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MARINADE DAVE



Please visit my main blog at marinadedave.com



Updated: 2018-02-19T11:36:57.812-05:00

 



ONE HAIR BEARD

2018-02-11T12:22:48.077-05:00

When I was a boy growing up, I'd sometimes watch my father stand at the bathroom sink doing one of his daily rituals. He'd shave. Back then, he used a natural bristle brush with a wooden handle, shaving soap, and a straight edge razor. To me, with only peach fuzz to claim, shaving was a rite of passage I couldn't wait for. Only then would I be a real man. Even girls go through some kind of... hmmm... it's not the same thing, but we all go through periods of pubescence.
One day, probably when I was around nine-years-old, he let me stand on a stool in front of the bathroom mirror, lather up, and slide his razor across my cheeks to “shave.” Without a blade, of course. For a fleeting moment, I felt older.
When I was thirteen, maybe fourteen, a lone hair sprouted out of my chin. I woke up one morning and there it was, my very own facial hair. For real. Suddenly, I felt a little bit closer to manhood. I was maturing. It was about a quarter of an inch long and I wasn't about to lop it off. It was my machismo mark; the leap to future strength and optimum virility. It was there for the world to see! So I let it grow. And grow. All of my relatives saw it and said something. Yes, I was glad they noticed. It grew some more.
“You must be proud of that lonely hair,” my grandfather once remarked. Darn right I was!
Fortunately for me, it grew during the summer recess months, so not many of my classmates saw it.
Then...
One morning, I got up, looked in the mirror and the darned thing was at least three inches long with a light curl or two. What was I trying to do? The more I looked at it, the more ridiculous it looked. The more ridiculous I felt inside.
“This is stupid looking,” I thought, so I got my father's old razor out of the medicine cabinet and chopped it off. Gone!
That morning, I became mature enough to realize how dumb I looked. Just who was I trying to impress besides myself? I knew then that I had made the transition from boyhood to – well, I wasn't really sure yet because... I was still waiting for my voice to change!
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SOCKS APPEAL

2017-12-15T12:41:57.736-05:00

I’m always out looking for a girlfriend and every time I think I’ve found the right one, they get to know me and… and… and…
Well, it never seems to work out. Maybe, just maybe… my new one will love me for who I am – a soft, cuddly, sensitive, caring, honest and funny, all around good guy. “Funny” being the key word. I can only hope.
This morning, we were on the phone talking and I was telling her about doing my laundry and how I fold my shirts a certain way before hanging them up in the bedroom closet. You know, the usual routine. She mentioned a few things and one thing led to another.
I think it’s fair to say that everyone has some sort of quirky behavior, right? Peculiarities and the like, and I’m not talking about the bedroom variety. I mean in everyday life. Growing up, for instance, she knew women who starched and ironed their husbands’ t-shirts and handkerchiefs. Handkerchiefs, for crying out loud! I remember those days. My father always carried one and I thought it was a hideous practice to pull it out of the back pocket of their pants, blow their nose into it, and stuff it back into their pocket for God knows how long. Days and days. Enough of that.
I mentioned something – and I don’t think I’m alone – that I like to do. I only wear dark cotton socks. No matter what. No whites for me! Nothing wrong with that, I suspect. But I like to iron them. I own a sock iron, bought and paid for on Amazon Prime. It’s the best thing I ever invested my money in. Not only do I iron my socks, I collect them. Most of them are folded on special sock hangars in my closet, bought and paid for on Amazon Prime. They’re easy to iron except for the pleated ones.
Yes, I own scores and scores of pleated socks. Boy, are they difficult to iron.
She told me she had to go and hung up. Now, she’s not answering her phone. Do you think she’ll call back?
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Who Was David Kyle?

2017-11-13T11:58:15.201-05:00


There was a science fiction category on Jeopardy! on Friday night. It made me think about my uncle, David Kyle, who was renowned in that field. I did well in the category and knew he’d be proud. That made me think about how much fun we would have if we could sit side-by-side each night, competing against each other while watching the show. (When I was young, we played a lot of chess. He’d almost always win, but I’d surprise him every so often.)
I miss my Uncle Dave. He was exceptionally intelligent, funny, and a consummate gentleman. He was a veteran of the Air Force; a Lt. Colonel.

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He Gave His Finger to the Garage Door

2017-11-03T11:33:21.312-04:00

[This is a reworked story from 2005.]I’m not one to laugh at others misfortunes, but… sometimes, life’s experiences are just too painfully funny to pass by.I have a friend, Dave, who’s an intelligent, successful businessman. He’s in his late fifties, so he’s been around the block a time or two. One morning, he opened his garage door to take the garbage out by the curb. An early riser, this was around 5:30 in the morning - when your brain is still a little fuzzy and sluggish.After he told me the story, I said, “Dave, that’s what you get for being so cheap with yourself.”“No, Dave,” he responded, “that’s what I get for procrastinating,” after asking him why he never installed an electric garage door opener. It’s the kind with a handle at the bottom you lift up after unlocking it from the inside.Down the driveway he went with his trash bin that fateful morning. After strategically setting it in the perfect spot, he brushed off his hands, walked back up, and grabbed the handle to close the garage door. Only, it didn’t quite work out that way. Yes, he pulled it down, but it didn’t go all the way. Instead of bending down or pushing it shut with his foot, he reached in the crack between the slats and, with powerful manly strength…FORCED IT SHUT! Now, remember, these slats are on a track and as they come downward, they fit tightly into each other. They pinch shut.In an instant, an excruciating pain shot through the middle finger of his right hand. Instinctively he yanked it back and looked in horror at his hand. The tip of his finger just above the first joint was gone. Crushed. He opened the door with his other hand and pulled out his severed, flattened fingertip. After rushing inside, he carefully put it on ice and raced to the nearest emergency room.“There’s nothing we can do. We can’t sew it back on. It’s been crushed,” the doctor told him. Flattened like a pancake with strawberry syrup. Without getting too graphic, the doctor reformed what remained of the end of his finger and closed it up. 18 stitches. He went home, not quite feeling like the whole man he was when he rolled out of bed. I think he took the rest of the day off.Today, he pretty much laughs at the experience. “You know, that was about the most stupid thing I’ve ever done. I just wasn’t thinking. I can’t believe I tore the darn thing off.”Not that they could have saved it anyway, but it did save the cost of amputation.[...]



