Monday, June 30, 2014

NICK TUCKER: A PUZZLE THAT WOULD BAFFLE BOTH CHURCHILL AND FREUD

This story is based on excerpts from my short story, “NO HELPS HALL,” and a blog from January 27, 2014 called, “THE COCKAMAMIE KID.”

Winston Churchill once said, “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Much the same can be said of Nick Tucker. His life was so shrouded by mystery that I can not be certain if I was his friend, an acquaintance or an insignificant background person.

This piece was made possible because Nick’s former roommate John Crotty confided a good deal of the information to me. For the first four years I knew Crotty, we had no relationship. During that time, the only intelligent thing I ever heard him say was, “The first thing they should teach a Las Vegas craps dealer is the old adage; don’t shit where you eat.”

That’s why it was such a surprise that Crotty in 1982, went out of his way to speak to me. A year later, we had our only other conversation. During that second chance meeting, the in depth details he shared, helped me understand the inner workings of the bizarre, Nick Tucker.

In the fall of 1978, I met Nick Tucker at the New York School of Gambling. While there, we never connected as friends.  Our common ground was studying to be casino dealers and moving to Las Vegas.  But we were in opposing social groups within the school. So his jet-setting elitists and my easy-going, “good-people” never hung-out outside the classroom, (the other group were the misfit nerds, we called them “kruds.”)

On a Friday in mid-October, we had our first one-on-one meeting. Our craps dealing class had been dismissed but I decided to practice my latest skill after everyone left. At the casino-like classroom’s entrance, Phyllis one of the receptionists seemed to be guarding the door. When I went past her, she stopped cracking her gum long enough to call out, “Hey Nicky, I gotta run.”

Nick Tucker had a guilty look on his face as he stood next to the wide open seventh floor window. His hands were hidden from my view by a podium as I said, “That's dangerous, you could push a piano out that window.” He was annoyed as he shushed me and waved me closer. At his feet, there were five stacks of mismatched, red practice chips and two burlap bank bags. I saw one bag was full as he took out a giant Baggie stuffed with Styrofoam packing peanuts and crumpled newspaper. He dumped in all the chips and said, “Go lay chickie for me.” I said, “Heh?”

He was binding his bundle with thick rubber bands as he said, “Go to the door and let me know if someone is coming.” I wasn’t smart enough to realize that I was witnessing the craziest, stupidest , most unnecessary theft ever!  I was paralyzed by indecision until Nick snapped, “You gonna help or stand there like you’re posing for Animal Crackers?”
"ANIMAL CRACKERS" ARE SMALL, PLAIN-FLAVORED COOKIES DESIGNED FOR YOUNG CHILDREN.  IN THE 1890's, THEY WERE IMPORTED FROM ENGLAND AND SOLD IN GIANT CRACKER BARRELS.  IN 1902, STAUFFER'S BECAME THE FIRST USA COMPANY TO MAKE THEIR OWN VERSIONS AND MARKET THEM AS A SINGLE PORTION ITEM, (A NICKEL A BOX).  TODAY NABISCO IS THE LEADING PRODUCER.  FIFTY-FOUR DIFFERENT ANIMALS HAVE BEEN USED.  THE LAST ADDITION (2002) WAS A KOALA.  THE SLIGHTLY DERISIVE EXPRESSION, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, POSING FOR ANIMAL CRACKERS," SUGGESTS THAT YOU AREN'T PAYING ATTENTION TO THE TASK AT HAND.

My curiosity got the better of me so I retreated to the door. From that short distance, I saw Nick take out a plastic supermarket sack and drop the Baggie of chips in. He added more Styrofoam and newspaper before securing the whole thing with rubber bands. He finished the preparation by putting the whole mess into the empty burlap bank bag. Seconds later, there were two identical bank bags tied at the top by a slender plastic strap with a locking mechanism.

Nick stuck his head out of the window and signaled to someone at street level. I was confused. Ten seconds later, he leaned out again, made a military salute and dropped the two, bag-in-a-bag-in-a-bag packages out the window.
OUCH ! THOSE BAGS HAD TO WEIGH OVER A POUND EACH.  AND I CAN'T IMAGINE THE HUGE UNDERTAKING CROWD CONTROL WOULD BE WITH THE CONSTANT FLOW OF INNOCENT PEOPLE COMING INTO THE TARGET AREA FROM ALL ANGLES.

Nick was all smiles and said to me, “Mission accomplished, I owe you.” I said, “Owe me for what…what just happened?” He said, “John Crotty and Artie Cisco are downstairs holding everyone back and will retreive the bags.”
AT MIDDAY, WEST 32nd STREET OFF BROADWAY (THAT'S WHERE THE SCHOOL WAS LOCATED) WAS MUCH BUSIER THAN THE PHOTO ABOVE.  EVEN IF CROTTY AND CISCO USED YELLOW EMERGENCY TAPE TO CORDON OFF THE DROP ZONE, I CAN'T CONCEIVE HOW THIS IDIOTIC IDEA (REPEATED SEVERAL TIMES) DIDN'T GET THEM ARRESTED.

Nick brandished a switchblade.  If he intended on intimidating me from ratting him out, he succeeded.  He saw the blank expression on my face and used the knife to clean under his fingernails as he bragged, “John built a craps table for us to practice on…and we’re almost done filling up the bank with chips.” I said, “But these chips are worthless…you can buy’em for a dime.” Nick sighed, “Yeah genius, but we need a thousand of them…you do the math.” I said, “Aren’t you afraid the school will notice this many missing?” He said, “Hell no! Sif (Phyllis, the whore receptionist was nicknamed Sif-Phyllis) wants to get in Artie’s pants, so he gets her to steal them out of a storage closet.  These bastards never use 'em and won’t know they’re gone for years.” I said, “Those bags are like missiles, you might kill someone down there. Besides, wouldn’t it be safer and easier to just stuff the chips in your pockets…and walk out with them?” Nick shook his head, “Who are you, a front man for the friggin' Pope? Besides, but what fun would easier be?”

John Crotty was never civil me even when he knew I helped their operation. In the next few weeks, Nick frequently invited me to come to Crotty’s garage in Hoboken to practice dealing to John’s family and friends. But I wasn’t in Crotty’s social strata so he always rolled his eyes or made some gesture that made be feel unwelcome.

Nick remained cordial to me. Occasionally, he invited me to breakfast…but I never went because he, John and Artie Cisco drank their morning meals at the Ireland’s Eye Bar.

