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, August 28, 2009

Half-stacks … Ted Kennedy … DOC says … Nurse Annie …


Half-stacks … the ugly one asked our guitarist (and band capo) what he’d just bought (he was excited in his email to us {me and Cliff}, telling us he purchased a “half stack”) … a what?

Here’s what Pete had to say (subtext in italics in parens):

That would be "amplification unit" (you moron).

Half stack is a separate head, [the amplifier itself], sitting on top of a separate cabinet with only speakers in it. Any amp that is a one piece is called a "combo" - the cab and amp are integrated. If you see any picture of Hendrix or The Who, they are always playing through full stacks (had you not stopped listening to rock for 30 years instead of banging your head and listening to opera you might know who Hendrix and/or The Who are). A half stack is a head piggy-backed on top of one cab with four 12" speakers (not to be confused with 12 people speaking at one time ... oy-vey).

Clapton got his sixties sounds [Bluesbreakers and Cream], using a half stack(s). The full stack has the brain sitting on top of two 4 x 12 cabs (not taxi cabs, you putz). So the knobs are slightly above the head of the guitarist (get your filthy mind out of the gutter).

For the roadies, they don't have to bust their nuts lifting the integrated units — they can make two trips. Cliff's bass amp is a combo, and my old tweed that I use for my mike at home is also a combo. All in one. Lopsided, top-heavy bastards, as the tubes inside are usually unevenly distributed. Back killers and nut-busters to be sure (why we let YOU carry them).

Thing is, I can get a decent tone out of my little combo that I bring to your house, but it's like a toy — no aesthetic quality to it.

We wouldn't look too pro-like. On the other hand, those little pipsqueak amps can be miked through a sound system, so we can sound like we have two full-stacks, on paper that is; all I know is I can make this rig sounds like a thunderclap of Death, which I happen to like (so play louder, dummy).

I know Duane Allman and Dicky Betts used Marshall full-stacks at the Fillmore, don't know what the Brothers have these days.

Next week — the intricacies of the "spring reverb unit". Speaking of nut-busting, how's your groin? (Maybe if you lost 200 pounds, you could find it and we wouldn’t have to take “knee” or “groin” breaks every other song!)

Oy-vey …

Ted Kennedy … Back in the day when I was a devout Democrat and couldn’t imagine not voting for them, I supported Jimmy Carter on the theory “here was a genuinely decent guy” … he turned out to be in over his head (probably for being a genuinely decent guy) but I could never forgive Ted Kennedy for what he did to Carter’s bid for a 2nd term. Chances are Regan would have defeated Carter anyway, but Ted put the knife in Jimmy’s back and that handshake on the podium at the Democratic national convention was painful to watch. The bigger issue for me with Ted was his phone call to a lawyer rather than the police or any other emergency service after his car accident involving the waters off Chappaquiddick Island and poor Mary Jo Kopechne. I have no idea if it was intentional or not, but calling one’s lawyer first suggests guilt (of something or other) to me and let’s face it, the Kennedy’s have gotten away with quite a bit before and since that tragedy. I applaud his socially liberal efforts but it’s difficult for me to get past Mary Jo. For those so-called “liberal democrats” who insist voting for Ralph Nader undermines the Democratic Party’s efforts to be the lesser of two evils, WTF did you call Kennedy’s backstabbing of Carter in 1980?

The only thing I fear will happen with TD’s passing is yet another excuse was born for Democrats for not passing national health insurance … one more reason for getting NOTHING done and/or CHANGING NOTHING once again (which is why I didn’t {and wouldn’t} vote for them or the Republican party this past presidential election with a gun to my head).

DOC says … as you can imagine, the DOC had a slightly tougher response to Ted’s passing:

Hey Chaz,

When I go to my final reward can I be known as the "Lion of Knucksline"?

It has a nice ring to it.


Hey Teddy,

Mary Jo has been waiting a long time to see you. Be a gentleman this time. And when she tells you she is getting hot, it's not your charm. She is bringing you to your new home.


Vey iz mir …

Nurse Annie … Ah, the summer vacation has come to an end … the freckled one … the Principessa Ann Mariethe old ball and chain, etc., returns to school domani … last year she scored highest in her class (she’s anal that way), but this year will be a much tougher challenge … aside from back-to-back semesters with just a short break between … aside from the full-time job she currently works (getting up at 3:00 a.m. Monday’s to be at work for 5:00 a.m.) and aside from her classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7:15p.m. – 9:45 p.m.… aside from having to live with moi (honestly, can you imagine?) … this semester the boss spends her Saturdays in Bellevue’s psych ward.

Well, it’s not like she won’t know how to deal with nuts …

Isn’t Spartacus cute?


Monday, August 24, 2009

The Godmother(s) … The Scottish Government … The Band … Flannery O’Connor … An Interview … Nurse Jackie … Mad Men …


The Godmother(s) … Holy Mother’s Day, Batman! From an AP article: They go by such nicknames as “Fat Cat” and “Tomboy.” Their simmering power struggles once drove them into the streets, guns blazing. They rule their crime families with steely determination, and also raise the kids and stir the pasta.

Move over, Don Corleone. Godmothers are rising in the ranks of the Camorra, the Naples' area crime syndicate.

Seeing how Momma Stella is from just outside of old Napoli and often uses the phrase: "I'll kill you" ... the ugly one will tread somewhat more lightly around the Stella family Matriarch ... or is it, the Godmother?

A few people sent me this article … which suggests maybe the time has come to write a Godmother novel … hey, why not? It’s not like I have anything better to do, although the Luca Brasi scene might seem a little awkward:

“Donna Corleone, I am honored that you have invited me to your daughter’s wedding … on the day of your daughter’s wedding. I hope her first child will be a broad. I pledge my undying loyalty.”

