Saturday Sept 19th I'll be at the Rrazz Room in New Hope PA! It's my first time here and I'm really looking forward to it!
Big Daddy Graham-Marc Farzetta & John Conklin taking a stab at Sinatra's "Summer Wind!"
BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN
If you are a music lover and you haven't been listening to BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN with Spins Nitely, then check it out!
Every THURSDAY at 8 PM. Watch and listen live at http://wildfireradio.com/big-daddy-graham. By the way, all you have to do is click on that wildfire blue line and the most current show will AUTOMATICALLY begin to play, Just give it a moment
This week on BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN? 10 BEST FAVORITE SONGS EVER W/ special guest KEVIN FARROW!
Check out last week's 10 BEST VAN MORRISON SONGS EVER (part 2)! BTW, you'll be able to call in to the podcast when you watch or listen live and I encourage you to do so. Don't miss!
Check out Ava's podcast THE AVA GRAHAM HOUR on Wildfire Radio live every Thursday at 530 PM. It's really funny and of course being a podcast you can listen to it anytime you want. Just click here to check it out
Check out Spin Nitely's incredible version of "Creep."
Click here to hear Spins singing "She's Getting Stoned Again.”
And now here’s Spins & Big Daddy singing Lowell George's "Willin'."
Click here to hear Joe Conklin completely nailing Elvis Costello's "Allison" with Spins Nitely on guitar
and some harmony help from the boys of Wildfireradio.
Check out the hilarious Sudsy (as B52 Fred Schneider) take on the Stones "Happy" with Spins on guitar.
Last Call.... The DVD...
(plus 2.75 shipping)
Order your copy now!
TRIVIA AND QUIZZO...
EVERY Eagles game at PJ's in Blue Bell!
TUESDAY ~ Maple Shade's PJ Whelihans at 7 PM.
WEDNESDAY ~ Champps in KOP from 5 PM to 7:30, then on to the Crest Tavern in Wildwood Crest at 915PM.
My daughter Ava is running a Quizzo nite every every Monday at 7:30pm at ROCCO'S in Wilmington! And now at CHICKIE & PETE'S in Drexel Hill every Tuesday at 7 PM! Plus every Wednesday night at 8PM at PJ WHELIHANS in Haddonfield. Don't forget Thursday night at 7pm at CHICKIE & PETE'S in South Philly! That's a busy schedule!
THE TWENTY GREATEST MUSIC CONCERTS I'VE EVER SEEN
OMG, I have seen so many concerts. Here's what I'm doing. I go through my IPod in iPod alphabetical order. When I see a recording artist that I've seen live, I will post that artist. Remember, this is just the nomination process. If you see "****" in front of the concert, then that is one I am nominating. When I can, I will post the year and venue that I saw that show. But don't write me and say "BDG, the Knuckleheads NEVER played the Spectrum" or anything like that because I'll admit my memory isn't always sharp.. There will be artists that I have seen in concert MANY times, but if they are getting nominated, I will pick just ONE show. Here's what we have so far...
If anyone has a ticket stub to any of the concerts that have been listed so far, scan them and email them to me, and I'll post them...
CLICK HERE FOR A to L...
Hot Club... 1980?... The Hot Club! A Philly punk club! Dag, I loved this joint and I actually played there myself when I was a drummer with Dewey Street. Madness was a British ska band and I've always loved ska.
Bijou... 1976?... Wow, they were great in their early days when they were doing big band swing and doo-wop. Later on they turned into a strictly jazz vocal quartet and that didn't float my boat. But these Bijou shows were legendary and I ended up working with them on a four night stand at Resorts years later.
MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS...
VFMF... 1984?... What a voice!
Bijou... 1973?... I know he's more of a comic than a musician and this list does not include comics, but it was a musical comedy show and a great one at that. Check out his first album, it's terrific on many levels. A real shame he stopped performing live because he was hilarious. Saw him many times back in this period.
VFMF... 1975?... One of my musical heroes, but it was a short show and he did a ton of medleys and I can't stand medleys. And it turned out it was the only time I ever saw this artistic giant.
Cooper River... 1999?... Love this band, but it was outdoor day show and it was blazing hot.
Temple Ambler Campus... 1975?... Saw Steve Miller, ELO, and others at this cool venue which I can't seem to find any info on. Maynard could sure play that trumpet!