Nick and John moved to Vegas together in early November. I graduated a couple of days into 1979 and flew out there on January 7th. By New York standards, Las Vegas was a small town but even with tons of mutual, relocated school mates, it was surprising that I didn’t bump into Nick and John until the following September, at a knockoff San Gennaro feast.
THE LAS VEGAS ITALIAN-AMERICAN FEAST MIGHT HAVE HAD FOOD THAT LOOKED AUTHENTIC BUT IF YOU KNOW YOUR SCUNGILLI FROM A HOLE IN THE WALL, IT'S JUST NOT THE SAME.

At the fake San Gennaro feast, like ships passing in the night, Nick and I exchanged silent nods…I got no acknowledgement from John Crotty. However, later that night I overheard Crotty say, “The first thing they should teach Las Vegas craps dealers is the old adage; don’t shit where you eat.”

In 1982, I got hired at the Golden Nugget. What a great coincidence, Nick Tucker was already dealing craps there on my shift. He took me under his wing, introduced me to coworkers and made me feel at home. Nick was quick to mention that the Nugget didn’t have a help’s hall. That meant two things, the casino didn’t provide a meal and it encouraged the staff to leave the building, (most casinos would penalize anyone who went outside during their shift).

On a mutual break, Nick took me all over downtown Vegas and showed me the best places to eat, drink and get in trouble.

Once I got to know him, I considered Nick Tucker to be the nicest person I ever met in the gaming business. Frequently, I introduced him to my friends as, “One of the few gentlemen you’ll ever meet out here.” It took a while but eventually I found out how wrong I was.

Nick showed great compassion for people. He took a personal interest in a fellow Golden Nugget dealer with a gambling problem. He brought this kid literature about Gamblers Anonymous, helped him to enroll in the program and drove him to the first meeting. In appreciation, the kid offered to take Nick out for a steak dinner. Nick politely refused.

Lelani Campbell, a gorgeous Amer-Asian blackjack dealer was as dumb as a stump. But she was smart enough to know that she’d be better off back home in Hawaii than in a dead end job, dealing cards. To encourage her to follow through, Nick tutored her a few days each week for over a month. She passed her GED on the first try. To thank him, she made overt sexual advances…but he turned her down.

A pit boss’s personal life was spiraling out of control. Nick gave him a new direction by suggesting that he follow his passion.  Together they searched the classified ads until they found a small fixer-upper cabin cruiser, for fishing Lake Meade. In the stifling heat of Southern Nevada, Nick went to this man’s house, scraped, sanded, cleaned and polished that boat until it was seaworthy. When the boss's dream was realized, he offered Nick money, special scheduling consideration and an outing on the boat. Nick said no thanks, to every offer.

Nick also organized parties for our clique. On Labor Day, he put together a barbeque for us at a park on East Tropicana Avenue.

Later in September, he used up favors to get the Horseshoe Casino’s coffee shop to reserve its backroom (at 2:00AM) and provide free hot hors d’oeuvres (as long as we paid for our drinks), for a boxman’s retirement party.

He also convinced us all to wear Halloween costumes after our shift, at a bash he put together at Mickey’s Appetizer, (a bar).

A month later, Lelani decided to make an afternoon Thanksgiving for our group. On the Sunday before, Nick brought her some extra folding chairs. When he pulled up, she was outside barefoot, in a giant, white tee-shirt that she wore like a dress.

Nick had trouble untying the strap that secured his car's trunk. Rather than get frustrated, he whipped out his switchblade and sliced the cord. Lelani joked, “Besides knives, you got any other surprises in your pants?” Nick avoided the innuendo and changed the subject by saying, “Growing up, my neighborhood was so bad even the Monsignor was good with a knife…” Lelani said, “Wait, I thought you were an army brat?” Nick ignored her prying and brought in the chairs.

Inside Nick said, “I gotta go but I want to tell you something.” She climbed up a three-rung step ladder and said, “Okay. You can tell me as I put up these turkey day decorations.” Nick spotted for her in case she fell. He pretended to be pre-occupied as to protect her modesty, he looked away. At the same time, Lelani kept glancing down hoping that he would sneak a peek up her dress.

She was losing patience with Nick as she tried to figure out if he was a saint or if he liked girls at all. Lelani went up and down the ladder several times and each time she finished hanging a strand of crepe paper or attached a pilgrim placard to the wall she asked, “How does it look?” Nick always grunted, “It looks great.”

For the last decoration, (a HAPPY THANKSGIVING banner across the living room), Lelani uncharacteristically went up the step ladder backwards as to be face-to-face with Nick. While he looked away, she hiked-up her shirt and said, “How does it look?” When turned, her clean-shaven vagina was exposed, inches from his face.

Nick smiled with interest and said, "It looks great."  Then he stepped back and turned her down. He added, “Also, I wanted to tell you, I won’t be coming here Thursday.” A girl as good-looking as Lelani wasn’t used to having her sexual advances refused. She was hurt, embarrassed and confused as tears rolled down her face. Nick consoled her, lightly pecked her cheek and whispered, “Please believe me, I really like you but I can’t complicate my life right now…” She interrupted, “Yeah but…” He cut her off and reminded her that he never shows up for group functions.

Nick broke the brief awkward silence that followed and said, “I gotta go now but take this.” He handed her an airport locker key. Lelani stared at the innocuous key and read the number aloud in a murmured stammer, “N-n-number 2577.” Nick firmly held her upper arms, looked deeply into her misty eyes and said, “If you don’t hear from me in a week, everything inside is yours.” She cried, “I don’t want…” “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll be back for you…but…well…if not, we can say I helped you get back home.”  Lelani sobbed, "You should come back to Maui with me.  You're so smart, you made my GED easy.  I bet you can go to school and do whatever you have to do to be a real teacher."  Nick was nodding as he muttered, "Maybe...a man could lose himself out there..."

At work, Nick had requested the night before off, as well as that night. He also didn’t tell anyone that his vacation was starting the following day. I never saw or heard from Nick again.

A couple of days later, before anyone realized that Nick vanished, I ran into John Crotty. I tried to duck him but shockingly, he called out my name and hustled over to me. We exchanged our Vegas histories until I said I was dealing at the Nugget. He said, “Nick works there, you ever see him?” I said, “Yeah. All the time. What a great guy.” Crotty said, “Great guy, eh?” I shrugged, “Yeah, of course. Why?” “You his friend?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Where does your friend live?” I said, “Don’t know.” “What’s his phone number?” “Well, he leads a hermit’s life. You know, private…I can respect that...besides, no one at work knows.”