Oy-vey …

The Scottish Government … it was pissing me off enough that Scotland released this piece of shit in the first place, but to see the welcome he received when he got off the plane (I’m sure he flew first class) made my stomach swirl a little like it did when Palestinians living in Jersey City partied in the street on 9-11. I understand they have beefs with America because of our mid-east policy and I’m sure much of their angst is justified … but celebrating the release of a guy responsible for killing innocent people is nothing short of a provocation. Let’s put it this way, if a 5,000 pound bomb landed a few minutes behind the released terrorist in Libya and took out all those celebrating at the airport (including Quadaffi), it just wouldn’t have bothered me as much as seeing my beloved new york state buffalo bills were down 24-0 at the half last weekend.

The government of Scotland is officially on the Knucksline shit list.

The Band … well, we don’t have a name yet, but we’ve been tossing these around: The Geriatrics … Old and Ugly … BB Gun … BB Geritol … Arthritis Times Three … Bad Back, Pete & Bad Knees … Two old thin guys and one old whale … 52, 53 & 58 …

Vey iz mir …

Flannery O’Connor … I just read my first collection of stories by Ms. O’Connor and realized I was late to the game by the end of the first one (for which the collection is titled), A Good Man Is Hard To Find. This was as dark as it gets and reminded me very much of Cormac McCarthy’s works, but unlike McCarthy, I thought O’Connor’s reach was much more broad and appealing. There wasn’t a weak story in the collection and should you enjoy irony and dark, Ms. O’Connor is your gal.

An Interview … with Loren D. Estleman in The New Black Mask No. 4 in which there are very good short stories (including one by my writing hero, George V. Higgins). Eastleman said something that I found extremely true over the years. Writers need to read … they need to read a lot. And … “Two things can make you sit down and write. One is reading a book that is really bad, thinking I could do much better; the second is reading a book that is very good.” Estleman is one prolific dude. He’s written I don’t know how many books (series and standalones), but you can get an idea at his website (the comprehensive list).

Nurse Jackiethe Principessa was full of commentary on this one as the series progressed toward the hanger-on ending, but even though we both agreed “they’d never do that” or “they can’t do that” or “there’s no way that could happen” … we were both intrigued by this wonderful new vehicle for Edie Falco. She’s one of the best around, no doubt and Nurse Jackie features her brilliance, proving there was indeed life after Tony Soprano. How HBO let her get away will remain one of life’s mysteries, it seems to me.

Mad MenI’m just into Season Two and it’s picked up where it left off. The era, the cigarettes and booze, the outfits … forgetaboutit … Knucksline highly endorses Mad Men. Interestingly enough, we don’t even notice (or miss) the missing slang.


Knucks asked the DOC why the delay in responses and the DOC said ...

It goes like this, Buckeroo

I have a pool, so I figured I would go back to work in the fall. However... I just got a flat screen TV. Now, I've put off gainful employment until the capitalistic pigs turn off my electricity.

That Lockerbie terrorist thing really has me pissed off. I refuse to use Scotch Tape anymore.

Don't worry about the knee. In a few months Obama will take care of it, providing of course that your under 40. Get some fake ID. They're not very bright. In fact, this could be a terrific business opportunity... fake ID for oldsters looking for new hips.

I may have to come out of my semi-retirement to set that up.

Hang in there, Bro

Friday, August 21, 2009

Compassionate Release … The Bands … Big Nate … Mini-Reviews … Rehearsals lead to an open Jam …


Compassionate Release … I’d release him too (with one provision); it be done over Libya from 40,000 feet with an anvil strapped to his back.

Hey, Scotland … WTF?

The Bands … Doobies, Allmans, $9.00 beers and DW’s for everybody:

Doobie Brothers … in a word, "eh" … they certainly gave their all and it was pretty cool to see one of their two drummers weighed in close to Knucks (give or take 50 pounds), but they’re still the Doobie Brothers (their brand of Rock-N-Roll just doesn’t do it for the ugly one). That said, the Principessa Ann Marie very much enjoyed them (and preferred singing along to the Doobie’s rather than listening to very long blues jams by the Allman Brothers). I give the Doobinators props for putting on a show … but I was very anxious for their stuff to end so I could finally hear the Allman Brothers live.

The Allman Brothers … GREAT (in a word) … the guitarists (Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks) are incredible and the other Trucks (uncle Butch) behind the drum kit was relentless. Greg Allman and his band remain a phenom 40 years down the road. I didn’t mind the price of the tickets afterward but it would’ve been even better had the played Whipping Post. Stormy Monday more than satisfied, however … just GREAT. Go and see them before it’s too late (this is their 40th anniversary).

$9.00 Beer … No, it isn’t a typo. That’s what they charge at PNC … $14.00 for a 24 ounce (or maybe it’s 26) … water is $4.00 (as was lemon ice) … absolutely criminal.

DW Drum Festival … is what it was … both drummers for both bands were playing DW’s and the big fella playing for the Doobie Brothers (Ed Toth) was using my Ruby Glass finish …

Big Nate … Yous remember me mentioning a former football player from Canarsie who wound up playing for Virginia Tech (big time), right? Well, here are some pics of big Nate Parker (a lawman in Raleigh-Durham) and his bella girlfriend and her bella girls. Nate, Sarah and Zuri joined us down at the Cape Fear Blues Festival last month.

Nate and Sarah looking formal

Sarah's girls: Esther, Jasmine and Zuri (Zuri was in Cape Fear)

This, of course, is Nate in his Sam Jackson pose.

Mini Reviews ...

The Kreutzer Sonata ... a violin/piano piece by Beethoven that Leo Tolstoy turned into a short story and director Bernard Rose turned into a movie. There’s good and bad about this movie but I wound up intrigued by actress Elizabeth Röhm (she was terrific). It’s all about love/hate/infidelity/jealousy, et al … it’s a psychological thriller worth doing the research on (reading the Tolstoy novella). I’m not sure if I’d recommend it (remember, the boss says if you see a movie and want to kill yourself, I’ll probably love it), but I was intrigued enough to watch it a second time. Röhm (a Law & Order regular at one point) was truly magnificent.

An American Affair … I was intrigued with the storyline (one of JFK’s mistresses, the CIA and all the espionage imaginable) are blindsided by a brat who lives across the street. The brat was just too unlikable for me to like the movie and it just wasn’t a very good movie. Mol, who I thought was brilliant playing Betty Paige, was more than fine in this work as well, but unless you’re a Mol fan, pass on this one .

