Thursday, January 29, 2009

His Naked Nose Was Tortured by the Siren Sweetly Cooking






"Joannie, when I stayed over your house as a boy, after you made me breakfast you'd disappear from the room for a while. Where'd you go?"
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"I never left the kitchen. After I gave you the bacon, I snuck behind you, leaned over your head, and listened to you hum while you chewed."
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Joannie Baloney told me this right before she died at 56 in 1991. Joan was my Mom's middle sister, my godmother and the funniest person I've ever known. On the rare Friday night, Dad took Mom out, I'd stay over Joan's 5th floor apartment at 321 East 85th Street. Rory would stay with another relative because I had first dibs on Joan, and more importantly, there was a unilateral pact in our family ~ under no circumstance were Rory and I allowed to stay over together in any one relative's house. Everybody did it once, and once was enough to trigger this Pryor brothers babysitting boycott. If Mom tried dumping us both on one relative she'd get responses like this.
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"Can't do it, the kids got the German measles and their scratching their asses off."
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"Sorry, Patty, Eddie gashed his leg, and he's bleeding all over the place."
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"Jesus Christ, gotta go."
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Joan's husband, Georgie, worked for UPS and bowled on Friday nights downtown near his Canal Street route. So it was just Joannie & me, the couch, a cool radio and bongos that hung on the wall near the poster of the Spanish Matador, Pepsi Cola, Dipsy Doodles, Wise Potato Chips, Dip, TV with the the Avengers and Emma Peel, the Wild, Wild West, Twilight Zone, Hitchcock, then quiet, no fighting and uninterrupted sleep.
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photos above:
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Joannie and Barbara, my two Ryan aunts
me to the right, well dressed & eating a sandwich
one pound of Oscar Meyer Bacon... yummmmmmmmmm

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mom Gets Even

"OK, on a count of three, when he hits the button make a silly face," Mom said, as we stood on the Pelham El's train platform on our way to Freedomland in the Bronx.

After Dad took the picture, he gave the three of us the silent treatment for an hour, while we walked around the amusement park with Dad moping.

If Dad took an embarrassing picture of Mom, she'd bide her time, and include Rory and me on the revenge scheme, or she'd just put her finger up her nose when Dad said, "Patty, smile!"

Dad hated when Mom ruined his perfect shot.




Friday, January 23, 2009

Lost Weekend



My Lost Weekend lasted 12 days. I ordered golden cake with double chocolate icing for dinner, five times. I devoured 13 velvet cupcakes with lemon vanilla topping. I made 16 Blondie brownies disappear, the last five, hard as rocks nearly cracked my teeth. I imagined each Blondie was a small hero sandwich on extra crusty sugary bread, adding a little Hellman's mayo for realism. To balance my meals, I noshed on an assortment of nuts in a party basket the size of a catcher's mitt and three jumbo bags of lime flavored tortilla chips, my favorite.
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My descent started January 10th at Lincoln's birthday celebration at my apartment. Unknown to me, three guests were cooks. Everyone generously baked sweets or raided bakeries. At the end of the night, the last detail left my house like that part in the circus when all the clowns keep coming out of the little, bitty car. Except this time in reverse. One of Lincoln's friends was driving home to Staten Island, and word flew round the room ~ "Ride." Seven or eight Staten Islanders jumped on the ride to avoid the multi-hour subway ferry trip. Two, forgot sweaters in their haste and no one took any food home.
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This left me with my own personal bake shop, and me, the shop's only customer. I waste nothing. Finding a free newspaper triggers a parade. I was obligated to eat it all. Adding to my plight, the Giants lost to the Eagles the next day. My depression led to three straight golden cake dinners, I thought I was being good by having water instead of milk with the cake, but the way I figure, my meal was in the 2000 to 2500 calorie range.
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Last night, I ate the last brownie, it took a while, my back teeth battled to bite through it. But it's done. In the last 12 days, I've eaten the equivalent of half a dozen Entenmann's Pineapple Crunch Cakes. My belly feels funny. I'm not going through withdrawal because I don't crave sweets, but when they're there...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sam & Me at the Inauguration

Feels terrific to be an American today.

