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fall 07 | dmagazine.net | 5
‘67 Corvette Sting Ray
in this issue...
Editor’s Letter 10
CLIPS Six different people, five different stories to tell. Take a glimpse into local residents’ daily lives and see how other people live. 16 A tale of two Goldfish A story by Billy VanZandt. 28 FIELDTRIP A trip around Manhattan... on surf boards? It’s all for charity. 36 short STORies Light enjoyable reading. 38
Taxi Driver It’s d. magazine’s first poetry publication. 44
FASHION Friends find the path to Nirvana: Fall fashion spread featuring clothes from Nirvana. 46
WEDDING BLISS A father’s story about watching his little girl grow up 56
Gatemouth’s Mystery A real life story about an encounter with musical legend Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. 58 COMICS An “evil” experiment in humor. We welcome our new comics art director, Philip Sloan. 61
A Band Story A sit down with the area’s own Parlor Mob. Get a glimpse of their world as they get ready to work on their first album. 74
CAR STORY The Corvette Sting Ray. This baby can do some damage! 82
Cat’s first photo session 16 years ago taken by Danny Sanchez.
ON THE COVER Cat’s latest photo session
Model: Cat King Hair & Styling: John Meyerhofer Make-Up: Kelly Ryan Photo: Danny Sanchez Model is wearing a Badgley Mischka jacket, $495; gown by Amanda Wakeley, $1,995; shoes by Dolce & Gabbana, w$995, earrings by Linda Saavedra, $65 Clothing, shoes, jewelry and location provided by Garmany located at 121 Broad St, Red Bank. www.garmany.com
Executive Editor and Publisher: Danny Sanchez
Managing Editor: Marguerite Montserrat-Sheehan
Creative Director: Suzi Senna
Contributing Editors: Merle Benny, Patricia Burke, Rebecca Reinle
photo by Elisabeth Koch-McKay
Art & Production: Karen Benvenuti, Mark Kseniak, Elisabeth Koch-McKay, Joe Landi, Suzi Senna
Contributing Writers: Lawson Alan, Merle Benny, Lori Boucher, Jesse Craft, John Decker, Yolanda Fleming, Joe Landi, Sal Inciardi, Bill McDonald, Jane Milmore, K. O. Nattini, John Noll, Danny Sanchez, Suzi Senna, Stephen Sheehan, Billy Van Zandt
After completing the first issue, I thought “Shit man—I can do this! It’s a walk in the park. I can do this magazine thang.” It’s been a wild ride so far, packed with lots of lessons learned (too many to mention in this letter). So I’ll stick with my usual incoherent thoughts. Contributing Photographers: Jesse Craft, John Decker, Bobbie Kingsley, Mark Kseniak, Elisabeth Koch-McKay, Michael Mormora, Danny Sanchez, Dave Sgalambro, Michael Wilson
Fashion & Style Editor: John Meyerhofer
Comics Art Director: Philip Sloan
© 2007, all rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner.
Subscriptions: For subscription information please call 908.433.8384
Editorial: Send correspondence to Editorial Department, d. Magazine, 25 Bridge Ave, Suite 200, Red Bank, NJ 07701 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome all editorial submissions but assume no responsibility for the loss or damage of unsolicited materials. Do not send originals.
Advertising: Send advertising materials to Advertising Department, d. Magazine, 25 Bridge Ave, Suite 200, Red Bank, NJ, 07701. www.dmagazine.net. e-mail us at email@example.com
To start, the response we got from the first issue was a lot better than I thought it’d be (see the next page for samples). The praise that we received was very inspiring. It is was one of the best things I ever felt (I think). It had been 3 weeks since I’d looked at the debut issue, but now we needed to get ready for issue 2. I decided to pick up our debut issue and look at it with fresh eyes. I even went as far as pretending I was someone else who’s never seen this thing before. As I flipped the pages, Luis (my alter ego, who hasn’t read the magazine yet) felt pretty good about what he saw. “Not half bad, Señor Sanchez—but it can be better.” Luis had a point. Instantly, all sorts of ideas raced though my mind about this issue. How do I go one better? My first focus was on the meat and potatoes of this publication—content! After a call for submissions, we received all sorts of entries from all kinds of writers. There were some real gems that came from people who considered themselves “non-writers.” I loved reading pieces from these so-called non-writers that made it into this publication (because it’s good). We hope to receive even more amazing submissions for the next issue. After content, there’s the people. I love having Cat King on the cover. I’ve known Cat since she was two, when she first came into the studio for her very first photo shoot. You can check out her first and latest picture on page 8. And I love working with all the local talent, amateur and professional. I see these people shape themselves into something special right before my eyes. It’s a wonderful experience to watch this publication become something unique. A manager of a celebrity, whose wedding I shot several years back, told me she loved that I paid attention to regular folk and not just the stars. I told her, “To me, they’re all stars.” I think that when you don’t know someone, you should start to get to know them by giving them that much respect. So... to Luis and all those who picked up this second issue, I hope we did you proud.
Editor in Chief
to this guy Dear Danny, Unlike you, I really don’t like having a lot of magazines around. They make me nervous because I feel like I should be reading them, and I don’t have the time to! But I will definitely enjoy having d. around the house and at HerSpace. I read it cover to cover and completely enjoyed it. It didn’t feel fumbled with annoying little ads. The stories were fun and of course the photography compelling and beautiful. I particularly loved your article about the development of d. and Claudia’s contributor photo. Count me in always. Keep going. -Beth D.
Glenn made with you to get us on the list, but I have no problem sending in my 64 bucks so it continues to come to the house. Gotta have it! -Joanne J.
Hi Guys, I came back from a trip with a copy of d. Magazine waiting for me. Wow! Very elegant. Very tall. Very eclectic. Makes me smile while turning the pages. Many thanks. My friend Bonnie’s comment was “Ooooo... this is nice.” (That’s code for “...classy!”) I’m old, she’s younger. It’s a rarity for the two of us to smile over the same magazine, but we did. -Gary G.
I received the magazine this morning... what a beautiful job! You should all be extremely proud of it. Wonderfully designed; excellent photography; perfect size and paper stock; lovely full page ads throughout. Nice piece by Stephen also. Thanks for sending me a copy! -Richard M
Hey Danny...it’s Joanne, Glenn’s wife... Got your magazine yesterday and I’m a bit embarrassed to say I almost threw it out. We get a lot of catalogs and Glenn never told me about d. Don’t worry... there is a very subtle something about it that compels a person to have a look. Can’t explain...must just be your magic... mojo...whatever...it’s fabulous. P.S. I’m not sure what kind of deal
Pat yourself on the back. I loved, LOVED your magazine. -Katey P. To Danny and the staff of d.: To quote Cole Porter, d. Magazine is “delightful, delicious, de-lovely.” Great job! -Lynne K
It was our first issue, and boy did we learn some lessons (the hard way). Now it’s time to apologize to those who got caught in the crossfire of our inexperience.
Story: Married in Puerto Rico by Greg O’Keefe The wrong version of this article was published in the Spring 2007 issue. You can find the correct version online at: dmagazine. net/corrections.html Story: Laurin DeGroat: Beauty in Bloom by Yolanda Navarra Fleming The wrong version of this article was published in the Spring 2007 issue. You can find the correct version online at: dmagazine.net/ corrections.html
Name on the Contributor’s page was misspelled. Correct spelling is Bob Mataranglo. Correct web address for DesignFront is: www.designonfront.com.
got something to say? say it to us. address letters to the editor to: d. Magazine, 25 bridge ave #200, red bank, nj 07701 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
fall 07 | dmagazine.net | 11
Bobbie Kinglsey got her start in photojournalism with the New York Post. For a nine-year stretch, she lived and worked in Europe’s fashion capitals. She is now based in Red Bank and has had numerous photo exhibitons in New York City, Paris and California. She is self-taught.
Yolanda Navarra Fleming is a writer, musician and mother of two, living in the Red Bank area, aspiring to a life of fearless shopping and Manolo wearing.
Patricia Burke, photographer, editor and techie. She has lived in New Jersey almost long enough to be considered a local. www.patriciaburkephotography.com
Lawson Alan is a writer who dreams of winning your hearts and minds by wearing enough hair-chemicals to crystalize bees anywhere within a 50 foot radius of where he is standing. Picture Devo, back in the flower-pot hat days, add a few more pounds of polymers and voxides, and BLAMO! You’ve got Lawson’s hair!
John Decker is an award-winning multimedia artist specializing in film and photography whose work has taken him throughout Europe and the US. He resides in Monmouth County with his 3 greatest achievements; his beautiful wife Christine and their sons, James and Preston.
Suzi Senna: most times sassy, other times sweet, always speaks her mind and every so often gets into trouble. Freelance graphic and web designer and... writer? (She fooled them all.) www.suzidesigns.com
Joe Landi (aka CB Delayed) is a wanna-be screenwriter and hafta-be creative director of Thinc. an ad/design firm in Essex County. www.thincbig.com Merle Benny is the writing and project manager at Thinc. She’s also had a long commitment to non-profits. Her website provides creative ideas to organizations. www.nonprofit-champion.com
Mentor to some, healer to others, musician on occasion and writer to us: Bill McDonald returns to the Jersey Shore after 3 decades in the mountains of Colorado. He’s got sincere stories, slants and a sense of humor that has a way of sneaking up on you. Careful. email@example.com
Billy Van Zandt is one of the most produced playwrights in the world. He has won numerous awards and even received an Emmy nomination. www.vanzandtmilmore.com
Marguerite Montserrat Sheehan, owner and creative director of Design Nine LLC and Stephen Sheehan, writer, living a lifelong dream in Fair Haven with their four critters and grandpa. www.desi9n.net
Mark Kseniak has art directed and designed for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, New York Magazine and Dow Jones. His illustrations have appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the U.S. and Europe. His photographs are personal journeys that he exhibits and turns into hand-made books.
Elisabeth Koch-McKay has worked as a photographer in the area for the past twelve years. She operates a photo studio and gallery with her husband in Red Bank. www.mckayimaging.com
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Written by Danny Sanchez Photo by danny sanchez
ed mckenna | RETIRED mayor
it down with Ed McKenna and you come away feeling informed, encouraged and most definitely entertained. McKenna is a man of many interests and most all of them are fascinating, especially when he describes them. It may be the reason this guy was Mayor of Red Bank for over a decade and oversaw one of the great renaissances in New Jersey history.
d.: What’s the best part about retirement? And, uh, are you really retired? em: Well, I’m not retired at all, I’m just not the mayor. It gives me an opportunity to do other things in life. I want to spend more time learning foreign languages and I want to do more reading.
turning the town around from what it was to what it is today. In the process, we helped a lot of people and made their lives better. I think that was the most important thing. d.: So we know what’s good about Red Bank. What is the worst of Red Bank?
em: I really only know two and I’d like to get proficient in three or four.
em: I don’t know if I want to say I’m disappointed, but…it’s become a little bit gentrified. To me, what I loved about growing up here was that you could be of any race, any color, any religion—it didn’t make a difference, and you could live in the town. It’s still that way. What I love about Red Bank is everybody is accepted. Nobody gives a crap about what your sexual preference is or what color your hair is or what your ethnic background is. Red Bank’s a pretty open and free town which is the way I always wanted it to be, but we’ve lost a lot of our African American population. That disappoints me. I always had a very close affinity with the African American population and when I grew up, those are the guys I played ball with and hung out with. I think some of them have been forced out of town.
d.: So what’s the next language for you?
d.: What’s your definition of a hero?
em: Well, I want to get really proficient in Italian and then I want to go to Spanish and then French.
em: I think the real heroes of the world are the everyday people who bust their ass, take care of their families, and do the right thing. If you asked me for a laundry list of my heroes, there would be more common people than there would be people you see in the headlines. To me, those guys are the heroes.
d.: How has being an ordinary citizen again changed you? em: I’m trying to spend some more time with my friends and family and the nice thing is not having to be at a meeting every single night. I’ve still been really busy. What I didn’t anticipate was that my clients would become a lot more demanding. When I say that, I don’t mean that in a negative sense, but it’s just they’re saying “Oh great, now you have more time, so you can take on more work.” That wasn’t what I was looking for, but it’s kind of evolved that way. d.: How many languages do you speak now?
d.: Any hobbies? em: Golf. I love it for the social aspect. I travel throughout the world playing and I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I’ve played in Ireland, Scotland, Portugal and all sorts of places. I play tournaments and have won several trophies, but I’m not into it for the money.
on White Road. The guy then passed me, turned his car sideways, blocked the road, got out of the car with a pistol and put it in my face. d.: What did he say? em: He said, “I’m gonna blow your f--kin’ brains out you little prick. What did you pass me for?” I said, “Cause you were going 15 miles an hour.” I’m sure he was drunk, you know? Then I had to drive up on someone’s lawn to get away from him. That’s the only way I didn’t get shot, I’m sure. And then I was in Asbury one night driving down Main Street. It was probably about 1 o’clock in the morning and a guy kept cutting me off for some reason. So we pulled up to a red light and when we stopped, he got out with a shotgun. I had to blow through the light at 90 miles an hour to take off. [d. thinks: Wow! I was waiting to hear the one about the little old lady who flipped him the bird or something.] d.: So have you been to Asbury since then? em: Yeah! (laughing) d.: How do you relax? Is there a special place? em: Yeah, I’ve got a room in my home that’s very personalized. Once in a while I’ll go to the beach. I love jazz and if I put on some good j azz, then it helps me think. It gets my thought process going. d.: “Thanks Ed, you still is the man.”
[d. thinks: Hmm... So far Ed’s giving me big answers. I like that. It makes my job easier. At this point I decide to maybe change the tone of the interview a bit, so I ask...]
d.: Well, what was the best part about being mayor?
d.: Give me a road rage experience.
em: I think we performed almost a miracle in
em: I passed a guy in Little Silver one night
fall 07 | dmagazine.net | 17
meredith deacon | MODEL
y booker, who I love and is absolutely amazing, turns and says to me ‘I can see that you’re happy and when you’re happy you eat. But you’re not a human being— you’re a model!’” After throwing her hands in the air and shrugging her shoulders, Meredith laughs it off. Her nonchalant attitude makes me, the un-slim and un-modelesque pedestrian interviewer, want to enter her world. Meredith Deacon, a Jersey girl native of Monmouth County, now resides in New York City living out her childhood dream—being a model. “I started doing it in the summer for fun and after I graduated high school, I thought, ‘Hey! I could do this for a living.’” And she did. After a semester at Monmouth University, Meredith took a hiatus from
Written by suzi senna Photo by danny sanchez
school to make modeling a full-time gig. “Of course, when I told [my parents] I was taking a break from school to move to New York with my then boyfriend, they were like, ‘No, you’re not!’” Yah-huh, she did! And with the steadfast support of her family, she couldn’t be happier with the results.
mini-series, The Bronx is Burning, playing Reggie Jackson’s love interest.
