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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Cautionary Tale on Chocolate City

In the late '80s, I spent a lot of time in DC. Sometimes my friends and I drove into the city, sometimes we rode the rails.

It was a dangerous time. Crack was king and go go was its theme song. But nevertheless, we navigated the bowels of the city from F Street NW to Southeast, from Georgetown to Dupont Circle, but this was all done with an err of caution.

Age was on our side back then. Danger was there for sure, but we were either impervious or felt invincible.

My last few trips to DC have shown me that the city I love has changed.


For better and for worse.

Places that were once "sketchy" have now been gentrified and overrun with entitlement. And this must clearly breed resentment. But that's a tale for another time.

One last thing before I share my story: If you are on the subway, after midnight, alone, and passed-out drunk you increase your chances of being a victim.


On Saturday night I went to the Black Cat on 14th Street with my girlfriend because the DJ in the back room was doing an '80s Night. She likes her Erasure, Depeche Mode, Cure, and Tones on Tail. Like is actually an understatement. I confess I love me some '80s tunes too. Yaz? Yessir. The Smiths? Hellz yeah!

14th Street in my day was the domain of pimps and prostitutes. Now it is a haven for twentysomethings to burn off steam after a long week of work. A Metro stop that nobody wanted to get off at is now a stop that everybody gets off at.

The sidewalks? Crowded. The clubs? Lines to get in. The food joints? Busy.

The night waned on.

Hot, sweaty, tired (and broke, the city is expensive!) we left and headed back to catch the train.

While waiting on the platform, a train going in the other direction pulled into the station. There was a commotion. We saw a gaggle of black teens cornering someone. I saw fists flying. I heard voices screaming.

And I reacted.

As the doors opened I ran onto the train. "Chill the fuck out!" I yelled, pushing bodies away. I saw two Latino guys sitting down. A gaggle of black teens throwing punches. One of the teens, a female, is pulling at his ear buds. "I want that fucking phone!" she screamed. "Get the fuck back," I said as I pushed both male and female teens forcefully in the chest. Several of them scattered but two stayed close. One was the girl who wants the phone. The two Latin boys were now on their feet. One of them pulled a knife. The teens, seeing this, scattered to the back of the train.

The door to the train closed. The train lurched forward. Suddenly my good samaritan deed seems like a bad idea. Because now there was no escape. It was me, the victims and the perps all in one car with no one else. Anything could happen. I walked in front of the Latinos. They knew I saved their asses, if only temporarily. I headed towards the crew who were throwing punches. I scanned both sides of the train to see who was sitting on the subway. To see who didn't step up and stop this madness. I got the feeling this whole train is in on this shit. "Don't do anything stupid!" I yelled out to no one in particular.

The door opened at the next stop. I got off and waited to catch the train back to where my girlfriend was waiting on the platform. Several of the punch-throwing group got off at the other end of the train. They eyed me from a distance on the platform. I stared back with a "You want to bring it, bring it," look.

There were no words nor actions on their end.

I caught the next train back and met up with my girlfriend Sonnie, who confessed, "As soon as that door closed on you, I felt sick. I thought I might never see you again."

Ironically, both our cell phones had just about died. Three more minutes or less and we would have been unable to communicate. I had enough juice to text her that I was OK and heading on the next train back.

We hugged.

I started to question my actions. I could have been stabbed, or shot, or beat up. But then I realized if it happened all over again I'd probably do the same thing. In a heartbeat.

What would you do?

The m.o. in the above video is the same, but is not actual footage from my experience. But oh so frightening similar.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Satan's Next Door Neighbor

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Crazy Words

In 2011, my apartment was robbed.

And they took my computer.

And with it, almost everything I had written.

I'm not going to lie -- it pretty much destroyed my creative spirit. I had so much on there. I labored on. Continued to "create" by writing assignments here and there. But I had lost so much. I just couldn't entertain the idea of revisiting that world.

Until recently.

Until I read this book. It was a real game changer.

And it hit me: I have tons of material. Let me find it and revisit it. Do something with it.

And that's where I am today. Digging through boxes looking for hard copy print-outs of my work. From the the days before clouds, blogs or external hard drives; from the days before the internet and social media.

I found his gem tonight. Probably one of my favorite poems. Enjoy.

Crazy Words

You bury your nose
in T.S Eliot, Rilke,
and the other Dylan.
Drink latte at the coffee joint
down the street
that used to be a GAP.

Your interest holds
past the classics
and you get turned on
to the common man's poet -
Chuck Bukowski.
The cigarette adds punch to the caffeine.

Suddenly everyone
neglects this beautiful world
'cept the street man
who spits out verse
worthy of press any time for a dime.

Late nights are spent
transcribing tapes of him
to go in a special section of
the 'zine you publish.
Not much left to do
since "alternative" became mainstream.

I mock you when I read.
Get up there loaded;
not original but sincere.
And shout my words to your tired ears.

My chaos
whips you into a frenzy
like mutants at a
GG Allin show:
Strung out and stumbling.

I fight not to lose it.

