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, September 27, 2013

Broken Bad ... Spiral (Engrenages) is back! ... Hitchcock ... A new Movie Review blog … boicotta-barilla... this week in the NFL ...

Broken Bad ... How do I sum up my disappointment with Breaking Bad? While the rest of BB’s faithful followers hang on week to week, I try and imagine how much more they can destroy what had been an interesting show. Okay, so most shows require a suspension of reality, including The Sopranos. Taking bets in the Bada-Bing’s office? Really? Somebody say goodbye liquor license? And Game of Thrones has friggin’ dragons, but at least that show is supposed to be off the reality reservation. Breaking Bad has some wonderful storylines, but the last two episodes have made it impossible to digest.

SPOILER ALERT: A meth cooking/dealing gang of stone killers drops two DEA agents and there are only two witnesses, Walt and Jesse. Walt had spilled the beans while trying to bargain for his brother-in-law’s life (one of the DEA agents killed by the leader of the meth/killer gang). The beans being $80 million dollars in cash he’d hidden very nearby. What a predicament! There’s $80 million in cash, Walt and Jessy.

What’s a meth/killer gang leader to do? What, oh, what, to do?


First, the leader of the meth/killer squad finds it in his heart to allow at least one of the two witnesses to a double DEA murder live another day.

Yeah, right, makes perfect sense ... the one guy who can pin the murder of his brother-in-law and another DEA agent on you, the guy who was willing to give up $80 million to try and save his brother-in-law, you let HIM walk away.

Then the same leader of the meth/killer gang finds some George Bernard Shaw socialism in his heart. “What’s with all the greed?” he says ... and proceeds to give the one guy who can pin the murder of his brother-in-law and another DEA agent on him a barrel with $11 million in cash.

There’s no swallowing that shit. Like the great and powerful OZ said: “Not no way, not no how!”

But it doesn’t end there ... then Walt has a chance to flee the scene forever ... even while suffering what appears to be a serious relapse of his cancer ... so the guy who helps him escape far away to the mountains of New Hampshire, he also helps transport the $11 million without a thought of whacking Walt (because why would he want $11 million when he can spend the rest of his life risking jail time for harboring and aiding criminals?) ... even when Walt needs the guy to bring him cancer medicine, the good criminal doesn’t slip him something more deadly and have the $11 million all to himself. He likes driving all day and night, I guess.

Yet when Walt asks the same guy if he’ll deliver the money to his family after he dies, the guy answers: “Would you believe me if I said yes?”

Honor amongst thieves? Trust me, that’s a crock of shit.

And then there’s the whacking of Jesse’s girlfriend? Okay, so explain to me why in the world, after seeing the girl killed, Jesse would even consider cooking for them again? The kid? Please … Jesse was long gone before they whacked the girlfriend. And does he really think they wouldn’t kill the kid anyway as well?

Not that requiring Jesse to cook makes sense in the first place. Like the leader of the meth/killer gang first said, “We just hit lotto (or something along those lines). Why don’t need to do that (cook) anymore.” Then he’s convinced by the most interesting character in the series (to me), his whackjob nephew, to take more risks to make more millions. Right, after they let Walter walk away with $11 million? Sure, right, no problem.

Oy vey ...


And now I have a headache from shouting.

TK’s prediction ... like a co-worker (Reginald Elkins) suggested, Jesse blows up the meth lab. I say old Walt comes back and whacks a few of the killers (because this science high school teacher has defeated a friggin’ drug cartel already) before whacking himself ... everybody wants to see Jesse make it out alive ... that’ll be what keeps us watching, but if he runs for President and wins in a spinoff series, I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch it.

Better Call Saul? Now that I wanna see.


Spiral (Engrenages) is back! And I watched all of season four over four days ... and amici, it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this season ender will leave your mouth hanging open.

This season the focus is terrorism … but it picks up right where it left off last season, after Captain Berthaud whacks a serial killer. Now she’s under investigation for murder. And the jooooge (judge) is in hot water as well ... and Gilou is ALWAYS in the shit ... the gorgeous criminal lawyer, Josephine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot) surprises, as does her new partner, Pierre Clement ... and a character from the past returns ... and, well ... you’ll have to watch.