Here I am, last Saturday, starting my trip to the
Inauguration in Washington D.C.

I began my journey on 84th Street and East End Avenue. The Italian guy who takes pictures of kids on the pony was going on vacation for two weeks and he liked the way Sam & me got along. Charlie asked me to take care of Sam while he was away in Lodi, New Jersey visiting relatives who just came over from Palermo. I said, no problem.

Our ride down Mason-Dixon way was smooth. We're staying at the Willard near the White House ~ Sam loves the oats there.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Schadenfreude Soars... Go Cards!




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The Cards burned the Eagles.
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Bye, Bye, Philly.
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Kurt Warner, take the Cardinal mantle from good ol' Charley Johnson.
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In 1966, the Giants had a fan club, and Rory and I were standing members. Membership included free admission to New York Giant Saturday football practices at Yankee Stadium before the seven home games. We dragged Dad up to the Stadium and sat in the bleachers. - (picture above ~ that's me, watching the action, & Rory, facing the camera) - the players came right up to you and occasionally an errant punt or a bad throw would end up in the stands, and you got the opportunity to throw it back on the field. I died for that.
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The friendliest Giant players were Gary Wood, Spider Lockhart and Ernie Koy. But my favorite player to talk to was Charley Johnson, #12, St. Louis Cardinals, QB. He'd come right out to the monuments and play catch with the fans. I knew he went to New Mexico State, and when I yelled "I Love New Mexico!" He threw the ball right at me, and I caught it. The "Duke" in my hands was huge, I threw it back off the laces near the bottom of the ball and threaded a decent spiral. Johnson smiled and gave me a thumbs up.
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I could never root for Charley Johnson against the Giants, but I didn't want him to get hurt and I rooted for him crazy any time he played the Cowboys, Eagles or Redskins.
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I hated Bobby McDonald when I was seven years old. Seeing the Cards beat the Eagles yesterday brought back fond memories of watching the Giants clip the Eagles at Franklin Field.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Don't It Always Seem to Go, That You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone









