Monday, December 29, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
THE "JUNK ART OF CHLORIDE," WHY DON'T YOU GO AND TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT ON YOUR BLOG !
Monday, December 15, 2008
My Boob Next Door as you may recall from past columns is, the knuckleheaded "piney" who I share a property boundary with. (Please note, if you ever study a population density map of South Jersey, vast tracts of land are protected under the Pine Barrens Act. This protection maintains the environmental integrity of these lands and greatly restricts commercial development. Therefore, the few people who live in the pinelands are nicknamed: piney or pinies...which is like being called a Jersey hillbilly).
Primarily, what makes BOOB so intolerable is that he is a control freak. As you may recall, his "my way or no way" attitude was the final straw that ended our once friendly relationship. Some of his low-lights include: cursing me out when I put up a fence, (apparently a true piney doesn't like having the wilderness blocked off). Of course BOOB didn't apologize...or offer to chip for our shared section of fence when he put up his own fence when his kid was growing up.
Then there was the time he threatened to kill our dog Roxy if she ever peed on his lawn. Being the true weasel that he is, rather than spew his nonsense at an adult like me, Mr. Piney's ultimatum was aimed at my son Andrew.
My last conversation with him occurred while mowing my lawn in 2002. Andrew's 2nd grade class was preparing to do a patriotic play and I was singing their show-stopper, "I'M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN." From in front of his house, BOOB caught eye contact with me and gestured that I shut-off my mower. He then rudely insisted that I stop cursing him out. When I told him that I was singing a Kenny Rogers song, his response was a profanity-laced tirade that insulted both Mr. Rogers and myself, and concluded with the punchline, "You can't fool me, I can read lips!"
Its easy to turn your back on that type of mentality. Since then we've had some minor scrapes but I'm certain that I am best served to simply ignore him. That was the case about three years ago when BOOB started gathering a thin pile of grass clippings, pine needles, acorns etc., exactly along a hidden five-foot line that divides our front yards.
The significance of his pile may have been a protest or out of spite or even an artistic endeavor. Either way, as much of an eye-sore that it was, it wasn't harming me and unless you were on top of it, you couldn't see it. However, each season the heap mysteriously got longer, wider and taller. By the beginning of last month, BOOB's great wall of weird resembled a dry version of a beaver dam. If he kept adding to it, at that pace, it'd be visible from the moon by 2012. Nevertheless, I wasn't going to burn-out my KISH-KIZ over this and continued to pay he and it no mind.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA IS THE ONLY MAN-MADE STRUCTURE ON EARTH THAT'S VISIBLE FROM OUTER SPACE...COULD BOOB'S PILE BE THE SECOND?
It was right around Thanksgiving that I mentioned to MSLEMMA that I am losing my patience with BOOB. He understood my dilemma and suggested calling GREENPEACE or praying for divine intervention. I wasn't swayed by his well-formed arguments and resolved to wait the moron out and remain mute.
About a week ago, we had a severe rain storm. I went outside to rake-up the leaves, broken branches etc and was shocked to see that BOOB or perhaps a supernatural power had neatly removed the NOT SO great wall.
The moral of the story is, in this holiday season when we share in the glory of "good will towards man" we should throw down our defensive gauntlet and accept our neighbors regardless of their shortcomings.
I might feel that way towards BOOB if I knew for certain that he indeed removed the pile and that it was in the vain of restoring friendship and peace to our little corner of the world. But I've seen enough UFO and conspiracy shows on the A & E NETWORK, and I can see the removal was too perfect for any piney to handle...plus I doubt MSLEMMA prayed for me...and more importantly, I know the work of aliens when I see it.
So season greetings to the Martians and HUMBUG to BOOB.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
We all seek to improve our lives. It isn't always easy to find the right road and sometimes we need outside assistance. We are taught that for the best results we should find objective parties to guide us. That is where clergy, school counselors, professional analysis or consultancy firms come into play. But overwhelmingly, self-discovery is an internal device. One could say that Darwin's survival of the fittest theory, is based on the same concept. Finding the right balance of what we want and need, and changing...until our personal comfort zone is found. That is the premise of the 2002 movie "ADAPTATION;" how personalities and lifestyles evolve through experience. ADAPTATION DESERVEDLY WON SEVERAL OSCARS AND NUMEROUS OTHER AWARDS YET MOST CASUAL MOVIE-GOERS DON'T KNOW IT.
