Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Pretty Smile To Get Into






Another park, another Sunday.
Why is it life turns out that way?
Just when you think you got a good thing,
It seems to slip away.
.
I'm just tryin' to find me,
A pretty smile to get into.
It's true, I'm lost without you.
(Doobie Brothers)
.
.
It's breezy & 34 degrees but I've had it. Three weekends in a row, sick with a nasty sinus infection. I need fresh air. I'm out of here.
.
Off to the park on the bike, I cycled through the Engineer's Gate at 90th Street across the street from the Church of the Heavenly Rest, and put my music on, Another Park, Another Sunday.
.
This song goes through me ~ it gives me a rich complex feeling starting deep in my belly. It's sad but melodically beautiful. It's OK the lyrics get me down. It's good to be reminded of loss. Weigh where you are, and how you feel, gives me a gauge. Central Park is an ideal location for me to do that. I've burrowed through its 843 acres for thousand of hours. Inside the warren, I've climbed, ran, biked, swam, made out, slept, laughed, played, lost a balloon, made promises, watched people, had sex, cried, sealed friendships, fell in love, got high, felt helpless, got lost, fought, made up, said things to people I love that I can never take back. Central Park is organically connected to all my senses.
.
I did five loops but cheated, using the 102th Street transverse to get to the westside. I rarely do the hill from hell at the north end of the park. I have no problem with the hill, but I don't like the long coast down. I lost my recklessness a few summers ago, when I took a piece of meat out of my forehead when I fell off the bike going down a hill and waited three hours in Lenox Hill to get stitches.
.
Met Ronny Hanerfeld and his family in the emergency room; then, Nicky Bowen from 87th Street came in with his group. Each had a kid that needed medical assistance. We had a reunion. It was 96 degrees outside. I had a rag over my eye covering the wound, no shirt on, too bloody, the nurse threw it away. My short shorts creeping up the crack of my ass. So, with me just shy of nude, we reminisced.
.
I'm reading at Cornelia Street Cafe on Wednesday, March 18th @6pm.
.
Come! Throw rotten fruit at my head. I love ducking and making you laugh. See the Cafe's performance schedule at the link below for more information:
.
.
.
.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Before I Die


I'd like to spend a considerable amount of time on a wraparound porch. This house is one of my favorites, it's on Long Beach Island on the Jersey shore.
.
A hundred years ago, I sat on a grass lawn in front of a Victorian house that faced the Rockaway Park boardwalk somewhere west of Playland. We'd visit mom's friend, Ronnie, and dad wouldn't use the shower in the house, so he took me over to Curley's Bath House on 116th Street to get the sand out of our cracks and the salt water off our skin.
.
I loved showering in the low light with the wooden slates under my feet with the water whacking the wood then disappearing beneath the floor.
.
.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

100 Years Old & Feeling Groovy





.

.

.

.

.

.

.
.
.

Slow down, you're moving too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.
.
(Paul Simon, 59th Street Bridge Song)
.
.
"Dad, I can see our park!"
.
Queens bound, 1957, riding over the 59th Street Bridge on the last trolley leaving the kiosk on Second Avenue, I sat on my Dad's lap studying the north Manhattan shoreline intently, looking for my Yorkville neighborhood.
.
This photo is from the bridge's first year. It opened on March 30, 1909.
.
There were still dairy farms along Queens Boulevard in Long Island City and Sunnyside. I saw a picture that was taken in 1918 near the Bliss Street stop at 46th Street. You see the stone #7 subway El and there are cows grazing in the background.
.
If you yodel or sing on the top of your lungs under the El late at night when the traffic is slow, you can produce a tremendous echo. The El's curved ceiling is acoustically sound, I sang "Twenty Five Miles to Go" along with Edwin Starr on my transistor radio. I did it a few times after snowstorms followed by a quick trip to the White Castle on 43rd Street and Queens Boulevard. Got a Slim Whitman thing going once with my yodel.
.
The photo above view is on 59th Street looking east from 2nd Avenue to 1st Avenue. The huge gas tank on the left was on 62nd Street & York Avenue, then called Avenue A.
.
Look at those cobblestones!
.
Happy Birthday, Bridge.
.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reservoir Sunset


.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Day light savings is coming... Don't tell my hip surgeon, when I feel good I run two loops around Central Park's reservoir. Inside track, that's 3.2 miles, but I like the outside bridal path, that's 3.6 miles for two circles. Reminds me of being upstate.