The Florist’s Daughter … Patricia Hampl’s memoir is a reflection of an ordinary life set against her parents; the collective history of each family and all that came after her parents met … except this is in no way an ordinary story. Hempl tells an intriguing story about life in St. Paul, Minnesota; the Irish v. Czech influences on her life and changing times. Very good stuff, amici. Highly recommended.

Rehearsals lead to an open Jam … we’re still not sure what we’re called (our band—pics, video and bios to come shortly), but we’ll be making noise at Casa Stella Sunday afternoon. So far it’s been a kind of Cream/Allman Brothers/George Thorogood mix. We shall see … there’s an open jam we’re considering playing at in New Jersey in a few weeks.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Barney Frank … The DOC wrote a play … The spurs in my knee … The Allman Brothers tonight …


Barney Frank … Knucksline isn’t a fan of Barney Frank but that has more to do with his chairmanship of the “oversight committee” than anything else (although it probably explains why he “didn’t know” there were hookers in his basement; oversight not being his forte). Still, what he said yesterday in response to a wingnut screaming against public option health care reform was a beautiful thing:

Here are the highlights:

"When you ask me that question, I'm going to revert to my ethnic heritage and ask you a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank asked.

"Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table," Frank said to the woman. "I have no interest in doing it."

Bravo, Barney. Now, remove yourself from anything related to “OVERSIGHT” and let people who can get something done handle it.

The DOC wrote a play … (forgive him, amici, he’s spending WAY TOO MUCH time in the sun lately {and he thanks both Ronald Regan & George Bush for DEREGULATING EVERYTHING and thus promoting the OUTSOURCING of our jobs so we can spend more time in the sun} … the sun is getting to him; sometimes he just knows not what he does) …

From the DOC:

Sorry to hear about the head cold, Chaz.

I wrote a play to cheer you up.

Chaz: Hi Doctor, I have a head cold.
Doctor: Yes, I can see from the swelling.
Chaz: I don't have any swelling, That's my normal size head.
Doctor: But it's the size of a pumpkin!
Chaz: Yeah, that's what the Doc says.
Doctor: You have another doctor?
Chaz: No, he is my friend.
Doctor: And he thinks he is a doctor?
Chaz: No, he's delusional, but never a doctor. Sometimes he thinks he is the capo of the 7 dwarves, sometimes he thinks he is Wyatt Earp's best friend.
Doctor: Well, delusional or not, he's right about that pumpkin-head thing.
Chaz: Great, thank you. Can I just get some medication?
Doctor: We are doing some early testing of Obamacare, so I am afraid treatment is out of the question.
Chaz: And why would that be?
Doctor: For one, you're 50 years old. How many more years do you think you have left?
Chaz: If I got rid of this head cold, I might last another year or two.
Doctor: Unlikely, then there is the fact that you weigh 700 pounds.
Chaz: Hey, look, I just lost twenty pounds.
Doctor: I took that into consideration. Last week you must have been 720 pounds. Look at it from Obama's point of view. If I give that same medication to some 17 year old crack addict they will live another 70 years. If I give it to you what do we get? A month... 2 months?
Chaz: Look, I'm beginning to get really pissed.
Doctor: That's another potential problem. Then there is that whole pumpkin-head thing. Maybe it's time for you to take a long rest and reap your greater rewards.
Chaz: Are you talking about the dirt nap... Euthanasia ?
Doctor: Well in the new health plan, it's called Perpetual Tax Amnesty, but you have the gist of it.

Feel better, Bro

The spurs in my knee … we got to see the little fuckers last night on an X-ray and they explain the pain alright. It’s the start of arthritis (as the Principessa questioned the orthopedist until the cows came home—I was about to fall asleep on the nice comfy examining table). It has little to do with my weight and much to do with genetics (thanks, Mom). Squatting probably facilitated the issue and there will be no more of that. He wrote a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and he wants me to go to therapy.

“The f—ks my head got to do with my knee?” I said.

He turned to the boss and said, “I feel for you.”

She said, “You don’t know the half of it.”

He said, “Explain it to him in the car. His eyes are too close together and it gives me a headache to look at him.”

Later the boss explained I would have to go to some medical office 3x’s a week to treat different muscles that “might” alleviate the stress on my kneecap (it’s the bone under it that has the spurs rubbing against the femur).

“Might?” I said.

I might go. [sarcasm intended]

Allman Brothers tonight … those over expensive tickets get put to use tonight at the Garden State PNC (or whatever its called). I’m wearing my tie-dyed shorts (the boss used too much bleach) and my Buffalo Bills T-shirt. The boss is bringing the lighters (I refuse to hold up a cell phone) … and if they do one of those dopey “holds your hands up in the air and everybody sway back and forth” routines, I’ll pick pockets like a dervish.


Friday, August 14, 2009

QB VII … Johnny Porno … “Hey, get a load of fatso” … Michael Vick …VJ Day and a few fitting tributes … and Patti Abbott's Forgotten Book Reviews


QB VII I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much as Trinity but it was a fast read. Mostly I had issues with the melodrama Uris created leading up to the trial of a Polish national who’d been swept up into a fictional nazi concentration/extermination camp and ordered (or willingly) performed experimental surgeries on healthy Jews without anesthesia and obviously against their will. I never saw the miniseries and am glad not to have. This was a medium investment in time and although it wasn’t unpleasant, there were passages in the first few sections of the book I thought too melodramatic (the scene where eventual author {Abe Cady} of a book that slanders (or does it?) the Polish Dr. is shot down and severely injured while flying a combat mission seemed childish. It isn’t a waste of time by any means, but I felt somewhat let down after Uris’s Trinity. Then again, anything to do with WWII or the Holocaust (whether it serves as educational device or a reminder of just how insane any people can become) is worth the investment in time and energy. Part IV, the actual trial for slander, was pretty gripping and as it turns out, Uris himself went through a slander trial. From Wikipedia: The novel is loosely based on a libel action brought against Uris himself by Dr Wladislaw Dering, a Polish physician who worked at Auschwitz, in relation to his previous novel Exodus, which resulted in Dr Dering being awarded a half-penny damages, the smallest possible amount at the time. (Costs of £20,000 were awarded against him).

