Tag Archives: new jersey

Lame Adventure 351: The Booze, the Dames, the Hair Plugs

With all the gassing about today being twelve-twelve-twelve, click here for a story the New York Times published about a baby born in Gotham City at precisely twelve minutes after twelve noon, I have the Chairman of the Board, the Voice, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frankie on my mind.  Had he not checked into the Big Nightclub in the Sky in 1998, Frank Sinatra would have turned 97 today.  I cannot say that I know many dames that are fans of Frank aside from my ex, Rockets Redglare, who loved Frank’s rendition of Luck Be a Lady from the musical Guys and Dolls.  Rockets donning her Sigmund Freud chapeau analyzed how Frank sang the lyric:

Frank: A lady doesn’t wander all over the room and blow on some other guy’s dice!

She was certain that Frank had blowjobs in the forefront of his thoughts, which is possible, but on this video, it sure looks like he has dice on the brain.

Another dame that remembers Frank fondly is his third ex-wife, Mia Farrow.  He married her when she was twentyone, he was fifty and suffering a pronounced midlife crisis.  Decades after their divorce, at the time that she and her former companion, Woody Allen, had their spectacular falling out, Frank gallantly offered to have Woody’s legs broken.  And to think, towards the end of my favorite Woody Allen film, Manhattan, Woody’s protagonist, Ike, is lying on a couch talking into a tape recorder about all the things that make life worthwhile, he mentions Frank.

Frank was extremely moody and he referred to himself as “an 18-karet manic depressive”.   His youngest child, Tina, wrote in her memoirs about her father, “… I believe that a Zoloft a day might have kept his demons away.  But that kind of medicine was decades off.”

In the early fifties Frank’s career hit the skids and for a while, it looked like he might be washed up.  His fan base, the bobby-soxers, had replaced him with Eddie Fisher.  Frank, although married with three kids, was wildly unfaithful and then he fell hard for screen siren Ava Gardner when she was at the top of her game in Hollywood.  After his divorce, their volatile affair segued into a disastrous marriage, but by all accounts she was the great love of his life.  He kept a statue of her from the film, The Barefoot Contessa, in his back yard until Barbara Marx, his fourth and last wife, forced him to get rid if it.  My gut feeling tells me that she was not nearly as much fun as Ava.

Recently, I was visiting my pal and dedicated Frank-o-phile, Martini Max in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  Max wanted to take a hike in the Palisades behind the George Washington Bridge.   I now have a pretty bum left knee, but since it was late fall, I resisted whining and didn’t even suggest that we were likely targets for deer ticks and debilitating Lyme disease. So, off we went.

Our hike started with a climb up this staircase that took us into the woods.

Not as daunting as it looks

Not as daunting as it looked to my knee.

We encountered some fallen trees that Max said survived Hurricane Sandy, but fell following the Nor’Easter that smacked the Northeast afterward.  There is only so much torture trees can withstand.

Another victim of climate change.

Another victim of climate change.

Then, we marveled at the George Washington Bridge.

George Washington Bridge on the Jersey side.

George Washington Bridge on the Jersey side.

Max reverently observed:

Max:  Thank God those idiots didn’t cover it in concrete.

Apparently, when the bridge was under construction planners had considered encasing it in cement.  After showing our respects to the GWB, we traveled on a path until we reached The Spot.

The Path.

The Path.

My tour guide announced:

Max: This is it!

Me:  How the hell do you know?  It was demolished before you were even born!

Seriously, what are we even looking at?

Seriously, what are we even looking at?

Max pointed downward at a surviving bit of sidewalk in these woods.  Never argue with a Jersey guy that knows his Jersey lore forwards and back.

I stand corrected.

I stand corrected.

What is it?  It’s this now.

The Spot today.

The Spot today.

And imagine back in the day, in the forties and fifties, in this same space it was this.

Bill Miller's Riviera. Image from bergen.com http://www.bergen.com/artsmusic/That_Was_Show_Biz.html

Bill Miller’s Riviera. Image from  http://www.bergen.com/artsmusic/That_Was_Show_Biz.html

Bill Miller’s Riviera was a bit of Las Vegas-style swank, but pre-Las Vegas, situated in the foothills of Fort Lee.  The Riviera attracted top entertainers of the era as both performers and guests, and those visitors included Frank and Ava.  Frank also performed at the Riviera in 1953 when he had his career comeback.  1953 was also the year that Bill Miller was bought out and the Riviera closed to make way for the Palisades Interstate Parkway.  The Riviera was demolished a year later.

Looking out at the clearing where this legendary nightclub once stood one can only imagine what it must have been like.

One can only imagine ...

One can only imagine …

Then, we noticed a deer in the brambles looking at us.

You're watching me.  I'm watching you.

You’re watching me. I’m watching you.

Max reflected:

Max:  Just think that deer’s great-great-great-great grandfather deer probably saw Frank and Ava here.

Me:  For all we know, Max, that deer is the reincarnation of Frank.

