Thursday, April 24, 2014


I called my old friend Rudy yesterday to see how he was doing. Rudy is like eighty seven years old and we don't get to see each other as often as we used to. Other than old age, having had a recent colon removal operation, and feeling a little weak in the knees, Rudy was doing fine. I met Rudy back in 1975, I was twenty five and he was in his forties. Rudy owned bars and restaurants in Chicago, and he was also an undertaker. Each profession complemented the other. The best part about knowing Rudy was that he liked to go out drinking. He always had an entourage that would pile into his big black undertaker's Cadillac for a whirlwind tour of the downtown gay bars. When you were with Rudy you had to drink fast though, because we never stayed more than fifteen minutes in any one bar before moving on to the next one. The evening would stretch into the early morning hours and we'd always end up back at Rudy's bar. It was a bar that closed at four in the morning, which we would then help him clean. Our reward for being the cleaning crew was free drinks until the sun came up. Talking to Rudy yesterday made me a bit nostalgic for those days. It brought back memories of bar fights, stabbings, drunks having sex in the bathroom, and me in the middle of it all. Of course I did not partake in most of those activities. One other thing about Rudy. When I had cancer in 1988 and had finished my twelve weeks of chemo, I came down to Florida to visit Rudy. He had sold all his Chicago businesses and moved down here with a few members of the entourage. As I got off the plane, there was Rudy along with two other friends of ours waiting. They had all shaved their heads in support of me. It was very touching, except for the fact that really only two of them had shaved their heads. Rudy simply took off his wig, which was a big deal because never in all the years I had known him, had I ever seen him without that god awful wig.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


No there is no Kunte Kinte here. Maybe couldn'ta, can'te. A few months ago my neighbor came to me and suggested that I let him cut down the giant schefflera tree that was growing on our property. When I planted that thing twenty years ago, I was only familiar with schefflera trees that I had seen in pots growing in homes, offices, and malls up north. I had no idea that here in Florida they grew into monsters and that even if they didn't topple during a hurricane and crush your house, the root system would wrap around anything that even remotely oozed moisture. That was what my neighbor, a native of Florida, was worried about. My tree hung menacingly over both his house and my house, and in his pitch to get rid of it he kept repeating, "We gotta kill that thing". He was right, the roots had spread under the sidewalk and were pushing my back porch up on an angle. Over by the air conditioning, schefflera roots had encircled the cooling units and were sending tendrils into every possible crevice looking for water. So yesterday the neighbor fired up his chain saws, I pulled on my big boy pants, and together we killed that thing. It is all gone now but for the stump and the roots. The plan is to drill holes into the stump and inject stump killing poison into it. I'm not sure exactly how environmentally sound that idea is. I am assuming that the stump poison is safe, because surely the government wouldn't let them sell that stuff if it wasn't. Right?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Splish Splash

When we were kids my mom used to send us into the bathroom every Saturday evening for a bath whether we needed it or not. To make do for the rest of the week we were handed a wash cloth and some soap, "Go wash your face, and make sure you clean your ears and neck." I was a lazy little brat and did a quick wipe around the outer part of my face. Every time, mom would look at me and send me back for more cleaning, "I can see that circle of clean around your filthy face Alan, get back in there."

            Yesterday morning I was laying in bed and I picked up an odor wafting across the room. Once again Chandler had farted, or so I thought. I banished him from the room and turned the ceiling fan on high. About thirty minutes later Chandler slinked back into the room and slithered up onto the bed. "Whew Chandler, again?" But he hadn't farted, it was his fur that stunk up the room. Chandler loves to roll around on peoples lawns, rubbing his back into the fragrance that he finds there. So yesterday afternoon it was dog bath time. First up was Bette, who is easy. I put her in the shower with me and we take a shower together. I just have to be careful not to mix up the dog shampoo with the Pantene. Chandler is much too big for the shower. I take him out back and hose him down, and then give him a good scrubbing. When I was all done I had two very sweet smelling hounds who were now fit to be allowed back on the bed. Unfortunately Chandler and Bette do not appreciate cleanliness, do not love the smell of lavender emanating from deep within their furry little selves. First thing they both did when I walked them later in the afternoon, first thing they did when they spotted a big enough expanse of green grass, first thing when they detected the ripeness of dog urine sprayed across a lawn, was to both roll back and forth through it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sharp Dressed Man

            "You aren't going out looking like that are you?"
            "I'm going to walk dogs with Dean over at the shelter. This is what I wear."
            "You look like a homeless bum. My god, what if somebody we know sees you out there?"