Starting her career at the tender age of 17, Meredith is making the leap into acting. Now 24, she can say that she has held an on-screen conversation with Angelina Jolie as a featured extra in the 2006 movie The Good Shepherd. “It was the first scene they threw me into, and they were like, go over there and chat with Angelina, and I was like...ahh... what do you talk to Angelina Jolie about?” Um, adopting foreign babies would be my first thought. People can also spot Meredith on ESPN’s
Even with all the glitz and glamour of modeling and acting, Meredith admits there’s a line she won’t cross. “I see girls who live on cigarettes and lettuce and I just won’t do that. These skeletons walking down the runway are not attractive. I don’t think it’s feminine or beautiful at all. I’m not going to starve myself and I’m not going to compromise who I am.” What’s that, you ask? I believe it’s what some call a breath of fresh air.
Meredith continues to juggle modeling, acting and yes, even school again. “I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years. I’m going to model as long as my career will let me.”
fall 07 | dmagazine.net | 19
pinky | artist
t’s impossible to experience Pinky’s art without experiencing Pinky. You’ll be required to let go of any sense of life-asusual. Despite being within town limits, most traces of Red Bank are lost crossing the threshold into her living room studio, backyard and ultimately, her soul. All manner of colors and textures, art and artifacts, sculptures and embellished busts await you. But… “Hold on! Are we in Taos, Santa Fe, Venice Beach or…?” “I’ve always been unique,” says Pinky Adubato, 60, a long-term local resident. “I never felt like I belonged to the Earth. My feet never touch the ground. I’ve always been twenty years ahead of my time. I’m a late bloomer. It wasn’t ‘til I was 38, though, that I got it’s OK to be different. My whole life began to culminate.” Though not without her share of challenges. Five marriages, a 14 pound tumor, and even falling off a ladder have all been fodder
Written by bill mcdonald Photo by bobbie kingsley
for reinventing herself. Trusting guidance from her “angel,” she chose to embrace fearless living. This turning point yielded a decision to use her resources intentionally to live life more fully. Now it’s a nonstop melange of painting and drawing and laughing. “I’m closest to God when I’m creating!” she shares. And her bliss formula: “I love people—I’m not lazy—I like to work—I have faith that I’ll always have work to do!” Spontaneously, she pulls out pad and plume and proceeds to demonstrate one of her trademarks. Without looking at the paper, she draws a portrait in one continuous line. “I call this Pinky Does Picasso,” she announces gleefully. “I do these at birthday parties… telling each child just how special they are. It just might change their life!” In her passion for “Living Art” it’s apparent that this is her vehicle for touching
people… with love and fun and delight. She connects young and old to themselves, each other, and the planet. Pinky glows telling how she also dresses up as a fairy godmother, the Easter Bunny, and Mrs. Claus. Once described as a “Wizard of Oz of the Universe,” she gives rites of passage to any and all human beings along the way. Two hours, thirty stories, and a thousand smiles later, I depart this exotic sanctuary. Back out on the street, I’d wonder if it had all been my imagination if it weren’t for the two gifts tucked under my arm. Shuffling off in reverie, I’ve gotten a glimpse of why Red Bank might be referred to as “Hip Town.” “Aunty Em! Aunty Em!” Visit Pinky and her art work at: www.pinkyadubato.com
nicole atkins | MUSICIAN
t’s the sultry voice that first attracts fans to the music of Nicole Atkins. Not an acrobatic display so common in these days of American Idol, but a nuanced and sophisticated expression that reveals her complex musical personality. Nicole has come a long way and the hard work is starting to pay off. “I’m just glad to finally have a record out. I didn’t think it would be on this scale. It’s really exciting.” Her soon-to-be-released Columbia Records debut was recorded last winter in Sweden with producer Tore Johansson (The Cardigans, Franz Ferdinand). “November in Sweden is really depressing. It gets dark at 1:30 in the afternoon. Everybody was going through breakups. We decided to embrace the whole dark aspect of our lives and atmosphere. We joked that we were making the Dark Side of the Moan. But when I listen to it now I feel like it sounds very mature and overwhelmingly beautiful.”
Nicole and her band The Sea create a lush and dynamic soundscape that perfectly frame her captivating voice and commanding presence. Just look into the eyes of the audience at one of Nicole’s live performances. There’s a tangible feeling that they’re witnessing something special. Her band is leagues
Written by john noll Photo by Danny Sanchez
above most of the derivative rock ensembles you find in the clubs these days. There’s a sense of unity and purpose behind the sound they create and their confidence is contagious. She acknowledges their individual talents, but recognizes the importance that her band members “have become my best friends. They’re part of my soul. They play their parts as if they’re an extension of me.” The awesome rush of success was manifested during a recent tour performance when she experienced a tingling numbness running through her entire body. “At first I thought I was having a heart attack but then realized it was a shot of pure adrenaline. It was the first time I had ever experienced true joy. Like the first drop going down a roller coaster. It was the best feeling in the world.” Atkins’ personal and artistic growth has been rewarded by the support of a major record label, a national tour, an American Express commercial and an upcoming appearance on the David Letterman Show. She recently performed at the Austin City Limits Festival alongside Bob Dylan, Bjork and The White Stripes. It’s the kind of whirlwind ride that every musician dreams of. Nicole says that a couple of years ago “I couldn’t catch a break. At the time I really hadn’t found my voice.” Well, she’s found it now. And there’s a lot of people ready to listen.
Written by stephen sheehan Photo by mike marmora
doug ferrari | gallery director
rom condos and retail to oceanfront attractions, there is a new Long Branch emerging from the old boardwalk town of the past. There is an artists’ community nestled in a warehouse that may be the most exciting and innovative place in this seaside bonanza. SICA, The Shore Institute of Contempary Arts, provides artists from all over the world a chance to develop and show their work. The old can factory is now home to major artists and many locals who are looking for a venue that will handle their work properly, encouraging participation and visibility for a new wave of artists. Doug Ferrari, the director of SICA thinks the goal of the art institute should be to “expand the educational component of the art.” Ferrari, an architect by trade and an academic, has been involved with the institute from its beginning. His resumé includes studies at Rutgers, Montclair, and Brooklyn College as well as tenures at both Drew University and Brookdale. He has worked alongside such architects as Daniel Libeskind and Ed Reinholdt. Started by grants and funding from the New Jersey Education Department and Monmouth County, SICA and Ferrari looked to fill a void for artists between the New York and Philadelphia Corridor. Ferrari knew there was a wealth of talent to work with and that the right venue would succeed. Boosted by strong local support and good press from the New York Times, Ferrari likes what is being done and the progress SICA has made. “Contemporary art is art being done today and is on the cutting edge. There are no age or generational boundaries on contempary art. It refers to culture and is responding to the times it is created in.” Ferrari admits it is a limitless definition and when you tour the warehouse you see just how far reaching this forum can be. From film to fiber, metal, rubber and wood, there are a myriad of artistic expressions displayed. Artists from Richard Serra and Nara Japanese to Ed Crumb and many local New Jersey artists have come to SICA to show their work. In the process, they have opened the eyes of both the art community and local officials, both of whom have praised Ferrari and SICA for bringing innovative and contemporary art to Long Branch. Doug Ferrari, a pleasant man with a quiet sense of humor, enjoys the irony between the art and ethnic community. He describes the physicality of the art within the town. “There is a walking tour that you can take where you can see the art displayed at sites around the neighborhood including Pier Village. . . that will eventually lead you back to the Institute, admiring the art as you go.” There are films, a speakers series on Friday nights, shows that range from Benny’s (artists from North Jersey) to Surfboards to view and a funky little café to enjoy. Through associations with the Freedom Film Festival there will be a community within a community that will only get stronger as more artists and more people become aware of the potential of this venue. This is an exciting neighborhood, from its restaurants to the Brazilian dance club next door that Ferrari says gets pretty hot on Saturday nights, to its close proximity to the Theater on Broadway and the great Atlantic Ocean. All this is a short scenic walk or drive for visitors and locals. Rewarding? Ferrari thinks so as he sits in the café section of the warehouse, visitors stopping by for a tour on a Sunday afternoon.
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From the desk of BILLY VAN ZANDT
A Tale of
Two Goldfish Illustrations by Mark Kseniak
’m at a fundraiser for a private school in North Hollywood that charges more a year per student than my father made in his best year on the workforce. I can’t believe we’re paying this much money for our kids to play with blocks and finger paint. Yes, I can. This is Los Angeles. We pay people in health spas to swat us with seaweed. The school picnic is an annual event designed to make the parents spend even MORE money than the already ridiculous admission fee. Buy tickets for your kids to jump in a moon bounce. Buy tickets to slide down a big slide. Buy tickets to win a cake. Buy tickets to buy tickets. “Hard to believe, but when these kids are in college it’ll be eighty thousand dollars per year for a BAD school.” I hear one of the parents say, as I pony up twenty dollars to throw a softball at milk cans in order to win my sons a ticket to ride the big slide – which actually costs the same as the ticket I bought to throw the softball at the milk cans.
Eighty thousand dollars a year? And we had TWINS?! What were we thinking?! “Daddy, can we win a goldfish?” I look over to see my two sons by the next booth, where people fling ping pong balls in the air (three for five dollars), hoping to land one in a glass, thereby winning a pathetic little half-diseased “carnival” goldfish in a baggie. I look back to see my two angelic-faced boys looking up at me with their big brown eyes. “No. No, you can’t.” They’re five years old. They don’t need to learn about death yet. I had a gerbil in junior high that picked its own eyes out and died a horrible death by repeatedly smashing itself against the side of the aquarium until it put itself out of its misery. It scarred me as a teenager. I still have that image in my head. (Although not as scarring as it was for whoever picked through my
family’s garbage from the curb the next day and thought they got a free empty aquarium.) My kids don’t need the image of some diseased fish banging itself against a bowl at the age of five. Besides, guess who would end up feeding them every day? Me. Just like with the first dog, and the second dog, and the birds. It’s bad enough I have to feed myself. It’s my turn to volunteer supervising the moon bounce. I hand my sons twenty dollars each to blow on games while I’m gone and I take my place beside the big rubber castle, where I’ll spend the next thirty minutes yelling at sixth grade jackasses who keep trying to terrorize the five year olds. A half hour later my volunteer work is up. I walk back to look for my wife, swearing to myself how everyone’s kids but ours are animals, and I see my sons holding two baggies.
“My kids don’t need the image of some diseased fish banging itself against a bowl at the age of five.” “Look, Daddy! We won!” I see two little specks of orange inside the baggies. My wife shoots me an apologetic look that says, “Well, what can you do?” I shoot her a look that says, “Give them back.” We spend the rest of the day eating hot dogs and running relay races and taking turns holding the baggies. When it’s time to go home we realize we only have one live fish. The other, it seems, has boiled to death inside his baggie in the 110 degree sun. We dump the little dead guy amidst the used hot dog plates and empty soda cans and take the one remaining fish home. My sons decide to put the fish in my home office – because they want “Goldie” to have company during the day. Translation: So Daddy can feed it.
haven’t been inside an actual pet shop since I was a kid and went to Woolworth’s in Red Bank, where they kept the parakeets next to the mops.
Aquarium World is palatial. A brand new store. I can’t imagine how someone makes an actual living selling fish. Nonetheless, here I am. Seeing tank after tank of exotic fish and sharks. Designer tanks that go halfway up the wall. Round tanks. Coffee table tanks. Who knew? The goldfish have their own section. I never knew there were so many different kinds. Lionheads, Black Moors, Jitkins, Watkins, Demekins, Shubunkins, Comets, Fantails, Telescopes. I buy five.
They don’t name the fifth one. Before they think of a name my kids lose interest and run out of my office to go swimming. I name it “Marty Feldman.”
I stare back – feeling guilty that this little fish is all alone in that pathetic bowl.
I sit at my desk to work on a script and look up to see the new bowl is just as cramped with six fish as the original bowl was with one fish.
I grab my keys and head for Aquarium World.
I know what they’re thinking. I head back to Aquarium World to do their bidding. We graduate from bowl to aquarium. It’s still pretty small. But it serves its purpose. For a month. Goldie doubles in size throughout that month. She’s taken to shoving the other fish out of her way to get to the food, like she’s in an underwater Roller Derby. She’s huge. The owner of Aquarium World, who doubles as his own service man, begins coming to the house to “maintain” the tank.
At home, I put Goldie into her new bowl. And I add her five friends, named by my kids “Shrimpy,” “Spazzy,” “Pop Eye,” “Blackie” and …
The next morning, I look up from my desk to see “Goldie” staring at me, crammed into the starter bowl which is barely larger than the baggie.
Content that she’s made her point, Goldie turns around and faces the other side of the bowl.
They all tread water, staring at me. Sending thoughts through the glass like the bubble-headed aliens in that old “Star
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“Goldfish are filthy,” he tells me, and the filter—the high end filter he sold me— apparently won’t keep up with the waste. The guy vacuums out the tank, changes the water, changes sponges in the filter, cleans the gravel, and charges me a mere seventy dollars a month to do it. I ask him how big this goldfish is going to get. “Hard to say. Some of these things can live for fifty years. And they’ll grow as big as their tank.” As he leaves, I look up from my desk to see Goldie and Blackie and Pop Eye and Spazzy and Shrimpy and Marty Feldman all treading water in one spot staring at me.
– I find stuck in the filter. Spazzy the Veiltail is dead under the driftwood after a week. Most expensive of all, Blackie the Black Moor floats on the top of the tank after a month. (“Look Daddy, Blackie’s back is broken.”). Shrimpy the Comet is missing. My guess is he’s been eaten by someone – I still can’t find him. Bubbleeye Marty Feldman swims “backwardsonly” for an additional week and then he croaks, too. Goldie the Carnival Fish (or as she’s referred to by the Aquarium World guy: “Fish-food-for-better-fish”) doesn’t care. More food for her and less fish to knock out of the way to get it.
Their eyes say, “Did you hear the man or not?”
