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).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dogmouth ... Little Charlie Stella ... Pepper spraying punks ...


Dogmouth, a play by John Steppling (Theatre for the New City) ... Off-off Broadway veteran, Stephan Morrow, provides a powerful performance loaded with energy and grit in this dark tale of dark men (Vietnam Veterans) living among Southwestern Rails in the Arizona desert. Morrow doubles as director and lead (Dogmouth) in this Spartan (as meant to be) production of the John Steppling play. Dogmouth is the leader of a hobo gang of vets and a former dog owner (the fighting kind) determined to take down a challenge from another gang leader. Morrow is relentless energy in this no holds barred/no curse unmentioned, play about a man with the worldview of an attack dog. Terry (Dogmouth) has a seemingly punch-drunk sidekick (Becker) wonderfully played by Ray Wasik and a way younger, naive and pregnant girlfriend (Nyah) played by Courtney Lynn Pierchski. There’s also a fight dog breeder, (Weeks) convincingly played by L.B. Williams) and a few of the railroad lawmen in constant search of Hobos they can bully, and worse, often hurt.

Wasik was particularly convincing with the nervous twitching and facial and body tics many a Vietnam Vet was left with after one too many shellings they can’t forget. Becker is sent to kill the competition gang leader, but his nerves get the best of him and he returns to the desert without having fully accomplished his mission; a wounded man/dog is not a dead one. An exchange about his having to head to Mexico after he’s failed and his dislike of all things Mexican (food and people) was a welcomed moment of genuine levity eventually disrupted by his strangulation.

Courtney Lynn Pierchoski’s riveting scene the night she’s taken to a hospital to give birth was the highlight of the night. A young woman fresh from the torment of an abusive father falls for an abusive man and carries his baby; one of life’s unfortunate ironies. Pierchoski delivers the final blow in straight narration from the hospital where she’s had her baby and (speaking of ironies) has named him after her abusive father.

Dogmouth is powerful stuff and although there’s no fairytale ending to send people home feeling better, they’ll go home thinking about all the open endings of the characters they’ve just been introduced to minus the one who doesn’t survive the bloodlust and paranoia of a man trained to kill. Poor Becker ...

There’s one more performance of Dogmouth tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. at the Theatre for the New City. 1st Avenue and 10th Street. Don’t miss it.

Little Charlie Stella ... okay, amici, it’s time to anti-up. Although this kid is not a relative of mine, he’s more than that; he’s a relative of us all. I keep a Google alert for my name for possible reviews to my dopey books and this one came about a month or so ago, but because I didn’t recognize the forum, I deleted it. Then it came again a few days ago and I opened it and this is what I found (please click on the link).

Please visit his site and give what you can if you can. This is my third request for donations for a charitable cause this year. The other two are here:

Charles E Stella Fund
North Royalton, Ohio
USA 44133

Do the right thing if you can ... give what you can and if not here, to someone in need somewhere (whether it’s food for the hungry or clothes for the cold). As our politicians cut off the need so many require in order to protect the wealthy, they leave it up to all of us to do what we can. Sooner or later, as we follow through on what the greedy refuse to acknowledge, perhaps we’ll all come to the conclusion that we don’t need a government to protect the wealthy at the expense of those most in need; that we don’t need the bastards at all. Giving is a good start.

Here now, end of pontification.

The Power of Pepper Spray ... it takes a real man to use pepper spray like the jerkoff in this video. Imagine one of your kids is catching that shit in their faces? Life has often proven arrogant nonchalant-tough guys like this cop are the same ones who hide under their bed once challenged without their gun, badge and backup. Just following orders, huh? Maybe it was time to grow a pair of balls and question the order. And weren’t the police fortunate to have their batons with them? Even if it didn’t look like a violent crowd, you never know (sarcasm intended). Was moving those kids really that important? Were they really upsetting the flow of foot traffic on campus. I’m 325 pounds and I think I could’ve found a way between those kids ... Should the chancellor and head of police be fired? Post-haste ... and so should the moron wielding the pepper spray like he was cooling off kids during a heat wave. And that last asshole posing with his baton ... something tells me he’ll make a fathead from that picture so he can admire himself through retirement.