MCFADDEN AND WHITEHEAD...
Jack's Place, Avalon NJ... August 2000?... They were hired do perform at the Sixer Beach Bash. Boy, those days were a lot of fun.
Spectrum... 1994?... My daughter Keely was a big fan and I remember she had a great guitar player and that they did YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG. I had opened up for her in '89 when no one knew she was gay and all my man/women material bombed and I ate it like Jabba the Hutt.
VFMF... 1994?... What a voice.
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 8/11
Here's my latest article that is running in Sea Isle Times...
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE WATER!
I was at a party at Irish Kevin’s on 36th Street immediately following the fireworks on July 4th. Hall & Oates’s “Las Vegas Turnaround” was blasting and the beverages were flowing. There was a little bit of lousy singing going down in one corner and a pinochle game was getting ready to start up in another.
But I couldn’t keep my eyes off the TV that was hanging above the bar because “Jaws” was on. There was no sound, but that didn’t matter because I know every word. In fact, me and a few other Sharkheads were one-upping each other mouthing the lines that were taking place up on the screen. And this was with a lot of noise going on around us since there had to at least 25 partygoers circulating about.
You see, I have now seen “Jaws” 1,236 times and that number could change before I finish writing this. I usually do take a break and what better way would there be to spend it than on the “Orca?”
I have a theory that if someone asks me what my favorite movie is, the only completely correct answer is the movie that I have watched the most. That’s a simple way of answering that question because there’s no pondering what answer would make you come off as hip or film-worthy knowledgeable. The way I see it, there has to be something you love about a film more that any other if you have watched it more than any other. Simple, eh? This same logic applies to your favorite Green Day CD or sitcom, whatever. I get in arguments all the time on the air at 94WIP about this, but I think it’s simple logic. As they say, it is what it is.
So with this being the 40th anniversary of “Jaws,” here are a few of my favorite thoughts on the flick other than the obvious memories such as Quint being eaten or the amazing John Williams soundtrack.
I SAW IT IN AT THE STRAND ON THE OCEAN CITY BOARDWALK
On opening weekend no less. C’mon, there can’t be a cooler place to see “Jaws” than right on the beach. I have a theory that a Jersey shore movie house would do business all summer long if they showed nothing but “Jaws.” People would come from far and wide to see it on the big screen again. I know it just showed recently on the beach in Wildwood, but I mean one show, every night, at the same theatre. (Come to think of it, nobody better steal this idea.)
THE MAYOR’S BLAZER You know, the light blue one with the little anchors on it. I would kill to own this jacket. In fact, Murray Hamilton’s performance as the Mayor throughout the entire movie is priceless. Every word. “You say barracuda and everyone goes eh, huh? But you say shark and you have a panic on the Fourth of July.” He was Mr. Robinson in “The Graduate,” by the way.
QUINT’S LITTLE BUDDY If you can stomach it, the next time you watch the scene at the town meeting where Robert Shaw as Quint claws his nails on the blackboard, take special notice of his tiny friend that is standing there next to him. He has no lines, but is wearing the filthiest hat I’ve ever laid eyes on.
CHIEF BRODY’S SECRETARY “Jaws” has just transformed a young woman into a Shoobie’s omelet and she’s babbling on and on about these kids “karate chopping a ticket fence.” She’s a complete useless moron and I love her.
SWIMMING AT NIGHT I’m an ocean freak. I can sit in a chair on the beach and stare at it for hours and often do. Which is weird because, to quote Woody Allen, I’m usually “two with nature.” I don’t hike, camp, go to the Pocono’s, nothing. But the ocean? Oh my God, I love it. As you all know, I am the World Champion Body Surfer and I’m now ranked third in the world in bogey-boarding after crushing the higher seeded, Comcast’s (and Sea Isle City resident) John Clark last summer. If I’m not admiring the ocean’s awesome size and beauty, I’m in it.
But I no longer swim at night and I used to go in the ocean in the dark all the time. I thought it was so cool, especially under a full moon. But that changed after “Jaws.” I didn’t walk out of the theatre when I first saw it pronouncing to myself, “that’s it, you’ll never catch me again in that water at night.” But about a month later, a couple buddies and me jumped into the ocean one night on the way home from the OD.