Spiral is something akin to our Law and Order, except about 100,000 x’s better … check it out on Netflix and/or DVD.

Like the kid says (about Audrey Fleurot, even though the above video isn’t from Spiral) … Magnifique!

Hitchcock ...

Last Saturday night while enjoying a bottle of Beneduce Vineyards Shotgun Red (my new favorite wine), and chomping on a pound or two of strip steak (the blood, the blood) … I finally watched Hitchcock.


Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson ... forgetaboutit, what a good movie. Hopkins remains one of my very favorite actors (he can do anything) ... same goes for Mirren ... and Scarlett is pretty fantastic herself ... it was tough having to get used to Danny Houston in a role outside of the Butcher in Magic City (which has been cancelled), but he was also damn fine as a writer looking to hustle his way into Hitchock’s good graces by using Hitchcock’s wife’s growing desire for attention. It’s all about the dynamics between the Hitchcock couple as it pertained to the movie Psycho, which they financed on their own dime ... TK really enjoyed the acting in this movie.


Looking down this week’s list of Oscarology: Vol 1, pt. 2 - Best Picture Nominees, I found a few I’ll definitely be taking a look-see at in the future. Fruitvale Station for one … Captain Phillips and definitely All is Lost (that one intrigues me big time because of the lack of dialogue) … I remember a great one with not much dialogue from back in the day (The French Connection) … it can be done.

What TK wants to know is will Cinema Bytes peer into the foreign film world? We’re still finding a lot more satisfaction with foreign flicks than the homemade market offers, although there are always some independent gems (usually with Michelle Williams somewhere in the mix).


Boicotta-Barilla ... The CEO of Barilla pasta doesn’t care to use gays in advertisements for his pasta ... he says his pasta is for traditional families ... TK says: what a dick. Read about it here ... and never buy another box of Barilla pasta ...


This week in the NFL … okay, so now that I’m back to par (8-8 week 3), I’m on the upswing (5-15 the week before) … so invest your hard owned In-Knucks-We-Trust-Bucks in the following locks of the week.

40-Whiners squeak one out against the Ramettes, 27-24 (Cha-Ching, MF'ers) ...

Wes Cravens keep my Bills in the red, 30-14

Lions over the Cubs, 24-21

Colts whip the Jags, 27-10

Vikings start the climb out of the hole against the Steelerless, 24-20

The Titanics crush the Y-E-T-S, Yets, Yets, Yets, 24-13

Broncettes over the Eaglettes, 34-24

Falcons over the Poser Choketriots, 27-20

Bengalis tame the Brownettes, 30-13

Texas upsets the Sea Pigeons, 24-21

Chiefs keep the Moonachie Blue team in the red, 24-20

Cards over the hapless Bucks, 24-17

Chargerless over the Girls, 28-23

Raiderettes spoil RGIII’s 4th attempt at a W, 24-14

Aints over the fish, 34-24


Swing Baby … Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Harry James and Lionel Hampton …

Even the King of Swing can use a little clout …

Friday, September 20, 2013

Texas at Casa Stella … The Diamond Collar … This Week in the NFL ...


Obviously, in the picture above, my eyes are closed because my wife is goosing me … again.

Two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet stopped in beautiful downtown Fords, New Jersey, on their way to Bouchercon in Albany, New York … Texas to Albany via Fords, NJ … Michelle (the Godmother) and Tommy Isler came toting presents (booze, smokes and sports memorabilia from the 1949 Brooklyn Dodgers/autographed picture of pitcher Don Newcombe) … and flowers … this time we were ready for them with lasagna, chicken francese, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone, Buffalo Mozzarella, hot peppers, soppressata (hot and sweet), cannoli, pignoli, semolina bread, etc. …

Forgetaboutit …


Both Michelle and Tommy didn’t make fun of me when I stumbled out of my chair over the elliptical machine and into the wall (our dining room is a multi-tasking room) … of course my wife nailed me later when she said, “Real smooth getting out of that chair there, Jack Lalanne.”