My connection to "Adaptation" started in 2003. Over the course of two breaks at work, I saw two fifteen-minute segments. I was riveted by the story and the main characters, Nicolas Cage, (double role as twins) Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. The next day I started an additional information campaign and asked around. But none of my movie cronies knew much about it. Until I asked the mom of one of my son Andrew's friends. She said, "The movie IS great but the book, "THE ORCHID HUNTER" in which the film is based (by Susan Orlean) was better!"
Monday, December 1, 2008
Burt Reynolds' character is facing a painful terminal disease and decides to avoid the anticipated agony, by killing himself. Aided by the incompetent DeLuise, the plot features a series of bungled suicide attempts. I saw it once, (in the theater), thirty years ago and one sequence has remained fresh in my mind.
In that scene, Reynolds tries to drown himself in the ocean. When he realizes that he is really struggling with rip-tides, his survival instincts take over. Despite his thrashing and flailing about, he's having increasing trouble keeping his head above water, as he's being swept further out to sea.
In desperation, Reynolds screams, "I WANT TO LIVE, I WANT TO LIVE!" In search of divine intervention, he pleads with his Maker by quoting an outlandish financial offer in exchange for his life. Suddenly, the natural strength of the current eases slightly and his instinct for greed takes over. So, he reduces his monetary pledge. As the peril lessens, he proportionally continues to discount his promises. By the time he's out of danger and collapses safely on the shore, he re-re-re-revises his obligation to practically nothing.
I think most of us are guilty of that on some level. In the casino industry, we frequently over-hear it from customers. It usually sounds like; I'm NOT greedy, I'll go straight home as soon as I double my money. It then becomes funny when their wish comes true and they recant their vow.
These days, many casinos offer games with an optional "bonus" feature. In a game like Caribbean Stud Poker, an additional one-dollar side bet makes a player eligible for separate jackpots for premium hands, (a flush or better). To make this game more tempting, each table is equipped with an ever-increasing digital meter advertising the top prize, for a royal flush.
The casino supplies the pot with the first $10,000.00, then thirty cents of each bonus dollar risked injects the pot higher. The biggest jackpot I saw was $285,00.00. Therefore, it's not uncommon for people to say, "I'm not greedy, I'll settle for 10% of the meter," (the prize for an ordinary straight flush).
My favorite story of greed occurred recently, in an Asian-style seven-card stud-poker game called Pai-Gow. This game has its own bonus feature, called the ENVY BONUS which rewards players for premium hands starting with a five-card straight, paying 2 to 1.
The ultimate Pai-Gow payout, for a seven-card straight flush, pays an astounding 8,000 to 1. Plus, if you bet $5 (or more) on the bonus, you become eligible to cash-in on other player's premium hands. Therefore, rather than being ENVIOUS of a fellow player hitting it big, you can also cash-in on their good fortune. In the case of someone hitting the 8,000 to 1, the ENVY feature would incredibly net each fellow player, their own $5,000.00.
I never witnessed that happen but I know it happened twice. In the more interesting situation, the player dealt the seven-card straight-flush DID NOT bet the bonus. That means, he gets NOTHING for it from the casino. However, the four other players at his table will get $5,000.00 each.
The player did some quick thinking and revealed his fantasy-come-true, to the other four. While these men were giddy in anticipation of their unexpected windfall, the owner of the golden cards propositions them. His demand was, they each give him a thousand cash...each. They scoffed at his audacity, "called his bluff" and in a flurry of mild foul language, turned him down.
