Dave's Journal, March2015
A few weeks back, we had a dinner for my 70th . . .
If you like grinds and sediment in your coffee, here's how to brew it ...
Two Italian Sayings
- You are not "old" until your mother stops worrying about you.
- You are old when your children start worrying about you.
So . . . mom's dead and she doesn't worry about me any more.
And . . Mike and Chris volunteered to babysit me and Debbie on our October trip to Italy, because I am deaf and Debbie does not speak Italian (I do, but again, I can't hear what people are saying to me).
Not to mention that last week, I turned 70.
"So, Dave, you're complaining about living to a nice old age, are you?"
I guess when you put it that way, no . . . and thank you . . . . thank you . . . that I am still here, old or not.
The scary thing about this next picture (my TV screen tuned to a "newscast") is that there are people out there who feel the need for this much crap being fed into their brains all at once, while the lady talks about the local news.
More and more TV style caters to people who feel the need to be continuosly distracted from topic to topic, every 6 words. I think they give it the nice name of "multi-tasking" because it sounds like something an important, busy person would need to do. Or maybe someone who simply can't hold a stream of thought for more than 6 words?
Similar to this . . . . There is a TV filming guideline that people get bored if you hold the camera on a scene for more than 7 seconds. After the 7 seconds (at most) are up, you need to zoom, pan, move the camera, switch to the other camera .... anything to hold the viewers attention by distracting them with something (anything) new to look at.
They also have special TV remotes that change channels every 5 seconds for people who can't wait out the full 7 second guideline.
Saved by a Debutante
I have been reading the New Yorker every week, for the last 52 or so years. I love everything about it. I get the real paper version delivered to my mailbox every week.
The magazine was born on Feb.21.1925 (exactly 20 years to the day, before me), and it was the pet child of a (of course) New Yorker named Harold Ross, who (according to this week's issue) "... envisioned it as a magazine of sophisticated humor."
Harold, and a few friends had high hopes, but the first few months were disasterous. It just did not catch fire, and, having invested all of his wordly treasures to get his start-up started up, Harold was in serious trouble. He was really a literary editor, and not a good business man. There are a few anecdotes from those times, but the one I am telling you is (of course) the best of them.
As the chief editor, Harold got lots of submissions and they were stacking high. One particular short article was from the daughter, Ellin Mackay, of a rich friend of his. It sat on his desk for months, because he was certain not to like it and could not bring himself to piss off his good, rich friend's daughter. He went along, editing and printing various (you might call the "snobbishly written") pieces that he thought New Yorkers wanted to read.
Ellin Mackay's story was tilted "Why We Go to Cabarets". Writen in the times when ever-so-proper rich people gave their daughters "coming out" parties (there were 1000 people at hers !!! ), her story explained why she and her girl friends much rather went out nightclubing (cabaret hopping) rather than go to "proper" parties with the rich boys their parents approved of.
Ellin was not be told what to do (she actually ran off and married the music man Irving Berlin though it outraged daddy), and she broke out of the role of sweet little rich girl writer (she was bad little rich girl writer). She was not the first of her kind, but she was the only one of her kind that had a story sitting on Harold Ross' desk.
Well, as the New Yorker plunged deeper into financial ruin, Harold eventually printed the story, and it was a screaming success - printing sold out and within a few issues, sales increased 10X !!. Harold gave Ellin a lifetime subscription to the magazine, and the story redirected its editorial attitude - not only were the writings to be sophisticated, the were also to be irrerevent, edgy, provoking.
Well . . . the rest is history.
You could get arrested for being this cute !
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors any more, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes
I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door I must have it painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black
I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black
(The Rolling Stones / "Paint it Black".)
Back in high school (1958-1962) a friend of mine (John Philly) had this saying that shocked us ....
"All my friends are dead." We all figured that he picked it up from someone older, and we never pushed him about it, maybe because we didn't want to know.
I've used that phrase for the last (Jees!) 55 years now and again for various social reasons. It's a smartass way for me to tell people that (as far as I am concerned) no one in the room at that moment is a friend of mine....