I have a specific wardrobe for walking the dogs at Abandoned Pet Rescue. I have the blue shirt, the yellow shirt, the red shirt, and the other blue shirt. They all have holes in them, are usually very wrinkled, and most of all, I don't give a damn about them. Mark won't go into the APR shelter because of the smell. He doesn't know what it is like to walk those dogs. He doesn't understand that there is a good chance I will get big muddy paw prints on my shirt and there is also the outside chance that I could get a bit of dog poo on myself, or even pee. Well... I've never got dog pee on my shirt, but I have had dogs lift their leg on my shoe as if to say, "There, now you're mine.", so I also wear old beat up shoes. Basically I wear beat up old shoes, old socks, shorts with paint stains on them, and the afore mentioned shirts. So yes Mark, I do look like a homeless bum. A homeless bum walking homeless dogs, down the strip of poop strewn weeds next to the rail road tracks, usually with a Publix shopping bag full of dog shit. Putting it that way, Mark might be right. I'll buy some new tee shirts this week.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mustang Alan, think you better slow your mustang down.

I was reading an article about the fiftieth anniversary of the Ford Mustang yesterday. It brought back some fond memories of that year, 1964. I was fourteen that year and when I saw the Mustang I knew I wanted one. Of course the ability to actually purchase any new car was many years away for pimply teenage Alan. For a long time I had to settle for other peoples cast offs, cars that already needed repairs the minute I drove away in them. Now a Mustang might not seem like such a big deal in this day, but back then there was almost nothing like it. So I was sitting back and reminiscing, wondering why I never did get myself a Mustang. Then it hit me. I did buy a Mustang. In fact I bought a brand new 1983 Mustang from Al Piemonte Ford in Melrose Park, Illinois. How could I have forgotten that I had bought what I always wanted? Easy, the entire experience was so horrid that I had erased it from my memory. It started with a with a misleading advertisement in the newspaper where Al Piemonte promised a new Mustang at an unbelievable price. Now who could imagine that a car dealer would run a misleading ad, that they would have only one car at that price and it was purchased before the ad even went to print? However, there were still many fine looking Mustangs on the lot at somewhat higher prices. I had Mustang fever and I wasn't going to leave without one. A big problem, very big problem, is that I did absolutely no research before driving out there. So when I drove away in my new Mustang after hours and hours of paperwork and negotiating, I had no idea what I had bought. First of all it only had four cylinders. For some reason I just assumed that a Mustang would have twice that amount. The first time I tried to burn rubber in a parking lot the car just went 'clunk'. I pretty much ripped the transmission out doing that, and back then warrantees were something like 1000 miles or one month, whichever came first. I also assumed that my new Mustang was front wheel drive because that was all the rage in 1983. It wasn't, and it never has been. The
The only photo I could find with my Mustang in it.
Mustang has always been rear wheel drive. That car also overheated from the first week I had it until the day I traded it in. It would overheat in the summer, it would overheat in January, it was such a piece of crap. They were never able to figure out why. Now back to the matter of the transmission. I bought a Mustang with a manual transmission because it was substantially cheaper. For a number of years I had been driving only automatic transmission cars, I had become used to that. One cold fall day I got into my four cylinder, overheating, manual transmission Mustang, and turned the key. The car lurched forward, over the parking lot bumper, and into the six inch thick piece of lumber supporting my neighbor's back porch. As splinters of wood, and bits of broken planters that had been on the porch bounced off of the hood of my car, I remembered. Manual transmission, push in the clutch.