Yuletide Cheeseburger

cheeseburgers, Christmas, Food, Friends, Holidays, Humor, Just For Fun, Personal 1 Comment »

cheeseburger, Christmas, holidaze

 

It’s at this time of the year that I generally climb inside a protective cocoon and hibernate, emotionally speaking.
My personal ambivalence towards a holiday that is celebrated for all the wrong reasons leaves me
outside and shivering on a cold and snowy night.
I know I’m not alone on this one.

‘What do you want for Christmas?’
A question heard since before Thanksgiving.

You know what I want?
I want a cheeseburger, okay?
A juicy, steaming hunk of meat fresh off the grill.
Throw that sucker in a bun and we can eat, we can sit and talk about stuff that matters in our lives.
We can be human for an hour.
And drink beer.
And eat pretzels and stuff.
Talk about the Bruins, the Pats, and the number of players we still don’t know on the Celtics.
We can talk about the Red Sox and a banner year that nobody thought would happen.
We can even talk about the Farmer’s Almanac and their Winter prediction (which I hope is shit)
Social media and smartphones have doomed our society to cyber connectivity amongst users.
Text messages, Twitter updates, WordPress pages and Tumblr posts are just words on a white screen.
We are flesh and blood and we need a closer kind of communication than that.
Cheeseburgers can change that!

A 1TB hard drive from Best Buy for all the music I listen to?
Really?
A 25$ giftcard to Starbucks for their mediocre and overpriced latte’s?
Not that either.
How’s about an Omaha Steak gift box filled with filets, burgers, sirloin and crabcakes?
How’s about that cheeseburger?
Fruitcake I will never eat?
You’re probably not much of a friend anyway.

I don’t want anything.
Period.
Amen.
And the angels sing . . .

It’s a holiday of giving, yes?
When this holiday got blown out of the water is a question that all of us need to own up to.
I work in retail and holiday sales are important but the avarice and over the top ‘milking of customers’ by
online retailers, car dealers, furniture stores, health clubs, fly by night internet schemers and online pirates must be silenced.
That’s something that will NEVER happen.
And that is profoundly sad.
It will always be about the bottom line.
And the bottom line has nothing to do with stuff we don’t need.
It has nothing to do with stuff at all.

My yuletide bells stopped ringing many years ago when I realized that the Christmas holiday was just another chance to sell.
Santa turned darkly foul, holly turned autumn brown,
carols echoed chaotic harmonies not unlike a Charles Ives piano piece.
I miss Christmases from 1970.
I miss the antediluvian ideal of the simple ‘carol’ hummed by people walking on the street, shopping in stores.
I miss the Christmas mornings that you didn’t get all that you wanted but what you got was all and more than what you needed.
I miss the simplicity of the town manger going a whole season without being vandalized.
I miss my feelings and love and respect for a beautiful and simple holiday.
But maybe I just miss the cheeseburgers.
Fire up the grill, I’m coming.
Merry Christmas, dudes and dudettes!
Merry Christmas!

~m

I has a sad.

blues, deaths, Friends, Ghosts, God, Life, Memoir, Music, Personal, prayer, Sad 4 Comments »

sad, friends, goodbye, life

 

Sometimes when I start writing I have no clue as to what I will find;
maybe that’s the beauty of the written word; an internal GPS on shuffle mode.
I lost a friend of 30+ years last night and I’m fumbling for the right words tonight.

I woke up this morning with nothing special on my mind save for the usual morning routine.
It was 5:30am and my brain was on automatic as I drank my Mango juice, took my Multi-vitamin and gagged on my Fish oil.
Fish oil burps are, THE worst.
I opened my IPhone and saw a private message from a Facebook friend sent last night at 10:43.
It was simple enough and said, “Are you up?”
Obviously, I was not.
I really hate late night calls/messages.
They are never good.
I got on the train at 6:10am for my trip into Boston and responded;
“I’m up now. What’s going on, dude?”