I like to leave the iPod home and take my Walkman with one of my countless running tapes I made between 1982 and 2002, the year I had my first hip replaced.

more later...Garland Jeffreys in the park, the stupidity of running in 102 degrees, bush people, two raccoons in the garbage can I'm leaning & stretching on , 101 Dalmatians

Monday, February 23, 2009

J Geils Band & Salugi



Rudi Papiri, my LaSalle pal, doing the Philly Freeze with the J Geils Band in the school gymnasium during lunch break.
Peter Wolf got down, "Take out your false teeth momma, I want-a suck on your gums. Welcome to the college of musical knowledge!"
Then the Wolfman went into"First I Look at the Purse."

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Artie Peters & me, under hood, pose for our geometry teach, Cool Pat Cullinan on the IRT #6 local in 1969.
.
That same year, Artie and I lost $39.99, plus tax, when we dropped Tina Friedham's Panasonic portable record player while playing salugi with the record player at the 86th Street subway station. Tina alerted our mothers and my grandmother by phone before we got home.
.
.
both photos by Patrick Cullinan, a generous & extraordinary fellow







Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dad at the Parthenon


.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Today, Dad would be shot for sitting on this Parthenon stone at the temple to Athena. In 1948, if you were in the Navy, this was your first stop when visiting Greece at 19 years old.
.
Dad circled the world three times with the Navy and the Merchant Marines. I'll tell you what he told me. They're wonderful stories.
.
be well, Tommy
.
.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Does the Bride Come With Potaaaaa-toes?


Turning 18, graduating from LaSalle Academy, it was time to move along. I enrolled in Hunter College and started ordering drinks other than Coke at Loftus Tavern.
.
Loftus had a new bartender, Murt, a fine fellow. Problem was, his brogue was a wee thick and we had trouble communicating other than when he got mad and told me to pick my window cause I was going through it.
.
I knew spending time with Murt was a valuable life lesson. Dad been telling me bartender stories all my life, and I could see the impact they had on him. I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity.
.
Hunter just invested a lot of money in a new language lab. I took advantage. I borrowed a copy of their "Irish 101" lesson. It changed my life. Murt and I developed a beautiful friendship. He'd go off on a rant and I'd stay right with him. Murt was touched by my effort to learn. My buybacks were plentiful.
.
Fortunately, I found a copy of the lesson on youtube. It's the link below.
.
.
Erin Go Bragh, Tommy
.
.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tommy's Reading, Wed, Mar 18th @6pm @ Cornelia Street Cafe

Murt from Loftus Tavern


Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts
Tommy Pryor

Susan Lewis

Wednesday, March 18th @ 6pm
@ Cornelia Street Cafe
(between West 4th Street & Bleecker Street, just west of Ave of the Americas)

Hello Everyone,

I’m Murt, the old barkeep from Loftus Tavern on York Avenue. If I didn’t throw you out of the place, I certainly hurled your father or mother. My lumbago’s acting up & my doctor said, "Murt, move it.”

Tommy Pryor’s performing at Cornelia Street CafĂ© along with Susan Lewis, a fine poet and fiction writer. Tommy and Susan will beguile you with timeworn tales and poems. Stop your gallivanting and roll your carcasses down there for a fine affair. I’ll be sitting in the back booth nursing my whiskey. Stop by, say hi, then pick your window and I’ll knock you through it.

It’s Tommy’s birthday, I’ll have my Irish up.

Lend an ear, have a pop, your mother approves. Get home safe, Murt



They'll be free beer and wine, for as long as Tommy's money last. He wants to thank his friends for reading his stuff and sticking with him.

Cornelia Street is right around the corner from the West 4th Street subway station off most Westside lines.
click on the link below for performance and other Cafe information:
.
.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pwhy-ya!



