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CHANGE 2017 remix: 10 signs of age

June 14, 2017 1 comment

1)  Your age is 413 in dog years

2)  Bad hair decade

3)  Coffee runs through you faster than Usain Bolt

4)  Your nieces have graduated from college

5)  You’ve lived through disco 5 times

6)  90s’ nostalgia

7) “Lifelong regrets” regarding M.S. and J.M. continue unabated and you know it is your fault

8)  Jacoby Ellsbury’s being on a “day-to-day” reminds oneself that we all are

9)  AARP sending emails and hard copy is surely a sign of something or other

10)  “Well do ya punk…go ahead, make my day…get off my lawn.”

 

First night in Boston, September 19, 1978

February 14, 2017 1 comment

First night in Boston

September 19, 1978

First night in Boston was something that had been foremost in my mind for better than a year.  I had spent the previous 2 days pacing a hole in the living room carpet while debating my leave taking for Boston.

I was enrolled in Northeastern University but the apartment I had secured had been rented out from under me leaving me to hitchhike, again, to Boston to find housing for the upcoming semester.

Boston Common Realty rented me a spacious, albeit dilapidated, studio on Huntington Ave. for $160 a month directly across the street from the N.U. quad.

I hitchhiked back home to Port Washington, N.Y. and packed the trusty foot locker which had seen me through a 12 year-old’s rustic New Hampshire summer camp, 2 summers of sports camp and 4 summers of Massachusetts religious camp, with underwear and the clock radio my parents had bought me for Christmas 1970.  I was undecided as to what else to bring.

As the departure day loomed my feet got cold as I contemplated moving to a city where I had no employment lined up, formidable academic challenges and less than $100 in liquid cash after having a summer camp counselor-in-training position defunded.

I did have a ride from a friend however…if only to the Throgs Neck Bridge.

My friend called.

“Hey Steve, you pussy.  Have you pulled the panties out of your crack?” offered my friend.

“Thanks for the reminder,” I wittily replied.

“Steve, you’ve hitched 200 miles at midnight with $10 in your pocket and you’re afraid of college?  You even said you wanted out of Port; like y’know, yesterday.”

I replied, “Yeah, I know what I said but it just seems that I’ll be moving into a new place without having a job or money.”

My friend was a good guy.

He answered, “You moved into that place on Main St. with only a little more..”

I interrupted and said, “But that was only a few hundred yards away and I moved back at the end of the summer.  This is a much bigger move in more ways than one.”

My friend answered, “I can give you a ride tomorrow but after that I have to get back to work.”

“I will call you tomorrow,” I answered and hung up.

I knew that it was now or never.

I bounced my foot locker down the 13 stairs to the dining room.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

I stuffed my foot locker with shirts and more underwear.

I grabbed my green Army surplus duffle bag from the drying line in the basement and stuffed it with the books and records that I deemed worthy of sustaining me through whatever might transpire in my soon-to-be home.

And then anxiety, as evidenced by my sweating soles, overcame me.

I turned on our 12″ black and white TV to see the reassuring ineptitude of my N.Y. Mets.

Lindsay Nelson’s calm baritone spoke through the speakers, “And the Yankees will be fending off the Brewers tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium as Dick Tidrow and Mike Caldwell face off.”

Being a Mets fan I loathed the Yankees and relished the chance to root against them.

I stepped to our side porch where my brother Peter and his friends were puzzled by my mixed emotions.

“Hey Steve, we can’t miss you if you don’t leave,” offered a friend of my brother Peter.

I now knew I had to leave.

I called my friend.

“What time can you drive me to the Throgs Neck?”

“I work until 6, so around 7.  So you finally made up your mind?” my friend asked in a question that was the answer.

The next day I was packed early and spent the afternoon bemoaning the defunding of my counselor-in-training earnings while taking in the sights of Port Washington’s Main St. and gazing at the apartment I had occupied for 90 days earlier in the summer.

