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Monday, October 31, 2005


Halloween used to be my favorite holiday when I was a kid.

I remember being scared shitless as a kindergardener going into a neighborhood haunted house with vienna sauges and ketchup representing the home owner's cut off fingers. Or the time the one neighbor was on the roof and would throw down this rubber jack o' lantern in front of your face and then have it spring back up on its little bungie cord.

By elementary school, Halloween was a total blast: me and my school friends following the cute girls from the neighborhood around. In sixth grade I went as Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live which I thought was cool as hell because that meant I had stayed up late enough to watch SNL and therefore knew who Mr. Bill was. In all fairness, I'd probably only made it a handful of times but who the fuck was counting? Plus, as a sixth grader on the parish's A league basketball team coached by Whitey Barry, you were deemed doubly cool. Coach Barry was also the guy who ran the catered events at St. Judes, so by default this meant you qualified to work for him. My first shift ever was doing the coat check at the New Year's Eve dance at the church.

We used to fill pillow cases up full of candy. One year, probably fourth grade, some local thug "traded" me a bar of soap for my bag of candy. I was totally bummed. I saw my older brother Mike, then an eighth grade stud and neighborhood hoodlum himself. He asked me to described the guy, told me to go home and not worry about it. He came home about an hour later with a bag full of candy for me.

Freshman year in high school was a total bust. That year a rapist had been terrorizing Aspen Hill, the neighborhood I lived in, and not a soul went out. By tenth grade I was doubling as a jock and punker. I had a football game that night and then caught shit from my friend Jeff's girlfriend for being more "jock" then "punk."

The next two years of high school saw me spending many a night partying in the cemetary by Rockville High School with my friends drinking beer and listening to the Misfits. So when Halloween came, it wasn't about walking around the neighborhood trick or treating, it was about going down to mix it up with the hordes of ghouls walking around the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. One year, my friend Mr. T and I missed the Metro and spent the better part of the night walking up Wisconsin Avenue drinking a found bottle of schnapps trying to stay warm and stave off the cold until his sister woke up around 5am and came and picked us up.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


- This just heard while dropping my two-and-a-half year old off at his playschool:

"Where did you get that Hong Kong Phooey lunchbox?" says a mom to my son.

"It was mine when I was a kid," I reply.


-Yesterday at soccer practice this New Zealand woman was asking about what kind of things I get my boys involved in during the winter months. She just relocated to Carolina this summer because her husband is going to divinity school at Duke. "Many men I know," she says in her thick Kiwi accent, "always wish they learned to play guitar.

"So I'm thinking of starting the boys on violin lessons because it seems similar, ya know?" she says.

"That's not a bad idea. But why not just start on the guitar?" I say.

"I have musical instruments in the house - a bass, a guitar and drums - all available for them to use whenever they want," I say.

Another mother askes if I am in a band. "Yes," I say.
"Do you play out?" she asks.
"Yes, we just did the night before. And we play again Friday."

Kiwi mom joins in again, "I guess that's what you do to blow off steam?"

"Yep," I reply. "That and read books."

Mom Number Three joins in now. "I have a book club. We meet today."

Mom Number Two. "I was in a book club once but all we ever did was sit around and drink wine," she says with a giggle.

I tell them about the local library book sales. But add the comment that my wife thinks I already have too many books.

"You can never have too many books," says Kiwi Mom.
"And I'm told I have too many CDs," I say.
"Oh, you can never have too much music or too many books," she says.

She then turns to me and asks: "So you stay at home with your boys, do you?"

"Yeah," I say. "Have been doing it for over four years."

"You're like a hero," she says patting me on the back.

This Just In...

From my friend trey on the west coast:

We live in an information society. Virtually anything you want to know about anybody is readily available with a few keystrokes and a simple web search. And because I'm a generally observant (AKA nosy) person... I am often entertained by seeing just how much information I can gather about people I don't know. It's pathetic, obtrusive, and probably unlawful, I realize... but still fun.