The Night I Screamed on Halloween

2017-10-27T13:40:33.241-04:00

[This is a true story I’ve posted in the past. I think it’s worth repeating every couple of years.]A number of years ago, I told my mother about the scariest Halloween I ever experienced. I was with a friend from the neighborhood. She questioned whether she would have let me venture out without her at the tender age of six. Oh, I wasn’t alone, I reminded her. Besides, times were different then. We used to leave our windows open all day and night during hot summer months because air conditioning was a luxury. Screen doors were all that separated us from the outside world. Crime wasn’t something that was ever present in our minds. Heck, we left our doors unlocked. It was a different time…§It was a chilly autumn night, that Halloween of 1958. It was my first foray out alone. Well, not really alone. I was with Harold, my buddy from school. He met me at my place. We had planned on doing this, by hook or by crook, and no mothers were going to be allowed to come along! We were out to prove we were real men that night, not boys, or so I thought, as we ventured out into the early evening. Be home soon after dark, our mothers instructed.There were lots of other children running around dressed in all kinds of costumes, stopping at many of the two story homes in our close knit community. The ones that were spookily decorated were the most inviting. Anyone willing to do all that work on their place would surely be the ones handing out the best candy!I remember watching hand-carved candlelit pumpkins flicker with each eerie twist and turn throughout the neighborhood. Skeletons and ghosts hung from trees and porches, swaying back and forth in the cool, gentle breezes, as red and orange leaves softly fell to the ground. We spoke of ghouls and goblins and stayed away from dark alleys and back yards where we weren’t supposed to go anyway, not to mention houses with no lights, because we knew what THAT meant! The monsters inside would grab us by our arms and take us down into their dank, spider-infested dungeons filled with torture devices, where we’d never, ever be seen again. Or… or… or… maybe, lights out simply meant they weren’t home or didn’t want to be bothered. But we weren’t going to take any chances.We were on a candy mission. I had a big grocery store shopping bag to fill up. It was brown paper with handles for carrying. There were no ‘plastic or paper?’ options back then. It was paper. Those were the days when milkmen left glass bottles at your doorstep and rabbit ears or rooftop antennas were the best way to watch black & white, round-screen television sets. Color TV? Hahahahaha! We weren’t rich.For what seemed like hours, we wandered around the neighborhood. People guessed who we were. “Oh, you’re little Dave, Sam & Dottie’s kid.”Harold wanted to finish the night at his house. It was only fair, since we begain our journey at mine, and I had never been there before. His place was across the street, about five houses up. When you’re only six-years-old, that’s quite a distance, and I wasn’t crazy about venturing too far away from my world; a world that wasn’t very big.But I was brave and we had candy collection work to do.Round and round we went. Back and forth, up and down; to the left and to the right, including places we’d never seen. We visited hundreds of homes, or so it seemed. Thousands, maybe! Eventually, we worked our way to his place. It was dark and I remembered what my mother said. We’d been out long enough, we were getting tired, and both of us had plenty of goodies to last a long time. Of utmost importance, Halloween fell on a school night and we needed our sleep.When we arrived, we walked up the sidewalk and climbed the stairs of his front porch. The porch light was off and it was downright sinister. Pure evil was lurking about. I knew it. I just sensed it…“Are you sure your mom and dad are home?” I asked. We kn[...]



Me Too?

2017-10-18T13:23:37.287-04:00

In late August of 1968, I turned 16. Living in Flemington, NJ, the hottest place around was the Weiner King. I really wanted to get my first job there. No other place was like “The King.” It was the center of the known universe. One Saturday afternoon, a week or so after my birthday - I was “of age” now - my mother drove up to the front, I got out and went inside to ask the owner if he would hire me. He asked a few questions, jotted down my information, and said he’d get back to me if an opening came up. I made sure I was dressed nicely.Some time the following week, the phone rang and the rest is history. September, 1968. I remember, on my first day, I wore a tie. Jack Little, the owner, chuckled a bit and told me it wasn’t necessary. What I needed was an apron. Angie Rocco was assigned to train me and I’ll never forget that first day, nor will I ever forget many subsequent days at that job. One stands out in particular, and the news of late has brought it back into the forefront of my mind.The Weiner King went through several transformations over the years. The first one was a little shack. When I went to work, it was a much larger building. The old shack had been tossed in the back of the parking lot. From the highway, the dining room was on the left. The right side was the waiting area, the front counter, and the kitchen. There were two entrances that faced sideways. Jack had lost the key and we had to run a heavy-duty chain between the two doors at night to lock up. There were two rugs on the floor, too, for customers to wipe their feet as they entered. At the end of the night, someone would have to take each rug outside and shake out the dust and dirt. On nights that I worked, that would be me because I was the “junior executive assistant manager trainee” at the time.As it was with many summer nights, the crew was a core group of three – Jack, Tom Garefino, and me. Tom was a gruff type of guy with a heart of gold. Some people were kind of afraid of him, but I knew better. A retired Army M. Sgt., he was a great man and full of knowledge.Late one evening, it was coming up on closing time. Jack never refused a customer as long as those grills were on. Besides, we weren’t closed. The front of the restaurant, where the waiting area was, was made up entirely of glass panes. I stood at the front counter when a red Fiat Spider rolled up. (Dang! We’re never going to close, I thought.) The convertible top was down. Two guys came in and I took their order. When they picked up their food, they sat quietly at a front table. I’d say they were in their thirties. Meanwhile, Jack, Tom, and I started the process of cleaning up – getting ready to close.At some point, I picked up one of the rugs and proceeded to shake it outside one of the doors. It was near the Fiat, but far enough away to not get it dirty. One of the two gentlemen came outside, stood next to me, and began asking questions. How old are you? How often do you work? Is that guy your father? What time do you get off? You know, questions like that. Then, BAM! The proposition…“I just got out of prison. I’m a professional photographer and I want to take pictures of you. We have a place not too far from here with a studio and small stage. We have lots of wine and we’d like to take nude photographs of you.”I was uncomfortable right from the start, but this was WAY too much. I kept turning around and looking at Jack and Tom for help. They were leaning on the front counter paying close attention, smiling at me. I needed help! Anyone in their right mind could see the look of panic in my face. Why didn’t they rush out to help me?“No! No! No! I’m not like that. I like girls. I don’t want my picture taken…” And on it went until… until… until… I turned around and THERE HE WAS, the other guy! Outside the door. It was as if he was reading his friend’s lips.He knew what had transpired. “Please[...]