Johnny Porno is up on our new publisher’s website (Stark House Press). You’ll find it much more affordable than the hard covers from the past (which equates to ordering dozens while the ordering is good). I love the cover the way it is right now and I’m playing with doing a few readings from the book as teasers to post here and on my dopey website … but the question remains will a reading by the ugly one entice readers …

or send them running for the hills?

“Hey, get a load of fatso” … for those of yous Honeymooner Fans out there (you had to be able to recite most of the show’s lines on command where I grew up), there was an episode called “The Bensonhurst Bomber,” where Nortan’s friend is supposed to say “Get a load of fatso over there” (so that Ralph can deck the guy (a set-up) and scare some bully he’s supposed to fight in the poolroom). Last night the ugly one was confronted with a bully on the Staten Island train who pushed his way through a turnstile and made some comments to which I answered in kind (a general dopey cursing fiasco). But then the bully said, “Hey, fatso, lose some weight while you’re at it.”

What’s up with the fat comments (the ugly one wants to know)? I mean, yeah, I’m fat, but so what does that have to do with the price of eggs? Of course the Principessa Ann Marie was pretty much clueless as to what was going on since she can't hear anything (deaf nurses, great idea) and was just walking along as if the yelling behind her were leaves blowing in a light breeze. She later said, “But you were smiling at him. I thought you were friends. I thought, Charlie met an old friend of his. You looked like you were having fun with each other.”

The bully told me to take the first punch and that he would annihilate me if I did. I offered him the first two shots (this went on for a while—shades of “My uncles is a marine.” “Oh, yeah, mine is a General” etc.), but when I invited him to the parking lot where we wouldn’t have to put on a show for all the commuters and he could fight instead of talk about it, he informed me that he would say I “attacked him”. I told him my stop and suggested he meet me there or just go away. Then I said, “See you later, whacko.”

He got off at his stop (I assume) but it was two stops before mine. He was clearly nuts and will probably talk more trash if we walk into each other again (like tonight on the way home--something to look forward to, I guess), but if so, I will request he refrain from calling me hurtful names. I mean, I could’ve talked about the dopey Italian horn he was wearing (at our age, that’s more than a little silly), or the fact that he seemed dumber than he looked, but the only name I called him was my favorite when dealing with jerkoffs. To wit: I called him a jerkoff.

And, of course, this morning the wife greeted me with, “Good morning, fatso.”

To which I replied (using hand signals): “You’re number one.”

Michael Vick … this is a tough one for the ugly Knuckster … yeah, everybody deserves a second chance, but there are some crimes that should preclude those chances (namely, torturing dogs to amuse oneself). So, the Philadelphia Eaglettes prove they are the most despicable team in the NFL for signing Vick and there’s just no sympathy here for a guy who was making $100 million and blew it with his own stupidity and at the expense of a lot of innocent dogs.

And before a flood of e-mails arrive telling me how we forgive murderers (never mind how this government gives mass murderers new names/identities/homes (Gravano, Bulger, et al)), understand that we at Knucksline place more value on dogs than we do on some humans.

A Fitting Tribute … over at Dave Terrenoire’s blog (A Dark Planet), he’s posted a tribute to a man who died with his uncle on Iowa Jima. Today is one half of VJ day (international dateline issues). It is a fitting tribute to true heroes (not the plastic ones who start wars without ever having fought in one—like some Presidents and their cronies {to include Obama with Bush because ramping it up in Afghanistan after 8 years of WTF makes about as much sense as attacking Iraq for 9-11}).

Some of yous remember when I found my father’s brother’s burial spot in Epinal, France. Frank Stella ran off to join the Army in the summer before the last year of the war in Europe. He married his childhood sweetheart and found himself a replacement for the famous Easy Company (of Band of Brothers fame). He was wounded three times over his six weeks in combat before being killed on January 26, 1945 during an artillery barrage (the day after the Battle of the Bulge was officially listed as ended). He received a few medals prior to and after his death.

I never met Uncle Frank Stella. He was dead before I was born. He had apparently been the apple of my grandparents eye (my old man was the proverbial street kid) and my grandmother lost it when her son was killed; Adelaide Stella (for whom my sister was named) later died in a sanitarium. My grandfather (whom I was named after, Carmelo), never spoke of his son again. It was one of those Sicilian traditions that makes no sense to me, but they had their ways. “What was done, was done,” my grandfather used to say.

Frank was supposed to become a pharmacist but he enlisted instead. My mother’s family used to live in the building my grandfather owned on the Lower East Side and she remembered coming home and hearing the news, “Frank Stella was killed.”

“It was such a sad day, Sonny,” she said to me. “I’ll never forget it. He was such a nice guy.”

As listed in the November 1944 "mug shot" identification roster for Co. "E", Frank N. Stella's hometown address during World War II was:

"34 Downing Street, New York City, NY"

On page 76 of the book THE FURNACE AND THE FIRE: The Story of a Regiment of Infantry, Vienna, Austria 1945, under the listing "These Gave Their Lives", is the following entry:

"Pfc Stella, Frank N. KIA 26 Jan 45 at
Ohlungen, Fr (Co E)"

On page 135, the same book, under the listing of "COMBAT ROSTERS", there is the following entry:

"STELLA, Frank H. [sic - N.] Pfc CIB, GCM,
CAM. R New York, N.Y."

CIB = Combat Infantryman Badge
GCM = Good Conduct Medal
CAM. R = Campaign Rhineland

As you know, Stella is eligible for retroactive award of the Bronze Star Medal because he was awarded the CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge). Because Stella participated in action against the enemy in the Bois D'Ohlungen, and the vicinity of Schweighausen and Neuborg, France, as of 10 January 2001 Stella became a recipient of "THE PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION (ARMY), FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM IN MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST AN ARMED ENEMY".

