Archives

 

MISSING

MISSING - Lauren Spierer
Sierra LaMar

MISSING - Tiffany Sessions

MISSING - Michelle Parker


MISSING - Tracie Ocasio

MISSING - Jennifer Kesse

 

 

Contact Me!
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Life is short. Words linger.

     

     

    ORBBIE Winner

    Comments

    RSS Feeds

     

    Buy.com

    Powered by Squarespace

    For all your shopping needs, please click on the ads!

    Friday
    Jun232017

    I knew I was a professional at something

    I wrote this just after the Casey Anthony trial ended. It’s still one of my favorite stories..

    Years ago, I was a hardline artist for an ad agency in Orlando. Everything we created was for the Belk department store chain, based out of North Carolina. Hardline included shoes, furniture, electronics, and other items unrelated to fashion. I would never consider myself a fashion artist - then or now, but I worked there for 11-years.  I also designed and built ads that ran in a good number of newspapers throughout the state. Previous to that job I was mostly in the restaurant business. Soon after I started working at Stonebrook Advertising, I saw a fast food restaurant up the street called Beefy King. Since I had come from a background in that industry, I thought it would be a nice place to eat and meet new people. It didn’t take long for the owners, Roland & Sandee Smith, and I to become good friends.

    One of the interesting, if not quirky, aspects of my job was our daily morning ritual. My boss insisted that we come to work at 8:30 am, but he (almost forcefully) encouraged us to take a break from 9 to 10. Go out for an hour! Enjoy yourself! Strange, but that was Mr. Stone’s way of doing business. Because of his edict, on most mornings, I would drive up the street to Beefy King, make myself a sandwich and pour a cup of coffee. Black. No sugar. Sometimes, I’d help slice meats or whatever, but most of the time I’d just stand at the front counter reading the newspaper. I guess it depended on whether they needed a little help that particular day. Mind you, I was always glad to pitch in. Since they didn’t open until 10, I never interfered with any customers.

    On one particular morning, there was a man working on an ice machine that had broken down. I’d say he was, what you might call, pleasantly plump and he had a personality to match. In other words, he was a very nice fellow. The next morning, he was still tinkering on the ice machine. Good thing the restaurant had a spare. On the morning of the third day, he finished his work and quietly talked to Roland about the bill and something else that caught his attention. As they stood in the hallway between the dining area and the back room, he whispered, “Hey, that guy up there. He’s been here every morning, just standing there reading the newspaper. Doesn’t he have a job? I mean, what’s he do for a living?”

    The acoustics were just right and our jovial buddy had no idea I heard every word. “Why, he’s a professional newspaper reader,” Roland replied.

    The guy said, “No way. There’s no such thing.”

    Roland said, “Go ask him.”

    There I stood, deeply ensconced in my work, oblivious to anything else, and completely unaware that he was sauntering my way to ask about my profession.

    “Excuse me,” he politely said, as if not wanting to take up too much of my very important time.

    I took my eyes away from my work, looked up and in a face that showed great concentration, I said, “Yes?”

    I tried not to snicker.

    “Well, I’ve been here three days now and I see you reading the newspaper. I was just wondering what kind of job you have. What do you do for a living, if you don’t mind my asking?”

    “Why of course not. I’m a professional newspaper reader.”

    “Get outta here. I’ve never heard of such a job.”

    “Yes. That is what I do.”

    “You’re kidding! You get paid to read newspapers?”

    “Yes. It’s a rather lucrative job, I might add. There aren’t that many of us in the state.”

    “Well, I’m from Florida - born and raised, and I know the state like the back of my hand. What’s the name of the newspaper in Leesburg?”

    “Which one? The Commercial or the Gazette? Also, the Orlando Sentinel has a zoned edition.”

    “No kidding! Alright. What about St. Augustine?”

    “The St. Augustine Record.”

    In rapid succession, he asked me about another half-dozen or so cities and towns throughout Florida and no matter what he came up with, I had the correct answer. He had no idea that Belk advertised in all of those newspapers. Actually, we did. Back then, newspapers weren’t as consistent as they are today, so ads were designed to fit each publication.

    “Okay… fine… I believe you… a… professional… newspaper… reader. ” It took a little time for this revelation to sink in. “I gotta tell my wife when I get home tonight. She’s not going to believe it.”

    As the guy drove out of the parking lot, Roland and I got the biggest chuckle. To this day, I’ll bet that guy still tells people about the job to stump all jobs. A professional newspaper reader.

    All kidding aside, there’s one thing I must tell you about Beefy King. I went there almost every weekday morning for about 10 years and I can tell you that it is, by far, one of the cleanest restaurants I’ve ever set foot in. Not only could you practically eat off the floor, the food is very good, to boot. It’s been in the same family since 1968, with the third generation running the show now. There’s not a restaurant critic in town that wouldn’t give Beefy King a glowing review, and for good reason. The place is legendary. If you are ever in Orlando and have some spare time on your hands, try to stop by for lunch. It’s on Bumby. You can tell them a professional newspaper reader sent you. 

    Sunday
    Jun182017

    FACTORY AIR

    This story is dedicated to my father since it’s about him.

    For most of my life, I didn’t know anyone who knew more about cars than my father. He used to own a front end alignment business in Flemington, NJ, and worked on every one that was brought to his shop. In his later years, we could be sitting around watching old B&W movies on TCM and he’d recognize the cars. “Oh, there’s a 1941 Buick!”

    One of his favorite lines about those old cars was that, “Back then, you could order a car in any color you want as long as it’s black.”

    In 1986, he bought a new Topaz from a local Mercury dealer. Of course, this being Florida and all, it had to come with air conditioning. Being that he knew a lot about cars, he took a look under the hood and noticed something that didn’t look quite right. “Is that factory air?”

    The sales rep responded, “Of course it is.”

    “Are you certain this is factory air?”

    “I absolutely guarantee it. It’s factory air.

    OK, he thought, so he bought it.

    Years later - and out of warranty, of course – his factory air stopped working. Yes, they do get overworked in the Florida climate. He couldn’t fix it himself so he took it to one of his mechanic friends.

    “This isn’t factory air conditioning. It’s after market.”

    “You’re kidding! The dealer swore it was factory air.”

    “Trust me, it’s not anything Ford ever made. I can’t fix it.”

    That totally infuriated my father. He had a terrible temper to begin with, but when someone did it over cars; something he was quite knowledgeable about? Forget it! He tore out of there and headed straight to the dealer to give them more than just a piece of his mind.

    Parked at the service department, he jumped out and approached one of the reps. “I need you to take a look under the hood and tell me what kind of air conditioner it is. My mechanic can’t fix it!” When in a fit of rage, my father was known to use language he didn’t learn in church. “When I bought this car, the salesman swore it was factory air. He lied to me!”

    “No sir, he was telling you the truth,” the man replied.

    “NO HE WASN’T!!!” And from there, I’m sure it escalated. “You’re nothing but a bunch of liars!”

    “Sir, please come with me.” He led him to the parts department. Along the wall and stacked high were boxes and boxes that said it all. Printed in large, black, bold letters, was the brand name of the after market air conditioners that are installed by the dealer…

    FACTORY AIR. Yes, the brand name was Factory Air.

    “We’ll be more than happy to repair it for you.”