We all think we are going to live forever.
There will always be another tomorrow.
The next scratch ticket is our ‘ticket’ outta here.
We reminisce about friends we haven’t talked to in years and think, “I should call him/her.”
Do we call?
No.
We click our remotes to the next ‘Dancing with the Stars’ offering, the next ‘Idol’, the next ‘Desperate Housewives’ episode, and read the next Supermarket rag that somehow becomes a vital part of our lives.

We will not live forever.
Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Kim Kardashian was never sexy to begin with.
And ‘reality’ TV needs to be attacked by Navy Seals because it ain’t even fackin’ close to reality.

The message I received back told me that a close friend had unexpectedly died.
As I’m writing this post, I have not cried, have not grieved.
I am profoundly sad that my friend is gone.
I am numb.
I can’t believe I will never talk to him again.
I can’t believe I will never be able to say goodbye.
I just can’t believe that he’s gone.

I just called my best friend on my cell and left a shaky voiced message.
I wanted to just hear his voice.
Today has shattered my insides.
I’m trying hard to keep it in because that’s what I think I need to do.
He will call me back very soon, I hope.
After leaving him a message, this thing hit me like an emotional tornado.
I cried; am still crying as I type this.
Oddly enough it feels right; because genuine tears heal the bigger part of us . . . eventually.
More are on the way . . .

Extremely Louder and Incredibly Closer

blog, Blogging, Creative, Facebook, Friends, Internet, Time, Truth, writers, writing 9 Comments »

blog, writing, life, Facebook

Once upon a time my blog was an essential part of my life.
I lived here almost 24/7.
God forbid I should get some godforsaken CSS error that screwed with my theme (not my theme!) or my plugins.
Life gets in the way.
Politics get in the way.
Facebook really gets in the way.
Twitter? Not so much.
I realized tonight that I have neglected a place that once meant so much to me.
I have for all intents and purposes abandoned a creative harbour that held stories, memories and many things I once held so dear.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Like I need to tell you about last Tuesday night when I went to dinner with my wife for our 29th anniversary.
Anniversaries are supposed to be special and perfect, right?
We sat down and perused the menu when our waitress came by to say hi.
We ordered a few appetizers to start off.
Grape leaves & some hummus.

“Would you like something to drink before you order?” our waitress asked.

“Yes, please,” I said.

Pamela ordered an Almond Joy Martini and I ordered a Maker’s Mark Manhattan.
All was right with the world.

Our drinks arrived several minutes later. Perfect.

We didn’t even have time to toast when I spilled the entire Manhattan all over my crotch.
As the icy concoction slithered its way to my unsuspecting jewels and eventually to the crack of my ass, I felt the need for
a new pair of pants or at least a pair of Depends.
As my manhood rose up into my abdominal cavity to escape the chill, we laughed and laughed again.
You can’t make this stuff up.
They made me another Manhattan (in a sippy cup jk) and all was right with the world.
Although I did squirm and make funny faces as I ate my dinner.
Will we remember our 29th anniversary?
You can take that to the bank.

I guess the bottom line is that I’ve given up my energy to Facebook and other URL’s lately.
And while I love talking to friends it just isn’t taking care of my writing mojo.
Writers write stories and rarely do Facebook.
Change is in the wind.
“to thine own self be true”
And I am long overdue.
Let’s roll . . .

~m

A Giant Sleeps

amazing, Art, Blue Man, coincidence, Friends, Personal, Truth 6 Comments »

peace, love, life, Kirkland

Kirkland Oliver  was a regular on Friday afternoons at the cigar store where I work  in Boston.
He was an affable and enigmatic man still living life like it was 1969.
Truth.
We hadn’t seen Kirk in over three weeks, a rare thing for a guy that you could count on like clockwork
to show up and get some rolling tobacco and papers  (6oz of 3 Citadels and 17 Modiano Club Papers).
On a dark whim, I Googled ‘Kirkland Oliver – obit- Boston’ and came up with a result that broke my heart.
Kirkland died July 29th at 66 years of age of prostate cancer.
What follows is a personal obituary and tribute to a gentle soul many people have never had the good fortune to meet.
This was written in part by myself but a more substantial portion was written by my dear friend and associate, Will Marks.
Enjoy our candid view of a man that truly knew who and what he was.