Additionally, Stella is entitled to a second small bronze battle star to be worn on the ribbon of the EAME Medal (European-African-Middle Eastern Medal) for participation in the Campaign Ardennes-Alsace.

Frank N. Stella is buried at Plot A, Row 32, Grave 14, Epinal American Cemetery, Epinal, France.

Here’s to Dave’s uncle and his uncle’s friend and my uncle too.


And over at Patti Abbott's blogsite is a "forgotten book" I reviewed ... The Boy who Followed Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith ...

And the DOC says ...

I hate to say it, fatso, I mean Chaz, but I tend to agree with you on the Michael Vick issue.

You know on the sports thing I agree with Papa Hemingway. Just going on memory. . ."Boxing, bullfighting and auto racing are sports. All the rest are just games."

Yeah, Vick served his time and he should not be disqualified from any job at McDonalds that he can pass the test for. Giving him a job that puts him in front of the American public just marks another low for our society.

Going back to my mantra... Every country gets the government they deserve.

Hell, Chaz, the Bengals turned him down. The NFL's first All-Felony Team wouldn't touch him. This means the 2 major factions of the Bengals, the "Gun Carrier Squad" and the "Wife Beater Squad" both thought that the dog torturer was a bad idea. I only hope that in all their home games Michael Vick can throw a long bomb into the stands and not have to worry about hitting anybody.

In general, Americans have to learn to trust their gut.

"Yeah, he paid his debt, but I'm still pissed, so fuck him".

It's not all about the law, but justice. . . and occasionally retribution.

Uncle Frank,

Thank you for your service. Charles is not exactly a flower on the family tree, but you could have done worse. Rest in peace.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Allman Brothers … Magic City Muscle … Speaking of Drafts … Speaking of knees … Death Panels …


The Allman Brothers … a few years ago, the boss forced me to go see a Bruce Springsteen concert at the Moonachie Meadowlands (where the Jersey Jets & Giants play). I remember parking in the lot and not wanting to get out of the car because so many “old” people like me where there and acting all excited; it was one of those gut check moments when one is forced to realize how silly they too must look going to a rock concert at the age of 50 (or so). It took a while, but eventually I got over myself and we went in and had a great time. Last night the Principessa bought tickets for the PNC center in Holmdel, New Jersey (the most corrupt state in the union) to see The Allman Brothers Band … now I’ve always wanted to see them because I love their bluesy tunes but even more so because they use two drummers (that 2-for-1 thing). Then I almost had a heart attack last night on the ferry when the Principessa filled me in on the details … a) The Doobie Brothers are playing with them (I nearly upchucked my pretzel—I am not a Doobie Bros. fan but they may surprise me) … more importantly, however, was b) … the tickets cost $111.00 each …

“Are you f—king kidding me?” I said (very loud).

“Calm your Jets, Hojo,” the Principessa Ann Marie said. “That’s what they cost.”

“I was figuring thirty ($30) or forty ($40) bucks. What the f__K?”

“Because you act like a twelve (12) year old, you think it’s still nineteen-sixty-eight (1968).”

Oy-vey, amici … I can’t even imagine what opera tickets cost these days …

Review next week … and at least one of those bands (or the f__king drummers) better be good.

Magic City Muscle … once upon a time I lifted with a few of these guys at a powerlifting meet in 1974 … I was a rookie breaking his cherry (so to speak) but these guys were the real deal (record holders 36 years ago and they haven’t stopped since). I remember Brad Weber’s 420 lb. raw bench in the linked picture because I was there (I strained to bench 320 at that meet and I was at least 20 pounds heavier than Brad). Gary Clock’s name was already legend in Minot by the time us rookies showed up. Check out the squat racks in the pics, by the way. Those’ll make your knees shake.

Brad and Gary have continued to lift themselves into the record books and at age 60, Gary squatted 601 pounds not long ago.

Speaking of drafts … anybody catch T.O.’s debut as one of my beloved new york state buffalo bills the other night? Have you ever seen such a gifted received streak across the field with such athleticism and aplomb?

Yes, I had to look up aplomb.

It was ugly, amici … it just might be a very long season.

Speaking of knees … the ugly one has an appointment for new knees next week … well, the examination part anyway … yeah, getting back into squatting was a real smart move. I was at the gym bright and early this a.m. (4:15 a.m.), but only to start lifting medium heavy on the bench. Lady Gaga was singing to me so loud I thought my head would explode. Then I was driving home humming the tune and had to consider driving the Stellamobile into a wall to stop myself.

Death Panels … as much as the ugly one is in favor of ethical suicide parlors and/or retroactive abortions (up to age 45), one can only assume Sarah Palin’s use of the term “death panels” is yet another desperate attempt to scare middle America away from helping themselves. Her purposeful misrepresentation of watered down health care legislation is too absurd to give credence. Caribou Barbie has become a poster child for ridiculousness. If the DOC was right about that 30% of McCain’s 48% vote for the Republican Presidential nominee last election, it still leaves them 23% short of a tie (for another loss). I suspect the 18% DOC attributes to McCain will be running the other way if Palin is anywhere near the campaign, but the healthcare industry need not fear anything, Obama and his Democrats seem perfectly content to leave “nearly 46 million Americans, or 18 percent of the population under the age of 65 … without health insurance” (this a 2007 statistic) … with so many out of work these days, you think the number went up or down?

The only death panels regarding health insurance in America these days are those who continue to get to deny insurance to at least 46 million Americans … in the year 2009, after all of OUR money this government (both parties) gave to Wall Street, et al., with all of OUR taxpayer money being absolutely burned to absolutely no purpose in both Iraq and Afghanistan (way to change things, Mr. Obama), 46 million uninsured Americans is nothing less than criminal.


And the DOC says ...