Not all cops are bad guys, but like Ben Whitmer said in a terrific interview with the especially loquacious one, Len Wanner, over at The Crime of It All, “... I don’t ever again need to play subservient to some twenty-five-year-old with a head full of Jason Statham movies and three hours a year of range time.”

What a collection of storm-trooping punks too many of the cops at UC Davis appear to be; the kind that wouldn’t think of pulling any of that shit without their weapons, badges and brigade strength backup.

There’s no point in handicapping my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills tomorrow (or anymore for the rest of the season. Like one of the Fish (dolphins) said last week, “Buffalo gave up.” Fred Jackson is out for the season (not that they were using him the last two games), so the no huddle, no first downs, no touchdowns fiasco will continue ... and coupled with a defense that plays on its heels, we should run the table and lose the rest of our games.

Like Dandy Don used to sing: “Turn out the light, the party’s over ...”


Music (for Rolling Stones Ray Wasik) ... gimme shelter

And then there’s this version:

And then there’s my favorite Stones’ song ... gees, I wonder why ...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Debates ... Penn State ... Rex Ryan ... the Ills ... Happy Thanksgiving ...


The Debate(s) … the clown act that has been the revolving (and never ending) Republican Primary debates took a serious turn (depending on your definition of serious) last night when the front runner looked about as transparent and void of original thought as his Ken Doll appearance. Jon Huntsman first handed Mitt his ass over proposed troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and the Rominator seemed so anxious to respond with a conservative-like comeback, he stepped in it big time. Link from Fox News:

ROMNEY: Well, let me respond. Are you suggesting, Governor, that we just take all our troops out next week or what -- what's your proposal?

HUNTSMAN: Did you hear what I just said?

Newt, sounding rational/compassionate (whackjob conservatives find fault with these two words in the same sentence (rational/compassionate) apparently is in trouble for doing so. Then again, this is the guy who can obviously obliterate Obama in a debate (forget substance and facts (it’s never troubled the GOP before), he’s just better at it than Obama).

Ron Paul did his thing (sounding rational/cold), but moving forward on his “free market” mantra never includes undoing all the damage corporate America did ... forget the bailouts and job losses, etc. … how about undoing the 401K damage, ending the outsourcing, putting some of the SOB's in jail?  There’s never a penalty with these “free market” proponents. We just have to move on in their world view, which is perhaps why they never bother defending the founding fathers so dear to them (men of wealth who set up a government for their own benefit, neglecting entire races of people because “they were too busy forming a government”? and who took on the government positions themselves--democratically elected by the few property owners who voted ... and somehow we're supposed to genuflect at the mention of them).  No thanks.  I think I'll pass on that one.

Oy vey …

But even Michelle Bachmann didn’t blow up or sound as weak as the alleged frontrunner (Romney), although her stance on immigration (apparently Gingrich’s great flub) is about as absurd as the war on drugs. This government is really going to expel all those here illegally? Isn’t that taking on a task pretty unachievable (i.e., the drug war)? That said, it was interesting watching her declaw the brainless one (Perry) ...

And then there was Romney spewing his standard anti-Obama, bullet point sound bytes … looking about as stiff as a cardboard cutout. Frankly, of all the clowns in the GOP act, he scares me the most … maybe it’s because our current President proved such an incompetent (with all his alleged wealth of knowledge and preacher-like rhetoric (at times performed in preacher-like voice), Romney always comes across as a used car salesman.

And that is the real absurdity of our upcoming presidential election; that an absolute incompetent will probably extend for another four years what he hope and changed us into falling for in 2008. Tom Friedman defended his record in the Times today ... of course he left out a few things, but I won’t bother listing them here (like how labor has been set back at least half a century, thank you very much) ... we could always go to Youtube and search for “Shoes for Obama” again.

So, with no GOP candidate to take at all serious, it looks like Bush III gets to be Bush IV.

And here's the weird as shit thing about it ... so-called liberal democrats who hated Bush no end, now think his double deserves another term.  Oy friggin’ vey …

Leave the political party and take the cannoli ...