 

Kirkland used to make collages out of stuff most folks would discard.
He would make stuff featuring his pals’ names featuring all kinds of symbols and references.
The message was pretty much the same: Kirkland was telling us that we were cool by his calculus.
These works of art weren’t made for everyone.
Just the people that Kirkland let into his cosmic circle.

 Speaking of calculus, one time a fellow was in the store going on and on about his math ability.

Kirkland asked him what he did and the fellow said, “I’m a quant!” then he shared some detail in a condescending tone to make sure Kirkland got it saying, “I’m into heavy math for the investment industry.”
The store got quiet and Kirkland looked at him and said, “Yeah, I was into math too, used to make my dick hard in 3rd grade so I got into making shapes and artwork all based on math.”
Sizing up the quant he added “…but I outgrew that stuff, if you dig.”
KO had an unmistakeable ‘jazz’ quality about him.
From the way he walked (with a huge wooden walking stick) to the way he talked he had a rhythm and undeniable groove.
It was his ‘groove’ and his alone as he walked to the beat of his own personal drummer.

There was nothing quite like Kirkland striding into the store with the overpowering scent
of a double dose of patchouli oil announcing his arrival.

He’d flash that winning crooked smile and say “Peace” and get into the discussion always leading it back to the tenants of his homespun philosophy (equal parts Hendrix/Shakespeare/McLuhan/Grateful Dead/Health Food Store Chatter/Cantab lounge misinformation) with detours along the way typically including the night Sun Ra played Slug’s when he was blitzed on Owsley acid or how Mingus tore it up another night, his recent favorite band Girls On Top,
or how the Boston Public Library’s address was proof of dark plots.
“You know what the number of the Boston Public Library is, man? 666! It’s the sign of the ‘Cipher’, you dig?”
Kirk would chuckle and say, “Peace . . .  peace.”

Naturally, Kirkland bragged about his family and how he played the violin.
Then there were his cosmic rants about people who were too uncool to be friendly.
When Kirk would get rolling papers (always 13 until the size changed and it went to 17)
he always challenged me to grab the correct number of papers.
Sometimes I would and he would smile and say, “Nice, man. Peace.”
And he always rolled one menthol cigarette on Fridays.

Kirkland’s Friday pronouncements—“All the world’s a stage”, “What goes around comes around”, “Ain’t nothing new under the sun”, “Can you dig it?”, “It’s the Illuminati man they are controlling everything these days”, “Man I was checking out the internet you know where that is man?”, “Did you know I was in a coma man? Yeah, didn’t even know my wife when I woke up!”, “I love the smell of that cigar it’s getting me high.”, “I’ll take some menthol and 17 packs of rolling papers.”—are now a thing of the past; part of the store’s hallowed lore.

Kirkland has joined the pantheon of greats who went before him.
No sweat, Kirkland the larger than life friend to all who were willing, who put the “hep” in hepcat,
will live on in the hearts of all who were lucky enough to have been touched by his friendship and love.
I know many things about this man but some I can’t share here.
These were his gifts.
I know he always made me smile in his own and original hepcat way.
And although the sun was shining in Boston today, the city for me was just a darker shade of grey without Kirk . . .
Sleep well, my friend.
Oh, and Peace . . .

Hail to Kirkland for he knew who and what he was:
http://www.mysouthend.com/index.php?ch=columnists&sc=south_end_character&id=136049

~m & Will Marks

When the glue doesn’t stick

deep thought, Friends, Life 1 Comment »

glue, life, confused, sad

 

True strength
is being able to hold it all together
when everybody else is expecting you to fall apart.
Life can be so damn confusing . . .  like now.
And yeah, oddly enough I’m fine.
Most cryptic.
Sorry.