"We're just rattling your cage. You're among friends, Dave."
"All my friends are dead."
But, now, my Brother has died. And I don't feel that "
All my friends are dead" is as f###ing funny as I thought it was back in high school.
I'm warming myself up to a celebration of my Brother's life. I'm telling myself to get over the loss, get through the grief, get on with life.
But, to tell you the truth, I need to see rooms, painted black, filled with people in dark clothes choking back their tears. Women collapsing into each others arms. A guy in the corner smashing a chair, another guy with his hands covering his face sobbing his heart out. There's a guy against the wall looks like he could kill someone for this. Little kids are trembling because they know something really bad has happened. I need for everyone on the entire fucking planet to understand what a fucking tragedy has fallen upon us because my Brother Bobby has died.
The Basement Vent
Sister Terie tells me that she has been scouting out restaurants and reception places for Brother Bob's NYC memorial event. Calling around, getting availability, prices, capacity, etc and feeding that info down to nephew Robert, who is putting it together for (I think ?) Mar28.
T and I have been exchanging emails since Bobby went catastrophically ill. Catching up on 7 years of bad feelings and neglect on both our parts. Things are getting better. Weird how tragedy brings people together, huh.
She sent me that picture of Mike and I over there on the right. As best I can guess, it's 1976 or so, in my Grandma Fazio's yard. That's my uncle Al Fortunato way in the back.
What happened to the camera in that picture, you wonder. Well . . . when I was dating Debbie, she dropped it and it went to camera heaven. So, I bought an identical replacement, and I still have it today in my showcase (picture below). Fabulous Minolta lens.
By the way . . . . Nice pants, Dave !!
(X) If you are wondering what else I know on the topic of Brother Bob's memorial event / celebration in the NYC area --> All I know is the date is in pencil for March 28. I have no other info.
We're making progess up here. Last week, this wheel in the garden was under 2 feet of snow.
It got to 50oF today, so I drove out to the wildlife reserve hoping the trails had been snowmobiled flat. No luck. No snowshoes. No hiking. I came home and cleaned the kitchen.
"The Swamp Run" ( 1989 or so )
This will bring a nostalgic smile to Debbie's face.
Back when, we had a large party at her aunt's large house. Behind it was "The Swamp". The alcohol consumed was 5X the national per-capita average for any one day, not counting the day Boston won the world series. And, one story led to another (Vietnam, motorcyles, tattoo's, barroom fights, etc etc) and one brag led to another. Next thing anyone knew, there were five drunk brother's and cousins of Debbie swimming (swimming?) in The Swamp.
Five went in, four-and-a-half came out. Russell was grey and gasping for a long while.
Saying Goodbye to Brother Bob
I was fortunate enough to visit Brother Bob three weeks before he died. He was in seriously awful condition, but, strangely, that memory is fading rapidly and what's left in my mind is "Bobby", as I knew him for 66 years.
I got to sit with him alone for some time each day, and we talked, which was not easy, because my hearing is awful and his speech was so bad. But we stumbled along.
The day before I left, I was showing him pictures on my computer. I got to my Christmas 2014 pictures. There was one of me, Catherine, Loretta and Mike; and it was the first time in almost 30 years that the four of us had been in the same room together. For me, that is now an iconic image of my life.
Anyway, Bobby looked at the picture. Stared at it. Then he said "You, me, Sally and Theresa have to take a picture like that."
I was getting kind of choked up at that point, and my lips were moving but there were no words coming out of my mouth. Then after a few moments I said, "Okay, next time I come down, we'll do that." He smiled and was happy to hear me say that.
Well, the next morning, we woke him up so I could say goodbye. (Not something that I'd like to do again, in my life.) "I'll see you in March", I said.
He died three weeks later, on February 17th.
Not much left for me to say but "Goodbye, Bob. I will miss you forever".
For the record here, let me link to the text of an email that I just sent out to our family: GoodbyeBrotherBob
What's Wrong With This Picture ?
