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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/29

The  floating bookshop was rained out today. Here's something my childhood buddy Bill sent me in an email. You may not know whether to laugh or cry.
It's time again for the annual Stella Awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck, who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's where she purchased it. She took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving.
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania , who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions?
Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000....oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.
This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down?
$1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
RIP Davy Jones of the Monkees, who succumbed to a heart attack at 65. He put a smile on many faces.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/28

I've read 112 pages of the proof copy of Killing. So far there have been three problematic issues. I found a couple of sentences where I neglected to modify the Brooklynese, using den for then. There's been one spelling error, and one combination of paragraphs wherein two characters have dialogue. I could probably get away with leaving that as it is. I recently read a novel where it occurred frequently, so it is not uncommon, but it would be inconsistent with the rest of the book. One thing I won't do is demand the changes if it costs Victoria money. I never expected to see Killing in print, so I feel I owe her, and almost any version would be gravy. I guess I'm still hoping some big shot in the publishing world will see it and offer me a contract. This may delay the publication by a week or so. Since the forecast for tomorrow is rain, I will do a lot of reading. There comes a point when a book has to be let go. I've said this to many writer friends - a book is never finished. It may get to 99%, but something will always pop into the head about what should have been said. I should finish reviewing the proof before Saturday, when I'll visit my sister. I can't wait to see the expression on her face when I give it to her.
John, who has purchased several books from me, including Close to the Edge, is having his own problems trying to get his novel published through Book Locker. His niece designed a beautiful cover but has had difficulty meeting the specifications. It costs him $45 every time he has to make a change. I'd be so pissed. I thank him for buying the thick tome on illustrator N. C. Wyeth, and also thank the woman who purchased the VHS version of The Godfather. At one dollar, I made her an offer she couldn't refuse. I also gave It's a Wonderful Life to the 84-year-old vet who has put a lot of money in my pocket through his book donations.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/27

I didn't watch the Academy Awards. I don't see the point in sitting through three hours of mostly boredom when the results will be in the morning paper. Christopher Plummer was awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, which unearthed an amusing gem about him. He starred as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965), a role he was embarrassed to have played. He subsequently referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus, despite its worldwide popularity. Why would someone who co-starred with the beautiful and talented Julie Andrews and Eleanor Parker, was directed by Robert Wise (West Side Story) in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, regret his participation? Maybe he was the diva in that power-packed lineup. The film is rated 7.9 out of ten at IMDb. I saw it a long time ago and was surprised that I liked it.
I felt almost like a normal working guy today. I accompanied a handicapped woman to three medical offices, then ran the floating bookshop for a couple of hours, and the mailman delivered a $50 check from Springboard Surveys. I thank the two Russians who bought books in their native language, and Marie, who dropped off four CDs, two Jeff Becks, A Grateful Dead and a hard rock compilation. I hoped Will, a local security guard who has bought a lot of music from me, would pass. Sure enough, he stopped by on his way to a late lunch at Ali Baba's gyro truck, and purchased all four. Thank you, Sir. Every time Marie shows I greet her with the phrase from the old Italian-American standard: "Way, Marie." It is all I remember from the song, which was sung at every wedding reception I attended as a kid. Marie is a great lady, knowledgeable about movies and music. I always enjoying conversing with her.
Now playing on the Martini in the Morning stream: The hilarious main them from Frank Loesser's classic Guys and Dolls, sung by Dean Martin and others. "When a bum buys wine like a bum can't afford, It's a cinch the bum is under the thumb of some little broad." And that's only one of that tune's incredible couplets - and only one of four show stoppers, along with Adelaide's Lament, Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat, and Luck Be a Lady. The film version, although extremely popular in its day (1955), is a disaster in retrospect. Marlon Brando was cast as Sky Masterson. "Brando sings," was the hook. It was an interesting novelty at the time, and Brando has to be credited with having taken the chance of making a fool of himself, but it was a crime that Frank Sinatra, who played Nathan Detroit, wasn't the lead and Dean Martin the second banana. It would have held up so much better, done greater service to the work of genius it is.
And now for the best thing about to today - the proof of Killing arrived. It comes in at 373 pages. I will be on pins and needles reading it the next few days, hoping it will not have to be amended. Eternal thanks to my literary angel, Victoria Valentine.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/26

Emilio Fernandez appeared in 89 films in the U.S and Mexico, he directed 43 in his native land and was given screenwriting credit in 42. Many overlap. His most notable role was as the Generale, hot women draped all over him, in Samuel Peckinpah's 1969 bloodfest, The Wild Bunch, the movie that introduced the realism of the effects of being shot. His biggest claim to fame came as a shock when I read about it minutes ago at Yahoo. Nicknamed "El Indio," he fled Mexico for Los Angeles in the 1920s, exiled after supporting a failed revolutionary uprising led by Adolfo de la Huerta. A strapping young man, he was asked in 1929 to pose in the nude for the statuette that became the Oscar. Here's a photo of him in character years later:

And no, he did not utter that immortal line so frequently repeated by film buffs, although you'd swear he did judging by the pic: "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges."
I caught up to Captain America last night, courtesy of Netflix. Although I enjoined the part that detailed his origins - I didn't know he was a Brooklynite - the rest was standard action fare. It pales in comparison to The Dark Knight, Spiderman and The Watchmen. I'm surprised it made a couple of Top Ten lists. On a scale of five, two-and-a-half.
I took the floating bookshop to Avenue U between West 7th & 8th today - big mistake. It was the first session of no sales in a while. I reminded myself how lucky I was yesterday and how grateful I should be that Killing is about to be issued in print, but I was still pissed.
Now playing on the 57 Radio Stream: the Shangri-Las Remember - Walking in the Sand. I recall a girl who claimed to have met them after a show saying: "They're so conceited." Who cares? Those girls made some great records. These days my favorite by them is "You Can Never Go Home Anymore." A little silly, perhaps, but they nailed the sentiment perfectly.
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/25

Sometimes crazy works. The forecast was for high winds, gusts of 50 mph. As I left my buddy Bags' house, I looked toward the huge flag about a quarter mile away. It was blowing directly left, same as when I walked to McDonalds for my Saturday crispy salad. The breeze was coming right down 86th Street, which meant there was a chance it would be blocked by the Chase bank on Bay Parkway. I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a look. Sure enough, the flag hanging in front of the building wasn't moving much. I decided to give the floating bookshop a go. I wasn't going home and starting another book, as the proof copy of Killing is due Monday or Tuesday, and I want to make sure it's in tip top shape before I give final approval. I could always pack up if conditions became too severe. My foolishness was immediately rewarded, as a Russian gentleman bought five books in his native tongue. Spasibo, sir. So even when snow flurries began to swirl through the air and passersby were looking at me as if I were nuts, it was easy to take, knowing I had some money in my pocket. Then Miguel, who I hadn't seen in months, showed. He is convinced the President is a Muslim. "It's right there in his book," he said. "Read it." He overpaid for a book on the Freemasons, an organization as hard to figure as the Church of Scientology. Gracias, amigo.
The only disappointment was not seeing Jack, employee of Chase, who has purchased at least 30 thrillers from me the past six months. I wonder if he no longer works on Saturday or if he has moved on to something bigger and better. Maybe he's simply overstocked.
Last night I watched most of The Kennel Murder Case (1933), broadcast on NET, starring William Powell as P.I. Philo Vance. I laughed out loud when George Chandler appeared as a reporter. Of all the actors I've researched at IMDb, Chandler has the most credits, a whopping 446. The only other actor I've found with more than 400 (421) is Vernon Dent, the fat guy so often seen in Three Stooges shorts. In contrast, Powell, one of Hollywood's most successful leading men, has only 94. The most I've found by a woman is Ann Doran's 353. In her remarkable career, she played mother to both James Dean in Rebel without a Cause (1955) and Christopher Reeve in Superman (1978).
Now playing on the Martini in the Morning stream, one of the most unusual songs ever, done beautifully by Linda Rondstadt, Miss Otis Regrets, the tale of a woman who kills the lover who has betrayed her and then is torn apart by a mob. Only a genius like Cole Porter could pull off something so bizarre with grace and poignancy. I still say he is the greatest writer who ever lived.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/24