The man considers his options, (his bet was virtually guaranteed to "push" (neither win or lose). His threatening counter-proposal was, "If you don't pay me now, I'll surrender my hand," (throw-in his cards without showing them to the casino). The implication being, if his adversaries didn't, "play ball" with him, he was willing to chuck his cards and sacrifice his $25.00 bet. That way everyone gets no bonus money. He expected this leverage, almost like extortion, to guarantee him an equal share, by in essence, making an even five-way split, ($4,000.00 each) of the bonus money.
The four others proved how bad GREED TALK$. They remained adamant and still refused while mixing in a stronger chorus of obscenities. When the man stuck to his principles and indeed threw away his cards, the four-man bloc yelled out the harshest, hateful profanity.
The dealer took a cautious half-step back away from the barrage as the raging argument mounted. Spectators within hearshot hustled over to see what the commotion was about. Others from further away were guided there by curiosity and human nature. Soon the Pai Gow room was flooded with curiosity seekers hoping to see a fight, (and take advantage of the potential chaos).
When it looked like the situation might turn into a riot, a staff member pushed the panic button. Thirty seconds later, a posse of dead-serious plain-clothes security and a squad of regular guards stormed the pit and surrounded the table.
The four men ignored the security officers and continued screaming for casino intervention. The dealer was powerless to do anything. The disgruntled men went up the management chain-of-command after getting no satifaction from the floor supervisor and the pit boss. The game was at a complete standstill for several minutes until the shift boss arrived. He heard all the greivances and addressed the four men, "We NEVER saw the cards. It's not in out best interest to give away twenty grand...on your say so."
Later, the player who surrendered the hand cornered the shift boss, "Hey, I hooked you guys up and saved the house a boatload of money." The big boss maintained a poker face during the ensuing silent pause. The player continued, "You know, Christmas is right around the corner. How about showing me some love with a comp for four to the steakhouse, a free suite next weekend and tickets to see, The Trans Siberian Orchestra." The stoic shift boss said, "Are you serious? Why?" The man said, "I'm not making an unreasonable request..." The boss interrupted, "Of course it's unreasonable. Don't you remember, we never saw your cards."
Now you know why many casino workers on their days off lock themselves away in a dark, quiet room.
With that in mind, don't strike up any deals with Santa you can't back up.
Me, I'm true to my word, so the only bargain I can offer you right now is, my sincerest wish for your peace, happiness and goodwill, in the up coming holiday season.
THE END !
Monday, November 24, 2008
IT IS INCREDIBLE TO THINK THAT A DISASTER OF THIS MAGNITUDE COULD EVER HAPPEN...EVEN IN 1980. EIGHTY-SEVEN PEOPLE DIED IN THE BLAZE.
Oddly, in the five years I lived in Las Vegas (1979-1984), I had more friends, family etc come visit me than my 25 years in Atlantic City. Also out west, I accidentally crossed paths with more acquaintances and people I barely knew from back home than here in Jersey. What makes all this more astounding is that I am, as I hope you know, a New Yorker.
Additionally, outside the movie box office, there was a roped off area with "Leo" the live (heavily sedated) MGM mascot lion. He was injected with enough barbiturates that he could hardly keep his eyes open...therefore roaring was totally out of the question. Although I never took advantage of this gimmick, tourists would line-up down the corridor to have their picture taken with the king of the cinema beasts, (considering what happened to Siegfried's Roy, I can only imagine the liability insurance these days).
The MGM also had more celebrities hobnobbing and gambling there...on one afternoon, I had the good fortune to meet Sylvester Stallone, Richard Dawson and Soupy Sales (although Soupy was the only one who gave me the time of day).
I felt guilty and tried to talk him down but he was definite. Zev never shared any specifics of why he sabotaged his future (I guessed the schooling was too difficult). He was never really the scholastic type so after a day or two, his being there seemed natural.
Zev was foreign. His family moved to the USA in the late 60's. Therefore many things he said and did proved that he lived in a cultural void. Nevertheless, his lack of good old All-American common sense was made-up by his ability to concentrate on a single task (school exams) and do well...even though a week later, it seemed that he could never put that test knowledge to practical use.
Through the miracle of the Internet, I have his new business address and will contact him during the holidays as well as two other long lost school friends (Jay and Mitch), in the hopes of revitalizing old friendships. Wish me luck.
