Eírí as an tobac -(Give up smoking)

It took long enough. After many failed attempts I finally had my last cigarette on January 29, 2016. Smoking since I was 14, full time about 18, mostly one pack a day unless I was out drinking so that would add a few more. I had a few respites, one occurring while sitting in MO’S PLACE, the local watering hole on Super Sunday (January 12, 1975) when a guy who was also trying to give up the smokes bet me $100 to see who would last the longest without a cigarette but the winner had to be smoke free at half time Super Bowl the next year (January 18, 1976). How I remember these particular years is I won a shit load of money betting on the PITTSBURGH STEELERS, winning both years. Thanks Terry Bradshaw, John Stallworth, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, etc. My buddy (we worked together) was smoking by St Paddy’s Day but I lasted until the next Super Bowl. At half time he paid me five crisp twenty dollar bills. I gave one to the bartender, asked for change and a few quarters. I slowly walked over to the vending machine purchasing a pack of Marlboro Reds. OH, THEY TASTED SO SWEET.

   I had so many other frustrating failed attempts to cease, even started a new regimen: No smoking before 4PM on workdays, none after 9PM unless at a Rangers game/concert/bar/etc. Finally, a few days after my 64th birthday it was over. The price was too much. At a NY Rangers game I lost my pack at the pregame restaurant, headed over to the newspaper kiosk on the corner of 31st street and got a pack for $16. SIXTEEN DOLLARS, enough is enough I though so I stopped.During my agony of withdrawal I still had a pack safely stashed away in my coat pocket in case of an emergency and always carried my lighter… everyday for over two years, but finally it is over.

January 29, 2022…six years and counting…

PRAYERS FOR A POST PANDEMIC LIFE

   Screw this shit, I’ve freaking had it. Every few weeks the reports indicate that we are “trending down” on the number of cases having the COVID-19’s newest strain. Then, as soon as I start to have some faith, the numbers jump up and up. Face masks, no face masks, vaccine, no vaccine, the arguments continue. Friends ,some who don’t believe this is real, believe that it is just a way for the “government” to control the populace. “Get over it, asshole”, I boldly state.” I’m sticking to the math and the science” two subjects I hated in school.

   Usually, I await until SPRING/LENT before I work on my resolutions. New Years as a time mark for reflection never made it for me as I was usually preparing for a few weeks of birthday celebrations which would have thrown most resolutions out the door. The last two years for my birthday (this year was a big 7-0) I did absolutely nothing so I WANT TO PARTY, I NEED SOME LIVE MUSIC, I WANT TO SEE MY FRIENDS AGAIN.

   Spring, it is only a few weeks away folks, is the best time of the year for rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. Surprisingly, after my first COVID-19 vaccination and while awaiting my soon to be life changing second shot I put myself on a journey to “reboot” my body systems as well as to check in on some relationships all in preparation of a “new normal” way of life. Oh, I still believe in the adage of “make plans and watch God laugh”,yet I boldly attempted to challenge fate and “make plans”. One only knows if any of it would have worked. But…NO…another strain and a needed booster was all we got. Yet, I persevere and will try and try again.

   The ground rules are simple. The meanings are complex and can be taken a variety of ways, so I’ll explain what I am looking to do.

REBIRTH:a revival, to increase after decline

REJUVENATION: to refresh, repair, revitalize

RENEWAL: to replace something that is worn out
RESURRECTION: a resurgence,a reawakening, a return to life

REGROWTH: to grow back, to regenerate, to recover

  Starting today I will look to get rid of any destructive negativity on my part as well as discounting others who might attempt to inflect ill will, either directly or indirectly toward me and/or mine while at the same time I will attempt to rebuild or strengthen positive outside relationships. That is, I want to be “the better person” not necessarily “a” better person in some relationships. I saved a great (NYT) OP-ED piece from April 6, 2021 “Our personalities are not set in stone. They are more like sand dunes”.

   Olga Khazan, a science writer for The Atlantic, explains that though we may think of ourselves as unchangeable, that’s far from the truth. Scientists have found that adults can alter the five traits that make up a personality — extroversion, openness to experience, emotional stability, agreeableness and conscientiousness — within just a few months. And, as Khazan writes, “What better time for transformation than now, when no one has seen you for a year, and might have forgotten what you were like in the first place?”

