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Preview: hopeless cases

hopeless cases

confessions of a [former stay-at-home] punk rock dad and all things in between (or is that inbetween?)

Updated: 2017-11-07T03:29:05.264-05:00


I Am An Uncertainty Of Multiple Choices


Really, I don't know where he comes up with shit but my son can drop some mad science.

We were watching TV when this commercial comes on with a platypus and a jackalope. The spot cracked me up.

"Why are you so hyped on that?" said my son Cole.

"Because I'm kinda platypussy," I said immediately realizing this didn't sound too good.

He giggled and shook his head.

"What I mean is, people don't know what to make of me. Just like people don't know what to make of a platypus," I explained. "Or a jackalope."

"Ah," he said.

"I am an uncertainty of multiple choices," he concluded.

A Student of Life


I preach to my kids all the time that nobody knows it all: there is always something new to learn.

And I tell them that even at my age (and even being their dad) that there are still things in life I can learn.

I tell them you should never stop learning. I tell them you will always and forever be a student of life.

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to learn more about my surroundings. I grew frustrated that people could easily identify Adidas shoes or a Corvette but don't have a clue as to what bird is singing or what type of tree they hang their hammock on.

So I bought National Audubon Field Guides to birds and trees. Trees it turns out can be tricky to ID because there's blossoms, bark and leaves to take into consideration.

Living in North Carolina, there plenty of trees. Especially pine. Hence the name tarheel.

But the eastern redbud always stands out to me. It's the tree for me that signifies spring has officially sprung. And it is also a reminder of my ties to be being raised Catholic. You see, it is also known as the Judas tree because, as the story goes, it is the tree he hung himself in after selling Jesus out. Its flowers are also said to be imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, which, in turn, gives a seasonal time to Jesus' death.

Ever since I read that little bit of info, I have always noticed that the eastern redbud tends to bloom right around the time of Easter regardless of when Easter falls on the calendar. And I always make a mental note of it.

Until this year.

The trees are in full bloom right now.

Yet Easter is almost two weeks away.

What does this mean? I have no answer. Global warming? Religion is a farce? A cooling sun?

But I do know one thing it means and that is that change is in the air...

Chip Away


My 10-year-old is a bit of a potato chip connoisseur.

And he is quite proud of the fact that he knows his way around the land of chips.

"I love potato chips," he said the other day as he snapped open a pack of Miss Vickie's Original Recipe Sea Salt that I had leftover from a lunch meeting.

"So what is the best potato chip?" I asked.

"Depends on the brand," he said while tossing a few in his mouth.

"Okay," I said. Then I bellowed out a brand and he would counter with his answer.

And this is how he broke it down…

Pringles: Sour Cream and Onion
Kettle Brand: Sriracha
Lays: Honey BBQ
Utz: Old Bay

The best he's ever had?

"Some I got from a friend in third grade. He had them at snack," he explained.

"And what flavor were they?" I asked.

"Bacon, egg and cheese," he said.

"Huh? Say what?" I retorted.

"They were some Asian brand," he explained.

"We need to hit up an Asian market and see if we can find some of those," I said.

"Definitely," he said.

Are You Experienced?


Have you ever been experienced?

I have.

I've been to over a dozen beer festivals in my day but yesterday was my first Bull City Food & Beer Experience.

The concept, in its second year, is to pair the area's craft beer scene with our locally acclaimed culinary world. It's a match made in heaven and one brought to fruition by DPAC, Tyler's Taproom and Sam's Quik Shop

Some of my favorite pairings was Saltbox Seafood's spicy mussels dish with Founders Brewing Co.'s All Day IPA.

I sampled far too many food vendors and beers to go on a mention all my favorite pairings. I was too engrossed in sampling the pairings that I never got to hear the panelists speak. But I did make it down to the Cask section and enjoyed some Heavy Seas Winter Storm Imperial ESB and Starpoint Brewing's Weaver Berry Stout infused with ginger and lemon zest.

Of course Sam's Quik Shop serving up Founders' KBS and Backwoods Bastard couple and that special bottle of North Coast's oak-aged Old Rasputin imperial stout in the VIP section. Yummy yum. 

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That's Just My Smokin' Soul


Romanticized memories
jog ear to ear for days
then sink back into destiny

appropriated by syn-
apses and sunsets. Loathing
and fear of celluloid truth

and pixel love. Man's inner
resources are shish kabobbed;
burnt, stabbed and marinated to taste.

*from 1992 chapbook Bridging The Gender Gap.