Sue Grafton has been working her way through the alphabet via her fictional female detective, Kinsey Milhone. Her novels have been published in 26 languages and have sold millions. Her most recent book is V Is for Vengeance. I just finished F Is for Fugitive, published in 1989, set near San Luis Obispo, California. The writing is solid, the characters genuine. Although the story seemed familiar, it held my interest throughout, and it was only 181 pages. On a scale of five, I rate F... three. Of all the mysteries I've sampled, I enjoyed Tami Hoag's A Thin Dark Line most. I found the prose of Joy Fielding and Daniel Silva superior to all the others of the genre.
Our enemies have gone on a full public relations attack, first condemning the NYPD for its surveillance of Muslim groups and now rioting and killing after a number of Korans were burned by mistake in Afghanistan. First question: should the NYPD do what is done in airports - random searches of old ladies and children to root out terrorists? There has not been an attack since 9/11! Let them do their work. Second: does anyone really believe an apology would placate radicals? They are a death cult.
And on to lighter stuff. The sports press loves to build up winning athletes and tear down those who fail. Jeremy Lin's incredible rise as the Knicks' point guard has invited word play involving his last name, chiefly "Linsanity." So it was inevitable that his first bad game was tagged "Linept" on the back page of today's NY Post after last night's drubbing at the hands of one of the best teams in the NBA, the Miami Heat. I think the term more aptly describes most sportswriters.
And NL MVP Ryan Braun has been acquitted on a technicality of using a performance enhancing substance. MLB is more proficient at the lookaway pass than Magic Johnson ever was, and laughs all the way to the bank. Steroids and the wild card returned baseball to prominence. Silly people like me believe MLB sold its soul and turned away from the game.
Now playing on the Edgewater Radio stream: the Marvelettes Beachwood 45789. I remember riding my bike along Avenue U circa '62 or '63 and singing "and my number is..." and a beautiful older girl replying "You can call me up and have a date any old time." My friends laughed. I was thrilled. What would life be without such memories?
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/23

I thank the kind folks who bought books on this blustery day, and also those at for the 10,000 bonus points ($100), which will help refill the Paypal coffers after I purchase copies of Killing. And thanks to the woman who stopped to tell me how much she enjoyed A Hitch in Twilight. Unfortunately, she's not a fan of football, so Adjustments didn't interest her, but she said she would return in a few weeks to check out Killing.
Here's an excerpt from one of my few remaining unpublished stories, Mysteries, written circa 1990:

    Maybe it was the light in his eyes and not the light emanating from her being that lit up the stage.  Maybe it was just loneliness reaching out, or the longing for a dream come true.  Hadn't he fantasized about meeting a struggling fellow artist?  Wasn't it the primary reason he attended these productions other than the honoring of a childhood friend?  Wasn't this off-off-Broadway setting the equivalent of the magazine of no consequence in which he'd scored his only success?
   There were approximately 50 seats, folding chairs, in the cramped "theater," a room on the sixth floor of an old office building in midtown.  The atmosphere was dreary and stuffy.  The stage was elevated only two feet and was so small that the area before it had to be utilized. 8th Avenue was below.  Several XXX theaters, including an all-male, were in the vicinity.
   She was pale, auburn-haired, and sculpted as if she exercised religiously.  Her sensuality leapt from the stage.  He grew queasy, fearful he wouldn't be able to match it.  The temptation Paul said he'd suffered was understandable.  Her bosom was ample and proud and in wonderful proportion to her athletic frame.  How Paul maintained professionalism when she threw herself atop the bed and rubbed against him in an effort to rouse him from a deep "sleep," he did not know.
   Yeah, you actors got it tough, he was tempted to shout, wondering what Andie, Paul's wife, thought of it.  She wasn't present.  Maybe she had similar scenes in her own work.  He wasn't sure he would be able to handle such a situation himself.  He was already jealous - and he hadn't even met the woman.
   She employed a terrible Hispanic accent.  Figures, he thought, amazed at the coincidences, the connections that continually occurred in life.  Was everything really one - or was it just illusion, a desperate desire for a unity that would prove life had meaning?  He was certain Yvette, the 19-year-old he loved, and Marissa, his 31-year old confidante, would find the portrayal insulting.  The slash in the tacky hosiery was especially offensive, if erotic.  Soon, however, it was apparent that the play was farce, which justified the accent and attire.  He was relieved, having feared she was grossly untalented.  On the contrary, she aroused considerable laughter, as did Paul, whose character awoke late in the play and mumbled his "lines" unintelligibly. The script instructed the actor to "improvise."
   It was with trepidation that he attended these productions, fearful that Paul, whom he loved as one would a little brother, would not give a good account of himself.  He was no judge of acting, but Paul seemed equally adept at comedy or drama.  He was filled with hope as he noted a woman in the front row taking notes, smiling as she gazed at photographs of the principals.  The audiences were usually comprised of friends, relatives, and other struggling actors.
   After the show he waited in a hall amongst others lingering to offer congratulations.  To pass time he studied photographs of the cast, which were displayed on a wall.  Each seemed to have been shot by the same photographer.  Everyone looked handsome and fit, even the character who'd had an eating problem.  She hadn't been wearing padding.  He'd craned his neck above the heads before him and noted the thick ankles, which would not lie.  He wondered how a casting agent would react to the vast difference between the photograph and actuality.  Paul seemed even handsomer, the dimness of his teeth entirely absent.
   He was suddenly chagrined, realizing his emphasis on appearance.  The young woman was talented, blessed with a wonderful, booming voice and glowing presence.  She would never be a leading lady but seemed ideally suited to the role of  kookie neighbor on a situation comedy.
   He studied Sonya's photograph.  Curiously, unlike those of the others, it did not do her justice.  Her hair seemed darker, straighter, without life.  He suspected the pictures were shot in black and white to minimize flaws.  She'd seemed flawless, at least from a distance.  He cautioned himself, recalling the diva who had seemed so beautiful on the stage of the auditorium of a high school at which he'd once subbed.
   He read the profile of her that appeared in the photocopied Playbill.  He'd never heard of any of the independent films in which she'd appeared.  She'd done theater in L.A. and was a founding member of The Nuclear Family Co., which had staged tonight's play.  He was skeptical of the credits, as Paul's were also extensive, although his appearances in films were fleeting, without dialogue.  He wondered if he should exaggerate in his own queries to agents and publishers.  Maybe honesty was foolish.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/22

I spoiled an otherwise good day at the floating bookshop by doing something cowardly. Political Man stopped by on his return from a pot run. This batch was dubbed AK 47 by his dealer. Anyway, he engaged a neighbor in conversation, both excoriating the political right. I remained silent, but that wasn't the bit of cowardice that disappointed me. I see no point in arguing politics. When the other guy left, PM asked if I were married, and I succumbed to homophobia and said yes. I didn't want him to get any ideas. Then he asked if I still had sex with my wife. "Yeah," I said, wondering if I looked too old for getting jiggy with it. I wasn't surprised by his forwardness. It's his nature. He added that he and his partner no longer did the nasty, as it had become boring. This was more information than I needed. My flesh crawled. I have no objection to man love. I'd just rather not think about it or have people expect me to approve of it. I regret that I lied and now have to hope he doesn't broach the subject in the presence of someone who knows me. An apology would be excruciating.
Buyers and donors showed up today as I returned to my usual nook at Avenue Z & E. 13th. A Russian gentleman who walks his dog past the floating bookshop every day, tugging at its leash each time it pauses and lifts a leg, dropped off four books in his native tongue, one of which was purchased almost immediately. Moses, a Latino, gave me a couple of large tomes. As we expected, the one on healthy eating sold quickly. Ali Baba hustled over from his gyro stand and handed me a bunch of religious books the 84-year-old vet had left with him. A black woman bought the one on Jesus. I sold four other books in Russian, a Mary Higgins Clarke thriller, and a DVD of Cradle Will Rock (1999), which Steve, the poet laureate of Sheepshead Bay purchased. The film is centered around a leftist musical in the 1930's. Steve had just seen an opera based on leftist auteur Lars Von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000), which starred Bjork and Catherine Daneuve. I've seen it, even believe I liked it, but don't remember much about it. Von Trier is a darling of critics. I wonder if it's because of his politics. I remember liking Breaking the Waves (1996), in which Emily Watson is stunning, and being baffled and bored by Dogville (2003).
Thanks, folks.
As I logged onto the Classic Oldies stream, it was playing the Human Beinz's Nobody But Me, which always reminds me of my freshman year, 1967. My buddy Bruce, who was on a football scholarship, and I were walking down a street toward a party and that song was blasting from an apartment. Above it, we heard Earl, a huge junior tackle, whose voice rose above the din in what was the greeting of that particular time: "Hey, Bitch!" We both laughed. "Nobody can do boogaloo like I do."
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/21