Oy vey …

Seriously, you can’t meet two nicer people … the Islers have been famiglia since the Principessa Ann Marie and I visited Murder by the Book in Housten several years ago …


Our fun conversations touched on pretty much everything including Dana King’s debut novel, Grind Joint. Get it here:

Watching over the casa stella sit-down was the capo di tutti cappi, Rigoletto Stella.


The Diamond Collar …  need pet supplies and/or grooming for your pets? Check out the Diamond Collar on 13th Avenue and 71st … and while you’re in the neighborhood, check out the bakeries … Madonna mia …

And if you’re looking for a rescued pet, stop in The Diamond Collar and ask about the shelter for rescues. You can’t go wrong, amici … and the animals need some love. Ask for James …

That’s Dr. Pernice in the video … best veterinarian in the world, MF’ers … he saved our Rigoletto 8 years ago …


This week in the NFL … just remember, amici, just because I was 5-10 last week, I did call the final score of my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills over the Carolina Pantherless, 24-23 … I’m talking EXACTLY 24, 23. Okay? So, here we go, invest your In Knucks We Trust Bucks on the following Lock(s) of the Week. The asterisk/BOLDED game is the “mortgage your house, make vacation plans, and put in your retirement papers LOCK OF THE WEEK."

Chefs over the Eaglettes, 31-27 Thursday night. [(Cha-ching) Coach Kelly, welcome to the NFL].

*My beloved New York State Buffalo Bills over Moonachie Green in the Moonachie Meadowlands, 24-10

Texas Two Steppers over the Wes Cravens, 24-17

Giants crush the Pantherless, 30-13

Rams outlast the Cowgirls, 30-24

Cheatriots over the Buckless, 27-10

Titans shock San Diego Boltless, 24-17

Sea Pigeons crush the fading fast Jags, 35-10

Vikings over the Give the season up Browns, 24-10

Bengalis upset the Packing Co., 30-24

Washingtonians return to form over the Lionettes, 27-20

The Aints in a rough one of the Redbirds, 24-21

The fish rock the Falconless, 27-24

49’ers remain in shock as Coltless upset them, 24-23

Steelers intercept Cutler’s cubbies, 24-20

Monday night it’s the Broncettes crushing the Raiderettes, 42-13

— Knucks

Back in the day (before we were married), it used to be the Principessa Ann Marie would climb up on the back of her couch to rub my shoulders, the back of my neck, and play with my hair. Those were the days … long after she’s roped and worn me down to a little nub, when she feels it's time (think wine grapes taking their time), she says to me, she says, “Tonight, is your night, bro.”

Musica, piuttosto…

Friday, September 13, 2013

Two Book Reviews … Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner ... this week in the NFL … a Time Out for TK …


There isn’t a writer I know who would turn down the chance to read a new novel by Daniel Woodrell, and I sure wasn’t about to start with his latest, The Maid’s Version. Unraveling stories within stories is always intriguing when done well ... and here it's done brilliantly. Young Alek spends a summer with his enigmatic grandmother (Alma) and relays the tale of a tragic event at a local dance hall several years earlier (1929). Alma’s sister and many other people (42) were killed in the inexplicable explosion. Theories abound as to how it all happened, and that’s the most interesting aspect of this economic and brilliantly written novel. Woodrell exposes the economics, politics and social strata of his beloved Ozarks throughout.
Alma’s clan is dirt poor working class, and class distinctions are quickly and clearly demarked when we learn how her boys (Alek’s father, eventually abandoned, included) often depended on what their mother could grift from the wealthier class of employer she worked for (including one who’s been having an affair with her sister).