(Today at the Boston Museum of Science)
Monday, Monday . . . I should have stayed home today.
Little Dave Walks Home
Way back when (my best guess is 1953-4), I started doing something that kids would not do today (because their parents would blow a fit). I started walking home from my Grandparents' Fazio house on Strong place to our home on 18th street. I was 8 or 9 years old.
I don't remember telling my mother about this, but at the moment right now, I can't figure out how she thought I got home (???). Anyway here is the approximate route I took (made fuzzy by 62 years of time).
Grandma's house is the green dot, our house is the red dot (now it's a highway !!). It's about a 3 mile walk. I actually remember parts of the walk: zig-zag through the Italian street market near Grandma's and up 9th street alongside the elevated train line, to Prospect park (there was a movie theater on Prospect Park West).
Okay, while I'm doing flashbacks . . . . note the pond inside Prospect Park. I have very exact, vivid memories of this. We were walking through the park, and came upon that pond, with many people lounging around it. The water looked like escarole soup - it was choking with algae? weeds? escarole ? .... and it shocked me. I had dreams about it for years! Like a monster movie - the pond that ate people. I could not understand how people would even think about being near that pond.
Jees, I just triggered a whole circuit of synapses and those other things in my brain, and I remember this too .....
We moved to Coney Island in late 1954, but my parents wanted me to finish the year at Holy Name School, back near Prospect Park. So ..... for the Spring semester of 1955, I took the trolley every day (by myself) from Coney Island back up to Prospect Park and home again after school. I was 10 years old.
Every year, millions of stupid people graduate from college.
If we did it, so can you !!
That's mom ("Fizzie") on your left
and my Aunt ("Cobina") on your right.
(Those are childhood nicknames
that never went away.)
My mother was 45 years old in that picture.
My kids are now 45, 44 and 37 !!
Jump, Rebekah, Jump !
That's Grandaughter Rebekah, jumping over herself (!) when we were shooting pix in Dallas for her dance portfolio.
Here is somethng interesting that most people don't know.
Look at the picture here of the quarters and dimes. Note that they have ridges around the edge. The coins are said to be "reeded".
Now look at the picture of the nickels and pennies - they are not reeded.
Why is that?
Back in ancient times, there was only coin money (no paper money). All coins were made of a pure precious metal - silver - and the size (actually the weight) of the coin is what gave it it's market value. Big coins were worth more.
Long story short . . . when those ancient governments needed money and could not tax the people any more, they got sneaky. They took the coins they had collected in taxes and shaved some silver from the edges. They still had the old coins (marked at their original value), but now they made new coins out of the silver shavings. So the government "made" money without taxing people or borrowing it - they cheated !!
People got wise to this and demanded that all precious metal coins have ridges around the edges, so they could be sure they had not been shaved and still had the full weight of silver they should have. That is how reeding got started.
Nickels and pennies are made of cheap base metals, so no one ever shaved them, so reeding them has never been necessary.
These days, of course, US coins have no precious metals. In 1964, the US half-dollar coin was 90% silver. You could keep it and it was actually silver and worth something as a hunk of precious metal. Today the coin has no (zero) silver; it is intrinsically worthless, except for the fact that the government has declared you must accept US currency for all marketplace transactions.
So, if they don't contain silver, why are US coins still "reeded" ? - to make them look like real silver coins, even though you can see that they are just 3 layers of non-precious metals.
"5% of the people in this world think; 10% of the people think they think; and the other 85% would rather die than think" . . . T. Edison
"It's Not About the Zombies"
Joanne: Have you watched The Walking Dead?
Joanne: It's really good.
Joanne: It's a post-apocalyptic story about people ....
Dave: Oh. Not just Zombies.... post-apacolyptic zombies.
Joanne: .... who are trying to survive in a world of ....
Dave: Post-apacolyptic zombies. I got that. The storyline been done to death a dozen times over (no irony intended).
Joanne: ... zombies and how they gather into family groups and ...