Cool Joe, Cool Joe Gonzalez.
.
After the sophomore summer break at LaSalle Academy, half the class came back sexually knowing. This development shook the school, but didn't faze Cool Joe. He went with the flow. Joe transformed from a quiet watchful kid into hip Carlos Santana, long hair, beard and moustache. Joe ran track, Joe was funny, Joe was cool. Joe fit seamlessly into the East Village in 1970. Something, I would have killed to do. Joe was my valued partner in crime. I loved starting trouble with Joe because he knew how to leave the room before the bomb he planted went off.
.
Mr. Beyrer's trigonometry class was right after lunch. Before the class, over our mutually crushed sandwiches, Joe and I decided our whole class would take their shirts off in class at one o'clock, at the first point that Mr. Beyrer a/k/a Uncle Eddie turned his back to the class. Joe and I passed the word to the 35 other kids spread out in the gym that functioned as our lunch room. Many guys were enthused, some humored us with a quick OK. We figured half were on board. We were satisfied we'd get the desired effect.
.
When the second hand hit one o'clock, everyone looked around the room and moved their hands to their shirts. I could see some guys going through the motions, but I had faith we'd make our statement, whatever that was. When Mr. Beyrer turned to write on the blackboard, I looked at Cool Joe on the other side of the room. He was the first to take his shirt off, I didn't notice anyone else. Joe was in, I was in. Neither of us had T-shirts on, so we were sat there nipples to the wind. When Beyrer turned around he said one thing and looked one way.
.
"Pwhy-ya!"
.
Mr. Beyer couldn't say my name. He had a problem with his "R's." I also had a problem with my "R’s." Picking on Beyrer with everyone else took the attention off me. Beyrer pronounced his name, "Buy-wah." He whacked us with his Masters of Science ring from some Catholic college when we imitated him.
.
"Mr. Buy-wah, Mr. Buy-wah!"
.
My name, Pryor, came out of his mouth, "Pwhy-ya."
.
Mr. Beyrer whipped my shirt off my desk, then he let have it, "Pwhy-ya, this, and Pwhy-ya, that," out of the corner of my eye, I saw Cool Joe put his shirt back on, he gave me a smile and a raised eyebrow. Beyrer was focused on me, so everybody else got dressed while I sat half nude.
.
"Pwhy-ya, go to Bwha-the Kevin's office."
.
I made a move to grab my shirt off his desk.
.
"Without the shirt."
.
He could say shirt.
.
I sat in front of the Vice Principal for Discipline's office for 20 minutes. He wasn't home. This gave half the school an opportunity to give me the business, as they passed me sans shirt during the class break. When Brother Kevin showed up, he laughed at me for a good minute. He'd start, then stop, look at me, and start laughing again, did it about three times. Then he invited me in to his office. He hit me the day before for fooling around on the stairs, so I guess I was over my quota for the week. He never asked me what happened. He was a ball buster, but had a dark sense of humor that I enjoyed. That day, I got a piece of it.
.
.
pictures above, going clockwise: Cool Joe, me & Brother Kevin McQuade
.
.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mom Would've had a Baby!



If Mom knew Tom Beller asked me, could he include my story, "Madame Butterfly Goes Down," in his new book, "Mr. Beller's Neighborhood Anthology," Mom would've had a baby. Straight over to Lenox Hill Hospital in a Checker cab and out would pop the baby sister, Rory and I always wanted. Dad would cry over that girl. He'd be mush.

The book will be published this spring by Mr. Beller's Neighborhood Books and distributed by W.W.Norton.

be well, Tommy

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dad Shot Thumper



Dad used to hunt. He didn't golf, so hunting was another made up reason to get out of the house. He never struck me as the hunting type, but once or twice a year, he'd be off upstate for a long weekend. It was a Yorkville man thing in the 1950s and 1960s.

As he was walking out the door in his Elmer Fudd hat with his rifle, Mom told him," If you shoot something, I want you to think about Bambi's mother lying in the woods bleeding to death, and she's thinking about her poor baby left with that heartless bastard father."

Dad's face did tricks when Mom said that. I never seen such complicated movement from Dad's mouth, eyes, cheeks, and eyebrows. He looked heartbroken, sad, angry, confused and through it all still came back to the look, like he wanted to kill Mom.

Well, one time he gets home from hunting, and he ain't talking. I give him a good look over, and I can see he's not playing mum because he's hungover, something's on his mind. He sits in his chair, and Mom starts pressing him.

"What the hell's a matter with you?"

For a long time, he says nothing, but Mom keeps at him, and he tears up. Up to then, I only saw Dad cry over movies. "I watched it die," he said.

"What?"
"I shot a rabbit, then I watched it die."
"You son of a bitch."
"The poor thing was in pain, I'm never hunt again."
"You bet your ass."

And that was that. While Mom and Dad were talking, I began to think about Thumper. Dad loved Thumper, he drew him and Bambi for Rory & me all the time. Dad shot Thumper. I had nothing to to say.

The next day it snowed heavy, I asked, "Dad, since you're not going to hunt anymore can I use your pigskin gloves?"

Dad gave me one of his "you're out of your mind" looks, he loved those yellow gloves, had them since 1952, then, he thought it over and said, "OK."