I knew John Crotty only as a narcissistic, unemotional, too cool for his own good, zero. So I was caught off-guard when his voice cracked, “I-I-I thought Nick would be the best friend I ever had. But somethin' ain't right about him. The first thing he did out here was dump Trish from school.  Remember her, you couldn’t get anything better than that. But Nick kept getting weirder...like every few days, he wouldn't come back to the apartment.  I asked him but never got a straight answer.  Geez, we weren’t out here more than a month and he disappeared the whole week of Thanksgiving.” I said, “That’s funny, a girl from work is throwing a big Thanksgiving party and she told me that Nick isn’t coming.”

John said, “See. I told you. I thought I knew him…” He sighed before continuing, “But once we left Jersey, he became a stranger…one hell of a nice guy but a lost soul…if you know what I mean.”

In the days that followed Nick’s vacation, John’s description of the lost soul came true. Nick was a no-call, no-show and was soon fired for job abandonment.

I ran into Crotty a year later. He filled me in on several details that he hadn’t felt right about telling me the first time. Primarily, after they went their separate ways, Nick owed him a small amount of money and an explanation about his peculiar behavior.

He saw Nick driving up Ogden Street and followed him to a crumby apartment in North Las Vegas. When Nick opened the door, John forced his way into the tiny efficiency. Crotty said, “It was so messed-up, every inch of the walls, cabinets and refrigerator were filled with bent-up, yellowed, faded candid pictures of his ex-wife.” I said, “I didn’t know Nick was ever married.” John said, “I didn’t know either. And a lot of the photos included guys...new boyfriends I guess...but they were cut out of the shot or had their faces blacked-out by magic marker.”

John then said in a serious tone, “A few months ago, I got one long letter from him.” I perked-up, "What happened?  Where is he?"  He said, "I dunno." “What did he say?” “Crotty said, “Nick said his real name is Lonny Orlando and that he had been a typing teacher at a vocational high school in Newark. Soon after his elderly parents both died in 1977, his wife demanded a divorce in the middle of Thanksgiving dessert. A few months later, he quit his job.”

John’s voice tailed off as he said, “Before starting dealer school, Nick said that he wanted to ‘harm’ his ex.” I said, “What?” Crotty said, “The wacko didn’t explain. But he did say, he went to the dealer under a false name and moved to Vegas under that new identity, to help get off the grid…” I said, “What’s off the grid?” “Hey, I thought it was screwy too. But our golden boy wanted to go ‘underground’ like the fuckin’ Unabomber, so his demented plans could be set in motion without looking over his shoulder."
TED "THE UNABOMBER" KACZYNSKI (1942-PRESENT) WAS A MATHEMATICIAN TURNED SERIAL KILLER.  AFTER HE PSYCHOLOGICALLY SNAPPED, HE WENT OFF THE GRID AND BECAME A RECLUSE IN A REMOTE CABIN NEAR LINCOLN MONTANA.  FROM THIS LAIR, HE SENT OUT SIXTEEN LETTER BOMBS BETWEEN 1978 AND 1995.  THREE PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND TWENTY-THREE OTHERS WERE INJURED.  KACZYNSKI IS CURRENTLY INCARSERATED WITH NO CHANCE OF PAROLE. 

John continued, "On the bright side, in Nick's case, enough time went by so he eased up on the extreme craziness. But every November, because he couldn’t get his ex out of his mind, he went back to New Jersey under another alias, Terry Something-or-other, to 'just' harass her. But this last time, the house he had grown up in had been bull-dozed and far worse; his ex-wife was remarried.”

“Nick said he stalked her the whole day before Thanksgiving and followed her back to her new house. Like a stake-out, he watched the place for hours until a Mercedes with “IDOC2” personalized plates drove up. The driver honked his horn and she came out. They were doing some heavy-duty necking in the car before they drove off. Nick followed them to Pathmark. While they were shopping, he punctured their tire with his switchblade. Then he drove back to the house and broke in. Nick proudly said he purposely walked through mud and dragged footprints all over before smashing fancy framed pictures from their wedding and then pissed on them.”

“The next morning he hid in the woods outside his ex-in-laws. When they left for church, he broke in. Nick bragged about crapping on the kitchen floor and vandalizing their place. Only that time, the cops were hiding in the basement, attic and closets.” I said, “That’s crazy.” John said, “Hell yeah it sounded crazy but even though I have no idea where that letter came from, I got the impression it was from a loony bin.” My mouth was gaping as he finished by saying, “Nick closed the letter by saying, remember when you told me, 'you should never shit where you eat,’ well get this, that’s exactly what the cop said to me after he cuffed me and led me out.”

Thirty-one years later, whether John Crotty was right about Nick being institutionalized or not, I'll never know.  But the possibility does add another variable to the incredible puzzle now known as, Nick Tucker.

Winston Churchill grasped that the Russians were a riddle, in a mystery, wrapped in an enigma.  But I'm not certain he could appreciate stolen dealer school chips, inside a Baggie, in a grocery store sack and stuffed in a bank bag.  And nobody on the face of the earth ...even Sigmund Freud...could ever understand why Lonny Orlando needed to be Nick Tucker, in order to be Terry Something-or-other.

Monday, June 23, 2014

BILLY CRYSTAL'S 700 SUNDAYS AND A LOT OF MY FRIDAYS

To keep in the warm afterglow of last week's Father’s Day celebration, I recall a 1992 chance meeting with comedian/actor Billy Crystal. I didn’t ask for his autograph or make him pose for a picture (wish I did now), instead, I kept the conversation short (about baseball and how his movie, “CITY SLICKERS” moved me).
1991's "CITY SLICKERS," WAS COMEDY THAT I RELATED TO BECAUSE IT CONCERNED A MID-LIFE CRISIS AND CROSSROAD REGARDING NEW CAREER PATHS, (I'M HAPPY TO SAY, IN MY CASE...ALBEIT IN HIND-SIGHT, I CHOSE THE RIGHT DIRECTION).

Unlike most celebrities I have met, Crystal impressed me with his patience as he allowed me, to say my complimentary peace. So it pleased me the other day, (after Father’s Day), when I heard him on the radio talking about his dad.

Specifically, Crystal was advertising the limited 54-performance, return engagement to Broadway, of his one-man stage show, “700 SUNDAYS.” I'm ashamed to admit, before last week, I had never heard of this smash hit.
IN 2005, "700 SUNDAYS" BECAME THE FIRST NON-MUSICAL TO GROSS OVER A MILLION DOLLARS IN ITS FIRST WEEK.  THIS ARTFUL BLEND OF HUMOR AND EMOTIONAL HEFT ALSO WON THE TONY AWARD FOR "SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT," THE DRAMA DESK AWARD AND THE OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD.