I heard an interesting tidbit on a day I accompanied a handicapped friend to the doctor and then a pharmacist. She has no love for Obama. Her Medicare costs have risen. The drug prescribed for her today is not covered. She is praying the special mix, when applied to her neurologically damaged legs, will relieve her pain and eliminate the need for a walker. She told me a friend, a Russian immigrant, complained that she had left communist Russia with her son, the equivalent of $12 and a single suitcase of mostly the kid's clothes, and worked six days a week here to give them a better life that is now threatened by an American Marxist. I've heard a couple of other Russian immigrants voice the same fear. I don't go that far, although I do fear we are turning into a European style state of high taxes and costs, and high unemployment. Rick Santorum is a good person, but I think he will scare centrists, and the leftist media will cast him as a loon. In an op-ed piece in today's NY Post, conservative columnist Jonathan Podhoretz described him as the type of sourpuss Americans have never elected. Mitt Romney would have a better chance, but I sense he would be a disaster unless he had a Congress dominated by Republicans to work with. The most interesting and potentially disastrous scenario would be Obama and a Republican congress. Would he then bypass the legislature and try to rule by Presidential fiat? If the economy shows signs of healing, he is a lock. If not, if gasoline prices continue to soar, he will face a dog fight. How silly does his veto of the pipeline look now? Of course, the construction of it would not have curbed the upward trend at present, but a return to the production of traditional energy sources would help in the future. This doesn't mean the search for alternatives should be abandoned. It should be done prudently. Until cost effective alternatives are found, the tried and true should rule.
I had a novel idea, figuratively, today. Instead of remaining in the doctor's office and the pharmacy, I thought I'd take a copy each of Adjustments and A Hitch in Twilight and hawk them as I waited for a call from my friend to come get her. Alas, the best laid plans.... She was in and out so fast that there wasn't enough time to get lucky. I did meet two other writers who share the bottom of the totem pole with me and millions of others, but that doesn't do anything but reinforce the madness of the endeavor. On a positive note, I should have a proof copy of Killing within a week. The insanity will continue for the foreseeable future.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/20

The floating bookshop had a plan for President's Day. I took the romance novels and books in Russian out of the crates, replaced them with more serious fare, and headed to the hipster haven of Park Slope, said to be one of the most literate neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Well, the folks lived up to it today. One lady, a bit of an oddball, who shushed me when I commented on one of the books she was examining, bought six books. "I'm reading," she scolded. I do have to commend her taste, though. Among her selections were Jane Austen's Emma, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dolloway and Michael Cunningham's The Hours, which was inspired by the latter and has a character nicknamed after the eponymous heroine. A gentleman purchased Henry Miller's groundbreaking Tropic of Capricorn, which I preferred to Tropic of Cancer, I guess because it is set in Brooklyn and has a lot more sex. Miller was a major influence on me. He taught me fearlessness in the digging of what lies deep within the soul, some of which is foul. I eventually moved away from the explicitness with which he described getting jiggy. I now try to set the stage and allow the reader's imagination to take over, adhering to the adage that states the brain is the most important sexual instrument.
Another oddball bought three Leslie Meier mysteries. He was as unfamiliar with her work as I am. I have lots of her novels, donated by Joanne, who was obviously a big fan. A gentleman whose accent sounded Russian, who said he'd stopped reading novels, was unable to resist Joseph Heller's Something Happened, his second novel, published 13 years after his magnum opus, Catch 22, as he worked on scripts, including one for TV's McHale's Navy (facts from Wiki). Another gentleman bought a book about Dale Carnegie, whose How to Win Friends and Influence People, published in 1936, remains influential today. Lastly, a gentleman bought Billy Crystal's memoir 700 Sundays. Thanks, folks.
Now playing on the 57 Chevy Radio stream: the love struck Neil Sedaka's ode to Carol King, Oh, Carol, which was answered by the lady in a song that was not very flattering. I do not remember the title. It is notable only for its meanness. Maybe she was just having fun with a friend.
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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/18