The owner is expecting me. He shows me a bigger aquarium. This one seems nice and large. He sells me driftwood and bright blue gravel and plastic prehistoric looking plants so we can decorate it. “We” as in “me.” The kids don’t even know the fish are still in the house.
I change the water, set up the filter, and artistically place the driftwood and the plants. I move the fish in. They all seem content. Pop Eye, the expensive orange Telescope
I mean, really growing. The driftwood keeps getting knocked over. The plastic plants all float to the surface every time she swims into them. Goldie is too big to swim through the fake plastic archway. She’s too big for the tank. I measure her as she’s up against the glass. She is already longer than the tip of my outstretched pinky to the tip of my outstretched thumb. And I have big hands.
I can hear her clearly: “I can’t fit – get moving!!” Today a truck delivers the gigantic aquarium I just bought. It takes up an entire shelf in my office, displacing all my Civil War books, the Charles Dickens originals, the Stephen King originals, and the biographies to make room for it. It goes halfway up the wall and across four shelves of books. It’s massive.
My wife shakes her head at me from the kitchen as I make the three trips from the car with all my accessories. “You’ve lost your mind” is all she’ll say on the subject.
One year later. Goldie is still here. Still alone. Still growing.
The days go on. I look up from my desk and see our foot-long goldfish treading water in one place. Staring at me.
I take the hint. Back to World.
to ride bikes)
We flush all the newcomers down the toilet where they will join the countless other goldfish from carnivals past, as well as the ancient pet alligator my brother accidentally killed in our unheated garage in the winter of ’64. (I say “we” flush the fish, but I mean “me.” After the first flush, the kids run off
They have to cut through my built-in file cabinets to install the filter, destroying thousands of dollars of imported wood. Something that looks like the turbines that control Hoover Dam has to be built in underneath the shelf. It takes all day to install it. My kids ooh and aah at the sight of my
very own aquatic wall. They ask if we can get a shark. I say no. My wife won’t even come in to look at it. “This is all your fault” I tell the kids as I relocate the files that were housed where the Hoover Dam turbine goes. They have no idea what I’m talking about and run off to play baseball in the backyard. I go to sleep content that our little carnival fish will finally have some room to stretch out. We share a look before I retire for the night. She says, “Thank you.”
I have to admit, I feel terrible. Not for me. Not for the money. For Goldie. We’ve been through so much together – I helped her move three times. We went through the loss of her friends together. I already miss the way she stares at me as I work and the big splash she makes every morning to remind me to feed her.
“I used to vacuum your fish tank.”
The kids could care less.
I “accidentally” hit him in the head with the softball. He falls down, knocking over all three milk cans.
“Can we get a snake for the tank? Or maybe an iguana?” “No. You’ll get nothing and like it.” I say, imitating my father without meaning to. My wife isn’t particularly sad about Goldie’s death. She’s pissed off, but not
“Is that right?” Then it hits me: That means I paid for your kid’s tuition with that stinking little carnival fish!
Worth every cent.
BILLY VAN ZANDT is a writer/ producer of over three-hundred hours of television comedy, and one of the most often-produced playwrights in the world.
We flush all the newcomers down the toilet where they will join the countless other goldfish from carnivals past, as well as the ancient pet alligator my brother accidentally killed in our unheated garage in the winter of ’64. I wake up in the morning, stumble into my office to check my e-mails. I look up from my desk. She’s dead. Goldie is dead. Dead and floating inside a tank that costs as much as my car, above my Hoover Dam turbine filter which is cut into what used to be handmade custom bookcases. One day after I paid the guy to destroy my office. One day after I had a year’s worth of goldfish food delivered to our basement pantry. I spent too much money for you to die!
particularly sad. I flush Goldie down the toilet. Well, sort of. She’s too damn big to fit down the pipes. I pay for a plumber to come out and unclog the toilet. I throw the two pieces of dead fish he removes from the toilet into the bushes, right after I write the plumber his check. The following year we attend the annual school fundraiser picnic. My kids are forbidden to play any of the games. I go up to the milk can booth and plop down my twenty dollars. There’s a new father from our class manning the booth. “You look very familiar.” I say.
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Story by LORI BOUCHER Photography by BOBBIE KINGSLEY
It’s true. Blondes have more fun.
Of course, I can’t speak for all blondes. This is merely my experience with having blonde, red, brunette, multicolored and jet-black hair–in addition to colors not listed on any color charts.
It’s genetic. I’ve inherited hair coloring from my mother, along with her green eyes. As a child, I never knew if I would wake up to see a redhead or a blonde in the kitchen drinking her coffee. She collected wigs like others collect stamps and changed her hair color on a whim. If she didn’t feel like the brunette she was yesterday, she’d simply put on a blonde, red or black wig. I think I was twelve when I first dyed my hair. Long and naturally brown, I decided it would look good with two blonde strips in front. It was pretty hot. No one back then did the two-tone thing, but like mother, like daughter. We each had our unique styles, she with her tall hair-dos, micro-mini skirts worn with low-cut leopard blouses, spiked heels and ever-present sheer black pantyhose. (She even wore them with shorts!) She wasn’t thrilled with my blonde streaks. But what could she say? She was setting the example for my future. I’ve had many adventures with store-bought hair dyes. I’ve ended up with green hair, purple, pink and blue. For one year (a lifetime to my follicles), my hair was platinum. Talk about upkeep! I didn’t want roots at the time, so I had to bleach them out on a regular basis and wait overnight for my head to recover from the chemicals. The next day I’d apply the toner and a red drabber. I’d use so much ash-based product to remove any red, that my hair would be either green or blue for the first week. By the time it was the perfect color, my roots would make their appearance and the whole process would begin again. I’ve had my hair blonde for two years now, give or take the occasional change to red or brown when I thought blonde was boring. But I have to tell you, being blonde takes years off my face, saving me thousands in botox injections and mini-lifts. Being blonde does have its drawbacks. If, while driving, I piss off another driver, he’ll lay on the horn and yell
obscenities at “the dumb blonde.” On the positive side, doors are opened for me; men let me go ahead of them in line (I know I’m usually being checked out). But even that has its drawbacks. Who wants to worry about looking good all the time? In the corporate world I found that I had trouble finding work as a brunette. After months of job searching, I dyed my hair blonde, and voila! I was hired on the spot at the very next interview. Coincidence? I hate hair salons. Sometimes I like to have my hair streaked different shades of blonde, which they do with the mildest of dyes. Two weeks later, the colors have washed out and I’m back there forking over another $300. Nope, give me the heroin of hair products–the beauty store-bought bleaches and permanent toners. When I want my hair colored, I want it to stay that way until I decide to change it. I actually own a hair color wheel. You know, the kind with color hair samples attached to a huge ring…. that way I can tell if the particular shade matches my skin tone. Right now, my hair is just past shoulder-length, light blonde, with one-inch roots. I love my roots. When it comes to roots, there’s a thin line between tasteful and tacky. Tasteful roots range between one-eighth to two inches. Any longer, you might as well put on your hot pants and strut your stuff, asking for dates. Just call me a root snob. I have a pink wig for special occasions. I also have a black one that was a present that I’ve been considering wearing, just for a change. Am I becoming my mother? This can’t be happening! I’m cool and funny and entertaining. Although, I’m sure she felt the same way about herself. Should I have to grow my roots out and act my age? Wear sensible shoes and proudly display my slowly but surely graying hair? Hell no!! Nothing can part me from my colors… not even the mom factor. I guess I am my mother’s daughter after all. Accept it and color on, I say.
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surfers healing On a Monday morning in August, drivers inching their way across the Brooklyn Bridge gazed down in disbelief.
Story & Photography by John Decker
Beneath the thundering sounds of police helicopters patrolling South Street Seaport, surfers plunged into the warm waters of the East River. Hawaiian legends Gerry Lopez and Darrick Doerner were not there to catch a wave; the tranquil waters around Manhattan were the site of a fundraiser for autism. Organized by Sea Bright surfer Andrew Mencinsky, the 28-mile journey was the first ever surf paddle around the island of Manhattan. The waters were dotted with color as watermen, including longboarding icon Joel Tudor, navigated the rivers on traditional, lay-down surf boards as well as on stand-up paddle boards. On a Monday morning in August, drivers inching their way across the Brooklyn Bridge gazed down in disbelief. Like characters from a Conrad novel, the tribe worked their way up river passing through the infamous Hell’s Gate (notorious for its ship sinking history) into the narrow straights of the Harlem River. Beneath a blazing sun, the surfers stroked past mountainous peaks of steel and glass. The miniature fleet of riders dwarfed by the Gotham background added poignancy to the scene. “We are raising money for autism, a condition that is more prevalent in New Jersey than any other state,” said Andrew Mencinsky, Executive Director of SEA (Surfer’s Environmental Alliance), the organization that sponsored the event. Pushing past Yankee Stadium and the Bronx, the scenery dramatically shifted to layers of dense trees and rocky cliffs. Beneath the George Washington Bridge, in the wide expanse of the Hudson River, fatigue and adrenaline collided as the surfers headed up river. Perched high above Battery Park City Marina, spectators cheered as the surfers completed their six-hour voyage. Mencinsky made the connection to autism knowing that the ocean and surfing have proven to provide autistic kids with a rare sense of calm and tranquility. Referring to the rush of riding a wave, surfers claim, “Only a surfer knows the feeling.” On this occasion the feeling was different, but no less special.
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Art. Perception. Edge. You see it and know it’s something that moves you. It isn’t like anything you’ve seen before. And there isn’t even a buzz yet, except for the buzz you hear in your ears. This belongs, for the moment, to you and you alone. It is a breakthrough. The sun pours through the studio windows and washes across the landscape of beauty, and my eye is drawn to an image. I can’t look away. The colors are so alive that it seems impossible. Vivid yellows melt into deep oranges and greens. It is autumn, deep within a primordial forest that is unlike any place I have ever seen or heard of. I stand in awe, forsaking the other artwork. It owns me. It is a story. One of the studio’s owners, Bob McKay sees my interest and walks over to me. He knows the story, and he is going to share it with me. “What do you think?” he asks. “It’s amazing. I’ve never seen another painting like it. Who painted it? Is it someone I know?” “Yes and no,” he says with a sly grin. “My wife Lizzy made this; and it’s not a painting. It’s a photograph.” My foray into beauty skidded to a halt, and I turned to look at Bob to see if he was serious (not that Bob isn’t beautiful as well, but I wouldn’t want to hang him on the wall in my house). He nodded assuredly and my eyes went back to the picture, this time full of skepticism. Where were those glorious brushstrokes I had seen? Where were the peaks and crevices of the oil paint? They were all there a moment
Story by Lawson Alan Photo by Elisabeth Koch-mckay
ago; in a flash they were gone, but the beauty remained. The mind is a powerful tool, and my imagination had merely inserted things that were not there; perhaps to help me make sense of the wonder it was experiencing. I blinked a few times and mentally began again. Was this image as beautiful as I had originally thought? To my surprise, it was even more so. “It really fooled me, Bob. I am looking right at it, knowing what it is, and I still can’t believe it.” Bob patted me on the shoulder. “It’s alright, it fools everybody.” “Where did she take this picture?” “Well,” said Bob as he rubbed his chin, “where do you think it might have been?” I looked again and thought. “Maybe it’s from deep inside the Black Forest, or a tropical rain forest in South America.” The truth is that I didn’t have a clue. Bob smiled. “We like to say it was taken in Eatonvania.” “Eatonvania?” I asked. “I’ve never heard of that! Where is it?” “It’s a name we made up to make the location sound a bit more exotic. Of course we tell everyone where it’s really from, but among friends we like to call it Eatonvania. It was taken in Eatontown.” Eatontown, New Jersey, folks. My own home town, where I grew up walking through the woods, looking right at them, and never seeing anything like this. I was intrigued.
“The reason that it looks like a painting is because it was printed on canvas instead of paper. It gives it a grainy kind of look. I’m actually about to pack it up and take it to an art show, but I’m glad you got to see it before it left.” Fast forward a couple months. It was a few days before my wedding, and my fiancée and I were hosting a pre-wedding bash at our house. Fashionably late, Bob and Lizzy appear at our door, holding a neatly wrapped package about the size of the picture. After they had settled in, and we had opened their gift (my fiancée was blown away), we got to talking. “How did it do at the art show?” I asked. “I’m sure it must have gotten a lot of attention.” “They didn’t accept it as an entry,” said Bob. “They thought it was a surrealistic painting, and not what they were looking for. I didn’t feel like getting into the whole explanation with them, so I pulled it. And now it’s yours.” Art. Perception. Edge. And on top of it all, a story. In my living room, above my piano, hangs a work of art. It has fire and depth, and it captures the attention of everyone who sees it. It is wonderful and breathtaking. And looming just beneath its surface, there is a voice. It speaks to me of love and friendship, of my beginnings, and of beauty. And for all who stop and admire it, there is a story of how it was the little painting that could, but it really wasn’t a painting at all, and that it really couldn’t, but that is part of what makes it so special.
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operation reinvention Reinvention is rarely a bad idea. True, there’s the “if it ain’t broke” theory, which I accept to a point, but it ends there. With the incredibly draining and powerful experience of having two babies less than two years apart, and nursing them for a total of four years, I felt broken somehow and couldn’t explain it until…
Story by Yolanda Navarra Fleming Photography by Danny Sanchez
Early one morning during a wickedly windy rain storm, I ducked into a women’s clothing boutique. For all I knew I could have been walking into a bait and tackle shop; I just wanted to be dry. It was the first unlocked door I could yank open and leave the rain behind.
tactic of tricking myself into believing that tending to my children was the same as (or more important than) tending to myself. Not true. I see that now. I also thought motherhood meant the death of freedom, at least temporarily. Even if you have time to yourself, you relinquish the luxury of thinking of yourself first. For me, it meant a hiatus from my usual creative habits—singing in bands or recording music. Instead, I chose to write with every spare second. My Macintosh G3 MiniTower became my best friend and it never cared if I was dressed up… or dressed at all! So you see, fashion had no place in my life, or so it seemed.
It didn’t take long before I stripped off my raincoat, jeans and Nine West boots and put on a white linen suit by Milly. The mirror revealed someone I sort of recognized. It was as if I had suddenly awakened from a fashion coma. Had it been a frumpy stunt-double doing all that gaining, laboring and messy feeding? I had been a classic new Mom, immersed in a carnival of firsts and Baby Einstein videos, functioning as if part of a sleep deprivation experiment. Now, I was awake to find myself in a boutique trying on clothes!
