Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dream of My Father

My father and I had a nice chat the other night, even though he died 10 years ago.

This was a dream, of course, but I was grateful to have a enjoyable meeting with my dad, even if I had to be asleep to make it happen.

I was standing in my parent’s bedroom at our family’s old house on Senator Street, where I used to sleep after they died.

Apparently, I was still living there because I was putting away some clothes when my father just strolled into the room and started talking to me.

He was elderly, but in relatively good condition, a sharp contrast to his final years, when dementia and mounting physical problems had robbed him of so much of his memory and mobility.

I can’t remember one single thing we talked about, but I do remember that it was a pleasant conversation. There was no arguing, no shouting, no rude interruptions, or sarcastic remarks that marred far too many of our real-life encounters.

One thing from the dream does stand out very clearly in my mind: after my father and I had talked for a while, my dad started telling me about the health benefits of coffee and advised me to start drinking the stuff.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, no how, no way, and I don’t see that changing now despite my father’s good intentions.

So why this dream at that particular time? I believe my subconscious was searching for peace and reassurance.

No Tea or Tomato Juice

I was flying to the Midwest that morning, and, as usual, I was nervous as hell.

My fear of flying is legendary and can only be abated by serious amounts of Xanax.

On top of that, I hate dealing with people at the airports because I’m convinced that there will be some bit of paperwork, some form of identification that I forgot, or something will be wrong with my boarding pass, and then I’ll be drop-kicked out of the door like an old suitcase and be forced to watch my plane depart from the ground with all the other rubes.

And, to be unblinkingly honest, I still have some lingering resentments toward my dad—yes, even after all these years. The hostile memories serve no earthly purpose now, except to make me unhappy, yet I keep hitting the rewind button in my mind and go through them one more time.


So, I really needed to calm down and move on and I think my mind chose a peaceable talk with my father to help me do both.

My brain was making a peace offering to myself and telling me to let go of the fear and bitterness, and all that other grief from the past.

And I have to say it worked because when I woke up I felt very calm and relaxed--not relaxed enough to board the plane without a bucketful of tranquilizers—let’s not be ridiculous here--but I was amazingly serene considering I was scheduled to be streaking through the sky in just a few hours.

The Midwest trip was an absolute blast and I’m happy to report that I didn’t get bounced off any planes. I’ve got another trip coming up in August and I’m sure my mind will be searching for more calming images to get me through that adventure.

I’d better put on a pot of coffee.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Up, Up, Up!

Ruth Dingfield can go to Hell…

Today is the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death and I’m thinking of how she used to try and cheer me up whenever I was feeling down.

She knew me so well that I didn’t even have to say anything when I was upset.

She’d see this morose look on my face, give me a most beautiful smile and, referring to my spirits, she’d say, “up, up, up!”

I wish I had listened to her when she was alive. I wish I had kept a more positive attitude around her and showed that I was making an effort to be happy, instead of playing the victim far too often.

And I could sure use her help today.

My bank account was hacked last week and the sons-of-bitches were able to get my birthday and my Social Security number, which is pretty much everything in today’s society.

I thought I had taken care of things by changing the password on my bank account, but then I got a call from Bank America checking to see if I had applied for a credit card.

Of course, I hadn’t.

Then they told me that someone using my name had applied for a credit card at TD Bank. So, I called them and asked to please rip up that fraudulent application.

I feel violated, exposed and stupid. I’m blaming myself even though over 15 million people are the victims of identity theft each year.

Social Insecurity

And that brings me back to Ruth Dingfield. When I first saw this bogus email address on my bank account page I wrote to the sender just to see what was going on.

I got some vague response and then when the credit card fraud came up I wrote back telling this scumbag to cease and desist. And “Ruth Dingfield” responded.

“Rob, I’m the one who stole your identify,” the email said. “Do you wanna know who I really am?”

No, I don’t. I wanna see swinging by your neck from the Eiffel Tower with a harpoon through your head. Do you think you could arrange that?

It was creepy actually getting a response from this denizen of the Dark Web, but I guess this is the world in which we live now.

Anonymous thieves crash into other people’s lives, help themselves, and then move on to the next victim.

I contacted the Federal Trade Commission and the IRS about the hack and I had to boost the security on my bank account so now I have more passwords than Mata Hari. And I still don’t feel safe.

I’ve got a new credit card and now I freak every time I see a charge I don’t recognize, convinced the bastards have hacked me again.

And it angers me that I’m writing about this bum today of all days, when I really should be focusing on my mother.

I’m feeling all sorts of pressure both personally and professionally and this latest round of misery isn’t helping. I strongly suspect this business with the hacking is going to get worse—possibly much worse—before it gets any better.

But since I’m calling up all these memories of my mom, perhaps the best thing to do is take her advice and aim high when life leaves you low.

Up, up, up…

(I'll be taking of next week for a very important trip. See you soon)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Hat Crime

Poco Loco esta perdido…

Please forgive me if my grammar is off, but I’m in mourning. I lost my Poco Loco Club hat this week and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I had gotten this blue cap sometime in the early 90s, possibly on a trip to Mexico when I covered then-Connecticut Governor John Rowland’s trip south of the border.

The cap sported the cartoony image of a toucan in red-polka dot shorts with the name that means “A Little Crazy.” And I was more than a little crazy when I discovered it was gone.