In a humorous way, Crystal's memoir spoke of family, fate, loving and loss. After its success on the Great White Way, Crystal’s touring company hit many US cities before going international. Additionally, in April of this year, a made for HBO movie premiered, (now availble “On Demand).”

The movie is on my “to do” list but before I see it, I was so touched by the "700 Sundays" concept that I was inspired to honor my dad (below) with a wonderful rememberance of him that I never shared.

My father owned a high mantainence small business. I estimate that before I was in kindergarten and extending into the early stages of elementary school, he labored through a fifty-eight-hour week, (four, eight-hour days plus Mondays and Thursdays at thirteen hours each).

On his long days, mom took advantage of the situation to feed us things dad didn’t like (primarily chicken). Also on those days, mom got creative and did experimental cuisine, (with my sister and I as guinea pigs).
MOM WAS FAMOUS (INFAMOUS) BECAUSE OF THE LAMB STEW DEBACLE OF 1960 AND THE EVERY-THURSDAY NIGHT TREAT, TWICE BOILED CHICKEN. BESIDES, WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO EAT SOMETHING AS CUTE AS A LAMB?

Although the actual "twice boiled chicken" recipe was never written down, I believe the first step was to boil all the flavor out of the chicken! Then spill the flavorful liquid down the drain. Next, refill the pot with fresh water and repeat step one. If that tasteless delight wasn’t bad enough, mom’s culinary reputation was forever tarnished when her lamb stew experiment went awry.

I was five when mom's first (and only) attempt at this lamb-packed bounty didn't include one crucial preparation point...cutting away the fat before cooking. The result was, through the process of osmosis, the fat got absorbed into the meat. It tasted and smelled awful. Even worse, fifty-five years later, I still recall its disgusting slimy texture in my mouth. If it wasn’t for the cleverness of my seven-year old sister who suggested that mom try it, we might STILL be screaming and crying at the kitchen table. But today’s, “MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND,” entry is not about my mom, it is about dad…actually, all dads...and family in general.

In the mid-1950’s, many parts of my hometown, (Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York) burgeoned with new home construction. Landfill operations produced solid ground in outlying swampy areas which became the foundation for a modern/model community, (such as my part of town, Seaview Village).

The clean, new image that contrasted most of the city, attracted young families, (including former servicemen who took advantage of low-interest G.I. Bill loans to buy homes). Therefore nearly every house on my street had children. But because many of these family’s were living beyond their means, a lot of dads (like mine) were work-a-holics, (overwhelmingly, the moms were housewives and didn’t work).
IN 1960, CANARSIE WAS NEW, CLEAN AND BEAUTIFUL, (MY STREET WAS THREE STREETS UP AND TWO AVENUES TO THE RIGHT).  EVEN THOUGH THE NEIGHBORHOOD SOON WAS SPIRALED DOWNWARD, MY CHILDHOOD WAS NEVER DIMINISHED, (YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE HOW BAD THIS PLAYGROUND LOOKED LIKE EIGHT YEARS LATER).

From a kid’s (my) standpoint, everyone I knew grew-up in a mother dominated household. I never gave it much thought but now I understand why the dads weren’t around much. Plus I also realize that because other fathers weren’t around, I had no personal relationship with any of them. The more I think about it, it’s rare (even today) that I know the specific occupation of my best friends’ fathers, (HJ’s dad’s profession is the only one I’m absolutely sure of. I’m still close with my next door neighbor MPW but all I know is that her father worked in some kind of office).

In this period (which would continue into my early teens), my dad’s only day off was Friday. This situation put a serious crimp into seeing him because I was in school most of those days. We did occasionally go to movies on school nights  (there was almost no kid-friendly films back then, so we saw mostly romantic comedies for mom or the dramas for dad...which all went over my head). But between the candy in the theater and pizza or stopping at a Chock-Full-O'Nuts restaurant on the way home, these were cherished occasions.
CHOCK FULL O'NUTS WAS A FAST-FOOD CHAIN THAT BEGAN (1926) IN MANHATTAN.  AT ITS PEAK, THERE WERE EIGHTY LOCATIONS FEATURING A LUNCH COUNTER (similar to the one on the right).  THEY SPECIALIZED IN COFFEE AND UNIQUE SANDWICHES, (MY FAVORITE WAS CREAM CHEESE ON DATE-NUT BREAD). THE LAST RESTAURANT CLOSED IN 1980 BUT IN 2010, A NEW ONE OPENED IN MID-TOWN.

I was eight-years old when dad took the whole family to a New York Mets baseball game at the Polo Grounds. It was so exciting to be there…not so much for the game but to wander around the ballpark on my own, (times were different, I was given a ticket stub and told if I got lost, to show it to an usher).

In the next few years, this twice a year tradition continued after the Mets moved to Shea Stadium. I’m certain my sister was bored. But my mom was thrilled just to get out of the house. As for me, by this time, I was totally engrossed by every pitch. It was so cool when dad would fill me in on the inside information…so when he said a base runner would try to steal a base, I thought he was a genius when it came true. So with that Svengali hold on me, I never wanted to leave his side. But mom unintentionally blocked my fascination.

I’m positive she wasn’t competing with me for dad’s attention. Instead, she probably was pandering to my independent nature and need to explore by sending me (like an errand boy) on Magellan-like missions to find oddball treats that weren’t available at all concession stands, (like coffee or knishes).
A KNISH (K'NISH) IS AN EASTERN EUROPEAN SNACK CONSISTING OF A FILLER (USUALLY POTATO) THAT'S BAKED, GRILLED OR FRIED INSIDE A DOUGHY SHELL.  IT'S ASSOCIATED WITH URBAN STREET VENDORS IN AREAS WITH A LARGE JEWISH POPULATION.  TODAY MOST SUPERMARKETS HERE IN SOUTH JERSEY CARRY THEM.

My exhaustive and sometimes futile attempts to cater to mom's non-beer and hot dog needs were incredibly annoying. For an eleven-year old, it was like being buried alive with the sounds of normal activity beyond my reach, as I lay hidden (wandering) within the purgatory-like bowels of the never-ending (multi-leveled) ballpark promenade.

While searching for the one refreshment stand in the whole stadium that sold what she wanted, I was devastated by awful self-doubt as I envisioned being ridiculed and/or sent back if I returned empty handed. My dire situation only got worse when my ears perked up and my heart fluttered as each crack of the bat and roar of the crowd made me feel like I was missing something important.

