Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Friday, July 31, 2009

Once more once … Hugo … With Malice Toward None … Cheaterface Nation … Questions for President Obama …


Once more once … how can I not keep this video up top? It was too much fun, amici.

Hugo … we're dog sitting the next 8 days or so … and last night, after trying to sleep on a single mattress on the floor because my back has now joined in providing the same kind of pain my knee so willingly offers, little Hugo proceeded to yelp until the cows came home. Tim was put on Hugo duty (keeping the bichon running on pure adrenalin occupado while the ugly one made believe he could sleep) … then this morning Hugo and I had a discussion (while he tried to make love to my right arm while simultaneously biting my hand) …

“This, Hugo, is a valium,” I said. “You will take one of these every time I see you from now until your mommy and daddy pick you up. You won’t give me a hard time taking it either because a) I outweigh you by 323 pounds (at least); b) I have a carnivorous mouse (Spartacus) who outweighs you by 10 pounds (at least) and c) because right now you’d make a perfect slipper for the Principessa Ann Marie and it’s her birthday next week. Capisco?”

Actually, the wife slipped me the valium before bedtime for bonzo last night but Hugo did his best to overwhelm the drug with his tiny but very loud yelps.

Vey iz mir …

With Malice Toward None by Stephen B. Oates. A GREAT Lincoln bio showing the 16th President in the most human possible manner (insecurities and ambitions included) … his attempts to deal with the slavery issue while holding the union together perhaps offer a reminder about perspectives/circumstances … and his having to deal with several generals content to watch and wait make it easy to understand just how badly Lincoln was tarnished in the press of his day (for being “an ignorant hillbilly”, “weak”, “slow to grasp circumstances” and my favorite, “an ignoramus”, etc.). Yeah, right. Frankly, the mudslinging back then makes today’s nonsense look weak. This bio will move you (if your heart beats) and you will get teary eyed at its conclusion. What Lincoln could do with pen and paper (he was also castigated for not being able to speak well without a script) remains astounding and is as literary as it gets.

The civil war and all that happened around it continues to fascinate the ugly Knuckster and it’s never long before I’m looking for another book about the history of that bit of Americana.

Cheaterface Nation … say it ain’t so … not Big Poppi! Boy that town of Boston sure knows how to cheat … almost as well as the Skankies … although Knucksline suspects there were/are far more baseball players doing juice than football coaches filming other teams hand signals, so while we think baseball has kind of gone the route of the NBA (what with all that wild card crap; inter league play, designated hitters, moved in fences, etc.,), we figure we can ignore what MLB does … but the sacred NF of L … where my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills are forced to play against the likes of cheaterfaces like the Patriations and the Y-E-T-S, Yets, Yets, Yets? We say strip them of all their titles and wins and replay the super bowls with whomever faced them in the AFC championship game (if they won) … as for the ONE they LOST, well, there’s no punishment better fitting to the cheaterface Belichick than 18-1

Questions for President Obama … we don’t hear asked (it seems to Knucksline) by the media (whatever its slant). Some of them might sound familiar (i.e., like those asked of George W. Bush).

1. Is there an exit strategy for the war in Afghanistan you insisted was the right war during the presidential campaign?

2. Are we there to spread democracy?

3. Are we there to find Osama Bin Laden?

4. If so (to find Bin Laden), didn’t you say (or isn’t he believed to be) in Pakistan?

5. If it is to punish those who attacked us, why aren’t we at war with Saudi Arabia (since most of the hijackers were born there)?

6. If it is to punish states that sponsored Al Qaeda, at what point do we stop punishing them (and put an end to the cost in American & Afghani {and Iraqi} lives)?

7. You spoke of changing Washington and bringing about an inclusive political environment during the campaign. What happened (referring to the Democrats within your party who aren’t playing ball)?

8. Current plans call for a 2011 withdrawal from Iraq. Why 2011 if it was the wrong war in the wrong place? Why not yesterday?

9. Outsourcing … you’ve already given away OUR money to corporate America. At what point do you do something for US … say, like, require corporations who borrowed OUR money to end outsourcing? Goldman just posted record profits after paying back their TARP loans with money WE gave to AIG. You think maybe they could stop sending OUR jobs overseas?

10. Or how about deferring penalties for borrowing from 401K’s (what the market has left us with after destroying most of them)?

11. When are you going to grow a pair of balls regarding “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL” and promote a constitutional amendment that guarantees the rights of gays to marry?


12. Since people like Ralph Nader already support equal rights, getting out of Iraq & Afghanistan, wouldn’t have paid the extortion Wall Street demanded, why should anyone supporting those policies vote for you in the next presidential election … or do you intend to actually CHANGE something in Washington before 2012?


Monday, July 27, 2009

North Carolina … the 2009 Cape Fear Blues Festival …

Another short video of the blues jam is located at the bottom of this post. Guitar & Vocals (Rick Tobey), Keys (Glen Joseph), Harp (Nel Nichols), Bass (Dave Corey), Guitar (Pete Durso), Drums (Charlie Stella).


Day 1: The Principessa Ann Marie forgets EZ Pass 15 minutes into the road trip. The ugly one does an about face and returns to Casa Stella (because our last “directions” dispute cost “us” a windshield and “me” a Jacuzzi. The trip officially (with EZ Pass in hand) begins at 6:30 a.m.

The right knee is arthritic and like clockwork, it turns into pain central every 2 hours while driving and there’s no way to turn off the air conditioner without suffocating. This will slow our trip down considerably but no pain, no gain ... so we were on our way anyway.

It was raining pretty heavy by the time we reached Baltimore and it went by in a blur ... so did Washington, Alexandria and a bunch of other cities.

The traffic breaks up and we’re flying again. Before we know it, we’re close to the Petersburg Civil War Battlefield. Yep, we pull off and visit the park because Knucks loves anything civil war related. At the park we see a movie highlighting what started as a battle and ended as a 292 day siege, eventually leading to Appomattox one week after the siege ended.

There was a lot more to Petersburg than the siege and yous can (and should) read about them here: The Crater, Hatcher’s Run, Fort Stedman, Five Forks … all leading to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.

Okay, history lesson over ... now we’re in the great sunny and sweltering state of North Carolina ... we’re there a day early and decide to relax at Wrightsville Beach … wow, what a gorgeous beach. The sun was very hot and the pounding surf was very warm (and strong). I lost my bathing suit soon as I dove in, but fortunately spectators were spared that hideousness when the waves rolled me along the bottom long enough to pull it back up. Trying to return to shore was no easy task either. I was in the surf less than five minutes (and that was more than enough for the ugly one). I didn’t go near the water again, except to scout for Jaws when the wife went in.