    “No way!” and my father stormed out. Only the dealer carried parts.

    While there’s nothing wrong with the brand, my father felt he was taken advantage of. Lied to. And he was. Because of his very stubborn German blood, he refused to let the dealer touch the car, so he drove it for years without air.

    Personally, I had to agree with him. I think it was a very shady way to do business in the hot Florida sun.

     

    Saturday
    May272017

    A Haunting Portrait of War

    I know I have published this before. In my opinion, it will never lose its importance or become outdated. Each time, I try to bring it up to date. We should forever keep the memories of our lost soldiers alive in our hearts and minds…

    There isn’t a day that goes by when the thundering echoes of war escape us. Today, we live in a world rife with radical extremists like daesh (I won’t call it ISIS) and al Qaeda, sick and deranged with a desire to destroy civilizations and murder all of humanity, save themselves, in the name of their god. The following story is my hideous wake-up call to war. It came at a time when most conflicts were fought over more mundane causes - nationalism, patriotism, democracy, communism, bigotry and territorial rights. This was back when building a bigger and more powerful bomb was all the rage and nations proudly strutted their massive hardware in displays of strength and unity in order to intimidate the world. North Korea comes to mind. Now, for the most part, our enemies use IEDs, ram trucks into bustling crowds, and strap bombs to their chests, blowing themselves up.

    On a distant morning in 1967, one of my classmates at East Amwell Township School was quietly asked to get up from his desk and follow the administrator out of the classroom. I remember that day and wondering why. Did he do something wrong? Of course not, and it didn’t take very long before the principal announced on the P.A. system that his cousin, Van Dyke Manners, was killed in action in Vietnam. He was one of the first from Hunterdon County, New Jersey, to die in the line of duty. I didn’t know him personally, but I remember it well because it was a solemn day. My friend had lost a loved one. Greg did not come back to class that week. To a 14-year-old, those echoes of war were a distant sound that lightly flickered in our young minds. We never thought of death then. We were invincible, but with each passing day, the reverberation grew louder and louder, and reality hit us fast and hard. The Vietnam War was in full boom.

    Back then, what was going on in our own back yards seemed more important than anything else, but the Vietnam war was lurking out there - somewhere in our heads. Despite our youthful dreams and aspirations, the war never escaped us. We saw it on our black & white television sets. We heard it on our AM radios. It made headlines in the daily newspapers. Everywhere we went, the specter loomed large and cut deeply into our subconscious minds.

    §

    Early in 1968, a girl who lived up the street from me asked if I would be interested in creating a portrait of her boyfriend. Back in those days, a small town was just that; there was no city in sight. Windows were left open to let air breeze through because air conditioning was a luxury. We weren’t afraid to leave our doors unlocked, and neighbors knew all the gossip. I was known as the left-handed artistic kid. Ask Dave. He knows how to draw.

    She was a little older than me, and her boyfriend had enlisted in the Army. She offered to pay me and I accepted. I asked her to round up whatever photographs she could so I had something to work with. I asked her if I could meet him. To an artist, it’s good to know something about a subject that photographs alone cannot tell you. In the flesh, you get to know the person. Because of that request, I got to know Mike Baldwin. At 21, he was a man. At 15, I was not. He was old and mature. I was still a kid. He shaved, I didn’t, and with a war raging, I was in no hurry to buy my first razor.

    His girlfriend asked me to draw the portrait as big as I could. When I went to the store to buy materials, my old “Be Prepared” Boy Scout lessons taught me to have a back-up plan, so I purchased two giant drawing boards, just in case I messed up. I couldn’t simply up and go to the store back then because I was too young to drive.  Fortunately, I didn’t mess up, so I decided to draw another one, identical to the first. The original BOGO! I don’t know what compelled me to do it, but I’m glad I did. Maybe I thought if the relationship didn’t work out years later, at least he would have one to share with his family. That must have been the reason. Maybe the death of Van Dyke put apprehension in my heart. You know, one for his mother, just in case.

    When I finished the drawings, I made a date to deliver the artwork. My neighbor had invited Mike and his mother to “attend” the presentation. Everyone was very pleased with the job I had done, especially his mother, who was honored to have her son’s portrait captured by a local artist.

    Soon afterward, he left for Vietnam. He went because he believed in a cause. He believed in America and freedom. In school, we were taught about the Domino Theory. Back then, it meant that if one country falls under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow. Red China didn’t exist on any of our maps and globes. It was just a grayed out mass of nonexistent land, but it was still a major threat because North Vietnam was one of the countries under their grip. South Vietnam was not, and we came to its defense. Today, Vietnam is one country but, by the end of the war, 58,000 red-blooded Americans gave up their lives. Michael Baldwin was one of them.

    Nearly 46 years ago, he became a statistic. His body was zipped up in a bag and shipped home. That was the day I woke up to the horrible tragedy of war. It was my first experience. Someone I knew personally was dead because of it. 

    One of the things I learned, and it’s very important, was that Michael Baldwin put his country before his life. We lost so many and what did we gain? I know I gained a whole lot of respect for those who march off to war. Michael Baldwin was a man and I was a boy when we met, but I still look up to him and I will soon be 47 years older than he was on the day he died. To this very day, I wonder what would life be like had he lived. Would he have married my neighbor or someone else? Would he be happy? Or would he be mourning the loss of his children or grandchildren because of our brutal and self-inflicted world of terrorism, home-spun jihadists and plain, old weirdos? The more violence changes, the more it remains the same. Death is still death and the loss of loved ones over religion and politics is still just as senseless as it was the day Michael Baldwin died.

    On July 19, he would be turning 70. I will remember him as a true American hero; a very proud young man. As for the identical pictures I drew, they are lost and gone, but not forgotten. In my mind, the memory of them will forever remain a haunting portrait of war.

    Sgt. Michael Richard Baldwin (7/19/1947 - 9/12/1968) KIA - Binh Long Province, South Vietnam, ambushed while on reconnaissance 5 kilometers Northeast of Loc Ninh, along with:
    Ssgt. Phillip Kenneth Baker - Detroit, MI
    Pfc. Eugene Russell Boyce - Spartanburg, SC
    Sp4. Wayne Daniel Jenkins - Bryson City, NC
    Pfc. Kenneth Leroy Martin - Los Angeles, CA
    Pfc. Marion Luther Oxner - Leesville, SC
    Pfc. Dale Arden Palm - Toledo, OH
    Pfc. Kurt Francis Ponath - Cudahy, WI
    Sp4. J C Williams Jr. - Muncie, IN
    Pfc. William Wittman - Binghamton, NY

    September 12, 1968, was a long and sad day for Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

    Pfc. Van Dyke William Manners (11/10/1945 - 2/15/1967) KIA - Kontum Province, South Vietnam

    To all our brethren lost in wars, rest in peace. Your deaths will never be in vain.

    I first published a different version of this story in 2006. Michael Baldwin’s cousin searched his name on Google and found my blog about a year later. She wrote me and said, “I just found your website and read your article about Mike.  I just wanted to say thank you…  It touched me and helped me remember my cousin very fondly.  He was a good guy and the last of the Baldwin men in our family.  He is remembered fondly by many of my friends who still [live] in Flemington, as well as my family.