I thank the kind folks who purchased books today on Bay Parkway. Here's an excerpt from a screenplay I wrote in the late '90's. Who knew the World Trade Center would be destroyed just a few years later? The story is a romantic comedy influenced by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the films of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.
   Part One: Pre-dawn.  The Manhattan skyline as seen from Brooklyn.  In the
background, as the opening credits roll, Duke Ellington's "All of Me " is playing.  This is
an age-old story of the battle of the sexes, of boy meets girl, a Brooklyn boy and a
Manhattan girl, circa 1997.
   A couple approaches a Greenwich Village apartment building, where the female, Kate
Austen, a 35-year-old magazine writer with a no-nonsense demeanor, resides.  They are
wearing jackets, as it is early May.  The man, long-haired, is carrying a guitar case.  Kate
nervously slips a key into the outer door and pushes it open.  
   A shot of the Williamsburg Bridge as seen from Manhattan.  Across the river, in a loft,
sleeps Joe Petruccio, a 37-year-old gold trader who exudes a love of life (a Tony Danza-
type).  Closeup of the face of a radio alarm clock.  The numbers turn to 5:30.  The alarm
sounds.  Joe, sleeping on his right side, opens his right eye, raises his right arm, and turns
off the alarm.  He is alone.  He rolls out of bed.
   Back to the Village.  A door swings open and Kate backs in, lips glued to her
companion's.  Without breaking the kiss, she peels off her leather jacket and lets it drop
to the floor behind her, then begins taking off his.
   Back to Williamsburg.  Joe is now in his exercise area, on a stationary bike, a walkman
clipped to his shirt.  The loft is neatly kept.
   Back to the Village.  The apartment is a mess.  Kate, in T-shirt and panties, is furiously
rummaging through drawers.  In the background, the musician is lying on the bed,
   I can't believe you don't have one.  You must have groupies throwing themselves at you
all the time.
   He does not respond.  He seems bored, blows smoke rings.  Finally Kate Finds what she
is looking for - a condom.
   Thank God!
   She tears at the wrapper eagerly.
   In Williamsburg, Joe is now pumping iron.
   In the Village, the bare back of the musician is now grinding above Kate, who is still
wearing her T-shirt.  She holds on gently, tense, eyes shut tight.
   In Williamsburg, Joe is now on a treadmill, lips mouthing song.
   In the Village, Kate is now on her side, head resting on one
hand, the fingers of the other drumming on the mattress.  She stares at the back of the
musician, who is sawing wood.  Frustrated, she rolls out of bed, mumbling to herself.
   In Williamsburg, Joe is in the shower, singing Sinatra.
   In the Village, Kate, depressed, is also in the shower.
   In Williamsburg, Joe is eating breakfast, cold cereal and fruit.  He laughs at the radio
satire of Imus in the morning.
   In the Village, Kate climbs back into bed, sneers at the musician, turns her back to him,
and pulls the covers over herself, exposing him.
   Joe, dressed casually and neat, wearing running shoes, approaches a newsstand and
picks up a copy of the New York Post.  He smiles at the vendor, who is wearing a turban
and speaks with an accent.
   What's up, Ram?
How are you, Sir?
    Joe frowns.
   Will you stop with that "Sir" stuff?  How long we know each other now?
Ram smiles uncomfortably.  Joe glances at the back page, grunts disgustedly.
   Did you see them last night?  What the hell was that, I ask you?
   You got your Stanley Cup a few years ago.  You want another one?  My ol' man waited
50 years for his.
Lord help us.
   Have a good one.
   You too, Sir.
   Joe climbs the stairs of an elevated train station, boards
a crowded train, opens the newspaper, folds it in half vertically.
Later, he emerges from an underground station in Manhattan and falls in among the
crowd pouring toward the World Trade Center.
   He walks onto the trading floor, which is quiet, as it is still well before the opening of
trading.  A gruff voice calls out to him from a distant booth.  It is Sol, a portly, jovial
fellow trader who always has candy bars protruded from the breast pocket of his trading
   Jerky boy.
   Joe chuckles, shakes his head, waves.  Sol, hand high above his head, is pointing
downward toward his crotch.
   Joe enters his booth, where Bob, his younger brother, is sorting order slips.  A thin
metal plate affixed to the narrow area reads: "Joey Trading." There are several similar
booths in the row.
   What's the call?
   Little higher.
   I'm long 25, right?
Yeah. You got big ones, I'll give you that, you lucky ....
   Bob bites off the rest of the sentence.
   Gotta be in it to win it.
   I won last night.  Did you?
  Joe smirks.
   I did.  Merrill's new clerk. The one they call "Tits-on-a-Stick." They're real!  Ma-done!
   You took her to the house?
   Mommy musta been thrilled.  Spring for a motel once in a while.
   Whattaya mean "why?" What's wrong with you?
   A country club golf course.  John (Rip Torn-like) and Mary Barski (Dina Merrill-type),
retired, in their early seventies, are seated in a motorized golf cart.
Mr. B:
   Ready, my dear?
Mrs. B:
   Ready, J.P.
Mr. B:
   Today we break 80.
   Mrs. Barski laughs skeptically Mr. Barski feigns outrage.
Mr. B:
   Are there doubters among us?
Mrs. B:
   Only realists.
   A modest home in Brooklyn.  Joe's parents and Grandmother are seated at the kitchen
table, having breakfastt. Mr. Petruccio is wearing his postman's uniform.  The only
sounds are the clanging of utensils and the television, set on a counter.  Suddenly
Grandma speaks, to no one in particular, angrily, in Italian.
  Maleducati. (Poorly reared)
Mrs. P:
   Scustomatti. (ill-mannered)
Mrs.  P:
   Animali. (Animals)
Mrs. P:
   Mr. Petruccio ignores it all, concentrating on the sports section of the Daily News.
Mrs. P:
   Did you hear your son last night?
   'naltra putana. Vergonia. (Another slut.  The shame)
Mrs. P:
   I don't like it.  Joey never brought 'em here.  He did everything else, but he never
brought his bootons home.  I want you to talk to him.
   He ignores her.  She swats at him with a dish cloth.  Grandma nods approval.
   Hai fato bene. (You did right).
Mr. P:
Mrs. P:
  Listen to me when I talk.
Mr. P:
  I Heard you.  It's the same thing every time.  He's 33 years old.  You should be happy he
ain't in there alone like some psycho.  Don't listen, that's all.
Mrs. P:
   Don't listen?  My father, God rest his poor soul, could hear 'em.
   Grandma stops knitting only long enough to make the sign of the cross.
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/17

Life is eminently fair to most of us. It is cruel to a few, those who suffer abuse, illness or accident. Gary Carter crammed a lot into his 57 years. He was very fortunate until brain cancer took hold of him, as it did Bobby Murcer, Dan Quisenberry, Dick Howser and other major-leaguers. Experts have been unable to find a common link. Carter was one of my favorites, always smiling and playing hard. By all accounts, he was a great person. He was the last piece of the championship puzzle of the Mets of the '80's. I remember being at my computer at 4 World Trade, entering trades, when Dougie came in and said a friend in the front office told him that The Kid was being sent to New York. "Yeah, right," I said skeptically, wary of Dougie's tall tales. Days later, the trade was announced. A year later the Mets were champs. Carter's two-out single began the rally that saw the Red Sox surrender a two-run lead in that incredible finish in Game Six when Mookie Wilson's roller went through poor Billy Buckner's legs. It was that talented team's only title. They were a wild, underachieving bunch. Too bad the rest of the players did not follow Gary Carter's lead. He was a rock. Rest in peace, Kid.
We had a perfect storm today on Avenue Z and East 13th: three authors, Bob Rubenstein, John Krulla, and yours truly discussing their forthcoming books. John is self publishing his novel on the war on drugs. Bob is overwhelmed at how the urge for revision won't let him go. I've got to scan the last 100 pages of the Killing file before I give Victoria my okay. I should be done tomorrow morning. My guess is it will be in print by the end of the month. Can't wait to see the expression on my sister's face when I hand her a copy.
I thank the two gentlemen who purchased books in Russian. One, a Ukrainian, apologized for his English. I told him my parents hardly spoke any, and that seemed to make him feel good. I also thank the young man who purchased four thrillers on my recommendation, including Anne Rice's blockbuster, Interview with the Vampire.
Now playing on the Edgewater Radio stream: Johnny Tillotson's Poetry in Motion. The .45 was in the jukebox in Sam's candy store at the corner of Bay 37th back in the day. I remember pointing to the title and telling the first love of my life, Vera Morosco, that it reminded me of her. She smirked.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/16

I got my taxes done. I'd started at Turbo, where I'd done them the past several years. I balked at the ridiculous fee, and the inability to apply state return funds toward it. Ditto at H & R. Tax Act was reasonable, $15. Still, I was not happy having to pay for so paltry a return. I tried paper and pencil, but the library had no instruction booklet for the state return and no return envelopes. One thing about e-filing - one doesn't have to worry about getting the address wrong or having a parcel lost in the mail. I caved. I come out ahead, but I still don't like it. In this age where Americans seem so divided on the big issues, I bet most would agree that the tax process must be made easier. Simple returns should not be so annoying. I wouldn't hold my breath on it changing during my lifetime.
I've watch the first three episodes of ABC's much ballyhooed The River. In the words of immortal wrestling heel Classie Freddie Blassie: "Big deal." It's not bad. It just hasn't been anything special. Maybe my expectations were too high, given that Steven Spielberg is serving as executive producer.
I had an interesting conversation with Big Al, local beat poet, on what some refer to as the Black Holocaust, the number of Africans killed during slavery. It is estimated that twelve million were transported from the 15th to the 19th century. It is believed that ten to twenty percent died in transit. Most went to Brazil. The real carnage took place during raiding parties on the dark continent, where the guess is six million were killed. Many blacks were killed by blacks. That's over the course of 400 years. Six million Jews were killed during World War Two alone. Jews were among slave owners and traffickers. Today, the only slave holders left in the world are black Muslims in Africa. And we all know what happened to the indians here, the unfortunates in Stalin's way in the Soviet Union, the Chinese murdered and raped by the Japanese, and Mao's carnage during the Cultural Revolution. Human history is sometimes ugly. There's plenty of blame to go around. My buddy Bob Rubenstein is angered by such things and addresses them in his writing. I shrug and say: "Let's do something to reverse today's slavery or move on." Arguing about blame will accomplish nothing. The descendants of slaves here and in Brazil have accomplished a great deal and have a lot to be proud of. And, like the rest of us, have some things to be ashamed of.
I thank the gentleman who bought a book in Russian, and the Merry Mailwoman, who overpaid for three Janet Evanovich thrillers, in a session of the floating bookshop curtailed after a half hour by rain.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/15