I was fourteen when I crossed an imaginary line that put dad on the spot and really pissed-off my mom. That’s when I suggested that dad and I go to the ballpark sans females. It made sense to me but my timing could NOT have possibly been worse because later that season (1969), I alienated my parents by eliminating them both and going to games with SLW, SKIP and other friends.

In my teenage years to come, I worked a lot of weekends, (against my will, for/with my dad…and mom). This dynamic was rarely fun. Sometimes in the morning, I’d pretend to be asleep and hope dad wouldn’t stir me. When he didn’t, mom’s scornful earful easily resonated up to my bedroom and was loud enough to have wakened astronauts orbiting planet Xenon. The truth was, if dad really needed me, he wouldn’t have hesitated to wake me up. So, in taking on mom’s wrath, I knew he was hooking me up.

I would be in college before I realized how stupid I was to give up hanging out with my father. He was still working crazy hours and was dedicating a lot of his personal time to rehearsing or playing gigs with his big band, "MURRAY LUBOVICH AND THE TONE-DEAFS." (Not the actual name but something like it)?
MY FATHER WAS HEAVLY INTO THE ARTS.  HE WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIAN AND AN ARTIST. THAT TRAIT WAS ENDOWED ON MY SON ANDREW...I GUESS IT SKIPPED A GENERATION ON ME.

I was about eighteen when I came up with the idea of spontaneous outings with dad. Whether it was going to the golf driving range or taking him to play racquetball at Brooklyn College, his enthusiasm to be with me and his ability at things I never saw him do were amazing.
DAD KEPT HIS ATHLETIC PROWESS A SECRET.  I HAD NEVER SEEN HIM PLAY GOLF (OTHER THAN MINIATURE) OR ANY WALL SPORT.  YET HE WAS BETTER THAN ME.

My success in spontaneity then gave birth to buying my own tickets for us, (to New York Islander hockey games). I understood dad’s basic schedule so I’d give him a month notice before taking him out. On the way home, we’d stop for bite. Those times were so simple yet so great.

Dad, throughout my life sacrificed a lot to keep our family afloat. Together with my mother, they did well, within narrow limitations that we went on yearly vacations and managed the occasional taste of the finer things in life. To prove how well they did, I appreciated what I had back while it was happening, (like our 1968 Europe vacation). Others kids might have had more or as much (material things) but so many more had less. More importantly, nobody received more love than me… I had a fantastic childhood. So the burning hunk of well-adjusted behavior you come to expect from me, can be traced to top-notch genetics and well-nurtured guidance.


DAD ALWAYS LOOKED GREAT BUT EVEN A TUXEDO COULDN'T HELP ME.  AT ELEVEN MY AWKWARD ADOLESCENT STAGE WAS IN FULL GEAR..HARD TO BELIEVE BUT TRUE, FORTY-EIGHT YEARS LATER, I'M STILL A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP.

Like the relationship I had with my mother, my dad and I really connected when it was just us.  He was sweet-natured, uncomplicated and probably never knew how fun it was to around him. So my stolen one-on-one moments with him were never enough. That means, that the one’s I engineered were the best I ideas I ever had! When dad shockingly died at sixty-seven, my family and I were devastated. It’s a small consolation to say that at least he and I had no unresolved issues.
TOWARDS THE END, DAD WAS STILL A GOOD-LOOKER, (TOO BAD HIS HAIR GENES ALSO SKIPPED A GENERATION...BECAUSE THAT AIN'T NO TOUPEE).  IT'S ESPECIALLY DISAPPOINTING THAT HE NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO REALLY DEVELOP A RELATION WITH HIS ONLY GRANDSON, (ANDREW)...THEY BOTH MISSED OUT ON SOMETHING SPECIAL.

Billy Crystal’s story is interesting too. Similar to my Fridays with my father, Crystal’s direct exposure to his work-a-holic dad were limited to Sundays. Billy Crystal was fifteen when his dad tragically died. The poignant title of his show refers to fifteen years of once a week time to his dad, (700 Sundays).

In addition to the terrible loss itself, Crystal had deep regrets due to ongoing negativity and guilt at the possibily that their differences had something to do with his dad's premature death. Through it all, Crystal makes his message of life’s fleeting and unpredictable nature, funny. We can (or should) relate to him because you never know how long you have with someone…so savor those precious times while they last.

Monday, June 16, 2014

LE MIZ

My son Andrew is twenty. In acknowledgement of his last Father’s Day as a “child,” this blog is dedicated to him. Hopefully, my timely message will go beyond my little Farnsworth and help other youngsters while also serving as a mentoring device for dads, (and moms).
JULY 1997, OCEAN CITY MARYLAND. THE FIRST TIME ANDREW POINTED THE WAY, HE WAS DIRECTING ME TO THE ALL-IMPORTANT DIAPER BAG.  NEXT YEAR, HE'LL BE TWENTY-ONE AND WILL BE POINTING HIS OWN WAY TO JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING.

JERKS!  I don't know how they do it but they always find me, (at school, work, at businesses, my neighbors, friends of friends and even family). But I'm not the only one, most of you can say that your surrounded by weasely annoyances too.  When I was confronted by these morons when Andrew was young, I'd take a deep sigh of frustration and whine, "There’s never a shortage of knuckleheads, (back then I meant assholes but I now think he’s old enough to handle borderline profanity).

Andrew was around four when a six-year crossed our path at a park and called him stupid.  Andrew cried. I comforted him by saying, "That kid doesn't even know you.  He's probably unhappy and wants everyone else to be unhappy too."

Yes it’s unfortunate how many dark-souled individuals we come in contact with. They come in all shapes and sizes, are not gender specific, they come in all colors and are not restricted by age.

MLEM uses the phrase "Psychic Vampires" to describe people whose only mission in life is to suck-out all the positive karma from everyone they meet. Another friend MT, lumped these Negative Nellies into single phrase; Haters, skaters and masturbators.

It doesn't matter what they are called. What's important is, how you deal with them that separates the winners and losers.

In December 1980, (a couple of days after the king of assholes shot John Lennon, dead), my wife Sue and I were in Los Angeles. We got caught in traffic on the way to see, “EVITA.” Our troubles worsened when we couldn’t find the theater and we were further delayed by a long process to park.
"EVITA" IS A LONG-RUNNING ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER MUSICAL BASED ON THE LIFE OF ARGENTINA'S POLITICAL LEADER, EVA PERON.

We burst into the theater and were relieved to see the house lights were still on. At our row, the early arrivals graciously stood and allowed us to slither sideways through the narrow path to our seats. Suddenly, a huge muscleman with wavy blond hair stood up in the aisle in front of us, turned around and loudly stated, “Look at this bald bastard!”  In a shit storm of foul language, he continued to berate my hairless head.