I was in there for five minutes or so when I swear, in fact, I know, I heard those famous “Jaws” musical notes. “Duh-Duh.” Is that a giant fin I see heading right towards me?! I swam faster than Michael Phelps and when I got to the sand, I said to myself “never again at night.” Heck, I don’t like even being in a pool after dark.
Hey, at least I still go in the day. I have friends who never went in again at anytime of the day after “Jaws.” (These are probably the same people who never showered again after “Psycho.”) Lightweights!
MY DAUGHTER KEELY
What a waterbug my daughter Keely was when she was a tiny squirt. She would frolic in it all day. You couldn’t get her out. Around 1992, I take a gig at a comedy club in Virginia Beach for a week and take my whole family with me. What comes on the hotel room HBO? You got it, “Jaws.” My wife is down at the pool and I guess I just wasn’t thinking straight, but the next thing you know me and my daughter (who’s around four) watch the entire movie. Once you start, you just can’t stop.
When it was over, we both went down to the pool, and my wife asked me where we had been. “You let her watch what?!” my wife exclaimed. I quickly pointed to Keely who was wrestling some kid in the shallow end. I said “look at her, she’s fine.” But the truth was I got so caught up with Brody, Hooper, and Quint, I barely noticed my daughter was even watching it. I’m a horrible parent!
The following end of this story is 100% completely true. Had I-Phones existed then, someone would have caught it.
The next day we went down to the beach. We weren’t set up for five minutes when Keely shouted “I’m going in the water!” I quickly followed her. For about three minutes everything seemed normal when she glanced at me hard and murmured under her breath, “shark.” I couldn’t hear her. “What did you say?”
This time there was no whispering and she shouted “SHARK!” I tried to quiet her down, but now she was screaming at the top of her tiny lungs and other bathers were staring at us. My daughter turned and ran out of the water. I started chasing her and I could hear splashing behind me because the other swimmers had heard her and they were emptying out also.
But she didn’t stop running when she got out of the water. She kept running right off the beach the entire time shouting “Shark! Shark! Shark!”
She didn’t go on the water the rest of the summer and my wife didn’t speak to me for a week. (Well, the latter time is hard to gauge since my wife is often not speaking to me)
By the next summer, all was forgotten and today, like her Pop, my daughter Keely loves going in the ocean. But never at night.
And she never watched “Jaws” again.
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 8/10
Here's my latest article that is running in South Jersey Magazine. I'm sorry that some of your favorites got left off...
When I was a kid, there was a flame throwing twelve-year-old pitcher in my neighborhood by the name of Don Yates who was scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. At 12! By the Pirates of the National League! A team that played the Phillies!
The entire parish was thrilled and busting with pride. It was my first true awareness of what pride felt like in a community sense. My Mother had told me often she was proud of me and I was often proud of something my sisters or brother did, but this was different. This was a warm feeling that was oozing out of everyone and me over the cool accomplishments of a non-family member. Pride. It says a lot about you when you feel it for someone else. It’s so unselfish.
I used to get that prideful feeling watching the Phils on a television down at the Jersey Shore back in the day. I’d be hanging at a bar or a garage party or simply lounging around my house and to see that Citizens Bank so jammed, well, it made that ballpark so happening, so ours. (Geez, that seems like a million years ago now doesn’t it?)
So, athletically speaking, was there ever a more South Jersey prideful two and a half day period that started on July 10th? First up, was Delran’s own Carli Lloyd being honored with her team USA soccer team with a tickertape parade in New York’s “Legend of Heroes.” Seriously? Teddy Roosevelt. Charles Lindberg. Mickey Mantle. John F. Kennedy. Reggie Jackson.
And now Delran’s Carli Lloyd. Amazing. (By the way, please read the July 20th issue of Sports Illustrated. It demonstrates just how incredibly close Lloyd came to quitting soccer back in 2003 and how hard she worked to earn a seat at that parade.)
So this all takes place on a Sunday afternoon in July and this moment alone might have too hard for any section of any state in the country to handle.
Then, just a little more that two days later, Millville’s Mike Trout leads off the 2015 MLB All-Star game with a line drive home run into the right filed stands. On the fourth pitch of the game. Are you kidding me?!
Not only does Mike become the ninth player in baseball history to hit for a collective All-Star Game cycle, a few hours later he becomes the first player in Major League history to win back-to-back All-Star Game MVP awards.