The excitement is building in a two horse race to see whose book gets into print first, my latest novel, Killing, or Bob Rubenstein's The White Bridge. Maybe they will become available the same day. Wouldn't that be wild? I just got the rest of Bob's final proof, which I will scan for errors, using the red lines of Word as a guide. This morning my literary angel, Victoria Valentine of Water Forest Press, sent me what I hope is the final proof of Killing. I've gone through a third of it already. It looks great so far. I requested one change. Victoria used her standard disclaimer. The second line states something along the lines that all characters are fictional. There are two historical figures who appear on the fringes of the narrative. Although I do not use his name, referring to him solely as the Dapper Don or John or Johnny, John Gotti appears briefly, led away from the courthouse on the day of his sentencing. Bill Clinton is referred to frequently in the last few chapters and also makes an appearance. Neither man has any dialogue. They are seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Dante, whose is going through a sort of hell. I could have used a fictional name for the historical figures, but it would have seemed as phony as the way Hollywood sometimes uses a real TV news person in film. The identities of the men in question would have been so obvious. Bob doesn't have to worry about any of this, as all the historical figures he cites and quotes are long dead. He can use them as he sees fit, and say awful things about them. Gotti has passed away. I don't say much about his crimes. The book is not about him. The former president parties on. I don't touch on his politics. He relates to Dante in a specific way.
It was a gloomy day with a lot of moisture in the air. I thank the gentleman who took the time to pause at the viaduct on Avenue Z and purchase an oldies CD. Speaking of oldies - now playing on the Classic Oldies stream: the Four Tops I Can't Help Myself. I have a vivid picture of hearing Fran Venetucci singing along with Levi McCall's great vocal in her room on the second floor of her parents' two-story house as I stood alone in the street, smiling. Her younger brother Tony, affectionately known as Yer, used to play his records to death on an old Victrola. I'd guess his favorite was from the disco era - the bodacious France Joli's Come to Me, or maybe Frankie Valli's Swearin' to God. He had another nickname, HD, which those who don't know what it stands for will have to guess. It is not fit for a family station such as this.
Life is so rich. Why do we lose sight of that so often?
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/14

I hope you will be lucky this Valentine's Day. I'm currently listen to the Martini in the Morning stream featuring its 50 most requested love songs. So far, none of the versions would have made my list, although those by other artists would have. My favorite love song fluctuates between two by Cole Porter: I've Got You Under My Skin (I prefer Diana Krall's take) and In the Still of the Night, not to be confused with the doo wop classic of the same title by the Five Satins. There are many wonderful versions, but I believe the one by the Neville Brothers is the best. I'll highlight its lyrics, as it is more obscure than I've Got You Under My Skin. I've said this before, but I believe Porter is the greatest writer who ever lived. He expresses the depth of human experience within the constraints of rhyme and time. He does in three minutes what most writers stumble to find in thousands of words. And his comic songs are just as stunning. Look up the lyrics to Brush Up Your Shakespeare from the musical Kiss Me Kate for an example of his brilliance in this vein. And he writes the music as well.
Excuse me while I pause for Norah Jones' touching take on The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael/Ned Washington). Now we're talking.
Here are the lyrics to In the Still of the Night:

In the still of the night
As I gaze from my window
At the moon in its flight
My thoughts all stray to you.
In the still of the night
While the world is in slumber
Oh the times without number
When I say to you
Do you love me
As I love you
Are you my life to be
My dream come true
Or will this dream of mine
Fade out of sight
Like the moon growing dim
On the rim 
Of a hill
In the still 
In the chill
Of the night.
While returning from my morning walk, I took five of the books in Russian with combat images from my trunk. I later replaced them with others that promised variety. The strategy worked. I sold four, as well as Alice Sebold's memoir, Lucky, two thrillers, and a children's book on dinosaurs. Thanks, folks.
I support Israel and hope it does not play the victim card as Iran retaliates for the assassination of its nuclear scientists. Israel probably expected the attacks on its diplomats, as so far there have been no deaths. The two countries are at war, although it has not been declared. Borrowing the words of the late Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, I say to Israel: "Just win." The world will appreciate it, even if many countries will be too cowardly to say it.
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/13

I tried to get my taxes done the past two days. I've been using Turbo for several years. This year they want to charge me for zero federal return. I would have gotten $89 from the state/city, which would have covered the fee with a little left over, but for whatever reason they deduct only from the federal. It was the same at H&R. Each company advertises a "free" option. There's no way I shouldn't qualify. My return is about as simple as it gets. I'd gladly pay for the convenience of electronic filing as long as I don't have to use out of pockets funds, in this case a credit card. Looks like I'll be going the paper and pencil route this year.
An aging hitman suffering the early stages of Alzheimer's is convinced to take a final job - that is the premise of The Memory of a Killer (2003), a riveting Belgian thriller crying for an American adaptation. The star, Jan LeCleir, seemed familiar, but I did not find another credit among his more than 100 with which I am familiar. Harrison Ford is the right age for the part, but I can't picture him in it. Bruce Willis is probably too young, although a rare few men and women his age are afflicted with that terrible condition. Jimmy Cagney would have ate it up. Robert DeNiro! He sure can use a last great part after the mediocrity of the past ten years of his career. On a scale of five, I rate Memory... four. It has a rating of 7.4 out of ten at IMDb. I love Netflix!
I caught the first episode of Smash, which NBC reran on Saturday. In its regular time slot it is up against Castle, one of my guilty pleasures. I wouldn't say I was disappointed, as the cast is great and there was a lot of good stuff in the debut. I was surprised at the quality of the songwriting. That will be hard to match week after week. I was disappointed by the cliches. Maybe they can't be avoided in a show about Broadway. Still, it deserves a second look. Katherine McPhee is so darn appealing. I don't watch American Idol, so I'd known nothing about her until I happened on a PBS tribute concert one night. She did a wonderful version of Somewhere, from West Side Story, and I was hooked.
I thank the women who bought books in Russian today, especially the one who pointed out that the 20 or so in the box were by the same author, who is fond of combat. Now I know why the one or two others I brought out each day sold better than those - the 20 don't appeal to most women. One of the books I sold today had a picture of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca garb on the cover. I also thank the young woman who bought the large tome on Women's Health.
Now playing on the 57 Chevy stream: Heartbreak Hotel. How many of us have tried to imitate Elvis' vocal? C'mon, admit it.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/12

While no one should really be surprised at Whitney Houston's passing, given her past woes, it still comes as a shock. The arts seem to suffer drug casualties at a much higher percentage than the rest of the world. Still, many escape. Ozzy is alive. Sharon saved him. Perhaps Whitney had no one or was too stubborn or too far gone to be saved by love. Even if an autopsy determines the cause of death to be heart failure, it is another case of death by lifestyle. She had it all, beauty and talent, and threw it away. It's a sad chapter in the bittersweet mystery of life. Rest in peace.
Well, I've done it. I will soon be part of the problem. I applied for Social Security, as my 62nd birthday will be in May. I know I paid a lot of money into the program through the years, but it still feels like a handout. I can also rationalize that by not waiting until 65 I'm saving the government money in the long run. And there's the rub - none of us knows how long we will live. I can also rationalize that I ceased applying for unemployment after 39 weeks when I could have continued to bilk taxpayers for 99. Guilt wouldn't let me. I could have found a job. I've had low-paying jobs in the past. I chose to give the artist's life a full shot, adopting a personal austerity program the past three years. Soon I will have to decide whether to purchase health insurance or continue to gamble. In the very least I'll be able to splurge on a check up.
The only way I would set up shop this cold, windy day was if I found the perfect parking spot. I did, and I thank the young mom who purchased a bunch of children's books and who received a bad weather discount for her kindness. The Russians still aren't buying, even at reduced prices. I would have sold books in Polish, as a gentleman asked if I had any.
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/11

Welcome to Rainout Theater. Here's an excerpt from a horror screenplay, All Hallows, I wrote some time in the '90's. In part, it's a tribute to the movies and TV shows that entertained me. I imagined the godfather of punk, Iggy Pop, in the role of the Titterer. The rest of the script isn't at all bloody. It concentrates on the capture of the five nuts who perpetrated the mayhem. I thought of it as Revenge of the Townies.