I flew over to Central Park with Rory and the McNamara brothers. We worked the hill on 79th Street until we were soaked to the bone. When the chills got us, we dragged our sleighs back home. Mom wouldn't let us in the house until we took off everything but our drawers in the hallway. I was hoping to go back up to the park that night, so I needed to get everything dried quick. I wrapped my dungarees and long johns around the steam pole and put my socks, sweatshirt and dad's pigskin gloves on the radiator. An hour later, I went to check on everything. My dungarees and long johns were almost dried, then, I went to the radiator. The socks were fine, but Dad's gloves looked like shrunken voodoo heads. The fingers were blackened and curled up like they wanted to take a nap, for forever. They were half their normal size. Resembled beef jerky.

Before I could say I lost them, Dad came in the house and saw me looking them over. I tried to palm them down my underwear. They were too hot. He walked up to me and took one of the gloves out of my hand. Dad didn't hit, but sometimes I wished he did, rather than deal with his leaning in, verbal assaults. I could see he was about to rip into me and I rushed to say, "Dad I'm really sorry, I didn't mean it, and you're not going hunting anymore, right?"
.
His face switched over, he was thinking about the bunny. He held the glove up, looked at it once, gave it back to me and walked away.
.
.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lorenzo Saint DuBois



My daughter, Alison, deejays a radio show at her college. On her Valentine's Day show she played a bunch of dedications for friends and family. She dedicated "April Fools," to me. I was touched Ali remembered I love the song. Later in the show, she put Lorenzo Saint DuBois into the rotation with "Love Power."

This song from the original 1967 Mel Brooks film, "The Producers," is psychedelically speaking, the greatest love song ever recorded. And who better to perform the number than the supreme nut job, Dick Shawn aka LSD. This tune is so cool, Yo Lo Tengo covers it. See the film, be awed.

Take it, LSD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkYBJId7WZs

Love power. I'm talking about love power. The power of a sweet flower is gonna rule the earth. And there'll be a great rebirth. Love is a flower that is fine. When I'm walkin' with my darlin' and we're holding hands,and life is fine, 'cause she understands.' A walking down the sunny street givin' pretty flowers to the people that we meet. And I give a flower to the big fat cop, he takes his club and he beats me up.I give a flower to the garbage man, he stuffs my girl in the garbage can. And I give it to the landlord, when the rent comes 'round. He throws it in the toilet and he flush it down. It goes into the sewer, with the yuck running through her, And it runs into the river that we drink. Hey world, you stink! Ah, man it's later than you think Girl you got just one more chance. Come on baby, while I dance. Love, love power. I'm talking 'bout love power. The power of a little flower. You don't think 'bout no little flowers,Oh no, all you think about is guns. If everybody in the world today had a flower instead of a gun, there would be no wars. There would be one big smell-in.

Just the flowers. Hey, man, a flower. A flower. What you do to my flower, man? You hurt it, like everything else. Everything else. Flowers.

.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day Polo Grounds & Dad!






















"Hey Dad, who were you just talking to down at the end of the bar?"
"Oh, that's Al Dorow, the quarterback for the New York Titans."

It was fall 1961, Dad and I were in Loftus Tavern after throwing the ball around outside on York Avenue. My two teams, the New York Giants, football, and the Yankees, baseball, were playing well, the Yankees won the World Series in October and the Giants were on their way to the NFL championship game. The Titans, in their second year in the new American Football League, were barely catching my attention at 7 yrs old. But Al Dorow, was a professional football player, and he did talk to my Dad, so that made him important in my life.

"Dad, will you take me to a Titan game?"

The next Saturday, Dad took me to the Polo Grounds where we saw the Titans beat the Oakland Raiders. That was my first visit to the Polo Grounds, the Natural History Museum of ballparks compared to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yankee Stadium. Even at 7, I recognized I was in a place like no other, and it was going to go away forever, you could see it, smell it, hear it, feel it. Being small, only emphasized how out sized the space was, first time I saw a picture of St. Peter's Basilica I thought of the Polo Grounds.

The next year, 1962, was the Mets first year. I punished my father for not taking me to New York Giants football games, so he made it up to me by taking me to many, many baseball games. When the Yankees were out of town it was only natural that he would take me up to the Polo Grounds for a Met game and he picked a beaut for our first outing.

Friday night, June 1, 1962, the New York Mets versus the San Francisco Giants. The first New York appearance by the Giants since they ran away from home with the Brooklyn Dodgers after the 1957 season and never came back.