My mind was temporarily frozen by shock. Silently, I tried to rationalize my dilemma as a fraternity prank until I remembered we were in L.A. and figured I was on “CANDID CAMERA.”
FAMOUS FOR THE CATCHPHRASE, "SMILE, YOU'RE ON CANDID CAMERA," THE PROGRAM WAS THE FIRST HIDDEN CAMERA REALITY SHOW, (IN VARIOUS FORMS FROM 1948-2004, IT AIRED OVER 1000 EPISODES, IN THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS). ORIGINALLY, ITS CREATOR ALLEN FUNT, (above) HAD IT AS A THEATRICAL SHORT BETWEEN DOUBLE-FEATURE MOVIES. THE GIMMICK WAS PUTTING UNWITTING PARTICIPANTS IN WACKY SITUATIONS, SOMETIMES WITH TRICK PROPS AND RECORDING THEIR UNREHEARSED REACTIONS TO THE STRANGE CIRCUMSTANCES. 

While this big galoot hammered me, the gorgeous petite brunette with him tugged at his behemoth arm but he ignored her.  Like a broken record, this nimrod angrily repeated similar statements. In a dumbfounded trance, I focused on the veins throbbing in his colossal neck until this bullying Neanderthal said, “C’mon outside so I can kick your ass!” Simultaneously, the house lights dimmed. This gentleman rattled off some more profane insults before sitting down…without ever readdressing me.

I'm glad I accidentally kept quiet and didn't add fuel to this fool's problem. The only explanation I could think of was...some sick pups are only happy when they are making others unhappy.  Either that or the dirtbag desperately didn't want to see that show so he tried goading me outside to validate his leaving. In retrospect he might have been onto something because other than the main song, “DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA,” I thought the show sucked.

Another thorn in my side is my whack-a-doo neighbor, “Boob the Bowman.” In 2002 when we were still on talking terms, Boob harshly accused me (from three hundred feet away), of cursing him while mowing my lawn. I knew he was a weirdo but assured him that I had no reason to hurl obscenities at him. I added, "I was singing, 'I’M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN,' (from Andrew’s second grade class's patriotic-themed show honoring the first anniversary of the Twin Towers going down)." Boob said, “I can read lips…and I know what you were saying about me.” I said, “You know you’re out of your mind. Have you ever considered professional help?” He said, “Yes I am seeing someone…” I cut him off, “Well, it isn’t working! You should demand a refund.” When he paused after yelling at me I said, “Our relationship is over. Don’t ever talk to me again!”

In 1990, Sue and I went to see, “LES MISERABLES,” on Broadway with the ZIMBO’s. 
WHAT'S MORE IMPRESSIVE, I RETAINED THIS TICKET STUB FOR TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OR KNEW EXACTLY WHERE TO FIND IT FOR THIS BLOG.  "LES MISERABLES," WAS A SMASH BROADWAY MUSICAL BASED ON VICTOR HUGO'S 1862 NOVEL.  IT IS THE STORY OF REDEMPTION, IN THE FACE OF A RELENTLESS ADVERSARY.

The seats were cramped, the theater was too warm, the show was too long…and it sucked. But early in the first act, the “gentleman” in front of me pleasantly asked me to stop kicking his seat. No problem. Later, in a threatening tone he twisted in his seat to face me and snarled, “Stop it!”

At intermission, the fire doors of the theater opened and a flood of patrons invaded the nearby bars and eateries. JZIMBO and I bought cokes from a dirty water hot dog vendor and stood out in the street chatting. Suddenly, the head-case seated in front of me stuck his souvenir program in my face and started yammering. The gist of his rant was that I was responsible for damaging the $12.00 booklet he left under his seat. When he showed me the one small bent corner I said, "Maybe YOU accidently crunched it yourself on the leg of your chair."  It was comical how, in a nerdy way, he went off on me.  I smiled and told him the punch line of an old joke, “You didn’t come here to see the show, did you?”
(above) THE TALKING GRIZZLY BEAR AND THE HUNTER FROM THE JOKE I RUINED, (BY GIVING AWAY THE PUNCH-LINE FIRST). IF YOU'RE STILL CURIOUS, FIND THE *ASTERISK AND THE ITALICIZED JOKE, IN ITS ENTIRETY, BENEATH THIS BLOG.

The other day, Andrew lost his summertime bimmie job after six shifts. I think it’s safe to say he was victimized by a psychic vampire, or a hater, skater-masturbator etc.

We were forewarned months earlier by our friend LEFTYDEE.  She said, "NEVER eat there because the waitress creeped her and her husband out and scared me every time I asked for anything.  In the end, I got my own coffee refill because I didn't want to risk pissing-off the bitch.”

To my untrained eye, this waitress is psychologically damaged. People like that should never be put in a position of authority especially in a hospitality business, (the fact that this crack-pot relies on tips with her awful attitude is mind-bending).

Well as bad luck would have it, this woman was not only Andrew’s coworker but his manager too. Far worse, her daughter (who inherited the nasty trait from her mother) was a server there too. And apparently, the younger mean-spirited girl wanted one of her friends to have Andrew’s job.

My boy was exposed to one, and sometimes both every time he worked. Like a demonic, mother-daughter tag-team tandem, rather than support his inexperience, they pressured him and criticized him every chance they had. To finish him off, they used office politics to do a hatchet job on him by exaggerating his lack of improvement to the owner.

Nobody likes having their income purposely sabotaged.  But Andrew displayed one of his best traits by not lashing out at the ignorant owner or pointing fingers.  He understood that the job fit perfectly in his schedule but the extra money wasn't worth beig exposed to an extremely hostile work environment. 

Andrew is practical.  He knows he likes his stuff and is motivated enough to earn what he can to subsidize his lifestyle. So I'm confident that he'll weigh his options and find a way to land on his feet.

Yes, there’s never a shortage of assholes. Overwhelmingly, it’s best to ignore them and hope they go away. On rare occasions through diplomacy, we might be able to help them by suggesting constructive criticism. And of course when the badgering gets so bad…sarcasm can be the most valuable tool.

I’d like to think that my son will never be too cool to seek out my wisdom.  I hope he will still depend on me for emotional support, protect him from evil and allow me to act as a guide through life's never-ending mind field of assholes.  But now that my scion is on the threshhold of adulthood, the reality is...with each passing day, he's going to be more independant and will eventually be fending off the mean-spirited crazies, unmedicated depressed people and those who really need to be institutionalized, on his own. 