No point in unraveling it for yous here. Do the work, amici. Buy the book. Read it. Read it twice, as I did (because the writing is so friggin’ brilliant) … and then smile the way I did when hall of fame pitcher, Bob Gibson, was touted as one of the characters’ favorite people. In a recent Daily Beast interview titled “How I write”, Woodrell ends it with this gem when asked about his next project: I am increasingly interested in stories about men and masculinity and the immense struggle to hold on to decency as the years roll by, and the endurance and consequent scar tissue a full life requires. Sounds candy-assed in the abstract, maybe, but not the way I’ll sing it.

I know I can’t wait to read it.

Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham … brilliant writing and some precious life philosophy throughout … that said, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to slap our protagonist (Philip) in the chops for his pursuit of Mildred, while she dragged him through emotional mud for way too much of his life … but I suspect we’ve all been there, however briefly (or however too often), and although the end of the novel/story was a disappointment for me, I highly recommend it for the writing, the life's lesson, and the emotional tension throughout.

And having just read Michael Harris’ Romantic History (reviewed here; click on the link), I found some connective tissue between Philip and Paul and Mildren and Maggie (and how about the two P’s and M’s) …


I enjoyed Romantic History a bit more, but the very same emotional tugs run throughout both wonderful novels.



On their way to Bouchercon in Albany, Michelle (the Godmother) and Tommy Isler will be stopping in beautiful downtown Fords, New Jersey, for dinner with the ugly Knuckster and the Principessa Ann Marie for our version of the Feast of San Gennaro ... Texas meets New Joisey in the Casa Stella Bowl ...

This week in the NFL …

The wife says to me, she says, if I get excited again watching my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills she’ll "smack the shit out of me."

I believe her.

Okay, so now what yous’ve all been waiting for … TK’s NFL locks of the week …

First: Bet all your IN-KNUCKS-WE-TRUST-BUCKS ON the Cheatriots over the Yets 13-10 with a second half married by torrential rains and wherein receivers should be called “droppers.” It’ll be great to watch the Moonachie Green Team (a.k.a. Yets) control the time of possession by not only breaking from a huddle, but by running the ball down the Choketriots throats most of the game. Rookie QB Gino Smith will eventually come unglued after a solid start and throw 3 bad interceptions in the fourth quarter. And NFL fans around the country will finally get to see Tom Brady throwing hissy fits at his receivers on the field and off … which makes one wonder if that’s the kind of guff he takes at home from Giselle …

Unfair, yous say, since they played last night, and here I am posting this the next day? Well, listen to me:


Let’s just hope my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills fans up in Orchard Park are wearing Flava Flav clocks around their necks this Sunday with the hope that maybe Coach Doug Marrone can get the point … giving the other team all that extra time of possession not only give them extra chances to score, it keeps our young defense on the field …

Oy vey … so, here it goes:

Bills over the Pantherless, 24-23

Vikes over Cutler’s Cubs, 24-20

Washingtonians over the Packing Co., 30-24

Colts over the Fillet of Fish, 27-21

Ramettes upset the Boids (Falcons), 24-20

The Aints bury the Bucs, 37-13

Jags upset the Raiderettes, 21-17

Browns shock the Wes Cravens, 24-20

The Chefs rope the Cowgirls, 30-20

The Texas two-steppers dance on the Titans, 34-24

The Eaglettes squeak over the Chargerless in OT, 34-31

The Lionettes crush the Redboids (Cards), 27-10

And it’ll be Moonachie Blue and Eli over big brother and the Broncettes, 31-24

The Forty-Whiners over the She-Hawks, 30-20

And on Monday night, the Bagels will humiliate the Steelers, 30-17

Go Bills!


A TK timeout ... A new writing project will keep the journalists, editors and porters here at TK a bit less active (especially regarding book and movie reviews) over the next few to six months … but we’ll do our best to poke our nose in your life from time to time (hopefully with something of interest and less and less to do with politics) … but not because we fear your boredom and/or dislike of our political views… nope, that’s not it. Mostly because we can’t even fake taking interest in any of the political bullshit shoveled our way anymore.

In fact, wake us up when the revolution begins.


And after last week …

Still … I can’t help myself … it’s truly an addiction …

Monday, September 9, 2013

Today I begin my 12 step program to lose my addiction to my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills ...