Penn State names a former head of the FBI as their personal bullshit spinner ... the one thing you can say about the executive committee at Penn State is they have HUMONGOUS BALLS. We’re all supposed to be impressed by this act of self-sacrifice, except there’s as much legitimacy in this fiasco as there apparently was to the pure persona of their football program/university. What they deserve until they open up their past hidden internal investigations (if there ever were any), something they managed to keep from public scrutiny via that bastion of legitimacy (lobbying), is a complete boycott of future enrollment. Parents shouldn’t let their kids attend; kids/adults should stay away until Penn State comes clean.

A former FBI director in business for himself (with no legal criminal authority) as a private consultant/investigation entity? Please. If that doesn’t stink of further corruption, nothing does.

The truth hurts ... remember when Rex said he was challenging somebody else to beat the Patriots? ... how about your team earns their way into the playoffs for a change instead of back-dooring it in year after year?  And please, fatso, don't take it out on the fans ...

Speaking of bad news ... as it turns out once again, my Ills suck ...

My New York State Buffalo Ills … watching their defensive line get pushed up and down the field like a blocking sled the past three games has turned the ugly one’s prodigious stomach upside down. Chan Gailey opted for yet another gimmick offense (which has obviously been figured out as evidenced by the 7 and 8 points (1 touchdown in the last 2 games) and he’s neglected his defense … and now that both have been exposed, we have punt and kick return debacles to look forward to (to complete the meltdown). Let me know when Mr. Wilson no longer owns the Bills and somebody who wants to win is in charge. Maybe then we’ll focus on the fundamentals; blocking, tackling, running the ball and playing defense with aggression. It is now official, we stink … again. I doubt we win another game this year and I can only hope that should the football Gods smile on us one or two more times, it’s against the Yets and/or the Cheatriots. And if they can’t, the football Gods should feel free to take this disgraceful pile of shit further north to Canada (where they can give up a frigid in November-December home field advantage 3-5 games a year instead of just 1--morons) or out to the west coast ... or to Mars.

We’ll be bringing the grub to Momma Stella’s domani ... antipasta, brocolli rabe, sausage, meatballs, rigatoni ... and the main course of lasagna ... and then at some point the friggin’ bird (which nobody will want to eat anyway) ... then comes the cannoli ...

Happy Thanksgiving all a’yous ...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bad Moon Rising ... Game of Thrones ... Chekhov ... Time ... Ills-Fins ...


Having read a few of the McCain series, I was smiling and nodding as soon as I cam across an early passage where Sam mentions the Sitar (and how mostly annoying it is to have to listen to one—music to torture one’s ears has always been my definition). It is that sense of timeline/nostalgia/Americana (so what Ravi Shankar was Indian? I remember being tortured by his sitar at the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden).

And let’s face it ... people went to the bathroom in masses when two things happened back in the day ... Ravi Shanker took the stage or a twenty-minute drum solo began.

Gorman presents what many of us assume are the good old days while always reminding us there was some bad days as well; Vietnam, long awaited civil rights legislation waiting to take hold, etc.. In Bad Moon Rising, McCain is confronted with the death of the daughter of a wealthy libertarian of sorts. Paul Manwearing was recently widowed and quickly remarried but the stepmom to his two daughters is well versed in remarrying. Paul’s daughters were not happy with the new woman in their lives and each dealt with it in her own way; seeking attention from their father in self destructive ways—how kids in such situations often seek attention.

There’s also a high school football star with very dysfunctional parents forever fighting one another (at the top of their lungs) making their home a place not to be. A multitude of potential suspects to the murder of Manwearing’s daughter will keep you guessing throughout. There’s a hippie commune that drives many of the good folk of Black River Falls somewhat crazy and preacher Cartwright does his usual fire and brimstone routine (something that drives Sam crazy throughout the series), but if there’s anything missing (for this reader) from Bad Moon Rising, it is more of the back and forth between Sam and Judge Whitney (Sam’s Republican Alter ego) … and if I’m not mistaken, she didn’t even shoot a rubber band at him this go. A reformed Judge Whitney? Say it ain’t so, Mr. Gorman.

Sam is always fun to read about and Bad Moon Rising is no disappointment to this wonderful series.