You learn a lot when you talk to people

2017-10-17T08:27:21.021-04:00

The other day, I stood in line at the Publix deli, waiting to order their special sub of the week. Meatball. Ah, yes, a meatball sub with tomato sauce, spinach, onions, black olives, and melted parmesan and provolone cheeses. (It was delicious!)A young gentleman was standing to my right, just in front of me. Of course, if you know me, you know I'm very personable, so I struck up a conversation. I'd guess he was in his mid-20s or so. Maybe 30. Strapping and good looking, he was very approachable and friendly. I noticed that, although he spoke perfect English, he had a distinct accent. To me, it sounded German. Instead of saying, "You're not from around these here parts, are you, punk?" I politely mentioned what I had noticed and asked him if he was German."No, I'm from Hungary, but spent five years in Munich. That was a very good guess. I kind of do have a bit of a German accent, so my friends tell me. You're not really wrong."I told him my niece and former sister-in-law live in Berlin. He asked if I'd ever been there. I said no, but I'd love to visit some time. As a matter of fact, I'd enjoy going to Hungary, too. All over Europe. Of course, curiosity took hold, and that included a pinch of my journalistic penchant to ask questions, so one thing led to another. For sure, I tried not to load the questions. I didn't blurt them out without any semblance of segue. I asked them as part of the natural conversational flow. One thing had to lead to another. Mostly, I didn't want to push anything.According to domestic media reports from almost everywhere, I wondered how we're perceived around the world. "What do you think of America over there? Aren't we kind of like the laughing-stock of Europe? You know, Trump and all?"His facial expression suddenly turned from amiable to slightly serious. "No, not at all. America is America and we love it. Everybody loves America. We don't pay attention to that kind of stuff."Please note that I made no attempt to sway his responses in any way. "Even in Germany? I mean, I can understand Hungary. but that's only one country?""No, Germany, too. We have our own problems and America's problems? It's not something we care so much about. Life goes on."Clearly, I thought, this is not the picture our media are painting.  Granted, he might have been what we would consider "a conservative" in this country. Or, maybe not. I didn't know. I didn't address his personal political views at all, and on his own, he brought up something else."You know, Hungary built a wall to keep the immigrants out." I knew which immigrants he meant."Do you mean, to keep them from settling in your country?""No, they can't do that. They can't settle in Hungary. It's to keep them from passing through our country." Interesting, because it's part of the European Union."Do you mean, on their way to Germany?""Yes."I kind of got the impression that there are lots of nationalists in Hungary, because he said that's precisely what the country wanted to do. They didn't want trouble following them like other parts of Europe. The problems you and I don't usually get to read about or watch on the news."Germany has a problem with many of those immigrants. A lot of German tourists and tourists from other European countries vacation in Hungary and they thank us profusely because they feel very safe. They don't have to fear immigrants. It's a real concern."Hmmm... "Do you get many American tourists?""Oh, yes, lots of them.""Do they ever discuss problems like that?""No, not at all. They just come to enjoy themselves.""Oh, I'd love to visit. It's part of 'Old Europe.' It's rich in history.""You know, as part of the European Union, we weren't really allowed to build a wall, but we did it anyway because we are still our own country. Everyone that visits thanks us for doing it because," and he reiterated, "they feel safe."I looked at this as but one man's [...]



I'd like to thank the prosecutor's wife

2017-09-05T15:34:43.657-04:00

I ran into a bad cop 42 years ago. It didn't discourage me in the end because I have always known that most are good people, ethical, and very professional. Heck, I know a few. This guy, Jack Demeo, was anything but that. If you look at his résumé, it's filled with untruths. He was never supposed to be involved in law enforcement again. My story is exactly as it happened. His sidekick, Rich, is someone I knew for years. Eventually, he left that profession. I have no need to impugn him, but Demeo? I will never get over what he did to me. I want no retribution at this stage in life. I do want you to know that there are people like him out there. In uniforms. With guns. And I don't mind identifying them. If this article happens to fall into the right hands, so be it.It's a long one. I hope you find it interesting enough to read to the end. I last published it in 2014.INTRODUCTIONIn 1975, I was 23 and the spirit of youth was still in full bloom. It was a great time in my life except for one harrowing experience with the Delaware Township Police Department, located in central New Jersey. I had gone out that night with a friend of mine, Ken [Redacted.] We hit a couple of bars and settled in at a place in New Hope, PA, called John & Peter's. There's a café in front and a small listening room in the back. As small as it was (and still is,) they had some pretty big name bands perform, like Iron Butterfly and The Chambers Brothers. One of the local favorites back then was a group out of Philly called Johnny's Dance Band. Some nights, you just didn't know unless a barmaid let you in on the secret of who it would be. It didn't matter who was playing the night we showed up. We didn't go out for that. We didn't even go out to drink much. We just went out to have a good time until he dropped me off at my apartment...THE BUSTMy place was right in the center of Sergeantsville, a very rural community with one blinking light. You were in and out of town before you knew it. Directly across the street was the municipal building and home of the police department. We sat there for a few minutes discussing what the rest of the week was looking like, sort of like planning another night to run around, drink a few, and hit on some babes. Slowly, a police car crept up across the street and parked. Two officers got out and started to walk towards us. I wasn't afraid of anything. Neither of us were drunk and we certainly weren't doing anything wrong. I recognized one of them, Rich [Redacted,] from my high school days. I got out and stood at the front of my friend's Dodge van. Rich and I greeted each other, shook hands, and talked about what we had been up to since those earlier times. The other officer went over to the driver's window. Both Rich and I were oblivious to what was transpiring until we both heard, "I smell marijuana. Get out of the van right now! You are under arrest!"Rich and I looked at each other with surprise. I turned to face the other officer and said, "Hey, what are you doing?"He stared at me and said, "You are under arrest, too!"He made my friend get out of the vehicle and ordered us over to the police car, where he demanded that we empty our pockets. I didn't respond in the split second time he wanted, so he thrust me down onto the hood of the car, knocking the wind out of me. In two seconds flat, I was in handcuffs and he was emptying all of my pockets, where he found a frog, a couple of marbles and a secret agent compass. Maybe some pocket change, too, but absolutely nothing illegal. As a matter of fact, nothing of interest was found in my friend's pockets, either. I asked this overzealous cop what we were being arrested for. He hesitated and said, "For being drunk and disorderly!"I knew right then and there we were being charged with something trumped-up. We weren't drunk[...]



55 IN A 65 ZONE

2017-08-05T12:54:40.768-04:00

August is my birthday month. No, I'm not soliciting birthday gifts or anything else just yet because it's not until the end of the month, on the 27th.I grew up in the 60s and 70s and many of us from that era heard the mantra “Never trust anyone over 30.” Over and over and over. We were instructed to buck the system by the likes of Timothy Leary and Abbie Hoffman until, just like that, we turned thirty and became part of the system. So much for not trusting and all that crap. Turning thirty meant nothing to me. It was just a number.Then came forty. Eh, it was just another number. Yeah, I felt a little older, but I was still young and active. I was a successful graphic artist and didn't feel any older than when I turned thirty. Forty was no big deal.Along came fifty and I knew my days were numbered. No, not in a life or death sense. As a graphic artist, I was aware of the up-and-coming designers that would usher in more contemporary ideas and do it for less money than I was making - not that I was getting stale at all. It's simply the nature of the beast. I chose to ease myself away from the career I had chosen some 20-plus years earlier. I always wanted to write and thus began something completely new to do. Along came the Casey Anthony case and the rest is history. In any event, turning fifty didn't make me feel old at all. Once again, it was just another number, but the cracks of age were beginning to show.Out of the blue, I hit sixty. It wasn't a huge hit, though. It was more like a rather strong gust of hot, dry air. Whoosh! But it didn't blow me off my feet. By then, I had plenty of time to emotionally adjust to the physical maladies that struck in 2005. I was a diabetic with other medical problems that kept creeping up on me. They still do. So what! I handled everything and I've remained an optimist throughout. Until...This month, I will hit a milestone and I'm reminded of it every day when the mail comes. Supplemental health insurance policies. Solicitors that starkly remind me I'm going to be 65-years-old.SIXTY-FIVE!!!My life is about to change forever. On the 27th of August, I'm officially old. On that date, I will have to act “grandpoppish” even though I'm not, technically, a grandfather.On my birthday, I will have to change my wardrobe. I will go out and buy light colored polyester pants that come up to the bottom of my chest. An elastic stretch belt. Maybe suspenders. Nothing but white short-sleeved shirts. Slip-on shoes and Velcro sneakers. A Seersucker suit!From that date on, I will have to act my age. Decrepit Dave. I will start hanging out on pigeon-infested park benches and in the mall. The one in front of the Everything But Water store. No, not really. Instead, I'll be looking for my soulmate... a bunhead grandmother with gray hair; someone who wants to tell me about her grandchildren, now fully grown. The ones who stopped calling, except when Christmas and their birthdays come around.Wait... I'm not ready for all that! There's an adult community right around the corner. This is Florida, after all. I'm going to learn how to play outdoor shuffleboard. I'm going to build up my confidence and go there to look for a young and perky 55-year-old. Oh baby. That's it.I will feel young again! Maybe I shouldn't toss out those Wranglers just yet..[...]