Oy vey ... what’s left to say ... our new coach gave away a game to the hated Cheatriots by totally mismanaging the game clock and/or being a stubborn ass. Either way, it was pure and simple dumb game clock management.

Maybe too many Bills fans forget how the Moonachie Blue Team beat us in Super Bowl 25 ... by shortening the game while we kept our defense on the field with the vaunted no-huddle/no win offense (even though we’d started that season playing smash mouth football--how we beat the blue team on their home field earlier in the season). Bill Belicheat was the defensive coordinator for both those games (but we played into his hands in the Super Bowl) ... so here we are yesterday in an incredibly fortunate situation (the Cheatriots looking ragged outside of 4 offensive players) ... with a lead going into the 4th quarter ... our offense had its best moments out of the gate in the third quarter (an 80 yard drive in 11 plays), but did very little to nothing afterward ... so what does coach Doug Moron do with a 4 point lead going into the 4th? He stays no huddle with a few three and outs and keeps our defense on the field an extra 6 minutes or so (at least the amount of time he could’ve run off the clock breaking from a huddle or just watching the play clock run down) ... our new genius coach gives Tom fucking Brady at least an extra 6 minutes to beat us.

And it worked! Brady beat us! We lost! Way to go, coach!

The thing about my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills that continues to make me insane (and I’m still smoking from my ears today and not finishing the friggin’ crime novel that should’ve been finished this morning) is how we find these guys to coach us into oblivion over and over. Coach Moron had the same game clock issues at Syracuse ... and nobody bothered to sit him down and explain how the play clock works in the NFL? See the last video below ... and pay attention to the last line: "They're run by idiots."

Oy vey ... my poor granddaughter ...

Why hockey remains my favorite sport ...

Two reasons ... here’s number one:

This isn’t the first time a professional football player has done something so damn stupid, but it is becoming way more commonplace. ESPN highlights have ruined the NFL in my opinion. These clowns can’t wait to celebrate ... they celebrate after the first play of the game, beating their chests like they accomplished something greater than what they’re paid to do, and then they get burned a play or two later, never mind the final score and how that plays out. It makes me nuts sometimes to watch this crap happen.

Here’s reason number two:

Stevie Johnson is a notorious “celebrator” and “trash talker” ... that video clip is from a game he cost us against the Steelers in 2010 ... yesterday he dropped a critical 3rd down play that keeps us our offense on the field (in spite of Coach Moron’s mismanagement of the game clock). He was celebrating and trash talking as usual after his TD catch (like HE won the game for us), but what he did dropping that critical 3rd down pass was force us to punt the ball after ANOTHER three-and-out (and turning the ball over with taking less than 1 minute off the game clock).

You just don’t (or at least I haven’t) seen this level of personal “me-me-me” bullshit in the NHL ... you see team play and very little to none “me-me-me” celebrations. And from what I can see, the celebrations have permeated both college AND high school sports.

Whatever happened to: “Act like you’ve been there before.”

Here’s a simple solution, if the NFL (or any franchise is interested). The next moron who prematurely celebrates (including chest beating 30 seconds into the game) gets a compass and a flashlight and instructions on how to park cars.

Is it tough being a Buffalo Bills fan?

Amici, yous have no idea ...


You think he’s got it bad? I’m fifty-fuckin’-seven!

The curse is now Coach Doug Marrone ... a.k.a. Doug Moron ...

Step One: Percocet ... a handful.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Rides ... Beneduce Vineyards ... Syria ... STEVIE E!!!!


So there we were, ages 57 and 53, two of the youngest people in the crowd. Aging hipsters surrounded us, a few of them using walkers and canes. Many still wore their hair long hair and their beards thick. Others were dressed in business and retired casual. Up on stage, the opening act, Beth Hart, did her thing with a terrific band backing her. She’s got a great voice and she can move. Her opening blues tune set the theme. She had our attention. Terrific stuff throughout her set, and afterward we all applauded while standing at our seats (which were none too comfortable for fatsos like moi).