Ginny put the 45 single on the record player.
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In the fire, it was burning
Sweetheart, I know, I should have been learning
But my pockets, were full of money, yes they were
I had someone, yes I did, to call my honey
But, Ooh, it's love, that makes a woman
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Freddy, Eddie, Ginny and me sang along with Barbara Acklin. It was July 1968, eighth grade was a distant memory that ended a month before. We loafed on the stoop of 403 East 83rd Street. Ginny's Mom was the building's super, we decided we owned the building. The Chapmans' lived on the first floor and Ginny set up a series of extension cords out her front window allowing me to plug in my portable record player. Ginny was an artist, problem solver, and made fun of my stutter. That bothered me, but I liked it.
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It was midnight, I was supposed to stay over Freddie's and he was supposed to stay over my house. Our intention, stay out all night and play records on the stoop till the sun came up. Eddie had the same scam, lying to his Mom that he was staying over a friend's house. Mrs. Chapman gave Ginny a lot of rope. Each of us, had our own 45 records and we took turns rotating our songs on the player. We hung onto the words of every tune, our taste mingled seamlessly, the four of us were a single DJ playing music we loved and pleasing everybody. No alcohol, no drugs, only records.
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Across the street, Mrs. Walsh took her standard position, leaning out her fourth floor window sill with a pillow under her chest and arms. I was the unofficial president of the mother's fan club and out of all the mothers in the neighborhood, we unanimously agreed, Mrs. Walsh was the best looking mother in Yorkville. Dark hair, heartbreaking symmetrical face and smile, oh, that face, great shape, sassy & funny. Her uniform, a moo-moo house dress, 24 hours a day. She always had something to say when we played in front of her house. After I dropped the ball in a Off the Point game, she said, "Hey, Pryor, nice catch." I was sitting on the stoop one day by myself and out of left field, I hear, "Hey, Pryor, what's a matter? You look like you lost your last friend in the world." We mooned over her.
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Mr. Moylen lived on the second floor of the same building. He hated us, hated our noise, and he hated our game in front of his house on the corner of First Avenue. Playing Off the Point, we'd hit the Spauldeen off the sensational crack on the building directly across the street from Moylen's. That meant someone was covering the outfield right under Moylen. If you struck the ball perfectly off the crack, it would fly off the point, gain height over the infielder in the street, soar over the outfielder on the opposite sidewalk, aiming for Moylen's wall. The ball would sometimes hit as high as the third floor, but usually it hit the wall around the second story. The outfielder would wait for the carom, and the infielder would turn and face the wall to back up the outfielder. Unfortunately, the wall had a series of windows and four of them belonged to Moylen. He didn't lean out the window like Mrs Walsh, but he had excellent hearing. When we started a game and Moylen was home, his windows flew open and we had to make a big decision.
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A Spauldeen was expensive, but 401 was the best point in the neighborhood. The point won. Most the time, all was well, rest of the time, someone would hit a beauty, we'd all turn, face the wall, heads up, watching the sweet flight as the ball sailed through Moylen's window. "Gone, gone, gone."
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After the game, we'd go to our locker room, the 403 stoop, plop down, mostly say nothing, then start giving Moylen the business. Ginny loved the boys hanging out on her stoop, and Mrs. Chapman didn't mind most of our stuff. 403 was our home, and when it got warm, when it got dark, the music came out.
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Freddy put on one of his favorites.
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Some girls like to run around, like to handle everything they see
But my girl has more fun around and you know she'd rather be with me
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It was past one o'clock, and Mrs. Chapman opened her window and said, 'Last song." We laughed, we knew she'd leave us alone. Freddy took the Turtles off and Eddie's song was next. Just as he was putting on the Animals, It's my Life, Mrs. Chapman yanked the wires back towards the window and two of the three extension wires detached and disappeared. We were screwed.
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I was a mechanical idiot, Ginny and Freddy looked blank, but Ekis was working on the light pole in front of the building. He was using his house keys trying the take the bottom panel off. It popped off and Eddie took something out of the base of the pole ~ a regular electrical outlet with a one foot extension.
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"Ekis you're a regular Mr. Science." Freddy said.
"Thank you, Mr. Muller." Ekis smiled and motioned his head, signalling me to bring the record player over. I did, and we plugged our music into the pole on the sidewalk, compliments of NYC 's Department of Highways ~ Bureau of Lights. There were a couple of milk boxes near the garbage cans, we grabbed two and Eddie and I DJed the tunes, and Freddy and Ginny drummed their sneakers off the 403 stoop a few feet away. Despite, Mrs. Chapman's "last call," we kept it going. Around one-thirty, we saw Moylen stick his head out his window and figured we had ten minutes. The squad car dropped by and Officer Bulin the old beat cop got out.
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"What are doing?"
"Playing music."
"How?"
"There's a electric outlet on the bottom of the light pole and we figured it was there for emergencies and things, and this was a thing we needed it for."
"It's too late for music, but I've got admit, I didn't know there was a outlet in the pole. That's pretty good, but you can't use it because it's only for emergencies, OK?"
"OK... can we play one last song?"
"That's it, then, good night. I'm circling the block and three minutes from now, I want silence."
"OK, thank you, officer."
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This was a nice man, Eddie put on our last song.
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I remember when I used to play shoot em up
Shoot em up, bang, bang, baby
I remember, when I chased the girls and beat em up
But I was young and didn't understand
But now I'm a grown up man
I know girls are made for kissing, never knew what I was missing
Now my life is not the same, my whole world has been rearranged
I went from cowboys to girls.
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When the song ended, we put the panel back, closed the record player and sat on the stoop silently. Officer Bulin came around the block and gave us a half smile, then he put his head out the driver's side window, cupped a hand by his mouth and yelled up, "Good night, Mrs.Walsh," to the lady waving down from the fourth floor. Officer Bulin thought Mrs. Walsh was pretty too.
******
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Story's title borrowed from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" lyric
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Pictures above:
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Ginny and me at 18, a record player that looks very much like mine, Eddie Ekis & Freddy Muller at 17 &18.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Michael Irvin Knew What Time It Was