Even though there were nearly 45,000 people there, Dad found us two seats high up in the grandstands right behind home plate in Section 1. The crowd's energy felt like they just left Circus Maximus, saw too few Christians die and wanted blood, now!

Dad did a score card in pencil, and I remember getting excited about three names, Paul Pryor, the third base umpire had the same last name as mine; Augie Donatelli, the head umpire behind the plate had the greatest sounding umpire's name I ever heard; and Willie Mays, in my mind Mickey Mantle's arch rival, was starting in centerfield for the Giants.

By the time the game started, there were two ejections in the section next to us. By the third inning, Dad threatened the guy behind us, "If one more drop of beer touches my kid's head, you and I have a problem." The guy said nothing. I stayed dry. In the top of the fifth, Willie Mays hit a homer, the only homer I would ever see Willie hit live. The homer triggered fights on top of us, below us and to each of our sides. I spent the sixth inning under my father's seat watching the game from between his legs. Dad pressed me to leave and I agreed when the Giants went up 9-1 in the top of the 7th inning.

I held Dad's hand walking to the subway, I knew he liked that.
.
.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sadie Hawkins Day


All you ladies out there, your prayers are answered, your wishes fulfilled.

Here are three of the men you'll be hunting tomorrow in our annual Sadie Hawkins Day here at Sanita Hills Scout camp.

These eligible bachelors bring knocks to young girls knees all over the county.

Charlie, Eddie & Artie may be the first Jug Band whose members all get married on the same Sadie Hawkins Day.

Daisy Mae and Marrying Sam


Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of Dogpatch's earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins. The "homeliest gal in all them hills", she grew frantic waiting for suitors to come a-courtin'. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father was even more frantic - about Sadie living at home for the rest of his life. In desperation, he called together all the unmarried men of Dogpatch and declared it "Sadie Hawkins Day". Specifically, a foot race was decreed, with Sadie in hot pursuit of the town's eligible bachelors - and matrimony as the consequence.
"When ah fires [my gun], all o' yo' kin start a-runnin! When ah fires agin - after givin' yo' a fair start - Sadie starts a runnin'. Th' one she ketches'll be her husbin."

JUBILATION T. CORNPONE

De Paul/Mercer/sung by Stubby Kaye

When we fought the Yankees and annihilation was near,
Who was there to lead the charge that took us safe to the rear?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone; Old
"Toot your own horn - pone."
Jubilation T. Cornpone, a man who knew no fear!
Though he's gone to his reward, his mighty torch is still lit.
First in war. First in peace. First to holler, "I quit!"
Jubilation T. Cornpone.

.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Last Night, I Dreamed I Went to Mandalay

"Last night, I dreamed I went to Mandalay again," Naaaa, that's Daphne Du Maurier.
.
Last night, I watched the film, Rebecca, and ate leftover cold noodles and sauteed string beans with hot oil from Szechuan Cottage on York Avenue.
.
After the Hitchcock film, I went to bed and had a strange dream.

I was in the land of my father's paintings and in front of one certain moon lit snowy scene stood
an angel with a head that looked very much like Elsa Lancaster in the Bride of Frankenstein. Her hands locked in prayer, she paid adoration to
Pee Wee Herman with Teridockle wrapped nervously around one of his legs. He wasn't there, but I could hear Charles Laughton's booming voice barking from far away, "Where the hell's my wife!"
.
When I woke, it was easy to remember the dream's details, but impossible to get their meaning.

Was Dad secretly into Pee Wee and never told me?

Has someone been stealing the heads off my daughter, Alison's Barbie dolls and freaking out people by putting the heads on Christmas angels?

Should I stop eating hot oil after 11pm?
.
Excuse me, I have to go back and finish a good cry, I'm watching Lassie Come Home on TV.
"I'm putting a light in the window tonight. Per chance, She's just gone for a long run."
.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Grandmothers, Dutch & Cuckoo



August 26, 1968, Narrowsburg, New York.

Dear Mom & Dad, Camp's Great! I made two friends yesterday and they only hid my eyeglasses for three hours. Tomorrow they are going to show me how to make a splint for the arm they broke for me.

Love, Sonny Boy

Scout Camp was getting to me. Heat, Mosquitos, Counselors. Every day, we were forced to sit down for a half hour and write postcards. Didn't matter whether you had anyone to write to, during that half hour, you could do nothing other than write in your tent. The first day I wrote two postcards, one to my Nan Dutch and one to my Nan Cuckoo or Kook for short. I was 14. This is embarrassing, let me explain the names.

