Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas in March?

              (The following is a retread, rewritten for presentation at this point in time. You know the drill, Your mileage will vary, Offer not valid in New Hampshire, North Dakoka, West Virginia or Ohio. Some settling may have occured during shipment, yadda yadda yadda) 

           It is once again winter in Michigan. Ok, technically it's still autumn, but it sure feels like winter and it's not gonna get any better anytime soon. The clouds have moved in and it's getting dark and it's pretty much bumming me out. I like sunshine and warm weather and by all accounts I belong in LA, but hey, LA doesn't have coneys and Vernors. They do have Fatburger, but we do too, so I guess I'm staying in Detroit for a while. I can live with the cold. Since the city on my birth certificate says Motown I'm used to it. 

          If I were the President, and thank the heavens I am not,  the first thing I would do is outlaw winter. Ok, sounds silly and it is. You cannot outlaw a season. Besides, Sarah would be mad at me for fooling with the weather. Short of that, I would move Christmas from December to March. There actually is good reasoning behind it. Follow me, but hey. not too close.

          In the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas we do not seem to mind the cold, the snow, the sleet, the wind and the slush. Standing on a lonely corner waiting in -20 degree weather doesn't matter because Christmas is coming and when that happens, All will be OK. We don't care how cold it is, or how cold it will get. When Christmas comes, we rejoice for the loot we get. Ok, face it, we don't celebrate the holiday like we should because in the last few years its become about the spending and the presents and the things we shouldve got, and not about Jesus. I'm grown up enough to realize that, and I wish things were different, but let's have a reality check here. BTW, my reality check bounced years ago. 

        So let's move the holiday to March 25. Then we will not mind the cold, the rain, the snow, the slush and the sleet. There would be 2 things to look forward to, the loot, and the warm weather. By April, the snow is pretty much a memory and it's getting warmer. You see, it's win win all around. The logic is flawless. Oh, well there is that Jesus guy and there is that thing about December 25, but you have to admit I do make a good case. You will come to realize I am right. When you ask? Try Jan 2 or maybe the 3rd; or whenever you recover from the hangover. And so it goes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Thanksgiving memory


              Thanksgiving. One of my favorite holidays and not  because of the food,  but  because of the memories. I have some great memories of the holiday beginning with the one in 1975 when it also happened to be my birthday. The Lions had a new home in the Silverdome out in Pontiac and many of us Detroiters villified the team for leaving the city, but honestly, they were playing in old Tiger Stadium and it wasn't working anymore. This promised to be a place they could really stretch out and let thier hair down so to speak. My father was a football fan and really didn't care where the Lions played just as long as they won a game once in a while.It is a Detroit tradition that a football game be played on Thanksgiving and the Lions are usually nice enough to offer themselves as the main course. They usually don't do well, and the smart money is to bet against them even though you may be a fan. Ok, I'm just being practical here. I know the LIon's M. O. inside and out.
             I know that my Dad would have the day off as he usually does, and that more than likely he'd be planted in front of the TV with his faithful companion, Duke. Duke really didn't care about football, he just cared about sitting in my father's chair usually by himself, but on Thanksgiving Dad usually relaxed the rules on dogs being in the house. Duke actually only looked like a dog. In reality he was just my furry little brother. (Duke's contract stipulates that he must be mentioned favorably in all my writing). So, about a week before the game, a contest was held on the radio. 4 primo seats on the 50 for anyone who could stump the deejay on sports. Didn't matter which one, just make him come up blank, I tuned in and did some recon. I have to admit that he was good, and he was shooting down people better than the Navy did enemy aircraft. I had some real due dilingence to do if I wanted to get Dad into the game.
              In 1975, there was no wikipedia to fall back on. All I had was one set of encyclopedias and my father. Back then it was cool to ask your Dad something you didn't know about. I figured that I'd blow the whole deal if I asked him about this, so I went right to the books; oh yeah, we had real books back then. You know how to be successful? Be where they are not. That's it and it has always worked for me. Ok, so I picked bowling. We're nuts about bowling in Detroit, and to make it even harder I added one little facet. Women's bowling. I dug up a question, then went to the phone and dialed for what seems like a million times; and back in that day we had the old dial phone. No fancy redials, or touchtones, just the dial. Does anyone know how hard it is to dial really quick? The planets must've been in line because magically, I managed to get through and ask my question. I nailed him but good, and scored the seats. This year, the old man would be on the 50 yard line in the new stadium. The Lions lost the game, and with good reason. They were playing someone better than they were. No matter, because it wasnt about the game. It was about being together and doing something special on a holiday other than feeding our faces and sleeping with our belts undone. Dad was happy and that made me glad. I gave him a gift I know he never would forget.
                 These days I'm content to watch a great Thanksgiving movie called Avalon which chronicles how a immigrant family celebrated the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. Being that they were Jewish they didn't do Christmas. It's a very tender movie, and I consider it one of the best ways to recall a simpler time and isn't that what it's all about? I sure hope so. And so it goes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Grandma Card

      My mother related many stories about how I behaved during my childhood years, and since I was too young to really think about this I was appalled at it. And if you believe that I have some lovely bridges for sale really cheap. One of the more recurring stories revolved around a certain toy and the grandma card.