Changing our personalities might also allow us to have some more fun. Khazan profiles a woman who, after losing her 29-year-old husband to cancer, has resolved to try dog-sledding and glassblowing once it’s safe to do so. These new activities will require her to become more extroverted and more open to new experiences.

Personality transformation doesn’t just help us grow as individuals, but also as fellow humans: We can emerge from our pandemic bunkers ready to treat one another with more kindness. Khazan points to the trait of agreeableness as one that involves greater empathy and concern for others. “Though the pandemic will end, its scars may take a while to heal,” she writes. “Treating people with patience and, yes, agreeableness, will help in that healing.”

Here’s to a year of fun, empathy and healing.

   I only hope all that is true.

   First order of business for me will be to stop or curtail responding to and/or addressing those things I disagreed with. If it’s not life threatening or truly hurtful I will attempt to let it go.Especially political discussions, religious disclosures, and people with poor musical tastes telling me what they like and why. That will be tough.

   Then, I will make plans, not a “bucket list” but actual calendar dates for normal activities. Also, I will attempt to get/stay healthy. AND, I WILL RESURRECT and I WILL RECOVER.

   In the last few weeks I have taken a personal inventory as well as a physical inventory of my life, my friendships, my possessions, and in doing so I immediately saw “slight” (lol) changes can and should be made. During those moments I reflected on our/my good fortune. In conversations with others ,I am learning to take the low road, to just listen, smile, and nod politely. I will try new places, new adventures, meet with friends old and new, reevaluate my finances, and expect to deal with a few unexpected situations. You’ve probably read somewhere that repetition is key to forming habits and that, on average, it takes 66 days for behavior to become automatic. I hope not. I want to do all this by GROUNG HOG DAY.

to be continued…

 C’mon Over To 14th Street, Ya Dig…

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   SYLVAIN SYLVAIN once a member of the notorious NEW YORK DOLLS had a song “14th Street” recorded with his post-Dolls band THE CRIMINALS. If memory serves me that very tune was played by THE DOLLS during their last breaths of fame, along with the Gamble/Huff song “There’s Gonna Be A Showdown” which has a reference to 14th Street, maybe not our’s but maybe, yes. Fourteenth Street runs across the borough from the East Side to the West Side and is considered the demarcation point separating lower Manhattan from mid-town Manhattan.  This may not mean much to some but at one point most “hipsters” would never considering having any thing to do with things happening much further north of 14th.

   The area around 14th is a trip, a history lesson unto itself. I’ll start with the make up of the area: all streets north of 14th are in traditional “grid” formation, avenues running north/south, streets east/west while south of 14th, well, not so much. “Fourteenth” borders in some form or fashion the East Village, The West Village, Chelsea, Alphabet City, Gramercy and is a major hub for subways and PATH trains.

   Over the years I had many opportunities to enjoy the outdoor markets, hawkers, vendors, bars, restaurants and venues surrounding 14th Street, many times being over served by the bar staff. One of my all time favorite haunts was the original ENRICO and PAGLIERE’S at 64 West 11th Street off of Sixth Avenue, with its wrought iron  basement entrance connecting three beautiful brownstones.Compared to 14th, 11th was quiet and pristine, a residential area. By the time I attended “EandP’s” it was part of a Longchamp’s chain but I had to go after being told every night at about 11 PM by John ZACHERLE on WNEW-FM it was thee place for “good Italian food with all your can drink wine and beer”. What more does a young man need? All you can drink, I’m in. For those who care there is a sad story about the longtime hostess Mrs. Josephine Pagliere who died at age 95. Check it out at NYT:2/7/76.

   GLANCY’S, a corner pub on 14th, across from the Academy of Music/Palladium was another haunt that over served the under served masses. I learned early on “in a crowded bar, tip the bar keep immediately with a nice chunk of change” and you will never need to search for him or him for you. GLANCY’S was one such place. The EMERALD INN around the corner was usually not so crowded but was frequented by the “men in blue” while off duty, many times while still in uniform.

   There was TAD’S STEAK HOUSE, a cheap, cafeteria style (red trays) eating hall. Did I say cheap? Mushrooms and onions are additional charges, and dessert is yummy green jello. This was a wondrous spot where you stood in line while your steak is being either lightly touched to the huge flames in front of you or being burned beyond recognition, your choice. Not a place to impress a date.

