Monday, May 29, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
We arrived at the frat-house under cover of darkness, and made a beeline for the keg. After finding a couple of plastic cups, we started the long, ardous task of draining that sucker. Well, it didn't take long for the party organizers to realize that there were some uninvited guests at their party. They came over to us, and asked us if we were having a good time. We replied in the affirmative. One of the frat boys had a plastic pumpkin filled with water. Swimming around in the water were a half-dozen goldfish. He offered me the bowl, saying, "You're so big and bad, let me see you eat a goldfish". Hey, I like sushi just as much as the next guy. Actually, when the fish is still alive, I think they call it shashimi, or something like that. Anyway, I was twenty, had no health insurance and fewer brains, so I reached into the goldfish bowl, grabbed one of the squirmy little suckers and swallowed it whole. This amused the frat boys, they all stood around us in a circle grinning like crazed loons. They turned their attention to Rich, looking at him with an expectant air. Rich's response was classic. He looked at me with an incredulus look and asked:
"Don't you chew your food?"
And then he reached into the bowl, grabbed a goldfish, popped it in his mouth and began to chew. It was beautiful. The frat boys all turned pale and left us alone for a while.
The keg soon dried up, and we were reduced to drinking wine coolers - ugh. But, when you're twenty and can't legally buy your own booze, you take what you can get. Please remember this is going back twenty years, and I can't remember all of the details, but I do remember the end of the evening.
It was around 2:30am. Rich and I had been chatting up a couple of coeds all evening, and I was winding down a dance with one of them. just then, and irate frat boy came storming into the room and started yelling at Rich.
"Stay away from her!"
Well, Rich doesn't suffer idiots very well, and he just laughed. Meanwhile, I had my arm around a girl - not really sure if it was the one that fratboy wanted us to stay away from, and i never understood why he picked on Rich instead of me. I'm 5'8", and back then, I was weighing in at around 130lbs. Rich is about 5' 10" and back then probably weighed 185lbs. Maybe fratboy thought that yelling at the bigger guy would intimidate us more, but he didn't account for Rich's stubborn streak. The more the fratboy yelled and threatened, the more Rich laughed. eventually, fratboy's friends lead him away, and told us that it would be better if we left. Well, Rich's dander was up, and we left, but not exactly quietly. I remember dragging Rich out of the frat house, while he was yelling that he'd take on everyone in the house. One by one, or all at once.
It never got to that, I managed to get Rich into my camaro, but I wasn't above being petty, so I drove the car up onto the lawn and spun a few donuts before leaving.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I Could have the T-shirt "I was scalped at Fantastic Sams. (see attached picture)
I Used to got to Plaza Haircutters in Montclair. I went there for 25 years. Then Fantastic Sams opened up nearby, so I went there because it was closer. (and Laura made me because she had a coupon) The first few haircuts were fine. I bounced around from girl to girl, each one applying their own style. I feel bad that I don't remember the girls names, but I'm pretty good with faces. The blonde, I call her "Sweeny Todd" because she took a straight-razor to the back of my neck, was busy, so I had the same girl that cut my hair last time. She asked how I wanted it, I said "Same as last time, buzz the sides, and make it a little longer up top. Well, we were talking, mostly about her middle finger which she'd cut pretty badly eariler in the week, and she got all carried away with the clippers. Next thing you know, i'm 1 step away from Telly Savalas. Oh, well, I always have my Subaru cap...
Apple Store - Fifth Avenue - Gallery
I used to have a Mac. Back in '90 I had a Macintosh IIci. It ran system 6.x at first, I later upgraded to system 7. You know, if it weren't for all the Mac fanboys, I might even think about getting another one. Tell you the truth though, I think I'll just save the money and stick with Linux.
Sara's communion pictures. I used Picasa to make the collage of pictures. There aren't a lot of options, couple of different background choices, but I like the "throw a bunch of polaroids on a table" look. I like the Picasa application, it automatically searches for pictures (and yes, you can exclude directories with <cough> questionable content). It has hooks into Blogger, wich makes publishing pics to your blog very easy, and best of all it's free. who could ask for more?