This is the player who every time I drive down Rt. 55 on my way down the shore from my Mullica Hill home, I think of him when I pass the “Exit 27 Millville-Vineland” sign. An exit makes me think of this joyous kid. How fantastic is that? Pride. It’s such a cool emotion.
So here we go with this ridiculous challenge. I am going to name the Ten Greatest South Jersey Athletes Of All Time. The last time I wrote something along these lines was when I named the ten “Most Famous People from South Jersey.” I’m still getting angry email over the omissions from that article.
Remember, folks, I am my own one-man committee. There’s no science here. It’s just one man’s opinion. If someone gets left off, don’t take it so personal. And remember, I put these in alphabetical order. You don’t think I would be so nuts to try to rank one name above the other, would you?
RON DAYNE This Overbrook High grad from Pine Hill is not only a Heisman Trophy winner, but he still holds the career NCAA rushing yard record which is remarkable since he has held that record since 1999. Excelled at track and field also.
JOE FLACCO Forget that Joe excelled at three sports at Audubon High. Forget that he’s quarterbacked the Ravens to three NFC Championship games. Ignore that he’s the only QB in NFL history to win a playoff game in his first five seasons. Delight in the fact that “Joe Cool” can be seen walking down the beach in Sea Isle with no entourage, being polite and unassuming to all he meets. Joe Flacco won Super Bowl XLVII. End of discussion.
IRVING FRYAR I know he’s had some personnel problems, but you can’t ignore than when this Rancocas Valley receiver retires he has the eighth most catches in NFL history. Eighth!
LEON “GOOSE” GOSLIN Ok, he hasn’t had an official at bat since 1938, but history rolls on and that’s the beauty of baseball. This Salem native won two World Series, played in another three, and retired with a .316 batting average. Plus, you gotta love the name “Goose!” Uh, did I mention he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
FRANCO HARRIS Rancocas Valley. Penn State. Four Super Bowls with my all-time favorite football team (of course not counting the Eagles), the Steel Curtain Pittsburgh Steelers. When he retires only Jim Brown has rushed for more yards. Throw in the “Immaculate Reception” and this Hall of Famer has to be on here. I have interviewed him many times and I always found him to be a polite, engaging, regular guy.
OREL HERSHEISER After bouncing around from Buffalo to Detroit to Toronto, Orel lands at Cherry Hill East where he doesn’t make the varsity baseball team till his junior year. As they say “never give up, never give up.” Hersheiser goes on to pitch in three World Series, winning one (he was the MVP of that Series also) in 1988. That’s the same year he pitched 89 consecutive scoreless innings. That’s not a typo. 89. A record that still stands and might forever. I heard he was a decent hockey player also around the rinks of South Jersey.
CARL LEWIS Are you kidding me? This Willingboro High grad has ten Olympic Medals, nine of them gold. One of the greatest pure athletes in American history. Ok, so he needs a little coaching with his anthem singing.
CARLI LLOYD About time a woman makes this list and is there any South Jersey woman more deserving? A hat trick in the 2015 Olympic Final (as well as the Golden Ball for being the best player of the tournament), two gold medals, a goal from mid-field for crying out loud. What a winner. Delran rocks!
MIKE TROUT I’m cheating here a little bit, because this 24 year old Millville Senior High grad doesn’t have the stats and awards that the others on this list have, so I’m projecting here. There is a chance that, barring injury, when Mike Trout retires he will be considered one of the Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. That’s Roy Hobbs stuff.
“JERSEY” JOE WALCOTT For forty-four years, this Merchantville native held the record as the oldest heavyweight boxer ever (37) until George Foreman broke it in 1995. C’mon, how do you leave off an athlete whose nickname is “Jersey Joe?” People just loved him.
OK, I know there’s two hockey players, Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau and Bobby Ryan who could crack this list someday, but not yet. And I know right now, you’re screaming where’s Dave Robinson and many others.
So go ahead. Email me at email@example.com and complain. I can handle it. I have pride.
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 6/3
Here's my June article that is running in South Jersey Magazine...
MY DAD AND SOUTH JERSEY
I wrote a book about my Dad about ten years ago called “Last Call.” It’s a simple little thing that you can breeze through in about twenty minutes. That’s the primary reason that it sold 30,000 copies and is still selling. Folks can proudly boast “you know I read a really terrific book last week” without investing that much time into it.