    “I also wanted to let you know that Aunt Peg didn’t handle Mike’s death very well.  She couldn’t even bring herself to go to the funeral.  I do remember that both she and my Uncle Alvin (Mike’s Dad) did attend the memorial at Ft. Dix after his death.  That was really all she could handle.  She always said she preferred to remember people while they were alive.  I can’t say that I blame her.  I didn’t understand it in 1968, but I get it now.

    “Mike left a large impact on me.  The memorial service was really something and I can still remember the 21 gun salute at his funeral in the cemetery in Flemington.”

    Mike’s mother passed away in 1993. His sister contacted me right after her cousin got in touch with her. Here is what she told me:

    “My cousin called me and told me about your blog.  She had seen Michael’s name in it and read the story.  I read it too and also your reply to her.  I am Mike’s youngest sister.  You made me cry—but it was a good cry.

    “My family and I are so pleased that we are not the only one’s who remember Mike.  Looking through your blog and your e-mail to Mary, I found it so interesting that there are so many things we are connected through.

    “I go to church at Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian church in Ringoes. Van Dyke’s mother went there before she died a couple of years ago and there is a stained glass window dedicated to him.

    “My father worked for the Forans in the foundry they owned in Flemington.  My father was friends with Walt Foran. [My friend Frank’s father.]

    “When I read your blog, I could feel that you knew Mike well.  He was a great kid and we loved him.  You talk about my mother—you may not know it but I had a brother who was older than Mike—his name was Alvin—we called him Skip.  He died in a car accident on Sept. 13, 1958.  No, I didn’t confuse the dates, it was one day short of 10 years later that Mike was killed.  It was a blow that my parents never recovered from.

    “I am so glad that you wrote about Mike, it makes me feel that we are not the only ones who remember. Thank you again for keeping his memory alive.”


    Please see: NJ Vietnam War Memorial - Michael Baldwin

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

    http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/2163/MICHAEL-R-BALDWIN

     

    Cross posted on Daily Kos

    Thursday
    May182017

    BRUCE ALL BITEY

    Back in the ’70s, there was a guy named Bruce who came into the Weiner King every week or so. He was tall and lanky and graduated high school with me. I considered him to be my friend. Not a close friend, mind you, but a friend just the same.

    The Weiner King in Flemington was one of the most popular places in town back in the day. Most customers came back time and time again because they loved the food. Obviously, that was the case with him.

    Bruce loved our Texas Weiners. For those of you who might not know, and I would always describe it like a mantra of some kind, “A Texas Weiner is a hot dog with mustard, onions and chili.” Oh, the memories this brings back… Our hot dogs were grilled and the chili was made in-house from a secret family recipe. All meat! No beans! Bruce also loved French Fries and Coca Cola. That’s what he always, always ordered and he usually came in after the lunch crowd was gone. Somewhere between 2:30 – 4:00: that lull time every restaurant experiences.

    You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. So what, some guy likes Texas Weiners, French Fries, and Coke. What’s the big deal? So did almost everyone else.

    Well, what made his order special was due to what ALL he ordered. Each time, it was the same exact thing. Bellying up to the counter, he’d say…

    “Yes, I’d like seven Texas Weiners, seven large French Fries, and seven large Cokes, please.” Take into consideration that he was always alone. And tall. And thin. And, just in case you’re wondering, NO, seven Texas Weiners, seven large French Fries, and seven large Cokes will not fit on a single tray. I’ll let you figure it out.

    Bruce always waited patiently while we went to work. He was soft spoken. We’d pour the seven sodas and he’d take them to a table around the corner, in the very back, so he could be somewhat hidden from view and not noticed by anyone else passing through. You never heard a peep out of him and he’d sit there for quite some time, chewing and sipping away.

    After eating all that, he’d throw out his trash. You’d think he’d be heading toward the door, but…

    Noooooo!

    He didn’t. He came back to the counter to order again. “Yes, I’d like seven Texas Weiners, seven large French Fries, and seven large Cokes, please.” And he’d spend another half hour or so back in his corner, munching away.

    I never wanted to believe that one man could consume all that, but Bruce was proof. The girls were always shocked, too, because they were light eaters.

    “Where did all that food go?” they’d ask me.

    “I don’t know, but I’m sure he’s got a bathroom at home,” I’d generally respond.

    “Ewww!” I had no explanation for it other than to add that everyone’s metabolism is different.

    Whatever became of Bruce, I don’t know. After the Weiner King closed, where did he go for his food fix?  

     

    Tuesday
    May162017

    THE LAST TIME I SAW BILL

    This is a true story that took place on October 23, 2001. It was a Tuesday afternoon

    My parents’ house is on a small street just north of Orlando. It has about a dozen homes on the south side. On the north side, and directly across the street, is a small lake. That side is owned by one family, Bill being the strong patriarch. There are two houses on his property, both owned by his family.

    Sadly, he came down with a very rare form of leukemia; so rare, in fact, that he couldn’t be treated by any of the Orlando hospitals. He opted to go to Houston, where he spent months at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. It was his only choice. It was his only chance.

    Bill was a strong kind of guy. By that, I mean he had character and integrity. He was a hard worker and everyone seemed to like and respect him. He and his wife had been known to throw some great parties, so I would hear, and he was a big banker of some kind. All I really did know about him was that he had leukemia and things didn’t seem to be working out in his favor. Unfortunately, no procedure helped and, in the end, he was sent home to live out his remaining days with his loving wife and family, under his doctor’s care in order to keep him as comfortable as possible. Despite not really knowing him all that well, I made it a point to ask about him every time I visited or called my parents.

    One afternoon, I decided to stop by the old homestead. It was my nature to make sure my mother was doing okay, especially when she was alone. Except for the pets. Driving by Bill’s house, I saw him standing there, just off the road. I waved, but he didn’t respond. He didn’t even notice me, as a matter of fact, and it seemed like he was staring out into an empty void. His face was pale and emotionless. I thought, well, he’s not in the best of health right now, anyway. Intently, I watched as I drove by, thinking that this would most likely be the last time I’d see him because something just appeared to be different. To this day, I still can’t put my finger on it. It’s as if he was somewhere else. I thought to myself that he must be nearing the end of his journey and was too weak to acknowledge me. That must be it. I knew that his health had been declining, but didn’t really know what kind of shape he was in. Until this day.

    I pulled into my parents’ place, got out, and went inside. The first thing I said to my mother after greeting her was that I had just seen Bill standing in his driveway. I waved and he didn’t even notice me. Poor Bill.

    “That’s impossible,” she responded.

    “Why? I mean, he didn’t look good, but there he was.”

    “No, David, you couldn’t have seen him. He passed away two days ago. In the hospital.”

    “You’re kidding. No way!” I knew I saw him and had to quickly go back outside to take another look.

    Bill was gone.

    Tuesday
    May022017

    MAYBE SHE JUST DOESN'T LIKE ME

    My Website, marinadedave.com or daveknechel.com is divided into three sections; a wide one in the center and two narrow ones on the left and right. There are ads and missing people notices and a lot of other things, including a way to contact me. If you scroll down and keep looking at the left column, you’ll find it. It says:

    CONTACT ME:

    This form will allow you to send a secure email to the owner of this page. Your email address is not logged by this system, but will be attached to the message that is forwarded from this page.