More importantly, I stayed well away from the parking garage in Wilmington where an 11 foot alligator was found hanging out a few weeks ago (praise be to Bill Crider’s blog for warning me of that particular dinosaur sighting).

Day 2 ... we meet Pete and Karen Durso at the Blues Cruise but not before neither Peter or I can recognize each other. What happened was Karen came over to me and said, “You look like you don’t belong here. Are you Charlie?”

What a sweetheart Karen is ... Pete and I got to hug (not that there’s anything wrong with that) for the first time in 37 years (that's Pete on guitar in the picture at the extreme right) Avi is on bass next to Pete. And we were Arm & Hammer (as I learned once Avi sent me the picture). Pete continues to insist Avi is the best bass he’s ever played with and I insist both are great musicians who let me in the band because of the basement practice space I came with. Anyway, we did some catching up on the blues cruise and learned how Pete and his lovely wife found their way to Wilmington, North Carolina. They are great people, amici ... very kind, generous, warm and all that fuzzy stuff. It was great catching up after sooooo many years.

Day 3 … begins with WAFFLE HOUSE ... (seriously, Tom Waits would love this joint … the best breakfast in the world for just $5.99) ... a few hours later we met up with Nate Parker, his girlfriend Sarah and her daughter (a knockout and a half—super intelligent and a blues fan) at the Cape Fear Blues Festival (Day 2 Festivities) at Greenlawn Lake Park ... the last time I saw Nate he looked he was still playing for Virginia Tech ... he still looks like he’s playing for Virginia Tech. Tall, dark, handsome and built a little like Hulk Hogan (not that that’s a bad thing). Nate is an official lawman in Durham, North Carolina and I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking about screwing around with this guy (6-5, about 250 and all muscle). Nate’s girlfriend Sarah and her daughter were wonderful accompaniments to the big guy ... they just look right together. Wonderful people, amici, really.

Day 4 ... the day I was most waiting for ... a chance to jam with Pete Durso after so many years (37 to be exact) ... all I can say is wow ... I can’t remember having so much fun (my mistakes and all). I didn’t know what they were going to play, but it sure was fun jumping in and playing it. The band I played with featured an outrageously wonderful pair of guitars (Rick and Pete) with Rick providing vocals. We also had a great bass, an exciting keyboard, and an incredible harp. It was just a bunch of fun and made the trip extra worthwhile.

Guitar & Vocals - Rick Tobey
Keys - Glen Joseph
Harp - Nel Nichols
Bass - Dave Corey
Guitar - Pete Durso
Drums - The ugly one

Mostly, I thank my beautiful wife (who danced with me on the blues cruise) for letting her big guy be a big kid one more time.

If it ain’t easy being me, imagine being her ...

One (of so many) reason(s) I’m so crazy about her.


And the DOC says ...

Hey Chaz,

Sounds like you had a good time. When I saw those documentaries about Monterey Pop and Woodstock they didn't spend much time describing the local waffle houses, much less camera footage. You're one of a kind, my friend.

And what's the story with that little psycho kid spinning around the pole. You didn't have an extra drum stick that you could lob at him?

Regardless, welcome back

Amici: For the record … the wife wanted to strangle that pole dancing brat.

DOC also had this to suggest:

PS: You could copy some moves from the drummer in this video:

Irish, you know.


We're hoping to get some more video out of the camera we bought for this trip. We were experimenting, amici ... seriously ... I didn't get stoned (as in rocks) off the stage.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Meatballs ... and then there were 11 ... The First Annual Casa Stella Food Thing ... North Carolina ...


Meatballs ... Momma Stella, a sprite 79-year-old Eucharistic Minister, sainted mother/loving grandmother and mother-in-law (she has firmly declared she prefers the wife over the son), former swag dealer extraordinaire and without a doubt the best meatball maker in the history of the world, last weekend spent two days making gravy (sauce to you nons) and meatballs for her Sonny Boy (what My Mommy calls the ugly one (moi)).

Momma Stella has several nicknames in and around Casa Stella ... affectionately known as: Spranzie (Speranza/Hope), Don Corleone (pronounced the way Luca Brasi did—see link to actor Paul Vario—a perfect imitation and a fun video featuring Steven Tyler of Aerosmith), the matriarch (for she is the family matriarch), Hopie and My Mommy (pronounced in the very annoying way only her Sonny Boy can pronounce it). Momma Stella was born in the small town of Settefrati (7 brothers), Italy and was brought to America by her mother (my nanny) Saint Theresa. Grandpa Pete (Pietro—my middle name), a Telese with some mysterious family background (nobody seems to know much except he couldn’t return to Italy) was old school tough as a father. My Mommy (annoying voice) was telling the Principessa Ann Marie last week about a time when she asked Gramps for a nickel to buy ice cream and had called out to him (he was looking out a third floor window on Bleeker Street), “Papa, give me a nickel for ice cream, please.” And Gramps yelled back, “Ashpette, Spronzie” (wait, Hope). A few minutes later he tossed down a tiny potato wrapped in a tissue. My Mommy says she was mortified but I still laugh at the images.

Then there was the one where Gramps caught her skipping school to wait on line for Frank Sinatra tickets. He gave her a beating all the way home ...

Or the time she dove under the bed to hide and he used a broom handle to get at her through the bed springs after tossing the mattress off.

His favorite word was “Stroonz” (shit) and until I was five or so, I thought it was my name.

Anyway, the point being, Momma Stella (who will be coming to live with us just as soon as we have the house extended a few feet for her special bathroom) made 13 meatballs for her Sonny Boy this past weekend. Last night, after consuming some of the First Annual Casa Stella Food Thing barbecue leftovers, I smelled something familiar after coming down from playing the drums. And there was The Wife with a mischievous little grin on her face. “You want a meatball?” she asked.

“No, I’m saving them for Wednesday night,” I said.

“Oh, okay,” she said. “But they’re really good.”

“You ate one?” I asked.

“I ate two,” she said.


The grin turned to a chuckle and The Wife said, “She said I hope yous like them.”

“I don’t care what she said,” I said. “My mother talks like me. Where you think I got it? Everything sounds plural. Yous, those, them, these ... I can’t believe you ate two of my meatballs. She only made thirteen.”

“And now there’s eleven.”

“That’s focked up,” I said. “Seriously.”

She was laughing by then, mostly because I must’ve looked very disturbed (and we all know about that schadenfreude thing).

And then later when we went to bed and I was still complaining (“I can’t believe you ate my meatballs. Two of them no less.”), she had the nerve to say “And now I’m gonna breathe garlic in your face all night.”