   LUCHOW’S German Restaurant was at 110 East 14th. It was the place to go if you had a date you wanted to impress. This is not the place to go if you were heading to see THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND with a few guys. LUCHOW’S food was incredible. For the ALLMAN BROTHERS crowd, have some fun over at HORN and HARDART where you are entertained by watching stoned out hippies trying to get food/drink out of the vending machines.

   For pre-show/post show fun there was JULIAN’S POOL HALL’s staircase entrance to the left of the ACADEMY/PALLADIUM. Bring plenty of expendable cash to lose to all the hustlers awaiting fresh meat or to hawk some heavy drugs.

   UNION SQUARE has a long distinguished history but to us it was the standard meeting place, the place to gather, to meet up, to have a smoke before dinner and a show. Most subways and a PATH train stopped at the Union Square station so its locale was of great importance  Contrary to popular belief, even though UNION SQUARE was the site of the first LABOR DAY PARADE (1882), UNION SQUARE was not named for its ties to union activity but rather it was named as the “union of Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and Eastern Post Road (now extinct)”. Surrounding THE SQUARE was S. KLEIN’S DEPARTMENT STORE, to the north was ANDY WARHOL’S “The Factory” (The Decker Building) which later relocated to 860 Broadway at Union.

   IRVING (Washington Irving) PLAZA was around the corner, and directly across from Union Square on Park Avenue South was MAX’S KANSAS CITY where I would religiously stop by for a few cocktails and regularly for some entertainment, either in the bar  watching the weirdos or upstairs at the showcase to see my beloved HEARTBREAKERS.

   Lastly, there was the ACADEMY OF MUSIC, later THE PALLADIUM. We saw many bands there. It wasn’t FILLMORE EAST but it would do for major bands coming into town for a few years.

THERE’S GONNA BE A SHOWDOWN (Gamble/Huff)

Say man, they tell me you think you’re pretty good

Don’t you know you’re in my neighborhood

They tell me you’re pretty fast on your feet

You best be at the dance hall down on 14th street, you hear

ME@70…

“May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you stay forever young.”- Bob Dylan, ‘Forever Young’

   Today, January 24, 2022 I feel I am still that 16 years old snot nosed kid but now I come with 54 years of additional experiences.When my Mom was still with us I would send her flowers every year on my birth date. Some years the package was delivered to her at work, which was tough for her to explain to co-workers, flowers with the word “Thanks” nothing else written on the card.Then, there was Dad whom I learned a lot from. Pop who would say, when we needed to have “that” long discussion for any indiscretions I might have provoked, “excuses and promises don’t make it for me, Michael” so I got used to working hard to deliver on things I promised. Since that time my hair has changed color, my face has added a few wrinkles, and my bones ache most mornings when I arise but hell, I’m ready for anything the day throws at me. Well, not sky diving as I am still afraid of heights and while I’m at it I’m not particularly fond of the deep water either. I never back down, never give up and am stubborn as a mule. I am loyal to a fault. If you need someone to hold your drink while you want to do something stupid, I’m your guy. And, YES, I am a snob when it comes to “your taste” in music. I still play “A Love Supreme” as often as possible, shook Albert King’s huge hand, had Duane Allman bum a Marlboro Red off of me March of 71, and sang on Todd Rundgren’s “Sons Of 1984”. I’ve had three careers(38 years) all in one school district (custodian, teacher/coach, administrator), am happily married (49 years this anniversary) to a girl I met in first grade, we have two wonderful boys (men), and are proud grandparents. I have a fabulous extended family and miss my brother every day. So, THANK YOU for all the kind words and warm wishes for my 70th completed trip around the sun. And to the cast of knuckleheads, vagabonds, cronies, and sidekicks who joined me on some of my past escapades, We did have fun, didn’t we? With more to come, hopefully. 

  Most importantly, today, my birth date, THANK YOU, Mom and Dad. Look down and smile, I’m still your knucklehead.