Game of Thrones ... a co-worker convinced me to take a look-see at this HBO series featuring Sean Bean ... when I saw one of my favorite actresses (Sibel Kekilli) was also in the series (begins appearing in episode 9), I had no choice. So, me and the Principessa Ann Marie woke up Saturday morning and started from episode 1 with HBO’s On Demand. Most of yous know I’ve never been one for things that are of the supernatural ilk (whether it be vampires, wizards, kung fu clowns who fly while kicking, etc.), but this Tolkien-like soap opera is really terrific. I was not a big fan of David Benioff’s writing (after that dud with Brad Pitt--Troy), but he’s on the mark in The Game of Thrones. We loved it ... both of us ... so much so we sat through the entire 10 episodes Saturday and I was left dazzled by the baby dragons.   

“That is so friggin’ cool,” I said.

Alright, I probably didn’t say “friggin” but yous get the point.

Sibel Kekilli was one of the leads in Head-On, the German-Turkish movie I’ve now watched half a dozen times ...

Sibel has won the Euro version of the Oscar twice now ...

Chekhov on kindle ... free ... that’s right, amici. Friggin’ free ... I’m rereading several short stories and plays (Uncle Vanya ... Three Sisters ... The Cherry Orchard) ... for friggin’ free!

Now that my first MFA semester is over with, I’m a different kind of overwhelmed ... back in touch with some of the cast of a play I wrote a long time ago, I’m working on its sequel while going over edits on Rough Riders and working on a few short stories. And I officially started as a permanent employee at the job I was temping at this past week ... not enough hours in the day, amici ... not even close to enough.

Until my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills regain some measure of respect for themselves, they are the NY Ills ... today they play the dolphinations of Miami ... win and get some respect. Lose and start working on next year’s draft picks ...

Oy vey ...


Saturday, November 12, 2011

They were Penn State ...


Although I chimed in at a few blog sites over this story, I purposely avoided blogging about it until today. I have been a Joe Paterno fan for a long time. I have been a Penn State fan for a long time. I’m also, as most of yous know, a huge football fan. I sport a silly Buffalo Bills logo on one of my arms and have a casual dress wardrobe consisting of 95% Buffalo Bills attire. And, yes, even my wallet is a Buffalo Bills wallet.

And yes, it’s silly.

What happened at Penn State over the course of anywhere from 1994-1998-2002-2011 is anything but silly (if, in fact, those dates are accurate--they could well be outdated by the time I post this blog). You can read about the Sandusky/Penn State timeline here (it is ominous).

Unfortunately, this appears to have been, and I have no doubt it was, yet another corporate cover-up; men in charge of a very wealthy institution protecting a brand above the welfare of innocent kids (those we know about and those we probably never will know about).

Jerry Sandusky is what he is, a pedophile, pure and simple. How he got away with so much rape and sexual abuse was facilitated by a community of intelligent men seeking to protect their brand at all costs. Whether they thought he might stop or not is irrelevant. Whether they thought he would go away after his being caught by one of their own (the 28 year old, 6’5” former QB star at Penn State and then graduate assistant) in mid-rape of a boy who “looked to be about 10 years old” is irrelevant. What they didn’t do is what counts.

From the Grand Jury report: As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught.

What happened next: The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen. His father told the graduate assistant to leave the building and come to his home. The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to promptly report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno ("Paterno"), head football coach of Penn State. The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home, where he reported what he had seen.

Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant's report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley ("Curley"), Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno's immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.

Why the graduate assistant didn’t stop the rape, we can safely assume, had much more to do with his future than anything else. He was, after all, eventually hired as a paid assistant coach on the Penn State staff. Until today, he wasn’t even “on leave.”

The grand jury report is horrific to read. What is at least equally horrific was the handling of this pedophile by the football head coach and the university. What we can read thus far is that Jerry Sandusky retired in 1999, one year after winning an Assistant Coach of the Year award (an award that would enable him to take most head coaching jobs at other schools, or an uptick to the NFL--he coached the linebackers and Penn State is known as “Linebacker U.”) Why he left so suddenly might have a lot more to do with a charge brought to the campus police in 1998 from the mother of Victims 4-6 (in the Grand Jury report). That “retirement” appears to have been a deal unless you choose not to see it that way. If you’re Jerry Sandusky, it appears to have been a pretty good deal, since essentially nothing happened to him in any way shape or form. He was only 55, relatively young for a football coach. You can read about his abrupt retirement here.