Yet sometimes... I'm entertained... even inspired... far more than I could possibly imagine.Case in point.This morning, while waiting at the post office to pick up a package... I saw a guy in his mid thirties enter and join the line. He looked like a rock and roller about twenty years past his prime. Long permed eighties hair. Leather duster. Ostrich skin boots. But what really caught my attention was the way he spontaneously kissed his hand and reached up to a postal service banner which had the American flag printed in the background behind various stamp prices.

At first I thought he might have just stuck his unwanted gum up there, or something. Then I started concocting elaborate stories in my head about how his late father may have once been a mail carrier who bravely fought rain, snow, sleet, and hail for half his life - only to one day suddenly go postal over the permanent replacement of lickable stamps with self-adhesive varieties.But ignorance is anything but blissful.

For little did I know-- I was actually standing in the presence of greatness. And not just greatness... but All American, Flag-Waving, Red White and Blue, Patriotic greatness.He set down a package on the counter beside me. And naturally, I couldn't help stealing a glance at the return address - quickly memorizing the name.Dennis Madalone.Curious to know more about this oddly reverent rocker... I immediately returned to my office and typed his name into Google.And all I can really say is... GOD BLESS THE INTERNET and GOD BLESS AMERICA.

I highly recommend you visit the following links at your earliest opportunity.

Do it for yourself.

Do it for your country.

And above all else, do it for Dennis Madalone. 2005/04/29/notes042905.DTL

The Goddamn Itch

Got the damn zrytec withdrawal itch again.

I'm too broke to cough up the $30 for my monthly supply (and my wife gives me shit that I just keep taking it to avoid the itch).

So here I sit and itch.

And scratch.

Day three.

Mind over matter.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ride The Lightning

That's the title of the Metallica album that "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is on.

Had that song in my head all weekend.

Yet I couldn't find the CD at our house. I was a bit surprised at first because my wife is a huge Metallica fan (although) she stopped buying their CDs at And Justice For All. I'm not sure why. Probably because the influx of promos at the time in our house was enough to discourage from adding to the mess of CDs.

Anyway, I looked everywhere for it, finally finding it in the car. And why not? It makes an excellent soundtrack to long rode trips.

So last night I slipped on the headphone after the boys went to sleep and blasted the song til my ears bled. What a great fucking song... what a great fucking album.

I remember the first time I heard it. It was shortly after it came out in 1984. I was on the way to see G.B.H. at Sanctuary Theater in DC, when we stopped by one of his friends' houses. It was Tommy Carr the drummer for Black Market Baby. I'm nut sure if BMB was still a band or whether or not he was still in it at the time but that's how I'm placing him in my world.

So we arrive and meet him and his girlfriend. A full-on metal slut with teased hair. lots of jewerly, and very little clothes. She had just finished getting high and was still trying to doll herself up. She picked up an album and I'll I could see was a dark blue cover with lightening on it. She put on side one. "Fight Fire With Fire" came on. I instantly recognized it as a song from a mix tape my friend Tim had made me. Tim was the bass player in my thrash punk band Youth Terrorists but was the biggest metalhead I knew. I turned him on to Agnostic Front, Black Flag, Fear, Government Issue and the Bad Brains. And in turn he exposed me to Iron Maiden, Accept, Metallica, Dio and Megadeth.

So I was familiar with the band but only had three cuts of the album on my tape. I sat and listened to the album, looking at the cover was alternately peaking over it at Tommy's hot girlfriend. A few years later, in college, I would meet my wife and shortly there after Metallica became a permenant fixture in my life.

One last thing: bassist Cliff Burton is the fucking man. Rest in peace you maniac motherfucker.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

UNC vs. Duke

Okay, so this past weekend I worked two catered gigs: one at UNC and one at Duke.

The UNC gig was a pregame party held under some tents that were set up by the Bell Tower on campus located right in front of Kenan Stadium.

I got there at 9am for set-up. My co-worker Tim showed up shortly there after and we got to talking about music and art and literature as we normally do. Tim said he worked the opening of the Kerouac exhibit.