In honor of all parents on this FATHER'S DAY, I salute you Andrew and wish you, as safe a voyage through life as possible.

                                                                   #     #     #

*Oh yeah, you wanted to hear the joke I referred to during the intermission of Les Miserable…well I shouldn’t because of all the vulgarities but Andrew is almost adult:

Deep in the Yukon's wilderness, a hunter spots a seven-foot grizzly bear. He aims his rifle carefully and fires. The bullet safely whizzes past the gargantuan beast’s ear. The bear chases the man down, breaks the gun in two, tears off the man's trousers and sodomizes him. The bear says, “Don’t you ever, ever try doing that again. Now, get out of my forest!” The disheveled hunter gathers himself as the bear storms off. The man grabs his bow and arrow. He shoots and narrowly misses his target. The grisly grizzly charges forward, smashed the weapon to bits on a boulder, grabs the man by the hair and forces him to orally gratify him. The bear says, “I told you, don’t you ever, ever do that again! Didn’t I? Now get out of my woods.” The man is shivering as the bear heads back up the trail. Newvertheless, the hunter finds his bowie knife and throws it at the bear. The knife harmlessly lands a few feet past the infuriated animal. The frightened man is approached by the bear. This time, the grizzly is smiling as he puts his arm around the hunter’s shoulder and says, “You didn’t come here to hunt, did you?”

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY !

Monday, June 9, 2014

CHANNELING THE GHOST OF FORMER BEATLE, GEORGE HARRISON.

I get in trouble because I’m a realist. When I hear wacky stuff, like the sky is falling next Tuesday, I’m amused.  Some people are insulted because usually, I make no attempt to hide my feelings. But when full-blown nonsense comes across my desk, I laugh, (sometimes in the face of the dead serious person giving me the “inside dope).”

I don't EVER want to be the guy getting snickered at.  That’s the main reason why my blogs avoid religion, politics and wild opinions. Deep down, I don’t want to write anything so stupid that my readership wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

First and most importantly, I realize that being “out there” and being controversial can be profitable. That means that a lot of people don’t mind coming off as idiots because they’re purposely prostituting themselves in the name of the all-mighty dollar. Obviously I don’t condone such behavior but understand why many clever people (out of desperation or the need for fame or fortune), prey on the less-than-clever.

On many occasions I have mentioned that on way home from work, I listen to the, “COAST TO COAST,” late night radio program. I like it best when they have mainstream authors or scientists on. But I’m also entertained by self-proclaimed geniuses with a gimmick who theorize about debatable but improvable concepts, (buildings on the Moon and Mars, chemtrails, time travel etc).
CHEMTRAIL CONSPIRACY THEORISTS BELIEVE THAT THE CONTRAILS, (CONDENSATION STREAKS LEFT BY HIGH FLYING JET AIRCRAFT) ARE REALLY HARMFUL, LONG-LASTING BIOLOGICAL AGENTS DELIBERATELY SPRAYED INTO THE AIR FOR SINISTER PURPOSES BY UNDISCLOSED, POWER-HUNGRY ORGANIZATIONS.

Just scan the cable-TV listings and you'll see an abundance of shows on a broad range of stations that cater to cosmic fantasies.  A popular show like, "ANCIENT ALIENS," proves NOTHING except there's tons of money in the outrageous because millions of gullible people seek age-old solutions to questions that have no firm answers.
"ANCIENT ALIENS," (CURRENTLY IN ITS SIXTH SEASON AND 73 EPISODES) IS DEDICATED TO THE PREMISE THAT DOWN THROUGH THE EONS, EARTH HAS BEEN VISTED (FOR MALEVOLENT AND/OR BENEVOLENT REASONS) BY EXTRATERRESTRIALS WHO HAVE BESTOWED MANKIND WITH ARCHITECTURE, CULTURE AND EDUCATION.  EACH SHOW OFFERS A DIFFERENT HYPOTHESIS TO EXPLAIN HOW THESE INTERACTIONS PRODUCE UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA THAT WE SEE TODAY. TO ME, ITS JUST BIG MONEY BULLSHIT AND THE CRITICS AGREE.  DESPITE A HUGE AUDIENCE, THE SHOW IS SLAMMED FOR PRESENTING PSEUDO SCIENCE AND PSEUDO HISTORY.

Sometimes during my twenty-minute exposure to Coast to Coast," I wish I had a tin foil space hat to wear to complete the mood...especially when some gonif pontificates about their "Remote Viewing" experiences.
"REMOTE VIEWING" (RV), IS A SO-CALLED ABILITY TO PERCEIVE A REMOTE OR HIDDEN TARGET WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF ONE'S SENSES.  WHICH MEANS SOME KNUCKLEHEAD MAKES-UP A BUNCH OF CRAP AND SELLS IT AND THE TECHNIQUE OF DOING IT FOR BIG BUCKS.  A REMOTE VIEWER, COULD SEE I WAS TYPING THIS IN MY RED DOCTOR DENTON PAJAMAS, (REAR FLAP OPEN).  IT'S PRETTY WARM TODAY BUT NOT QUITE AIR-CONDITIONER WEATHER...BUT BECAUSE YOU POSSESS (RV), YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT.

My antennas also get aroused when people write books about how the giant stone slabs of Stonehenge were mystically levitated into place or how Big Foot can make himself invisible to avoid capture (and uses a custodian? like a subserviant animal to bury corpses, clean his never-seen refuse or unique fur).

Last week, "COAST COAST" hit an all-time low.  A gentleman came on to hawk his new book, "CHANNELING HARRISON."  Apparently, the author David Young (a musician, song writer), dated an ex of deceased Beatle, George Harrison.  During his short romance, he wrote an unusualy high amount of new material.  Young then wrote a book describing his relationship, ultimate break-up and how he hit a snag on finding the right music for one particular piece, to go with his perfect lyrics  Until the ghost of George Harrison, guitar in hand, showed up.
IF THE STORY WASN'T INCREDIBLE ENOUGH, THE TITLE, "CHANNELING HARRISON," IS WORSE.  THIS ARTIFICIAL ATTEMPT TO CAPITALIZE ON THE NAME OF MYSTICIST, EDGAR "THE SLEEPING PROPHET" CAYCE IS LAUGHABLE.  CAYCE 1877-1945 WAS THE GRANDDADDY OF CONTEMPORARY CLAIRVOYANTS.  ALLEGEDLY, WHILE IN A HYPNOTIC TRANCE, HE ANSWERED VARYING QUESTIONS ABOUT HEALING, REINCARNATION, WARS, THE LOST CONTINENT OF ATLANTIS, FUTURE EVENTS AND MORE.