“Days and Nights of My Misspent Youth”

“Days and Nights of My Misspent Youth” with a cast of knuckleheads, vagabonds, cronies, sidekicks, and compatriots…

I Never Knew That:

THE TURTLES recorded the single HAPPY TOGETHER (Dec 1966/Jan 1967) 

     (COLOURING THE PAST).Despite what the title implies, this is not a song about a couple in love. According to Gary Bonner, who wrote the song with Alan Gordon, the song is about unrequited love. Our desperate singer wants the girl to “imagine how the world could be so very fine,” proposing what would happen “if I should call you up.” The line in the fadeout, “How is the weather?” is when he realizes they will never be more than passing acquaintances, as he resorts to small talk to keep from bursting into tears.

(Me) Funny how that goes and so goes this…

TICKETS TORN IN HALF: June 3, 1971; FILLMORE EAST:My grandfather had another heart attack, his third, and was in a coma in a hospital in Brooklyn. My grandmother asked if I could visit him again. My parents and grandmother in the room encouraged me to hold his hand and speak to him, as if he could hear me. I gave it a shot, reluctantly. When I did his machines went crazy, his breathing increased, and my grandmother shouted, “He hears you”. I freaked and left the room. After speaking to my parents in the lobby I grabbed the subway to Manhattan for FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION at Fillmore East, late show. I had previously arranged a date with a woman from college who I was finally taking on an official date outside of campus. Tonight, I thought would be our great night out. We were to meet at the door at 11PM. My date never showed. In I went all by myself about 1 AM missing the opening acts. ZAPPA and The TURTLES were amazing (surprised us by playing “Happy Together” at the end.) Alas, my mood was horrible so after “Peaches”, one encore I left, headed home thereby missing  the subsequent encores which had JOHN LENNON and YOKO joining The Mothers. The next day I heard about the encore on the radio but I didn’t care. It was the first time I was ever stood up on a date and I never asked her out again… 

GONE, but not forgotten…

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   This week my phone beeped, the internet burned up, the news flashed photos, all about people I knew or knew of who had passed on to the other side. One was an actress Yvette Mimieux, a true beauty who caught my attention as Weena in THE TIME MACHINE (1960). She also was an epileptic surfer in the TV show “Dr. Kildare”, a TV show my mother had to watch, faithfully. And with only one set in the house that meant we “all” had to watch “Dr. Kildare”. That episode was a big deal as the actress was the first woman to show her navel on an American television program.

  MEATLOAF, an actor famous for “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and also a singer on a multi-million selling album “Bat Out Of Hell” headed to the great beyond. LOUIE ANDERSON, a comedian followed a few hours later.

  This week a family friend passed. A great guy, a musician, and  a funny dude. Last time I saw Dan was at a show, THE ZOMBIES, at the Ethical Center in Manhattan. We shared a few moments together. Monday my mentor, ART GRESSEL a man who has been suffering but persevering for three decades having MS, most recently housed in 24 hour hospice care finally gave up the fight. Rest In Peace, my friend.

   Two NYPD officers were shot, one killed in a “domestic dispute” in Harlem. My thoughts are with all Police Officers who answer the call. And as I was writing this, Clark Gillies #9 of the New York Islanders passed away.

   Geez, what a week. All thoughts and prayers offered.

PooP List for 2021

Pompous and Opinionated (Po-Op)

PooP 2021: Michael C. Hodgkiss 

   Still on my quest to replace most of the (worthwhile) albums I lost during a Long Island hurricane a few years ago. Thousands of albums,45’s, cassettes, magazines, and equipment gone in a flash (flood). Most of my resources are spent on that quest so my purchases to “new” music continue to be somewhat limited to what I know and what I like. Some of my list might be from the previous year or two but so what…

JOHN COLTRANE: A Love Supreme -Live In Seattle, simply the best of the best.

DAVE BRUBECK: Time-Out Takes

BIG BROTHER and THE HOLDING CO.: Live at Monterey Pop

LARKIN POE: Kindred Spirits

JONI MITCHELL; Archives Vol II (67-71)

TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND: Layla (Revisited)

LIZ PHAIR: Soberish

DION: Stomping Grounds

CHAS. LLOYD and THE MARVELS: Tone Poem

PETER FRAMPTON BAND: Frampton Forgets The Words

DINOSAUR, Jr.: Sweep It Into Space

PLANT/KRAUSS: Raise The Roof

also: Bush Tetras 3 disc set, filling in all my missing early Dr. John collections, The KinKs, and Flamin’ Groovies (really hard to find some of the old stuff with Roy Loney but I got ‘em.