 

Snags

amazing, Australia, Beer, chances, cooking, Family, Food, Friends, God, Internet, Life, Love, Memoir, Pamela, Personal, Stars 6 Comments »

snags, Australia, food, family

 

A year ago about this time the talk around town (and Facebook) was all about Pamela and me going to Australia.
It seems like yesterday but it feels like years since we were talking about it.
That said, here I am still reminiscing about the 2 weeks in time that I will not soon forget.
I began writing about our journey a while back and stopped short for reasons that now elude me.
Let’s just say that life sometimes gets in the way.
Please forgive me.
My last post got us to Townsville in Queensland where Moe and Mark live.
I remember descending into the small airport and thinking, “So, this is where we Skype every weekend,” not knowing that there was much more than meets the eye behind this place called Townsville (aka, Paradise).
After taking a badly needed shower, Pamela and me proceeded to do what you do on holiday.
We sat our asses in the backyard and had a few drinks, a few cigars and talked about our flights over.
The QLD sun was hotter than I thought it would be and I found a slice of shade to sit in.
I kept mentally pinching myself as if to notify my tired brain that I was really sitting in Oz;
being that far away from home can disorient you into believing you’re not really there.
I got the piss taken out of me 244 times that afternoon. (yeah, I counted)
The plan for the day was to chill out for a bit and go to Mel and Steve’s
(Moe and Mark’s daughter and son-in-law) later that day for our first authentic Australian barbecue.
The details of our first afternoon are a bit foggy but I do remember shitting my pants on our drive over when Mark went into the first Aussie roundabout I had ever encountered.
I mentally made the sign of the Cross knowing I was about to die because he was going the opposite way that people in the States go.
After getting through the roundabout I once again made the sign of the Cross and began a deeper understanding of the phrase, ‘DownUnder’.
Please pass me the vegemite.

We arrived at Mel and Steve’s and got a tour of the place which was under some serious renovation.
With the help of Caleb and Lucas (M&S’s sons) we toured the house which was in a transition phase.
In about six months this place would be a palace.
I still badly want Mel’s kitchen which was any true chef’s dream.
Appetizers came out; Prawns (huge ass shrimp for you folks in the Northeast, but they’re sweeter than shrimp),  Cabana and cheese (Cabana is like a really nice mild but spicy kielbasa), fruit, veggies and more than one could ever eat. [just you wait for my description of the amazing Brie in Victoria]
But Steve had a plan for me in terms of Australian beer.

Batter up!

beers, Aussie

My review:

XXXX Gold: (rat piss in a can, and Steve told me I could just toss it, which I did)
Toohey’s New: (not bad but reminded me of Sam Adam’s lager, which I hate. I drank it though)
VB Victoria Bitters; once again not bad but not much better than Toohey’s.
James Boag; a total winner for me, hands down. A great beer with flavor and strength to boot.
With multiple beers under my belt I watched in amazement as Steve grilled our food.
The smell coming off the grill should be made into a MAN cologne. [truth]
Snags, lamb chops, steak and grilled onions made my stomach yearn for some food.
Snags, btw, are beef sausages and not available in the US.
Sad.
The aroma of grilled snags is simply wonderful.
Steve also made some snags w/ vegemite.
How do you spell AWESOME?
We sat and ate a BBQ that just blew my mind (and our caloric count for the day)(like I was counting, right?)
Life was very good that night at Mel and Steve’s.
Very good.
To them we were in a sense strangers but they made us feel like family.
And maybe we were; I like to think that.
The blazing sun had set hours before we got done eating and it was time for yours truly to look at the Australian night sky.
Me, Mark, Steve, Caleb and Lucas went out into the front yard.
“There it is,” Mark said.
As he was pointing, I saw it.
I’ve loved stargazing for as long as I can remember but never have I wanted to see something as bad as this.
“The Southern Cross.”
I gazed at it, totally spellbound, tears forming in my eyes.
My first night in Oz was now complete.
That was until Mel brought out the Pavlova.
Holy crap.

to be continued . . .