   Part One: Nightfall. The outer, fog-shrouded grounds of the Bates-Myers Institute, a sanitarium on the outskirts of Bela, a small town in America. An overweight nurse waddles past the security gate, which has been left open. Her name tag reads: "Voorhies." She approaches a small security booth, which appears empty. Its light is on. A Jack-o-lantern sits on the window sill.
   On the second floor of the building, in a dark room, a shadowy figure peers through the blinds, tittering. He sings quietly to himself.

   I don't want her,/ You can have her,/ She's too fat for me.

   Outside, Nurse Voorhies gazes about.



   She waits for a response, harrumps.

Nurse :

   Drunk again? You'll be a patient here soon yourself, you old fool. Stop hiding.

   Come out. Wait'll I tell Doctor Brooks.

   She closes the gate, which locks securely, and walks along the path to the sanitarium.  Blood begins to trickle from the crack at the bottom of the door of the security booth. She does not notice it. At the front steps she encounters a trail of blood flowing from the bottom of the door to the path.  Her breath catches in her throat.  Nearby, a foot in a bloodied sock protrudes from the bottom of a bush. Concerned with the trail of blood, she fails to notice it. Someone has scrawled 666 in blood on the door. She opens the door tentatively and peers inside. Seeing nothing but the trail of blood, which winds out of sight, she enters, carefully avoiding the red river. No one is at the reception desk. In a recreation room nearby, a television is tuned to a talk show featuring dysfunctionals: "Killers and the Women Who Love Them." The room appears empty.



   S i l e n c e .


   J o e ?

   S i l e n c e .


   Doctor Brooks?




    A titter is heard.  The nurse whirls, spots no one.


   Who's that?

   The titter is prolonged.  A smug look comes to the Nurse's face.


   Nothing a little shock therapy won't cure.

   The Titterer, out of sight, feigns fear.


   Nothing a little liposuction won't cure.

   She smirks. Wary, she follows the trail of blood along a corridor, passing a blood-stained sneaker.  The red river diverges into two tributaries leading under doors that face each other across the corridor. She pauses.

Titterer, imitating Monty Hall:

   Now, Miss Voorhies - will it be Door Number One or Door Number Two?

  She whirls but fails to spot him, although, apparently, he is nearby. She stands mulling the options, finally chooses the door to her left.  She opens it tentatively. Inside, a male orderly lies decapitated on the floor, blood now only trickling from his neck. His severed bead rests on his chest.  The nurse backs away, terrified, her throat locked.
  Enter the Titterer, sliding down the corridor in stocking feet along the river of blood. His face, arms, and smock are stained with blood.

   Herrrrrre's, Johnny!

   He bumps into the nurse, whose voicebox unlocks in a piercing scream.  The Titterer imitates the scream, tears at his long, stringy hair, pulls locks from it, tosses them into the air. He grabs the nurse by the scruff of the neck.


   What's behind Door Number Two, Jay?

   He forces her into the room.


   Monty, it's another lovely dead person with his head cut off!

  A decapitated body sits at the desk, legs crossed, cigarette burning between its fingers. The head stands at the center of the desk, cigarette burning between its lips. The uniform is covered with blood.


   There's your shock therapy, Nurse Blob.  The inmates have taken over the asylum.

"'Revenge of the Psychopaths" - film at eleven.

     He releases her.  She flees screaming.  At the reception desk she reaches over the

counter for the phone, pulls the receiver up, and finds a bloodied, severed hand

clinging to it.  She screams and lets it drop.

   The Titterer reappears, guiding a severed head along the corridor with a broom, as

if he were playing hockey.


   He's got a breakaway.  He skates in, shoots ...

   He rolls the bead at her.  She scrambles to avoid it.  Bouncing erratically, it manages to find her feet.  She screams.


   He scores!

   He celebrates as a hockey player would.

       They're going crazy!  They're going crazy!  Hey-ho!

     He imitates a cheering crowd.

     The nurse runs outside and toward the security booth.  As she opens it, the guard's headless body, which was propped against the door, falls backward at her feet, splashing her white shoes with blood.  She backs away in terror, knocking the Jack-o-lantern from the sill.  As it strikes the ground, it breaks and reveals a severed bead. She flees the grounds, screaming as she plods off into the dark night.  The Titterer comes races past the gate after her, carrying a severed bead by the hair.


   Hey, you forgot your lovely parting gift.

   He overtakes her and, running backward beside her, holds the head up to her face. She is screaming as they fade into the distance.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/10

So now the government, which bailed out banks, is demanding banks pony up billions to bailout deadbeat homeowners. Question: if these parties are to be bailed out for their recklessness, what's to prevent them from behaving the same way in the future? Then again, it's just another cynical ploy to buy votes.
There's more bad news for global warming paranoiacs. Ten years ago it was predicted that the ice in the Himalayas would melt in 25 years. It has barely budged. Hear that? That's the sound of head-scratching.
I hope Giants WR Victor Cruz doesn't forget he's a budding football star and not a reality TV star. Talk about overexposure - sheesh!
"Linsanity," NY sportswriters are calling it. What is it? It's the buzz created by the Knicks latest savior, PG Jeremy Lin, the NBA's first Chinese-American, a Harvard grad, no less! He has scored 20 or more points in the team's four straight wins. He was picked up on waivers from Houston, whose GM must be embarrassed to show his face in public right now. Lin must be making the league minimum, or close to it. He is sleeping on his brother's couch in an apartment on the Lower East Side, or Losaida, as the Latinos call it. Amar'e Stoudemire was the Knicks' first savior, lured by millions as a free agent. It didn't help. Then there came the big trade for Carmelo Anthony. The team still stunk. Now desperate fans are hoping Lin is what Reggie Jackson dubbed himself when he came to the Skanks - "The straw that stirs the drink." I may actually watch part of a game if the Knicks are ever on "free" TV. Good luck, Jeremy.
I finally sold a couple of  books in Russian today. Thanks, ladies, and also to Dawn and Brent, who bought Frank Abagnale's memoir, co-written with Stan Redding, Catch Me If You Can, which was  adapted to the screen by Steven Spielberg and also turned into a Broadway musical. And thanks to Herbie, who bought Hollywood Moms, a beautiful pictorial of actresses and their children.
Looks like we're going to get a couple of days of winter before global warming returns.
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/9

It is amazing how certain viruses seem to be on a timer. I started feeling sick Tuesday afternoon, suffered through the night and most of Wednesday. Then suddenly, about 9 PM, I felt fine. This morning I felt like I was on a natural high. Strange.
Today we have good news and bad news on government. First the positive: for the first time since 1978 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the building of reactors, two in Georgia. Although the meltdowns at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima scared the bejesus out of most of us, the worst case scenarios predicted in The China Syndrome (1979) film and many books have not occurred. I have no idea if disaster will occur in the future. I do know that we need energy, and nuclear is the cleanest that is produced, and it is cost effective, unlike most alternative sources at present. Windmill farms eat up land, are loud as hell, and kill thousands of birds. There isn't a source that doesn't have drawbacks.
Now the negative: according to an article in the NY Post, a Heritage Foundation study says that 67.2 million Americans are receiving some sort of financial assistance from Uncle Sam. It is the highest number in history. That is a prescription for disaster. The Democrats are succeeding in moving the needle in their direction. There aim is to make enough people dependent as to guarantee the party permanent power. The November elections will indicate if the trend will continue. Then again, too many Republicans tilt left in order to be re-elected, so the trend may be unstoppable.
I'm discouraged that the Russians are passing on the books in their native tongue I have on display. I thank the lovely Asian woman who purchased a book by Ellen DeGeneres, which was a gift of the 84-year-old veteran, who also donated several other works of non-fiction. And hats off to the Russian gentleman who purchased the huge volume on the digital world. I'm impressed that he understands it. A lot of it looked like Greek to me.
Now playing on the Edgewater Radio stream: Del Shannon's Runaway - "I wa wa wa wa wonder." The keyboard solo presages the synthesizers that came to the fore 15-20 years later.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/8