Like I always say … it ain’t easy being me.

The First Annual Casa Stella Food Thing ... the weather cooperated and The Boss kept shoveling the food out and there were dogs (Lolla, Hugo and Rigoletto) and kids and wingnuts and communists and socialists and neighbors, friends, family and so on. A lot of work (for the boss) but a good time. Some of the desserts were spectacular, especially the “dirt cake” one of our neighbors (Mike and Andrea from across the street) brought over. Forgetaboutit ... 4,000 calories a bite ... chocolate moose with Oreos ... a beautiful thing indeed.

North Carolina here we come ... Rigoletto has several house guests who will be keeping him company and in the insulin during our brief vacation. We tried kennels but our doggie just gets too traumatized without people (especially the Principessa Ann Marie) to put him through that ever again. Tim (The boss’s son) has agreed to use our bedroom so a friend (a former N.Y.P.D. Det. and avowed dog lover (Nick)) can use his bedroom while we head down to the Cape Fear Blues Festival where just last week an 11 foot alligator were spotted in a parking garage courtesy of author Bill Crider’s blog featuring daily Gator Updates. We’ll be taking a blues cruise Friday night and beaching (this whale) Saturday (with a short stop at a gym for some PLing) and Saturday night it’s more blues and Sunday it’s a blues jam with Pete Durso and friends. We’re looking forward to a break from the daily grind and to see some friends from back in the day.

Casa Stella neighbors Mike & Sharon get a break from the DW’s as the ugly one heads south to annoy those poor S.O.B.’s ... spreading the love, amici ... that’s what I’m talkin’ about.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kostoff Novel to Tyrus Books ... mini-reviews ... Goldman and JPMorgan ... The Judge and the Wingnuts ... Domani ...


Some good news on the publishing front. A dear friend (Lynn Kostoff) has been picked up by Tyrus books. The former publisher (Ben Leroy) and editor (Alison Janssen) at Bleakhouse Books) are going to publish Lynn’s latest, Late Rain under Tyrus. It gets even better since Lynn’s first novel, A Choice of Nightmares, will be reissued in paperback from New Pulp Press as well. Props to Jon Bassoff at Pulp Press. That’s two-for-two for Lynn for those keeping score.

Lynn is a terrific writer I had the opportunity to read when I was first published. We were stable mates at Carroll & Graff. His book I read back then remains one of my favorites to this day. These comments of mine are lifted from an amazon review I did of it:

The Long Fall was my Edgar winner choice on so many levels it was scary. Kostoff does some wonderful things with this story; brother vs. brother, brother and sister-in-law ... coveting both dry cleaning profits and the spouse ... it's a wonderful adventure for the reader from the start (a staged wild west shootout) to the novel's resolution (can't tell you that here). Just great writing and a wonderful story. This novel rocks.

Most of yous know I don’t lend much credence to awards (writing or otherwise) of any kind, but if they were legit (on any level), The Long Fall would’ve been my pick the year it was eligible. That’s one opinion but I stick to it to this day. I look very forward to reading Lynn’s new one and rereading his first novel. Yous should too.

Trinity, Leon Uris … I found the ending a bit anticlimactic, but the read was an enlightening one. The wife insisted I read it for years and I finally acquiesced. It’s a Les Mis type of epic that documents the injustice done to the Irish by the Brits. How they can continue to call it the “United Kingdom” defies logic.

Flights of Love, Bernard Schlink … I’ve read a few books by the author of The Reader (a wonderful read) and although I find his subject matter fascinating (mostly dealing with the issue of guilt German nationals may or may not feel about the holocaust), I prefer existential novels not to hammer me with introspective questions over and over and over and over. Schlink is a very good writer. He’s well worth the reads, but his short stories in Flights, might need some space between stories (i.e., time). They began to frustrate (due to the introspective questioning) this reader way too soon.

Goldman and JPMorgan … now that they’re solvent, I can just bet we’ll start to see some of the billions they were gifted by their representatives (the United States Government) heading back our way soon. Just in time, too … we need to add an extension to our house since my mom will be coming to live with us. Our raises and bonuses (even though they don’t come close to the $20 million a GM exec was gifted for fucking up) will be nice. So will a return to a 35 hour week where OT starts on hour 36 (rather than 40). And I almost can’t wait until the outsourcing scumbags I used to work for (R.R. Donnelly) are forced to hire back all those American workers they were so willing to remove from the work force. Those pieces of collective shit (R.R. Donnelly) not only took over a business that shipped jobs to Chennai, India, Donnelly managed to squeeze a little bit more year by year out of the poor bastards here in America who managed to hold onto their jobs. First it was sick days, then reduced insurance benefits, then they ignored our office when it came time to give bonuses. Forgetaboutit ... pieces of shit.

The Judge and the Wingnuts … boy, it really gets embarrassing to hear some of these clowns trying to stir the shit with Ms. Sotomayor. Here’s some of what I posted at Barry Eisler’s blog, The Heart of the Matter yesterday:

It’s hard to imagine how many more times Republicans (especially conservative Republicans) can shoot themselves in the foot, but their latest attempt at Latin/Female bashing (with unabashed Ricky Ricardo sound effects provided by Tom Coburn) one-ups the recent avalanche of the moral majority’s failings of the flesh (too many to recount it seems). Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see both major parties disintegrate before lunch today, but conservative Republicans, between sex scandals, racist commentary and Sarah Palin (she really does deserve her own category), seem determined to alienate Hispanics, Women and however many minority and/or independents might be left who are already fed up with a democratic majority that seems content voting Republican 7 months after a fellow Democrat took the presidential oath.

I won’t get into the bailouts and what an outright criminal act perpetrated by this government (both parties) against middle and lower income citizens that was, but watching conservative Republicans publicly detonate themselves has gone from entertaining to scary. I often cringe now when I hear some of what these clowns spew. I even tried watching Bill the buffoon O’Reilly this morning and had to turn to ESPN to watch reruns of the home run derby (fortunately my cable went out before I had to kill myself).

When I read the Alito quote you used here, Barry, I immediately assumed two things: a) it was a horrible quote and b) it was Scalia (that whack job) who’d made it. Then I realized not all Italians look alike (just names ending in vowels). Then I reread the quote and saw it is a valid quote (a very valid quote) and I don’t have a problem with it (perhaps because I was a referee once and if you think people calling a ref nasty names from both benches doesn’t affect their calls, you’re smoking something very strong). I’m fine with Ms. Sotomayor taking whatever she feels is necessary into account to make her decisions. Her “wise Latina woman v. white male” statement might’ve been ill advised, but so what … who hasn’t said something they regretted down the road?