Back to the white Milly suit. Putting it on gave me a rush and I suddenly remembered the teen-aged me gazing into my full-length mirror while trimming the spikes of my David Bowie-inspired hairdo. It was much easier to make a statement then, but the Milly suit was definitely me—the perfect combination of dressy, trendy and comfortable. I could wear it anywhere and feel like I owned the place. Although my budget didn’t allow the purchase, the excitement I left with and the plan to reinvent myself was priceless.
Frankly, catering to two little ones is much easier in sweats. I didn’t stop wearing some of my maternity duds until well after my son’s first birthday because part of me was rather lazy and preferred to be comfortable. Then again, in my own defense, I was still leaking like a faucet; breast pads were my most important accessories. I would never have consciously doomed myself to a life of stretch jeans, sweat suits and breast pads. But it’s no surprise that the fun of dressing up was the furthest thing from my mind. I can’t deny the fact that in those early days of M.ind O.ver M.atter-hood I barely had time to brush the nautical knots out of my hair. I am not proud of this. I had simply forgotten that part of the joy of the female experience (besides pregnancy, labor and nursing, of course) involves fashion.
But don’t we all know how dressing well impacts your self-esteem? The image you portray with clothing speaks to the world long before you get a chance to open your mouth and defend whatever textile choice may need defending. Before making a bad or lazy choice, I instantly remember a stand-up routine by a 20-something comedian I saw on TV at least 15 years ago. With a severe case of the munchies, he threw on whatever was lying around to make a quick trip to the convenience store. Of course, he ran into his old girlfriend and will forever regret his choice of apparel—flippers and a kilt.
Questions began flooding my fashion consciousness: Why did I often choose comfort over making a statement? Could I really be that lazy? Why did I tend to walk the line of androgyny, rather than flaunt my otherwise obvious femininity? I wondered, shouldn’t motherhood inspire the height of femininity and push one toward lace and away from flannel?
It’s a funny example of my great new rule: If I have to defend it, the Salvation Army can have it. Basic principles of Feng Shui now apply to my closet as well as my person. Get rid of the old to make room for the new. I feel better about myself and life in general when my hair is knot-free and my outer appearance reflects my creativity. Of course, this is much easier to accomplish now that my children are able to feed themselves, brush their own teeth and dress themselves for school, which means that I too have time to dress myself—well.
Looking from the inside out, I had been suffering from the survival
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Story by Lawson Alan Photo by Mark Kseniak
t’s autumn again, complete with that silent ‘n’ at the end of the word that, at some point, was deemed to be particularly imperative. It’s time for some hard, manual labor to get ready for the colder months ahead. You might look forward to the hard work, but I’m not as young as I once was. And since I’m getting so old, I have come up with some real time savers to make my life easier.
Here are a few tips on dealing with the seasonal onslaught: Prepare your lawn: If yours is like mine, your lawn has a slight tilt to it. This is a great advantage to anyone who does not like to rake leaves. All you need to do is oil your lawn and the leaves will merely slide away onto your neighbor’s unoiled lawn. How do I do that, you ask? Simple! Get some neighborhood kids together and teach them how to play ‘SpitTag’ with ordinary corn oil. The rules are simple: One kid gets to be ‘It’ and the others have to chase him around your lawn with their mouths full of oil. The last kid to spit on the kid who was ‘It’ becomes ‘It.’ (Takes about four quarts of low grade cooking oil per quarter-acre; also saves you money on Halloween candy, as no kid will try to make it up your sidewalk for quite some time, say, ‘til the following year.) Clean your chimney: Of course you could hire some expensive cleaning service to tromp around on your roof for a while, certain to knock a few shingles loose as they go, or you could just do what I do. I open up the flue, send up an inexpensive helium balloon to plug the top of my chimney, and then get set for some real fun. Pour about a cap full of gasoline onto some crumpled newspapers and set them inside your fireplace. Wait about a minute for the fumes to really saturate into the chimney pipe. Then, toss a match into the fireplace. I like to use the really long, wooden matches. (They have better flight characteristics when thrown.) You’ll hear a ‘whooshing’ sound. That’s the sound of cleanliness. All that built-up carbon and char from last year will
shoot out of the top of your chimney, and undoubtedly land in your neighbor’s yard, right next to his new pile of oily leaves. Go shopping: Most people aren’t even ready for Halloween yet, and that means it’s time for you to start your holiday shopping. While everyone else is busy in all the wrong stores, buying up candy and costumes, you could conceivably be the only shopper at the mall. Here’s what I do: First, find the ‘Mens’ department at Overlord and Taylor. It’s not hard to do. Just walk into the ‘Ladies’ department, count off 1500 paces as you pass through ladies shoes, ladies underwear, ladies blouses, ladies pants, more ladies shoes, ladies dresses, and, right as you emerge into glass foyer, take one step back and look left. You’ll see one pair of shoes, one gray suit, one pair of jeans, and some surprisingly feminine shirts. That’s the ‘Mens’ department. Buy everything. Don’t worry; they will restock it in the spring. Maybe. These will be the gifts for your male relatives. Trust me, they will be happy to know that you actually found men’s clothing (with the possible exception of the shirts). For your female gift-getters, just buy anything that’s the right price, and get a gift-receipt. There’s no sense in beating yourself up over picking out a gift that will just be exchanged anyway... So, enjoy the change of seasons, and relax! It’s easy to deal with, and just gets easier every year.
taxi driver poem by Jessica Smith
i drive. i cannot ignore the beings in the back seat, try as i might, they are there. who are these people? and they haven’t a clue who i am, aside from the obvious conclusions that can be drawn from my dismal location, if they care or can be bothered to do so. the drunk, stinking of urine but insightful, even that morning with blood on his shirt when we went hotel to hotel, and none of them would take him– i did. the mexicans who pay most of my bills– we barely speak, but we understand. them going from one wage slavery to the next with cheer, no less and always a tip. the rich woman my peer(?) who rides in silence to a better place than where i am. the disabled woman whose every step appears a journey of a thousand– who doesn’t want my help, and after i sit and watch her struggle she is still more positive than i. the lady whose past i’ll never know
who is going to meet just another manifestation of her oppressor,her molester at some generic motel. i am afraid to even ask how this makes her feel or if she allows herself that luxury anymore. who are these people? i, the glimpsing voyeur with gas pedal as my remote blurring through channels through windows watching desperately to seek out a meaning to all of this outside myself searching to eke out an essence of what is made of all of this by someone else.
cruising past the projects, then past the palatial peaks of patriarchal pennies saved, or earned, or inherited– where inside, the poor are polishing what they will never own and outside, the men manicure symbols of affluence
penned in by the iron fence erected to keep their type out, resigned to the reality of returning to their own ramshackle residences leaving behind the 20 room house built for two to go back to the 4 room house overflowing with open, waiting mouths– but they don’t seem to mind. and i? i just drive. i cannot ignore the beings in the back seat, nor can i get back there with them. at the end of the day, all i can do
is reach around back there under the seat like a scavenger, grasping for evidence, artifacts, validation– or maybe just a little spare change.
Story and Photography by Jesse Craft
I’ve never been very comfortable asking strangers to take their picture. It feels uncomfortable to approach someone I don’t know and take a little piece of them home with me. If I take a picture without asking it feels like a violation; so, even when I do ask, isn’t it still a subtly invasive act? Most people, of course, don’t really have a problem having their picture taken. This is when the second problem happens. They smile for the camera. If I ask for your picture, it is because there is something about the way you look, naturally, that I want to capture. Typically, this isn’t smiling. Certainly it isn’t smiling directly into the camera. So it’s not something I love to do. Sometimes, though, I just have to. This is how it was with the chess players. Central and Washington Avenues come together in a V near the trendy part of downtown, right around the corner from where I lived. At the base of this V there is a small park. Walking home from a night out I was often accosted for change by homeless people in that part of town. That’s why, when I saw a group of guys hanging around the park, I thought they were homeless too. They were there every day on my way home from work, sitting on all the park benches. It wasn’t until I started commuting by bike that I slowed down enough to realize they were playing chess. I wanted to join them; it looked like fun. At the same time, it would have felt strange to say that some homeless people handed me my ass in a game of chess. It was a beautiful May day when I finally got up the nerve to ask them for some photographs.
graphed. He and Charles settled in for a match which they let me shoot, as long as I kept Jack out of frame. He made me show him the pictures afterwards to make sure I wasn’t trying to get away with anything. Charles deployed his queen-side knight to open the match, and gave Jack one of the most amazing evil-eyes I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if there was money on the match, but I think there was a bit of pride. The other games that had been going on sort of ground to a halt, and everyone stood around and watched the two of them in their match. I asked Sid, the Yankee fan, about it. “This is every night with these two; they end up going at it. Charlie’s been doing some studying, trying to catch our man here. Jack says he was a ranked player in college, but he don’t look like no college guy to me.” Since my initial impression was that of a homeless guy I had to agree with him. “So you guys don’t know each other outside of chess?” I asked.
Washington Avenue runs due west, so the setting sun in early summer came down unobstructed on the benches. Beautiful lighting. They would be out well into the night, but it wouldn’t be great for picture taking, so I had to approach them while the light was still good. “Would you gentlemen mind if I take some pictures of you while you play?” I’m not sure if Charles was the ringleader, but he was certainly the most talkative. “Yeah, man, that’s cool, but you gotta play with us first,” said Charles. “Yeah, I guess, I mean, I’m not very good at chess,” I told him. It’s true. I’ve known the rules of chess since I was very young. I once got a lesson from a Russian friend in high school who claimed he learned the game with a well-known 17-year old chess prodigy back home, but it failed to rub off on me. The game requires too much advanced planning and strategy. I’m much too ‘in the moment’ to be a good chess player. I was never really a match for my dad or my Russian friend. I wasn’t much of a match for Charles, either. He dismantled my “attack” in about 7 minutes and he really seemed to relish it; otherwise, it might have been over even faster. “Your game needs work, man. You wanna play me again for a dollar?” “Charles, you got the hustle wrong, you are supposed to let me win before you play me for money.” “I tried, man, but you really stink,” Charles told me. He was really rubbing it in. So Charles let me take pictures of him during his next game. Charles was one of the better players. The best player, though, was a guy named Jack. He did not want his picture taken, and I wasn’t inclined to argue with him. This is another reason I get nervous asking strangers for their pictures; some get downright hostile at the prospect of being photo-
“No, I mean, not all of us play all the time, you know? Charlie’s always out here, and sometimes he’s got his little nephew with him. That little man can play too. But I just know ‘em from here.” It was true, Charles was always out there; sometimes I saw him at the park in the morning, hanging out by himself. I guess that’s why I took him for homeless, but he was really just retired. And this, really, is the only part I like about taking pictures of strangers, and why sometimes I get over my reservations and make the leap. I used to think that the guy I saw loitering around the park in the mornings was a homeless guy begging the residents of Lark Street for change on their way to work. Turns out he’s a retired chess enthusiast who’s teaching his nephew the game with the hopes of encouraging him to make something of himself. I went back another time, without the camera, to play. I found Charles and his nephew, Aaron, there. Aaron kicked my ass too. I didn’t get my ass handed to me by a homeless guy, but by a 10 year old instead.
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friends find the lane to Nirvana from left to right: short sleeve plaid button-down by Diesel, $90; button-down jacket by Diesel, $220; wrap dress by Paula & Joe, $226;
Photography by Danny Sanchez & Bobbie Kingsley Hair by John Meyerhofer & Constantine Bonarenko Make-up by Karen Benvenuti & Oksana Hulya Shot on location at Asbury Lanes Clothing provided by Nirvana, Jewelry by Karen Benvenuti Models: Billy, Vincent, Kristina & Lana
Billy, the genius, asks if anyone knows where bowling originated. Itâ€™s a set-up so that he can bewilder you with his endless knowledge. You throw him a bone and play dumb, even though you know fully well where bowling came from. It started off as a way to judge tie-breakers in taco-eating contests when Caesar ruled the Chinese island of Utah. Good thing you kept your mouth shut, otherwise he would have looked like a complete idiot when he answered his own question and got it so wrong.
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top left: striped button-down shirt by Diesel, $110 top right: secretary dress by Mara Hoffman, $341; cinch belt by Everlast, $40 bottom picture: leather jacket by Diesel, $500; lace tank top by Acrobat, $58; black skinny jeans by Diesel, $130; white button down shirt by Diesel, $90; white v-neck tee by Salvage, $40 right: wrap dress by Paula & Joe, $226; short sleeve plaid button-down by Diesel, $90; jeans by For All Mankind, $172
top: black v-neck tee by Salvage, $40; jeans by For All Mankind, $172; tie-back sleeveless top by Nu Collective, $99; blue jeans by Rich
As Lana lines up to take her shot, she thinks to herself: “Man, you’ve got some good friends. Who else would be
right: secretary dress by Mara Hoffman, $341; cinch belt by Everlast, $40
kind enough to whisper quietly during your shot, when
page 52: keyhole dress by Nu Collection, $187; white buttondown shirt by Diesel, $90; jeans by For All Mankind, $172; button-down jacket by Diesel, $220; jeans by Robin’s Jeans, $372; lace tank top by Acrobat, $58
unobstructed view of your butt. Hey! Wait a minute! What
you have your back turned to them and they have such an are they whispering about?”