The anticipation of The Rides (Stephen Stills, Barry Goldberg and Kenny Wayne Shepherd) was intense, so when the lights finally dimmed, the band was greeted with a standing ovation. They started with the first four tunes on their incredible debut album (CD), all of them fun. When yous look inside the cover, yous’ll notice half the tunes on the album are originals they collaborated on (except for one written by Stephen Stills), the other half are covers.


Ann Marie’s favorite is A Pretty Good Love ... mine was You Don’t Want Lies ... by night’s end, it was Can’t Get Enough of Loving You ... with a Muddy Waters tune, Honey Bee, a close second and an Elmore James tune, Talk To Me Baby, maybe even a closer second/third.

They had played back-to-back nights in New York, so Stephen Stills voice was badly strained through the first half of the concert, especially during You Don’t Want Lies, but he’s Stephen Stills, a legend … you give him a pass … and the truth is, his voice gained strength throughout the night and ultimately led to an incredible ending. There were also surprises for the audience because the ten tunes on their album “isn’t enough for a complete set,” Kenny Wayne Shepherd said. They borrowed from each of their musical catalogues and the result was magical.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd, a Stevie Ray Vaughan devotee, is an incredible guitarist. He’s absolutely electrifying. Barry Goldberg’s solos on the keyboards were amazing as well. Stephen Stills is Stephen Stills … his passion alone drove the concert over the top.

The surprises (no spoilers) had the place jumping ... and when they finished the night with a Neil Young original, “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” (also on their album), all those aging hipsters and their canes and walkers and long hair and beards rushed the stage and it was one of the most touching scenes we’ve ever witnessed.

I’ve seen Led Zeppelin a couple of times back in the day ... Ten Years After, Sly and the Family Stone, Bruce Springsteen, The Allman Brothers, etc. ... The Rides win the “best ever” concert for this aging dinosaur ... and the Principessa Ann Marie agrees.

Beneduce Vineyards ... looking for a great place to take a date? How about somewhere to take your wife or husband … or maybe have a family get-together … or just a great place to relax? Look no further than Beneduce Vineyards, amici.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous location where you can bring your own food/dinner/snacks, etc. You can purchase a very reasonable wine taste (with cheese and a brief explanation of the wine your tasting), and/or buy a bottle(s) of wine, and go out to the greenhouse to listen to some wonderful music … or you can sit at one of the outdoor tables and eat and drink to your heart’s content.


The cost, yous ask? The cost of a bottle(s) of whichever wine you prefer … that’s it.

I learned about this from a brochure in one of the coffee rooms where I work. A real to life Beneduce himself, Bill, one of the lawyers at the firm where I work, had put up the brochure. I noticed it about a week or two ago. The Principessa Ann Marie and I planned to make a stop at the vineyard during her vacation (which included seeing The Rides in Atlantic City Sunday night) … so we went to the vineyard this past Saturday night and had a great time. Little did we realize they do this every Saturday night … Beneduce Vineyards hosts what they call Group Therapy.


We hope to take one of the vineyard tours down the road, but in the meantime, we’re planning a little get together with some friends and family before the weather cools off. I’m bringing linguini and scungilli (and hot pepper), but I’ll be drinking Beneduce Shotgun Red … we brought home a few bottles of the Shotgun Red and the Riesling … shotgun red for a crime writer is really a no brainer …

Visiting Beneduce Vineyards is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, amici … and Group Therapy a really nice night out.

Beneduce Vineyards
1 Jeremiah Lane
Pittstown, NJ 08867
Phone: (908) 996 – DUCE

To bomb Syria or not to bomb Syria ... I remember being suckered into supporting both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars ... much like my vote for George W. Bush, they were back-to-back mistakes. I remember some of the anti-war sentiment I refused to acknowledge ... “we haven’t learned from Vietnam ... we don’t have enough information ... we can’t police the world ...” and so on.