(RIP: KPH)

Tickets Torn In Half: JOHNNY WINTER @ B.B. KING’S

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JOHNNY WINTER AND…

   Haven’t tried to comp tickets in quite some time but I gave it a shot by contacting JOHNNY WINTER’s management. I informed them that I was considering writing a piece about JOHNNY WINTER AND (The McCoys) being the head bill at FILLMORE EAST the weekend the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND recorded their live album. The management bit and comped two tickets for JOHNNY WINTER at BB KINGS in NYC. I arrived early, leaving a tix at the will-call for my buddy (former student) and am escorted by my server “Al”  to my seat at a table for 6, while walking there I gave him my drink order, “a double Grey Goose on the rocks with some olives”. Before I sit down and attempt to say hello to the couple already seated there, the hippie looking head banded chick said to Al, “No way, this will not do, we specifically asked to be seated alone as I am a certified claustrophobic”. She proceeds to retrieve paper from her purse but Al the ever cautious server said, “No problem” and asks me to move to the far end of the table to which I do. Her date looks at me with sad eyes as if to say… “Please kill me”.

   My drink arrives and I toast to the sky hoping this night turns out well. A few moments later Al brings another double “courtesy of the house for your inconvenience”. Later, The JON PARIS BAND is hitting the stage and my buddy arrives ordering a round of “whatever Mike’s having”. I have a feeling that this might not end well for me but I solder on and toast my partner in good health. 

   JON PARIS did a nice set and the stage is set for JOHNNY WINTER. The couple at the far end of the table are in conversation about their lives which we could purposely overhear. She was extremely loud trying to impress whomever was listening. We found out that besides being claustrophobic is a “psychic”. Her date is actually melting in the chair trying to hide. Then, as they discussed JOHNNY WINTER whom they have never seen before, the hippie chick asks me, “Excuse me Sir, have you ever seen Johnny Winter before?. No sure if it was the three double Grey Goose on the rocks with another on the way but I responded as nicely as I could, “You’re the fucking psychic, why don’t you tell me?”. My partner almost hit the floor laughing hysterically. Her date nodded.

   PS: Johnny be good…me thinks.

   PPS: Everything was comped. Left Al a great tip.

ONE YEAR and 725 CONVICTIONS

ONE YEAR and 725 CONVICTIONS:

   I feel asleep November 8, 2016 knowing that the Presidential Election results were close but felt assured that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the 45th President of the United States. About 3 AM I awoke with the television in the background on mute. The Electoral College results were on the screen. I saw it but did not believe it…How could a former reality TV host become the 45th President? Did this really happen? Yes, it did. 

   Four years later #45 loses in his re-election bid and with the help of others attempts to overthrow the election results, thereby overthrowing our democracy. January 6, the day The INSURRECTIONISTS caused confusion, damage, and disbelieve to those of us watching the screen. Fortunetly,within one full year there were 725 convictions of those arrested. Yet THE BIG LIE continues.

to be continued…

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER (Part 5-): THE LAST THING I REMEMBER IS LIFE BEFORE…

   A new calendar has replaced the old one on the wall as we celebrate the start of a new year, 2021. My sentiments were positive and fortunately my COVID  symptoms were negative. In a few days time JOE BIDEN will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the USA.  Covid restrictions are being modified, in some cases eliminated.But the data remains.

   The following statistics are for 2021, except the last one.These numbers supplied by the NY Times are for New York State.

January 10:       15956 new cases

March 17:           6964

July 4:                  329

Sept 4:               4459

Jan 4, 2022       66515 

 The ups and downs for the year as indicated on the actual NYT graphs are amazing to view, it represents a ski slope kinda incline. Each can make your head spin. Then, new variants arrive and more folks get sick. I’m what they call “max vax” that is fully vaccinated with a booster but I am still reluctant to travel, enjoy concerts, attend NY Rangers games or hang with some friends at the local tavern. My life has changed drastically since that fateful day in New York City March 10, 2020. Currently, I spend my home bound days reading five daily newspapers, and numerous online magazines. I have revived my stamp and coin collections, practiced new cooking techniques, and most importantly learned how to suppress throat clearing coughs while in the company of others.

“You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.”
~ Hillary DePiano

to be continued…