a princess, a grandmother and a woman i barely knew Events change you. Death renews you. I’ve been fortunate; no one very close to me has died yet. But I try to prepare myself every day. The thought alone scares me to tears at night. When sleep escapes me and my mind fills with imaginary news of the passing of my mother, not so imaginary emotions fill my heart, and the even more not so imaginary tears fill my eyes. I try to face my fears. Look them straight in the eye and laugh. “Hah! Screw you!” I guess that’s why I put myself through the extreme self-torture of picturing the woman who bore me, raised me and molded me lying in a casket. I attempt to rationalize this thing we call death. Everyone goes at some point. I try to analyze past experiences that may help me cope, help me brace for the inevitable storm. Flashback 1. I’m in the basement of my high school fooling around with my boyfriend. I told my parents I had an Honor Society meeting after school. I did. A janitor interrupts us and tells me my mother is waiting outside. “Oh, shit. How did she know?” I leave him without a farewell kiss preparing to face a woman filled with rage and, at the same time, filled with the delight of catching me red-handed. Instead, I’m greeted by the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen her have (at that time). Different scenarios fly through my mind. What could have possibly happened to make this woman of steel so miserable? “Mãe, o que aconteceu?” My mother replies that our beloved Princess died just hours earlier; our 10-year-old German Shepard mix who was as much part of the family as I was, if not more. My parents are on the way to the vet’s office to drop off her corpse and want
me to know. I get into the Taurus wagon where I see a white blanket covering a mass of some sort. It is Princess. I don’t think I hugged her this morning before school started. The ride is filled with dead silence—pun intended—with only the occasional sniffle. My mother claims, to this day, the neighbor children poisoned Princess, and curses them every time the subject is brought up. And to this day, Princess remains in our thoughts. We remember the times she would walk us around the block, or the days she would frolic around in the fresh snowfall. Everyone still has pictures to remember her by. She can never be replaced. Lesson learned: It hurts. And even when it hurts less and becomes tolerable, it still hurts. Flashback 2. It’s about 11 p.m. I’m in the middle of a covert operation, sneaking into the kitchen and binging on the leftover dessert my mother made that day. My parents have been asleep for at least 3 hours, they have to wake up at 4 a.m. for their blue-collar jobs. Sneaking downstairs to the kitchen, with only the glow of the streetlights shining through the windows to guide me, I reach my destination. Opening the fridge and frantically searching through each aluminumcovered dish, I find that someone else has thought of, and completed, Operation Late Night Snack Attack. Wait! That was supposed to be my brilliant plan! I settle for a bowl of sugary cereal and slink my way back upstairs, silently applauding the dessert thief. Not much later, after I climb back into bed, the loud ring of the phone makes me jump. No one calls this
late. “Hello?” A voice that sounds distant, speaking in a soft tone, asks to speak with my mother. “Um, ok.” Not knowing how my parents will react to being disturbed from their sleep, I cautiously knock on the door. The knock somehow turns into a pounding, as the only thing that ran through my mind was that someone other than me needs to speak to that distant voice. My father comes to the door and asks me what’s wrong. “Alguém esta chamando de Brasil.” He quickly answers the call and I run back to my room, heart pounding. My sweet tooth has gone away and my cereal sits by my bedside. The following day at dinner, my father tells me that my grandmother has died. She was a woman I met only once. I was thirteen and she was close to ninety. Unable to speak because of her illness, we didn’t have much of a conversation. I remember crowding around her with other family members as someone snapped a picture. Does she even know what’s going on around her? That was the first and last time I met Avó. After she died, my mother acts as if nothing has happened, except for the times I catch her wiping a tear from her eye. Her silent suffering pains me. Do you want to talk about it? Tell me how it feels. Share your sorrow. I’ll cry with you. As much as I want to speak those words out loud, my voice has a tendency to disappear at the time I need it most. I hug her tight instead, hoping she can read my thoughts. Lesson learned: If you pick up the phone past 11 p.m., brace yourself for the worst. Flashback 3. I receive a call from my sister telling me that her mother-in-law had passed away and she would really
I was crying over the possibilities that ran rampant in my head. I was crying because of the fear that was driving me at that precise moment. I’m sorry lady. I still don’t know your name.
appreciate it if I came to the wake. Of course I don’t want to come to the wake. I met this woman for about 5 minutes at your wedding. I can’t even recall her name. And I barely think that she would want me staring at her body. Come to think of it, I don’t want to stare at a dead body and pretend to care about a woman I barely knew. But being the pushover that I am, “Of course I’ll be there.” The whole thing feels funny. I’ve never been to one of these events. What do I wear? Bring flowers? Or perhaps a card? All of a sudden I feel like I am going on a date instead of viewing a body. I arrive at the funeral parlor wondering how the ritual of wakes came to be. Who thought that slapping on some make-up and dressing up the dead and posing them as if they were asleep was a good idea? It seems sick. I avoid looking directly at the body until the very end when the crowd thins. At first look, I notice the wrinkles of the skin and the pale complexion. Is that how I’m going to look? After a while, I expect her to open her eyes and shout out “BOO!” as if it were all a terrible gag. And then it hit me. That’s going to be my mother at some point. I cried over this strange woman’s body and felt like a complete fake. I wasn’t crying for her. I wasn’t crying at the memories we shared or the stories we laughed about over lunch. I was crying over the possibilities that ran rampant in my head. I was crying because of the fear that was driving me at that precise moment. I’m sorry lady. I still don’t know your name. My sister comes over by my side and hugs me. It is comforting. Immediately upon leaving the funeral home, I dial my mother’s number so I can hear her voice.
Lesson learned: Hugs speak louder than words. The fear has eventually subsided since that horrible day but dug its way into my subconscious ever since. And occasionally when it tries to dig itself back up, I use the power of rational thinking. Everyone goes at some point. Of course, when rationalizing and analyzing fails,
my backup plan is to pray. Not being much of a religious person, I only turn to a higher power when my situation seems completely desperate. Please—take my life before hers. She deserves to live more than I do. I’m not sure who, if anyone at all, listens to my nightly prayers. I have yet to overcome my fear and realize that it may not go away until… that day.
Story by Suzi senna Illustration by Karen Benvenuti
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the perfect tuxedo
Story by K.O. Nattini Photography by Elisabeth Koch-McKay/Mckay Imaging
Wow, I thought waiting for the birth of my first baby was nerve-racking! Pre-nuptial planning 27 years later is definitely a close second. Not for the father of the bride, of course, but for just about everyone else even remotely related to the event. Frankly, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. All I know is that every time I mentioned “my tuxedo” the room fell silent and, if looks could kill, my daughter would have walked up the aisle on the arm of a cardboard cutout of her “dear old dad.”
comprehend why handwritten invitations had become passé and must now be done by a calligrapher or why the naturally beautiful women in my life were spending endless hours experimenting with their hair and makeup. In my mind, this left less time to find me the perfect tuxedo.
In my mind I kept having flashbacks to my own wedding 28 years earlier. There was no island backdrop for my proposal and not more than a few choices for invitations. The guest list numbered about 75—not 250. Centerpieces were flower baskets supplied by the reception facility—not orchids flown in from Hawaii. The bridal party consisted of a maid of honor, best man and ring bearer—not two best men and nine bridesmaids. My lovely bride wore one tasteful gown for the entire day, ceremony and reception included. Was I surprised to see my daughter change from one breathtaking couture creation to yet another for the reception?
The week before the big day I was feeling pretty darn good. Despite my unusual physique, I had been fitted for a dapper tux, which I planned to pick up the day before the wedding. As far as I could see it was smooth sailing ahead–and that’s how I felt as I escorted my oldest of seven down the aisle. She was the “Princess Bride” and I felt like a king as I presented her to her Prince Charming.
Back then, this groom-to-be had very little to say about the plans. I found myself in much the same position as father of the bride. While the bride-to-be, her mom and sisters poured over magazines, spending hours on the phone and talking endlessly about details, I dozed on the couch picturing myself in the perfect tuxedo and hoping that my little princess wouldn’t turn into the proverbial “Bridezilla.” As the days and weeks flew by so did my chances of maintaining peace and harmony in my happy home. I found it increasingly difficult to
From the front row pew I envisioned new beginnings for our family and tears filled my eyes. Where had the time gone since my bride and I stood in this exact place and made these same promises? Images flashed into my mind, a series of firsts: birthdays, steps, school days, proms, jobs, puppy love. All had brought us to this special place and sacred moment. My journey down memory lane continued as the bride and I sailed across the dance floor to a Sinatra classic. There was no doubt that she would always be my little girl, but I was happy to celebrate the beginning of her new life, feeling really good about the future and the way we looked that night.
[ And the note I Can’t Play on my Guitar]
Story by Lawson Alan Photography by michael Wilson
When I was in my early twenties, I had the coolest job on the planet. I was a guitar salesman. This meant I slept until noon every day, ate at the local 7-11, and played every night until sunrise. The pay was not bad, and it was one of the few jobs that allowed me to grow my hair long. One day, the legendary blues player Gatemouth Brown walked into my store. I recognized him from the pictures I had seen in magazines, and I practically vaulted the counter to greet him. “You’re Gatemouth Brown, aren’t you?” I asked. “Yes, sir,” he replied. He was an old, thin, black man who wore a black cowboy hat with silver buckles on it. “It’s a real honor, sir,” I said as I shook his hand. “Well, thank you,” he said as he smiled. “Most young folks don’t know who I am.” At that time, I had only heard one of his songs from a blues compilation album, but remembered it as being pretty decent. Being a rocker, I admired the blues players for planting the seed that became rock, but thought the blues were overly simple and lacking the refinement of rock. Still, I was in the presence of greatness, and happy just to be talking to a living legend. “What can I do for you,” I asked. “I’m looking for a fiddle,” he responded with a sparkle in his eye. A fiddle is really just another word for a slightly modified violin. We carried violins, and I had some idea of how to do the surgery by filing down the bridge that held the strings in place, but I had never actually done it. I walked behind the counter and pulled down the one violin that had not already been chewed up and spat out by fourth-graders. We had gotten it a few years earlier as part of a package deal from a fairly good manufacturer, but never had much interest in it.
“This is the best we have,” I said. “I can file it down for you if you like, whether you buy it or not.”
He pulled a stool over and sat down. I handed him the guitar and leaned against the wall of amps and prepared for a show.
He took the violin and plucked the strings a few times.
He looked up at me and smiled.
“It’s all right. How much?” “It lists for $850, but you can have it for $450. That’s dealer cost plus a few bucks so that I don’t get in trouble…” He rolled out his lower lip and looked over the violin. “If you got a case for it, I’ll take it.” I smiled and brought out the case, polished the fiddle with a cloth, threw in an extra pack of strings, and handed it to Gatemouth. He paid for it in cash, and then looked around at the guitar-covered walls. “Are any of these guitars any good?” he asked. “Well, yeah,” I said as I pulled down my personal favorite. It was an extremely high-tech guitar with a carbon fiber neck, titanium frets, and an electronic system that allowed it to sound like just about any type of guitar you could think of. “Wow, that’s pretty!” he exclaimed. “Do you play?” “Sure.” “Go ahead and play me something so I can hear what it sounds like,” he said. I was in heaven. Here I was with possibly the best living blues guitarist in the world asking me to demonstrate a guitar for him. I plugged into an amp, and began with a dive bombing sound, then launched into my fretboard gymnastics that created a string of notes so fast that it was nearly impossible to distinguish one note from the next. I ended by holding out a high note for about forty seconds, showing that the guitar would sustain all day if I wanted it to. I switched off the guitar and handed it to him, to see if he’d like to try to outplay me.
“You know, I’m pretty fast too,” he said. “Yep,” I answered. “I’ve heard some of your stuff. You’re fast.” “Let me tell you something about playing fast,” he said. “You know who B.B King is, right?” “Sure… he’s awesome.” “Well, he’s all right, I guess, but the fact is that he made it big. Way bigger than me and a lot of other blues cats. The truth is, he’s playing my licks. He used to come see me play, and next thing you know, he’s got some new record out that sounds just like me, except for the speed. He ain’t fast. I always kind of resented the fact that he made it bigger than me. Of course, it’s just me talkin’ trash, you know. We all used to borrow ideas from each other back then. I’m sure I took a few of his ideas along the way too.” “We do the same thing in rock music,” I interjected. “That might be true. I don’t get to listen to too much of it, but when I do, a lot of it sounds about the same to me.” He pulled a guitar pick out of his pocket and held it up to the strings. “But playing fast,” he said, “that was one thing that I always had over B.B. King, and one night, I got my chance to teach him a lesson. This was just a few years back, and by then he was already the ‘old, black, blues guy.’ Of course I’m even older than him, and maybe even blacker! Ha ha ha!” We both laughed hard. I’m whiter than a marshmallow, so I was careful not to laugh too hard, but it was funny. He continued. “Well, one night, my band was playing at a club in Chicago, and right in front of the stage, there was a big, round table with a sign on it that said ‘Reserved.’
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Gatemouth’s Mystery The rest of the club was packed. Standing room only, you know, and then some. The warm-up band had finished, and my band took the stage, and don’t you know that the table up front was still empty. We started to play. At the time I had no idea who was going to be sitting at that table, but after a few songs, who should walk in but B.B. King. He had his whole entourage with him, and they sat down all around that table. I said to myself, “I’m gonna take him to school tonight.”
guitar, so he spins around in his chair and looks up at me.” Gatemouth Brown smiled widely, and his eyes gleamed as he reached this point in his story. “So I walked up to the front of the stage, and I held the guitar right in his face, and I played one note, and knocked him out of his chair!”
let. The next thing I knew, I had evidently crashed through the wall of amplifiers and was pulling myself up off the floor. I quickly set the amps back up and looked over at the man who had just taught me the greatest lesson in music that I would ever receive. He smiled and tipped his hat to me. “I’m sorry to do that to you, son,” he said.” It’s just a part of the story, you know.” I laughed and shook my head from side to side.
I was enraptured as I stood and listened to his story. I felt like I was in the loop with the real roots of blues music, and I was loving every minute of it. “So I shut my eyes,” he said, “and I started to play fast. You know, real fast, like you play. I thought I was giving B.B. King a lesson that he would never forget. When I was done, I opened my eyes and B.B. was sitting there with his back to me. Can you believe that, he wasn’t even watching me? He was signing autographs and shaking people’s hands and ordering drinks.” “Oh my god!” I exclaimed. “What did you do?” “I’ll tell you what I did. I stopped playing.”
“That’s amazing,” I said. I was laughing at myself, partly because I had fallen, but mostly because I had seen it coming and still got knocked on my ass. “What note was that?” I asked.
“You’re kidding, right? He actually fell out of his chair?” I asked dubiously. “That’s right. He fell right on his ass, right there in front of all those people.” “With one note? That’s incredible! What note was it?” “This one.”
“You what?” “That’s right. I just stopped and stood there. My band kept going behind me, you know, but I wouldn’t play. . . After about a minute or so, B.B. realizes that he’s not hearing my
With a movement faster than lightening, Gatemouth Brown pulled his hand up onto the guitar and let loose a note unlike any I had ever heard before. It was sharp and quick, and it tore through me like a bul-
He placed his fingers on the fretboard and showed me. “It starts out here,” he said. “Then you gotta slide your fingers up to here. But don’t let it sound like you’ve moved your hands. It’s gotta sound like one note. That’s all it really is, you know. One note.” I memorized the position, and to this day, I can still picture his thin, black fingers showing where to find it. I must have played a million notes since that day, but sometimes I will still try to sit down and play his note, and for the life of me, I just can’t find it.