Max:  You think we’re looking at Sinatra the deer?

The deer looked straight at us and said:

Sinatra the deer: Do be do be do.

Then, it scampered away.

Lame Adventure 254: Fa La Blah

Go away.

I am one of those types in the minority (?) that does not find the holiday season “the most wonderful time of the year”. I do go through the motions and participate, however reluctantly, as this recession drags on.  I was particularly skeptical when I heard the slick obscenely overpaid network newsreader claim that the billions spent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday might provide the tonic to lift the nation out of the economic doldrums for the long haul.  That sounds like false optimism and more spin encouraged by the network’s greedy corporate parent.  The pessimist in me thinks this spike in spending for the holidays is a fluke, many of these purchases were tossed on plastic, and the big spenders will be paying off their holiday debt through the first quarter or half of the new year.  So much for me donning my Lame Adventures economic analysis cap while eating potato chips — the food that fuels my brand of deep thinking.

I do send cards and I buy gifts, but since my wages were drastically slashed 20% three years ago and never reinstated, reducing what I clear now to little more than a potato chip, I can no longer afford to buy the gifts I’d most like to give such as a framed New Yorker cover that my cat-man brother, Axel, would love or the Kindle Fire that is at the top of my sister, Dovima’s, list.

Perfect New Yorker cover for cat lovers, "The High Life" by Mark Ulriksen

Yet, I feel an obligation to be creative and clever to offset my living on so much less when everything costs so much more.  This year, my siblings are each getting from me a pack of semi-chewed gum, but my brother’s also getting some lint I’ve been collecting since spring, and my sister, a pile of ashes in lieu of a Kindle Fire.  She will act like I’ve gifted her with a Fabergé egg, but he’ll probably ask about his puff of fluff:

Axel:  What does it do?

Me:  About as much as the heart in a box you gave me.

One of a kind box full of heart courtesy of my bro.

Yet, I do think that box full of heart is pretty cool.

My buddy, Martini Max, is bitten hard every year by the holiday spirit that eludes me.  This year, when I visited him over Turkey Day, he was elated to learn that he had had some deliveries on Turkey Day Eve to further enhance the ambiance of his bachelor pad. Pictured below is glimpse of genuine Fa La La Martini Max-style:

Mini Mad Men era tinsel tree.

Red vinyl She & Him singing carols on the record player.

Delivery # 1!!!!!!!!!!!!

How to make your home in New Jersey smell like a pine forest in Vermont.

Max opening delivery # 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Max opening his replica Santa head.

Max on his knees performing the "Santa please light up" prayer.

Leering Santa lighting up for Theda Bara.

Lame Adventure 130: Pre and Post Turkey Day Inanity

Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, my company closed an hour early, presumably so that employees could get a jump on the holiday weekend, but my boss, Elsbeth, took it upon herself to shut every single light on our floor Tai Chi-style with my sidekick, Greg, following close behind, leaving Ling, Under Ling and I waiting anxiously by the door.  I had strained my lower back a few days earlier while auditioning for Cirque du Soleil in the privacy of my own bathroom.  Therefore, I stood waiting in agony, carrying my messenger bag, a bottle of wine, a duffel bag and a month’s worth of New Yorkers to read on my journey to New Jersey since I was doing my usual, spending Turkey Day with my friend, Martini Max, and his family.  Fearing that my metamorphosis into a human pack mule would worsen my injury I delicately asked of my superior:

Me:  What the fuck is she doing?  Let’s get the hell out of here before I end up in a full body cast!

Elsbeth, who is equipped with hearing worthy of a feral beast hunting for prey deep in the woods, got the message and joined us in the doorway.  While staring at me grimacing in pain laden with luggage and gifts, she asked:

Elsbeth:  When are you going to visit your friend in New Jersey?

Me (thinking):  If we can ever get the hell out of here and I can forgo getting a morphine drip, the goal is today.

Me (saying):  Today.

It was evident that it never occurred to my Lord and Master that I generally do not carry an extra forty pounds of luggage and gifts on my person every day.  As for the grimace on my face, she probably assumed it is my natural expression as I approach completing a second full year of 2008 level wages memorably reduced by 20% in the wake of inauguration day 2009, an act of cruelty that could soon turn me into a homicidal maniac.  By the time we walked out the door, everyone else in our company had bolted and night had fallen.  When I reached the Canal Street subway station the A train I needed to catch was pulling out.  Fortunately, another arrived quickly, and I was on my way to Max-ville.

My three-day hiatus with Max and his kin was therapeutic and the food, as always, was excellent, the guests were amiable, the children behaved, and even the dog, gifted with a bone, was mellow.  I was so uncharacteristically relaxed I forgot to take pictures.  Upon returning to Max’s apartment following Thanksgiving dinner, we noticed that one of his neighbor’s got a jump on cluttering his hallway with their Christmas decorating, or as Max said:

Max:  Oh look, Christmas dunce caps.

Christmas Coneheads.