Oddly, the book got amazing reviews, and was transformed into a well-reviewed successful one-man play starring yours truly. I’ll be performing it for the last time at the too cool Broadway Theatre in Pitman at a special matinee show on Sunday, June 14th at 2pm. I like performing the piece and audiences seem to like it, but it’s such a personal thing, I’m figuring it’s time to move on. I’m writing two other shows. A “Jersey Shore” one act comedic piece and a Christmas drama, which hopefully will also have plenty of laughs.
The fact that the last time I’ll be performing “Last Call” will take place in Jersey is pretty weird being that my old man grew up in South Philly and spent his entire adult life at 7025 Elmwood Avenue in Southwest Philly. He spent twenty seven years working at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, so when I decided to write this column on my old man’s Jersey connections, I figured there wouldn’t be enough to fill this column.
I figured wrong. It’s amazing how many memories one can uncover in that wasteland of a brain if you just put them down on paper. It’s really that simple. Sit down with a blank computer screen and one thought will to lead to another. It’s uncanny.
GARDEN STATE RACETRACK I didn’t find out till years after his death, but my old man loved to gamble. Being that he’s not around to defend himself, I’m gonna stop short of labeling him a “degenerate gambler” like I know quite a few of my 94WIP listeners are, but I’m pretty sure he was. He sure loved the horses, I know that much. He lived in an era when the racetrack was a huge deal. People forget, but for decades the two biggest sports in this country were boxing and horseracing. Even after baseball cemented itself as the nations pastime, the immense popularity of the ring and the track hung around into the sixties and seventies. KYW for years gave local racing results in their sports updates and one of the primary reasons afternoon, late edition newspapers existed at all was that they had the results of the earlier races in them.
My old man used to catch a bus out of Philly that took him directly to Garden State Racetrack and he went a lot. This was the first incarnation of that Cherry Hill track before it burned down in 1977.
Well, the old man must have been stuck with me, and one afternoon he took me with him. Wow. What a beautiful structure it was with this ornate all wood grandstand. The big crowds with all that excitement in the air. Cigar smoke. Cursing. Men wearing cool hats. Everything a ten year old could possibly want. He sensed that I dug it and would occasionally use me as an excuse to go from that point on. I imagined my Mother saw though this ruse, but she didn’t stop us. My old man would occasionally let me pick the horse. Great times.
WILDWOOD Twice a summer, my mother used to take me and my sisters and brother down to Wildwood for these three night vacations. It was always Monday through Thursday because that was cheaper that the weekends. We stayed at this boarding house called The Poplar. No TV, no air, a community parlor, with a bathroom down the hall. I know it doesn’t sound that extravagant, but it was the Tropicana to me.
For some unknown reason, my Dad never came with us. It was never discussed, he just didn’t. God knows what he did while we were gone, but I’m sure it wasn’t kosher. We always took the bus down and back. One year, maybe out of some weird guilt trip, he borrowed a car and drove down to drive us home. Who knows why?
The car was packed with the five of us and all our crap when somebody (I’m pretty sure it was me) talked him into parking up near the boardwalk so we could all get in a couple more rides and maybe a pinball game or three.
My Mom and Dad got in this huge screaming fight right in front of the Polar Cub across from Hunt’s Pier. It was bad. They didn’t go Ray Rice on each other, but I heard words out of my Mother’s mouth that night that I never heard before. My older sister somehow calmed the argument down, but it was a long, silent ride home.
It was the last time my old man ever went anywhere with us. The Polar Cub stayed open for years afterwards and I could never walk by it without laughing.
WALKING OVER THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BRIDGE My Dad was a loner who loved to walk. God, he walked everywhere. He could always hop on a trolley or a bus to go wherever the heck he was going, but I swear if the destination was under three miles, he’d walk it. Occasionally for brownie points with Mom, he would take me along. One beautiful summer morning, we took the trolley to 13th and Market and strolled down to the Ben and walked over it to Jersey.
At that point in my young life, I had never even seen this magnificent bridge before and to a nine year old it’s a stunning walk. It still is. If you have never walked over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, what in the hell are you waiting for? Go!
ATLANTIC CITY Although I personally was never in this town with my Dad, it was his Jersey Shore town. Why? Simple answer. Gambling. And I’m not talking about the legalized casinos that popped up in the late 70’s. According to my Mother, my Dad used to hang in the illegal gambling parlors down there starting in the 30’s and continued going to my Mom put the kibosh on it in the early sixties. I even heard a story once that the card game he was in got raided and my old man broke his foot when he tried to escape by running though a door to the basement. There was one little problem. There were no steps.