Maintain control,

Amidst what seems,

Certain and inevitable destruction.

Crazy words drool from
a crazy man.
Going mad in a mad, mad world.

And you say,"That's not poetry."

Do As You Are Told

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jesus Was A No-Show

“Mr. Monaghan,” said Professor Madejczyk from behind the lectern. “Where is your term paper?”

“I don’t have it,” said Bill Monaghan, a freckle faced freshman at Towson University.

“And why, may I ask, do you not have the paper?” queried the pensive professor.

“Jesus was a no-show,” said Monaghan, cupping his face with his hands, obviously distraught.

His classmates snickered much to the ire of the professor.

“Would you care to explain this to me?” he said.

“Well, last night on my way to the library to write the term paper, I was approached by someone from the Campus Christian Ministry. They asked me if I had a few moments to spare to join them in their talk about Christ. I said I was on my way to the library to write a term paper that was due tomorrow and that I had no time to stop.”

“But if you stop, Jesus will come to you. He will help you write your paper,” said the shadowed figure. “So I threw caution to the wind and went to the prayer meeting. I felt great afterwards and everybody kept telling me to go to the library and wait. That Jesus would come. I waited and waited but he never came. I fell asleep waiting and woke up an hour before class,” explained young man.

“So that’s you story Monaghan?” said the professor.

“Yes,” he replied.

“So you lost your term paper because Jesus didn’t show up to write it for you. Is that what you are telling me?”

“I didn’t just lose my term paper,” said a teary-eyed Monaghan.

“I lost my faith.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where a Ghost Pepper meets a Garlic Bulb

The ol' disclaimer... I’m excited to announce that I’m now contributing to Chevy Culture, a lifestyle and auto site sponsored by Chevrolet. Click through for the full post on Chevy Culture, and come back in the next few weeks and months for more.

Wanna make a salad? Take this five-town tour of Pacific Coastal Highway to get fresh, organic ingredients to feed your belly - and your soul - all while enjoying the open road and open air in your automobile.

5 Foodie Destinations Worth Braking For

Everyone knows that a day at the beach is fun for the whole family, but a road trip along California’s legendary Pacific Coastal Highway doubles the fun—whetting your appetite as well as your wanderlust.

So grab your sleek, spacious Traverse—with up to 12 cup holders for everyone’s beverages and Smart-Slide second-row seating for easier hops in and out of the car—and whisk your hungry brood to these five foodie destinations.

With the sun at your back and the ocean at your side, tap into your inner gourmand. From foraging for wild mushrooms and tasting artisanal olive oil to sampling garlic ice cream and getting your hands on the elusive ghost pepper, this is one scenic and satisfying drive, no matter if you’re in Southern, Northern or Central California.

(Do yourself a favor and take your mind off directions—OnStar will handle that.)
Are we there yet?

Santa Cruz
Your car’s V6 will power you with quiet precision along the coast to the town of Santa Cruz, located an hour and a half south of San Francisco. This is wild mushroom hunting territory. Chanterelles grow in the damp soil and thick leaf mulch at the foot of trees and by fallen branches; they are not grown commercially. Put your foraged fungi into a plastic bag and then simply cook them up with a little olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. Make sure you are with an experience hunter or travel with a field guide to properly identify edible mushrooms.

Nicknamed the “Garlic Capital of the World,” the city of Gilroy hosts an annual garlic festival for all those who like it pickled, minced or powdered. This versatile ingredient—a close cousin to the onion and shallot—is a chef favorite as it is a key element found in the dishes of most cultures throughout the world. Whether raw or cooked, it has an unmistakable scent. Just 50 minutes southeast of Santa Cruz, a trip to Gilroy will satiate any passenger’s garlic jones.

San Luis Obispo
Located on the central coast of California about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo’s Mediterranean-like climate makes it a haven for vintners. But the weather isn’t just ideal for growing grapes for wine—it is also great for growing olives. At Pasolivo Farm in the neighboring town of Paso Robles, visitors can sample some of their oils infused with lime, lemon or tangerine as well take a tour of the farm’s olive press.

Just forty-five minutes north of Los Angeles is Camarillo, a bedroom community with a history that dates back to the Chumash Indians. It is also home to the orange-red pepper known as the “ghost pepper,” once recognized as the hottest pepper in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. How hot is this pepper? Think 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. Ouch! Take a detour and travel to the McGrath Family Farm and pick your own peppers.

Laguna Beach
A seaside resort town about an hour south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach is known for its pristine beaches, fish-filled lagoons and thriving artistic community. But it’s also home to hydroponic vertical farming. The cutting-edge technique of growing produce up in tiers without the use of soil takes up less space, uses less water, can be grown year-round and keeps the greens safe from pesticide and fertilizer contamination. If it’s green—like kale, lettuce, chard or arugula—it can be found at Alegria Farm. If your hands are full of produce you just couldn’t resist, don’t forget to use your Traverse’s Remote Start key fob to unlock the doors and start your car.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013



I am a list maker.

I am a maker of lists.

If it is not on the list, it usually doesn't get done