    Believe it or not, I still receive “fan” mail occasionally, despite the fact that the Casey Anthony case ended almost six years ago. I also know that this case will never be forgotten. Casey is just as embedded in our psyches as Lizzie Borden. 125 years later, and many people still remember the Lizzie mantra, even though she was acquitted of murder…

    LIZZIE BORDEN RHYME

    Lizzie Borden had an axe
    She gave her mother 40 whacks
    When she saw what she had done
    She gave her father 41

    Of course, I had to write one about Casey, although I don’t think it will be said a hundred years from now…

    THE BALLAD OF CASEY

    For the rest of her life

    Her name will be mud

    For taking the life

    Of her own flesh and blood.

    For what lies ahead

    Is a brewing storm.

    Her Caylee long dead

    Was fed chloroform.

    I wrote that poem seven months before the trial, but did do some minor tweaking six months after it ended.

    What’s my point? The hatred is still intact, and it sometimes includes writers like me, who covered it extensively. Please read the following letter I received last night, sent through my Website. I opened it this morning. I won’t identify the sender, of course, but it’s obvious she knows nothing about me and how I became an integral part of the Casey Anthony case. Obviously, she has no recollection of my participation in the case for three years; that I attended almost all of the hearings and the entire trial. She’s not aware that I covered it for 10 weeks as a credentialed journalist for Orlando magazine from inside the courtroom. Yes, it was a paid position. During my time as a writer, I investigated and exposed three different people and situations as frauds. I even received an excellent compliment from the judge early on, but we won’t go there.

    The letter writer seems to be one very vindictive person. To feel this way nearly six years after it ended? Clearly, she’s obsessed and angry, not to mention uneducated. (The emphasis is mine.)

    I know you followed the case of casey Anthony just like everyone else, even the real media but what makes u think you know so much about what really happened, especially just by hearsay. I hate her just as much as everyone else. But hate people like you more who read a bunch of everyone’s writings and now YOU’VE become an expert like you if your were personally there. I know you think you a writer, but try to stick to fictional books. You sound like a fool on scandal made me famous. Really.  

    You know what they say.

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but…

     

    Tuesday
    Mar212017

    Women's Bottoms

    I went looking for… Well, I’m not sure what I was looking for, but then I stumbled upon this. I’ve always had a soft spot for women’s bottoms, and here they are, ripe for the plucking…

    Friday
    Mar172017

    My Old Stamping Grounds

    Once upon a weekday eve, a homeless man dropped by a friend’s business while I was there sitting at his Compaq Presario computer. It was a travel agency and we didn’t know the guy. Never saw him before. Swinging open the front door, he asked if we could spare a few dollars to eat. Poor and disheveled, he said he was hungry.

    Sadly, no one wanted to give him any, so, after a seemingly long pause and being the softhearted guy that I was, I said, “Hold on a second.” Pulling out my wallet and opening it up, I got out a card. “Here you go, you can have this. It’s good for any large sub and the restaurant is right next door. Directly next door.”

    Back in those days, Subway gave away stamps every time you purchased a sandwich. You collected so many and you’d get a free sub of your choice. I think it was ten then. Five for a six inch and ten for a large one, otherwise known as the Footlong. Eventually, they did away with the stamp program because of too much counterfeiting.

    I generally carried a card with me because, well, you never knew when you were going to eat there and get a stamp or two and, darned if this one wasn’t already filled out. You can’t beat free!

    Anyway, I got up to give it to him, but before I could take three steps, he responded. “F*CK YOU!” and stormed out the door. That wasn’t very neighborly of him, was it? Oh well, he wasn’t anyone’s neighbor anyway. Most likely, he was simply passing by on his way to ABC Liquors down the street and thought it was worth a shot to ask. ABCs are everywhere, just like Subway, except they don’t accept stamps of any kind and, most certainly, not my free food stamps, although he might have been able to trade them for a bottle of Boone’s Farm, don’t you think?

    Saturday
    Mar112017

    Stewart Bacheler

     

    It’s almost mandatory for me to turn the volume down on my phone when I crawl into bed each night. Actually, I turn it off because I don’t want to be alerted to anything when I’m asleep. Due to impending old age and the memory problems that come with it, oftentimes, I forget to turn it back up in the morning and I’ve been known to miss phone calls.

    Two Saturdays ago, I was milling around, putzing along, when my best friend’s wife messaged me.

    “David are you there?“

    “Yes I am.”

    Since Sherry doesn’t normally text me, I thought that something may have happened to Stew. I mean, he is getting old and decrepit. Like me.

    “This is Stew. I have been calling you and I texted you.”

    I picked up my phone and called. At the same time, I was quite relieved it wasn’t bad news. The older we get, the more we worry.

    “Do you want to go to lunch today? Eat some sushi?” His wife was going to go to Busch Gardens for the day and he had some free time.

    You have to understand that it’s almost three hours to drive from his place to mine. That’s nearly six hours on the road. Just for lunch. I mentioned that.

    “So,” he responded, “I have a Maserati.” Which is true. “How much more comfortable can I get?”

    He had a very valid point. So, he drove over to my place, picked me up and off we went. This is the first time I saw it – a brand spanking new Ghibli with the special $4,500 wheel package.

    My favorite sushi place is called Happy Teriyaki heading up 17-92 in the Lake Mary area. We went there, only to find that it doesn’t open until 4:00 PM. Did I mention how comfortable the car was yet? We turned around and went to Bay Ridge Sushi in Longwood, only a mile or so away.

    Instead of sitting at the sushi bar, we got a booth. “Since you drove over, how about if I buy you lunch?”

    “No, I got it. I told you I was coming over to take you to lunch. It’s on me.”

    Everything was delicious. Did I tell you I love sushi yet? After we finished, we stopped to see the Senator, or what’s left of it, at Big Tree Park. It was the largest and oldest cypress tree in the world, estimated to be 3,500 years old. Five years ago, a young woman set it afire one night to see the drugs she was using.

    After a few minutes there, he took me home and off he went, back to Bradenton. Now, let me ask you… How many friends do that? Drive for hours just to have lunch with their best friend? You have to understand, we’ve been close since childhood. That’s 50-plus years. Under normal conditions, it’s asking for a lot, but not when you’re driving the dumpstermobile. Did I tell you he owns a roll-off dumpster company? Alpha Dumpsters.

     

    Thursday
    Mar092017

    HIS HEART HURTS

    This was published online at dailymail.com yesterday:

    During the interview with the AP, Anthony said that the day her daughter disappeared, on June 16 2008, she was in the care of her father.

    ‘The last time I saw my daughter, I believed that she was alive and was going to be OK, and that’s what was told to me,’ she said.

    “’My father told me she was going to be OK. That she was OK,’ she added when pressed by the reporter if her parents were babysitting Caylee that day.

    When asked about the lies she had told police, Casey Anthony said cryptically, ‘My dad was a cop, you can read into that what you want.’

    On Tuesday, George and Cindy Anthony released a statement to People Magazine through their attorney Mark Lippman, saying their daughter was forcing them to relieve the darkest period in their lives from which they had tried to move forward.

    ‘After years of silence, Casey Anthony has decided to complete an interview and has once again pointed to George Anthony, her father, as a suspect in the disappearance and death of his granddaughter, Caylee,’ George and Cindy stated.