I went to my bedroom and attempted to sleep.

I laid on my back.

I laid on my left side.

I laid on my right side.

I touched myself.

I turned on my clock radio, which I had retrieved from my foot locker and listened to WBLS…

“…Frankie Crocker with the world’s best looking sound…”

…eventually falling into a fitful sleep and awakening on a very warm afternoon.  I putzed around the house before bouncing my foot locker down the 13 stairs of 42 North Bayles Avenue, Port Washington, New York.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

At the bottom of the stairs I opened my foot locker to make sure that my clock radio was wrapped in clothing so as not to be damaged on my trip.

I was too nervous to eat.  7 P.M. loomed and I wrestled in my mind whether to call my friend.  I wanted to push without being pushy.  My brother Peter’s friends came by and toasted me with a bong.

“Aw, you’re not going to go,” said one.

“Wanna bet?” I replied.

It was 7:30, dark, yet still very warm.  I tucked my Sweet-Orr work shirt into my Uncle Sam fatigues.

The phone rang.  It was my friend.

“Sorry I’m late.  Ready to go?”

“Yup,” I stammered as my heart hammered.

In 15 minutes my friend’s red VW squareback pulled up.  I had met my friend while hitchhiking 2 years ago and now that very same vehicle was to be my way out.

My Mom came out of the house and gave me a loaf of banana bread and told me that I could call collect when I made my arrival in Boston.  Mom’s eyes were wet.

My friend dragged my foot locker to the rear of the red VW squareback.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

My friend shifted gears and we were off to the access road leading from the L.I.E. to the Grand Central Parkway.

“…this is Tony Pigg rocking ’til 10 PM tonight…”

“Hey, could change the station?” I asked.

“Please don’t tell me you want to listen to disco again.  Didn’t you get your fill at work?” my friend wondered.

“The Yanks are playing the Brewers and as a Mets fan the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

My friend smiled and dialed in WINS AM as the throaty tones of Frank Messer intoned. “Going for the Brewers tonight is Mike Caldwell who has been a great surprise for the Brewers thus far this year having won 20 games already with the Yankees sending Dick Tidrow to the hill.”

All the windows were open.  Traffic was light as Tuesday night wasn’t a going out night and rush hour was over.

My friend pulled over on the shoulder of the access road.  E.J. Korvettes’ discount department store’s parking lot lights shone across the L.I.E.

I took the foot locker out of the VW squareback.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

Ker plunk.

“Well, I guess you are really going.  What time do you think your arrival in Boston will be?” my friend asked.

“I dunno…about 3 A.M. I guess.”

“For Christsakes be careful,” my friend offered.

And then, abruptly, “How much money do you have?”

“$37,” I answered.

My friend rolled his eyes and pressed a $20 bill into my hand, gave me a hug, and honked the horn while he drove to the next exit to return to Port Washington.

I put my thumb out being careful to stand under the Grand Central Parkway sign’s lights while glancing towards the Eastbound lane of the L.I.E. in the hope I could see the red VW squareback returning to Port Washington.

No such luck.

I wondered if the Brewers were beating the Yankees.

Up the road was my first night in Boston.

BARTENDING, REMIXOLOGY, DRINK, HOSPITALITY: Kentucky Colonel cocktail

July 13, 2016 1 comment

KENTUCKY COLONEL

Bourbon is Kentucky’s spirit and indeed the truest American spirit ie: hard liquor.

Bourbon is a barrel-aged distilled spirit made from fermented corn.  “Bourbon” derives its name from Bourbon County Kentucky, the eastern edge of French territory in the United States prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Bourbon can come only from Kentucky.  Jack Daniels, as every bartender should know, comes from Lynchburg Tennessee, and is a sour mash whiskey.

What true bourbons such as Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, have in common with Jack Daniels is that both are made utilizing the sour mash method.  In the sour mash method some of the cooked fermented corn, the “mash”, is used as a base for the next batch in order to pass along the yeast and flavor in a consistent fashion.  This process is analogous to the making of yogurt.