Monday, November 17, 2008
THE VEGAS CLUB HAS "ENJOYED" SEVERAL FACE-LIFTS DOWN THROUGH THE YEARS--BUT I'M TOLD, IT'S STILL A TERRIBLE JOB.
My insurance selling career was over. Today there's no place in my heart for regrets because that would be the same concept of their brain-washing tactic but in reverse.
Monday, November 10, 2008
A SECTION OF THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL
Monday, November 3, 2008
WOULDN'T YOU AGREE, SARAH PALIN, EMBELLISHED WITH JUST A COUPLE OF SWEAT SOCKS, LOOKS RATHER BUSTY IN PERSON
THE MAIN ISSUES ON PALIN'S CHEST ARE; I BRAKE FOR MOOSE, I CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM MY HOUSE, I'M NOT TINA FEY and LOVE, PEACE & HOCKEY MOMS
CAUGHT IN A CANDID MOMENT BY THE PAPARAZZI, PALIN DISCUSSES HER "OPEN-DOOR" POLICY WITH THE FIRST DUDE.
ON HER WAY OUT, PALIN PROMISED ALASKAN UGGS IN EVERY CLOSET FOR THE WOMEN AND BUNS OF STEEL IN THE WHITE HOUSE FOR EVERY MAN.
Honestly, I tried to persuade him to dress as Joe Biden but alas, despite my homophobia, Andrew was adamant and decisively stuck to his choice for vice president. Hopefully, there aren't any lingering yearnings here that need to be addressed.
Personally, between the cross-dressing and the election, I might be better served to spend ALL of tomorrow with the dentist...and go with anesthetics.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Maybe disastrous is too strong a word but through no fault of anyone, nothing went right. Our first obstacle in town, aside from being anxious to get started and hungry, was that the main hub through Chinatown (Mott Street) was closed off. Soon I discovered that all the side streets were inexplicably also closed. Parking in Chinatown has always been a challenge but if you're willing to run back and keep feeding the meter there's never a problem.
Our parking search radius widened without any luck. Then because I had kids in the car, even though it's against my religion to pay more for parking than to eat, I, for the first time in my life, gave in to the horror of paying to park. My nightmare skyrocketed to Hitchcockian proportions when, thousands of live crabs crawled out from Pell Street and worse, all the parking lots were FULL! Oh, I was kidding about the crabs on Pell Street...it actually happened on Bayard Street however, the parking lots were indeed full-up.We finally parked at a meter on the Bowery with distant Canal Street easily ten blocks away.
It was clouding up and I recall saying, "At least its not raining."
Perhaps it was a sign from above because a street urchin saw it fit to pee in the street right in front of us...ahhhh,the ambiance of Chinatown. I re-thought the situation and figured, by the time we got to our destination, I'd have to walk back a half mile to feed the meter.
We turned around and got back in the car. I drove to the corner where our favorite restaurant was (it was closed off, remember) and dropped them off. I took the fifty-cent tour and drove through oddball places I never saw. I stopped after thirty minutes when I realized that I was one of several other cars trawling for a parking spot.
Back in Chinatown, I pulled along side a traffic cop and asked why all the streets were closed.
He said, "They are gearing-up for the Columbus Day Parade on Monday."
I said, "Where is there a Columbus Day Parade?"
He said, "Little Italy."
Adjacent to each other, Little Italy and Chinatown are separated by Canal Street. Mott Street is on the Chinatown side and its called Mulberry Street on the Little Italy side.
I said, "They closed all the streets in Chinatown today, for a parade in Little Italy on Monday?"
He said, "Gets really crazy around here."
I said, "Its pretty crazy right now...I dropped my family off at the Wo Hop restaurant and they have been waiting almost an hour."
THE PHOTO DOESN'T GIVE JUSTICE TO THE WO HOP RESTAURANT--17 MOTT STREET (downstairs). IT'S MY FAVORITE EATERY IN "C-TOWN" AND THERE REALLY ISN'T A SECOND CHOICE. I'VE BEEN GOING THERE SINCE ABOUT 1973 WHEN GAS WAS 38c A GALLON AND IT WAS NO BIG DEAL TO VENTURE INTO THE CITY FOR "CHINX" AT 2:AM.