Domani … Casa Stella, July 18th … etc. … Don’t forget domani … and don’t be afraid of the rain … Spartacus assured me that the roof does not leak. And should the roof cave in and let a torrential raid inside Casa Stella, the big mouse reminds us we’re all Americans and should improvise accordingly.

Casa Stella notes: 34 Hornsby Street, Fords, NJ 08863 ... figure 2:30 p.m.

I’m pretty sure the boss will be moving the portable Jacuzzi for the sake of space, but maybe not if it rains. She does want yous who come to know that the township still owes us our sod; the grass they removed when they put in new curbs last week and made the Principessa Ann Marie one very angry lady. So ignore the ball spot at the edge of what was once (for about 4 weeks) a very good-looking lawn.


Monday, July 13, 2009

The 1st Annual Casa Stella Food Thing … The Band … The Russians are paying! … the 14th Annual Cape Fear Blues Festival … My Last Waltz …


The 1st Annual Casa Stella Food Thing … hey, don’t break my shoes. I don’t know what to call it anymore, but it’s this Saturday at Casa Stella in beautiful (vey iz mir) downtown Fords, New Jersey … figure it’ll start about 2:30 p.m. and should it rain, you’ll probably get wet.

The Band … not that we have a name picked out or anything, but Pete Chinnici (guitars/vocals) and Cliff Radlauer (bass/vocals) and I had a nice first session this past weekend. For a guy who claims he wasn’t comfortable with Clapton, Mr. Chinnici sure nailed it. Mr. Radlauer was sounding very good subbing for Jack Bruce and I served as ballast (because NOBODY subs for Ginger Baker ... that and I weigh 5,000 pounds).


The Russians are paying … the Russians are paying! Let’s here it for foreign agent, Svetlana Pironko for bringing in the duckets from Russia with love. Fazools, that’s what I’m talking about. Jimmy Bench-Press has been published and is now available in Russia.

14th Annual Cape Fear Blues Festival … The ugly one will be playing with a band mate from way back in the day (Pete Durso) at the Blues Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina on Sunday, July 26th. The big question is will they have a drum throne strong enough to keep the ballast from busting through the stage? Yes, Cape Fear of the Robert Mitchum (later De Niro) scary flicks. Flash from the past Canarsie High School and West Virginia football star Nate Parker will be there as well. Nate was an all-city football star from Canarsie who then went on to play BIG TIME college football at West Virginia (where one of my beloved new york state buffalo bills (Bruce Smith) came from as well.

I wish I could take these with me …

The DW's were bought from Cymbal Fusion ... talk to Erik there ... great service, amici.

My Last Waltz … August 29-30, 2009 … this is it … the last FOCKING weightlifting meet for moi (at least for this year). The knees did not handle the attempts to regain former form in the squat (not that there was much there to begin with—a squatter (in the weightlifting sense) I’m not) … in fact, the knees (especially the right one) outright rejected any and all attempts to work without pain. There were even a few nights I could hear them talking to me: “Oh, fatty, are you kidding me? Try that shit one more time and guess what, we’re not coming back up! We’ll leave your fat ass half a foot from the floor.”

They’re calling it the South Jersey Sports Extravaganza & Wellness and supposedly ESPN will be there covering the several events. Powerlifting is just one of 8 events. It’s in Atlantic City and so long as I don’t get hurt in the next 7 weeks, I’ll make one last attempt at my best bench. Right now, it’s not looking like it’ll happen but I should blast past my lift in the April meet.

Talking to me … lately the ugly one has been very busy and it hasn’t been often when Spartacus and I have had a few minutes to share our thoughts on the world at large (amongst other things) … or as they say in the legal profession (ad nausea) “inter alia” … but last night the champion of all New Jersey mice(sisis) took a few minutes to engage in the following Socratic dialogue:

“Where’d you put the dog treats?” Spartacus asked.

“What’s that? Hey, it’s good to see you again, Spartacus. Where you been hiding?”

“Timmy’s room. Where are the dog treats?”

“Timmy’s room? Why there? Don’t you like the kitchen cabinets anymore?”

“Are you crazy? With that flame throwing bitch you married? No thanks, the kid’s room’ll do fine.”

“Oh, don’t mind her. She was just upset at me because I didn’t … well, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. I was there, remember? Where’re the treats?”

“Same place, I think.”

“Uh-uh, she moved them. Duh, or why would I ask you?”

“You sure? I thought I saw them the other day when I went to get my coffee.”

“Yeah, your coffee. It wasn’t for that shit, she never would’ve heard me the first time. You took up half the third shelf with that giant can.”

“It is a big can.”

“Yeah and you’re a big dumbsky. Now, where’re the dog treats? You have that psycho DOC and his gun-toting friend the Jenmeister coming and I don’t trust either of them not to poison the goods.”

“You know what? I think DOC is just a big softy.”

“No, you’re a big softy. A very big softy. DOC is a gun nut and he’ll shoot me if I show my tail Saturday so I intend to hibernate until this Casa Stella whatever the fuck is over and all your redneck friends are safely back in Alabama and your militia friends are back in Idaho. Then I’ll come out and feast on leftovers, but until then I can use some stores for the weekend.”

“You know you’re awful demanding for a little mouse?”

“And you’re awful fat for a human being. Now tell me where the dog treats are hidden or I’ll burrow a whole in your precious DW bass for the family of 60 I met in your garage last night.”

“Treats are in the basement.”

“I knew she knew I didn’t go down there since you two are using the air conditioners again.”


Friday, July 10, 2009

AIG … a reminder … a Knucksline Editorial Response … a rant … and another reminder …


AIG ... $235 million in bonuses to go (after paying out $135 million) … after they went bankrupt ... so much for change, eh?

Now, I’m not picking on Obambi, but I sure and hell am picking on the Democrats. They have a significant majority (filibuster proof) and they promised us change and national health care and the end of wars of choice and that there would be regulation over the financial markets like never before. Well, it looks like never before came and went. Democrats continue to vote Republican (it sure seems) on everything from the wars to health care to financial regulation to gay rights.

I get into it every once in a while on some political blogs (as you might imagine), mostly with so-called “liberal Democrats”; I say so-called because they are so content with having defeated the Republican Party they accept ANYTHING the current administration does as something good and worth defending (as opposed to anything approaching “liberal”). Usually, rather than defend the actual policy (whether they agree with it or not), what they do is attack something inane (always Republican based—like clueless and insignificant Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh or Dick Cheney). Tim Geithner announces there will be no regulation to executive compensation of bailed out companies and instead of so-called liberal democrats screaming “no fucking way”, they jump on Sarah Palin. What so-called liberal democrats don’t do is hold their party to account (on issues across the political and social spectrum) the way they didn’t hold them to account when Democrats became the majority in 2006 (and proceeded to give Republican President George Bush pretty much everything he asked for).