       Mom was a good mother most of the time. She was fair although there was nothing that required her to be. One day she got the bright idea(?) to buy me a toy lawnmower. I was thrilled that I was getting a new toy. Mom liked buying me toys because I was her child and there was nothing too good for me. This of course was in the era of BM, that is, Before Marlene. I was maybe 2 or 3, and reasoning with a child that age is like reasoning with a dog, They hear you but they don't quite understand. I wanted to play with the toy right then and there. Mom prefered that I wait until she paid for it before I was allowed to play with it. A fierce war of wills ensued and I began crying loudly and then Mom got mad and told me that the toy was no longer mine. She picked me up and walked out of the store. No toy. Of course I was louder than a fire alarm. No matter, she took me home and plopped me in the high chair.
      Nature abhors a vacuum and grandmothers by nature abhor crying children. Grandma can always fix it. No matter what is wrong, Grandma will always fix it. That is a law of nature. Mom was summoned into the kitchen and I was placed in the high chair and given something to eat. Giving me something to eat was the fastest way to close my mouth. Gram asked Mom what was wrong with me. Mom related the story and Gram in her Solomonesque wisdom immediatly knew what the plan of action would be. Gram told Mom to go back to the store and get the toy. Now. No argument, no discussions. In the end, I got my toy and maybe I shouldn't of. Bad behavior shouldnt be rewarded, but sometimes its nice to have someone in your corner. Someone who holds 4 aces and the unbeatable Grandma card. And so it goes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Has anyone seen where I live? If you find it, send an email.

               I wrote this back in July just before I relocated my home from Ohio to Michigan,

               Home. Does anyone have a good defintion of what that is? I seem to be losing my sense of it, because the places I called home as a child are gone. Dont believe me? Look it up for yourself. The house I came home to on Lycaste st in Detroit is now in the middle of a shop floor at Jefferson Assembly. The flat my parents rented on Gray st for the princely sum of 65 dollars a month is now an empty lot, as is the home my father sweated to pay for on Marlborough had the same fate. The house where my father got into a car accident that wound up costing him his life still stands, and ironically, the daughter of his best friend still lives there, but the neighborhood is getting pretty ragged. Some days I wonder if I even existed at all. I sometimes wonder if I was beamed down by some version of the USS Enterprise. I know that's silly. But there are times.

            The place where I got most of my mechanical lessons is a memory too. It was a gas station on the corner of Phillip and Warren run by a crusty but lovable man named Al Kruse, actually his proper name was Ellsworth, but everyone called him Al. He was a funny old bird, and like me, he was a packrat. He had 3 service bays, but only 2 of them were operational. The third was a warren of old things that had long since lost thier usefullness, but he couldnt or wouldnt throw them away on the count that someday, someone would come in and buy one of those old useless knick knacks that he had. Sure. OK, I almost bought the jukebox, but he wanted 600 clams for it, and back when I was padding around that part of the world that was a kings ransom. Considering the fact that one of Dad's house payments was 100 bucks, and with 2 teenagers in the house, that was sometimes a challenge to raise, but somehow he did it.
              Getting back to Al, he taught me how to change a tire, the correct way. Ok, It's not rocket science to change a tire but according to Al, there was a right way and the wrong way, and he would be damned if one of his pupils was going to go around doing things the wrong way. He also taught me how to look for water in the gasoline, and taught me that when you saw the truck in the station, that was THE worst time to buy gas. If you could help it, go somewhere else and get gas there; in fact he wouldnt sell gas for an hour after his delivery. He contended that the new gas would bring all the crud on the bottom of the tank into the new gas and thus ruin your ride. He was the only one I knew that would actually pump the water out of his tanks. His prices may have been high, but you could be assured of getting your money's worth. I never got paid for all my work. I eventually began doing light mechanical work like changing tires, changing oil and replacing starters, He told me that the knowledge I gained was worth more than money because it would last longer. Ok, I was gullable and bought it. The reality was he was cheap and I was dumb. Oh well. I still can change a tire the right way, and as for changing a starter, I could if I was pressed. I guess he was right in the end. I'll never forget him, though it seems Detroit has forgotten about me. And so it goes.

Welcome to my Blog

       The word "Blog" sounds like something where you grow cranberries. It's one of those new-fangled words that came about the adolescence of the Internet, and aren't you just thrilled I know that?

    I hope to post most of my writing here because otherwise no one is going to read it and I won't get a big head. I used to put my things on MySpace, but that went the way of the dinosaur and none of my friends actually do Myspace anymore. Facebook isn't much better because it's not geared for long drawn out essays about nothing. People just don't have the attention spans they once did, and you can blame that right on the Internet, TV and anything else you don't like. Just don't put it on me, because I had nothing to do with it.

       What you can expect from this blog is humor or at least what I thnk it is, and then there will be the occasional flashback to my salad days when I was green. In some ways I'm still green, and that may or may not be a Good Thing. I have plenty of stories about my youth and close encounters with my parents.

      Speaking of them, Mom was a typical June Cleaver clone, although she didn't vacuum the house in pearls. I was assigned to the vacuuming, and the cleaning of the windows. I also learned something from my mother and that is the art of cooking. I've been told I can cook well, and I even sell cookies on the side. 
      My father gave me my work ethic and sense of right. Dad worked 2 jobs for most of his life, and his working life began at the age of 9 when he became a helper on a milk truck. See my other blogs for definition of that. I had a paper route at the age of 13 and that began at the ungodly hour of 5 am, but I had to be at the paper station at 4 to fold and prep my route. The nice thing about working in the morning is that you have the rest of the day to yourself. 

       I hope you come back often and drop a comment. I'd like that a lot. Good, Bad or Indifferent, just as long as a comment is left, so much the better. Thanks for reading. And so it goes.