“I CAN MAKE THEM DISAPPEAR...”

2017-07-24T11:08:57.013-04:00

I began writing this article in June, 2009 and finished it in May of 2010. Today, I’m compelled to reprint it because I cannot stop thinking about Tracy. I did bring pertinent information up-to-date.In February of 2009, Chris George’s car was found abandoned near a wooded area in Apopka, Florida. Also known as George Onda, family members and friends didn’t think much of it because he often took off to go on drug-induced binges. Three weeks later, the family called Apopka police and a search ensued. One of the volunteers was a guy by the name of James “Jimmy” Hataway. He was one of only two people who last saw George alive. When the case went cold, police closed it out, but reopened it later. Today, the Ocoee Police Department has linked a total of 6 victims to James Virgil Hataway. In 2011, Chris George’s bones were found in Lake Carter, about 15 miles outside of Orlando.Tracy Ocasio was last seen on May 26, 2009, leaving the Tap Room bar on Raleigh Street in Orlando’s MetroWest neighborhood, at 1:30 AM. Her car was found abandoned about 15 miles from the bar, not far from Hataway’s home.  A year later, the Ocoee police department named him as the only suspect in her disappearance. Until then, he was only a person of interest.Soon after Tracy went missing, I went to pick up a few prescriptions from the pharmacy. As she was ringing up my purchase, I asked the always friendly woman behind the counter if she knew anything about the missing woman and the guy police have in custody (on another charge) who might also be tied into Jennifer Kesse, last seen on January 24, 2006. (It was pretty big news around Orlando for both women.) At first, she didn’t quite know, so I mentioned the bar a mile or so away called McGuinnty’s Irish Pub. I told her he used to go there.“Oh, yeah, I remember seeing him on the news. I thought he looked familiar,” she said. “I think I used to see him in here.” I told her McGuinnty’s was one of his hangouts because he lived nearby at the time.As a single mother, I just don’t picture my clerk as much of a drinker and, needless to say, neither am I any longer, but I was more of one back then and I knew who this guy was the first time I saw his picture on the local news. McGuinnty’s has been closed for about ten years now, but I can remember some of those times like it was yesterday, and I can easily remember the people who oftentimes frequented the place.I never befriended James Virgil Hataway at that bar and there were some very good reasons why. The people he hung around with were skinhead types. Hoodlums, plain and simple, and most of the time the regular crowd stayed on one side while they planted themselves on the other. They were young - mid 20s to early 30s - the way I saw it. Today, Hataway would be around 36. They shaved their heads and had goatees. They were a tough group hanging with rough, but good-looking women. There were a few I knew by name, but not much else. Dallas was a good guy. Today, I don’t remember most of the names but I do remember the faces. To give you an idea, Matt had at one time been a nice young man until he got mixed up with that bunch. His change was overnight. Clean cut one day, shaved head the next, with tattoos and piercings all over and a nasty, punk, degenerate attitude. He went from saying hello and friendly conversations to wanting to beat the living crap out of anyone in his way and for no good reason. Of course, I never said a word to him again after he snarled one night. These were the guys who had no respect for anyone but their own small clique of friends. They had the ultimate chip on their shoulders. They had no respect for anyone but their own and it’s clear that Hataway had no respect for human life from what emerged from law enforcement accounts.H[...]



When I was a professional newspaper reader

2017-06-23T10:30:38.759-04:00

I wrote this just after the Casey Anthony trial ended. It's still one of my favorite stories..Years ago, I was a hardline artist for an ad agency in Orlando. Everything we created was for the Belk department store chain, based out of North Carolina. Hardline included shoes, furniture, electronics, and other items unrelated to fashion. I would never consider myself a fashion artist - then or now, but I worked there for 11-years.  I also designed and built ads that ran in a good number of newspapers throughout the state. Previous to that job I was mostly in the restaurant business. Soon after I started working at Stonebrook Advertising, I saw a fast food restaurant up the street called Beefy King. Since I had come from a background in that industry, I thought it would be a nice place to eat and meet new people. It didn't take long for the owners, Roland & Sandee Smith, and I to become good friends.One of the interesting, if not quirky, aspects of my job was our daily morning ritual. My boss insisted that we come to work at 8:30 am, but he (almost forcefully) encouraged us to take a break from 9 to 10. Go out for an hour! Enjoy yourself! Strange, but that was Mr. Stone's way of doing business. Because of his edict, on most mornings, I would drive up the street to Beefy King, make myself a sandwich and pour a cup of coffee. Black. No sugar. Sometimes, I'd help slice meats or whatever, but most of the time I'd just stand at the front counter reading the newspaper. I guess it depended on whether they needed a little help that particular day. Mind you, I was always glad to pitch in. Since they didn't open until 10, I never interfered with any customers.On one particular morning, there was a man working on an ice machine that had broken down. I'd say he was, what you might call, pleasantly plump and he had a personality to match. In other words, he was a very nice fellow. The next morning, he was still tinkering on the ice machine. Good thing the restaurant had a spare. On the morning of the third day, he finished his work and quietly talked to Roland about the bill and something else that caught his attention. As they stood in the hallway between the dining area and the back room, he whispered, "Hey, that guy up there. He's been here every morning, just standing there reading the newspaper. Doesn't he have a job? I mean, what's he do for a living?"The acoustics were just right and our jovial buddy had no idea I heard every word. "Why, he's a professional newspaper reader," Roland replied.The guy said, "No way. There's no such thing."Roland said, "Go ask him."There I stood, deeply ensconced in my work, oblivious to anything else, and completely unaware that he was sauntering my way to ask about my profession."Excuse me," he politely said, as if not wanting to take up too much of my very important time.I took my eyes away from my work, looked up and in a face that showed great concentration, I said, "Yes?"I tried not to snicker."Well, I've been here three days now and I see you reading the newspaper. I was just wondering what kind of job you have. What do you do for a living, if you don't mind my asking?""Why of course not. I'm a professional newspaper reader.""Get outta here. I've never heard of such a job.""Yes. That is what I do.""You're kidding! You get paid to read newspapers?""Yes. It's a rather lucrative job, I might add. There aren't that many of us in the state.""Well, I'm from Florida - born and raised, and I know the state like the back of my hand. What's the name of the newspaper in Leesburg?""Which one? The Commercial or the Gazette? Also, the Orlando Sentinel has a zoned edition.""No kidding! Alright. What about St. Augustine?""The St. Augustine Record."In rapid succession, he asked me about another half-dozen or so cities [...]