Friday, May 19, 2006
The Le Mans was the first car that I put any real work into. For my 18th birthday, my girlfriend, Anne, bought me a pair of Mickey Thompson™ Aluminum valve covers. I remember installing them outside my grandmothers house and gazing down with pride into the sparse engine compartment. One of the things I loved about that Pontiac was the fact that it was so spartan. The only power accessory on the car was assisted brakes. It didn't have power steering, nor air conditioning. It was simple and uncompromising. Depressing the clutch took quite a bit of effort, and without power steering, the frail need not apply. Anne couldn't drive the car, not because she didn't know how to operate a manual transmission, but simply because she lacked the strength to control the car.
Did I tell you I loved that car?
Not being able to leave well enough alone, I installed headers (which were such a friggin pain, I ended up removing them again and replacing them with GTO dual exhaust), a Crane™ Cam, Rhodes™ lifters and an Edelbrock™ aluminum manifold. I also swapped out the cylinder heads for 400 large-valve heads and topped it off with a Carter™ AFB four bbl Carb.
I HATED that carburettor. I never did manage to get it tuned right. Getting the car started in the morning consisted of a schedule of events.
- Open the hood
- Remove the air cleaner
- Set the choke
- get in the car, turn the key
- (car turns over, backfires)
- Rush out of the car, blow out the flames
- Get back in the car, turn key.
- Car starts
- Modulate the throttle for a few minutes while the engine warms up
- Get back out of the car, install the air cleaner
- Shut the hood.
- Get back in the car, drive off.
My roomate, Scott, used my slamming hood as his alarm clock. God forbid that car start normally, he'd be late for work!
I ended up spinning a main bearing in the motor. You know, it's funny how you look at things differently when you are either older, or have money. Looking back, I'd have loved to restore that car, and a spun bearing would have given me the perfect excuse to tear down the engine and rebuild it. But back then, the expense of such an endeavor was enough for me to sell the car as a 'roller' for $100.
I needed a car. Working at a gas station, you come across cars for sale. One such car was a 1973 camaro, sans engine and transmission. The price was right - $50, and my boss' son, Craig had freshly crashed his sisters 1970 Monte Carlo. Taking the $50 I had left from the Le Mans, I bought the wrecked Monte and transplanted the motor and trans. into the Camaro.
What a piece of crap. I hated that car. It had a column shift (lame, huh?) but it was transport and it lasted through the winter. I had a favorite trick of shutting off the ignition while coasting down a hill, pumping the gas and then turning on the key. The resultant explosion was enough to lift you off the seat. oh, what fun. Once the mufflers were blown open, it really sounded lousy!
The Camaro was the car I used to spin donuts on the frat house lawn...
Another advantage of working at a gas station is access to tires. Lots of people change tires even though they have some life left. that was good for me, because I used to eat up rear tires on that Camaro like they were going out of style. a 350cid engine mated to a Turbo 350 trans in a car as light as the Camaro was a recepe for tire smoke. And, seeing as how I didn't give a rats-ass about the car, beating on it was a favorite passtime.
One day, Mr Tutty came into the gas station, selling his 1973 Caprice Classic. I immediatly bough it.
The Camaro went to Bert and Carl Richardson. they took the engine out and put it in their boat. To the best of my knowledge, it's still happly chugging along Lake George, NY. That didn't concern me, because I now had the ultimate old-man cruiser, Mr Tutty's Caprice. Yep, another beater. It was an ugly green - and the windshield was warped, so if you drove it too long, you got a headache. The car had a small-block 400 in it though, so it went like the clappers. (english expression, not associated with the geriatric light switch) I used this car to commute to Uncle Dick's when I was building speakers with him. But that's a story for another day.
I got quite a bit of use out of that car, ending up with Vinny Bolizzi putting his foot through the windshield and buying the car. He took the engine out and lord knows what happened to it, but I didn't care because I had The Blazer!
Danny Seymore delivered newspapers in the south bronx. Such a vocation doesn't require a "nice" vehicle, and he certianly didn't drive one. 1973 Chevrolet K5 Blazer. 350cid engine, 3 speed underdrive trans, 33" tires and a 4" suspension lift. I managed to get him to part with it for the princely sum of $800.
