Friday, June 09, 2017

Remembering the Bonghitters Softball Team

Years ago at High Times magazine we had a softball team and entered the journalism league of softball. Now everybody wanted to play High Times because they thought we would be a joke: Just stoners out there and an easy win. Our schedule would include Penthouse, Playboy, Forbes, WBAI radio and a host of other magazines, many of them politically opposite High Times.
   Anyway, I wound up playing shortstop for a few years and was thinking about that--and about how other teams, when they discovered we were good, began bringing in ringers, former minor leaguers or college baseball players, and it was sometimes tough to stare them down knowing how hard they were going to hit the ball to me on the short softball field.
   And a few of us were reminiscing and I wrote this:
Sometimes those balls hit by big guys paid by Playboy were so fast they came like knuckleballs to shortstop. And if I drank some of the LSD before the game I was sitting there on short stop wondering which ball was the real one as it came to me. Then I would think: Hey, if you don't have the balls to play shortstop, don't play it. And I would step in two steps and say to myself: If this is the game on the line, who else should get it? Send it my way, MF's. If we lose and it is my fault, at least I will own it. You can't just give it to someone who isn't good enough to own it. And I think I attracted a lot of balls my way with that sort of prayer/invocation.I was still scared that I was not good enough, but dared myself to be there on point. And then we had a perfect season. We were great. I mean you, Bloom, I mean you, Steve, who must have turned eight double plays with me with the most awkward turn, but it was still efficient. I mean Donja, I mean Rick, the steadiest of us all, and 7 in left field, I mean Malcolm who made some great cut off throws to me. And Nate or Darryl, both of you had that dive to the right, straight down the line that still amazes me. And all the rest of you. WE WERE THE CHAMPS! They threw everything they had at us—semi-pro players and all– and we still came up strong with Dave at First Base, saving my errant throws. We WERE UNDEFEATED!!!!! That was us at our very best, both in the field and in the magazine. We kicked ass and I was and am proud to have been associated with every one of you in those years. You made my life easy and fun! You pushed me to write great stories. Thank you all. You are not forgotten in my book.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dance a Little Faster...

Well, I'm in a bit of a pickle, and while I love pickles, I'm not sure if sinking in the brine is what I love. I had an incredible month last month, taking in about $6,500 with sapo, social security, pay, book sales. But then I needed $500 plus for Madeleina's car; $500 plus for my car; $400 legal fees to help Chepa my wife/ex-wife out of a bind; $400 to Chepa for general sustenance for the kids because she had a little op and couldn't go to work for a week. Then a total of about $500 on fixing cats, getting Boots, the wonder dog's shots and a haircut and flea medicine; then $687 or so for my quarterly home insurance. Then tires for two cars, then $1500 for 15 sapo sticks, then, then, then. So I'm now down to $1200. Not bad, except I owe $1400 for bills this month, darnit. And then I leave in 12 days to Peru. I have a cover story due on Friday--I promised it a week early so we could edit before I leave--and of the 22 phone calls I've made I have had two returned. Of the 9 emails sent I have had 1 returned. And these have been repeatedly made. So I'm a bit skimpy on specifics for that. I did manage to write most of my 100th Skunk Magazine Drug War Follies Column today, but I won't know if it's good till I look at it tomorrow. I had 8 people for my June trip but 5 copped out. I have 11 for July, but only deposits so far--and I have spent nearly $10,000 more than their deposits already on the trip, so I hope they are all coming. So dang, this is getting scary out here on the ledge. Wind is howling and my sneakers have no traction. HAHAHAHA! It will all work out, sometimes for better sometimes for worse. But the cover story will either get turned in or I am no longer a viable journalist. The column will be great or I no longer have that income stream. The two new books in the hands of editors will either sell or I'm screwed. I'll get on the plane a week from Sunday and have two great trips, even if the first one is going to cost me $4000 because of the quitters. Ain't life grand? Just dance a little faster I guess, and then I will think I'm on key.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Animal Parts, veggies, fruits...

Animal Parts, Veggies, Beans, Fruit...What to eat, considering all of it is going to hate me for eating it...
It's Sunday afternoon. It's been storming here in Joshua, TX for hours, so no lawnwork today. I already advanced a couple of stories I'm working on and finished compiling my Drug War Follies columns--the best of them--to be able to get out to my first editor, who can tell me which 20 percent do not belong in the book.
I showered, cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed my office, and went to the store early. Having my first glass of wine, a Noble Vines cabernet named simply 337. It's good.
I am not hungry, but it is still time to think about dinner after spending hours thinking about the drug war and the state of the world for most of the day. There are lots of choices. Should I just make a couple of Ballpark Beef Franks on toasted Ballpark buns with crispy saurkraut and good mustard? Sounds good to me.
But I have a nice piece of salmon that I could saute with garlic and a bit of olive oil, then add capers and ginger and scallions and when it's near done a little teriyaki and sesame oil to candy-that skin.
Or should i throw in the 1/2 pork butt I just bought: Brown it on all sides, baste with plenty of garlic and black pepper, lay it on a bed of onions, celery, with sliced anjou pears for sweetness, and let that baby sit for 3 hours?
Then again, I have a few left over chicken thighs which might go very well in burritos. I've got good beans, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and can make a nice pico de gallo. Not a bad idea.
Thinking of the avocado, what about if i chopped the chicken thigh meat and added sauted onion and garlic, diced celery, and mayonaise to make a good chicken salad, then stuffed it into avocado halves to make Royal Stuffed Avocados?
Then there is the fresh corn, the red potatoes, a beautiful sweet potato i could boil up and slice with fresh boiled beets. And there is spinach, of course, and broccoli, and salad I could make and top with my special dressing. Or I could steam asparagus, then saute them up with a bit of garlic and olive oil with jowel bacon bits and balsamic vinegar and top with a little finely grated good blue cheese.
I'm full just thinking about all this. I guess i don't really need to make anything since I just gained 5 pounds writing this.
I hope everyone, everywhere, gets to make these kinds of decisions one day. That I get to choose among several possible meals of fresh food--none of which is very expensive--while millions are starving to death, and millions are going to bed hungry right here in the US is a crime. If I ever get some money, I will have several food trucks outfitted and scouring the poorest neighborhoods here in Fort Worth and surrounding areas and we will give away fantastic food to anyone who wants it. That's a dream I've had since I started working in kitchens in New York restaurants and realized we were throwing away enough food nightly--at the small places I ran--to feed 100 hungry people. I really am not a fan of the unequal hands people have been dealt. Dammit. Now I really don't feel like eating.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