Yes, the cap was losing its color and shape and I was seriously thinking about tossing the thing away. But I wanted that to be a conscious choice and not as a result of negligence.

My auntie has relocated to her summer place in the Berkshires for the next few months and I had gone to her apartment to clean out the refrigerator and do a few other chores.

I had been there earlier in the week and had forgotten the Poco Loco hat.

Once I was done, I gathered up my backpack, stuffed the cap inside it, and bounced up to the express bus stop at West 30th Street.

I was strolling up to Fifth Avenue when I saw the light was about to change and I launched into my rat-psycho mode and took off running.

You have to understand that showing a changing traffic light to a New Yorker is like throwing down the gauntlet.

Loco Motion

Other people will wait until the light changes in their favor, but a New Yorker will shriek “get the hell outta my way!” and take off as if Satan has just climbed out of the nearest sewer.

I charged across the avenue and raced to the bus stop to wait for a bus that was nowhere in sight. But at least I showed that street light who was boss.

And apparently somewhere in that mad dash I managed to drop the Poco Loco sombrero. Naturally I didn’t discover the loss until I was on the bus and heading back to Brooklyn.

The toucan had flown the coop and I was feeling muy estúpido. One of the oldest warnings in history says to “hold on to your hat!” How did I fuck that up?

Yes, this is only a battered cap that should’ve been nuked a long time. But I was so annoyed at my carelessness, that I had actually ran across the street with my backpack half-opened and expected everything to be perfectly in place when I finally stopped.


I’m always running someplace, damn it, and I don’t think I have a hell of a lot to show for it.

I googled “Poco Loco” and found someone was selling an atrocious canary yellow version of the cap on eBay.

Someone else was peddling a “vintage” long-sleeved shirt with the logo emblazoned across the front.

I’ve resolved to be more careful with my backpack and try—really try—to be a little less loco when I see a yellow caution light.

I hope some needy person found that little toucan and is giving him a nice home on top of his or her head.

And I really hope they give that bird a new pair of pants. Those polka-dot things have gotta go…

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Wild About Something

It started out with “Open Your Heart to Me” and it kept on going from there.

I went on an impromptu Madonna binge the other night, which is strange, seeing as I was never a particularly big fan of hers.

The other day I was screwing around with YouTube instead of writing, something I do far too often, and after playing one of her songs for old times’ sake, things just kind of snowballed from there.

By “old times” I mean the Eighties, which I still think of as the recent past, when the decade is in reality 30 freaking years ago. (Oh, Jesus, I’m glad I’m sitting down.)

YouTube ran the table with “Like A Prayer,” “Live to Tell,” “Express Yourself,” “Crazy for You,” “Holiday” and, of course, “Material Girl.”

Yes, it’s pop music, but it’s really well done pop music and once these tunes get into your head, it’s hard to get them out.

My nostalgia trip started when I rented Something Wild, Jonathan Demme’s 1986 film that stars Jeff Daniels as an New York executive, whose life is hijacked by a strange young woman, portrayed Melanie Griffith, and winds up in Pennsylvania going head-to-head with Ray Liotta, who plays Ms. Griffith’s psycho husband.

I’m a huge fan of Ray Liotta’s, which I think is why I rented film in the first place. And I lived in a small town in Pennsylvania for about five years, though most of the movie was shot in Florida.

I remember when this movie first came out, but I never got around to seeing it until now. And now that I have seen it, I’m still not even sure if I liked the damn thing or not, but it’s still sticking with me.

The story is alluring, a nice fantasy of taking off from the routine and finding romance and danger, but I didn’t buy into it.

You Make My Heart Sing

But, most of all, I think I rented the movie because I wanted to slide back to the 1980s. I love the music from that era and the clothes—skinny ties, unstructured jackets. And I was a huge fan of Miami Vice, at least initially.

Now to be brutally honest, the Eighties wasn’t the greatest decade for me. I was struggling with my health, my career, and my life. The latter portion particularly sucked if I remember correctly, though the memory is a little vague.

But I was younger and, even though I had a lot of negativity in my heart, I still felt there were possibilities for me.

That was the decade I got into journalism—or more accurately, backed in journalism, since I wasn’t sure what the hell I wanted to do for a living--until I became famous, of course.

I just thought that reporting was something I would do for just a short time before my novel or my screenplays took off and I would soon be working people like Jonathan Demme.

The movie opens up with a nice bouncy salsa tune performed by David Byrne and Celia Cruz as the camera travels up the East River and we get a nice clear view of the Twin Towers, which we all thought would stand forever.

It ends with a Jamaican singer named Sister Carol doing her own version of "Wild Thing."

I’m not going to give away too much of the plot, but if you’ve seen enough movies I doubt if you’ll be terribly surprised by anything that happens in Something Wild.

Ray Liotta looks so young I couldn’t believe it was him. In the film, he shows up at a high school with reunion with a young woman played by Margaret Colin. She now plays Ray Liotta’s wife on the NBC cop show Shades of Blue.

Jonathan Demme, who went on to direct Married to the Mob, Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, died earlier this year. He was 73 years old.

After all this time, the movie is more of an artifact than art. I just can’t get it out of my head.

Kind of like a Madonna song.