There wasn't a lot right with the truck. It had over a quarter million miles on it, most of them were very hard. The floorboard were rotted out, and it took Carolyn putting her foot through one on our first date to get me to weld in new ones. The frame was tweaked, and you could turn the steering wheel 45 degrees in either direction without it having the slightest effect on the direction the truck went. The body was black primer, the roof was white fiberglass. The back seat was never fastened down, and doubled as a bench in the back yard when we had company. God I was white trash. I had to carry tools and extra oil wherever I went becauase the front seal was bad. If I parked facing uphill, I'd lose less oil, so I did that whenever possible. I loved that truck, it was my first 4-wheel drive vehicle and it stuck it's thumb in the eye of all that is good. Belching oil laden smoke wherever it went, it was a menace to the environment.
250,000 miles will take it's toll on an engine, so I went about refreshing it with a new camshaft, lifters and timing chain. What a difference that made, putting a mild cam in woke up the beast (not to mention the fact that the origional cam had it's lobes practically worn off.)
Once, I launched the thing over the railroad tracks on Bellevue Ave in Montclair, and blew a chunk of pinion gear right out of the rear end. I heard a huge B A N G but thought nothing of it, that truck always made wierd noises, so I drove to work. Looking out of the window, I saw gear oil dripping out of the third-member, and upon further investigation, saw that there was a bloody-great hole in the thing. A call to the junkyard confirmed that I could have one for the princely sum of $125 but it would take a week. No worries, I removed the rear drive shaft, put it in 4-wheel drive and drove around in front wheel drive for the next week. Talk about versatility! Just as long as I never have to put another clutch in one without a trans lift, I'll be happy.
The truck was fun, but it wasn't practical for long trips, and it was expensive to operate. That's why, I bought
One day, someone rolled into the gas station in a 1973 Cutlass Supreme. It was white, with a maroon roof. He came in and asked if I knew where there was a Junkyard. I told him of the few I knew about around here, and asked him why he needed one. He told me that he wanted to scrap the Cutlass. Hold the phone! That car was in decent shape, it was a 350 4bbl with power everything, air conditioning etc. Why scrap it? Well, he told me that the transmission slipped, and he didn't want to put any money into it. Fine, I bought it from him for $100.00. $100.00 for a car with a bad trans? You say, well, the body was in excellent shape, and the engine ran like a top. I also knew that Craig (my boss' son) had recently wrecked his sister's 1974 Cutlass, and the trans in that was in excellent shape. Scott and I bought the wrecked Cutlass for $100.00 and took it to 55 Sweetwood Drive for disassembly.
Scott wanted the engine, I wanted the trans. Scotty also took the power windows and door panels. Scott had a 74 Cutlass that was in need of a power-plant transplant, so everything worked out okay. We pulled out all the parts we needed from the wreaked Cutlass, then Stephen came over with his Demo Saw and cut the car up into little pieces that fit in Vinny's pickup truck. God our neighbours must have hated us.
One quick trip to the speed shop, and $15.00 later, I had a Mr Gasket quick-shift kit for my Turbo 350 trans. I installed it and the Cutlass lived!
That car was geared for highway use. It would cruise effortlessly at 90mph all day long. One night, Rich and I made it home from Seaside to Montclair in 40 minutes. (Rich was driving, I think he actually slowed down to 70 to to through the tollbooths.) With the trans kit, it would chirp 2nd gear under heavy accelleration. I think that car was the best bang for the buck at a total cost of $165.00. Once I'd rechared the air conditioning, you had to run with the windows down at full blast it got so cold. I ended up selling the car to Buck (Ray Jr's moronic bass-playing buddy) for $800.00. Buck melded the car with a semi on rt 80, after taking it into NYC to buy drugs. He survived the incident, the Cutlass wasn't so lucky.
I Still had the Blazer, and drove that up until 1989, when I purchased my first brand new car. a 1989 Jeep Wrangler Islander. It was white, with a 6 cylinder engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. It came with a white hard-top, and I purchased a soft top from J.C. Whitney for the summer months. I was so proud of that Jeep, I washed it every week. it got stolen from outside St Lukes Church in Montclair on December 31 1990. A month later, they found my Jeep in East Orange, it had set on fire - most likely due to some moron pouring gas in the air cleaner to try to get it started. My insurance company totalled the vehicle, and I bought a 1991 Jeep Wrangler Sport. The '91 had a fuel-injected high-output 4.0 liter engine, so this was my first Fuel Injected vehicle. I kept the Soft Top from my previous Jeep, and enjoyed that car up until I met Laura.