 

ps. Snags and eggs? I love you.

The Most Peculiar Mr.B

Friends, Funny, Life, Memoir, Personal, Sad, Truth 5 Comments »

Odd fellows, pipe tobacco, life, funny, jokes

When I first started working in Boston nearly 8 years ago little did I know of the cast of characters that would eventually cross my path.
At the cigar store where I work I have come to believe that every day is just like Halloween.

There were people like Bill the tobacco eater.
His name will tell you all you really need to know about him. And no, I’m not lying.
Bill has always been partial to McClelland pipe tobaccos.
Don’t know why but I guess they just taste great.
Not sure how the people at McClelland would feel about that.
Bill also had the facial pallor of a year old corpse.
Maybe you’re not supposed to eat this stuff.
Then there’s Snuffers, a strange ogre-like man that snorted more nasal snuff than any human being on the planet.
During the summer months he would come into the store wearing sandals on his feet displaying brownish toenails that were not unlike box cutters.
I remember thinking that the guy could climb trees with those toenails.
There’s Mr. D who depending on the day of the week would speak with a slow southern drawl, ala Colonel Cornpone (even though he had a regular Boston accent)
On his Colonel transformation days he would call me, ‘Maakul’. [Michael]
Sounds almost exotic, doesn’t it?
D has admitted to us that he sometimes wears panty hose around the house when he’s alone.
Bet that does wonders for the property value of the neighborhood should some unsuspecting eye see him traipsing around the house wearing a sexy pair of black fishnets.
I know, TMI.

If I really thought about it I could come up with many more names of folks that should honestly be living in the Odd Fellow Home.
There’s Bucky the gap toothed hooker, Head Wound Harry and Creepy Fedora Boy and on and on.

This brings me to Mr. B.
I met him in the first month while working at the cigar store. He was an older gentleman in his mid eighties by the looks of him and was an avid pipe smoker (of the meerschaum variety), a ladies man (really) and one great joke/story teller.
On one particular visit he pulled out a magnifying glass from his old leather satchel, winked at me and said, “Watch this.”
He stepped outside of the front door of the shop into the sunshine and proceeded to light his pipe with the magnifying glass as curious passersby pointed and smiled at the most peculiar Mr. B.
There was something really likeable about the guy, endearing even.
If you didn’t know him you would swear he was deaf as a haddock but it was usually because he often forgot to turn his hearing aids on.
Before he would leave he would always tell us a joke.
In his later years he would pull out a tattered wallet for his ‘cue cards’ as his memory was slowly going south.

A Mr. B joke he once told me:

A woman comes out of the shower and looks in the mirror.
She’s real flat-chested and says to her husband ‘What can I do to make these bigger?”
The husband says, “Get a little piece of toilet paper and rub it up and down between your boobs for a month and they’ll get big.”
“What makes you think that will do it?” says the wife.
The husband says, “It worked for your ass . . . “

I wish this little story had a happy ending and who knows, maybe it does.
I found out the other day that Mr. B died a year ago in December.
He was 91 years old.
I hadn’t seen him in a while a thought about him the other day.
Google confirmed my suspicions when I found his obituary still online.
I’ll remember him for many things but mostly because he never failed to make me smile.
I have a sneaking suspicion that many people felt the same way.
Funny that I’m not calling him by his full name.
He has more videos telling his jokes on YouTube than I will ever have. [Truth]
Farewell, Norris, my old friend.
I tip my baseball cap to the ever present one on your head.
Heaven just got one hell of a cool guy.
Rock the white clouds, you sweet bastard, rock the clouds . . .