While it looks like Democrats will shoot down the national health care we were promised, so-called “liberal Democrats” continue to attack some Republican Senator who had his family bribe his mistress ... or point to the inane Palin “I quit” speech ... or mock South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (because making fun of Republicans is so much more important than wondering just what the f—k happened to all those campaign promises).

Oy vey and Vey iz mir …

Reminder ... July 18th at Casa Stella ... The week of the First Annual Casa Stella Food Festival is upon us (or is it a barbecue)? Look, I’m so confused at this point, I don’t know what it is except my wife is breaking my shoes about it being so close and me not paying attention. Try and let us know if you’re attending so’s I can alert the pizza joint up the street (the backup plan). Spartacus has been out and about catching rays for this in the hope he isn’t accidentally skewered.

34 Hornsby Street
Fords, NJ 08863

A Knucksline Editorial Response to the DOC ...

Knucksline recently felt compelled to respond to the good DOC’s explanation of Socialists and capitalists. The DOC wrote:

You finish your second shift and come home dead tired. Sitting on your front steps are three fat guys drinking 40s. They have been waiting for you to come home with the groceries and cook something up. They want to share your food, Chaz. And they are hungry from waiting. That's Socialism!

In the other scenario, you shoot two of the fat guys and let the other one escape to warn other fat guys to never show up at Casa Stella. That's Capitalism!

Here’s how we at Knucksline see it: A guy (or gal) either through very hard work, luck, or inheritance (it’s usually a combination thereof) develops a booming business. He makes tons of gelt and hires many workers to keep the gelt flowing. He treats them good (a big … wait, no ... a HUGE assumption) and all are happy in NEVERLAND. Eventually, the owner dies off and his offspring inherit the business. Now, whether or not they (his offspring) are hard working and/or decent individuals (like we assume their parent(s) were), the FACT remains the new owner(s) did nothing to earn/deserve their inheritance aside from being born. Let’s assume they are every bit as good and decent as their parent(s) (ANOTHER HUGE ASSUMPTION) ... they were born into great wealth and to protect that wealth they will be required to keep those in their employ BENEATH THEM financially (which leads to social and political subjugation as well); the workers having much less (in the form of benefits, salary, etc.) than those they work for even though the owners did (and continue to do) NOTHING for their advantage.

See the Born Rich documentary for the sake of seeing who many of the very richest inheritors are, how they turn out and think about whether or not they deserve what they have. And, of course, register how many times you want to smack some of them, never mind support retroactive abortions up to the age of 25 or so.

Now, although Doc’s paradigm has the capitalist whacking 2 of the three fat guys lounging on said capitalist’s stoop (drinking 40’s and waiting for dinner), the 3rd was permitted to escape (for the sake of warning other fat guys not to come back to Casa Stella). One has to assume that said fat guy(s) (the one who gets away is just one of several similar fat guys who got away, right?) will eventually organize and decide on pursuing their dinner a bit more aggressively in the future (to meet the challenge of survival in a capitalist state) ... say, like, STORMING THE FOCKING BASTILLE. Which, by the way, we at Knucksline would define as JUSTICE (socialism) but totally understand how others (capitalists) might call said storming a revolution.

Well, hell, now that I’m on a rant ... the degree to which the investment banks screwed the economy is best reflected in the benefit losses to labor (all forms) across the country. Many firms have cut workers salaries. Others have discontinued overtime or extended the 35 hour work week to 40 for the sake of getting 5 free hours before paying overtime. Many firms have cut hours, reduced sick and vacation time, done away with raises, medical coverage and let’s not mention bonuses (or do you know someone who was fired for being a fuck-up and then given a $20 million dollar sendoff like the CEO of GM?). And none of this has anything to do with outsourcing; this particular form of capitalist greed, while it hurts now, hopefully will one day spark a true workers revolution in America.

The fact the bailed out companies didn’t have to account for anything in the paragraph above (as stipulations to preclude so long as they were willing to take our money) is beyond criminal—it is treason. A government of the people by the people and for the people just gave away the people’s money to a bunch of greedy bastards who gambled and lost and the same government didn’t provide anything near protection for the people it took the money from—the same people it’s supposedly of, by and for.

What a joke.

The fact is between technology and an ever growing population, the numbers just can’t work for capitalism to survive in America (if it’s supposed to benefit the many as opposed to the few). There has to be many more poor than rich in a capitalist society and while hard work more often than not has little (or anything) to do with how one becomes rich, the formula for how one maintains the status quo once they are rich is always the same: benevolence is always the first thing to go.

This might have a lot to do with my current reading of Leon Uris’s Trinity (a wonderful read, by the way—extremely informative novel about the subjugation of the Irish by the Brits; how easy it was within Ireland to divide and conquer), but I doubt it. I’ve voted for both major parties and have pretty much come to a conclusion once and for all: They’re both corrupt beyond supporting anymore and so long as we vote the lesser of two evils or insist that people like Ralph Nader or the socialist or communist parties are evil, the financial and social divide will continue to grow within America until it bursts.

When I was a kid and we used to play war, when someone was supposedly shot they fell to the ground, waited a few seconds (to die), then yelled “new man”, got up and resumed playing. If only it were that easy for so many families financially devastated by Wall Street’s greed to start over again. We’ve been knocked down (the economic crisis born of greed), had our pockets picked while we were there (the bailouts) and then handed greased banana peels in the form of hands to help us back up (change we can believe in). Maybe it’s time to wash ourselves off, stand back up, declare new man and start over (with any number of parties other than the Republicans and/or the Democrats).

Could it really get any worse?

Don’t forget ... this Saturday, July 18th ... figure around 2:00 p.m. or so ... come and sign DOC’s new memoir: “Why I shot Chaz and his dopey mouse.”


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

And the DOC says ...

Good morning, Chaz,

Do you remember where you were when the gloved one bought it?


I always enjoy Al Sharpton, but he is at his best when he smells money. He's been all over the TV lately explaining how much good Michael Jackson has done for the black community. Michael Jackson was black? Michael Jackson makes Pee Wee Herman look swarthy. He spent a fortune to turn himself into an albino Diana Ross. I never saw him take a lot of pride in his African roots. Well, maybe he was black. He did give two of his sons the same name (shades of George Foreman).