I began tending bar in 1982 and the bottles of Wild Turkey and Old Grand Dad stocked by my employer had perhaps 1 or 2 tipplers who drained them in an exceedingly slow fashion often mixed with Coke.  “Old man drink” is the phrase that comes to mind.  Bartenders then casually referred to Jack Daniels as a “bourbon.”  Few knew otherwise…and even fewer cared.

Bourbon’s public profile was limited to the annual TV gala of the Kentucky Derby where Southern gentlemen in straw boaters cavorted with Southern belles in oversized bonnets hoisting flutes of Mint Juleps.

During the ’90s bourbon advanced as Gen X, born from 1967-1975, aged out of dance clubs and into the lounges that proliferated towards the end of that decade.  During the ’90s back lit bottles of Evan Williams and Maker’s mark became familiar sights at Stephanie’s on Newbury and City Bar at the Lenox Hotel here in Boston.

Still bourbon did not have anywhere near the cachet’ of Irish whisky, let alone Scotch or cognac.  Appeal was limited to the United States.

2016 has bourbon increasing in sales AND quality AND international appeal as premium and small batch bourbons have joined Scotch and cognac in the contest for the taste buds and wallets of imbibers.

 In 2014 Japanese mega beverage corporation Suntory acquired Jim Beam for the astonishing price of 1.6 billion USDs!

In 1999 there were 455,000 cases of bourbon produced.  In 2015 there were 5 million cases produced with about 1/2 of that being exported.

Small batch and single-barrel offerings such as Woodford, Bulleit and Knob Creek, produced by Jim Beam, have earned slots on back bars and in the gullets of drinkers.

www.bourbonoftheday.com/bourbon-boom/

In that spirit I will introduce the Kentucky Colonel which was passed on to me by a brother bartender during last year’s Kentucky Derby.

KENTUCKY COLONEL

1 .5 oz. bourbon

1 1/2 lime

3 oz. ginger beer

  1. Fill a 10 oz, glass with ice.

  2. Pour 1.5 ounces bourbon.

  3. Press the juice of 1/2 of a ripe lime.  The lime should be verging on yellow as this indicates ripeness and optimal juiciness.  Roll the lime firmly on a hard surface to break down the juice-containing segments to achieve optimal yield.

  4. Top with ginger beer.

  5. “Box” the drink into an empty glass and return to the original glass to insure a fluid mix of the ingredients.

  6. Garnish with a lime wheel perched on the rim.

  7. Drink up!

The flavor profile of the Kentucky Colonel is one that engages the tongue with the burn of bourbon, the citrusy acidity of the lime and the almost sweet effervescence of ginger beer.

One could make this with Rose’s Lime juice imitating the fresh lime and root beer performing the ginger beer part but this would lessen the thirst quenching action of the KENTUCKY COLONEL and you’re better than that, aren’t you?

My encounter with this concoction inspired a fantasy of being a winner of a NASCAR race and I don’t even drive!

My current employer would price this at $8 as Jim Beam is $7 with a $1 added for the ginger beer.

Old school, try Googling ‘Kentucky Colonel’, and tres chic in our Digital Decade at one and the same time the KENTUCKY COLONEL is a winner!

 

 

 

BASEBALL: Red Sox vs. White Sox 8, Red Sox 6, Post-game wrap-up

June 23, 2016 1 comment

POST-GAME WRAP-UP TOP TEN

1) 75 degrees and 52% humidity is just about perfect.

 

2) Eduardo Rodriguez was one of the few bright spots in last year’s last place debacle and seemed to be on his game but Todd Frazier’s 6th. inning HR put the Chi Sox ahead.