He said, "Tough break."
I said, "Well, can I leave my car here (in a traffic island, on the corner of Mott and Bowery) for five minutes so I can let them know where I am and get them out."
He said, "You'd be illegally parked...I'd have to give you a ticket."
This of course was in the pre-cell phone era.
I pointed up curvy Mott Street, "C'mon, gimme a break. It's only a half a block, I'll run and be back in no time."
He said, "If I let you, I'd have let everyone..."
I controlled my sarcasm and said, "I'll give you my wallet...please they might be panicking...don't make this an emergency."
"Okay. Keep your wallet but hurry." He then smirked, "If my sergeant shows up, I'm gonna have to nail you...and if she's in one of her moods, you'll probably get towed."
I ran off and luckily my family never went into the restaurant. So it was easy to gather them up. Back in the car, I explained the Columbus Day situation while they moaned in a collective high-pitched starvation tone. We wound up at the South Street Seaport (YAWN). The highlight was taking pictures of the East River and Brooklyn Bridge as a foggy haze set in. Of course we ate in what amounts to their up-scale mall's food-court first but the PHOTO-OP was clearly the better time. P. S.-- I paid through the nose to park!
We then found out that there is nowhere to park at Ground-Zero. I parked at a fire hydrant and we took turns looking around, reading the plaques, etc. Our last stop was Battery Park. There was no place to park their either. So I waited in the car while they walked out to the water's edge for their first up close glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. They got back to the car rather quickly and cheerfully explained the abundance of weirdos they saw in such a short time.
Looking for inspiration I said, "What did you think of the Statue of Liberty?'
Andrew said, "It was too foggy we couldn't see it."
Monday, October 6, 2008
In 1933, Twinkies were introduced by the makers of Wonder Bread; the Continental Baking Company of Indianapolis. They were invented by baker James A. Dewar who was looking to use idle strawberry shortcake machines when strawberries weren't in season.
I had always assumed that they got their name from being packaged as twin cakes but that is not so. James Dewar was inspired by a billboard advertising the Twinkle-Toe Shoe Company.
The snack cake's originally had banana filling and cost five-cents for the two-pack. That affordability made them particularly popular during the depression.
In the 40's, to support the war effort, bananas were rationed to the general public. So, vanilla creme was substituted. The new flavored Twinkies exploded in popularity, therefore the recipe was never changed back.
Twinkies became a household name when it became a sponsor for the classic kids TV show, "HOWDY DOODY."
YOU CAN'T SEE THE STRINGS BUT HOWDY DOODY WAS ACTUALLY A PUPPET !
During the Cold-War, due to the fear of nuclear attack, many paranoid Americans built personal bomb shelters. It seems hard to believe these days, but Twinkies...due to the reputation...that they stay fresh forever...were among the survival foods that were stockpiled.
President Bill Clinton recognized their significance and included Twinkies in a time-capsule.
RELEVANT IN THE 21st CENTURY, "TWINKIE THE KID" RIDES AGAIN
Today, a half billion Twinkies are sold each year.
Me personally, I loved Twinkies as a kid...especially if they were refrigerated. But because I was a choco-holic and still am...I preferred Ring-Dings, Yodels and Devil-Dogs (in that order) before Twinkies.
In the summer of '74 when RBOY and I worked at *Disneyworld, we together, discovered something that satisfied our love for Twinkies with our stronger love for chocolate...behold...the Chocolate Twinkie. Chocolate Twinkies, (the cake was chocolate and creme center remained the same) never really caught-on and were discontinued in a short time. Nevertheless, he and I were their best customers. At our apartment complex, we'd go to the convenience store buy them up. For our epic 24-hour car ride back to New York, we bought every one they had.
*On October 1st, Disneyworld celebrated its 37th anniversary, RBOY and I were there, year 3.