Sarah Palin ... just leave her alone, Chaz. Maybe she has finally realized that she does not have the elitist credentials to join the frat boys in Washington. She enjoyed hunting wolves. She didn't have the heart to become one.

The Pope... just leave him alone, Chaz. If you thought Muldoon's was hot, wait until you see hell. And, there is no pasta there.

Just leave the U.N. as the toothless dog that it is. It is so corrupt at this point if you gave them any power, they would be firing on the Honduran dissidents. As it is now, the only harm they do is taking all the good parking spots in Manhattan.

I honestly think Governor Sanford was walking down the Appalachian Trail. When he saw how much abuse he was taking, he made up the whole thing about the Argentine mistress so he could blend back in with his political cohorts. His major mistake was in not realizing what an email is.

According to Webster...
Email: an electronic communication that will eventually be read by someone it was not sent to (probably on public airwaves)

Personally, Chaz, I can't understand your recent march toward socialism. You worked two jobs until the government decided that the only break they would give to big business is to let them outsource all their jobs to third world countries, with no penalty. Let me explain socialism to you in terms you can understand.

You finish your second shift and come home dead tired. Sitting on your front steps are three fat guys drinking 40s. They have been waiting for you to come home with the groceries and cook something up. They want to share your food, Chaz. And they are hungry from waiting. That's Socialism!

In the other scenario, you shoot two of the fat guys and let the other one escape to warn other fat guys to never show up at Casa Stella. That's Capitalism!

Now, go to work... the fat boys are getting hungry.

Your pal,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Send in the Clowns … Madame Hotti … the Pope … Gov. Mark Sanford … After the Fall … Revolutionary Road … Defiance … July 18th …


Send in the Clowns ... It’s good to see the right Reverend Al Sharpton rallying around the Gloved One’s demise ... the image of him, Jesse Jackson and Joe Jackson standing together at a recent press conference was a wonderful sight ... three men of integrity about to capitalize on the opportunity of a lifetime ... yes, he was gloved and yes he was loved, but he was also 51 cards short a full deck, a walking, talking freak show and a pedophile … but in death comes a rebirth of opportunities and the three clowns that appeared together (in part to hawk Joe Jackson’s new record label) sure know how to take advantage of an opportunity. Move over Gloved One and say hello to the Al, Jesse and Joe show. We're sure all three will be crying ... whether the tears will be happy or sad ones, well ...

Madame Hotti ... There’s a ton of speculation regarding just what did in Sarah Palin’s gubernatorial career ... while some wonder if she’s finally come to terms with reality (that the Presidency just ain’t gonna happen in her lifetime), some wonder if it’s some weird mathematical formula for her to come back strong in 2012 and others are thinking maybe there’s another skeleton about to pop out of her diminishing clothes (due to legal expenses) closet. We at Knucksline just assume the GOP is in such dire straights, they paid her legal debts with a promise to fund whatever new ones arise in the near future for the sake of saving whatever shot moderate republicans have of not looking ridiculous yet again. While conservatives anguish over the hot one’s retreat (and some try and defend her quitting), those in the know say Sarah had to be removed before it was too late (and they’re talking about 2016). 2012 will probably be a welcomed concession for the GOP … mostly because the Dems appear to be operating the same as they always do (like Republicans). Knucksline’s prediction that the GOP is dead was wrong; we have no doubt the Democrats will likely resurrect the 14th century all over again. Chasing independents back the other way seems to be their forte.

The Pope ... Benedict XVI said the blind pursuit of profit and economic mismanagement had "wreaked havoc" on the global economy. “The market,” said the Pope, “must not become the place where the strong prevail over the weak.” I don’t know about yous, but it’s the first time in a long time I like what any pope has to say … about pretty much anything. The UN must have teeth, he also feels. I’d feel a lot better when he gave up that Boston pedophile (Cardinal Bernard Law—who, I’m sure, will be fervently watching the gloved one’s memorial service) living within the sanctuary of the Vatican walls, but his veer toward socialism on the market gives him points with me. As for the UN ... well, I walk past it every day at lunch and it still looks like a potential casino (or parking lot) to me.

Gov. Mark Sanford ... the executive committee of the South Carolina Republican party decided not to call on Gov. Mark Sanford to resign last night. Odds Botkins (or something like that) ... this clown (Sanford) was all over Bubba for his indiscretions but wants to continue governing after his own failings of the flesh. It seems like the party of morality just can’t get out of its own way ... then add the hypocrisy (“a time for healing”) factor and it seems they’re enjoying the spotlight. No fan of Bubba (for being a lousy president), Knucksline had (and has) no problem with executives playing the field ... it’s when they can’t (or don’t) tend to business when we take issue(s) ... and there’s no way a guy (or gal) can tend to business when they’re trying to cover up an affair (never mind after they’ve been bagged). I don’t know how the SC Republican party decided to let Sanford roll with the punches, but it sure gives the half-assed Democratic left (those content with whatever the new administration does no matter how Republican or pro business it is) fodder for their half-assed cause.

After the Fall ... Arthur Miller’s play dealing with his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, his mother’s evisceration of his father and the other women in his life (the two wives sandwiching Ms. Monroe). I didn’t get a chance yet to see a performance, but I did read it. Not my favorite Miller play, but it is Arthur Miller and American theatre doesn’t get much better.

Revolutionary Road ... finalmentamia ... I finally got to see Revolutionary Road this weekend ($4.99) and it was a very good rendition of the Yates book (although I highly recommend the book over the movie—especially the ending—because the book is that good). Kate Winslet is an amazing actress and although DiCaprio sometimes seems too young for some roles, he’s perfect for this one. Read the book, then see the movie. Excellent.

Defiance ... another very well spent $4.99 home purchase (so much better than the $32-$40 ripoffs at theatres). Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell were all terrific in this vicious tale of survival during an insane time. The movie runs a bit long, but you’ll hardly notice. Based on a true story, Defiance is an amazing story about three brothers who manage to lead 1200 fellow Jews through the forests of Belarus and escape the insanity of the holocaust.

July 18th ... We’re still on for the First Annual Casa Stella Summer Fest. Come meet the DOC and his most avid gun slinging supporter (the Jennmeister). Come hungry ... there’ll be plenty of grub.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Canarsie: Part I … 95th Street … 1971 flashback … 1505 …Where are they now?