Factory Air

2017-06-23T10:26:15.954-04:00

This story is dedicated to my father since it's about him.For most of my life, I didn't know anyone who knew more about cars than my father. He used to own a front end alignment business in Flemington, NJ, and worked on every one that was brought to his shop. In his later years, we could be sitting around watching old B&W movies on TCM and he'd recognize the cars. “Oh, there's a 1941 Buick!”One of his favorite lines about those old cars was that, “Back then, you could order a car in any color you want as long as it's black.”In 1986, he bought a new Topaz from a local Mercury dealer. Of course, this being Florida and all, it had to come with air conditioning. Being that he knew a lot about cars, he took a look under the hood and noticed something that didn't look quite right. “Is that factory air?”The sales rep responded, “Of course it is.”“Are you certain this is factory air?”“I absolutely guarantee it. It's factory air.OK, he thought, so he bought it.Years later - and out of warranty, of course – his factory air stopped working. Yes, they do get overworked in the Florida climate. He couldn't fix it himself so he took it to one of his mechanic friends.“This isn't factory air conditioning. It's after market.”“You're kidding! The dealer swore it was factory air.”“Trust me, it's not anything Ford ever made. I can't fix it.”That totally infuriated my father. He had a terrible temper to begin with, but when someone did it over cars; something he was quite knowledgeable about? Forget it! He tore out of there and headed straight to the dealer to give them more than just a piece of his mind.Parked at the service department, he jumped out and approached one of the reps. “I need you to take a look under the hood and tell me what kind of air conditioner it is. My mechanic can't fix it!” When in a fit of rage, my father was known to use language he didn't learn in church. “When I bought this car, the salesman swore it was factory air. He lied to me!”“No sir, he was telling you the truth,” the man replied.“NO HE WASN'T!!!” And from there, I'm sure it escalated. “You're nothing but a bunch of liars!”“Sir, please come with me.” He led him to the parts department. Along the wall and stacked high were boxes and boxes that said it all. Printed in large, black, bold letters, was the brand name of the after market air conditioners that are installed by the dealer...FACTORY AIR. Yes, the brand name was Factory Air.“We'll be more than happy to repair it for you.”“No way!” and my father stormed out. Only the dealer carried parts.While there's nothing wrong with the brand, my father felt he was taken advantage of. Lied to. And he was. Because of his very stubborn German blood, he refused to let the dealer touch the car, so he drove it for years without air.Personally, I had to agree with him. I think it was a very shady way to do business in the hot Florida sun.[...]



Stew Bacheler

2018-01-11T09:32:42.059-05:00

It’s almost mandatory for me to turn the volume down on my phone when I crawl into bed each night. Actually, I turn it off because I don’t want to be alerted to anything when I’m asleep. Due to impending old age and the memory problems that come with it, oftentimes, I forget to turn it back up in the morning and I’ve been known to miss phone calls.Two Saturdays ago, I was milling around, putzing along, when my best friend’s wife messaged me.“David are you there?““Yes I am.”Since Sherry doesn’t normally text me, I thought that something may have happened to Stew. I mean, he is getting old and decrepit. Like me.“This is Stew. I have been calling you and I texted you.”I picked up my phone and called. At the same time, I was quite relieved it wasn’t bad news. The older we get, the more we worry.“Do you want to go to lunch today? Eat some sushi?” His wife was going to go to Busch Gardens for the day and he had some free time.You have to understand that it’s almost three hours to drive from his place to mine. That’s nearly six hours on the road. Just for lunch. I mentioned that.“So,” he responded, “I have a Maserati.” Which is true. “How much more comfortable can I get?”He had a very valid point. So, he drove over to my place, picked me up and off we went. This is the first time I saw it – a brand spanking new Ghibli with the special $4,500 wheel package.My favorite sushi place is called Happy Teriyaki heading up 17-92 in the Lake Mary area. We went there, only to find that it doesn’t open until 4:00 PM. Did I mention how comfortable the car was yet? We turned around and went to Bay Ridge Sushi in Longwood, only a mile or so away.Instead of sitting at the sushi bar, we got a booth. “Since you drove over, how about if I buy you lunch?”“No, I got it. I told you I was coming over to take you to lunch. It’s on me.”Everything was delicious. Did I tell you I love sushi yet? After we finished, we stopped to see the Senator, or what’s left of it, at Big Tree Park. It was the largest and oldest cypress tree in the world, estimated to be 3,500 years old. Five years ago, a young woman set it afire one night to see the drugs she was using.After a few minutes there, he took me home and off he went, back to Bradenton. Now, let me ask you… How many friends do that? Drive for hours just to have lunch with their best friend? You have to understand, we’ve been close since childhood. That’s 50-plus years. Under normal conditions, it’s asking for a lot, but not when you’re driving the dumpstermobile. Did I tell you he owns a roll-off dumpster company? Alpha Dumpsters.[...]



Casey's back!

