Sunday, November 24, 2013

Next of Kin: Giving Thanks for the Online Family

In spite of what the retail world has been trying to shove down our throats for the past month, this is the week when the holiday season really begins. Before all the insanity starts, this Thursday we gather with family and friends, look around the table and for one brief moment, get all choked up and thankful and shit.

Now because most of people I am thankful for will not be at my dinner table (hmm, is there a connection?) I'll just put down a few words.

The more you write online, the more you become involved with other writers. You comment on each other's sites, you blog hop, you guest post, you share articles... you help each other out. I have a bunch of those guys for whom I am thankful. Now some of them have books and I know they would be thankful if I plug them. So I will. See how that works.

Jim Wood. Now Jim and I have actually met a couple of times. He writes at, GuitarWorld and other places. He has also written two children's books, both with illustrations by Michele Quinn. The first book, Doodle, saw profits go towards helping the family of an ill child. The second book, Doodle Meets the Pound Pup, will see profits help an animal shelter. Good people doing a good job. Help them out if you can, they will be very thankful.

Lance Burson. Where do I start? Lance writes... a lot. And he writes well. He has two books published at the moment, and number three is in the works. His site is My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog and his two books: The Ballad of Helene Troy and Soul to Body are good reads. Please buy them, his wife and three daughters would be eternally thankful. You can find them here: Buy The Books

Linda Roy. Not only is she a writer, she's a rocker. Yes, she's in a band, Jehova Waitresses. I dare you to find a better name for a band than that. She has a great blog Elleroy Was Here, which is funny as hell, and it's where she serves up cocktails every Saturday. Cocktails people. We can all be thankful for that.

Jen Kehl. Another busy writer. Jen has her own blog My Skewed View and she runs the wonderfully fun Tuesday Twisted Mix Tape blog hop. And she's included in a book too, The Mother of All Meltdowns. For the blog hop alone we would all be thankful, but wait... there's more. Jen, along with Lance and Linda, run a new and most excellent music website called Raised on the Radio. You should visit there often. You will be thankful you did.

Richard Fulco: Editor of, another great music site. He is also an author, but we all have to wait until March, when his first novel ‘There Is No End to This Slope’ will be published. I'm sure he would be thankful if you pre-order his book, but checking out riffraf will make him smile too.

Ok, so those are the writers I am thankful for at the moment. They always have your back, and are there to catch you when the written words you have committed yourself to writing, become this dark cloud from which no light can penetrate. They are also a little weird, funny and don't know how to say no. For that, I am really thankful.

You guys all rock.

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hey, It Happens. Just Wish It Didn't Happen To Me

I started this morning with the Temptations song "Ball of Confusion" in my head. That was what my evening was like.

Most times going into New York City and seeing a show works out just fine. The last time there was an evening I chose to forget was well over a year ago. Talked about that in this post "Oy What a Night." Last night was one of those nights where you shake your head and look for the Candid Camera.

Headed into the City a little after five yesterday, traffic wasn't bad, and got to Midtown right at six... when the parking on the street becomes available for the most part. The Other was waiting in a bar on 50th and he saw a parking spot across the street, as I approached. Very cool, grabbed it and proceeded to stick my card into the Muni meter to get the parking receipt. After hitting the button for additional time at least 327 times, I tried to complete my transaction but instead got the dreaded 'card unreadable' message. Damn. Knowing I don't have 632 quarters to reach the time amount needed, I call the Other and he brings his card...again unreadable. OK, time to put the baby in a parking lot.

As the parking lot attendant waves me through to drive down to the next level to park, two cars are coming up the narrow driveway. Sooo, I have to back up the incline and wait for them to pass. Already my aggravation level is going into overdrive. Fine, walk the block to the venue, get my pass for the show, the Other gets his ticket and we wait... the cold for them to start letting people in. At least a half hour later, they start letting people in a few at a time. Once inside they have to decide where to sit you. It's a lot of long tables and a few scattered individual tables.

Because I had a photo pass, I needed to be close to an end, so we got a table for two on a narrow aisle directly across from another table for two. The aisle was actually a ramp, in direct line of the kitchen. So not only did every bit of food come past us, the wobbly table sat at an angle making it impossible to put a drink on, if you didn't want it in your lap. It also had a tablecloth which under any circumstances would have been too large for this table, add in that the table was in a walkway, well let's just say more than one person dragged it halfway off. Really, I'm not making this shit up.

People who came in ten minutes after us received their drinks before we even saw our waiter. He took our order and that was the last we saw of him for the night... until we hunted him down for the check. Another server brought us our drinks, and the appetizer which we deemed easy enough to eat on a slanted table.

Opening act, intermission, main show... no waiter. Fine, whatever. At the end of the show we find him, get the check and not only is there a charge for the food/drinks but for the show too. I ask him why? Because we didn't give him the cards we were handed when we entered. Ok, the show is sold out... everyone had to have paid to get in. Or even if that wasn't the case, don't you think he might have asked "Do you have a prepaid card?" I explain our situation and yes he remembered I was on a pass and he would fix it but it would take a few minutes.

A half hour later, the Other tracks him down again and the Other comes back with a bill and the handbills for upcoming shows and what the hell is this? Someone's credit card. I look at the name, the check and realize the food on this bill is what the guy sitting in the table next to me had ordered... yeah seating is that close. I ask him, is this yours... yep. Holy Shit, they handed out someone else's credit card.

Again, back to find the waiter, this time we get the correct bill and we finally get to leave. The show was good. Maybe it was a bad night for the venue. Maybe it was just Karma catching up with me.

All in all, it was a night out, a night with music. And that makes everything alright.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Mall Shooting: Does It Matter That It Could Have Been Worse?

I wanted to go to the mall today.

Now I don't go shopping very often, I don't have the time, mindset or cash to spend the day going from store to store. But a shoe store was closing and there were to be some good deals. I was mainly going for a specific walking shoe, a half-shoe that you just slip into, because as some of you know and I've written about here, I don't tie shoelaces. So this store makes those shoes and I need a pair, so off to the mall I was going.

But the best laid plans are sometimes screwed up. The mall is closed today. Last night just before closing, a troubled young man took a gun into the mall, shot off several rounds, caused panic for all those still inside, and hours later was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It seems his intention all along was suicide, and apparently he threatened none of the shoppers. But he could have. It's just another instance when our safety is threatened and our sense of security is destroyed.

This mall, I believe is the largest in New Jersey. It wasn't always that way. When I first remember it as a kid, it was an open-air mall anchored by Bamberger's, which would become Macy's, at one end, and Gimbel's at the other. Over the years, it was enclosed and it grew and grew and grew. It is now massive. So was the police response last night. The helicopter camera shot easily showed over a hundred law enforcement cars from every agency in the area. A terrifying sight in a place I have been to a thousand times.

Today, I won't be at the mall, probably not tomorrow either. But as the retail business gears up for the holidays, how many people will be thinking twice about going through those doors.

Sometimes this world is not a nice place.

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