Again from the Grand Jury report: Detective Schreffler testified that he and State College Police Department Detective Ralph Ralston, with the consent of the mother of Victim 6, eavesdropped on two conversations the mother of Victim 6 had with Sandusky on May 13, 1998, and May 19, 1998. The mother of Victim 6 confronted Sandusky about showering with her son, the effect it had on her son, whether Sandusky had sexual feelings when he hugged her naked son in the shower and where Victim 6's buttocks were when Sandusky hugged him Sandusky said he had showered with other boys and Victim 6's mother tried to make Sandusky promise never to shower with a boy again but he would not. She asked him if his "private parts" touched Victim 6 when he bear-hugged him. Sandusky replied, "I don't think so...maybe." At the conclusion of the second conversation, after Sandusky was told he could not see Victim 6 anymore, Sandusky said, "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." Detective Ralston and the mother of Victim 6 confirm these conversations.

Jerry Lauro, an investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, testified that during the 1998 investigation, Sandusky was interviewed on June 1, 1998, by Lauro and Detective Schreffler. Sandusky admitted showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that it was wrong. Detective Schreffler advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and Sandusky said that he would not.

And from Victim #4’s testimoney: Victim 4 stated that Sandusky would wrestle with him and maneuver him into a position in which Sandusky's head was at Victim 4's genitals and Victim 4's head was at Sandusky's genitals. Sandusky would kiss Victim 4's inner thighs and genitals. Victim 4 described Sandusky rubbing his genitals on Victim 4's face and inserting his erect penis in Victim 4's mouth. There were occasions when this would result in Sandusky ejaculating. He testified that Sandusky also attempted to penetrate Victim 4's anus with both a finger and his penis. There was slight penetration and Victim 4 resisted these attempts.

The Grand Jury report is available everywhere and it provides an ugly and graphic image of what pedophiles do; their Modus Operandi (which is incredibly similar between all the victims) and their inability to control themselves.

Where does Joe Paterno fit in all this? If you chose to ignore his own admission of guilt in not doing enough (“I wish I had done more”), perhaps you can excuse him for looking the other way. Joe Paterno was Penn State, but let’s make him much less than his iconic image as the most immaculate football coach of all time. Let’s just make him a head football coach ... or a graduate assistant ... or a janitor (like the one who also witnessed Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy but was too afraid of losing his job to go further than telling his co-workers and supervisor about it--that too is in the grand jury report).

It is the cumulative inaction of the graduate assistant, the head coach and the janitor (aside from university officials notified from as early as 1998) that permitted a known pedophile to continue abusing young boys, but there is no doubt it was the head coach’s responsibility to make sure Sandusky's actions were exposed the moment he was alerted.

The Graduate Assistant in a more confident moment?

Why Paterno chose to go with legal protocol over the morally right thing to do has much more to do with protecting the brand (the program, his legacy and the university) than it has to do with him being a bad man. I doubt Joe Paterno is a bad man at all, but I have no doubt that his inaction in this situation was based on his prioritization of the program/his legacy and the university above the welfare of innocent kids.

So, yes, he should’ve been fired. That should’ve happened a few minutes after this grand jury report was made public. The graduate assistant (and receivers coach, Mike McQueary) should’ve been fired a half second after Paterno. McQueary is probably the hardest person in this entire fiasco to understand--how he could leave the premises where he witnessed a boy who looked to be about 10 years old being raped to call his daddy is beyond incredulous.

I suspect there will be a lot more Penn State officials (and coaches) who should be filing for unemployment and we’ll learn about them as this investigation continues. I doubt the two pieces of shit (Tim Curley and Gary Schultz) arrested for perjury will ever do any time, but they should. Ultimately, at least by official protocol, they were most responsible to do something other than cover up the crimes of rape going on in their own backyard.