2017-03-09T13:13:46.606-05:00

This was published online at dailymail.com yesterday:During the interview with the AP, Anthony said that the day her daughter disappeared, on June 16 2008, she was in the care of her father.'The last time I saw my daughter, I believed that she was alive and was going to be OK, and that's what was told to me,' she said.“'My father told me she was going to be OK. That she was OK,' she added when pressed by the reporter if her parents were babysitting Caylee that day.When asked about the lies she had told police, Casey Anthony said cryptically, 'My dad was a cop, you can read into that what you want.'On Tuesday, George and Cindy Anthony released a statement to People Magazine through their attorney Mark Lippman, saying their daughter was forcing them to relieve the darkest period in their lives from which they had tried to move forward.‘After years of silence, Casey Anthony has decided to complete an interview and has once again pointed to George Anthony, her father, as a suspect in the disappearance and death of his granddaughter, Caylee,’ George and Cindy stated.At trial, Casey's lead defense attorney proposed the theory that her father was involved; that Caylee drowned in the back yard pool, and George took care of it by dumping her body in the woods near the Anthony home. What's so interesting today is that Casey clearly disputes that theory by stating that she believed her daughter was OK, and that's what she was told. This means either of two things. One, Casey has decided to change her story by throwing her attorney under the bus; or, two, Jose Baez made the whole story up. Baez told the court it was an accidental drowning (as per Casey) and he stashed the body. Who does that sort of thing? The natural inclination is to call 911 immediately for help.Today, Casey says nothing about Baez's account other than to indirectly contradict it. No, she thought Caylee was doing swell. At least, that's what she was last told.Personally, I don't believe anything that spews from her mouth. She came out of the termite infested woodwork because she's a fame whore. To be truthful, I will never trust a word and she doesn't care. She doesn't care about anyone but her narcissistic self. At the same time, she was raised by a family of liars. She learned at a very early age.The remainder of this post is from an article I wrote nearly five years ago, on March 17, 2012. Don't worry, I gave myself permission to reprint it. Also, it was a theory. Take into consideration that it was from years ago and read into it what you wish. Yes, I believe George and Cindy are pained over this, but who created the monster?I have said on several occasions that the possibility is real that George and Cindy Anthony made a pact with the devil in order to get their daughter out of jail. By that, I don’t mean literally. It’s a euphimism, unless you think Casey is, in fact, the devil. Just prior to the start of the trial, Cindy and Mark Lippman met privately with Casey’s attorney, Jose Baez. Lippman is George and Cindy’s lawyer. George was not invited to the meeting and this said volumes to me. It meant that Cindy and Lippman were in on the defense strategy to do a character assassination of George — one that began during Baez’s opening statement at trial — or it meant that George was conspicuously absent from the meeting to make it look like he had nothing to do with the made-up story.At one of the final hearings before the trial began, I was in the courtroom when Baez asked George on the stand if he would do anything for his daughter. Most of you should remember it, too. George’s reaction? Yes, absolutely, he would do anything, and he was quite vocal about it. When asked [...]



Sprinkle Sprinkle Little Jar

2016-12-19T12:13:45.888-05:00

I went to Dollar Tree last week. I purchase things like bar soap, body washes, and household cleaning stuff. Greeting cards are great buys, too. Everything's a buck! Sometimes, I take my mother because she always finds deals on things whether she needs them or not, and it's those little pleasures that make life more fun, even when she buys glittery pre-teen nail polish she ends up detesting.This is a relatively new store in Longwood, FL. It's a little bigger than the one I usually go to, so it's better stocked. The manager described it as a showcase store. Usually, I saunter down each aisle, basket in hand, just to make sure I don't miss out on anything new. On one of those aisles, I found a couple of shelves stocked with spices. When it comes to dollar store spices, I pretty much treat them the same way I treat dollar store vitamins and supplements, like B-12 and fish oil. Quite simply, I don't buy them. Why not? Because I don't trust the source – and I don't know how fresh and pure any of it is.While perusing those “exotic” spices, I stumbled upon a container of kosher salt. I don't know what prompted me to pick it up because I never put salt on anything. Nope, no sprinkling for me. Never. Perhaps, it was the large and impressive Star of David emblazened on the front label. Whatever the reason, I simply picked it up out of curiosity and probably because of one small detail that caught my eye, somewhere around the far left corner of my peripheral vision.Upon careful examination of the container and label, I saw that it contained one simple ingredient: Salt. That's reassuring. It means the salt, of the common rock salt variety, is just what the label proclaims it to be. Sodium chloride. Halite. NaCl. I don't know if I have to write a short history of where salt comes from, but it's safe to say that salt mines (where most of it originates) are in abundance throughout the world, and many of the deposits are millions of years old. Maybe older.That leads me to a very simple question. Please take a look at the image I provided because it's this one little detail that caught my eye. What you see is the exact container I picked up to examine. Note what its only ingredient is. Nothing more. Ancient salt extracted from an abundant source from beneath the ground. Pure and white. For something that's millions of years old, why is there an expiration date stamped on the bottle? Best by 03/10/20. Are you kidding me???[...]



MY LIFE'S IN JEOPARDY!

2016-12-16T13:11:09.542-05:00

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2005. There's no telling how long I had it prior to finding out. It could easily be eight years or so, one of my doctors once told me. During that time, I smoked and drank and ate whatever I wanted, with no knowledge of the damage it could easily have been doing to my organs, particularly the kidneys. That's because of the tiny blood vessels that feed them. Sugar makes the vessels very brittle. If they're brittle, they snap. Kidney disease is the one thing that frightens diabetics the most. With five stages of chronic kidney disease, one being normal and five being complete failure, I am holding steady at stage three. Age itself diminishes function, but diabetes is the silent killer if you're not careful.

Fortunately, I was sensible enough to quit smoking in 2007. Cold turkey. Just like that! After nearly forty years, I did it and never looked back. A few years later, I stopped drinking alcohol. I don't remember the year because I slowly weaned myself away from it until I simply lost the desire. I wouldn't say I'd never have another drink; I just don't have an appetite for it and it's been like this for many years.

When I reflect on all that's happened in my life since the diagnosis, I sometimes ponder how boring my life has become. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not boring and I’m never bored with myself, but it’s a far cry from my days of youth. After all...

It doesn't seem like so many years ago that, in my 20s, I could stay up partying until 4:00 AM, sleep a couple of hours and go to work like it was nothing. Heck, I could do this for the rest of my life, right? Well, not every night.

In my 30s, I could party with the best of them until 2:00 AM.

In my 40s, it was more like midnight.

In my 50s, I might be able to handle 11:00 PM on a good night, but...

In my 60s? Heck, I'm 64-years-old now, and I start thinking about going to bed soon after watching Jeopardy!



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Another Beat on PULSE?

2016-12-12T17:47:58.339-05:00

This past June, the 30th to be precise, my mother had an appointment to see an eye specialist located next to ORMC, the Orlando Regional Medical Center. It's right up the street from the LGBT-themed Pulse nightclub, scene of the nation's deadliest mass shooting of innocent civilians by a single person. 49 people died and 53 were injured before the killer was neutralized by law enforcement. I took my trusty camera along for the ride. It was 18 days after the murderous spree on 12 June, 2016.Rumors rapidly spread that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was a disgruntled, closeted gay man. People who frequented the club said they had seen him there before. Others who came forward claimed he used gay dating sites and apps. There was a problem with the allegations, though. Like witnesses at the scene of a car accident, no one could give the same story. After careful examination of the facts, the FBI found no evidence on his cell phone or elsewhere that any of it was true. No real evidence existed.During one of his 911 calls, Mateen swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State. He said the shooting was triggered by the US killing of Abu Waheeb and that we must stop bombing ISIL. The CIA conducted an investigation and found no link between him and Islamic State. As a matter of fact, the shooting was classified as an act of domestic terrorism, although IS did release a meaningless statement. Mateen's pledge of allegiance to ISIL was interesting because he had once claimed to be a member of Hezbollah, a Shi'ite militia based in Lebanon. The Islamic State is affiliated with the Sunni sect, and are at war with the Shi'ites. They hate each other. That made Mateen a thoroughly confused individual.I wonder if there's a third possibility; something that could be added to the other two – something that might paint a more complete picture. Many years ago, I knew an Egyptian family that fled their homeland because of religious persecution. (They were Christians.) The Masoods were genuinely lovely people; very caring, giving, hardworking, and everything you'd hope for in people coming from a foreign land to live the American dream. They would give you the shirt off their backs. When I met them, their children were in elementary school. I watched them grow up and after their son graduated high school, he enrolled at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The first time he returned home on break, he was a bit disgruntled and resentful about something. Now, mind you, he was merely complaining, not angry. He was a good guy and not at all violent or vindictive. He said that, because his skin-tone was a bit darker, he passed as Latino and many of the students addressed him in Spanish. “¿Cómo está Ud?”“Dave,” he said, “I don't speak a word of Spanish!”Is it at all possible that Omar Mateen had a hatred for Latin Americans because he was always confused as one? Proud of his Pashtun heritage, it served to enrage him? And wasn't that fateful Saturday night/Sunday morning “Latin Night” at Pulse?[...]