Personally speaking, Chaz,

Not that you fucking pay attention to what that signifies. Before you see the Allman Brothers check out Warren Zevon's tribute to them

About a month ago I went to a concert with the Doobie Brothers and Bad Company up at Woodstock. I was never a big Doobie Brothers fan either, but keep an eye on their young guitarist. I think his name is McPhee. We were in the second row and the look on his face was riveting. He was just so absolutely delighted to be getting paid for playing the guitar and have people clap that he didn't know whether to shit or go blind. I have never quite figure out the logic of that expression, but it somehow conveys the plight of not knowing what to do. Go figure.

I know I never smiled like that while I was writing programs and I'm sure you never smiled like that while you were performing your girly typing tasks.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

The First Family … Oh, Sarah … Where’s Hugo?


The First Familyby Mike Dash … I think I was 8 or 9 or maybe 10 when I first saw Pay or Die with Ernest Borgnine. I remember it was on Million Dollar Movie (when they used to replay the same movie five (5) nights in a row). It was my introduction to The Black Hand (what some originally called the mafia) and although I was rooting for the Italian Sergeant/Lieutenant Detective (Petrosino), I remember being intrigued by the criminals in the story (all essentially bullies) and wondering how they became so powerful? I was very naive, amici.

The thing I didn’t wonder, that never crossed my mind until many years later, was whether or not the character I had been rooting for in the movie was real or fictional; they had certainly made him appear real.

Fast forward thirty plus years when I’m living in Little Italy. Irony of ironies, I’m standing at a tiny triangular park off the corner of Kenmare and Spring between Cleveland Place and Lafayette Street waiting for someone to drop off money (the irony being I was one of the bad guys) and quickly getting irritated because the guy I’m waiting for is late, when I turn around and read the plaque attached to the fence (see above). Lieutenant Petrosino Park. No, there was no epiphany. I liked what I was doing at the time, especially the fazools, but it did make me wonder whether or not it was some cosmic sign.

Another dozen years pass (nearly 10 since I abandoned being a bad guy) and I pick up a book called, The First Family by Mike Dash, a well-researched and meticulously laid out tome that offers those interested in the genesis of the Italian-American mob a detailed history of its main players and all the social, economic and political variables necessary for its growth and survival.

Dash touts a smallish man with a deformed hand, Giuseppe Morello, as the first Capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) in what was then the ghetto of Little Italy. Also known as The Clutch Hand, Morello hailed from the small and very impoverished town of Corleone, Sicilly (Si, amici, the same Corleone Mario Puzzo wrote about and Francis Ford Coppola made ubber famous in his iconic Godfather mob films). Already a member of the honored society in Sicilia, Morello came to New York and apparently made a few attempts at living a legit life. Between bad economic times and the way Italians were treated back in the day (forgetaboutit), he returned to old habits (counterfeiting—and not very good counterfeiting as one of his forged notes was described as having “11 misspellings”)—and after finding himself in trouble, fled to New Orleans, Louisiana (where other Sicilians had found refuge). After a few years of picking cotton (yep, you read it right), the Morello family gave up on the American dream via killing oneself and returned to New York where the Clutch Hand reformed his mob family exclusively with people from his home town of Corleone, Sicilly.

The First Family provides individual stories of terror, extortion and revenge (Sicilian vendetta style), and, of course, murder (as is part of its subtitle) and those are as intriguing as the story of how poorly the police (back in the day) pursued the criminals of Little Italy and Italian Harlem, but it most accurately provides us with the harsh reality of what all ethnic criminal organizations/mobs ultimately do to their own people, especially when the pickings are most ripe (when they first immigrate to a new country). It was interesting to read how law enforcement back then also relied on informants within or close to the mobs to pursue arrests (but much more often than not, without convictions).

I can’t recount what the author offers in this very interesting book about the genesis of the American Mob because it would do a disservice to some very polished writing. The First Family is a very well documented account of what happened to Italian immigrants shoved into the ghetto called Little Italy; how some violently fought their way across the five points (the Gangs of New York Five Points) and eventually established what became a national coalition of organized crime. Me, I’m still fascinated with this stuff much the same way I’m fascinated by the American Civil War. It is an undeniable slice of Americana that remains intriguing. Dash makes no excuses for the ruthless Giuseppe Morello or any other form of organized crime. I used to, but that has more to do with what were personal insecurities than reality.

More than worth the price of the investment, The First Family is a must read for anyone interested in organized crime, the economics of an immigrant underclass trying to survive in a capitalist society, immigration, law enforcement, Italian and/or American history. Knucksline's best non-fiction read of 2009 to date.

Oh, Sarah … When the McCain campaign first announced her candidacy and she gave her first GOP stump speech at their convention, I thought, “Oh, boy. If this hot looking momma knows her stuff, the Obama campaign is in big trouble.” I wanted a good political dog fight between the two major parties (both of which I’d like to see disappear before the next sunset) and McCain was clearly about to get his clock cleaned by Obama and the Do Nothing Democrats (which, I enjoy pointing out as often as possible, are doing exactly that now that they have a clear majority—absolutely nothing for the citizens who voted them into power). I was hoping Palin had that special something to counter the obvious charisma Obama brought to the campaign. My assumption was she had half a brain, knew her policy as well as she could skin a moose and that she would be able to answer media questions without looking like a complete moron. After months of keeping her safely away from public Q&A’s, McCain and the GOP finally had to let Sarah speak without her convention script and she uttered these gems while being interviewed by Charlie “throw me a softball” Gibson:

GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

I remember turning to the Principessa Ann Marie and saying: “Huh?”

A few minutes later, I threw my hands up and said what Peggy Noonan had said when Palin's name was first announced as McCain's VP choice: “It’s over.”

There are so many Palinisms to poke fun at, but why bother (other than it is fun to do so)? I’m not sure if she’s as dumb as she speaks, but then George Bush turned out to be twice as dumb as he sounded. Her recent attempts to equate Obama’s half-assed attempt at “reforming” health care with “evil” was pushing the envelope a bit too far for Knucksline.

Hey, she’s been an amusing dingbat since her first date with reality (the Gibson interview) and then came her further dismantling with each subsequent interview but the joke has been over long enough. Her attempts to stick her face into national politics should be as funny as the Amy Poehler rap on SNL or the Tina Fey skits (which are mostly Palin’s words—see the 2nd half of the linked video), but sadly her national rebirth isn't funny. Palin is one scary broad.