My mother's parents name was Ryan. They lived on York Avenue between 85th and 86th Street. They had a backyard off the kitchen of their first floor railroad apartment. The Ryans next door neighbor had a German Shepherd named Dutchess. I called the dog, "Dutch."

My father's parents lived on York Avenue between 83rd and 84th Streets. Their name was Pryor Rode, you know second marriage name plus first in front. I couldn't pronounce the two names, so I called them Nan and Pop "Cuckoo" because they had a beautiful cuckoo clock in their kitchen.

The nicknames stuck. My parents got a kick out of this, so did the Ryans, not true with the Pryor Rodes. I remember a conversation between Nan Kook & me when I was around 6 yrs old.

"Tommy, you know I'm a big lady and your other nanny is not so big, so why not call me Big Nanny, and call your other nanny, Little Nanny, OK?"

"That's silly, your Nanny Cuckoo!"

My grandmother ran her hand through her hair and that was the end of that.

Here's the first postcard. They're both widowed at this point.

Dear Nan Dutch, I miss you, please send me two bundt cakes with lots of powdered sugar. Camp's great! We swim every day. love, Tommy

Here's the other one.

Dear Nan Kook, I miss you, you miss me? Camp's great! please send me a lot of cans of Bumble Bee tuna and a ballpoint pen this one's running out of ink. love, Tommy

On the Saturday after we arrived at Ten Mile River on a Sunday, I get a huge box in the mail with two bundt cakes in it. "God bless, Nan Dutch!" And a smaller box with six cans of tuna. "I Love you, Nanny Cuckoo!" Holding a can of tuna in my hand it dawned on me, we had no mayo and there was no mayonnaise at the post to be bought, these cans were useless, i forgot to ask for the Hellman's, tuna is cat food without the blue label condiment. Upset, but still happy about the bundt cakes, I put them under my bunk and covered the cakes with the box they came in.

We went for our afternoon swim in the lake. An hour later, we got back to the camp site. My tent looked like it had a stroke. I looked into the opening, and saw a humongous raccoon with half a cake in its mouth splitting out the backside of the tent. I hate camp.

photo above, compliments of Gerard, Mickey Mantle playing first base in his final summer in Yankee Stadium (1968).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rocky Colavito at Ten Mile River


"I need a Yodel."
"I need a Yankee Doodle"
"I need a rock to throw at your head. Shut up, I'm trying to listen to the Yankee game." I said to Dennis & Artie, while holding the transistor to my ear, desperately moving the radio around to pick up Phil Rizzuto's voice on an AM station far away.
.
We were in Ten Mile River Scout Camp in Narrowsburg, New York. Troop 654, from Yorkville, Manhattan. After two weeks, we were all sick of the camp's steamed food. When we cooked, we screwed it up. We craved Hostess and Drakes Cakes. One kid said, "I Want a Funny Bone!" The cake with the peanut butter vomit in it. Someone threw something at him. Good.
.
I thought the guy who invented Funny Bones was the same guy who invented the soda called Wink with the grapefruit pulp in it. Yeah, he must have said, "kids love fruit pulp in their sodas, and I'm going to shove a load of pulp in there."
.
Remarkably, one of my childhood heroes, Rocky Colavito, the smooth slugger who resembled my Dad was pitching for the Yankees. "The Rock," four home runs in one game, was on the mound, it was August 25, 1968. Less than three months to the Beatles While Album release. In eleven months, we'd be on the moon, Woodstock, and the first Giant & Jet exhibition game at Yale Bowl.
.
With my free hand, I scratched the countless mosquito bites on my legs and butt, then I heard, "Dobson lines a one bouncer to Horace "No Double Play" Clarke, Clarke handles the ball cleanly and fires a strike to Mickey Mantle on first. Heeeee's Out!" Naaaa, the radio voice was fuzzy but I did hear Clarke throw the ball to Mantle and that Colavito was out of the inning with no runs, leaving two men on base.
.
Yankees were down 5-1, going into the bottom of the sixth, Artie, Dennis and I were supposed to be policing the camp site and working on some kind of Scout merit badge. I had already achieved my badge limit, Cooking, Hiking, Whatever its called for using a map properly, and the One Mile Swim. Four were plenty. I earned a significant goof off period and planned on taking these two guys to hell with me.
.
More TMR and Colavito tomorrow.
.
photo courtesy of Gerard Murphy
.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coney Island Inanimate Object Party





















...