The we heard the Bell Tower go off. Or at least that's what we thought. And soon after Tim's launched into the air guitar intro for AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" verbalizing the classic rock guitar riffs. Soon after I joined in with my best Brian Johnson impersonation: "Rollin' thunder across the sky..."

We started laughing.

And then, loud as all get out, we hear Johnson's vocals come screeching out of the stadium PA system.

"Oh shit," said Tim.

I short time later, the stadium PA played "For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Metallica. I made a mental note to myself that I needed to go home and play that track as loud as possible.

The crowd slowly showed up, the wine & cheese type, alumni dressed in Carolina blue eager to chow down on duck gumbo and blood marys. Shortly before game time a crowd gathered by the sidewalk.

The the football team walked a path from the Old Well on campus, down past the Bell Tower and into the stadium as fans lined either side of them cheering and hooting and hollering. They were followed by the cheerleaders and the marching band. I got to say it was pretty cool.

We broke down and I headed home for a brief rest.

The next gig was for Duke's homecoming, a prom-like fest of food, beer, wine and live band.
For 2,000 people.

They consume 20 cases of wine in an hour.

The crowd swells and moves like a paramecium: devouring everything in its way; everything in its path.
I'm bartending and all I can do is try to maintain sanity as drunken co-eds stumble around me, expecting everything ("We're Duke students! We're rich!"). By 1am the event staff bouncers are corralling the drunken horde out the door. Breakdown is a mess. There is shit everywhere. At the buffet tables, the students didn't even bother to use the plastic plates, rather they stood over the chaffing dishes like they were bowls of salsa, just picking meatballs out with their fingers and gulping them down right over it. The floor was covered in stale beer and stained with wine. Fortunately, the party planners had the foresight to lay a tarp down - now it was primed for one giant round of alcohol-infused slip n' slide.

I went to pee. The men's room was trash. A inch layer of boozey grim covering the floor and causing a major health risk. I watched one drunk guy tag his head on the brick wall on the way in, then stumble into the handicap stall to puke.

Like army ants they were. Fucking spoon fed richies who want it all and give nothing in return.

Entitlement. That about sums it up.

One of the decor guys looked over at me as we were folding chair.

"They're a whole different beast," he said shaking his head. "A whole different beast."


Finished Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers. Written in '75, it's very much in the same vein as Apocalypse Now and that flick's association with the themes addressed in Hearts Of Darkness.

Needless to say, I really dug it and plan on digging in to some more of his work.

Two weekends ago I was drinking beer with my friend Ron and telling him about Stone's book. Also mentioned to him how I finally scored a copy of Robert Bingham's anthology of short stories, Pure Slaughter Value - I'd been on the search for this one for years.

Ron laid Barry Hannah's Ray on me before I left that night.

Fuck me was that a great book.

All this reading has got me jazzed. I'm been deligently working on another short story; juiced man I am.

So today, to capitalize on my gas'ed up newfound inspiration, I went to the Wilson library on the campus of UNC where they currently have an exhibit on Jack Kerouac's On The Road. UNC has a real fucking awesome collection of Beat Lit. City Lights Books proprietor Lawrence Ferlinghetti went to UNC back in the '40s. Of course he was just Larry Ferling back then.

So one of the things they have on display is the scroll that Kerouac wrote On The Road on; it is a sight to behold - one long run-on sentence. Now I've never been a huge fan of the Beats, never got obsessive about them (save for my desire to possess every chapbook in the Pocket Poetry Series), but seeing this really put the whole Beat scene into perspective. Much like burgeoning music scenes over the years (Seattle, Minneapolis, Chapel Hill etc.), you can see how the whole thing got momentum and soon became the shell of its former shelf.

But along the way, thanks in part to Ginsberg's foresight to archive much of it through photographs, you get to discover what fueled this small group of authors who would drastically change the course of contemporary American literature. They all seemed to feed off each other; collaborating with each other; acting as another's agent; helping one type. Really, these guys were like family and the collective mindset helped them forge this new world of literature.

Man, I gotta go write!