Palin is also a moron; maybe a hot moron, but a moron nevertheless. Her brand of politics is as ugly as she claims to have been attacked in the media. We’d like to believe she’s only doing more damage than she’s already done to her party, but the truth of the matter is there are still people who champion her cause (which is to champion a political party that brought this country to its financial knees over an eight year period, started wars it had no idea how to pursue {never mind end} and permitted the fleecing of American workers).

This country needs national healthcare AND IT CAN AFFORD IT. End the two dopey wars none of us can explain anymore and demand that corporate America quit treating its workforce like the $2.00 an hour hires they outsource to Chennai, India (RR Donnelly, Goldman Sachs, et al) and elsewhere. Let Sarah speak (she’s nothing more significant than fodder for SNL), but start to hold accountable those with the keys to the car NOW. Republicans blew it the last 8 years. Democrats have been blowing it since I can remember (most obviously by letting Republicans win back to back to back elections starting with Reagan and DE-FUCKING-REGULATION). Now they have the power and the majorities necessary to do what they promised in the last presidential campaign. Obama looks good and he can speak. He’s as cool as Chili Palmer, but so far he can’t unite his party, never mind “reach across the aisle.” He took Bush’s lead on the bailouts and he’s given Wall Street everything it wanted. He’s done little contrary to George Bush since he’s in office and it is starting to sound like “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

DOC exaggeratingly called Obama a thug in his last comeback … Knucksline thinks Obama needs to act a lot more thuggish if he wants to get anything done. He needs to kick some Democratic ass and fast. He needs to use the bully pulpit doing what he does best—taking it to the people. He may be an historical figure by the mere fact of his election, but to be a great president he needs to accomplish things for the people who elected him (not the healthcare industry or Wall Street or Defense contractors).

Last week, blowhard Keith Olbermann pasted a few of the Blue Dog Democrats most responsible for starting the process of killing the already watered down version of national health care in one of his drama queen (and we mean that as in he's way too dramatic for reality--not that he's gay) “special comments” … and while the wars (both of them) no longer seem to concern Keith-O, his attack on the blue dogs was exactly what Obama needs to do if he wants to shed the Obambi image he seems to be polishing of late.

At this stage of the game, Knucksline continues to see Sarah Palin as a comic figure and Barrack Obama as the first minority president. Okay, great. So what has either done for you lately?

It isn’t much, but we will say this for Sarah Palin: At least she makes us laugh.

Where’s Hugo? ... Home torturing his mommy and daddy, no doubt. The Hugonator was picked up Saturday night a few minutes before Rigoletto had a nervous breakdown and Spartacus declared Jihad (we’ve learned the chunky grey mouse’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was snuck into the country in a middle eastern Galabya). The Principessa Ann Marie was getting way too attached to the little fella, but by Friday night (after stepping in one of Hugo’s deposits in the Casa Stella master bedroom) Knucks had reverted to using his favorite speech patterns.

To wit: “C_cks_cker, motherf_cker … Jesus f_cking Christ on the cross … motherf_ck me in the …”

Well, yous get the idea.

*The boss forced me to clean those last lines up a bit. 99.9% against all forms of censorship, Knucksline went into long negotiations through the night (the original post had no underscores replacing characters) ... but this morning, the union busting Principessa won out (by hiding my coffee can).
Oy-vey ...

And the DOC says ...
Chaz, my man, what is with this relentless Sarah-bashing?

Did she send back that lingerie you mailed her? Don't take it so personally. Some people don't like leather underwear.

I would guess of the 48% of the people who voted for McCain, 30% of them voted for him because of her. I know I did. I'm sick of the elite cookie cutter politicians. We've had all the grads from Princeton and Harvard and where do we stand right now? Lets for once try someone from the University of Wallamaloo or wherever the hell she went. She seems honest. Oh, you want more than that. Granted she is not as slick as the Bamster or as smart as "W", but lets hear her views on outsourcing. She never got far enough to be asked that.

Her kid is in Afghanistan. I don't think the Bamster knows where that is. Who do you think will end that war sooner? Also, remember that she was running for vice president. You should be comparing her to the Hair Club for Men imbecile that we currently have. I kept hearing "a heartbeat away from the presidency". Yeah, so is Joe. Good luck sleeping tonight.

I'm beginning to think that McCain never really wanted to win and they set Sarah up for the fall. Why else would you schedule her, with no coaching, for two hostile interviews right out of the gate. Why not put her on Hannity and O'Reilly to get her feet wet. No, they put her on with that pedantic putz staring over his granny glasses like she is Oliver Twist.

So until the Bamster does something you like... lay off Sarah.

As a sidenote: You would think that in a house with 2 dogs and a powerlifter, someone would grow a pair and kill the freaking rodent. . . just a thought.

Your best pal,

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Principessa … Hugo II … A Really Good Book … the Deficit (a Knucksline rant) …


49 and looking fine ... The Principessa Ann Marie, the boss, the wife, the old ball and chain ... she turns 49 domani and has never looked better. She was gifted a portable Jacuzzi a month or so ago when the ugly one managed to crack our windshield throwing a driving fit but it’ll be dinner at our favorite Jersey Joint Friday night (at the Portuguese Manor), some bubbly (she loves her champagne) and a 15 minute drum solo?

Oy-vey ...

Happy Birthday, doll face…

Hugo II ... no, the baby bichon hasn’t been cloned or anything, but he has joined us in bed for nighty-nights, usually cuddling against one of our legs. Of course this doesn’t permit moi to sleep very well since I constantly toss and turn during the night (bad back/worse mattress) so there’s that to dim the cute image no doubt most of yous are forming of a quietly napping puppy. In fact, this cute puppy does nothing quietly ... he’s a yapper and when he wants something, he lets you know it (over and over and over again).

Rigoletto isn’t exactly thrilled with the visit, but has learned to deal with the intruder to his space. The Rigonator continues to sleep above our heads on our pillows while the visiting bichon definitely prefers the lower end of the bodies/bed. We were starting to wonder about Rigoletto’s apparent calm at all the fusing going on around him, but this morning I caught him sharing a conversation with Spartacus and jotted some of it down.