Gotcha Covered


Cold sweat
and teeth-grinding chirp
awaken me.

The grizzly's gone now
not gnawing
on the arm anymore.

I wriggle my fingers
to see if they're
still there                      they are.

When I was a boy
I'd hide under the covers
from the monsters.

Mom said they couldn't
get me there.
I don't think she meant
to lie to me.
It's just that the monsters are bigger now.



my 10-year-old son wrote this poem in class based off of a poem called "Identity" by Julio Noboa Polanco...

Let them be as poodles,
Always pampered, cared, loved, admired,
But harnessed to a rich lifestyle.

I'd rather be a wild, dangerous wolf,
Howling at the moon like a warrior
Yelling his battle cry in war.

To have broken through the
Cages of humans, to live, to feel
Free of the open wild in nature.
To be swayed by the scent of carcasses
Carrying my soul, my legacy,
Running through the woods of time
or into the wilderness of the bizarre.

I'd rather be unseen and
If then be hunted by everyone
Than to be a small helpless dog,
Being dyed a different color every day.
Where they're raised, pampered, and decorated
By wealthy human hands.

I'd rather smell of bloody rotten stench
than of sweet, dainty dog.
If I could stand alone, strong and free
I'd rather be wild, dangerous wolf.

Behind the Scenes of Bad Grandpa


10 Again


the sun broke through
the clouds 'round noon.
raising the temperature up
to a cool, yet mild, 52 degrees.

my first instinct 
was to reach into the change jar,
count up my dimes & nickels,
then go buy a forty of Olde English
and contemplate life by the railroad tracks.

somehow i managed 
to bypass that exit
turning instead to my basketball.
with a loping stride                                                     thump, thump
i made my way to the apt. complex court.

in a very regimented manner,
i played "around the world" with myself.
concentrating on form,                                                thump, thump, thump
and studying the dirt-stained backboard,
i aimed for the imaginary red square.

a little kid, not much older than six
worked the court, back and forth                 thump, thump
shooting at the rim, dodging defenders
in his mind. i would pause when he entered
my side of the court. his face was stern.

                                                                            thump, thump.... thump
concentration ebbed out of his head.
for each shot i missed, i made myself
return to the previous spot until i made it
all the way through the rotation.
from spot #1 (bank shot off the backboard from right side of the rim)
to spot #9 (top of the key).
i felt better after awhile.                              thump, thump
i felt like i was 10 again.


How Do You Quantify A Good Summer?


Do you measure it by the number of vacations you took? The trips to the beaches and lakes?

Or do you measure it by time spent at the pool?

Or maybe it was the new surf spot you found or stair set to kick flip off of?

Possibly you forged a new friendship or rekindled an old one.

Maybe someone learned to ride their bike or a kid lost his first tooth?

For my boys, it was making their first skateboard video.

For me, it was tan feet. Tan feet always signifies a good summer because it takes a lot to get my pale, white feet tan. I think it has only happened three times since I was 18. This summer was a good summer for me.

How about you?

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Mental Elixir


I hadn't been to the beach in years.

Four years to be exact.

There are many reasons for that but after spending a few days there last week, I am reminded that I really do need the beach in my life on a more regular basis.

It's a mental elixir.

Something about the sea breeze in your face and sand under your toes just does something to the body and soul.

Beach, I will see you again sooner than later...

A Wasteful Message


Message from the back of a trash truck.

"Hi. Sorry your are stuck in traffic. But on the bright side, this truck runs on compressed natural gas.

Which means it reduces our carbon footprint.

So as your are sitting here, at least you're surrounded by less emissions than you usually would be."

Pool Boys of Summer


This photo is awesome in so many ways.

But mostly because it is an excellent representation of summer time fun.

Good times.

Wish I could bottle this moment and sip on it whenever I feel down.

Smoke But No Fire


Sometimes the old adage isn't true...