Driving to Brian's house one day, Laura complained that "30 year old business men do not DRIVE THESE THINGS" because her hair was being blown about in the wind. Well, I never looked at myself as a business man, but I listened to her anyway and traded in the Wrangler for a 1996 Grand Cherokee Laredo. I got a good price for the Wrangler, it only had 20,000 miles on it and it was 5 years old. The Grand Cherokee was nice, but it was way more civilized than I. At least it had all wheel drive.
Fast forward 6 years and the Grand Cherokee was getting long in the tooth. We traded that in for another Grand Cherokee, this time in Overland Trim. Much nicer vehicle, better equipped with leather seats, climate control etc. I don't get to drive that much, it's Laura's car. So I went out and bought my Subaru WRX in 2004.
I got a lot of flack for buying it, because of it's manual transmission. But the way I look at it, it's my car, and I enjoy driving a stick. Laura has a very nice car, it's not like this is the only vehicle.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
One month, when Al was being more of a prick than usual, I decided to lock the keys to the dryer in my room. He'd given me grief over the phone bill, and I'm not above being petty. Well, Al had laundry, and he wanted to dry it. He wasn't going to hang his clothes outside, so he decided he was going to hot-wire my dryer. he filled the dryer with his wet clothes, and used a kitchen knife to unscrew the front panel. The then used that same knife to cross the connections on the switch - and at that precise moment, his brother Scott walked into the house. Scott was just in time to see Al electrocute himself - someone should have told him that wet hands + stainless steel knife + electricity don't mix. Well, Al jumped back like he'd been bitten by a rottweiler and started dancing around the kitchen like a lunatic.
Needless to say, we all found this hysterical (with the exception of Al, who still had wet clothes and a tingly feeling all over).
I moved in one weekend in February. My father gave me a dresser and a mattress/box spring set and some bedclothes so I had somewhere to sleep, and put my clothes. My room was downstairs, right next to the bathroom. Directly opposite my door was a washing machine. I set up my black and white TV on my dresser, along with a clock radio. I was set.
Rent was $75.00/week. Doesn't sound like much now, but when all you make is $300/week it's a sizable chunk of income. It goes without saying that I didn't have much spare cash after rent, food, gas and car insurance. What little cash I had left, Al made sure he got by padding the phone bill.
Al was the eldest. He was also the cheapest. He was an accountant, and I'm sure he managed to live in the house for free after charging all of us rent/heat/phone/etc. Regardless, it was still better than living in the trailer.
Scott was Al's brother. Scott was a motorcycle mechanic, and I got along ok with him. Over the years we worked on numerous projects together. Please bear with me, I'm going back 20 years, and things get fuzzy sometimes, but I'll do my best to get them straight.
Friday, May 12, 2006
There had already been garage sales and scrounging relatives, so I was left with very few belongings to furnish my home. I had a sleeping bag, a 13" black and white television set and my clothes. Pretty much all of my worldly material things fit into the trunk of my 1970 Pontiac Le Mans.
I woke up one morning, Saturday, September 17th 1983 to be exact, to the sound of someone unlocking my door. There was a gentleman with a key to my house in his hand, and a very quizzical look on his face.
"You're supposed to be gone by now."
"Can I at least take a shower?"
"Absolutely NOT! GET OUT!"
It's times like this you realize that having few belongings is sometimes a blessing. It was right about then that I realized that all of my worldly possessions fit into the trunk of my car. I drove down to the gas station that I worked at and completed my shift. Once my shift was over, I settled in for a good night's rest in the back seat of my Le Mans. Not the most comfortable car, even at my 5'8" stature, I was somewhat cramped. It was dry however, and the weather in September was mild, so all in all it could have been worse.
I managed to go undiscovered for about a week, living in my car and washing up in the ladies room of the gas station. (the men's room was by far the dirtiest of the two. Neither had hot water though) Once my boss realized that I was sleeping in my car, he offered his popup trailer for me to stay in. Well, the bed in it was larger than the back seat of my car, so I reluctantly agreed. The popup trailer was positioned between the gas station itself, and the immaculate conception cemetery. There was a brook that ran behind the gas station, whose babbling sound added to the ambiance, and attracted rats.