 

3)  David Oritz was thrown out at home by Adam Eaton in the 2nd. inning on a short hit to center by Travis Shaw.  Eaton played the hit well coming in rapidly and throwing accurately to Chi Sox catcher Dioneer Navarro who easily tagged out Big Papi.  As we all know Papi is having an amazing season so far but:

a) He is 40.

b) He is at least 230 lbs.

c) The replay is not recommended for small children unaccompanied by adults.

 3rd. base coach Brian Butterfield made an inexplicable decision to play for 1 run in the 2nd. inning with the Bo Sox down only 1-0 at home.   

 

4)  1 bag of dry roasted peanuts from a vendor =$5.50. 2  Coca-Cola Zero(s) at $5.25 a whack.  I opted for the Coca-Cola Zero rather than Diet Coke for the slightly acidic aftertaste which cleanses the palate.

 

5) $499 for a 1st. base box seat so you can text and take selfies.  Am I the only one who thinks this is just wrong?  Please advise.

 

6)  Former Yankee and PED offender of 2014 Melky Cabrera now sports a beard sans mustache which gives him a vaguely Amish countenance.  Is there an Amish community in the Dominican Republic or is Melky merely attempting to conceal the Shaquille Onealesque double chin sprouting from his 5’10” 210 lb. physique?  You make the call.

 

7) Sandy Leon was picked off 3rd. in the bottom of the 4th where Brian Butterfield directs traffic.  Ortiz is sent, then erased, Leon is picked off…hmmm…

 

8) “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” was among the cavalcade of music cranked out by the Fenway sound system as is protocol  for all sporting events.  Fortunately,  Josh Kantor’s organ stylings bring back fond boyhood memories of Jane Jacobs at Shea Stadium playing “3 Blind Mice” whenever an umpire’s call was disputed.  The lovely analog tones echo in the grandstand and encourage enough conversation so that folks actually look at the game and each other rather than peering into their phone with earbuds surgically attached. 

 

9)  Peter Gammons bobblehead doll?

 

10)  Koji Uehara served up home runs to Melky Cabrera and Matt Lawrie along with a screaming double hit by Dioneer Navarro before being mercifully relieved by Heath Hembree.  “Relief” is truly the correct word.  Koji is one of my favorites.  Tending bar for the 6th. game of the 2013 World Series while a packed room chanted “Koji, Koji,” is one of my all-time sports memories and you have to love a man who has chosen the 1999 techno mega-hit “Sandstorm” by Darude as his entrance music but…Uehara is 41 and his 88 mph. “fastball” just might not be what it once was.  Just saying…

 

 

 

 

 

CHANGE 2016 remix: 10 signs of age

1)  Your age is 406 in dog years.

2)  Once you had bald spots, now you have hair spots.

3) “Lifelong best friend” turned out to mean her “lifelong”.

4)  You’ve lived through disco 4 times.

5)  ‘#’ went from meaning ‘number’ to meaning ‘pound’ to meaning ‘hashtag’ since you have aged out of middle age.

6)  “Lifelong regrets”regarding J.M. and M.S. means your “lifelong” and deservedly so.  Some wrongs do not go away nor should they.

7)  “You look good for your age,” is finally a real compliment.

8)  You have outlived your father.

9)  1958=58!

10)  “Deserves’ got nothing to do with it.”

BLACK FRIDAY: It didn’t always mean a retail holiday.

December 1, 2015 1 comment

BLACK FRIDAY, the day after Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas shopping season in spite of the fact that my nearest CVS has had Christmas thingys since Halloween, and don’t give me any of that ‘Happy Holidays’ stuff,  as surely as the Detroit Lions vs. whoever has been played since 1959.

Target, Macy’s, Olympia Sports, Sephora, Sears, and a virtual plethora of retailers clamor to gain our ears, bandwidths and wallets.  Even “cultural” retailers such as the Guitar Center on Boylston St. here in Boston ply their off priced wares.  Here in the New England of the  21st. century malls such as Boston’s Copley Place and the Natick Mall advertise for all of the stores housed under their roofs.  