Wikipedia says: Located in southeast Brooklyn, Canarsie takes its name from the Canarsee Indians of the Algonquin group who originally inhabited the area. All our land titles in the greater part of Brooklyn have come from the Canarsee Indians. They held what is now Kings County and the shore of Jamaica Bay. In 1626 a small band of Canarsee Indians were camping in New Amsterdam (Later named New York in 1664). Peter Minuit, who had become friendly with the Indians, offered to buy the land from them. The famous selling of Manhattan Island was actually a scam on the part of the Canarsee Indians. Although they did not own it, they accepted about twenty-four fazools (dollars) in payment for Manhattan Island.

“Canarsie” is a phonetic interpretation of a word in the Lenape language for “fenced land” or “fort.” The Native Americans who made the infamous sale of the island of Manhattan for 60 guilders were Lenape. Europeans would often refer to the indigenous people living in an area by the local place-name, and so reference may be found in contemporary documents to “Canarsee Indians.” The current neighborhood lies within the former town of Flatlands, one of the five original Dutch towns on Long Island.

I thought long and hard about this Canarsie article; how to write it, what to include, what to leave out. Frankly, it is an overwhelming task. There was no way to rely on memory (especially mine) and there’s been enough research to occupy a think tank fulltime, so there was no way to sift through all of that either. As it turns out, thirty plus years down the road (from when I used to live there), there’s a lot more to Canarsie than is possible to condense in anything less than an anthology. For sanity sake, I decided to divide this thing into parts and to use flashback stories throughout. I’ll sum up each part with a Where are they now?

What I remember best about our old neighborhood had to do with everything up to high school; when kids played all their sports outdoors from morning to night; when an empty beer or soda can could occupy a dozen boys on the corner of 95th Street and Avenue N where we used the four sewers to play kick in the can; where a schoolyard where we played stickball because it was walled in on three sides (Public School 115) was like Yankee Stadium; where epic two-hand-touch football games were periodically held up with “official time outs” because a car needed to pass, park or pull into a driveway; where the stairs leading to a school door served as the jail on Schenk Street across from Seaview Park when we played Ringolevio; where the trolley tracks running between two blocks (95th and 96th) served as anything from a baseball stadium to a war battlefield; where Teddy’s Ice Cream truck used to torture parents twice a day during the summer months because all of us knew the sound of that bell better than whatever music they had taught us in school the previous semester.

The Pier

The Canarsie Pier was a mainstay summer activity … when we were real young and our parents were afraid we’d take each others eyes out with fishhooks, they bought us crab cages … and when there was extra gelt around (or my mother’s father, Grandpa Pete), we’d get to take the $.25 boat ride. Families with big money rented row and/or motor boats.

East 95th Street

Our block was Italian heavy with the Cerami family taking up just about one end of it. Check out my scribble:

95th Street featured some pretty good athletes. John Cerami was one of the best athletes and toughest customers in the neighborhood. His older brother Joe was the brains of the neighborhood who would go on to graduate from West Point. Tom, the youngest Cerami brother, was a solid baseball player and the kid most of the guys my age looked up to. He would go on to join the marines and later climb a corporate ladder in a very big way. On the corner was Joe Cuccia (who tragically died in a car accident as an adult). Little Joe Cerami (one of a thousand Cerami cousins) was another terrific baseball player who would become the MVP of the Canarsie high school baseball team when he was a senior. Ralph Carusello was a little older and was an all-star catcher and linebacker who played in the City Championship baseball game at Yankee Stadium. His dad (Lou) managed our little league team (C-Vue Cleaners) until a heart attack sidelined him.

Tommy Vespa (technically was 94th Street but we’d adopted him on 95th) was also a terrific all around athlete (like his older brother Joe). One of my co-captains on the high school football team our senior year, Tommy was a great baseball and basketball player as well.

Although the Pacilio family moved off the block and headed west to California when I was still a kid, Mrs. Pacilio (Vivian) remains my mother’s best friend and the two talk over the phone at least once a week to this day. Her boys, Alfred and Edward, were great guys and I still have so many fond memories of Edward stealing my bicycle and hiding it in his garage that to this day whenever I lose something (anything), Edward immediately comes to mind. Mr. Pacilio (Al) died of cancer a few years back. He was a great guy and I still treasure getting to see him a dozen or so years ago when both families met in Las Vegas for a reunion/vacation.

That was something I miss today, how back in the day nobody’s father was Tom or Lou or Al or Frank. If he wasn’t a coach, he was a mister and the same went for mothers. If Mrs. Gaetani was at the field watching her son play little league baseball, she was MRS. Gaetani, not Angie.

Speaking of the little league: Our first year with C-Vue Cleaners we stunk pretty bad (0-16), but that had more to do with other teams being loaded with talent and ours being a bit skimpy. In the draft the following year (held at the high school), Mr. Carusello chose wisely when he picked Mike Maribito (who would throw a bunch of no-hitters and win the championship). Our team was loaded that year (Phil Green, Tom Cerami, Tommy Vespa, Hal Lippman and so on). After Mr. Carusello’s heart attack, Poppa Tommy (as our family now refers to my father), who was much more a boxing fan than a baseball fan, became the new skipper. A knockaround guy most his life, my old man knew more about boosting than bunting, so it was pretty much up to the raw talent on the team (the guys named above) for us to win. We were 15-1 that year with our only loss coming a night when it drizzled and Poppa Tommy decided he didn’t want us to have big heads … so he forfeited. The team (myself included) was pissed off, especially after going winless the season before. I asked him about that forfeit later in life.

“We wanted to go undefeated,” I said.

“Tough shit. Besides, it’s better yous didn’t.”

“Didn’t the league give you shit over that?”

“Fuck the league,” Poppa Tommy said.

I knew I got it from somebody.

Another Poppa Tommy baseball story goes like this: When our all-star catcher (Phil Green) broke his finger during a game, the “manager” looked to me at 2nd base (where my errors were usually hidden by Mike Maribito’s strikeout count) and said, “Put the equipment on.” I said, “Are you crazy?” The “manager” cracked me one.

I eventually grew into my new position (gaining a lot of weight) and somehow wound up on the all-star team along with the best catcher in the league. I wasn’t half as good as Sal DeMarco, who was a miniature Joe Torre (as you’ll read later on) and about the best catcher I’d ever seen; he had a cannon for an arm and a great bat. In an all-star game later that year, Sal was behind the plate and they moved me to 3rd base (where I made three errors before I knew what had happened; one between my legs, one I bobbled and the one I managed to field I threw over Tommy Vespa’s head at first base into Queens). Sal probably had the only hits in our 9-1 loss that day.