It started out, kind of fun. Hey, it was camping after all, and countless Americans spend their free time living in these things. But countless Americans also ride roller coasters in their free time, and I don't think I'd want to live in a roller coaster either.
Twenty-some odd years have a way of clouding one's memory, however, I do recall that September and October were quite pleasant. Come November, the weather started to get a little chilly. By the time December rolled around, temperatures were in the teens. The camper had no heat, but I managed to string an extension cord from the gas station so I could at least have some light. One night in particular, I remember the temperature dropping down to 10 degrees. I think I wore every piece of clothing I owned that night in an attempt to maintain my body's core temperature.
I know that I've glossed over a lot of the exciting details and adventures that took place over that six-month period, and that may or may not be a blessing for you Dear Reader. Perhaps I may come back at a later time to fill in such intricacies as the joys of building a shower out of automotive parts, waking to the sounds of the tire machine and rat-proofing a popup trailer.
By February, I'd pretty much grown sick of camping. I had managed to find a room for rent for $75.00/week so I bid farewell to the popup trailer, and moved to Cedar Grove, NJ.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I got a phone call. My uncle, Richard Davidson, called and asked if I would like to go to a black-tie affair - the reopening of the Baker Theater in Dover. Apparently, the theater is rather old, and had just undergone a major restoration, including a new organ built by my uncle. Well, it sounded like something to do, so I told him that we'd go. Great.
The day of the event, I got another phone call. It seems that my uncle was running late, so he told me that our tickets were at the box office.
"Just tell them you're my nephew" were his instructions.
So I put on my best bib and tucker, left Sara with her Grandmother and Laura and I drove the 30 minutes to the theater. We arrived without incident, upon notifying the woman at the box-office counter that I was Richard Davidson's nephew, she told me that there was a table up front with his name on it. We should sit there.
We went in, the theater is old, but smells of fresh paint. There was a bar at the back with a cheese table in front of it. Up near the stage were some round tables, sized to seat six or so. We found the one with my uncle's name on it and sat down.
Uncle Dick had told us this would be a dinner, so we were starving, however the only sustenance available appeared to be the cheese. Fair enough, I told Laura to stay put while I went and got some food and drink.
When I returned, there were more people sitting at the table. Laura said
"These people work in your uncles paint store"
Well, I thought I knew my uncle pretty well, but I certainly didn't know he had a paint store! Upon further questioning, it became obvious that there was another Richard Davidson. The question was, which Richard Davidson belonged at that table?
Just then, my uncle arrived, and proceeded to prove his identity to the tables occupants by producing his drivers license. After all were satisfied that he was actually Richard Davidson, the question of who belonged at the table still was looming over our heads. On the one hand, my uncle, Richard Davidson, built and installed the organ for the theater. The "other" Richard Davidson, owned a paint store. Call me biased, but I'd say organ trumps paint any day.
Just then, the Richard Davidson of paint store fame arrived. Introductions were made, and he decided that Organ Builder does indeed trump Paint Store owner, and retreated with his employees towards the back of the theater.
Ten minutes later, the curtain rose and spotlights illuminated the stage. There were easels lined up, each holding plaques, with writing way too small for me to read. The proprietor of the theater walked on stage and introduced himself.
He started to thank people who helped him on his 18-year task of renovating the theater. The banker that helped him finance it, his wife and family, contractors that worked with him... No mention of the "magnificent organ" that my uncle built. Finally, he arrived at the last plaque on the stage, and said:
"18 years ago, I bought this theater. I knew that I wanted to restore it to it's former glory, and it's been a long long journey. Throughout those 18 years, I was helped by many, but only one person could I count on for all of those years, only one person who had the same vision, the same drive. Ladies and Gentlemen, look around you. See these walls, that wonderful ceiling, the spectacular trim work and know that every surface, every inch of this wonderful theater is coated in pant that came from RICHARD DAVIDSON'S PAINT STORE!!!!! Where is he???" And with that, he looked directly at our table, but alas, the Richard Davidson he was looking for was not there. Way in the back of the theater, fighting his way up through the crowd was the Real Richard Davidson, the one who should have been sitting where we were.