    At trial, Casey’s lead defense attorney proposed the theory that her father was involved; that Caylee drowned in the back yard pool, and George took care of it by dumping her body in the woods near the Anthony home. What’s so interesting today is that Casey clearly disputes that theory by stating that she believed her daughter was OK, and that’s what she was told. This means either of two things. One, Casey has decided to change her story by throwing her attorney under the bus; or, two, Jose Baez made the whole story up. Baez told the court it was an accidental drowning (as per Casey) and he stashed the body. Who does that sort of thing? The natural inclination is to call 911 immediately for help.

    Today, Casey says nothing about Baez’s account other than to indirectly contradict it. No, she thought Caylee was doing swell. At least, that’s what she was last told.

    Personally, I don’t believe anything that spews from her mouth. She came out of the termite infested woodwork because she’s a fame whore. To be truthful, I will never trust a word and she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about anyone but her narcissistic self. At the same time, she was raised by a family of liars. She learned at a very early age.

    The remainder of this post is from an article I wrote nearly five years ago, on March 17, 2012. Don’t worry, I gave myself permission to reprint it. Also, it was a theory. Take into consideration that it was from years ago and read into it what you wish. Yes, I believe George and Cindy are pained over this, but who created the monster?

    I have said on several occasions that the possibility is real that George and Cindy Anthony made a pact with the devil in order to get their daughter out of jail. By that, I don’t mean literally. It’s a euphimism, unless you think Casey is, in fact, the devil. Just prior to the start of the trial, Cindy and Mark Lippman met privately with Casey’s attorney, Jose Baez. Lippman is George and Cindy’s lawyer. George was not invited to the meeting and this said volumes to me. It meant that Cindy and Lippman were in on the defense strategy to do a character assassination of George — one that began during Baez’s opening statement at trial — or it meant that George was conspicuously absent from the meeting to make it look like he had nothing to do with the made-up story.

    At one of the final hearings before the trial began, I was in the courtroom when Baez asked George on the stand if he would do anything for his daughter. Most of you should remember it, too. George’s reaction? Yes, absolutely, he would do anything, and he was quite vocal about it. When asked if he would lie for Casey, his answer was a resounding YES!

    This signalled (to me) that what most of us had sensed all along was true. The Anthonys were, and remain, natural born liars. With the information gathered from the mouth of George Anthony, he spoke the truth, under oath, that he was willing to do anything to rescue his grandchild’s alleged murderer. Did this include his willingness to be the fall guy? All he had to do was take the bashing because, in the end, no one in the public would believe he ever sexually molested anyone in his family, let alone do any harm to Caylee. Simply put, just deny everything on the stand, which he did, but in the end, it confounded the jury and the plan worked. George came across looking like a liar and a loser — and that’s all the jury had to see to create a semblance of doubt. George looked guilty of something.

    Want more? Cindy stated under oath that she made chloroform searches at home on two separate dates, while her bosses at Gentiva Health, Deborah Polisano and John Camperlengo, testified that she couldn’t have because she was at work and logged into her work computer. They also had time cards to prove she was there. Despite their testimony, the defense still managed to muddle the evidence and Casey is free because of it. Job well done, George! Take a bow, Cindy!

    Sunday
    Mar052017

    Did Obama Tape Him?

    Joe Burbank is a senior photographer with the Orlando Sentinel. I got to know him during the murder cases I wrote about. (He was the main photographer during the George Zimmerman trial.) Joe’s a really good, down-to-earth guy. The Sentinel was responsible for all still images that went over the news feed, while CNN handled video. This is one of his photos taken for the newspaper when President Trump visited Orlando on Friday. I think it’s worth a Pulitzer.

     

     

    Wednesday
    Mar012017

    NO CAROTIDS!

    I see a lot of doctors; my primary care and a few specialists, like a pulmonologist. Sometimes, she orders chest x-rays because I was once a smoker and I’m prone to lung problems. (It will be 10 years in October!) Generally, I go to Boston Diagnostics in Altamonte Springs because they’re handy and efficient. I’ve had other tests done there, too, with and without contrast. I recommend the place, except for the few tests I’d rather not have because there are different ways to get that chalky white contrast inside you.

    Many years ago, before I had insurance, I went for some sort of “procedure.” Maybe gloves were involved. I don’t remember what it was, but I do recall that I had to stop at the side desk for billing before walking out the locked door and back into the waiting area to leave. I’m certain I had to sign something. When I went to that open window to settle up, I noticed signs hanging on the walls behind her, clearly for customers to see. You know, like the $30 fee for bouncing a check. One sign in particular caught my eye and it got my creative juices flowing. It must have been a lull time, too, because several nurses were standing around chatting. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. Not mine. I ended up with one of those stern, robotic, almost Gestapo-types sitting there at her neatly organized desk. You vill obey! As she typed into her computer, I paid attention to that one sign…

    NO CAROTIDS

    I think it meant no Doppler ultrasound studies on the carotid arteries. Suddenly, out of the blue, I piped in, purposely bypassing Frau Ratched. Pronouncing carotids like the vegetable, I pointed at the sign and asked, “No CARROTids? Do you have TOMATIDS?”

    All of the other nurses paused for a split second, then burst into laughter. But not mine. She had to correct me. Like I was an idiot. Fortunately, one of the other nurses let her know it was an obvious joke. Can’t you tell? Unfortunately, she didn’t get it at all. Without a doubt, she wasn’t right for that job and, fortunately, I never saw her again.

     

    Wednesday
    Feb222017

    A Ghost Story?

    I had a conversation with a dyed-in-the-wool atheist recently. He said there is no Heaven or Hell. When you die, you’re gone. That’s it. Journey over. It made me think a little, so I wrote a response…

    In the late 1970s, I lived on the corner of Bonnell Street and Park Avenue in Flemington, NJ. It was two doors down from the 1756 Samuel Fleming House on Bonnell and I had some rather interesting experiences in my house. You might call them downright strange.

    Late one evening, while lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I abruptly heard the front door open and close. At that time, I lived alone and my bedroom was the first one up the stairs. After the door shut, I heard light footsteps walk across the room and start up the stairs. Most certainly, I had locked the door. This totally startled me. I wasn’t sure what to do, except to patiently wait for those footsteps to almost reach the top step. There was no way I was going to let an intruder near me. Within seconds, I jumped out of bed and flipped on the hallway light switch just outside my door. At the same time, I kicked my left leg into the air at the target. What the..? No one was there. (OK, I won’t rule out that it was nothing more than a dream, but I’ve never hallucinated in my life. Well, maybe in my late teens, but that’s another story.) On that particular night, I was as sober as a judge and still quite awake. Without a doubt, I heard that door open and close. I heard footsteps walk across the solid wood floor and head up the stairs. No doubt about it.

    Prior to that experience, I occasionally heard conversations emanate from the kitchen. There was a gap under the door between the kitchen and living room. My house was also built in the 1700s. It stopped whenever I opened the door to get closer to the sound. No one was ever there and no one was standing outside chatting. What was it? Eh, I simply ignored it, until…

    When I first started dating Maryen, she lived on Main Street. We were going somewhere for the night and needed a fresh change of clothes. First, we stopped at her place and then mine. My friend, Ken, and his girlfriend, Nancy, were living with me at the time, but they had left hours earlier. His band was playing in Easton that weekend.