Greg Is A Racecar Driver


I’m excited to continue to contribute to Chevy Culture, a lifestyle and auto site sponsored by Chevrolet. Click through for the full post on Chevy Culture, and come back in the next few weeks and months for more. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>Until recently, I’d never driven a high-performance car.That changed when Chevrolet sent me to the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain Resorts. Located about an hour west of Las Vegas, the school offers people like me the chance to learn about car control, shifting and cornering techniques and—ultimately—to experience what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of a sports car and tackle a racetrack.Now that I’ve done it, now that I’ve harnessed the power of a Corvette, and now that I know how to control it, I look forward to doing it again. And again. The object of schools like this (Chevy also sponsors the Bondurant Driving School in Phoenix) is to teach you not how to be a racecar driver, but rather how to properly operate a vehicle, be it a Corvette or a Cruze, in high-speed situations.“We believe the car is the classroom,” says Chief Driving Instructor and Driving School Director Rick Malone. The schools guarantee extensive track time for those who attend them, adopting a philosophy of learning through hands-on experience. It’s a safe, controlled environment available to anyone with a valid driver’s license and the money to cover a $3,000-$4,000 fee (prices vary depending on the level you choose).It all began with the basics: “Keep your hands at 9 and 3,” said Malone.Your seating position is also crucial. “Move the seat close enough, so when turning right or left, when your hand gets to the 12 o’clock position, your elbow should have about a 45-degree bend.”Driving with one hand limits your cornering and swerve potential, said Malone. It also limits your line of sight. Peripheral vision—scanning the horizon for what lies ahead—is elemental in finding proper car control. “Keep your eyes up and looking where you want to go,” he repeated over the course of the day. It’s like Driver’s Ed all over again, only Malone has 28 years’ experience and the car is a Z06 Corvette with 505 hp that goes from 0-60 in four seconds. It’s a daily commuter car with racecar-like performance. The education I got in such a short amount of time is priceless, and something I can apply in my everyday life.During an exercise in car control, Malone wet down an asphalt paddock and had me navigate through a figure 8 series of cones. “Remember, always look where you want to go,” he said. If your car gets into a tail slide—be it from rain, snow or loose gravel—you never want to look straight ahead. If you look straight, you’ll go straight, and that usually isn’t a good idea. Good thing the Corvette employs a feature called active handling. On-board sensors “assist” the driver by adjusting braking, steering and traction, so driving becomes an intuitive experience. After I learned these basics, Malone guided me in a lead car (via a two-way radio) over a track that had sweeping corners, quick S’s and off-camber turns.On the backstretch, I reached speeds in the triple digits. To say it was exhilarating would be an understatement: This was a life-changing experience. A dream fulfilled.“You’ll be back,” Malone said with a sly grin. “I can see it in your eyes.” And he’s right. In October, there’s something called Corvettes at Bondurant, where Bondurant offers Corvette owners the thrill of high-performance driving in a controlled environment during a weekend of track time, sc[...]

A Cautionary Tale on Chocolate City


width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>In the late '80s, I spent a lot of time in DC. Sometimes my friends and I drove into the city, sometimes we rode the rails. It was a dangerous time. Crack was king and go go was its theme song. But nevertheless, we navigated the bowels of the city from F Street NW to Southeast, from Georgetown to Dupont Circle, but this was all done with an err of caution.Age was on our side back then. Danger was there for sure, but we were either impervious or felt invincible.My last few trips to DC have shown me that the city I love has changed. Drastically.For better and for worse.Places that were once "sketchy" have now been gentrified and overrun with entitlement. And this must clearly breed resentment. But that's a tale for another time.One last thing before I share my story: If you are on the subway, after midnight, alone, and passed-out drunk you increase your chances of being a victim. ***On Saturday night I went to the Black Cat on 14th Street with my girlfriend because the DJ in the back room was doing an '80s Night. She likes her Erasure, Depeche Mode, Cure, and Tones on Tail. Like is actually an understatement. I confess I love me some '80s tunes too. Yaz? Yessir. The Smiths? Hellz yeah! 14th Street in my day was the domain of pimps and prostitutes. Now it is a haven for twentysomethings to burn off steam after a long week of work. A Metro stop that nobody wanted to get off at is now a stop that everybody gets off at.The sidewalks? Crowded. The clubs? Lines to get in. The food joints? Busy. The night waned on.Hot, sweaty, tired (and broke, the city is expensive!) we left and headed back to catch the train.While waiting on the platform, a train going in the other direction pulled into the station. There was a commotion. We saw a gaggle of black teens cornering someone. I saw fists flying. I heard voices screaming. And I reacted.As the doors opened I ran onto the train. "Chill the fuck out!" I yelled, pushing bodies away. I saw two Latino guys sitting down. A gaggle of black teens throwing punches. One of the teens, a female, is pulling at his ear buds. "I want that fucking phone!" she screamed. "Get the fuck back," I said as I pushed both male and female teens forcefully in the chest. Several of them scattered but two stayed close. One was the girl who wants the phone. The two Latin boys were now on their feet. One of them pulled a knife. The teens, seeing this, scattered to the back of the train.The door to the train closed. The train lurched forward. Suddenly my good samaritan deed seems like a bad idea. Because now there was no escape. It was me, the victims and the perps all in one car with no one else. Anything could happen. I walked in front of the Latinos. They knew I saved their asses, if only temporarily. I headed towards the crew who were throwing punches. I scanned both sides of the train to see who was sitting on the subway. To see who didn't step up and stop this madness. I got the feeling this whole train is in on this shit. "Don't do anything stupid!" I yelled out to no one in particular. The door opened at the next stop. I got off and waited to catch the train back to where my girlfriend was waiting on the platform. Several of the punch-throwing group got off at the other end of the train. They eyed me from a distance on the platform. I stared back with a "You want to bring it, bring it," look. There were no words nor actions on their end.I caught the next train back and met up with my girlfriend Sonnie, who confessed, "As soon as that door closed on you, I felt sick. I thought I might never see you ag[...]