Goodbye Facebook

Facebook, Friends, Internet, Life, Mondays, Personal, Truth, Twitter, writers, writing 6 Comments »

facebook, social network, internet, friends

With each new year there are decisions that need to be made.
And I have thought long and hard about this one.
I have decided that I am saying my final goodbye to Facebook.
It’s not that I don’t like it or have security issues regarding weirdos that follow me wanting my social security number or my sexual preference to animals vs people.
It eats such a shitload of my time that I hardly write anymore.
Facebook makes me write fluff, meaningless shit that friends will undoubtedly comment on.
And I have loved that, please don’t get me wrong.
Videos, jokes and funny pictures are great but in the scheme of things the site is killing my creative life.
I love my friends (all of you that follow me) but it’s time for me to go.
There’s stuff on the 2012 agenda that will never get done as long as I keep dragging my sorry ass on Facebook.
I felt that there should be some kind of explanation before I hit that always dreaded ‘deactivate’ button.
With Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Linkedin, I am about ready to shit a social network all by myself.
My FB deactivation should happen sometime next week.
There will be no more posts from me on Facebook after this.
Sorry . . .  {some of you may even be breathing a sigh of relief}
Anyone that is the least bit concerned about my whereabouts should bookmark my blog.
If you want to contact me, you know where I am, folks.
FaceBooking has been a real blast but it’s time for me to hit the books, so to speak.
To all my friends, know that you will always be a part of my life just not on Facebook.
Feel free to drop me a line or visit my blog when you’re surfing the web.
Writer’s write and this writer is too damn far from doing anything remotely close to writing.
Be safe, be well and be happy my friends.
Stop by and see me at Smoke and Mirrors
Until then . . .

~m

HNY!

Angels, deep thought, Dreams, Family, Friends, God, Holidays, Life, Love, New Years Day, Personal 4 Comments »

happy new year!

 

It is currently 9:16PM here in Massachusetts.
The countdown is on as are The Three Stooges.
2011 was a year to remember for many reasons and a year to forget as well.
As I get older the passing of time seems to take on less significance than it once did.
Seems it should be the opposite but personally it’s just another year.
Another chance to get it right, another chance to possibly mess the sombitch up.
The house is warm and filled with all sorts of wonderful food and drink.
Jonathan (Sarah’s fiancee) and I just got done smoking a very nice cigar on the deck and for the moment life is good.
Hopefully 2012 will be as good as tonight seems to be.
I wish all of you peace, joy and more happiness and good fortune than your lives can reasonably handle.

For myself, I ask for the grace and peace of the One high above me;
To do more for others than I do for myself,
To smile more than frown,
To love deeply and give freely,
To find the words that move me and the music that inspires me,
and to finally give myself a break for a change.
I am too damn hard on myself.
A few sent angels would be nice as well.

So Happy New Year to you, my dear friends.
Thank you for making my life so worth living.
Here’s to another year of whatever it is that makes all of us tick . . .

~m

Merry Christmas 2011

Angels, Australia, Christmas, Family, Friends, God, Life, Love, Personal 5 Comments »

Christmas, magic, love, family, snow, winter, yuletide

The next several days are going to be somewhat hectic as I sell the masses cigars, humidors,  pipe tobacco and everything you can possibly smoke to make the holidays memorable.

I want to thank all that have visited and commented here in the past year.
Although I have been a slacker in the ‘Department of Replies’ know that I have read each and every comment left and that I really appreciate your visits.

I will be celebrating the holidays with family and many close friends and consider myself  blessed.
This is a time for the celebration of love.
And there is so much that I love.

I wish for all of you, tender and sweet dreams, hot chocolate memories, stockings filled with holiday confections and joys of heaven, healing conversation and the ultimate love of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes asleep in a manger.
Somewhere in Bethlehem . . .

I even wish for you some snowflakes on Christmas Eve.
Just not too many.

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~Andy Rooney

A Merry Christmas to all,

~m

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