Sort of like the game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" where Paper covers rock, I guess that Paint does cover Organ after all...
Friday, May 05, 2006
I bring you this post by popular demand.
Let me take you back a few years, to Circa 1999. I was working for a small investment bank in Manhattan. My usual day started out with a 1 1/2 hour trip into NYC, and upon arrival I would proceed directly to Starbucks™ and buy a Grandé coffee.
On this particular morning, I had purchased said coffee and was traversing Times Square, with my coffee in one hand, and in true yuppie fashion, checking my voicemail on my then cutting-edge, Nextel i1000™ Phone. As I stepped onto the curb of 42nd and Broadway, a man, who looked to be in his 70's shouted to me
"That'll kill you."
I was apparently paying more attention to retrieving my voicemail because the only response I offered the man was an inquisative look. The older gentleman then began to scream
"Microwaves! they'll kill you!"
And again, I didn't fully comprehend his warning, certainly not to his satisfaction, because when I looked at my coffee, (wondering if he thought Starbucks™ actually used microwave ovens to heat their coffee. He elaborated on his rant.
"CELLPHONES! they have microwaves!!!" he bellowed. I imagine the shrug I offered him wasn't exactly the emotion he was aiming for because he follwed that with "I hope you DIE!"
Well, let me tell you, my attention had been successfully diverted from my voicemail, and directed towards this elder gentleman.
He had a somewhat scruffy look about him. He had something dangling around his neck, it could have been a camera, or perhaps binoculars, I wasn't paying rapt attention. After delivering his wishes for my early demise, he stood there with half a grin breaking through the stubble of his beard, waiting for my response.
I didn't dissapoint.
After the realization hit me, and remember I still hadn't had enough coffee for me to function at full capacity, I mustered up my most scornfull look and in a commanding voice, shouted "FUCK YOU OLD MAN!"
This had the most gratifying effect of shriveling the troublemaking old bastard - he actually appeard to shrink a few inches in stature, and he slunk off to bother some other poor, undercaffinated soul.
I gotta tell you though, I sure felt pretty damn good after that. Something about yelling obscenities at strangers is highly liberating.
I Must have management potential.
o I like strong coffee. It's not a crime. Every weekday, I go to the Starbucks™ on Broadway and 41st and order a "Grandé Drip, no room" The staff, on the whole, are very nice. They smile, some of them even remember my order, but the amount of coffee that gets disbursed into my cup varies day to day and it's very frustrating.
Did I tell you I like strong coffee? I don't dilute it with dairy products, I don't order the fancy-schmancy latte-frappe-half-caff-double-shot-mocha-cheeenoo, I just order coffee. I even feel weird saying "Grandé" when all I want is "Medium", but I've adapted my language to produce quicker results. I know full well if I say "Medium black coffee" I’ll be corrected on two counts:
- "Grandé is our 'medium'" and
- "We don't add milk, that's at the bar behind you"
So I succumb to their language in hope that I get what the hell I want in a timely fashion without reprimand.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Today, it didn't. I'm sure that after reading a few of my 'blog entries, I come over as an ill-tempered tyrant, insistent on his own way and unable to suffer fools. That's not entirely true. Actually, I'm pretty easy-going, even when I don't get my own way. Plenty of times, I've put up with things, because causing a fuss just isn't my style. Today, I wasn't in a placid mood. I wanted a cup of coffee. not 1/2 a cup, not 3/4. I wanted a cup. So, I stuck to the drill. Wait for the "barista" (whiskey tango foxtrot on that name huh?) to call "Next in line, please step down" and, with incredible clarity, I presented the code: "Grandé coffee, no room please" and handed over my $1.99. What I got was a three-quarters full "Grandé" cup of steaming hot beverage.
My first suspicions came on the trip to the sweetening station. The cup felt a little light. The place was busy, so I decided on further investigation before disturbing the normal flow of commerce within the store. Sure enough, as soon as I'd pried off the lid, I noticed that my cup nowhere near runneth over. Well, I wasn't in the mood to be caffeine deprived, So I immediately turned around and asked them to fill the cup up please. So they did. Rather anti-climactic if you ask me.