Over the years, most of our tastes become more adult. I left Twinkies behind twenty-plus years ago for better junk food and didn't look back...until I had a child. My son Andrew is 14 (I'm not sure if he wants me to include the half because he's actually, 14 1/2). Like all kids, he has tried every conceivable snack food there is. That means...I have RE-TRIED every conceivable snack food. Unfortunately, this time around, my adult palate found Twinkies to have a chemical taste...even refrigerated.
I swore-off Twinkies for another ten years until now. What I discovered is the "Cadillac of Twinkies," however, it must be noted...that these are NOT Twinkies. What they are can be summed-up in one word; ENTEMANN'S. More specifically, Entemann's Sponge Creme Cakes. Trust me, if you ever loved Twinkies, drop everything and find them...maybe your waistline will hate me...but your tongue will love me !
Monday, September 29, 2008
Actor Paul Newman died yesterday, he was 83. I knew he had formally retired from acting and was strickened with cancer yet I was still surprised.
"COOL HAND LUKE," 1967. THERE IS A TEMPTATION TO FIND PHOTOS OF ALL MY FAVORITE NEWMAN ROLES BUT THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY.
I won't be including a list Newman's acting credentials because its a click away on the information super highway. Plus, I feel his entrepreneurial savvy and devotion as a philanthropist speak for them self. Instead, I'd like to share with you something I saw a long time ago...that few other people I know have seen.
SINCE 1983, PAUL NEWMAN HAS DONATED ALL NET PROFITS FROM HIS FOOD ENTERPRISES...IN EXCESS OF $220M, TO CHARITY.
From 1953 through the mid-fifties there was a TV show, "THE UNITED STATES STEEL HOUR." This program featured live stage productions. In 1956, they performed an adaptation of the Mark Harris novel, "BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY."
THIS IS A PAUL NEWMAN AT A YOUNG AGE...BUT IT ISN'T THEE PAUL NEWMAN.
Bang the Drum Slowly is a metaphor for personal loyalties packaged in a baseball wrapper. Unlike the movie of the same name from 1973 there were no outdoor scenes. Nevertheless, its theatrical limitations served it well, by making the presentation more intimate, more sensitive and more stirring...because the overt theme was death and how friends rally together when the chips are down.
"BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN" JOKES ASIDE...FROM 1969, "BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID." ANOTHER GREAT MOVIE ABOUT FRIENDSHIP.
In Bang the Drum Slowly, Paul Newman is the headliner. He plays an articulate, star pitcher who learns that his inarticulate teammate (catcher), played by Albert Salmi has a terminal disease. The play delves into the relationship of friends and/or co-workers and how...at any cost, unconditional support becomes the sole priority.
We can expect a lot of attention going to Paul Newman on the old movie networks this week. If by chance this 1956 production gets aired, you should make sure you see it. Also in that cast look for George Peppard in his TV debut as Piney Woods, and Clu Gulager too.
The 1973 movie version with Michael Moriarity in the Newman role and Robert De Niro in the Albert Salmi role should be easier to find. However, the movie comes off more like a baseball flick. Perhaps because it came out shortly after "BRIAN'S SONG," I think it was intentionally softened to a dark comedy...and to some people...nearly a full comedy. Nevertheless the movie's final message was...that when the players stopped harassing their dimwitted mediocre teammate, he, for one last season played better than ever. At the funeral the closing remark by the star pitcher was, "I'll never rag on anyone again."
The movie is pretty good even without Paul Newman. But with him in the United States Steel Hour production of Bang the Drum Slowly," it is far more moving and thought provoking. I hope you can find it. But literally, anything Newman, is bound to please.
NEWMAN REPRISED HIS ROLE AS "FAST EDDIE" FELSON FROM THE 1961 MOVIE "THE HUSTLER" IN, 1986's, "THE COLOR OF MONEY." HIS PERFORMANCE EARNED HIM THE OSCAR FOR BEST ACTOR.