"Michael Irvin knew what time it was, why didn't Plaxico know what time it was? If Plaxico knew what time it was..."
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Y.A. Tittle talking to himself after reading the ESPN article below.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Irvin: Men pulled gun, talked Cowboys

ESPN.com news services

DALLAS -- Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin says he calmly chatted with a gunman in another vehicle after the armed passenger turned out to be a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Irvin, who was not harmed, says he was "very afraid."
A Dallas police report says Irvin was stopped at a red light Monday night in North Dallas when two men in a truck pulled up next to him.
The driver rolled down his window, so Irvin did the same, thinking the two men recognized the radio talk show host and television commentator.
The passenger flashed a gun. Then the retired NFL star heard one of them call out his name and mention being a "huge Cowboy fan."
"The passenger pulled out a semiautomatic and I knew what time it was," Irvin told The Dallas Morning News. "But he said, 'Oh, that's Michael Irvin, with the Dallas Cowboys.'"
Irvin says he began talking with the men about the team's disappointing 9-7 season and Dallas not making it to the Super Bowl.
"So we started talking about the Cowboys and everything," Irvin said in the Morning News. "Then they got back on the highway."
The pair eventually drove off.
"I tell you what, I'm glad he was a Cowboy fan," Irvin told the Morning News.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Holey, Moley!


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Redirecting my energies to the stars.
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The link below takes you to the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" archive.
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As Zero Mostel, aka, Max Bailystock said when Ulla walked into the office, "Ooh-Eee, Wow, Wow, Wow."
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Give it to Jacobs!


"Oh, no! Manning!"
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Here I am, watching the Giants self destruct yesterday.
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"Please, Eli, no more sneaks."
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I don't handle big losses well. It took hours and a large piece of golden cake with chocolate icing from Cindy, my baby-sitter, to calm me down after the Giants turned the NFC crown over to the Eagles, or if I have my druthers, the Arizona Cardinals.
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I always wear my birthday hat for big Giant games. Gets me in the mood. Philly played well, we were doo-doo and at least it wasn't the Cowboys.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Question of Balance
























Based on the time it takes to eat to get this fat, who do you think is better prepared for the game tomorrow? Andy "Hey, Parcells, I'm bigger than you"Reid, or Jumping Jack Coughlin?
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Imagine the gas passed in the closed door Eagle coaches meeting?
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Look for me on TV tomorrow. I'm going to the Giants game, thanks to old rugby friend, Jimmy "Millhouse" Quinn. John Harvey's my escort.
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I'll be in the Mezzanine, Sec 208, row 7, seat 7. Ten yard mark on the Giants sideline. I'm wearing the Rocky & Bullwinkle hat in the photo above from my Montreal excursion.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Beautiful Story

Merrill Black wrote a terrific piece in the Sunday Times City Section two weeks ago. It will take you five minutes to read, but it's spirit will touch you all day. Best investment return in town.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/nyregion/thecity/21plum.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=wise%20plumbers&st=cse


This week, the City Section posted my letter to the editor on this well written tale.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/nyregion/thecity/04lett.html?scp=1&sq=wise%20plumbers&st=cse

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Are Looking at Me?


A long time ago, after a tough Giants overtime lost to the Rams in the playoffs, we headed for Sanibel Island to regroup. While walking down the beach, Alison and I passed a couple with Dallas Cowboy sweatshirts on. It was 90 degrees, so this meant they were unnecessarily showing their colors. Alison pointed her carrot at them and yelled, "You go down!"