Ever see the movie “Atlantic City” with Burt Lancaster? Burt plays an old man who had wanted to be a big cheese with the mob before the casinos came to town. He ran numbers. Before World War II, I think my Dad envisioned being that kind of a big shot, but the Battle of the Bulge brought that dream to a grinding halt. Still, I would love to see a DVD of his time down there. Who knows? Maybe he ran with tony Soprano and the like.
See how easy that was? I actually thought of other Jersey connections, but I’m out of space. And here I thought there was going to be nothing to write about. So do yourself a favor this Father’s Day. If your Pop is no longer with you, start writing down anything you can remember about him. You’ll be amazed of how much you’ll remember. Do it even if he’s still alive. Your kids will appreciate it and they’ll read these recollections. Maybe not now, but someday.
Happy Father’s Day!
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 4/10
Here's my latest article that is running in South Jersey Magazine...
DEATH AND TAXES
Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Had Ol’ Ben been around today he clearly would have added that “the construction where 42 North connects with 295 South shall never be completed” as a certainty. Because it never will. Never!
So with tax season upon us it got me to thinking, which is always a bad thing, what else in life can we look at as a “certainty?” Here are a few that I hope you enjoy.
THAT NO WOMAN I LIVE WITH SHALL EVER TURN OFF A LIGHT
There is a TV commercial for a home security system where you see a woman attempting to unlock her front door in the dark. The voiceover proclaims, “never come home to a dark house again!”
The commercial is unrealistic because obviously the writer of the ad agency who created that ad never lived with a woman.
I, on the other hand, have lived with my wife and two daughters for twenty five years and in that time span not one of them has ever turned off a single light.
It’s like Charles Manson, even though he’s been in jail since 1969, is poised and ready to leap out of the hallway closet.
When I come home to an empty house, it takes me ten minutes to turn off the lights have been left on. Then there will be a night when I come home and everyone is asleep. I’ll be laying on the couch reading and I will hear this annoying slightly clanging noise coming from somewhere in the house.
It turns out it’s one bra in the dryer. Going around and around. Who’s running a full dryer cycle for one stinkin’ bra? And I can only assume this one bra has run through a full washer cycle. How dirty can breasts get?!
THERE SHALL ALWAYS BE ONE LIGHT YOU NEVER GET
For example. I never get the light at route’s 45 and 322 where the Harrison House Diner is and I’ve never gotten the light at route 70 and Springdale. No matter what direction I’m coming from. How can that be? You see the light is still green, you speed up, and bam! Red it turns. The next thing you know you are screaming and cursing at the light like it’s a rude talk show host. One day I will make those lights and I will pull over and throw a party.
THALL SHALL NEVER GET MONEY IN A BIRTHDAY CARD EVER AGAIN ONCE YOU TURN FIFTEEN
What’s up with that? Is it some ancient law that I am unaware of? Even though it’s only a dollar bill, I continue to put money in the birthday cards of my wife and daughters and extended family. Now of course they also get a gift, it’s not like they’re only getting a buck. It’s the principal. You’re supposed to get money in a birthday card. It’s an automatic smile when you see that green.
I had an Aunt Helen who used to get these cards where you would slide a penny in these slots for every year you were turning. (Hallmark also made these cards to accommodate nickels and dimes and quarters, but Aunt Helen was a tightwad). So when I turned nine, I got nine cents. Nine lousy pennies. Now granted, there was such a thing as penny candy those days, but cut me a break. I had other older relatives giving me dollar bills and my Aunt Rose was always good for a five spot.
Listen to me. Put some cash in the card. I don’t care if the recipient is forty-nine. They’ll flash those pearly whites. It’s a guarantee.
NO MORE NEW JERSEY DINERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO CLOSE
We live in Jersey. Aside from cheap gas that you don’t have to pump, what are we most renowned for? Diners! It kills me whenever I cruise by where Olga’s used to be. What a landmark that was. Those donuts weighed ten pounds and were awesome. And my wife and I never went to the former Ritz movies in Voorhees without going to the Country Club Diner afterwards and getting a ham and cheese omelet. (White toast, please. With grape jelly packets) Now that’s history also. They should be made historical landmarks. I know we still have plenty of fantastic eateries, but c’mon, it’s heartbreaking.
