night and think he was sleeping tight.
Say hi to Lazybones, my hoss in today's Preakness. Odds are 3-1 that he won't even make it to the starting gate.
I am not kidding you. This is someone's actual bathroom with a jungle theme.
Imagine all this citrus bobbing around in a pitcher full of ice water!
Say hi to Mostik, The Russian Cat. He has been hanging around the site of the new $4B bridge the Russians just built to Crimea, a country they annexed against the wishes of all Crimeans. Our president's close friend Mr Putin was supposed to be the first to cross the bridge when it opened, but Mostik darted out in front of him, against the wishes of Mr Putin.
Red sky at night, sailor's delight...evening in Manhattan.
He always runs a line of nonsense, claiming to have been all sorts of things in his day, when all he really needed was to say that he is a very talented songwriter and singer.  David Allan Coe had some of the best country songs in the last gasp of the Golden Era of Country, before the Lukes and Keiths and Bretts and Blakes and FlaGa types took over and won't let go. Remember that Johnny Paycheck song "Take This Job and Shove It"? Coe wrote it, and he wrote lots of others.
Here is an unabashed plug for the movie that will likely change the way the world sees cinema after June 1. Johnny Knoxville once again risks life and limb to amuse us, and you should at least go see his movie a couple of times to pay him back right. And remember, on his 1040 form, under "Occupation" he gets to put down "Actor," same as Meryl Streep.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Another brilliant idea

OK. A tiger, a lemur, two macaws, and an African fennec fox walk into a high school prom.

That's not the setup for a joke. It's what happened at the prom for Christopher Columbus High School, a private high school in Miami. It's such a ritzy school that they held the prom at the swank Double Tree by Hilton out by Miami International Airport! Imagine swimming in such elegance, or at least dancing in it.

For reasons I will never understand, the people who run CCHS thought it would be a helluva great idea to have these animals on display as high school kids did the Stank Legg. These children spent 12 years in school in order to be taught as a final lesson that it's ok to put jungle beasts in small cages, drag them into a noisy room and flash bright lights all around them.

And, just as you'd think, after Friday's prom comes Monday's half-fast apology from Principal David Pugh:
"Upon reflection, we regret the decision to have live animals at our prom. This decision in no way reflects the Marist values, teachings of the Catholic Church and/or the accomplishments of our young and that of our distinguished alumni."
"Upon reflection" is current American English for "I did not use my brain before, but I sure am using it now!"

I also hope that Pugh never taught anyone how to use words effectively. IKEA assembly manuals are better written than his word salad.

The school just about tripped over itself in putting out a statement that, in effect, said, "Don't look at US! We got these critters from facilities  licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."

"The tiger, which was displayed for a few minutes in a cage, was never harmed or in danger, was not forced to perform, was always accompanied by his handlers, and for the great majority of the time was laying down in a relaxed state, facing away from the audience," the earlier school statement said.

Ron Magill of Zoo Miami doesn't quite agree.

"This tiger's not celebrating. This tiger's not having a party," Magill said to ABC News. "This tiger is being stressed out."

Magill said he "didn't know what they were thinking."

"It's not even walking," Magill said. "It's going back and forth, back and forth; its tail is slashing back and forth; its ears are going into helicopter mode -- all signs of distress."

(I can add that, as someone who is owned by two cats 1/25th the size of these jungle kitties, that tail flying back and forth and perked-up ears mean you are doing something to displease a cat and will soon wish you had not.)

Mari-Chris Castellanos, sister of a guy who goes to the all-boys private school, said on Facebook that  the tiger "was used as an exotic amusement for the mindless teenagers who were present."

Arranged by mindless adults and supplied by more of the same.

Listen, I am not the most stalwart of animal advocates, but I am against humiliation and subjugation of any animal, no matter how many legs they have.  Dragging a caged animal into a noisy banquet hall is not a good idea, to me.

Letting the tiger out of his cage, now that would make for a great prom.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Love is a hurting thing" - Lou Rawls

I'm happily married for 45 years as of soon, so it's been a long time since I was diving into the dating pool, and I guess the rules have changed. 

Back in the day, the dating ritual involved meeting a girl, taking her out once, and then driving past her house 129 times a day, just hoping she was coming out to dump the trash.

Now, in the electronic age, no one takes out the trash; they "hit the delete button." And that's what a man in Phoenix ALLEGEDLY had to do 65,000 times recently, just because he had one date with a woman by the name of Jacqueline Ades.

It turns out, there is a dating site for verified millionaires, a site known as Luxy. Ms Ades, 31, met her inamorato there, and they went out once.

Once was plenty for the man, unnamed in charging documents.  But, “I felt like I met my soul mate and I thought we would just do what everybody else did and we would get married and everything would be fine,” Ades said, instead of saying, "He didn't like me, so that's that."

31-year-old Jacquline Ades has been charged with threatening, stalking, harassment and failure to appear in court.
The eyes. Look at the eyes.
No, what she did was, she sent him 65,000 text messages, which is even more than I get from those Nigerian princes-in-exile.

Apparently, the first 64,999 messages did not get her in trouble, but when she hit "send" for the 65,000th time, she was arrested and charged with threatening, stalking, harassment and failure to appear in court, according to The Washington Post.

Ms Ades told the local news in AZ that she sent her date all those texts  because “loving him selflessly brought me his information.”

A lot of the "selfless" texts included anti-Semitic insults and threats to kill the man, which moves this case from the realm of the peculiar right into psychoville.

She was getting those messages out at a 500-per-day clip, but she must have grown fearful when she got no replies, so she upped her game, breaking into his house and taking a bath.

I know that sounds nutty, but she did use the bathtub. Taking a bath in his kitchen sink, now that would be odd.

Police say she also showed up at his work pretending to be his wife.

Never lacking for nerve, Ades admitted sending 65K texts and said she thought she had sent more than that, intoning these immortal words:

 “Love is an excessive thing.” 

Her trial is pending.