Nadie es profeta en su propia tierra

2016-11-26T12:48:34.581-05:00

For eleven years, I worked as an artist for an ad agency in Orlando. I moved to the area in April of 1981 and was hired that August. There were three (and sometimes four) artists in one room, each of us having our own artboards and niche styles reflected in our work. We were old style artists compared to today's. Alicia was our premier fashion artist. Extremely talented, she was a Cuban who left the island nation soon after Fidel Castro took control.Before Castro, Alicia's family was successful. They were rather upper-middle class. Poof! It was gone. Their loss, our gain. To work with her was a real delight and I deeply appreciated her insight, especially when we discussed her homeland. It was her pure passion that resonated inside my heart. This wasn't hearsay, it was a first-hand account of what took place in her beloved country; what happened to her and her loved ones.After the 1959 overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista, Castro set up shop and proceeded to expropriate land, bank accounts, and personal possessions; everything the new government deemed to be an asset. Many people, including her family, fled the country. Everything of theirs - everything of value and every personal possession they accrued over the years - was taken away. Businesses were nationalized and socialism took hold. Communism immediately followed. All of her father's hard work went down the drain, where a thirsty regime hungrily lapped it all up. They came here with nothing but the strong desire to rebuild in the land of opportunity.Alicia was married when she left Cuba with her family. Her husband soon followed. She brought one suitcase filled with clothes. That was it. Even her perfumes were confiscated. While going through a security checkpoint at the airport's departure gate, a guard stopped her."Give me your ring," he demanded. "But this is my wedding band.""Give it to me or we will take it from you and you will go to prison." Reluctantly, she turned it over. Today, millions of Cuban Americans in the US are celebrating the death of Fidel Castro. I haven't seen Alicia in 26 years, but I can certainly understand why she would feel no remorse at all. How many of her compadres lost their lives or rotted in prisons?Lo que bien se aprende, nunca se pierde.[...]



C stands for Confusion

2016-11-16T16:53:31.281-05:00

I know about AEIOU and sometimes Y. In the English language, that's our vowels. Y isn't always a vowel, though, and it's why there's that little "sometimes" clause. Take the word YES. It's a consonant. In the word GYM, it's a vowel. That's how it works.
Only a year or so ago, I was comfortable with LGBT because it was used almost exclusely for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual community (or is it communities?) I kinda got used to it and accepted it. I'm open-minded. Suddenly out of nowhere, the Q popped up. Huh? What the..? Oh, I see, the Q stands for Questioning or Queer. But it's not always used. Is it LGBT and sometimes Q? I don't know what's right and I don't want to offend anyone. Some use the Q and some don't. OK, fine, but I'm not interested in looking up the differences between Q, L, and G.
Now, there's the LGBTQIA community, which includes Intersex and Asexual people. According to the Urban Dictionary Website, "LGBTQIA is a more inclusive term than LGBT for people with non-mainstream sexual orientation or gender identity." Oops! They didn't include the Q. Is that considered politically incorrect?
As an H male, how am I supposed to keep up with these designations that change out of the blue, at a moment's notice? There's still Pansexual, Omnisexual, and Nonmonosexual to go, and I guess we can run the gamut from Ambisexual to Zensexual and everything in between, but with only 26 letters in the English language... what happens when the alphabet runs dry?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go make myself a BLT, light on the M.  
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A Hero of the Free World

2016-09-10T09:55:11.613-04:00

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Working Days and Sleeping Nights

2016-08-21T16:17:57.581-04:00

In the mid-70s, I worked for a peritoneal kidney dialysis company. It was a much needed break from the Weiner King (although I did return.) I traveled throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey delivering care packages to patients. While away, I stayed in motels; just simple motels in any old honky-tonk town I descended upon. Late one afternoon, I wheeled into one in Maryland, location unknown, and got a bed for the night. When I parked and got out of my vehicle, I noticed a large man standing outside his room, door wide open. Big, black hair and matching mustache. I knew immediately who it was even though his name was painted on the van parked right in front of him. FREDDY FENDER! He was smoking a cigarette. I nodded. He nodded back. That was it, but it was a very good experience. No fancy hotel. No entourage. Just him. A regular guy taking a break from where life was sending him.

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The Wart Tree

2016-08-14T07:26:40.848-04:00

In the late seventies, early eighties, I was in the Weiner King business in New Jersey. It was at the tail end of my restaurant career. At one of the locations, there was a large window along the side of the building, next to the front counter. (Actually, the restaurant was mostly glass around the sides and front.) When customers entered the place, the dining room was to the left and the ordering area was to the right. Very easy to navigate. This particular window and sill was all the way to the right, at the far end of the counter. The sill was just above waist-high and sitting on it was a very handsome ming aralia, about 18-inches tall, that looked like a small, leafy tree. No, it wasn't a bonsai.The Weiner King had quite a loyal following, no matter which of the six stores you visited. At this one, one of the customers was a very nice lady who came in at least twice a week during the lunch and/or dinner rush. Quite the regular, it came as a surprise when she walked through the front door around 4:00, not her usual time. (You get to know your customers' schedules after a while.) Between 2:00 and 5:00, it's called 'slump time' and it could take forever to get through if you don't keep yourself busy. I must have been bored that day and let my mind wander -- which was nothing new. I was working with a girl named Lauri, who was a college student on summer break. The lunch crew was gone and the evening crew hadn't yet arrived. Just us. And one customer.She walked over to the counter to order but, instead, kept going toward the plant with her arms extended. Her hands got within inches of it, as if to fluff up the leaves, when she said, "I've really admired your plant. Every time I come in, I stare at it. It's beautiful! What is it?""It's a wart tree." I have no idea why the idea popped into my head, but it did. I said it, it was too late, and, in a flash, she retracted those arms faster than a toad can stick its tongue back in its mouth."A WART TREE?" she exclaimed with an almost look of puzzled disgust on her face.I had to think fast. "Yes, a wart tree. You've seen Lauri working here before? She's studying biochemistry at Rutgers University. You know how some warts have seeds?""Yes..?""Well, someone she knew had a wart. She removed the seeds in a lab and cultivated them into what you're looking at here.""You're joking, right?""No," I insisted. "Ask her."I hated to put Lauri on the spot but, despite her abundance of intellectual prowess, she was one heck of a good sport with a great sense of humor. After collaborating my story with some kind of details pertaining to the structure, functions, and interactions of macromolecules between animals and plants, the woman seemed to buy the story. "It was, after all, a plantar wart," I added, just to ice the cake. "You know, plantar... plant?""Oh. Huh. A wart tree. I'll be darned. I never knew that." She composed herself but was still perplexed. "Well, I'd better order dinner for my husband and me."  I went back to man the grills and Lauri stayed up front working on the rest of the order while making small talk. The woman, meanwhile, stood far away from the little tree. After she left, the two of us laughed pretty hard. It was dumb, but it was done.I'm convinced that when she got home, she told her husband all about it, and I'll bet you he told her how there is no such thing, while rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically. In the end, though, she was either afraid of the tree, warts and all, very embarrassed,[...]