~In memory of Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown~ (1924-2005) Gatemouth Brown suffered from lung cancer and heart disease. He died on Sept. 10, 2005 in his birthplace, Orange, Texas. He had left his home in Slidell, Louisiana to escape Hurricane Katrina.
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billy’s top 100 Comedy Films A few years ago the American Film Institute compiled their 100 favorite comedy films of all time. The list instantly infuriated me. Half the films they listed weren’t exactly laugh riots (“Bull Durham?”). Also their memory only went back so far. Classics were forgotten, films that broke barriers were ignored, inferior modern versions of ground-breaking genres were chosen over older, more substantial films. I sat down immediately and compiled my own list. I’ve touched it up a bit since my original, updating it as modern films come along to deserve spots (“Borat”), edging out films that no longer hold up (“Ghostbusters”), or duplicate genres with similar stars (“Bringing Up Baby” and “Philadelphia Story” both great screwball comedies – I picked one over
the other). Sadly, the funniest films of all time are not even on my list. Laugh for laugh, Laurel & Hardy’s short films beat out most from the list below, but they’re short films so they don’t make the cut. Like the AFI list, my personal 100 favorite comedies may make you nod in agreement, shake your head in disbelief, and/or (hopefully) get you to rent some good films.
#5 Tootsie 1. Duck Soup (The Marx Brothers) 2. The Producers (Zero Mostel/Gene Wilder) 3. Modern Times (Charles Chaplin)
4. Some Like It Hot (Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis) 5. Tootsie (Dustin Hoffman/Bill Murray) 6. A Night at the Opera (The Marx Brothers) 7. The General (Buster Keaton) 8. Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers/George C. Scott) 9. A Fish Called Wanda (John Cleese/Kevin Kline) 10. The 40 Year Old Virgin (Steve Carell) 11. Galaxy Quest (Tim Allen) 12. Airplane! (Robert Hays/Leslie Nielsen) 13. Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest) 14. Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton) 15. Young Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) 16. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen)
17. City Lights (Charles Chaplin) 18. A Day at the Races (The Marx Brothers) 19. Animal House (John Belushi) 20. Sullivan’s Travels (Joel McCrea/Veronica Lake) 21. Annie Hall (Woody Allen/Diane Keaton) 22. The Gold Rush (Charles Chaplin)
#24 My Fa
23. The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin) 24. My Favorite Year (Peter O’Toole) 25. The Bank Dick (WC Fields) 26. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Sacha Baron Cohen)
#27 The In-Law
27. The In-Laws (Peter Falk/Alan Arkin)
28. It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Spencer Tracy, et al.) 29. Horsefeathers (The Marx Brothers)
30. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Monty Python) 31. Caddyshack (Bill Murray/Chevy Chase)
32. Lost in America (Albert Brooks/Julie Hagerty) 33. Bringing Up Baby (Grant/Hepburn/Stewart) 34. Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen) 35. The Thin Man (William Powell/Myrna Loy) 36. I’m No Angel (Mae West) 37. Blazing Saddles (Cleavon Little)
38. Dinner at Eight (Marie Dressler/Jean Harlow) 39. Return of the Pink Panther (Peter Sellers) 40. Raising Arizona (Nicholas Cage/Holly Hunter) 41. The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis) 42. Road to Morocco (Bob Hope/Bing Crosby) 43. Sons of the Desert (Oliver Hardy & Stan Laurel) 44. Hail the Conquering Hero (Eddie Bracken) 45. The Court Jester (Danny Kaye) 46. Way Out West (Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy) 47. Father of the Bride (Spencer Tracy) 48. Trading Places (Eddie Murphy/Dan Akroyd) 49. Being There (Peter Sellers/Shirley MacLaine) 50. King of Comedy (Robert DeNiro/Jerry Lewis) 51. Fargo (F. McDormand/William Macy)
80. Going in Style (George Burns/Lee Strasberg)
52. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
81. Murder By Death (Peter Sellers/Peter Falk)
(Cary Grant/Myrna Loy)
82. The Awful Truth (Irene Dunne)
53. Arsenic and Old Lace (Cary Grant)
83. Stir Crazy (Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor)
54. His Girl Friday (Rosalind Russell)
84. The Long, Long Trailer (Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz)
55. The Odd Couple (Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon)
85. Stripes (Bill Murray)
56. M*A*S*H (Elliot Gould/Donald Sutherland)
86. Cold Turkey (Dick Van Dyke)
57. Sleeper (Woody Allen)
87. The Great Race (Jack Lemmon/Peter Falk)
58. The Naked Gun (Leslie Nielsen)
88. Guide for the Married Man (Walter Matthau)
59. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
89. There’s Something About Mary (Ben Stiller)
(Bud Abbott & Lou Costello)
90. Where’s Poppa? (Ruth Gordon/George Segal)
60. The Errand Boy (Jerry Lewis)
91. Arthur (Dudley Moore)
61. It’s a Gift (WC Fields)
92. Harold and Maude (Bud Cort/Ruth Gordon)
62. Kingpin (Bill Murray/Woody Harrelson)
93. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (Carl Reiner)
63. Victor/Victoria (Julie Andrews/Robert Preston)
94. Son of Paleface (Bob Hope/Jane Russell)
64. Life of Brian (Monty Python)
95. Take the Money and Run (Woody Allen)
65. Buck Privates (Bud Abbott & Lou Costello)
96. Private Benjamin (Goldie Hawn)
66. To Be Or Not To Be (Jack Benny)
97. The Sunshine Boys (Walter Matthau/George Burns)
67. Real Life (Albert Brooks)
98. The Heartbreak Kid (Charles Grodin)
68. Groundhog Day (Bill Murray)
99. Christmas Vacation (Chevy Chase)
69. Born Yesterday (Judy Holliday/Broderick Crawford)
100. The Lonely Guy (Steve Martin)
70. This is Spinal Tap (Christopher Guest) 71. The Kid (Charles Chaplin/Jackie Coogan) 72. The Fortune Cookie (Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon) 73. Monkey Business (The Marx Brothers) 74. It Happened One Night (Clark Gable/Claudette Colbert) 75. Adam’s Rib (Spencer Tracy/Kate Hepburn) 76. South Park (Trey Parker/Matt Stone)
avorite Year 77. The Jerk (Steve Martin)
78. Harvey (Jimmy Stewart) 79. Zelig (Woody Allen)
BILLY VAN ZANDT is a writer/producer of over three-hundred hours of television comedy, and one of the most often-produced playwrights in the world.
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“How the hell did that movie ever get made?!” How many of us have uttered that line after an ill-spent 2 hours and 10 bucks? My grandmother can write better crap than that (may she rest in peace). Hey, I can write better crap than that! Can’t I? On the other hand, after seeing a great film with its gripping story, sweeping cinematography, engaging dialogue and memorable scenes, how could you not be inspired? This is how all movies should be - so tight, not a wasted frame. These are the kinds of movies I would write if I were a professional screenwriter - which, of course, I am not. I’m a graphic designing ad guy by trade. Yet, advertising is in the visual arts, isn't it? Even if it is a poor third cousin twice removed from film. I’ve always said (mostly to myself) that had I not gone to art school, film would have been my alternate career path - a less delusional version of George Costanza’s affinity for architecture and marine biology. In recent years, however, I’ve thought: “Why not me? I’m a pretty creative g u y w i t h a f l a i r fo r w o r d s a n d p i c t u r e s . Why should I let the title on my smartly designed business card hold me back?” This is the age of second acts and one-man brands. I know lots of people who have shifted gears & careers. A software- selling neighbor dreamed of running a proper English steakhouse (much to the horror of his vegetarian wife and daughter).
* He wound up buying a popular Italian restaurant. Tonight’s Special: Shepherd’s Pizza Pie. A former ad boss of mine started a local newspaper and mini publishing empire. I even know a photographer who started his own magazine, if you can believe that. So, why not me? I started my plan slowly, methodically and covertly (besides my wife, you’re only the second to know). To educate myself about screenwriting I began buying used screenplay books (read: cheap) on www.amazon.com. I can only dream that future hopefuls will one day buy my screenplay books for 76 cents, plus shipping. I ordered Good Will Hunting by Matt Damon & Ben Affleck, amateurs themselves at that time, and Swingers by Jon Favreau, also a beginner then. Compilations of screenplays by Ed Burns, Barry Levinson and John Sayles were both helpful and extra economical. I wanted to get some by the Cohen brothers, but drew the line at a buck. Next, I ordered books on “the craft” of screenwriting itself. The first had the shamelessly appealing title How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki something. The title has long since proven false. However, I did take away two
enlightening bits of information. One is that the main character, or star of my story, is me. Or in your case, you! I also learned that all the story ideas I had were based on some part of my life experience. How could it not? The second is that people write different types of stories (screenplays) at different stages of their lives. Consider the stories someone in their 20’s would write vs. someone in their 40’s, 60’s, and beyond. I imagined a tangled scene at Ye Olde Screenwriters Home as people with blue hair and black f ingers wrestled with ribbon on some ancient Olivetti. Chris Keane’s How to Write a Selling Screenplay provided me with the nuts & bolts of screenplay structure. This would prove very, make that painfully, important later on. I was surprised (not really) to lear n how for mulaic the whole process is. For starters, all movies are about problem solving in one way or another. Once you introduce your main character you should identify his or her problem or goal and what he or she will need to do to solve the problem or achieve the goal.
yet, shop for an agent and maybe even a tux. You never know. At some point I stopped to breathe and realized that I had cranked out a whopping 35 pages! It wasn’t until I re-read those 35 action-packed pages that I noticed I had a problem. A BIG problem. Remember those first 10 pages that are supposed to set the stage? No stage! I got so enamored with backstory that I flew right past key story markers like the inciting incident. This is the big event or turning point that occurs about 15 minutes (or pages) into the script and kicks the story into gear. My inciting incident was nowhere in sight. At the rate I was going I’d have a 300 page, herniainducing script yielding a 5 hour, insomnia-inducing movie. Bad idea! Okay rookie mistake. Time to step back and see where my allegedly careful planning went screwy.
shot out of the gate like a frantic, first-time screenwriter
I mostly followed Keane's step by step advice on writing successful screenplays. First, I made a list of all the characters in my story. Then wrote the mini-treatment — a 4 page basic telling of the story using the standard three act format: setup, confrontation & resolution. This was followed by a brief description of the entire story's scenes called the scene breakdown . I learned about the various ways to open a movie. The first 10 pages are critical, as this is where you grab the viewer’s attention, introduce the main characters and establish a sense of time, location, genre and premise. So, with my head full of information and heart full of inspiration, I was ready to write.
As you may have gleaned from this article, I have a tendency towards verbosity, verbal excess, rattling on. Screenplays need to be concise and so do I. They should start as close as possible to the current, key moment in the main character’s life. I knew what I had to do - go back and do some fundamental restructuring. No major gutting or slash job - just get to the point quicker, start the story later and sprinkle in backstory to help people connect the dots. Sounds like an objective, reasoned approach to a rather disappointing development. I’ll get right on it.
(or some less literal analogy).
And write I did! I shot out of the gate like a frantic, first-time screenwriter (or some less literal analogy). I was giddy as page after witty page flowed from my brain to my monitor. Time and page count just flew by. Maybe that 3 week screenplay scam wasn’t such a scam after all. What if I finish in two weeks? I could use the extra week to make edits and copies. Or better
That was a year ago. That fundamental restructuring thing was not as painless as I’d hoped. Rather than tackle things head on, I side-stepped the issue by continuing to write individual scenes - wonderful scenes I’d been seeing and hearing in my mind and was certain would make the final cut. But that so-called progress was just a mask for something more problematic. It turns out that, in addition to verbosity, I also have issues with procrastination. In fact (full disclosure/irony of ironies), it’s also what my screenplay is about a gifted artist shoves his gift in a closet and lets procrastination rob himself and the world of something really special.
Where do I get these ideas? *When not screenwriting, which is often, Cecil goes by the name of Joe Landi
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breakfast with santa From the desk of BILLY VAN ZANDT Photography by ELISABETH KOCH-MCKAY
It’s October in Los Angeles. The time when all good TV sitcoms write their Christmas episode. “Any ideas, people?” The writers all look at each other. Burned out. Dry. Idea-less. I’m the co-executive producer of Martin Lawrence’s breakthrough sitcom Martin. I’m in charge. I don’t have the luxury to be burned out or dry or idea-less. I think of Christmases Past. They’re all too loving and nice. How about the one where my aunt’s ninety-yearold mother slid underneath the car on ice and no one could find her for half an hour? No. Not funny (to anyone but me). I think deeper. What makes a good sitcom episode? Conflict and panic. Let’s see… How about Christmas at the Dam Site Dinner-Theater in Tinton Falls, New Jersey? Perfect.
unning a theater is expensive. We begin performing children’s theater every weekend to cover the cost of producing the night time shows.
Mrs. Claus will be played by a lovely actress named Gerice Guba-Bacciagalupe-Weaver (try putting THAT on a marquee) and Santa will be played by… let’s call him “Jim.”
to find him. And he has the Santa costume. (That’s why we cast him.)
I write the kid shows–one a week–slapping them together on Friday afternoons, casting them on Friday evenings with whatever actorfriends I can get to answer their phones, and rehearsing–just once–Saturday mornings, a mere two hours before the curtain goes up.
he morning of our first Breakfast with Santa Claus, the kids enter the theater, all excited in their red and green outfits, dressed up special to see Santa. Christmas carols play over the sound system. A light snow is falling. A beautiful picture postcard sight.
Inside, Mrs. Claus goes table-to-table, welcoming all the little ones. Little girls sit with their mouths hanging open. Little boys bury their heads in mommy’s shoulder. The mothers and the divorced fathers beam.
I’m practically teary-eyed over the fact that I didn’t have to write a single word. I didn’t have to build a set. All I had to do was fill baskets with cookies and sit back.
“You were supposed to be here a half hour ago. The show just started.”
At 10:15, as the final kids straggle in, the curtain goes up.
“Get over here!”