Dave: The plot is flawed. Once the zombies eat everyone, the zombies will starve to death. And, if you are eaten by zombies, what's left of you to become a zombie yourself?
Joanne: They also eat animals, not just people. And all they have to do is bite you, not eat you ....
Dave: Why wouldn't they eat you? Why would they just bite you?
Ferrucicio: Dave ! ..... It's not about the zombies. It's about how people evolve to this new deadly reality. It's not about the zombies.
Well, last night I watched season 1 /episode 1 and I can agree now ..... it's not about the zombies. And it was good enough to get me to watch episode 2.
Stamps are Beautiful
Last week, I had to send a package to Wales, U.K., and the guy got back to me that the stamp on the package was so interesting that he filed it in his stamp collection. That got me remembering something (I remembered something !?!)
Way back (1992 according to the writing on the back of this picture), I noticed how cool stamps looked. So I got a "close-up" lens and made some pictures. They have been sitting in a book now for, what? 23 years, until today when that guy reminded me about how pretty stamps are.
By the way, the address that I sent the package to was exactly as follows:
Rain all day today. I am setting about to write some GIMP post-processing instruction pages for CafePhotos. Here is the one I just finished: Drama With the Blue Layer.
Today it's not only raining, it is freezing and raining. So I played with a new lens setup and made some "table-top" pictures, just to keep in practice. Here is one of them.
Sunday, Sunday .... "I wonder what the poor people are doing today?"
Superman (or, The Day I Almost Killed Myself)
Deb loves this story.
I was extremely delusional when I was a kid. For a long time into my life, I hadn't quite sorted out reality from fantasy. To be honest, I still struggle with that; but now I understand that I embrace fantasy because it is so much nicer than reality. Back then, I just thought that fantasy would become real if you truly believed it could. (Thank f#%#ing you, Mr. Disney.)
Where was I with this story?
Well. Superman was on TV every night (was it just every Wednesday night?), and I'd get all worked up watching him do SuperStuff. I kind of felt that the whole SuperLife was my destiny. I was getting great grades in school. Everyone said I was cute and smart and gave me hugs and pinches, so I knew, I just knew that I was special. Not just special. SuperSpecial.
So, this one time, on the TV program, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen were tied up in a room and the bad guys were filling the room with poison gas. Superman rushes in and inhales all the gas and saves them. Wow! Wow! How cool was that !
Program ends. It's still warm and light outside (we are living in Grandma Leo's apartment building). I am pumped. Wow.
I go downstairs. Outside. Sit on the stoop. Stand up and stretch my SuperBody. None of my friends are out right now. I could honestly fly right this f#&%ing minute. I could if I wanted to. I could really fly.
But, I decide not to really fly and I decide just to jump off the top step into the front yard, and I did that.
I walk around a bit, looking for any SuperStuff that needs to be done; I look down at the bulkhead that leads down into the basement. There are the trash cans down there. I walk down the step into the bulkhead, lift up the trashcan lids. Trash. Paper, cardboard, all the stuff that we recycle today, filled the cans. I'm thinking. I'm Special. Not just Special, I'm SuperSpecial. SuperDave.
I go back upstairs, into the kitchen, and I sneak some matches out.
Back down under the bulkhead with the trash cans, I close the bulkhead door. I light a match. I toss it into a trash can and start a fire. I wait for the smoke to fill the bulkhead (I cannot see a thing) and I start to inhale. Inhale the smoke. SuperDave, protege' of Superman.
(This is not a joke. This is a true story, as much as you disbelieve it. I really did this.)
I understood really really really fast that I was in extreme danger, and I pushed the door open and choked my way out of that bulkhead with the trashcan fire going on.
I honestly don't remember what happened beyond that point. Apparently I did not die, but I don't remember how it ended, how the fire went out.
Fifty something years later, when I told my mother about that event, she went ballistic. "Who was watching you?" etc etc etc. She did not want to believe that I, SuperDave, cute, smart, gifted, kind of an X-man before there were any other X-men, had almost killed himself, choking on the smoke of his own stupidity.