    While I was in the bedroom looking through my dresser, Maryen went down the hall to the bathroom. She left the door open. Once again, the downstairs door opened and up the stairs walked light footsteps. I assumed Nancy had come back for something because she walked right past me and into their bedroom. The hallway had wooden floors, too. When Maryen came to my room, she said that Nancy was home. I said, yes, I know, I heard her and kind of, sort of, saw her. I had glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw a shadow walk by. Maren saw the same thing; just a shadow out of the corner of her eye.

    “Hi, Nancy,” I loudly said as I walked down the hall toward their room. There was no answer, so we walked through their door. No one was there. I looked under the bed and in the closet. Nothing. Maryen was spooked.

    I would have shrugged it off again, except for the fact that Maryen heard and saw the same thing. That’s two people, not one. I never brought up the notion of spirits in the house to her before. I mean, we hadn’t been together all that long and I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. Eventually, Ken and Nancy moved out and Maryen moved in with her 7-year-old daughter. We never experienced anything again.

    One day, I spoke to an author and locally renowned historion about my/our “so called” incidents. This piqued her interest, so she researched the address. A month or so later, she told me a 7-year-old girl had drowned in a well out back hundreds of years ago. The well was long gone. At one time, the house was part of the original Samuel Fleming estate, most likely a barn, and erected after the Fleming house was built. In the 1800s, a larger addition was added.

    Up until those quirky experiences, I had always been skeptical of ghosts. To this day, I can’t say for sure that I actually believe in them, but I refuse to say I don’t. I think what I’m trying to say is that if there is even a remote possibility of the existence of apparitions, then there is surely a chance of an afterlife. To all naysayers who might not believe in ghosts, think about it. This is a true story.

     

     

    Thursday
    Feb092017

    FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH

    I know, I always get into trouble when writing anything about politics. Why? Because liberals (oh, excuse me, progressives) attack me and so do conservatives. That’s because I go after stuff that is, quite literally, dumb. It’s not a political bend in the classic sense, it’s much more like taking a look at things that make no sense. In this case, it’s like standing in your own reeky cesspool while claiming that the opposition smells much worse.

    During a senate confirmation hearing regarding Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., and addressed to then-senator Strom Thurmond. The year was 1986 and Thurmond was chairman of the powerful Committee on the Judiciary (US Senate.) In part, King wrote that Jefferson B. Sessions “… used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens [and] should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”

    King urged the Senate to reject Sessions’ nomination as a federal judge and he did, in fact, fail.

    My point has nothing to do with how you or I feel about Warren now because Sessions was sworn in as US Attorney General. That part is history and I’m not going to argue with anyone. Period. What disturbs me is something else.

    While Warren and Bernie and every other Democrat (save one) screamed bloody murder over “the letter” that was not allowed to be read by her, they failed to look at one thing that stands out like a giant hemorrhoid. (Aside from the fact that Bernie did read it while castigating the majority party.)

    What is it? It’s Strom Thurmond and the inconvenient truth that reeks of hypocrisy. Total hypocrisy, and it’s what always gets my dander up. You can take sides, but you’d better be able to back yourself up with a concrete foundation. In this case, you cannot. Sessions was accused of racism and the media only skimmed the surface. You never saw or heard or read anything but that, and the 1986 letter became the star attraction. Why the right said nothing is beyond me, too, but I guess they had no desire to stir the racial pot when it comes to dead politicians. Opening cans of worms come from all directions and they point at many living politicians.

    Democrat Senator Strom Thurmond was a racist, pure and simple. So was late Senator Robert Byrd, also a Democrat, and a one-time Exalted Cyclops of the KKK. However, the Democratic Party rehabilitated both and turned them into legends. Byrd filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights act and supported the Vietnam War, but later renounced racism and segregation. Poof! That’s all it took. All because he was a Democrat. A Republican who even hinted at something similar? Look out, because that’s precisely what was just attempted.

    In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran a presidential campaign. The King family was aware of it, too. Here’s part of his platform:

    “I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and accept the Negro into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

    In 1957, he ran the longest filibuster in Senate history, 24 hours and 18 minutes, against school desegregation. When President Lyndon Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall as the first African American justice of the Supreme Court, Thurmond tormented him at the conference hearing by asking 60 broadly obscure legal questions. Thurmond v. Thurgood. Guess who won.

    Thurmond was at one time such a racist that he never truly loved or accepted the bi-racial daughter he fathered with his parents’ underage maid. She was 16-years-old at the time and he was 22. In her autobiography, Essie Washington-Williams wrote: “As much as I wanted to ‘belong’ to him, I never felt like a daughter, only an accident.”

    Do you understand why reading that particular letter only perplexes me? Granted, the letter was intended to be read to the entire senate and Thurmond was the judiciary head, but it made absolutely no sense to castigate someone you claim to be a racist by reading a letter addressed to a racist, albeit, a “self-rehabilitated” one. There must have been better examples to choose from.

    I hope you understand that I would do the same thing to any Republican taking the same kind of stand. I will never stop pointing fingers at hypocrites. When George Zimmerman (indeed, no Democrat!) claimed he was not a racist, I pointed fingers his way. And they haven’t budged.

    Tuesday
    Jan312017

    The Saturday Night Massacre

    That’s what it was called by political commentaters after Richard Nixon fired Independent Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the middle of the Watergate Scandal. The dismissal took place on October 20, 1973. After he was fired, actually by Robert Bork at Nixon’s behest, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest. The whole thing was a big stink and somewhat complicated to write about here and now. Instead, I’ll mention something else…

    This whole Trump/Yates mess reminds me of an old friend of mine, radio personality and local famous guy, Wayne Trout. Wayne was a very talented and funny man and I could write a book about his antics. That’s a fact. Unfortunately, he left us in 2005. Way back when, soon after the Saturday Night Massacre, he came up with a bumper sticker idea and took it around to area printers. One-by-one, they turned him down. He ended up at a printer in Union Park, a suburb east of Orlando. The owner recognized Wayne’s unique humor and was only happy to oblige. What he had printed was a classic…

    IMPEACH THE COX SACKER!


    Friday
    Jan272017

    I SWEAR, IT'S NOT POLITICAL

    I cannot attest to the accuracy of this article. Yes, you can call it an “alternative factual story” if you wish, but it does reflect to the best of my knowledge what transpired one day, sometime in the early aughts.

     Once upon a time, an “alleged perp” stole a can of soda from a 7 Eleven. A patrol car was nearby and as the car fled the convenience store parking lot, an officer took chase. (I don’t recall if it was OPD or OCSO.) The vehicles headed west on State Route 50, a four lane highway with a median lane for turning. On the west side of town, where it goes through Ocoee toward Lake County, there are a few rolling hills that completely obscure traffic from either direction. At over 100 mph, the perp’s car swerved into oncoming traffic at the crest of a hill and hit a lone vehicle head on. An innocent woman minding her own business was killed instantly. I don’t recall if the perp survived or not. This occurred in the wee hours of the morning. Ironically, the woman was on her way to work as a police dispatcher and the tragedy became big news in the Orlando area, where people formulated strong opinions over it – to give chase or not. She was a young mother with several children.