Paul Leonard Newman January 26, 1925 - September 26, 2008.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Despite the social changes going on all around it, McSorley's has remained overwhelmingly the same. From the moment you walk in, the pleasant scent of ale fills the air. Then with a quick scan of the walls and ceiling, you'll see original memorabilia that is *reputed to have never been removed since 1910. These items include: photos, political buttons, musical instruments and even a pair of Houdini's handcuffs. One exception is, the dust covered *wishbones hanging over the bar. The story behind the bones stem from the boys going off to fight in WWI. They would hang a wishbone up with the intention of taking it down when they returned...so whatever is still up there represents the men who didn't make it.
McSorley's boasts a veritable who's who of famous elbow benders; like Abe Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Boss Tweed, Woody Guthrie and don't forget me...during my college years. I had my first taste of McSorley's, sometime in 1976...and returned many times. I even had my "Going Away Party" there when I was re-locating to Las Vegas (first week of January 1979).
My memories of those festivities are sketchy. However, I do remember two things; 1) Standing on a chair to toast other friends that had already re-located that weren't there...this ended abruptly when a couple of (legal or illegal?) Irish immigrant waiters "suggested" I get down. Please note that the whole staff speaks with a Brogue, (Brogue means Irish accent) 2) My female friends did not like the single toilet facility. In fact they had to post a guard outside the lockless door while they did their business.
The reason McSorley's had the single restroom was; it was one of New York City's last "men only" pubs. It wasn't until 1970 that women were permitted. The only reason McSorley's began allowing women was...they were mandated by law. Women's libbers took McSorley's (kicking and screaming) to court and the women won.
At the time of my going away party, the entire McSorley's "menu" consisted of: light or dark ale, coca-cola or diet, ham, turkey or roast beef sandwich, a cheese platter with raw onions and NOTHING ELSE ! Also the only condiment they offered, English Unbleached Mustard, sat on each table in a beer mug. This mustard is so unbelievably hot that I once (and I stress once) put a drop on my finger and gingerly dabbed a millionth of that drop on my tongue...and regretted it for hours. Forget the hottest Chinese mustard you can imagine...this stuff is POISON ! Down through the years, I have mentioned it to a lot of people and nobody (without knowledge of McSorley's) ever heard of English Unbleached Mustard.
WAITER SERVING EIGHT DARK ALES. IN 1979 A HALF-PINT (served exclusively in pairs?) WAS 80c A PAIR. IN 2007, THE PRICE HAD JUMPED TO $2.25 A PAIR.
McSorley's has had three mottoes; 1) Be good or be gone, 2) We were here before you were born, and 3) Good ale, raw onions and no ladies. (This one, no longer in vogue since 1970).
Needless to say, I never took any of my dates there but I did take my mother. In the late eighties, (Geez, this story is 20 years old), I came into Brooklyn to take mom out for Mother's Day. We wound up in Greenwich Village and accidentally found GRANDPA'S RESTAURANT, as in "Grandpa Al Lewis from the "THE MUNSTERS" TV show. He was even there but that's another story. After lunch there, mom and I strolled around doing the tourist thing. Later, mom wanted her 3 o'clock coffee and I kiddingly mentioned that McSorley's was nearby. Mom knew of its "historical" significance and surprisingly wanted to go.
We took-in the "saw-dust joint" and all its charms while having an ale each. Before leaving, I took a couple of minutes to use the restroom. When I returned, my mom discreetly pointed out a fat, drunken slob on the verge of passing out. He was dressed like a motorcycle gang member and I still remember he had a large wad of spittle (it might have been 2 week-old mashed potatoes) in his beard.
When we got outside, my mother said, "That Hell's Angel guy approached me while you were in the bathroom and asked, 'is that dude coming back?'" That story never gets old. We still get a great kick out of telling it...especially when we try to guess how much fun mom would have had if she let him pick her up.
To help prove my point, check-out what poet E. E. Cummings once wrote in a 1923, "McSorley's ale never lets you grow old." Go check it out when you go to Manhattan...I insist...if you don't believe me, NEW YORK MAGAZINE ranked McSorley's in it's top five of "Historical Bars in New York City."