“Who brought that thing, the flame thrower?” Spartacus asked.

“Nah, that was his idea,” Rigoletto said.


Rigoletto shrugged.

“That guy,” Spartacus said. “Can he get any dumber?”

“He’s alright,” Rigoletto said. “Except when he’s playing those damn drums and I’m trying to nap.”

“Yeah, what’s with Gene Krupa? I thought he was busy trying to be Hercules.”

“He’s over that, I think. He gets a fire up his ass every so often, tries different things. Now it’s drums. Before it was powerlifting.”

“He powerlifts his fat ass out of bed every morning. You’d think that be enough.”

“Yeah, but that knee is giving him real trouble. He almost dropped me a couple times carrying me up the stairs.”

“Carrying you? What are you, some kind of prince?”

“Watch yourself, mouse, I was here long before you and I’ll be here long after you’re gone.”

“Hey, I ain’t afraid a’you, pal. I’m just as big as you now.”

“Maybe, but I got her wrapped around my paws and she’s got a lot more gas in her flamethrower tank than she needs to stir fry your mouse ass.”

There was some bit of grumbling and then the alarm went off and I could no long hear them.

The above was written a few days ago ... this morning I’m liking his name a bit more ... YOU GO ... has a nice ring to it. Hugo had the runs yesterday ... oh, joy ... the Principessa Ann Marie managed to spoil Hugo in 5 days flat (and she’s now up early preparing his chicken so he loses the squirts she insists he developed after he had beef the night before).

Me, I’m in serious back pain again ... mostly from trying to avoid turning YOU GO into a tiny shag carpet ... he likes to cuddle against my back now ... which leaves me with about 4 inches of bed room before the drop to the floor (which would lead to the drop to the living room and then the basement).

“YOU GO,” Knucks said. “Yes, good doggie, YOU GO ... can’t wait ... YOU GO. Yes, YOU GO soon ... very soon.”

Vey iz mir ...

A Really Good Book ... The First Family (a non-fiction book by Mike Dash) about the The Birth of the American Mafia is both intriguing and illuminating so far (I’m just 50 pages in but looking very forward to reading more later today). Consider this a teaser ...

The Deficit (a Knucksline rant) ... is out of control, so says everyone against national health insurance ... but Knucksline has to wonder about the costs of these two wars (estimated at $720 million per day back in September of ’07). You can probably add a zero or two for 2009 but that doesn’t seem to bother the administration that promised change in Washington. I guess they meant we’d refocus our costs in lives and money from the “wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” to the right one? We’re supposed to get out of Iraq in 2011. I guess when you do something wrong, you need to stick with it at least until the year before another presidential election.

Where have all the war protestors gone, by the way?

Change my ass.

Not that the Republicans have any answers for ANYTHING. They seem content to sit back and watch the wheels come off much the same way the Democrats sat back and watched George Bush run the country into the ground (giving him pretty much everything he wanted even after they held a majority in Congress).

Only Ralph Nader seems to offer real change, but liberal democrats seem more content throwing barbs at the right wing of the Republican Party than demanding their savior do some saving. But let’s face it, most liberal democrats are a pubic hair to the left of blue dog democrats (or how could they vote for a President/administration that refused to acknowledge gay marriage, continues to fight two wars (for God only knows what reason anymore) and bails out Wall Street without protecting American jobs. Honestly, does it get anymore pro business than that?

The economy hasn’t rebounded an iota and the record profits Goldman Sachs reported last week were off the backs of us taxpaying slobs (most of their earnings came from AIG, who paid them with OUR bailout bucks). Nowhere in any legislation favorable to big business were their stipulations for American workers and the cutbacks on basic benefits across the board for workers (what many believe are corporations taking full advantage of the “crisis”) has returned many workers’ benefits to the 1930’s.

I guess that’s change.

We have a HUGE deficit, but nobody seems to care about the little guy. The one thing this country can do for us is provide health care but suddenly we have to ignore the cost of both wars and the bailouts and tell the little guy, “Sorry, you’ll just have to sacrifice a little more.”

I guess that means more change … like a middle class tax increase?

Make believe I’m (that blowhard) Keith Olbermann here: “That, Madams and Sirs, is not fair!”

Okay, don’t make believe I’m that dick, but realize there really is a third option the next time you go to the polls. Just ignore either major party and vote your conscience instead of against what you find repulsive. If enough “liberal democrats” did that, guys like Ralph Nader could no longer be ignored; big business might actually have to sweat (as opposed to pouring bottled water on their foreheads during one of their Sheryl Crowe corporate getaways that cost US millions of dollars just to make it look like they were sweating).

Or you can do what so many managers of corporations suggest their workers do: which is to shut up and be grateful you still have a job. If, of course, you still have one.



Chaz, Chaz, Chaz,

You really have to get off that Nader kick. He's been running for president since Woodstock and if you add all the results together he couldn't come up with 10% . The more pressing issue is how we stop the new guy from spending all the money in the bank. Woops, too late, he's already done that.

And what about the new "Enemies List". We are supposed to report anyone badmouthing the Healthcare plan to I wonder how many black flags you and I have. And the media doesn't think this is a little "Third Reichish"? People bitching at the town hall meetings are being labeled as unruly mobs and Pelosi sees them carrying swastikas. 10% of the country is out of work and the congress just ordered 3 Gulfstreams at 200 million smackeroos.

Can you say "Elitist Pig"?

Personally, Chaz, I like the idea of a third party. In reality though it tends to take votes away from the 2nd best guy and allows the 3rd best (worst) guy to win. So, I don't want to hear any more of this Nader shit. We have to get rid of this Chicago thug. In 2012 I don't care if BO is running against the Sham-Wow guy. You vote for the Sham-Wow guy. Capische?

Thanks for your time,

PS: Happy Birthday to the Principessa. I'm sure she appreciated you telling her age to all your minions. No wonder you've been married 12 times.