     A couple of days later, I was hanging around my favorite watering hole, Spatz, in Winter Park, when an old buddy came in. Mike’s a great guy and after a few minutes of banter among friends, he asked me a question. “Dave? What do you think about that accident on west 50?”

    I had a feeling he was going to prod. “Personally, I feel terrible about it. There’s no way I would agree with a chase like that over 12-ounces of carbonated liquid containing 10 teaspoons of sugar. A young mother died! Is a life worth a can of soda?”

    He responded, “I knew you were going to say that.”

    You see, Mike’s perception of me was that I was a bleeding heart liberal. I’m not. I’m more of a middle-of-the-road kind of guy, and I have a right to my opinions that range from one end of the gamut to the other depending on many complex factors. In the accident case, what’s liberal or conservative about it? Why label it as such? I value a human life over a $1.00 theft. What’s the big deal? This had nothing to do with religion. This had nothing to do with philosophy. This had nothing to do with politics. It was where my moral compass pointed on this particular issue and how I believed policy was in need of an instant overhaul.

    What makes people brand others as friend or foe, right or wrong, and black or white on the issues with no shades of color in between? No, I don’t mean skin color.

    Just so you know, I am a law & order kind of guy, but I don’t agree with everything. In this case, the victim’s death changed the way police were allowed to pursue. No longer would they be able to over simple thefts. Common sense prevailed, not politics.

    “Damn liberals.”

    Thursday
    Jan052017

    Fishin' with Frank

    When I moved to the Orlando area from New Jersey, my long-time best friend, Stew Bacheler, who’s since moved to Florida, came up with the notion that we should have an annual beach party, kind of like the movie, The Big Chill. It was a great idea and a new tradition was born that lasted a long time.

    Many of our good friends and, sometimes, a handful of relatives, would meet every summer at Stew’s parent’s house in Beach Haven on beautiful Long Beach Island, NJ. Because his parents owned it, we never had to worry about finding a place to accommodate us.

    This was back in the days of big hair and large, shoulder-held, VHS camcorders. Each year, the crowd would take turns shooting footage that I would ultimately snip to pieces at the end of our week. I’d sift through the tape and edit it into something that captured the essence of our vacation. The following Saturday, we’d have a “world premiere showing” of the completed video where, generally, our good friend, Frank Foran, would host and cook a big dinner. I always did my best to turn it into something entertaining and worthwhile.

    Speaking of Frank, during one of those vacations, I chose to tape a segment about my good old chum. He’s always been quite the fisherman. Why not shoot something that would revolve around his skills? I did, and I titled it “Fishin’ with Frank.” It had a nice alliteration to it, don’t you think? At the time, I worked for an ad agency, so creating art presented no problem. As a matter of fact, I had already designed a title page that depicted a Frank look-alike fishing off the bow of a boat, casting out to sea. For the opening scene, I did a voiceover…

    “Yes, it’s time for Fishin’ with Frank,” while the camera focused on a pool of water. Suddenly, there was a splash and a clunk as the lead lure was cast into a toilet bowl that was promptly flushed. The camera slowly panned upward to the open lid, which had the picture of Frank carefully and inconspicuously taped to it. The video then shifted to the opening scene – the boat – where Frank was shown fishing off the port-side of the bow.

    “Frank! Frank! You’re on!” He turned around and introduced himself. Frank knows his stuff because he proceeded to give us a lesson in, what else? Fishing. Tying a knot on a hook. Choosing the right lures. How to cast off. That sort of thing.

    We had the requisite bikini babes, too, who were all wives and girlfriends. We were a lot younger then and they sure did look good, so I took a lot of shots of the girls. Which was a whole lot more interesting and exciting to watch than Frank. Ahhh, and speaking of shots, the margaritas flowed. Rock ‘n’ Roll music wafted in the background. We all took our turns fishing. Of course, the best scenes were when Frank tried to teach some of the girls how to fish. The camera kept moving toward the women’s bodies. It was as if it had a mind of its own.

    “Dave! Move that camera here, %#$T#$!*@!” I learned one important %#$T#$!*@! lesson out in the Atlantic Ocean that day, like, how to talk like a sailor when the camera’s not where it’s supposed to be. On Frank. Just like his uncle, Dick Foran, a one-time Hollywood movie star.

    Anyway, this was how it went down – the taping of the world premier video of the almost famous program, Fishin’ with Frank on Cable 68, out of Vineland, New Jersey. Of course, there was no such thing as Cable 68 in those days.

    You’d think that was it, right? End of story? Wrong!

    After we returned from our fishing expedition, we cleaned up and went to Buckalew’s Restaurant ~ Tavern for dinner and drinks. In those days, it wasn’t anything fancy like it is today. And they sure did know how to make a great pizza. We sat in the tavern part. Barstools and booths. One side had a long booth and chairs with tables in between. That made it easy to accommodate our ensemble crew of over a dozen people.

    One waitress had the misfortune of asking me who we were. Oh no. Wrong question. “Have you ever heard of the Fishin’ with Frank show on Cable 68?” There was no Cable 68 back then.

    “Yeah,” she thought for a moment. “I’m pretty sure I have.”

    “Fantastic! We just taped a show up here to be broadcast sometime in the near future. That’s Frank, over there,” and I pointed him out. Frank was a pretty tall and good looking guy, so he had a commanding presence. Imagine that. Our waitress started the bobbing ball rolling as news inside the bar spread. Suddenly, waves of people, beers in hand, asked Frank to sign paper placemats and napkins. He was a big star and he lapped it right up.

    Another waitress came up to me and asked, “Are you the producer?”

    Without thinking, I simply responded, “Yes, I am,” as she thrust one of those seafood-themed placemats and a ballpoint pen toward me to sign.

    “I thought so,” she replied. It seemed that everyone had heard of the show. Some were convinced they’d seen it. Oh, the amazing power of suggestion and a whole entourage of production people. (It’s important to point out that we never took advantage of anyone, nor accepted one free drink.) As our pizzas came out of the restaurant’s galley, things settled down and everyone went back to their business of imbibing in refreshing cocktail beverages. We toasted Frank.

    As for our time on the boat? I don’t remember if we caught any fish that day but, I’d be willing to bet you, as Frank always did, that he would have caught the first, the biggest, and the most on the maiden – and only – voyage of Fishin’ with Frank.  

    Thursday
    Dec222016

    Roger Kaputnik

    When I was young, probably around 10 or 12 years old, a funny man by the name of Roger Kaputnik would come to visit. Once a month, he came into my home and told me funny stories. That went on for a number of years until I eventually outgrew him. It was probably when my interest in young boy’s fantasies waned and I moved on to more mundane things, like girls. I can tell you with complete honesty that there’s no doubt Roger helped make me who I am today. Sometimes, he really made me think. Oh, he was quite a character, alright, and he taught me a lot about the lighter side of… well, you name it. It was something new each month. He died of cancer in 2002 at 81 years of age, but he left me with a lot of fond memories. Unfortunately, when I drifted away from my childhood, I never saw him again. I don’t know when that day came.