Ultimately this scandal was all about protecting the institution and its program above the welfare of innocent kids, but let’s face it, that’s usually the case when lives are counterbalanced against money. Penn State football is worth more than $50 million a year to the university. Hopefully, this scandal will cost them ten times that amount.

Penn State will be rocked hard for this one. As I understand it, a few high school star athletes have already rescinded their letters of intent to play there. Why should they attend Penn State? They won’t have Joe Pa. They won’t have much respect choosing Penn State and they won’t know how much further this scandal will grow (or whether or not the program will be suspended, etc.). All of that was avoidable had one of the many involved in the cover-up done the right thing.

The recruiting exodus from Penn State will not be so easy to undo over the coming years.

Two columns this week in the New York Times were pretty consistent with what I’ve heard so many people say in person. One, between Gail Collins and David Brooks, deals with conflicting gender responses; some women want to see the program put to sleep, at least for a while, while men want to punish those responsible, but not the kids playing the games. The other article is by Maureen Dowd and it speaks to the shame of what happened at Penn State.

Dowd’s article contains this bit of irony I didn’t know of until I read her. Prosecutors suggest that the former coach, whose memoir is ironically titled “Touched,” founded the charity as a way to ensnare boys. They have charged Sandusky, now 67, with sexually assaulting eight boys he met there.

No music today, Amici. I wasn’t even supposed to blog about this because of how backed up I am on other projects/reviews, etc.

I will be posting a review here of Ed Gorman’s book, Bad Moon Rising next week. Patti Abott’s site will post a review of mine on John McFetridge’s Let It Ride ... and then I have a few dozen others to catch up with (Road Rules, The Suburbs of Heaven, etc.) ... a play to finish writing, a novel to address, and some short stories coming out of my ears but currently not landing anywhere.

And yes, that “stories coming out of my ears” was a segue for the Doc to go wild with ... although since his party of political choice seems to be coming apart at the lips, he has gone a bit silent.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Steinbeck ... Crime Factory: The First Shift ... Italia ... Go Bills ...


We have this bit on Saturday mornings, the Principessa Ann Marie and I ... I sleep late (5:00 a.m.) and go down to the computer and start in on whatever project I went to sleep thinking about the night before. This morning there were two short stories for my MFA class I wanted to work on; one a rewrite, the other something new. I’m down there a couple of extra hours because the wife stays up in bed with the dog to give me some extra alone time. Then I go up to do my business and she escapes downstairs with Rigoletto to feed him and put on the television.

Usually she puts on Law & Order and we watch a few reruns together before we head off to breakfast at the local diner a few blocks away, but this morning, when I return from the Casa Stella library (kindle in hand with a big smile--having just read some of Ed Gorman’s latest Sam McCain novel, Bad Moon Rising--review next week), what do I see but John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath on the television.

Steinbeck’s classic is one of my favorite of all time, especially the structure of the book, the descriptive narrative starts to chapters that embodied what was to come, but it is this passage that most epitomizes the theme.

This is the beginning—from “I” to “we”. If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I”, and cuts you off forever from the “we”.

Anyway, without getting preachy about this great work of American literature, it also reminded me of a duet by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello singing The Ghost of Tom Joad ...

Crime Factory: The First Shift ... Get this book, Amici ... some very fine writing in this here collection. The review on the link has this to say: I've read Tafoya's, Smith's, and Stella's contributions so far. Tafoya and Smith are established Detectives Beyond Borders favorites, and Stella became a new one with his story "The Decider," an act of workplace wish fulfillment that management might want to keep out of workers' hands.

Charles (not Charlie) Stella has returned from Italia with his bride ... and they visited the home town where momma Stella was born ... here are some of the pictures, including the church where she was baptized 82 years ago!

That's Charles (not Charlie) outside Momma Stella's home town.

Che Bella!

The house ...

The church ...

The square ...

Mangia ...


Lovers ... that's what I'm talking about ...

He can't help himself ...

The kids also went to Venice, Rome and Florence (and swore next time they'd actually visit the REAL ITALIA (Sicilia) rather than hang around with all those Swiss and French types up north ... more pictures coming from Venezia and Florence down the TK road.