As the kids file in and eat their free baskets of cookies, and drink their lemonade, the actors sit backstage, panicking–fighting over costumes, attaching beards so no one will recognize them, and trying to remember who is playing which role so they know who to look at when they address each character. These half-written, half-improvised “classic” free-for-alls are real work. We do The Three Pigs as The Three Stooges. We do Goldilocks and the Three Bears as the Kramdens, with Ralph Bear, Alice Bear and Baby Norton Bear. We do Jack and the Beanstalk with a ventriloquist dummy as Jack so we don’t need a special effect for the Giant. With barely a rehearsal, little direction, and a permanent on-stage Narrator (me) who keeps one eye on the script and one eye on the clock to make sure the play stretches into an hour so people get their money’s worth, the actors are thrown to the wolves on a weekly basis. Whenever a play is “short” I make the actors improvise scenes that aren’t in the script. Or, worse, I make them do “chase” scenes in and around the audience to stretch the running time, whether the show warrants a chase or not. After a few weeks, the actors revolt. No one answers their phones on Friday evenings. I’m actor-less. But we still need the supplemental income to sustain the main theater. Swearing that the next time I run a theater it will be without ANY actors, I come up with a brilliant idea for the December slate of children’s shows. “Breakfast with Santa Claus.” How simple could this be? Kids eat cookies and lemonade while Mrs. Claus sings Christmas carols. After a half hour, Santa enters, and visits each kid. No set. A big throne. Simple. And cost-free.
I walk downstairs to work on notes for next month’s Neil Simon comedy. Five minutes later, my stage manager finds me sitting by a window. His face is as white as the snow that is now covering the parking lot.
A drunken mumble answers the phonee. “Yeah?”
“Yeah?” “Where are you?” “Who is this?”
“Shit. What time is it?” “10:15.”
I hang up. I’m pissed off. I walk up to the theater and give Mrs. Claus the universal sign for “stretch the show, because Santa is drunk off his ass and just woke up.”
I ask him, “What’s the matter with you?”
I rationalize that Santa is fifteen minutes away. If Mrs. Claus does her fifteen minutes of song and improvises a little, Santa will walk in right on cue.
“We don’t have a Jim!”
I look out the door. The snow is getting wilder.
Mrs. Claus is singing about ten maids a milking.
“Jim. Santa. We have no Santa.”
Fifteen minutes go by. Santa’s still not here.
“What do you mean we have no Santa?”
I run upstairs to the back of the theater to see a sweating Mrs. Claus holding a sombrero with a wild-eyed look of panic on her face. Where she found a sombrero, I have no idea. “Can you all say sombrero?”
“He never showed up.” “Then what did you start the show for?!” I think back to the night before where I saw the cast of my current play, of which Jim is a member, downstairs doing flaming shots off some waitress’s chest. I dial Jim’s number. This is before cell phones. If he doesn’t answer, there will be no way
Clearly she’s run out of songs. I get on the phone with a friend who also plays Santa at Christmas time to see if he can rush over. He’s very sorry but he’s on the volunteer fire department and is in the middle of saving someone’s home from being destroyed.
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I run back upstairs. The kids are all trying on the sombrero. I hope to God no one has head lice. I run back down the theater stairs. I hear a car skidding through the parking lot and smashing into a pole. It’s Santa! Thank God. Santa Jim races in, unshaven, his hair still sticking up from however it looked when he woke up. “Thank God! Get up there!” He starts racing up the steps. I grab him. “Wait! Where’s the costume?” Jim doesn’t speak for a minute. I realize he’s still half asleep. Then it dawns on him what I’ve asked.
thing red to wear for pants.” “You - get a mop.” Three minutes later the waitresses and I begin assembling Santa.
Lupus?”“No, children. I’m fine. Ow!!! OOOWWWW!!” He’s sitting on the pin. Now all the kids are screaming.
“That’s not Santa, Jimmy. That’s Santa’s drunken brother.
“Shit!” He’s left the costume at home. I run back upstairs to tell Mrs. Claus to stretch, but I see she’s already ahead of me. She’s standing on her head telling the kids how important yoga is. Tears are running up her head. I run down the stairs to see Jim standing there. Just standing there. I begin ordering people around. “You–across the street to the firehouse. Borrow a pair of black boots.” “You–into the lost and found–there’s a red sweatshirt in there–cut off the hood!” “You–find me some cotton.” “You–get some black electrical tape from behind the stage manager’s booth.” “You–find me some-
Black boots from the firehouse–too small for him, but they’ll do. A waitress has red tights in her car. They’ll have to be his red pants. The lost and found red sweatshirt with the hood cut off becomes Santa’s jacket. We stuff it with tablecloths from the linen closet, pinning it to his tights. Gobs of cotton are spirit gummed on his drunken eyebrows and chin. A rippedup white mop becomes Santa’s hair. Electrical tape becomes his Santa belt. An older waitress loses her glasses to us as she walks by. We need the spectacles. We plop a Santa hat on his head that, thank God, all the waitresses are wearing, and voila! He’s done! We shove our drunken slob Santa up the stairs. He walks a little weird-the boots are half the size of his feet. And he stumbles a bit–the waitress’s glasses are too thick. But so what? He’s here! “The pin! The pin!” he cries. The safety pin holding his “stomach” in has broken and the tablecloth “bowlful of jelly” starts to shift and drop. He keeps it in place with his knee as he walks towards the stage. The kids spot him. A hush comes over the crowd. Santa makes his way “ho-ho-ho-ing” up to the stage. You can hear a pin drop. In fact, I just did. “Hello boys and girls.” No one answers him. One lone little girl asks at the top of her lungs: “What’s wrong with him?”
Parents begin angrily escorting their children out the door–quickly-to try and salvage the myth of Santa Claus. “That’s not Santa, Jimmy. That’s Santa’s drunken brother.” “Santa’s playing a joke on us –because you didn’t clean your room!”
And to me: “You people should be ashamed of yourself !” Grown adults booing Santa Claus. This is a first. One woman throws a cookie at Kris Kringle. The saddest moment of all from one of the few kids who actually stays: “And what do you want for Christmas, Bobby?” “Nothing, Santa. Nothing! If you don’t go to the hospital immediately, you’re going to die!” The kid was right in one regard. It was Santa Jim’s last Christmas. We never did another Breakfast with Santa. But we did start using understudies. And costumes never left the theater again. And I’m very happy to say no kid ever got head lice from Mrs. Claus’s sombrero. Next time you see that old Martin Christmas Show rerun you’ll see a little bit of our Dam Site Children’s Theater history on the screen. And if you’ll all frequent legitimate theater for adults a little more, maybe no one’s child will ever have to go through a nightmare like this ever again. Merry Christmas.
Children begin to cry. “Santa looks diseased.” “Santa smells!” Parents start to look at each other. Another child asks Santa, “Do you have
BILLY VAN ZANDT is a writer/producer of over three-hundred episodes of television comedy, and one of the most often-produced playwrights in the world.
t e k r a M s ’ Far mer Story by Merle Benny Photography by Jesse Craft
While other people may count the remaining beach days, I know exactly how many more times the Farmer’s Market is coming to town. From June through October I plan my menus, and to a lesser extent my life, around those weekly shopping trips. It’s more than Jersey tomatoes (though they are sublime). The Community Farmer’s Market is a celebration of summer, a remembrance of my youth, a community gathering place and a benefit to local farmers. When summer arrives I’ll make any excuse to be outside. Shopping for food will do. I generally head to the Market with a menu for a party or picnic in my pocket; so I’m already in a festive mood. To add to the feeling of celebration, there are fresh cut flowers, colorful tents and lots of people. Sometimes there’s live music or activities for kids. A little party in honor of ruby red currants, crisp green romaine and creamy, fresh mozzarella. When I was growing up in South Jersey, farm stands were easy to find. All summer long, a quick walk or drive and some loose change would get you whatever was fresh. When I was
a teenager I even tried picking blueberries as a summer job. I lasted three days. It was the most grueling work I’ve ever done. Do you know how long it takes to fill a bucket with squishy little objects only slightly larger than the bugs that are biting every inch of your body? And making sure there are no stems! Luckily I didn’t stay long enough to develop an aversion to blueberries; I still love them. My local Farmer’s Market is a great place to catch up on the town gossip. Just wander from tent to tent, talk to the people you know and eavesdrop on the ones you don’t. I even have Farmer’s Market friends. They are the people I would have completely lost touch with if it wasn’t for our annual meetings at the Market. The farmers are my friends too. I appreciate the work they do and their efforts to continue farming in New Jersey. I like supporting them. I like the idea that they were out in the fields before they packed up and drove to my town to deliver just-picked cauliflower, pumpkins and basil to me. With neighboring towns having different farmers, on different days of the week, I have been known to visit three Farmer’s Markets in a week. On Wednesday I shop to feed friends and neighbors at the weekly concert in the park. On Friday I may need tomatoes for my sister in Connecticut or something special for weekend guests. And one trip takes care of family meals, extra blueberries and peaches for the freezer, fresh bread, pickles… As the remaining Farmer’s Market days begin to dwindle and the weather begins to cool, I go into a cooking frenzy. I don’t want to miss a thing. And I love to make dishes that take advantage of the bounty. Ratatouille is that kind of dish. Maybe the French wouldn’t certify my version, but it’s easy and quick and a great way to use the wonderful Jersey produce at the Market now. I prefer to grill it (it’s that outside thing again). The mix of vegetables and herbs is very flexible; add more or less of whatever you like. Although I think eggplant is essential, I had some (at a Farmer’s Market) where they substituted corn.
New Jersey Grilled Ratatouille 2 green zucchini
2 yellow summer squash
4 small eggplants (mix shapes and colors)
2 bell peppers (green, red or any other color)
2 large tomatoes
½ cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
4 cloves garlic, chopped
A handful of chopped herbs including any combination of basil, oregano, parsley and thyme Cut all vegetables into quarters and place in shallow dish. Add ½ cup olive oil, salt & pepper and toss to coat. Grill until browned, turn and grill other side (for a total of 5 minutes). Remove the tomatoes, cover the grill and cook the rest of the vegetables for 2-3 minutes or until they seem cooked but still crunchy. Put all vegetables on a cutting board and chop to bite size pieces. Put all vegetables in a large bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, add garlic and cook slowly until light brown. Pour oil and garlic over vegetables. Toss with herbs and salt & pepper. Serve hot, room temperature or cold, preferably at a picnic.
y Kingsle Photo
obbie y by B
Seven and Seven by Jane Milmore
WHY I WOULDn’t talk to you in the supermarket 1. Because I’m wearing no makeup and sweats and I look like crap. 2. You haven’t seen me yet and I can still make a clean getaway. 3. I haven’t returned your last 2 phone calls. 4. I owe you money. 5. Because your wife is my friend and everyone knows you’re cheating on her. 6. You’re the only person in the world still wearing a Members Only jacket. 7. You always have some kind of ailment and I’m tired of hearing about them. 8. Your child is throwing a huge tantrum and no one wants to know you right now.
AND WHY I WOULD talk to you in the supermarket 1. I lost 15 pounds, I’m feeling great and I’m saying hi to EVERYONE! 2. You owe me money. 3. You always have good gossip. 4. I have a secret crush on you. 5. You just left your wife for that girl you’re with and I want to make you feel really uncomfortable. 6. I want to see if that’s really a Members Only jacket. 7. I have a lot of bags and I’m hoping you’ll help me carry them. 8. Your brat kid is still throwing a huge tantrum and someone has to tell him to knock it off.
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the parlor mob Story by Suzi Senna Photography by Dave Sgalambro
We really are a band, it’s the driving force behind everything. We’ve been close friends for a long time, that’s the way we work and it’s worked out well for us, you know?
o where did the name The Parlor Mob come from? “Mark actually came up with the idea of The Parlor Mob, which is an old New York gang, that caused mayhem. They were rabid, sort of like the native confederates during the civil war era. We play rowdy rock & roll but I don’t know if we cause mayhem. But we definitely have fun playing live shows, up there having fun doing what we love to do.” That’s according to Paul Ritchie, guitarist for The Parlor Mob. I sat down with him to talk about the band as they are on the verge of recording their first major label album. Some of you may know them as What About Frank? from back in the days where having fun was the only goal. “When Dave and I started the band, we weren’t ever going to really take it too serious, you know? So that’s why we had What About Frank? It was just like a joke, and just for fun. After we got more serious about it, that name kind of stuck, and it was hard to get away from it and we were never happy with the name… So when we had the opportunity with our record deal to change our name, we took it.” Name change: check. Record deal: check. Mayhem and rowdiness, well, sort of: check. This native New Jersey five-some is made up of locals from Asbury Park, Bradley Beach, Red Bank and Sea Bright. On the mic is Mark Melicia; Sam Bey bangs on the drums; Paul Ritchie and Dave Rosen are on guitar; and last, but certainly not least, Nick Villapiano is on bass. “We really are a band, it’s the driving force behind everything. We’ve been close friends for a long time, that’s the way we work and it’s worked out well for us, you know? We all collaborate. Every song is a collaboration; we all give our opinions to one another.” Not having too many friends myself or truly knowing the definition of “teamwork,” I’m amazed by this news. Paul admitted, however, “We get into arguments here and there, but I still see the person the next day.”
As for the music: well, it’s rock n’ roll, baby! These guys are about old school rock, influenced by such classic bands as MC5 and T-Rex. “We’re just trying to base ourselves off of older rock bands. We feel like a certain point in time, when rock was the big thing back in the day, the bands were more talented and they were doing interesting things. Everything wasn’t so oriented by genre . . . emo, this and that, we just want to be a rock band. It’s broad enough that it gives us the freedom to do different things. We’re not typecast.” These guys are clearly serious about their music. The band is currently busy putting together their first album, hoping to have it out by spring 2008 and touring by summer. “About a year and a half ago we made the transition to being The Parlor Mob, and at the same time we were just starting to play more straightforward rock and roll, so it was a big change. Not only did we change our name, but we were also growing with our music stylistically.” Growth is a good thing. And now the sky’s the limit, or so the saying goes. The Parlor Mob has goals and aspirations and looks ahead to the future. “I’m hoping to see us with a really substantial touring career where we can just be into making records and go on tour, and have a career touring the country and selling records, and create space off our live performance. That’s where I’d like to see us 5 years from now. Touring for our 3rd record. Right now, our main objective is to just write really good songs, be a rock band and play together.” A simple enough objective; but dealing with the world of the music industry can be risky business. Especially when there are bills to be paid. When I questioned the 25 year old guitarist on the risks involved, he replied, “I feel like it’s beyond that. We’ve been doing it for so long that there’s no turning back at this point. And we’re all happy.” Check out The Parlor Mob’s MySpace page for music, show dates, blogs and any and all other information: www. myspace.com/theparlormob
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McKENNA, DuPONT, HIGGINS & STONE Attorneys at Law
Edward J. McKenna, Jr. | Michael R. DuPont | Kerry E. Higgins | Jennifer Stone-Hall Edward G. Washburne | Benedict R. Nicosia, Of Counsel | Clay Constantinou, Of Counsel 229 Broad Street, Red Bank, New Jersey 732.741.6681 732.409.3030 (Freehold office)
a christmas letter
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Story and Photography by Mark Kseniak
I’m behind the wheel of a white ‘67 Porsche 912, slapping gears on a two-lane blacktop called Highway 527. It’s been a while since I’ve had my baby out. But with Booker T. and the MGs’ “Green Onions” cranking through the speakers, she’s running hot and sweet. The destination is Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, to be exact. Yeah, you’ve heard the name in that helium-voiced radio commercial. Land of funny cars, hemis, dragsters, jet cars and monster trucks. YeSsiree, “Car Head City.”