The floating bookshop was shelved today as I recover from a stomach virus. I am following the instructions of a commercial I heard long ago: Stay warm; get plenty of rest; and drink a lot of fluids. This is one way to flush the calories and cholesterol I consumed at back to back parties over the weekend.
Meanwhile, here's the gist of an email I received from an old buddy. In case you need a reminder of the greatness of the USA:
JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when DeGaulle decided to  pull out of NATO.  DeGaulle said he wanted all U.S. military out of France as soon as possible. Rusk responded, "Does that include those who are buried here?"
DeGaulle did not respond.
You could have heard a pin drop.
When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of 'empire building' by George Bush. He answered by saying, "Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."
You could have heard a pin drop.
There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the  French engineers came back into the room saying,  "Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush  has done? He has sent an aircraft
carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intend to do, bomb  them?" A Boeing engineer stood  up and replied quietly: "Our carriers have  three hospitals on board that can treat  several hundred people; they are nuclear  powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they  carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?"
You could have heard a pin drop.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/7

I cringe whenever I remember some of the things I've said in the heat of disappointment, so I'm not going to jump Gisele Bundchen, though I'd like to. Hopefully, she will step up and apologize. I'm sure it will blow over in time. What are the Pats going to do - trade Brady? Jets fans wish.
Here's an interesting tidbit I culled from Yahoo Sports. High school football players are graded on a scale of one to five. In the Super Bowl there were six players who received a zero rating back in the day, and twelve who rated only two stars. This is more proof that perseverance is often the key to success, even in the high-skill world of pro sports.
And here's an example of what happens to some rich young athletes. Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno, 24, was recently pulled over by cops for going 75 through a construction zone where the speed limit had been reduced from 65 to 45. He was charged with DUI. His license plate reads: Sauced. That must inspire confidence in Denver management. Imagine if Tim Tebow did something like that. His detractors would have a field day.
Despite a cold wind, the floating bookshop did some business today, although the Russian books again did not move. I hadn't seen Compare for a while. He must have gotten out of his bed in assisted housing unusually early. He was even more disheveled than usual, his T-shirt having a thousand stains. He bought the three DVDs I had on display: Doctor Blood's Coffin (1962), American Splendor (2003) and The Time of Your Life (1948), an obscure Jimmy Cagney flick. He paid in quarters. Thanks, paisano. And thanks to the woman who loaded up on five books, and to the one who bought Fran Drescher's memoir, Enter Whining. I loved Drescher's early career supporting roles in film. She seemed such a genuine New Yorker. Unfortunately, I found her TV series, The Nanny, unwatchable.
Jack stopped by on his way to an Occupy Wall Street rally. To my surprise, his sign endorsed Mitt Romney. The flip side criticized Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish population. Turkey was spelled without the e. He thanked me for pointing it out and squeezed one in between the k and y. He said he uses the sign to attract tourists, and then tries to sell them T-shirts and buttons. He bought The Dictionary of Business Terms. My God, could he be turning into a one-percenter?
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/6

"Finish." That was Giants' coach Tom Coughlin's theme for the season. During the four-game losing streak, it seemed more like: "Finished." Again, the bounces seemed to go their way. They twice recovered their own fumbles. Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez dropped passes at crucial moments. Welker made a diving catch in bounds on the final drive that took a lot of time off the clock. Eli found another receiver, Mario Manningham, to make an unbelievable play that seemed a prayer. And the pass rush, absent most of the game, stepped up in the fourth quarter. Coughlin, who fans and writers wanted fired, is now being talked of as a Hall of Famer. Good for him. He's a stand up guy, a stern, old-fashion task master. There are too few of them. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has once again been vindicated. And the stature of the Ryan family of coaches seems diminished even further. The Giants win should be a lesson to every team in the modern NFL - it's possible to quickly turn things around. Take heart Jets fans. Your team is not that far away.
I do not like Bill Belichick, but he is a heckuva coach. When he deferred after winning the opening coin toss, I did not understand it. When the offense drove the length of the field to take an eight point lead at the start of the second half, it seemed a stroke of genius. I should have known better than to doubt him. Then he boldly allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to score in order to give the great Tom Brady more time to try and pull out a win. I question this move only because Bradshaw has shown a propensity to fumble. Even if the Giants would have had to settle for a field goal attempt, snaps have gone awry or been dropped (ask Tony Romo), and kicks have been blocked, as the Giants did in Dallas to start their incredible run to their third Super Bowl title. Still, I give Belichick credit for uncommon guts and guile. As Brady launched that last Hail Mary, I held my breath, wondering if the Giants' luck would run out. If Gronkowski's ankle had not been damaged, he might have gotten to that deflected pass. Maybe God has changed his allegiance from the Skankees to the Giants. Many are touting Manning as the greatest Giants QB of all-time. He will have to exhibit the same level of play he did this year to match the consistent excellence of Phil Simms and Y.A. Tittle. I did not see Charlie Connerly play. Even I am not that old.
I thank the gentleman who purchased the miniature New Testament, my only sale of the day, as the Russians are passing on the current box of books I have on display, which, judging by the covers, seem to be sci-fi. Maybe tomorrow.
I also thank Adam and Sharon for the great food and company at their annual party. They've bought a house in Marine Park. I'll have to drive to next year's bash. Best of luck, my friends.
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/5

I had a great time yesterday in Jersey, as we celebrated my great nephew's 16th birthday. Ronnie has become quite proficient on guitar in a short time. He has three, an Epiphone acoustic, and a Fender and Gibson electric. Of course, he favors classic rock, although he also likes the blue grass his dad, an excellent banjo player, prefers. He was going through riffs like lightning, using a lot fuzz. At one point I asked him to mellow the sound, and he accompanied as I played a blues progression on the acoustic. He knows most of the Led Zeppelin riffs. I stumped him on the main line from How Many More Times? He got it quickly. He showed me the irresistible riff from Johnny Rivers' Secret Agent Man, which I'd never been able to figure out. It's alternate notes are the open high E. I played the main parts of the Allman Brothers' Sweet Melissa and Ramblin' Man, America's Horse with No Name, the Eagles' Hotel California and One of These Nights, and Elvis' Good Luck Charm and All Shook Up. He picked them up immediately, unfamiliar only with the D Minor in One of These Nights. Later, he joined his dad and one of the guests around the kitchen table for a little hoedown. He had no trouble keeping up. I always marvel at how long real musicians can play without getting bored. 30 minutes is my average. They can go for hours. They also have an innate understanding of music. It is a complete mystery to me, which is why it's so hard for me to play with others. It's going to be interesting to see where music takes Ronnie. Like me, his dad is on the periphery of the arts' world. His band, Pastimes, has cut four CDs, and played weekend gigs until the economy slumped. Recently, at a local festival, he sat in with every band on the schedule. Imagine a kid from Brooklyn going Country.
I also learned a little about my sister's life in Italy, recounted by Isabel, her oldest daughter, who lived there for 30 years. She and her friends would baptize their dolls and then put sugar on bread and pretend it was the celebratory cake. She was a teenager when she arrived in America.
I thank the kind folks who bought books today on Bay Parkway, especially Bad News Billy, who is fighting a wicked cold. The poor guy - it's always something.
Shortly, I will be off to the annual Super Bowl bash at Adam and Sharon's. I used to work with them at the Exchange. Adam is one of the 20% of the staff that remains since electronic trading was instituted. I can't wait to catch up on the latest news about our mutual friends and acquaintances, and our love of movies. And I only have to walk around the corner to get there. Back to back parties - look out waist line and cholesterol count.
Go Big Blue!
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/4