My stomach's feeling funny. I'm sitting in the Yorkville Diner and I can't figure out what to eat but somehow end up with a Diet Coke, Ice Tea and water. My belly is miserable, I don't want anything. I don't know what I'm doing out? I want exercise, I've been sick for four days and miss the bicycle and the gym. Me thinks, it's the plague, I coughed up a toad and a rodent's leg.
.
Last fall, I biked to Coney Island at the end of the season two times, and each time the weather was warm, sunny and breezy. I love riding the bike over the Cropsey bridge and officially landing on the Island of Coney. The first time, I took two hundred photos, rode like a bandit, then sat down and had a cold fruit snack, while I'm eating, I reach for my camera and it's gone. I couldn't believe I was distracted enough to be robbed, so I thought I dropped it through a hole in the boardwalk. The camera was small enough to drop through several holes in the area I was sitting, and moving around a bit. I decided to go under the boardwalk and find the camera. I wormed through a fence and got under it and it was strange. Hadn't done that in thirty years or more. Its cold and dark mixed with shafts of thin ethereal light off the sand and the pillars. While I looked for the camera I found things, a yellow rubber ball, a blue plastic necklace, a whiffle ball, a gold metal necklace, things from Davey Jones Locker, but unfortunately no camera, I took my new things home with me and brought them back to Coney Island the next weekend with my new new camera. Then we celebrated being all together again by having an Inanimate Object Party that was filmed by my new new camera. When I am better, I will take everyone back out to Coney for another party.
.
Here is my first column in the terrific new Eastside newspaper, the NYC Informer
.
if you like the article please rate it, thanks, Tommy
.

Friday, February 6, 2009

To Celebrate, I'm taking the #4 to old Yankee Stadium, then I'm going down Carl Schurz Park for a Catch

















The New York Times added "Yorkville Stoops to Nuts," to their City Room page ~ see the article linked below.
.
If they were around to see it, Dad would've had a baby, and Mom would've called her sisters and kissed me silly.
.
.
.
.
I'm ten years old, down John Jay Park, and I'm coming up to the plate for the Yorkville Stars. All of a sudden, Dad is behind me at the fence, and gets my attention before I step in to the batter's box.
.
"Hey, Tommy, where are you?"
"Bottom of the ninth."
"How you doing?"
"We need a big inning."
"What's the score?"
"14-2."
.
You can see my blue Yorkville Stars baseball shirt under the red jacket in the picture above.
.
Check out the rightfield bullpen in the 1958 Yankee Stadium photo, and the Gun ad in the background on River Avenue.
.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There's a Riot Going On!


My arthritis is acting up. Dad said, his felt like broken glass in his neck. Mine's like this...
.
My spine and its soft tissue neighbors are an ‘Old Law’ five-story walk-up. A tilting windmill with missing mortar between its bricks, and “C” violations citing structural weakness. The building has no tenants, only squatters. No one pays rent but everybody enjoys the space. Parties rage and the racket rocks the walls all the way to the cellar, my sacrum. The tenement faces Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side. The squatters steeped in a long tradition of anarchy, bait the cops blasting, “There’s a Riot Going On,” from speakers lined along the roof’s parapet wall. The cops’ dogs bark back.

My favorite squatters, the rotators, live on the 4th floor on the right. They recently formed a small orchestra despite their complete lack of harmony and inability to ever be in tune. They are rude and indiscriminate about when they play, or how loud. They stagger through the halls trying to drag other apartments into the conflict.

On the 5th floor are the building’s nasty drunks, trap and neck muscles. Always irritable, they can’t keep still and fight with everyone. They have a nasty relationship with the couple below them the rhomboids and the lats. Trap and neck drink to all hours banging and screaming through the night about the peanut subsidy. This pisses off the rhomboids and lats who get all wound up as trap and neck finally pass out crashing to the floor... Now it’s their turn… Popping up off the couch, bouncing down the front stoop, rhomboids and lats veer through the streets to the liquor store, where they fill up their cart like it’s the day before Prohibition kicks off.

On the way back to the building, punching each other in the arm, they drop into the Tropicana Club, making sure Ricky brings the entire band home for the lease breaking party, “Babaloo, Boom, boom, boom.” These fellows are mischief. Each has been known to start a fight coming out of their sleep without being fully awake, so by the time they are awake, someone’s got someone else in a headlock for no apparent reason.

The back of the building holds its own secrets. Think of it as the set for Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” tension and anxiety viewed through every window. Pull out your binoculars and voyeur away. In this film, there are four to five Raymond Burrs scurrying around burying their hacked up spouses in the backyard. The flower bed is a mess.