.On 21st Ave in Whitestone, Queens, in 1959, when I was 8, we had Mics, Spics, Pollacks, Guineas, Jews, Gypsies, a couple of Greeks, a Ruskie family, and gumbas from Sicily (very different from Guineas from northern Italy). That's how we called each other and that;s how we identified and it was all very cool. Then a black family moved in and we called them Afrikaners, and nobody got upset. I was proud to be called a Mic. And I think everybody else was proud to be called shorthand from where their families came from. We had great sports, everybody ate at everybody else's house, and it was wonderful growing up in that soup. I know it's not PC right now, but nearly 60 years ago, it worked and nobody got mad. Ah, idyllic youth.....

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Madeleina learning about cars....

Madeleina learning about cars...
So my daughter Madeleina got a used Mustang last summer. She was warned it had a small oil leak. Well, the oil leak blew up the engine when the engine went dry and the "check engine" light didn't come on. So my son Italo bought a new--used--engine, then bought a new block and put the car back together, but there seems to be an unrelated problem with the transmission. Well, I paid about $2 grand for the car with everything, put near another $2 grand into the engine and block, and that about tapped me out. So Italo gave Madeleina his wife's old Neon to drive and will probably make the trade final once Madeleina's 2003 Mustang is running smoothly again.
Two weeks ago Madeleina was supposed to get a new inspection. She didn't because she was at school most days, and so got stopped three days ago for the inspection being out by two weeks. The officer was going to give her a warning on that but then noticed she wasn't wearing her glasses--it's on the license--so he gave her a ticket for that.
She came home sobbing, acting like the universe was against her. "I was going to get the inspection, dad! I didn't need a ticket to remind me!"
As for glasses, she doesn't need them. No eye doc can figure out anything wrong with her eyes, and she wore plain clear plastic glasses to pass the eye test at the driver's place after she failed without them.
So I told her to buy $10 plain glasses from a local store and leave them in the car. Then we went for the inspection. She failed because of a bald back tire. So I took her to our local tire place and asked the guy to put two good used tires on the rear. Madeleina suggested she needed brake pads as well because her brakes were squealing. So I asked him to put on brake pads.
Now the failed inspection was only $27. The two tires and brake pads were $175. The ticket turned out to be $174.50. When she passed inspection, we got an oil change for $59, with a new air filter. But in Texas you bring the notice of passing inspection to the local tax office and pay your annual registration at the same time. That was $82.25.
I think we're done. But boy, that was a quick $500+ gone in a hot flash!
On the positive: Madeleina now knows how to get an oil change, how to get an inspection, how to get tires and a whole lot of car stuff she didn't know three days ago. So there you go.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mothers' Day!

I just want to say a thank you to mother earth, my mom, my grandma's, Momma Lydia, my sisters, my sister-in-law, my nieces, my brother's daughter-in-law, the mother of my kids, your moms and grandmas and all the women who have born the children that have been the people of the earth. And I would like to add that not one of those women ever wanted her kid to grow up poor, sick, afraid, stuck in a war they didn't make, hungry, or hurt in any fashion. Not one of them. And yet, that's is what we allow, and sometimes encourage, to happen. Can we pause for a minute and fix that? Could we really give the moms of the world a great present and start treating their children the way you want your kids treated, and the way your mom wanted you treated? That would be a grand present indeed. Here's looking at you, Moms of the World!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Respect in small things

With all the problems we have in this world, from starving kids, to people stuck in wars they have nothing to do with, to loneliness, to joblessness, to physical illness and relentless pain, my issue of the moment is so trivial that it's meaningless. Still, it got my blood boiling.
I use att for phone, internet, television. Couple of months ago my bill for all three started climbing from $155 monthly until it hit $223 a couple of months ago. I called and told them I quit. They quickly made a deal: Would I be willing to pay $109 a month for everything? Yes, I would. First bill came in April and it was pro-rated and very inexpensive. Today's bill came in at $171. I called and was told that four premium channels had been added to the account. I asked by whom, and when? That info was not available. Took nearly 40 minutes to get them to take off the channels I had never ordered, which will bring my monthly bills down to the promised $109. Or should, until att decides to add something else to my bill.
I recognize that this is not very important. It is dwarfed by real problems. But if it has any importance beyond my wallet, it has to do with dignity, with not allowing people to run roughshod over me/over us. We deserve respect in all things great and small.