WHEN YOU CALL TO COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR CABLE BILL YOU ACTUALLY SPEAK TO SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH
Look, I’m not an “ugly American.” I have absolutely nothing against anybody. Nobody. But when I have a complaint about my bill, it’s really frustrating when you can’t understand the person that you are trying to explain your problem to. I’m not creating an international crisis here. I just want to straighten out my bill.
It’s a nuisance enough that when you make the call that a human being doesn’t pick up the phone to begin with. These companies should be able to hire an army’s worth of people to answer the phones with the amount of money they make off us. And I know there’s nobody holding a gun to my head making me have HBO or the NFL Network. I get that.
But it’s just basic human politeness. We are loyal customers who have been paying that bill for decades and how difficult would it be to treat us with a little respect? But no, you have to push an endless stream of menu numbers before you even get a real live person. If you get one at all. It used to be all I would have to do is push zero and a live employee would eventually pick up my line, but a lot of these rude companies have gotten hip to that.
So you’re not in a good mood to begin with when you finally get someone to talk to and when you can’t understand that person it just drives you up the wall.
So let’s recap. They’re too cheap to hire anyone to pick up the phone to begin with and they follow that up being too tight to hire an American that they would actually have to dole out the minimum wage to. Nice, eh?
Which makes me wonder. When someone in India calls their cable company to pay a bill, do they get an American to discuss it with? I can just hear that conversation.
“You’re what? Calling to complain you can’t get your soccer game? I got your bleepin’ soccer game right here. Some nerve you got calling me, you bleepin’ knucklehead.”
So there are certainly other things in life that are as certain as death and taxes. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with yours. Have fun!
HEY! I'M LOOKING FOR ALBUM COVERS. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CONDITION OF THE VINYL...
You can take an inexpensive tour of RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL that's well worth it.
Check out MASH ARMY & NAVY on 8th Ave between 45 & 46th streets. A blast from the past!
Folks are always asking me about piano bars in Manhattan. There's two I would recommend and they couldn't be any bit different. DON'T TELL MAMA is on 46th St between 8 & 9th Avenues. It's a comfortable narrow long bar where you either sit at thee bar or at a table. They have a singing piano player and every fourth song or so a member of the bar or serving staff will get up and sing a three song set. And sometimes a member of the audience will get up at the mic and sing. And they have awesome food also. It's a really fun joint, but completely different from MARIE'S CRISIS CAFE which is at 59 Grove St in the Village. (Make sure you have the address handy before you get in the cab.) MARIE'S is a tiny hole in the wall basement club where there is a piano player but no professional singer. YOU are the singer. It's insane. People (like my nutty wife) go there TO sing. There's no microphone and literally 150 people or so will be singing at the top of their lungs to some Broadway tune Which, by the way, IS ALL Marie's does. They don't mix in pop tunes like MAMA does. The two couldn't be any different from each other and any more fun if a piano bar is your bag.
A HOTEL TO STAY AT? We always use some hotel site and often stay at one of these two hotels which I would both recommend. THE BELVEDERE on West 48th St is clean with a nice lobby and it's very convenient to Broadway and many clubs and bars. THE WARWICK is pricier, but still affordable when you go through Expedia. It's at 54th & 6th and many famous folks (like the Beatles and Liz Taylor have stayed there.
IT'S ONLY A PLAY is hilarious with an amazing cast.
As obvious as this sounds, you can spend a couple hours exploring Central Park and never get bored.
Lincoln Center has a free SINATRA exhibit running till September 4th which has some pretty neat artifacts from his Hoboken days.
LEXINGTON CANDY SHOP on Lexington between 82 & 83rd St. has been opened since 1925 and is a don't miss trip.
THE METROPOLITAN ROOM on 22nd St is a very cool, classic NY cabaret room where we have seen many cool acts at a very affordable price.
BIG ONION WALKING TOURS are a lot of fun and reasonably priced. I have taken many of them and they never disappoint.
54 BELOW on 54th St. is literally the basement of the famous Studio 54 disco. It's a terrific place to see anybody. Top notch club.
Finally made it to BIRDLAND for one of those CAST PARTY shows. What a great time and the sight lines are excellent. Legendary jazz artists perform there and if you ever thought about seeing one of them at BIRDLAND, do it.
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