Bills-Yets (Moonachie Green) ... Forgetaboutit ... we’ll rock Fatso and his Yets ...

Bills 35, Moonachie Green 17


One of Momma Stella’s favorites ... (Bad Woman) ...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Great Show ... Link to a Review ... Other stuff ...


The Principessa Ann-Marie and I saw a terrific show by a super talented lady (Deborah Karpel), a former co-worker from the Chrysler Building. Songs my Mother Never Taught me ... or Miracles was a one woman show (with an accompanying pianist) featuring comedy, family, nostalgia and the Mets! Mets! Mets! The Queens number Deborah (wrote) and performed was hilarious and my wife and I loved it. A kind of tribute to her parents that was as heartwarming as it was entertaining. Deborah sang Yiddish/Klezmer songs, Opera (from Le Nozze di Figaro) ... and that Queens Number that had us in stitches.

The house was packed (literally people sitting in the rafters) and we wish we could’ve hung around but we live in the wilds of New Jersey (many miles from 161 Chrystie Street), where, as it so happens, I used to play my two sons in our SBA championships (my home court in Little Italy when I lived there).

Tickets anyone? The NYPD Blue, ever vigilant (about not pepper spraying or beating women while being videoed on Youtube anymore) have better things to do ... so once I was in the city to pick up Ann Marie, I was early (as usual) and parked a few blocks away and read a book. At 5:00 p.m., when she gets out, I drove to her block and idled in front of her building. This was too great an assault on New York’s finest (by order of their BILLIONAIRE Mayor), [wouldn’t it be nice if the foot soldiers realized they’re screwing those in the same boat as they are?] so ... they blocked the car of a working slob as if I could race away from them (where THE FOCK was I going to go?) ... I was idling, engine running, windows open in case a traffic person told me to move on (what one would expect), but the NYPD doesn’t fool around. Instead of saying, “Hey, buddy (or fatso), you can’t park here. Move on.” Nope, not Bloomberg’s stormtroopers ... they blocked my car (like cameras were rolling) and one of them got out with his little ticket book (and a smile) and asked for my ID. Five minutes later, “Here you go, Sir” (very professional) ... a $115.00 ticket. Way to go Mayor Bloomberg! As a former NY’er who spent lots of coin in MY city, you (and IT) can kiss my coin goodbye, MF’er. My trips to the city will be seriously curtailed.


In Nine Kinds of Pain.

So, how are all of you doing out there financially? Don’t look now, but Wall Street had its best month since 2002 ... Yep, those “free markets” sure are working for all us average types. All that profit the “job creators” have now that we bailed them out ... well, I guess they’re waiting for the right opportunity to invest in America (as they like to say). Maybe once all the hospitals and schools are closed and a few hundred million of us die off, those annoying government regulations (that are never enforced anyway) will be gone and we can return to a minimum wage of, say, $3.00 an hour? Yep, those unemployment numbers should start dropping any day now ... any day ... prosperity is just around the corner ...

any day now ...

More homers makes for good baseball? Why not play on little league fields? I’m telling you, this is what makes me crazy ... the absolute ruination of the national past time. I really used to enjoy WATCHING baseball games ... I can remember running home from school as a kid to catch the St. Louis Cardinals playing the Detroit Tigers in an afternoon game ... and here my METS go and put an extra twist in the dagger of a game I can barely watch for two innings anymore. Shorten the fences? Again?

What I”m reading ... right now I’m having a blast reading John (Toronto Bills) McFetridge’s Let It Ride on kindle ... He is without a doubt, the Canadian Elmore Leonard ... how this guy isn’t selling like Leonard is beyond me ... great stuff. Full review next week.

Upcoming reads:

Finding a Girl in America: A Novella and Ten Stories, Andre Dubus.
The Suburbs of Heaven, Merle Drown (a reread)
Road Rules, Jim Winter

Bills-Yets ... well, Amici, the BIG MOUTH Yets go to Orchard Park to take on my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills ... and don’t think that NYPD “parking” ticket isn’t an issue come Sunday ... this one may be too close to call.

Yeah, right ... Bill 35, Yets 17.

Ground and pound this, fatso ...


And how 'bout that Contessa!