    I remember when he told me tales about the police. He was a very vivid storyteller and could do it in minutes flat. There was the time a lady in a fancy car got pulled over for some reason and the officer asked to see her license. Of course, this was before there were picture IDs and holograms. She rummaged around in her purse, pulled it out, and nervously passed it over to him as he stood by her door.

    While carefully examining the license, he said, “Ma’am, it says right here that you are supposed to be wearing glasses.”

    “But I am, Officer.”

    “I don’t see them.”

    “You don’t understand, Officer, I have contacts.”

    “What do you mean you have contacts?”

    “Yes, I have new contacts.”

    “I DON’T CARE WHO YOU KNOW!” 

    And so went the humor of Roger Kaputnik. Of course, when he told that story, contact lenses were relatively new and, back then, it was pretty much only the rich who could afford them.

    There was another time he told me stories about neighbors. Maybe it was families or just ordinary people and their peculiarities, but he always got me laughing and some of his tales still ring true to this day. In suburbs, especially in small cities, blocks of houses were built close together, with narrow alleys that separated them. A lot of those houses had side doors. I remember when I was young, we lived in such a neighborhood for a couple of years and I can still envision that scene and the story he told…

    Two children were playing with their toys in the alley, right near the side doors that accessed raised porches with steps that faced the front of the house. It was a safe place for children to play because mothers could keep a watchful eye on them from the kitchen window. Now, remember, this was a time when most married women were stay-at-home moms. Anyway, the kids were outside playing. Suddenly, an argument broke out over whose toys were whose.

    “Hey! That’s my truck!”

    “No. it’s not, it’s mine!”

    “Give it to me!”

    “Gimme that!”

    “No!”

    “No!”

    “MOM!”

    “MOM!”

    As most caring and loving mothers would do in a situation like this, they raced to the side porch in their finest kitchen attire and sped out those doors to make sure their babies were not under attack.

    “Hey, what’s going on?” They asked in unison.

    “Mom, Jimmy stole my truck!”

    “Mom, Tommy stole my truck!”

    And before you could count to two, each mother firmly stated that they bought the truck for their son and, from there, it went downhill rather quickly.

    “Yeah, well my husband says your house is a pig sty…”

    “Yeah? My husband says you don’t know how to cook…”

    “I can cook a lot better than you!”

    “And, you’re a real slob.”

    “You can just tell your bald-headed moron of a husband to forget about that brunch on Sunday.”

    “I wouldn’t want to eat your garbage, anyway!”

    “Tommy, pick up all your toys and come inside the house this minute!!!”

    “Jimmy! Collect all your toys and get inside right now!”

    Meanwhile, throughout this adult commotion, with both mothers throwing every insult imaginable at each other, Tommy and Jimmy calmed down, made peace, and continued to quietly play as if nothing happened. Unfortunately, their world fell apart in a New York second as they were ordered inside.

    How sad. Those innocent children went back to being good friends, something their parents will probably never be again. And because of it, Jimmy and Tommy will not be allowed to play together for a long, long time. Sometimes, I think adults can learn from their children. Certainly, it would be my fervent wish that things get patched up because, in real life, it’s never too late.

    Oh yes, back to good old Roger Kaputnik. Just like a lot of people who comment on blogs, forums, and social media, that’s not his real name. It was his alter-ego in the world of comics. His real name was Dave Berg. Dave Berg was a mainstay at Mad Magazine and I looked forward to reading his quirky stories about life every single month in his column titled, The Lighter Side of… He taught me a lot about human nature over the years. Here it is 50 years later and it’s still the same. Why don’t we put away our war of words and learn to act like kids again.

     

    Monday
    Dec192016

    SPRINKLE SPRINKLE LITTLE JAR

    I went to Dollar Tree last week. I purchase things like bar soap, body washes, and household cleaning stuff. Greeting cards are great buys, too. Everything’s a buck! Sometimes, I take my mother because she always finds deals on things whether she needs them or not, and it’s those little pleasures that make life more fun, even when she buys glittery pre-teen nail polish she ends up detesting.

    This is a relatively new store located in Longwood, FL. It’s a little bigger than the one I usually go to, so it’s better stocked. The manager described it as a showcase store. Usually, I saunter down each aisle, basket in hand, just to make sure I don’t miss out on anything new. On one of those aisles, I found a couple of shelves stocked with spices. When it comes to dollar store spices, I pretty much treat them the same way I treat dollar store vitamins and supplements, like B-12 and fish oil. Quite simply, I don’t buy them. Why not? Because I don’t trust the source – and I don’t know how fresh and pure any of it is.

    While perusing those “exotic” spices, I stumbled upon a container of kosher salt. I don’t know what prompted me to pick it up because I never put salt on anything. Nope, no sprinkling for me. Never. Perhaps, it was the large and impressive Star of David emblazened on the front label. Whatever the reason, I simply picked it up out of curiosity and probably because of one small detail that caught my eye, somewhere around the far left corner of my peripheral vision.

    Upon careful examination of the container and label, I saw that it contained one simple ingredient: Salt. That’s reassuring. It means the salt, of the common rock salt variety, is just what the label proclaims it to be. Sodium chloride. Halite. NaCl. I don’t know if I have to write a short history of where salt comes from, but it’s safe to say that salt mines (where most of it originates) are in abundance throughout the world, and many of the deposits are millions of years old. Maybe older.

    That leads me to a very simple question. Please take a look at the image I provided because it’s this one little detail that caught my eye. What you see is the exact container I picked up to examine. Note what its only ingredient is. Nothing more. Ancient salt extracted from a plentiful source beneath the ground. Pure and white. For something that’s millions of years old, why is there an expiration date stamped on the bottle? Best by 03/10/20. Are you kidding me???

    Friday
    Dec162016

    My Life's In Jeopardy!

    I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2005. There’s no telling how long I had it prior to finding out. It could easily be eight years or so, one of my doctors once told me. During that time, I smoked and drank and ate whatever I wanted, with no knowledge of the damage it could easily have been doing to my organs, particularly the kidneys. That’s because of the tiny blood vessels that feed them. Sugar makes the vessels very brittle. If they’re brittle, they snap. Kidney disease is the one thing that frightens diabetics the most. With five stages of chronic kidney disease, one being normal and five being complete failure, I am holding steady at stage three. Age itself diminishes function, but diabetes is the silent killer if you’re not careful.

    Fortunately, I was sensible enough to quit smoking in 2007. Cold turkey. Just like that! After nearly forty years, I did it and never looked back. A few years later, I stopped drinking alcohol. I don’t remember the year because I slowly weaned myself away from it until I simply lost the desire. I wouldn’t say I’d never have another drink; I just don’t have an appetite for it and it’s been like this for many years.

    When I reflect on all that’s happened in my life since the diagnosis, I sometimes ponder how boring my life has become. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not boring and I’m never bored with myself, but it’s a far cry from my days of youth. After all…

    It doesn’t seem like so many years ago that, in my 20s, I could stay up partying until 4:00 AM, sleep a couple of hours and go to work like it was nothing. Heck, I could do this for the rest of my life, right? Well, not every night.

    In my 30s, I could party with the best of them until 2:00 AM.

    In my 40s, it was more like midnight.

    In my 50s, I might be able to handle 11:00 PM on a good night, but…

    In my 60s? Heck, I’m 64-years-old now, and I start thinking about going to bed soon after watching Jeopardy!