It’s a fading August evening and I’m about to enter a Jersey race fans’ idea of Heaven’s gate. It’s a Wednesday night, around 5:30, and I downshift as I approach the gate. I pull up to a booth and a greasy-haired kid sticks his head out, checks out my ride and asks, “Racing?” “No,” I say, “picking up credentials.” “Too bad,” he says. “Next booth.” I pull up to the next booth, and a bleached-blond Jersey girl in a tank top sticks her head out as far as her 38-D’s will allow. I give her my name and am handed my pass. “Any restrictions?” I ask her. She snaps her gum and smiles as she says, “None, honey. Have a good time.”
Watch the light; when it’s green, you’re gone. The best time at the end wins. Racers want to be “gone in three seconds,” leaving you with a blurry image of their red taillights in a cloud of smoke. We’re talking 9-and-a-half seconds a race. The smoke hasn’t cleared yet, and it’s over. d.
Racing is extremely popular, and lucrative, in New Jersey. This is mid-week, and there must be at least 4,500 fans here. I park and stroll over to The Pit. The Pit is the “get ready” area. Cars are tuned, last-minute changes are made, jittery nerves are calmed. A place for fans to get up close, check out the cars and talk racing. Lot of “oohs,” “aahs” and “awesomes” fill the air. A majority of the drivers are here to build up points, hoping to gather enough to qualify to run with the Big Boys and compete in the NASCAR circuit. Chevys seem to be the car of choice, only you wouldn’t recognize them. They’re stripped-down, modified, high-glossed pieces of art, with one purpose only: These cars are built for speed. This ain’t Toyota country. These guys bleed red, white and blue. Sayonara. It’s 7 p.m. The stock cars are running first. The crowd is ready, and has been feeding off the spinning tires and gunning engines. Speeds hit 110, 140, 160. The faster they go, the bigger the applause. This is a quarter-mile straightaway track. Two cars line up. Watch the light; when it’s green, you’re gone. The best time at the end wins. Racers want to be “gone in three seconds,” leaving you with a blurry image of their
red taillights in a cloud of smoke. We’re talking 9-and-a-half seconds a race. The smoke hasn’t cleared yet, and it’s over. Now, sitting in the stands is one thing. Standing 10 feet away is a totally unique experience. The noise, smoke and smell of gasoline, jet fuel and burning rubber just engulfs you. My sneakers are sticking to the asphalt, which is smudged with rubber left by the cars “heating up” their tires. (F.Y.I., you want your tires running hot so you don’t slip and slide down the track.)
A dragster is an unbelievable machine. Basically, it’s rail-thin blue steel built around an engine. A driver’s job is to keep the car straight and on the track. These guys have a rocket in their pocket and an extreme confidence in their ability as well as the team that built the car. Dressed in fire-resistant jumpsuits, they buckle themselves in, grasp the wheel, wait for the green and launch themselves down the track, praying for a good run and a correctly packed parachute to slow them down. The crowd is seduced by the BRRRRRAT of the engines. These cars make Harleys sound like mopeds. The jet cars are next. I have no idea what to expect. These cars are freaks on wheels—20-feet-long, jet-engined flame throwers. No gears, no brakes. Push a button and you’re jettisoned for a quarter-mile. Push another button to shut down and pop the ‘chute before you crash into the woods. Lord have mercy. I swear one almost took me off my feet and rattled my bones. The blast and heat hit me like an explosion. I thought my camera melted. One hell of a thrill. I’m hooked, my ears are ringing, my camera is clicking and I can’t get enough. How could you not love it? The evening is about over. The monster trucks are running, but watching them smash and climb over wrecked cars can’t compare to what I’ve just seen. The thrill is gone, and so am I.
I head back to my baby and steer her onto Highway 527. I pop in a Springsteen CD with “Racing in the Streets.” I just left the song’s blood brothers, wanna-be’s with hopes and dreams, but with enough determination to make it all come true. I’m strapped in. Highway 527 is already becoming a blur, and I’ve just slipped into fifth gear. Hold on tight.
The crowd loves the stocks and the “funny cars” with their flames and wheelies, but it’s the dragsters and jet cars they’ve come to see. They are not disappointed.
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Corvette Sting Ray It’s all been said before: the Muscle Car era is distinctly an American phenomenon and nothing epitomizes the Muscle Car era more than a “Big Block” Corvette Sting Ray. Ask the average American male what sports car they craved as a youngster and invariably the answer will be the Chevrolet Corvette. First introduced by General Motors in 1953, the Corvette entered the automotive world on very thin ice, selling only 300 cars its first year. Most experts will tell you that it really wasn’t until the second generation, the so-called “C-2” (Corvette #2) era, between the years 1963-1967, that the car came into its own. It was this era that made the name and the emotional connection to the Corvette nameplate that is still very much alive today. And it’s easy to see why. This was the Corvette era that introduced high-torque, highhorsepower engines. The Corvette was approaching its twelfth birthday before a big block motor became available in 1965. And things just got hotter from there. By 1969 and 1970, engines peaked in terms of their power output and then declined in size and power for the rest of the 1970’s and 1980’s due to the lower emissions standards
Story by Sal Inciardi photography by Danny Sanchez
dictated by the Federal Government. Is it any wonder why a “big block” Corvette from 1965 to 1970 demands so much attention? The Corvette Sting Ray profiled here is a 1967 427 Coupe. From its breathtaking flip up headlamps, its stinger hood, its sharply tapered rear deck and all-fiberglass body, the 427 Corvette thundered onto the American automotive scene and changed it forever. Clearly, this Corvette is one of the most sought after ever! Only 8,504 Coupes were made in 1967 and only 3,754 Corvettes that year were manufactured with the 427/435 horsepower engine. Power steering? Power brakes? Who cares! Give me my 427 cubic inch motor, a 4-speed transmission and get out of the way! These cars were meant to do only one thing— use neck-snapping torque and get you there—fast! 1967 was the last year of the body style pictured here, replaced by the lower, more menacing shark bodies of the 1968-1981 era. Even though 1967 Corvettes were the least adorned of the mid-year era (due to the removal of trim, emblems and fender flags), they remain the most cherished. The end of an era tends to do that to the hearts and minds of people.
YEAR: 1967 ORIGINAL LIST: $ 5,400 TODAYS’ COST: $ 130,000 - $180,000,
Because of originality, factory and ownership documentation, some may range over the $300K mark, like this beauty shown here. TUNE UP COST: $ 300 CLUB INFO: National Corvette Restorer’s Society, 6291 Day Road, Cincinnati, OH www.ncrs.org
car owned by Joesph Romanowski
MODEL: Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe | PRODUCTION: 8,504 | BODY STYLE: 2 door coupe | CONSTRUCTION: Full-length ladder-type frame with 5 cross members | ENGINE: 427 cubic inches | POWER OUTPUT: 390, 400, 430 and 435 horsepower |
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed manual | FRONT SUSPENSION: Independent un-equal length A-Arms, coil springs, tubular shocks with anti-roll bar | REAR SUSPENSION: Independent, transverse leaf springs, transverse struts, half shafts with u-joints, trailing arms| BRAKES: 4-wheel discs |MAX. SPEED: 160 mph | 0-60 MPH: 5.7 sec. | 0-100 MPH: 13.2 sec.| AFC: 9.5 mpg |
d. out in a big way
a little word of thanks to those that helped
Thanks for being extraordinary in your enthusiasm & support.
You donâ€™t have to thank me... Just make sure you pay for that Whipped Mocha Latte!
Thanks for having open arms and being so damn helpful!
Thanks Dan. Tri City was the only paper that covered us on our debut. Youâ€™re the best.
radio days I was in grade school in the late 1930s. My family would gather around the radio in the evening. It was just a simple wooden box with a rounded top. But I’d look in the back and see its bright glowing tubes--a kind of miniature Christmas tree with the mysterious power to pluck adventure out of the sky and drop it into our living room.
I laid my delicious thrill of terror before my father. “Was this real?” I asked. He smiled and said, “I don’t know. We’d better stay tuned.” I was almost disappointed when it turned out to be makebelieve. Earth was safe—at least until World War II.
After school we’d listen to “The Lone Ranger” and “Jack Armstrong.” But in the evening we had to listen to the grownup stuff: Jack Benny, Fred Allen, all kinds of good music—and the October evening my father tuned in to the Mercury Theater. He caught it just a minute or two late. An agitated network announcer was telling about a huge meteor that had landed in central New Jersey. Then he switched to a mobile unit. Something strange was happening. Something was coming out of the crater—something alive! And the game was afoot. It was, of course, the most famous radio show ever broadcast—Orson Welles’ version of H.G. Wells’ story, The War of the Worlds. By 7:15 the full fury of the invaders from Mars was clear. They were moving across America, toward my gentle home in Minnesota, killing everyone and everything in sight. When the station break came,
Radio was what Grimm’s fairy tales had been for children before me. It stretched my mind. It showed me the world of good and evil, honor and deceit, pain and pleasure. It sketched the story and let my mind fill in the details. I heard Joe Louis — larger than life — destroy the Nazi champion Max Schmelling in two minutes of the first round. In 1937 I heard the announcer when the Zeppelin Hindenburg suddenly caught fire. His voice rose over the crackle of static and flames while he watched what no human being should ever have to watch. I learned the difference between fantasy and reality when he broke down and wept, Oh, the humanity, the humanity! There’s not much of that anymore. Commercial radio is for commercial messages. The trick is to fragment our attention span —whatever falls between commercials has to be simple. The radio of my childhood was more naive. It copied the stage— the theater—the town meeting. It engaged us, it led us into our right brain, it touched our hearts, and it made us free. It did what Public Radio does today.
Reprinted by permission of John Lienhard. The Engines of Our Ingenuity is a radio program that tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity. Written and hosted by John Lienhard, it is heard nationally on National Public Radio and produced by KUHF-FM Houston. The website houses the transcripts for every episode heard since the show’s inception in 1988. Website: www.uh.edu/engines
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More inside info from the inside pages. Don’t see something here that you want to know? Call us up for the scoop: 908.433.8384
Nicole Atkins Look for Nicole’s album out in stores on Oct. 30. For more information on what she’s up to, visit: www.NicoleAtkins.com
Fashion Spread, pages 46-52 A giant thanks to our pals at Nirvana for donating some of their fall fashion line to our bowling shoot. To get any of the clothes you’ve seen here and more, visit them in Red Bank at 21 White Street or call (732) 530-3334. Also, a thank you to Karen Benvenuti for providing the jewelry. Check her out online at www.ChasingOphelia.com
Vecci Fashions, page 16 The clothing provided for Ed McKenna’s shoot came from Vecci Fashions located at P.O. Box 417, Middletown, NJ. (732) 671-1874 or 1-800-832-2466. www.veccifashions.com
surfing for autism, pages 36-37 Surfers’ Environmental Alliance (SEA) is organized by Sea Bright surfer Andrew Mencinsky and a competent committee of volunteers including Ron & Regina Fernicola (Spellbinders Surf Shop); Darian Boyle (Liberty Landing Marina); Jamian LaViola (Echo Restaurant); Harris Davis, Fair Haven; John Anton, Red Bank; Paul Davis, Philadelphia, PA; Steve Winchester, Rumson; Frank Walczak, Monmouth Beach; Janet Wood; Ben Hamilton; Jonathan Paskowitz; Will Somers; Darrick Doerner. The 28-mile journey was a monumental undertaking planned for over 4 months. As the SEApaddlenyc.org website started to get noticed, sponsors such as Kiehl’s, Whole Foods, Rainbow Sandals and others donated to make the event a success. from left to right: Andrew Mencinsky, Gerry Lopez, Darrick Doerner
New contributor: Lawson Alan, pages 38; 42; 47; 50; 58-60; 63 Lawson Alan is a Jersey boy through and through. He plays an old piano and an even older stratocaster for a living at his lesson studio “Rockhouse” in lovely Toms River. He is also the author of Lunch With God, a hilarious and thrilling novel about a musician who fights the Devil at the NJDMV. Visit his website if you’d like to see what he’s up to: www.NJRockhouse.com and www.LunchWithGod.com
OPERATION REINVENTION, page 41 The dress modeled by Cheryl Spearling for the shoot is from CoCo Pari, located at 17 Broad St. in Red Bank. (732) 212-8111 www.cocopari.com
in the future: DID E EON HING M SO MET SO OUT Y A S AB OD? FO photo by Jesse Craft
goes to Keansburg Boardwalk
simple pleasures Story by Merle Benny & Patricia Burke Illustrations by MARK KSENIAK
perchance to dream...
enter the quiet room the way a dog enters a room, with no particular destination in mind. But ever so gently, the daybed whispers to me. “Just a short nap,” it says. I succumb. Slipping off my shoes, my cares and responsibilities slip away. As I lower my head, a sense of calm settles over me.
I shut my eyes wondering if I will fall asleep or just lay there, daydreaming. Small waves of guilty pleasure seduce me into a drowsy, semi-conscious state. I roll onto my side, pull up the cozy fleece blanket and, without another thought, I am in dreamland. Many would call this self-indulgent. Those who nap know it is self-sustaining. Slowly, my mind lifts from the haze. For a few precious moments, before I open my eyes, I am in my own universe; swaddled in seclusion. I savor the luxury of solitude. But slowly, slowly, my mind –and then my body–begins to revive. I push back the blanket but languish for a few moments more before rising to re-enter the spinning world. I am revitalized. As ready as I can be for the next onslaught of responsibility, I rise from the daybed and face the world.
The Avenue Lady. ÂŠ2007 Harry Winston. www.harrywinston.com
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(for kids 2-10)