Satan's Next Door Neighbor






Crazy Words



In 2011, my apartment was robbed.

And they took my computer.

And with it, almost everything I had written.

I'm not going to lie -- it pretty much destroyed my creative spirit. I had so much on there. I labored on. Continued to "create" by writing assignments here and there. But I had lost so much. I just couldn't entertain the idea of revisiting that world.

Until recently.

Until I read this book. It was a real game changer.

And it hit me: I have tons of material. Let me find it and revisit it. Do something with it.

And that's where I am today. Digging through boxes looking for hard copy print-outs of my work. From the the days before clouds, blogs or external hard drives; from the days before the internet and social media.

I found his gem tonight. Probably one of my favorite poems. Enjoy.

Crazy Words

You bury your nose
in T.S Eliot, Rilke,
and the other Dylan.
Drink latte at the coffee joint
down the street
that used to be a GAP.

Your interest holds
past the classics
and you get turned on
to the common man's poet -
Chuck Bukowski.
The cigarette adds punch to the caffeine.

Suddenly everyone
neglects this beautiful world
'cept the street man
who spits out verse
worthy of press any time for a dime.

Late nights are spent
transcribing tapes of him
to go in a special section of
the 'zine you publish.
Not much left to do
since "alternative" became mainstream.

I mock you when I read.
Get up there loaded;
not original but sincere.
And shout my words to your tired ears.

My chaos
whips you into a frenzy
like mutants at a
GG Allin show:
Strung out and stumbling.

I fight not to lose it.

Maintain control,

Amidst what seems,

Certain and inevitable destruction.

Crazy words drool from
a crazy man.
Going mad in a mad, mad world.

And you say,"That's not poetry."

Do As You Are Told



Jesus Was A No-Show


“Mr. Monaghan,” said Professor Madejczyk from behind the lectern. “Where is your term paper?”

“I don’t have it,” said Bill Monaghan, a freckle faced freshman at Towson University.

“And why, may I ask, do you not have the paper?” queried the pensive professor.

“Jesus was a no-show,” said Monaghan, cupping his face with his hands, obviously distraught.

His classmates snickered much to the ire of the professor.

“Would you care to explain this to me?” he said.

“Well, last night on my way to the library to write the term paper, I was approached by someone from the Campus Christian Ministry. They asked me if I had a few moments to spare to join them in their talk about Christ. I said I was on my way to the library to write a term paper that was due tomorrow and that I had no time to stop.”

“But if you stop, Jesus will come to you. He will help you write your paper,” said the shadowed figure. “So I threw caution to the wind and went to the prayer meeting. I felt great afterwards and everybody kept telling me to go to the library and wait. That Jesus would come. I waited and waited but he never came. I fell asleep waiting and woke up an hour before class,” explained young man.

“So that’s you story Monaghan?” said the professor.

“Yes,” he replied.

“So you lost your term paper because Jesus didn’t show up to write it for you. Is that what you are telling me?”

“I didn’t just lose my term paper,” said a teary-eyed Monaghan.

“I lost my faith.”