Monday, September 15, 2008
JOHN (left) AND PONCH (Right) FROM TV's "CHIPS," (California Highway Patrol).
Monday, September 8, 2008
Before any of you shocked Coney Island buffs slit your wrists with rusty razor blades, it should be noted that the Cyclone (landmark roller coaster) and the Wonder Wheel (landmark ferris wheel), Parachute Jump (landmark, closed since 1964) and Nathan's original fast food restaurant will be unaffected.
When the harsh reality sets in, you'll realize that the property where Astroland is situated is prime beachfront real estate. Although Astroland is zoned for "amusements only" it now seems possible to work around it, (money talks and B. S. walks). Besides, by today's amusement park standards, Astroland is a small, filthy and insignificant conglomeration of twenty dull rides and dated attractions that seems to attract a seedy clientele...especially at night.
Coney Island has been an entertainment mecca for New Yorkers since the 1880's . Punctuated by its beach and boardwalk, it's located at the hub of several bus and subway lines and is convenient to the Belt Parkway. Coney Island it should be remembered, is NOT the name of a specific park. It is simply one of 37 or so sections or neighborhoods of Brooklyn...like Canarsie or Bensonhurst. Down through the years, some of the amusement parks in Coney Island were; Sea Lion Park, Luna Park and Steeplechase. However, somewhere down the line the individual names of the parks were forgotten and generalized to Coney Island. The last of these individual parks being Astroland.
Sea Lion Park burnt down in 1902 and was re-built as Luna Park, (1903-1944).
POSTCARD OF LUNA PARK'S BOARDWALK ENTRANCE ...(circa 1914)
How amazing it must have been to visit Luna Park. Just the fact that it had thousands of light bulbs was a novelty when electricity was so new.
Overshadowing everything else on Coney Island was the more famous Steeplechase Park (1897-1964). Originally owned by George C. Tilyou, (the first impresario of controlled chaos), Steeplechase, a huge semi-enclosed structure made a name for itself with wild and dangerous rides that would boggle the mind of contemporary insurance companies and attract today's lawsuit-happy scam-artists like flies on...
STEEPLECHASE PARK ADVERTISEMENT PLACARD, THE FAMOUS ANIMATED FACE LOGO WAS A CARICATURE OF GEORGE TILYOU.
In 1965, Fred Trump (Donald's father) bought the site with the intention of building apartment buildings. However, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce held firm and wouldn't allow a variance that would eliminate the area's "amusements only" zoning status. Trump decided to demolish Steeplechase before it could be declared a landmark. He held a "demolition party" and invited guests to throw bricks through the once opulent pleasure palace's facade
POSTCARD, EARLY 1920's, STEEPLECHASE FROM SURF AVENUE (Cyclone roller coaster far left). ENCLOSED BY STEEL AND GLASS, THE INTERIOR PART OF THE PARK ALONE WAS FIVE ACRES.
THE PARACHUTE JUMP - Purchased from the 1939 World's Fair. It was originally intended as a training device for paratroopers. One or two riders sat on a wooden plank (and held on for dear life). I was about five when my dad took me up there on his lap. The slow rise to the top (approx 250 feet) was agonizingly slow as the cross breeze rocked us side-to-side. As the ground got smaller, I looked up to the heavens for relief but all I could see was the ever-nearing intricate mesh of metal wires at the top-that when we hit it, would cause us to drop. The free-fall until the parachute opened was probably three seconds...some people refer to that as the "rush" but not me, I was never so scared in my life. Despite the calm descent the rest of the way--that once in a lifetime experience was terrible --I was lucky I didn't soil myself...and dad was even luckier!
The Parachute Jump closed with Steeplechase Park in 1964. It was considered too expensive to tear down and was given "Landmark" status in 1977.
ON A CLEAR DAY, THE PARACHUTE JUMP'S SKELETON IS VISIBLE FROM HIGH PLACES IN BROOKLYN
LOOKS LIKE A GREAT WAY TO GET RID OF AN UNWANTED "LOVED" ONE
THE HORSE RACE CIRCLED THE ENCLOSED PORTION OF STEEPLECHASE