The front of the building is deceptive. It appears structurally sound, but it’s out of rhythm. The outward sign of serenity leaves the building’s rear resentful, disturbed. Especially, about the couple in the top front apartment who enjoy reading. Occasionally, when their small reading lamp is lit, the entire building comes to a reluctant rest. A clear moment. The quiet is deafening. Beneath the floorboards a slow steady drumming builds, out of the silence in a rare show of solidarity comes a roar from the building’s core tearing the peaceful lull apart. Snap!
.
The front muscle attachments curl, tangle, and knot into a spasm. This brings the lights on in every apartment. The beat steps up, pumping up the pain…

.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The New York Times Picked Up "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts"


The New York Times ~ City Room section picked up "Yorkville: Stoops to Nuts" today.
.
If you go the link below, the City Room page opens. On the right hand side, down a bit, is a blog roll with different categories listed alphabetically. Under "People & Neighborhoods" you'll find "Yorkville Stoops to Nuts" on the bottom.
.
I'm silly happy & my stories are cooking.
.
hugs, Tommy


http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/?scp=1-spot&sq=city%20room&st=cse

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm With Child ~ What Are You Looking At?


Isis , my friend Nikki's baby, paid me a visit today. Isis was born 10 days ago and the little cutie eyeballed me the way that fellow did in the Laurel & Hardy shorts. Remember James Finlayson, the Bald-pated, handlebar-mustachioed actor, remembered for his "slow burn"?
.
Isis said, ""Hey, Tommy, what are looking at? Keep it up I'll punch you in the eyeball."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I'll Never Lose Affection for People and Things That Went Before



Sometime in the last few months, a great number of my Lps & 45 singles were taken from my apartment. I've looked everywhere.
.
The reason I looked in the first place, I'm writing a story about the day I bought the Beatles White Album at Alexanders' on 59th Street. Inside the sleeve of my White Album was the original New York Times review dated November 21, 1968. It meant much to me. It was the first time I bought the Times. It raised my Mom's attention, we were a Daily News and Mirror family. When the record came out I had to gather all reports on 30 new Beatle songs.
.
I pulled everything out, can't find them. It's like someone was trying to hurt me surgically, because those missing are tied to my soul, the White Album, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Pepper, Band on the Run, Tug of War, Ram, McCartney, Venus and Mars, Exile on Main Street, Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Making Movies, Doors, The Cars, Tommy, Who's Next, Quadrephenia, and many, many more... Someone crushed my heart with a cinder block.
.
I don't think anything else was taken in the apartment. Nothing was messed up. I've looked everywhere three times, and the selectivity of the records missing works against me finding them, I'd never put this group of albums together. I played Band on the Run a few months ago, making a tape for a friend, so it happened after that. And the records were worthless to sell, they're scratched and the album covers look like they'd been through a war. Lots of Scotch tape on all of them. It hurts, I'm not even mad, just deeply sad.
.
McCartney ~ bought the album on St. Paddy's day 1970 and went up Buddy's apartment on 80th Street to listen to it. We drank Ripple Red and split a bag of Barbecue potato chips looking out the window at St. Monica's directly across the street.
.
Down Freddy Muller's 414 East 83rd Street's cellar in January, 1969, dancing close with a girl to the Beatles Long, Long, Long Time. Freddy's dad was the building super and Freddy slipped me the keys. I was so excited when we danced cheek to cheek listening to George whisper sing the song, I broke out in hives. Scared the heck out of the girl. Me too, i thought I was dying.
.
Listening to the Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers, with Ronny Hanerfeld and others, hiding in Mayo's grocery basement freezer on York Avenue in 1972 drinking Miller High Life beer out of the cases we were sitting on. We plugged the portable record player into the wall socket. Five of us snuck down there to get out of the heat.
.
Inside Revolver's album cover was the first greeting card I ever got from a girl. My first girlfriend and her friends, gave me a get well card when I had my appendix out in St. John's on Queens Blvd when I was 15. My hospital roommate kept sneaking out at night to see the same movie at the Elmwood Theatre one block away.
.
I hoped Alison would find the 1968 Times review someday, and notice the review date was the same day as her birthday, November 21st, nineteen years earlier.
.
Tangible memories of my young life in Yorkville, gone. Johnny, help me here.
.
Though I know I'll never lose affection,
For people and things that went before.
I know I'll often stop and think about them,
In my life I love you more.
.
.