Pulse Images 6/30/2016

2016-07-02T22:58:24.410-04:00

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A FATHER'S DAY PRIMER IN EXTERIOR PAINTING

2016-06-19T12:48:51.214-04:00

I originally wrote this in 2007. This morning, I made a couple of minor edits and here it is, my Father's Day story. Way back in the 1970s, when I lived in New Jersey, my boss would lay me off during summer months because he could get three school kids on break to work for what he was paying me. I was happy since I got time off to work outside painting residential and commercial buildings. Without a doubt, I took great pride in my work and made pretty good money, to boot. Satisfaction all the way around!In those days, I preferred oil base or alkyds over latex because there was less of a chance of mold and mildew developing on the surface, mostly on shaded sides. Occasionally, my father would drop by my job sites to see me diligently at work. He'd always call me Rembrandt.About fifteen years ago, now in Florida, he asked me if I'd be interested in painting his house. Sure, I said. I wasn't going to charge him for my work, but I certainly wasn't going to pay for the cost of preparation and materials.Two of my friends were professional painters. Since I had been out of that field for many years, I wanted to know what, if anything, was new since the days of old. I said I preferred oils over latex. They were adamant in their reply, "No! Latex today is much better than it was back then. It has really good mold inhibitors now. Oil base paint will actually encourage mold, especially here in Florida."That was a real surprise, but the last time I painted anything was when I lived up north. In Florida, structures have to contend with incredible heat, the effects of the sun and torrential downpours. The sun, in particular, depletes and dulls the paint's pigment."Make sure you have the house pressure washed and sealed before you do it. That is very important," they both told me, "or the paint won't stick. If you don't, the paint will crack, peel, and bubble in a year or two."I passed that information on to my father and he said, "No, I just want it painted. Just that, nothing more."I went back to my friends and told them what he said."When you run your finger across the surface and that chalky stuff comes off, that's dead paint. Try painting chalk and see if it sticks. Go ahead." They'd had these problems before, obviously, with cheap customers wanting to save money. These would be the same customers that would run back to the painter to complain at the first sign of trouble. That's my father. Is that what I wanted? No, so I told him I wouldn't do it unless he prepped the house. Period."Knowing you," I said, "you'll run back to the paint store screaming about inferior paint and the first thing they're going to ask is, did you pressure wash and seal it first? What are you going to tell them?" He relented and agreed. He had no choice if he wanted me to do the job. I asked him to get it washed and I would seal it. It was still going to be much cheaper than hiring a painter because labor wouldn't be a factor.The house is one story with a full attic. It's constructed of cement blocks with the front and sides having a stucco finish The attic is wood, gabled with a 6/12 pitch. I made sure all wood trim was scraped, allowed to dry, and primed where necessary. I always apply two coats. When I began my prep work, I dug out the foundation all around, brushed off the dirt, and allowed it ample time to dry. In case of ground erosion, I didn't want any areas exposed without paint. Then, I began, from top down ...I made s[...]



Judge Perry: Little Black Boy

2016-05-03T13:12:58.602-04:00

The following is a true story from 1989.I worked as an artist/designer for Stonebrook Advertising in Orlando. We created print ads and radio commercials for the Belk Lindsey department store chain. Mostly, it was newspaper ads, but, yes, I did a few voice overs. My boss was Glenn Stone, but you couldn't call him Glenn. He was always Mr. Stone and he liked to wear dark, expensive suits, slick and kind of glossy looking; and just to give you an idea of how formal he was, I happened to be in his neighborhood late one Saturday morning. He was outside, cutting the grass while wearing a starched white shirt and tie. I kid you not. I think his wife even called him Mr. Stone.One workday afternoon, he called me into his office. "Dave, come on in here and sit down. This here is Judge Byrd. He's running for re-election and he needs some artwork done."I recognized the gentleman and offered a handshake. “Good afternoon, Your Honor.”I knew right away that he and Mr. Stone were old friends. It was quite obvious they both were from the same “good ol' boy” mold that still permeates in communities everywhere, especially in pockets of the deep south. Mr. Stone explained that Judge Byrd needed campaign designs including ads for newspapers, bumper stickers and bulk mailer pieces. Mr. Stone decided that I would do the work for the judge. Oh, great. Tag, you're it.Originally hailing from New Jersey, I had a few inherently stereotypical prejudice issues with southern judges and politicians from what I had heard in the news over the years -- hanging trees and all. Nothing major at the time because I had already been in Florida for eight years; it was just a slight amount of apprehension. Being white, I wasn't too concerned about myself, as long as I could muster up a good southern drawl if pulled over by the law. Not really, but I think you get my drift.We sat there and discussed what kind of strategy would help in his bid to retain his seat. We went over design ideas. Judge Byrd was running against someone I had never heard of until a few weeks earlier, when some upstart named Belvin Perry announced his candidacy to unseat Judge Byrd in the Osceola County Circuit Judge race. I don't recall that party affiliation had anything to do with it, but I was immediately rooting for Belvin. I couldn't say exactly why at the time, but I just didn't particularly care all that much for Judge Byrd. Although I couldn't pinpoint the reason, it probably had to do with the southern thing and that persnickety air of white male privilege that wasn't as inherent in the New York/Philadelphia corridor, from whence I came.After going over the plan of attack and some incidentals about his opponent, Judge Byrd was ready to leave, confident in the knowledge that we would deliver exactly what he needed to garner a victory. As he walked out of Mr. Stone's office, he proudly exclaimed something that I found quite shocking and highly offensive..."I'm gonna kick that little black boy's ass."Mr. Stone was all excited. I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I said nothing in return. As a matter of fact, I didn't respond at all. My face went blank. How could a sitting judge display blatant racism like that? Suddenly, I had a real problem. Personally, I wanted to do everything I could to help Judge Byrd lose the election. Professionally, I had to do everything in my repertoire of artis[...]