The truth of it was none of us could get enough baseball and we all usually played in three separate leagues (the Canarsie Little League, the CYO and the PAL). A couple of guys from 96th Street who played CYO baseball and were standouts were Tommy Mistretta (who tragically passed from a brain tumor way too young) and Mike Russo. I once had to pitch to Tommy and it was about the most frustrating thing in the world—there was nothing I could throw Tommy couldn’t hit over our outfielders heads. Mike was about the fastest guy in the league and when he got on base I didn’t even bother throwing down to second (from fear I’d overthrow and he’d wind up scoring). I was fortunate to catch a couple of Robert Gulie’s no hitters with St. Jude’s playing for Mr. (Joe) Zumo, but I stopped playing baseball when I began playing football and boy did I miss out on a Canarsie classic that took place up in Newburgh, New York … speaking of Sal DeMarco.

Thursday, August 12, 1971:

Straight from the Canarsie Courier article, the dramatics: The Canarsie Colt League All-Stars this past weekend won the Northeast Regional Championship in Newburgh, New York with a ninth-inning grand-slam thriller.

The victory was a dream-come-true for all concerned. The Colts, with the backs to the wall had to win a doubleheader after losing to Stratford, Ct., 6-3. Pete Shiavo pitched a two-hitter in the first game against Newburgh with hitting support from Joe DePaula (with home runs from Ricky Alvino and Sal DeMarco). In game two of the doubleheader, Dan Morogiello pitched a one-hit shutout for 7 innings. With the game deadlocked at 0-0, both starting pitches were removed. The Newburgh team scored 3 runs in the top of the eighth and the Canarsie Colts needed 4 to win.

Tom Cerami led with a single. The next batter was out. Then (Eddie) Burkhardt and (Lou) Montella drew walks. It was bases loaded for cleanup man, Rick Alvino, a standout performer throughout the tournament with 5 home runs. Rick walked, forcing in a run. Catcher Sal DeMarco who had been on base 6 previous times that day was up. DeMarco, with two strikes on him, leaned on a pitch and the next thing you know there was bedlam on the field. Sal had hit a grandslam home run to give Canarsie a 5-3 victory.

1505 East 95th Street

1505 was our address back in the day and our house featured a built-in wiffle ball stadium (the driveway was shaped like a “V” and we used one of the garage doors as a backstop). Tommy Mistretta lived almost directly across from our back yard (on the other side of the trolley tracks) on 96th Street. We used to play ball in the “pit” and one day after my 3rd grade teacher (Mrs. Craig) warned me about getting my conduct book signed (I had issues as a student that required my notebook be signed at the end of every week stating whether “Charles was good this week” or “Charles was bad this week”), Tommy and I were having a catch when at exactly 4:30 p.m. (when my old man came home), I heard my name being called: “Shit,” I said to Tommy. “I’m dead.”
It's not like she didn't warm me she'd call my old man.

My 4th grade teacher (Mrs. Skully) didn’t let up any and I had to have my notebooks signed that year, too. My parents weren’t about to take the chance on me going to public school again for 5th grade and transferred me to St. Jude’s school (where the nuns and priests could slap you silly). My father introduced himself and me to my 5th grade teacher, Miss DeSimone, like this: “He gives you any trouble, slap him across the face. Then call me and I’ll break his legs.”

A couple of years later, after I had proved my inability to behave “catholic school proof”, my parents (via turning our basement into a mini Macy’s with swag from the Brooklyn docks) bought a 2nd house directly across the street from the St. Jude Convent on Canarsie Road where I was under constant supervision.

Talk about cruel and unusual punishment, I was forced to become an altar boy. But, after learning some of the older teenagers not only drank wine, some of them actually paid for it, altar boy turned out to be a fairly profitable career move. It certainly paid better per hour than the $11.00 a week I made delivering the Long Island Press.

Part I ends here on the day we moved to Canarsie Road (2186); the same day Poppa Tommy was pinched unloading a truckload of Chivas Regal (you see a pattern here?) into the basement of our new house (yeah, the one directly across the street from the convent).

Chivas remains my preferred drink to this day.

For those interested in a terrific read about Canarsie, try Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), The Hunter. I think it’s the first time I ever read anything referencing the L train and Westlake/Stark described the Rockaway Parkway train station in perfect detail as I like to remember it.

Canarsie Part II will pick up during our high school years (1971-1974). In Part two you’ll meet a couple of coaches that helped me stay in and graduate from high school … two sons of one of the coaches (the Morogiello Brothers), a construction guy who put me to work back-to-back summers, some school classmates and some of my high school teammates (a few who went on to Hollywood, one to major league baseball, another to the NBA and one (whom has since passed away) was the White House Chef under President Carter.

Part I: Where are they now?

Lou Montella
Louis M. Montella
Sr. Vice President Operations Worldwide
Amerijet International

Tom Cerami
Global Director for Sales Processes
Merchant Gases Division
Air Products and Chemicals
Tom has been with the company for 25 years and recently returned from a 3-year assignment as Managing Director of Bangkok Industrial Gases; Bangkok, Thailand.

Joe Cerami
Colonel, US Army-Retired.
Currently a Senior Lecturer in the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University (the Fightin' Texas Aggies and NOT the Longhorns)

Mike Russo
Stunt man/Coordinator ... worked on a ton of movies, including Goodfellas and The Sopranos series. I remember him setting himself on fire in his back yard ... forgetaboutit, the guy was crazy.


And the DOC says ...

Great story, Chaz,

It’s hard to understand how such a sophisticated guy like yourself could come from such humble beginnings.

Reminds me of my childhood on 60th Street in Manhattan, directly across from the 59th Street Bridge... long before it became fashionable. Back then we didn’t realize that the bridge could make you feel groovy. It was just a fun place to play.

Our fourth floor walkup shared the toilet with the apartment next door. It wasn’t a bathroom, because each apartment had their own bathtub. Where ? In the kitchen, of course, next to the icebox. And an icebox didn’t make ice, it used ice... big blocks that were delivered by the iceman every few days.

Chaz, I found some other interesting facts that you missed in your article.

From Doc-ipedia: CANARSIE: (kan-aw-see) An area of NYC established when the local residents sold something that they never in fact owned... a practice that still flourishes to this very day. The indigenous peoples are known as “Eye-talians” and are a warlike society. They are particularly hostile to people with names that don’t end in vowels, people with blonde hair, and people who buy tomato sauce (gravy) in a jar. In truth, they are hostile to damn near everybody who isn’t their cousin or doesn’t come from their block.

It has been reported that, in years past, the residents of Canarsie shared a common language with the other tribes of NYC, but there is no scientific data to substantiate that claim. (See Doc-ipedia Re: Charlie Stella)

In the recent presidential elections, the Canarsie residents bypassed both mainstream candidates and unanimously elected Al Martino.