We're off to Jersey today to celebrate my great nephew's 16th birthday. Meanwhile - are you ready for some football? Here's a Super Bowl quiz I borrowed from Yahoo Sports. No penalty for wrong answers, no prize for a perfect score:
Q: Where was the first Super Bowl held?
A: Super Bowl I was held in Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 1967. The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.
Q: Which NFL team has played in the most Super Bowls?
A: The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys have each played in 8 of them. The Steelers have won six of those games (also a Super Bowl record). The Cowboys have a 5-3 record.
Q: Which NFL teams have never played in the Super Bowl?
A: The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans.
Q: How many Super Bowls have the Patriots been in, including Super Bowl XLVI? How about the Giants?
A: This is New England's 7th trip to the Super Bowl. It's New York's 5th trip.
Q: Super Bowl XLVI is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII between the Patriots and the Giants. Can you name the other Super Bowl rematches (hint: there are four other sets of teams)?
A: The Cowboys and the Steelers collided in Super Bowls X, XIII, and XXX. The Steelers won the first two; Dallas won Super Bowl XXX.
The Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills played in consecutive years in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Dallas won both games.
The San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals met in Super Bowls XVI and XXIII. The 49ers won both games.
The Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins tangled in Super Bowls VII and XVII. They split the series.
Q: Who holds the Super Bowl record for most rushing yards in a game?
A: Timmy Smith of the Redskins ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns in Super Bowl XXII against the Denver Broncos. Pretty amazing, considering that he only ran for 602 yards and three touchdowns in his entire NFL career.
Q: Who is the only player to earn the Super Bowl MVP honor from the losing team?
A: Linebacker Chuck Howley of the Cowboys won the MVP award after his team lost to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V, 16-13.
Q: What was the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history?
A: The 49ers beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, 55-10. Ouch.
Q: What was the closest game in Super Bowl history?
A: The Giants beat the Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV. Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a field goal as time expired. Interestingly, the Giants' defensive coordinator that year was Bill Belichick while the team's wide receivers coach was Tom Coughlin.
There has never been an overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Q: Madonna will be performing the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVI. Who performed the halftime show in Super Bowl I?
A. The Universities of Arizona and Michigan bands. There were no reported wardrobe malfunctions.
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/3

Yesterday a Russian gentleman approached and said he had five boxes worth of books in his native tongue for me. Today he returned with ten. A lot of them originally held Pampers. Maybe that's symbolic of something. I opened up four, putting two on the ledge that encloses the garden that runs the entire grounds of the six-floor building where I usually set up. Another was positioned right in front of the makeshift table I build each day with the milk boxes in which I carry the books. In other words, they were where no one could miss them. I guess the right Russians didn't pass today. I didn't sell any until the last minute, even offering three for a dollar. It was frustrating, as I had hoped to have less boxes to haul. My trunk is so full I could fit only one of them in it. I piled them in the interior, but couldn't risk leaving them there overnight, as thieves will break car windows for loose change these days and might mistake the boxes as carrying actual Pampers. I carried the two smallest boxes to my apartment. As I'd hope, Frankie, our stellar porter, was around, mopping up the lobby. He let me use his hand cart, which cut the required trips from at least six to two. As I was maneuvering the cart through pedestrian and vehicle traffic, I was reminded of my summer jobs as a stock boy at Gimbels and EJ Korvette in the late '60's, when I was young and strong. By the time I was done today, my arms were so tired and my back was sore. Fortunately, I had enough closet space to store everything. There is only one worry - bed bugs. Any itch the next few weeks will remind of the possibility. I had to take the chance. As the saying goes: No risk, no reward. Spasibo, sir.
I thank the folks at Synovate surveys for the gift certificate. Now if only amazon would discount copies of Close to the Edge so I could buy some and make a profit on them. What's that other saying: Good things come to those who wait?
Now playing on the Live 365 stream: the Beach Boys' Surfin' USA, which was their first hit, I believe, or was it Surfin' Safari? It was a long time ago, of that I'm sure.
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/2

I experienced something freaky yesterday. I devoted part of the blog to the Alice in Chains song "Man in the Box." One of its lines is: "Can you sew my eyes shut?" Minutes later I went to my email account and clicked on a message from Morpheus Tales, which published a story of mine, Pristine, several years ago. To my delight, it is included in its first Best of volume. That's not the weird part, although it's the first time I've ever had the honor of being included in such a book. The cover is of a woman whose eyes have been sewn shut!
I'm thinking of buying shares of Facebook once it goes public. I won't be able to buy many, as God knows how high the price will be after the insiders and the members of congress get first crack at it. I don't want to miss it, as I have Amazon, Netflix and Google, of which I was an avid admirer. Warning: I may be the kiss of death, as I have been with Zipcar, which is half the value of where I bought it. FB has 800,000,00 users. That is staggering. Kudos to Mark Zuckerberg and its co-founders.
74 people were killed after an Egyptian soccer match when fans of the huge underdog home team stormed the field and began throwing stones at their rivals. Is their anything as backward as the Muslim world? Sheesh.
Puxatawney Phil may have seen his shadow, but his distant cousin, Brooklyntawney Bob, did not. It was cold out on the street today. I thank the Merry Mailwoman, who purchased thrillers by Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich in bulk, and to Dawn and Brett, who bought Thomas Harris' Hannibal, and to Grandma and a Russian gentleman, who bought books in their native tongue. I also got a hug and kiss from lovely young Alisa, who has moved to Park Slope and was visiting her parents. I imagine a young man has taken her. I hope he appreciates how lucky he is. I am green with envy.
Read more about the compilation here:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Selling My Books on the Streets of Brooklyn 2/1

There's been a new urban myth going around. Someone said there are more people alive today than have died throughout the history of mankind. An article in Scientific American magazine by Ciara Curtin disputes it. She cites sources who calculated that the lowest estimate is that 106 billion people have ever been born. The world population today is 6.5 billion. In the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield: "You're way off." The myth makers, that is.
Since Tuesday's TV lineup offers nothing to my liking, I usually watch a DVD. Since my next delivery from Netflix hadn't arrived, I pulled another homemade music tape from my VHS library. The highlight was Neil Young and his Crazy Horse lineup burning down the house on SNL in 1989, performing Rockin' in the Free World. It is my all time favorite hard rock performance. Any other live performance I've heard of it, including one that featured a harmonica solo(!), pales mightily in comparison. It has an end of the world feel that makes it so compelling. Of course, the lyrics are straight out of the leftists' playbook, but that is par for the course in arts' world. Young is amazing. His lyrics are frequently faulty, his voice is not great, and his electric guitar playing is at times like root canal, but he frequently hits it out of the park, especially in his acoustic work. Unfortunately, I could not find a clip of the performance at youtube. At its end, he breaks the strings deliberately. They would never have served him better, so they might as well have been cut.
The tape also featured performances from ABC's In Concert series, which ran at two AM Friday night/Saturday morning. Judas Priest, Motorhead, Scorpion, Alice Cooper, and Billy Idol, snuggling up seductively to his hot keyboard player, tore it up. Also included was the best live hard rock vocal I've ever heard, the late Layne Staley of Alice in Chains belting out Man in the Box, screaming at times as if he'd lost his only child. I was so blown away it inspired a short story included in my collection, A Hitch in Twilight. I'm not really sure what the song is about. I speculated that it is a crisis of faith. Here is that clip:
I thank the folks who made purchases today at the floating book shop, especially Herbie, to whom I gave the key to my trunk so he could root around in the bags of goodies Joanne donated.
RIP Don Cornelius, an apparent suicide at 75.
Now playing on the Sock Hop Radio stream: the original version of The Twist by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. According to Political Man, it was a B side of one of their hits.
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