The anti-war sentiment was right. I was wrong. We as a country were wrong. The same way Iraq didn’t attack America on 9-11, neither did the country of Afghanistan attack America on 9-11. Bombing safe-havens didn’t work when we bombed Cambodian “sanctuaries” during our war of choice with Vietnam. What it did instead was give rise to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and their cultural revolution (something akin to the Taliban—zealotry). What our bombing of Cambodia did was a lot more damage to Cambodian society than what it was supposed to do—end the North Vietnamese army from using sanctuaries along the border to attack our troops. We created a mess there and have done the very same thing in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the record, we used more bomb tonnage on Cambodia, a neutral country, than we dropped on Japan in all of WWII ... and the result was the Khmer Rouge cultural revolution (i.e., killing fields).

My penance for supporting both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been to never again even consider voting for either major party. I had been a loyal democrat throughout my voting life. I was a union window cleaner and I believed the Democratic party was there for the little guy, that it protected workers. Obviously, I was wrong about that, too. By the time President Clinton came along, I was no longer willing to accept Democrats acting like Republicans, and his wasting so much time and energy denying his relationship with an intern ended my ability to vote Democrat post-Clinton. Yes, Kenneth Starr was a dick and his persecution over a blow job was absurd ... but so was the leader of the free world having to spend all his energy lying to his wife and the country rather than doing his fucking job.

My bad, voting Republican in 2000 and again in 2004, except my mistake wasn’t voting for a Republican instead of a Democrat, it was voting for either party.

That will never happen again. Ever.

War profiteers from our engagements with Iraq and Afghanistan had their way. They were the usual suspects. Halliburton comes to mind, but there were many more corporations and their investors who reaped the financial rewards of both wars: United Technologies, L-3 Communications, Finmeccanica, EADS, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.

The average American, especially those actually fighting the wars, gained nothing from our wars of choice. Nor did the citizens of whatever country we were supposedly liberating.

We’ve made a mess of pretty much everything we’ve stuck our noses into over the past 50+ years ... and now we use Drone strikes to create new casualties of war/collateral damage, not to mention yet another generation of foreigners with a very good reason to want to do us harm.

Do we really need to go into Syria? What about Darfur, the Congo, Rwanda, etc.? Why Syria? Is it really because they used chemical weapons? Do none of us remember the last intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction/chemical weapons?

Suddenly Democrats and Republicans are finding enough in common to engage in unilateral wars that profit some at the expense of others. Imagine that? [sarcasm intended]

If for no other reason than the fact those voting for war have to convince us, no matter how they define the unilateral engagement that permits us to fire missiles into another sovereign country, the answer is obvious—no, we shouldn’t start (and it would be us starting it) yet another war.

I can’t help but remember how fast the Noble Prize committee welcomed our first mixed-race president by honoring him with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination 12 days into his presidency. I remember thinking: “The Noble Peace Prize while we were engaged in two wars and maintaining the Guantánamo Bay detention camp.”

And then he won it, the Nobel Peace Prize.

And now we’re looking to bomb Syria … we really have become a joke.

Stevie E! … Way back in the day, although he can’t remember this, Steve Edleblum and I played alongside each other on the offensive line. We were famous for “look out” blocks (i.e., we’d yell to whomever was quarterbacking, “Look out!” on most pass plays). Hey, it was good for the QB’s to grow some thick skin.

Last weekend in Atlantic City, Steve (who is a terrific writer and tells some very humorous stories on his blog, More Glib Than Profound) and I hooked up for one of our walka-talkathons … of course we forgot to take a picture (he was wearing a Moonachie Green Team shirt vs. one of my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills tents) … but we got to chat and yap and eat some Mexican food. Check out his blog because Steve has been a casino dealer (craps, roulette, Pai Gao Poker, Let It Ride, you name it, he’s dealt it) for 30+ years, first in Las Vegas and later in Atlantic City … his stories about the business and the characters that inhabit it is a memoir waiting to be written. You can catch glimpses of it on his blog in the meantime.


Speaking of Kenny Wayne Shepherd …

Stephen Stills …

And Barry Goldberg …