The following is an excerpt from the "CHANNELING HARRISON," book jacket.

This book is a true account of the ongoing and mind-blowing experiences between David Young, a multi-talented musician/producer/ artist, and former Beatle George Harrison. What David Young, who plays two flutes at one time and has sold over a million CDs, has documented is verifiable, real, and astounding. Every time he questioned his direction, he was (is) guided by one of the most loved, respected, and spiritual musicians of all time. The story abounds with seemingly impossible synchronicities, lined up one after the other in perfect time, all of them helping him to rise above his life’s challenges, and not only evolve as a musician, but as a spiritual being as well.

George entered David’s life during a time of devastating heartbreak. This intervention was just the beginning of over forty incredible experiences. George’s musical genius began to channel through David’s own music. After recording forty instrumental CDs, David spontaneously wrote and recorded twenty-five vocal songs in thirty days!—songs with depth and rich production values like the Beatles, in a rock-with-soul style he had never done before. What is George trying to communicate, and why has he chosen David? This incredible story proves there is life after death or better yet, life after life.

The trouble with being a realist, is that I come off like a hopeless cynic.  I really would like to think that there are goat-sucking animals running around Puerto Rico, the mother UFO ship is coming in September to serve man or that our government wants to implant a computer chip into all of us to know our every move...but I can't.  So I'll never be a believer unless I can see something concrete for myself.  Until then, I'll listen to Coast to Coast and see how to movers and the shakers intend to bilk the naive. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

ANTHONY BOURDAIN DOESN'T CURSE HIS ALARM CLOCK.

Two weeks while channel surfing, I heard the narrator on a CNN show say, “Our next stop was Timbuktu.” The phrase caught my interest because I always thought that Timbuktu was a made-up place. Do you remember referring to an outlandish or distant place by saying, “From here to Timbuktu?” I did.  I also thought Oshkosh was made-up too but it wound up in Wisconsin. So I pleasantly surprised to find out from that announcer that Timbuktu was in the country Mali, (of course I never heard of Mali either). Soon my curiosity went on full-blown learning alert, but my mind was sidetracked by my son Andrew coming home from his first day as a busboy in a nearby cafĂ©.

I turned off the TV and focused my attention on my son as he vented about the rigors of manual labor, (please note, he is simultaneously interning at our local NBC-TV affiliate). He took the highroad and was confident that his performance would improve. But he also implied that a teenage coworker (a server) had it out for him (by listing his shortcomings to the owner).  My boy felt that way because she wanted her friend to get his job.

Andrew sighed, “When I worked at Sears, management made me feel indispensable. Now bussing tables and working at the TV station makes me feel like they can grab any jerk off the street to take my place.” Our conversation was interrupted when his phone rang. Andrew drifted upstairs to accept the call. In the mean time, I put my TV back on, to hear more about Timbuktu.
POOR BY THIRD WORLD COUNTRY STANDARDS, TIMBUKTU IS A CITY OF 54,000, IN THE LANDLOCKED WEST AFRICAN NATION OF MALI. IN ITS ANCIENT HEYDAY (DATING BACK TO THE 1200's), TIMBUKTU (BORDERING THE SOUTHERN SAHARA DESERT) HAS A RICH HISTORY OF BEING AN IMPORTANT TRADING CENTER FOR SALT AND GOLD. THE PHOTO ABOVE IS A PRESENT-DAY SALT CARAVAN.  DOWN THROUGH THE YEARS TIMBUKTU HAS LOST ITS LUSTER.  IT HAS BEEN ANNEXED BY SEVERAL FOREIGN POWERS, MOST RECENTLY (1890's) BY THE FRENCH. SINCE 1960, MALI IS INDEPENDANT.

I soon learned that the show I was watching was called, “ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN.” Although the episode I was watching was over, I discovered that CNN was airing a marathon of the show.
BORN IN 1956, ANTHONY BOURDAIN, AN EMMY AND PEABODY AWARD WINNER, IS A NATIVE NEW YORKER.  HIS CREDENTIALS INCLUDE BEING CHEF, AUTHOR AND TV PERSONALITY.  "PARTS UNKNOWN," IS NOW IN ITS THIRD SEASON.

“ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN,” is billed as taste for the unexpected! This reality series has him circling the globe and bringing viewers extraordinary adventures in offbeat locations while sharing the scenery, food, culture, religion and politics, (noboby on the planet eats...or drinks...better than him).

While waiting for Andrew to finish his telephone call, I was watching Bourdain chatting it up in Russia.  This likable fellow talked a lot about politics while being lavished with native culinary specialties. When Andrew came back, Bourdain's next show was in Thailand.  I was jealous enough of Bourdain to pause the program so I could see it later.

Andrew continued to talk about the ups and downs about his job. He sighed, “I’ll be okay but I’m not looking forward to waking up to my alarm clock tomorrow morning.” I told him, "Be patient. When I was nineteen, I was a waiter at a Red Lobster in Florida. Orientation was two hours. The next day, during a three-hour test shift, a sponsor (another waiter) looked over my shoulder and mentored me on the finer details of the job. The day after, I was on my own.”
IN 1974 WHEN RBOY12 AND I WORKED AT DISNEYWORLD, I WAS ALSO FRIENDS WITH BOB AND RONNIE.  THEY BECAME DISENCHANTED WITH DISNEY AND GOT WAITER JOBS.  WHEN I FOUND OUT THAT THEY MADE MORE IN A FIVE AND A HALF HOUR SHIFT THAN I MADE IN A 45-HOUR WORK WEEK, I RAN TO RED LOBSTER AND APPLIED.

I’m not sure Andrew wanted to hear it but I closed by saying, “I took to be a waiter naturally. I think if there was a practical way to do it forever, I would have, (but I was still in Brookly College and was aiming much higher).

Andrew facetiously replied, “So you think being a waiter is the best job in the world?” I said, “No. And even if I did, I realize that everyone's needs ae different.  Take you for example.  You probably would love to be a game show host or moderate a late night talk show.  But before you go full-on honey badger over following that dream...you MUST understand the reality is, guys like Drew Carey, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien honed their craft with decades of paying their dues in related jobs, (doing stand-up, writing comedy, appearing in commercials etc). I wouldn’t be surprised if they started as interns and to make ends meet had menial jobs like being a bus boy. ” I then clicked on the TV and said, “You wanna see the guy who I think has the best job in the world…meet, Anthony Bourdain.”