Where a Ghost Pepper meets a Garlic Bulb


The ol' disclaimer... I’m excited to announce that I’m now contributing to Chevy Culture, a lifestyle and auto site sponsored by Chevrolet. Click through for the full post on Chevy Culture, and come back in the next few weeks and months for more.Wanna make a salad? Take this five-town tour of Pacific Coastal Highway to get fresh, organic ingredients to feed your belly - and your soul - all while enjoying the open road and open air in your automobile. 5 Foodie Destinations Worth Braking ForEveryone knows that a day at the beach is fun for the whole family, but a road trip along California’s legendary Pacific Coastal Highway doubles the fun—whetting your appetite as well as your wanderlust. So grab your sleek, spacious Traverse—with up to 12 cup holders for everyone’s beverages and Smart-Slide second-row seating for easier hops in and out of the car—and whisk your hungry brood to these five foodie destinations.With the sun at your back and the ocean at your side, tap into your inner gourmand. From foraging for wild mushrooms and tasting artisanal olive oil to sampling garlic ice cream and getting your hands on the elusive ghost pepper, this is one scenic and satisfying drive, no matter if you’re in Southern, Northern or Central California. (Do yourself a favor and take your mind off directions—OnStar will handle that.)Are we there yet?Santa CruzYour car’s V6 will power you with quiet precision along the coast to the town of Santa Cruz, located an hour and a half south of San Francisco. This is wild mushroom hunting territory. Chanterelles grow in the damp soil and thick leaf mulch at the foot of trees and by fallen branches; they are not grown commercially. Put your foraged fungi into a plastic bag and then simply cook them up with a little olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. Make sure you are with an experience hunter or travel with a field guide to properly identify edible mushrooms.GilroyNicknamed the “Garlic Capital of the World,” the city of Gilroy hosts an annual garlic festival for all those who like it pickled, minced or powdered. This versatile ingredient—a close cousin to the onion and shallot—is a chef favorite as it is a key element found in the dishes of most cultures throughout the world. Whether raw or cooked, it has an unmistakable scent. Just 50 minutes southeast of Santa Cruz, a trip to Gilroy will satiate any passenger’s garlic jones.San Luis ObispoLocated on the central coast of California about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo’s Mediterranean-like climate makes it a haven for vintners. But the weather isn’t just ideal for growing grapes for wine—it is also great for growing olives. At Pasolivo Farm in the neighboring town of Paso Robles, visitors can sample some of their oils infused with lime, lemon or tangerine as well take a tour of the farm’s olive press. CamarilloJust forty-five minutes north of Los Angeles is Camarillo, a bedroom community with a history that dates back to the Chumash Indians. It is also home to the orange-red pepper known as the “ghost pepper,” once recognized as the hottest pepper in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. How hot is this pepper? Think 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. Ouch! Take a detour and travel to the McGrath Family Farm and pick your own peppers. Laguna BeachA seaside resort town about an hour south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach is known for its pristine beaches, fish-filled lagoons and thriving artistic com[...]



(image) .

I am a list maker.

I am a maker of lists.

If it is not on the list, it usually doesn't get done

A Beer Drinkin' Truck Driver Talkin' Jive



I used to fancy myself a poet. I digested modern verse like a kid eating candy on Halloween.

And then I wrote. I wrote about what I saw; I wrote about what I felt; I wrote about writing.

I felt inspired at every turn of the corner.

And I made little chapbooks.

It's what we did, my friends and I.

We made zines.

We made chapbooks of poetry.

We made photo books.

We did not wait for approval or payment - we simply made things for the sake of making and for the sake of sharing. This was our Facebook-status-sharing-wall-post circa 1991.

I have a box full of stuff, and some shelved in that certain important section, of things like these from those that inspired me.

I keep hoping that MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram or whatever will lead me down that path. I get glimpses of it, but nothing like holding a fresh zine or chapbook book in my hands. Doesn't matter if it was made on the office printer on the sly or Kinkos. Or if it is perfect bound and letter pressed.

Just that it come from the heart, a true slice of creativity from a person's soul, typos and all.

The following is the poem that opens up my chapbook Headaches And Assholes. I had moved from Maryland to Los Angeles and was living in Glendale. I had taken a liking to Pasadena. And decided to spend some time in the local watering holes. And one day struck up a random conversation with some old man. Because that was what life was about back then... striking up random conversations. Does any one remember those days?


the mouth under his
big pored-black headed
nose spoke of the first
freeway in california.

about corporate buy-
outs and oil and gas
and cars and "let's do
this and let's do that" and fuck;

he said fuck a lot
and put his head in
his large hand, a hand
that had driven plenty of big rigs

and cupped manny
a beers. i shook my head
and just grinned
eventually having

my stare turn into
some blank gaze fading
out over his hair;
grecian formula yellowed.

a beer truck drivin'
beer drinkin' truck driver
talkin' jive in
pasadena. and i was all ears.

Palm Trees


(image) Taken during a recent trip to Las Vegas, where a thousand people wake up to broken dreams penniless...