Security firms pay $25 an hour for armed guards at the Neiman Marcus at the Natick Mall!  Righteous bucks!

*54″ HDTV for only $19.99!*

and the like are the lingua franca of the marketing maelstrom.

Such was not always the case.

Indeed methinks that the emergence of Black Friday as a retail holiday dates back to…

…the passing of what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation,” who lived through the Great Depression and WWII, which is to say my parents.

My mother, Doris was born in 1925, and my father Shelly was born in 1927. 

On occasion I would want some kind of mild extravagance, such as a 1st. baseman’s mitt.  My father would reply by bending my ear with stories of playing kick-the-can and being grateful that his father, who worked 3 jobs, was not among the legions of the unemployed in the Brooklyn of the 1930’s.

When I became a bartender Dad was all too willing to tell the tale of walking to the local tavern to buy a “bag of ice,” in the days before refrigerators became standard. 

What would Dad think of $1199.00 for a GE 20.3 cubic foot fridge with a bottom freezer?

http://www.Sears.com/Black-Friday-Sale

Mom hailed from New Kensington, PA a manufacturing city 19 miles NW of Pittsburgh.  Her father, Wiley O. Jack was a partner in a local Ford dealership.  During WWII very few cars were manufactured for retail sale as the auto makers of that era, Packard and Studebaker among them, retooled their assembly lines for the war effort.  My maternal grandfather made his living by servicing the cars he had already sold.

On occasion Mom would educate my brother Peter and I about the rationing of sugar, flour and eggs during the Great Depression.

I am on very safe grounds when I forward the thought that neither of my parents would ever think of ‘Black Friday’ as retail therapy.

BLACK FRIDAY prompts memories of my parents both of whom are no longer.  Investopedia tells us that the Black Friday that formed my parents hearts and minds occurred on October 25, 1929 when the stock market lost 11% of its net worth.

This pre-nuclear meltdown turned into a panic as the technology of our simplistic telephone system couldn’t keep up with panicked investors dumping their holdings.  Banks, being substantial institutional investors, lost their worth in the pre-FDIC era and throngs flocked to banks to withdraw their savings while there was still cash to meet their demands.

Black Friday had made a previous appearance in the financial lexicon in the 19th. century on September 24, 1869 when financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk sought to corner the gold supply.  When this scheme collapsed it was dubbed ‘Black Friday.’  It is certainly a viable concept that those with an education in the economic history of our country knew of the 1869 scandal when the stock market crash of 1929 occurred.

www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/…/grant-black-friday

The contemporary usage of black Friday’s earliest mention seems to have been in January of 1966 when the Philadelphia Police Dept(PPD) used the term to describe the crowds in downtown Philadelphia on the day after Thanksgiving.

http://www.sensationalcolor.com

In a more casual way the term Black Friday was bandied about by retailers to refer to the final quarter of the year which would pull the given retailer into the ‘black’ of profitability.  Research did not reveal any specific date or author for this phrase but it certainly has been in usage since the beginning of my business awareness,

The 21st. century brought the coinage of ‘Cyber Monday’ referring to the huge volume of online shopping that begins the week after Thanksgiving as those put off by the stampedes of shoppers at brick and mortar locations and with conflicting obligations click on to innumerable web sites to let their cursors do the shopping.

Cyber Monday was coined in 2005, just after Boston became a DSL city in 2003, by the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org to encourage and promote virtual shopping.

Black Friday didn’t become the catch phrase it is now until the mid-1990s when the World War II generation, which was born in the 1920s as my parents were, began to pass.

Only my aunt Thelma, born 1925, of my older relatives is still with this world of ours.

Contemporary usage of Black Friday no longer carries the baggage it did during my now long-ago youth.

Black Friday is now the brightest of Fridays.

 

 

 

HAIKU 5*7*5* Mets

November 3, 2015 Leave a comment

METS

It starts with pollen

Warmest of recent seasons

The Mets have fallen